SEO has changed a lot over the last 8-10 years. Whereas it used to be relatively cheap to hire just one person to perform your SEO (as much more of the work was automated), that’s really not viable any more. This means that if you seriously want to go the in-house route it’s a significant investment and risk, since your recruitment team probably doesn’t have the SEO-specific knowledge to make sure you hire ‘one of the good ones’. Going the in-house route means you’d need a team of 3-4 very experienced, proactive SEO-people whom would also likely need developer knowledge since you probably don’t have in-house developers. SEO is no good unless it’s actually implemented! These dual-band techno-creative marketers don’t come cheap.
This is what you’d be looking at spending:
- 1x head of search or senior SEO account manager: £40,000 GBP / PA or more
- 1x SEO analyst / senior SEO analyst / SEO strategist: £30,000 GBP / PA or more
- 2x SEO executives: £20,000 GBP / PA or more
- 1x SEO intern (to do Meta data and link building): £10,000 GBP / PA or more (unless you run a free internship and pay for their travel expenses, in which case maybe less!)
- Average total spend: £100,000 GBP PA or more
This works out significantly more expensive than many high-tier SEO agency packages which (depending on budget) can cost between £1,000 and £10,000 GBP per month. With our calculations, you would be spending £8,333 per month which is a lot of money! Due to forming and laying down a completely new team who had never worked together before, you’d be risking paying near the maximum which an agency would charge without (potentially) receiving the correct calibre of team (your team may also not gel and will have to spend a lot of time learning your business). This means that you’ll be paying over £8,000 per month from the off without receiving work which could be called competent for 3 to 6 months at least!
Due to past experiences with SEO or other digital marketing channels, you may believe that you could just get one or two guys together or see in-house (or even out-sourced) SEO work for a lot less. We’re not saying that you won’t be able to put a team together for less, but they will just be treading water for you. You won’t really see any significant gains internally unless you’re spending the big bucks, so let’s examine the ways in which SEO has changed over the years and exactly why that is.
I Used to Hire ‘an’ SEO: Why do I Now Need a Team?
Going back over 8 years we could as individuals, process hundreds of directory submissions a day, stuff Meta keyword tags and create any number of location / variation-based doorway pages and conquer Google’s results relatively quickly. SEO was all about automation so one person could manage all of it.
These days Google have released a number of updates to combat the prior relative ease of search-manipulation (see their Penguin and Panda updates in particular. Others like Caffeine, Farmer and May-Day also had strong impacts – May-Day was big and is often forgotten about). Google’s aim is to index the web so that users can find what they want with ease, as such Google aims to show users a reflection of what they are already seeking to find. Having their results injected with new unknown quantities is good for that particular site-owner but (9 times out of 10) bad for everyone else. This means that nowadays in SEO we have to genuinely satisfy the searcher’s query-intent with great content instead of ‘manipulating’ Google into listing our client’s websites.
If Google provide a bad user experience they will lose their users to a competitor like Bing, Yahoo or Duck Duck Go – in such an event Google’s search engine would draw far fewer users and their ad revenue (from Google AdWords but also places like their Display Network) would decrease significantly, stopping their main bread-winner (the Google search engine) from being a viable project.
As you can see: something started out by a couple of students (Google was originally a university project named “Backrub“) quickly grew in complexity and ceased to be something which could be continued by one or two people alone.
As Google grows, the SEO (and paid search / PPC, which we also offer here at TopClick) industry which feeds on the periphery of Google’s success must grow too. As Google becomes more complex, the SEO industry’s response to Google’s must also increase in complexity.
We consider ourselves one of a number of adept SEO agencies, but like the others, what our individual employees do – changes every day. We’re actually quite lucky that we have very strong training in all areas of SEO here: we can build great links, expose a site’s technical flaws (including negative SEO vulnerability issues) in hours. So if many of our employees can do everything to a high standard – why don’t we have just one employee? Why doesn’t one expert ‘just do SEO’ for one person or company?
We just don’t have unlimited time.
You Need an Agency Because Time is an Issue
Even though we find new efficiencies and deploy them all the time, SEO has become much more time consuming. Genuinely satisfying one of Google’s end-users is not as simple as stuffing Meta tags. The links we require now must be editorial in nature and require real PR-esque relationship building abilities. It’s not just a matter of paying advertorial networks every month or stuffing some words in a footer, we need to consider: UX / design, CRO, content (which means more than just text – anything which a user digitally digests is content) and of course all the old / technical SEO factors on top. Some of us are tweaking, whilst some are strategising, whilst some are writing or drawing up infographics or anything else that’s needed. A lot goes into trying to create a page which best addresses a search query.
You have to build some of the best pages on the web (and by a relatively wide margin) to convince Google to rank your pages. You need coding (HTML / CSS / PHP), programming (XPath / Python for data harvesting), art-working (Photoshop / Adobe Illustrator), Excel, algebraic and linguistic skills (all top-notch!) to do ‘all’ of SEO. Even if you meet the criteria you simply won’t have the time to cut through it all at a speed which will demonstrably result in raking increases and ROI for your business
Without cloning ourselves, there’s no way any one of us (or you) could do ‘enough SEO’ to rank better in a significant way. It takes a team now. SEO has evolved, matured and increased in complexity to a point that having a team is factually required to do well without taking risks of investment which are simply too large.
Unless you can accept that, you’ll never pay for the package you need or get the results which you require. In-house and out-sourcing have their advantages, but you’ll likely be paying 2-3x as much as you’d pay us or another agency for the equivalent level of service.
We should also point out that servicing clients across hundreds of industry vertical every day: we’re really ‘in the know’. One reason our work ends up being cheaper is that being constantly immersed in the SEO world, we have found better, faster ways to do things and are simply put much more efficient than many / most in-house SEO teams (who tend to stagnate after a period). We have to be faster, we have to be better – we have to be the elite of the elite. It’s factually an environmental requirement for us to survive.
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