Search Engine Optimization Consulting or In-House

With more and more executives shifting dollars to organic SEO, many marketing officers are going to have to consider whether or not they want to build and internal team or hire outside consultants. I want to explore the positives and negatives of both options.


  1. According to this MarketingProfs study conducted with CMOs they claimed that, in-house marketers (44%) and clients (26%) are the chief drivers of innovation in marketing for companies. This is odd because it is totally counter-intuitive to the wide ranging belief that agencies provide more innovation. The argument is based on the idea that at a marketing agency you get to try things out across different clients and that you are surrounded my "marketing people" all day, and therefor you it is more likely that you will be innovative. As opposed to the in-house person, who's creativity is stifled by business cases, internal politics and reporting, and the fact that they are not in an environment that is conducive to marketing innovation. 

    However, having now worked in both worlds I can see what this study turned out the way that it did. As an agency guy, it was difficult to educate and get buy in from clients on innovative new techniques. Not only that but clients want execution on sure things. They want to know that their marketing budgets are going to yield and ROI. Whereas as an in-house guy, I'm encouraged to try new things and if I fail on a campaign it does not mean that I lose my job. If companies had a different attitude when working with agencies, and trusted them to innovate, and allowed for failures along the way (within reason of course) then I can see agencies driving more innovation. Unfortunately I don't see that shift happening. 
  2. In the post above from Adam Audette via Search Engine Land, the case is made that in-house folks develop myopia and that agencies can bring a wider range of experience but lack the insights that in-house people own, to get things pushed through withing companies. This seems to back the central idea that Marketing Profs made in the first article. That agencies are not driving innovations at their client's because they can't get the buy-in internally at companies. And it backs my other thoughts on the subject, that CMOs and other internal executive personnel need to trust the agency the choose and back them more! They need to allow for some failures (within reason) if they want innovation.

    Adam also builds what he would consider his dream in-house SEO team, which was pretty much a full in-house staff with a Director, Managers, etc. But also with a full service outsourced agency servicing them. He adds, and the in-house team should attend every search marketing conference to stay on top of trends and keep informed, which will also help them police their agency that they hire.
  3. In the above post, iPullRank gives a very thorough breakdown of agency, in-house, consultant, and everything in between. Really and excellent read. He says that each roll has its own unique fit and that some people are better suited to certain roles. And there are positives and negatives within all of them.