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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or Email Jim Piper or David Newman

The argument for outsourcing SEO

As you are no doubt aware, there is an increasing trend for companies to take their content related functions such as SEO, analytics, data and social media in-house.

The insource-outsource argument has always existed and probably always will, so here are a few ways we try and counter this response from prospects and try to build some compelling reasons to consider outsourcing, specifically from an SEO perspective.

Whilst SEO is a great channel in acquiring targeted inbound leads, many agencies lack the know-how to be able to run a successful outbound campaign. So, which is the right approach? The answer is, probably both.

Firstly, it’s important to make sure that you establish exactly what the prospect means when they say they are ‘doing it in-house’. This can often mean that they’re outsourcing quite a bit of their function but may think they’re not, especially when compared to a previous company or role. So, when you probe a bit more and ask, for example, whether they have coders on the team, the answers could indicate that they do, in fact, outsource a reasonable amount.

It’s also really important that you understand their reasons for not outsourcing. The reasons may be based on an often emotional response to a negative experience of an agency in the past rather than a considered view of the rational benefits of outsourcing, some of which are summarised below:

Higher degree of technical expertise

Those working in SEO are likely working with the technical nuances of Google’s algorithm and so forth, on a day-to-day basis. For an in-house generalist, and one who has no expertise in the area, this can be somewhat daunting.

Fresh perspective

Agencies can bring a fresh point of view from an external stance which translates into more informed advice and therefore, often better insights into what works and what doesn’t.


Agencies work with many different companies from different markets who have faced a broad range of challenges, which means they have more exposure to alternative and often more effective ways of finding solutions to problems. Often agencies will have access to expensive tools, and pieces of software that allow them to complete major manual tasks, in a matter of minutes.


Outsourcing means you can ramp up or reduce resource as and when required which is a much more cost effective way of working. Many SEO agencies offer an array of services, ranging from project based initiatives, to ongoing retainers.


An agency is much more likely to have access to ad hoc specialists who are not needed on a daily basis and who can be an expensive resource if idle. Google’s Partner Programme is a good example here – digital agencies are often privy to Google’s beta releases and so forth – essential in keeping up-to-date with the continuous and regular changes in the industry.


If a requirement for a specific expertise arises an external agency can often respond more quickly, particularly if they have those experts in-house or at least have instant access to reputable and reliable associates. Equally, an agency is more likely to be prepared to work through the night – this is a competitive marketplace and no agency is going to run the risk of losing an account through not delivering on time!


Recruiting, managing and motivating an internal team can be time consuming and expensive and is often under estimated by prospects. Working with an agency means there are no concerns about holidays or sickness and about how to integrate them into the rest of the organisation. Most employees will want a defined career path offering progression – an agency won’t! ‘Urgent’ internal projects could take priority over a longer term proactive strategy for a CMS development for example.


It can often be more cost effective for a company to outsource when needed rather than retain skills in-house that may be redundant much of the year. Equally, if there’s new technology to be learnt then there is an investment in both time and money attached to ensuring your in-house team is kept up-to-date. There may also be teething problems when using new technology which can lead to costly mistakes – this is much less likely to happen with an agency who is already experienced in how to use the new technology efficiently and effectively.


An outsourced agency can be more easily held accountable for delivery of their service level agreement and any subsequent promised outcomes.

In summary

An in-house team is often well placed to deal with everyday issues, but they will have considerably less experience than an agency at dealing with the new or the extraordinary.

Outsourcing to agencies with an external perspective and a range of experience often means faster, more effective and cost effective solutions. This is particularly prevalent when you consider the array of clients and projects that an agency works on – experience in different sectors is critical, especially as no two businesses are the same. As such, neither should their marketing strategy be.

There are less risks involved if you utilise experts and specialists.

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