TopRank’s SEO Team in Paintball Gear
As much as companies find the need to outsource part or all of their SEO efforts, many do not have a clear picture of the value that comes from hiring an agency versus a full time, in-house SEO. While many consultants and some agencies offer “value meal” pricing and packages, the cost for a search engine optimization effort will vary based on the scope of the project, hours allocated, client side resources, web site technology and competitiveness of the market.
Web site managers that balk at monthly SEO retainers claiming they could hire a full time person for those costs to do SEO in-house don’t really understand all that’s involved with marketing a web site through search engines. Client side SEOs are more Project Managers than they are implementation experts and often get burdened with related tasks on top of continued internal education and evangelism. It’s a lot for one person to do and do well.
What’s important for companies to understand is that when hiring an agency for SEO, the value of the search engine optimization consulting service comes from a team effort. Agency structures vary, but my own experience is that when an online marketing client that involves a SEO component is brought on, it’s through the coordinated efforts of multiple people, disciplines and expertise that result in a successful program.
In the case of TopRank, when new SEO clients are brought in, an Account team is assigned. The account team includes a lead consultant and a project manager that are dedicated to the client project. There are also service specialists focusing on any of a number of different areas including: keyword research and list building, copywriting, code and server side SEO issues, web development/design, content promotion and link building, online PR and blogger relations, social media marketing and analytics. Some or all of the expertise array will be used depending on the project.
Finding a single person that has numerous client engagements under their belt with expertise in each of the areas above is unlikely. Certainly not for what it costs to hire the entire SEO team from a capable, experienced agency.
Here’s a quick check list of what functions and expertise a SEO team brings to a project:
- SEO/Online Marketing Strategy
- Client SEO Education and Training
- Provide Tools for Client to “Sell” SEO Internally and Report Successes
- Defining Campaign Goals
- Competitive Analysis
- Assessing Previous Tactics (Non Search Engine Compliant and Potential Spam)
- Keyword Research
- Inventory Digital Assets
- Web Site Content Optimization
- Coordination with Interdepartmental and Cross Functional Teams Client Side
- Digital Asset Optimization
- Code Optimization
- Site Architecture and Server Side Issues
- Oversight of Client SEO Implementation: Editorial and Code
- Link Building
- Content Marketing/Promotion Plan
- Content Creation/Mashups/User Generated Content
- Content Syndication
- Web Analytics
- Ongoing Performance Monitoring (Rankings, Traffic, Conversions)
- Revising Optimization and Content Promotion Efforts and Consulting
That’s a tall order to fill for a team let alone a single individual.
Before all the talented solo SEO practitioners reading this post get too excited, I do want to emphasize that in many cases a single consultant or in-house practitioner can be the ticket for a SEO campaign. Web sites that only need tweaking and that already produce a variety of content can see progress over time without an entire agency team.
However, when dealing with a complex organization and web site, there is no substitute for the depth of experience, established processes and speed at which a SEO team can deliver results.