When it comes to hiring an SEO, there are many difficult decisions to make. Before you decide what your website needs, you should determine whether an SEO agency or a specific SEO marketing consultant is a better fit. Not all SEO’s or SEO companies are created equal.
In many situations, it depends on what you are looking for in SEO. How frequently do you need communication, and what level expert you want to be in charge of your account? There isn’t a straight answer on which one is ultimately best. There are great consultants, and bad consultants and the same could be said about SEO companies.
Below we take a look at the differences in working with each. Although there are some similarities, there will defiantly be differences in communication, quality of work, and scope of work.
How Most SEO Agencies Work
While there are many different size SEO companies out there, this is an overview of how many of the companies work. When you first call an SEO company, you generally speak with a salesperson. This salesperson usually is not an SEO expert. They are salespeople, and most haven’t worked as SEOs before. They do, of course, have some knowledge of SEO; otherwise, they wouldn’t be good at their jobs. But know what they are telling you from that initial conversation is more sales speak that applies blankly to most clients.
After the initial sales call them, some agencies might pass you off to an SEO Manager within their office. The managers general oversee several SEO associates who are the ones that will be managing and performing most of the work on your account.
Depending on the company, your contact may be either the SEO manager or the SEO associate. Keep in mind that most SEO associates are not entry-level, but just one step above. Most SEO associates have 1-3 years’ experience with SEO.
How Most SEO Consultants Work
When you call an SEO consultant, you are usually almost always speaking with that specific consultant. That person usually has anywhere from 5-15 years’ experience within the industry. Since you are dealing with a real experienced SEO, they take time to review your website and put a specific game plan in place to drive more organic search engine traffic to your website.
When you hire an SEO consultant, most all the work gets done by that consultant. On occasion, they may have an assistant that helps them with small tasks, but you generally never get handed off to an employee with 1-2 years’ experience.
Communication is always with that specific consultant you hire. When you have important questions, you get the correct answer from a very experienced SEO.
Advantages of Company Vs. Consultant
Although it may seem that there are many benefits in hiring an SEO Consultant over a large company, there are some advantages in favor of a large company. Many consultants are experts at a few things. Especially in SEO, as there are many segments. Nowadays, you will find that SEO has many sub-niches like local SEO, link building, enterprise SEO, technical SEO, content marketing, and national SEO, to name a few.
When you work with a larger company, them may offer services that a consultant won’t provide. This may include things like web design, pay-per-click, and online reputation management. Some people find this an advantage and prefer to keep all their marketing under one roof.
When it comes to link building, both a company and a consultant can be very effective if they build links the right way. Outreach should be performed on quality blogs that have traffic from Google. Don’t get caught up on one specific metric. To determine a link is coming from a quality source you should have a handful of metrics. Some important metrics are:
- Estimated Google Traffic (SEMRush tool or Ahrefs)
- Number of Root Linking Domains
- Domain Authority
- Location of Link
Word of caution some larger low-end SEO companies and even some consultants tend to cut corners on link building. They either use private blog networks or have some “house blogs” they own and use them to link to their clients.
The problem with these is they end up hosting content that isn’t relevant as it should be to your business website. You will also find low-end link builders will downplay metrics are only focus on one metric. Often the links are so low-quality that they just waster your time and money and never increase your rankings.
Words of Caution
With both companies and consultants, there are high-quality ones and low-quality ones. Companies that advertise SEO results for $199 a month will not only waste your money but may put your website in danger of getting a spam penalty in Google. Some low-end consultants may do the same. It is in your best interest to ask what specifically the person or company is going to do to increase your search traffic. They shouldn’t hide anything from you and should be able to provide monthly reports on what you get for your money.
SEO is hard work and takes a lot of time. With this, the time isn’t cheap and reasonable SEO cost. Depending on your market and niche, you should plan to spend at least $1,500 to $7,500 per month for small business and even more for larger competitive niches. It is also important to note that SEO takes time, and you cannot expect to increase your rankings and traffic considerably in a short amount of time. On average, it can take six to nine months to start seeing the benefits of a good SEO campaign.
It will ultimately depend on the type of communication and relationship you will want to have with your SEO. If one wants someone that is focused on a specific aspect of SEO and is a high-level expert hiring an SEO consultant is your way to go. If you prefer to have a larger team involve in your efforts and need other services, you may be better suited for a larger organization to handle your online marketing needs.