In-house SEO can be more cost efficient, but it can also be very costly because in-house SEO has many unique challenges. If you are planning to bring SEO in-house in the coming year, be smart. Most companies can’t actually be 100% in-house because there aren’t enough SEO Michael Jordans out there willing to go in-house. Even if you find one, they may not have the political savviness to pull it off.
What are companies doing to bring SEO in-house successfully?
Many are doing 80%-90% in-house, and use an agency for the remaining 10%-20%. We’re seeing a lot of companies hire a decent SEO with 2-4 years of experience, and using SEO Consulting to handle the more senior level SEO challenges. To put into perspective the consulting volume you’ll need, many of our clients fall in this category and use about 15-25 hours per month of consulting, typically landing at the 13-20 hour range. Everything else is managed in-house.
5 things you can do to bring SEO in-house smoothly:
Train every single person that influences the website. When you train everyone on SEO you’ll have more minds focusing on SEO. The reality is that no one person is going to make SEO reach its maximum potential, it’s going to be the result of what everyone on the team is doing to implement SEO. This training can be done via online tutorials, by your in-house SEO (depending on their depth/breadth of experience), or by bringing in a consultant to do the training on-site or virtually. One tip, though you are training them on SEO, be sure to reinforce that they the team shouldn’t fly solo on SEO because there is an overarching strategy and approach to tactics that you’ll want to oversee for success.
Get an SEO audit. What better way to kick of an in-house effort than to get a detailed report that outlines what needs to be changed, what is working well, and where your opportunities lie, along with a complete SEO strategy and clearly defined priorities? You can get it through an SEO audit and most SEO agencies offer some form of an SEO audit, it’s typically the first thing we do with a client. The SEO Audit becomes your roadmap for actions moving forward and something you’ll want to share with everyone on the team to identify how to best prioritize things and get them into the release schedule. If you can’t afford to have a consultant do the audit, make sure that your in-house SEO is tasked with this on day one while everything is fresh, they are objective and free to recommend things outside the box. Bring copy optimization in-house. Optimizing page copy, writing page title tags, meta descriptions and ALT can easily be accomplished by your in-house copywriters with a bit of training and mentoring. Will they like at first? Not likely. But it will get traffic, they will get used to it, and they will master it to the point that keywords flow naturally and the content won’t sound optimized. The challenge with doing this is managing it. One solution is to create a tool that scores each page of the site, so that copywriters (and their managers) can receive feedback on their optimization performance.
First attempt at SEO Requirements. Of the common challenges of hiring someone with only 2-4 years of experience is that they may not have had enough diverse experiences to catch the more senior SEO issues and opportunities. One of the things we do with clients to help increase their knowledge base and reduce the consulting bills is to have the in-house SEO take the first swipe at adding SEO requirements to page designs and project documentation, then we come in and add what’s missing. This allows you to get the complete set of requirements and additional opportunities or options presented to IT, while increases your knowledge along the way by identifying what was missed.
Engage an agency to help you through it. Most in-house SEOs haven’t built an in-house SEO program yet, which means they’re learning trial by fire at times. One of the best things you can do to ensure your in-house SEO program goes off without a hitch and goes further faster is to work with an agency to help you build an in-house SEO program. I was at the Search Insider Summit in December where Intuit talked about bringing their PPC program in-house – one of their keys to success was to engage an agency to help them implement their in-house PPC program. Working with an agency will help you create an in-house SEO plan of action, a roadmap that outlines what you need to do, and when.
In-house SEO can be extremely rewarding, despite its many challenges. To be successful at in-house SEO, you need to effectively address challenges with in-house SEO, the first time, or it can put you at disadvantage both organizationally and in the search results because of missed opportunities. Following these tips will get you on the right track to building an in-house SEO program that gets you further, faster.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.