Bringing your SEO in-house is a big decision, but for many businesses, it can be the right one. Search engine optimization is one of the most popular digital marketing tactics for businesses because the ROI is relatively high and the traffic that it brings in is very targeted. In this article, we outline the 4 most important steps for bringing your SEO in house.
Why Should You Bring Your SEO In-House?
There are many reasons why it can be a great idea to bring your SEO in-house and set up an internal in-house SEO team. For example, more control over SEO measures, and faster communication. If you’ve been outsourcing your SEO to agencies the past, then you’ll know how frustrating it can be to have a lack of control over your results. You send out money at the start of each month and then at the end you receive a report, but you don’t have any control over what happens during the month when the work is being done.
Many businesses decide that it’s best to bring their SEO efforts in-house where they can have greater visibility and control over what gets done. In many cases, this control can earn you better results from similar costs. This is a great article showing some of the main reasons why business bring their SEO in-house.
What Kinds of Companies Should Bring SEO In-House?
Chatting with the marketing director of a larger company recently, they had mentioned they were trying to decide whether they were going to do SEO in-house or hire an agency. In their case, the amount of work that would need to be done was significant. Numerous subsidiary websites would require continual content writing, keyword strategy and technical SEO – they were a ripe candidate for an in-house SEO team.
Companies who have constant need for SEO, and companies whose business is built on SEO principles should find ways to get talented and motivated SEO specialists to be part of their team. If digital marketing is a central pillar to your business model, you’ll want SEOs who work solely on your business and your projects, rather than external agencies who work for many different companies. An in-house SEO team might be the right choice for you.
If your digital marketing is not such a core part of your business, it will be better to stick with a competent agency to avoid the trouble and expense of setting up your own in-house team.
A Brief Case Study on Making an In-House SEO Team
The marketing director above took my advice and hired an internal team of sharp and talented individuals and set them to work on all of the different web properties they own. A friend of mine was one of the first individuals hired as part of this team and his experience has been telling – the process they approached was this:
Prioritize web properties and emphasis of SEO efforts towards the properties and opportunities that hold the most possible economic value to the company.
Tackle highest value opportunities during the transition to an internal team.
Identify weaknesses and aspects of the web presence that are a major liability so that these key elements can be fixed before they become a problem.
When larger quick-win opportunities and major liabilities have been taken care of, settle in for the long-haul through technical analysis of properties, examining existing content strategy and building up a consistent content strategy to act as the main driver in SEO efforts.
Set up clear objectives, delegate responsibilities with timelines, and ensure baseline reporting is in-tact and all relevant KPIs are tracked against goals for the year.
4 Steps for Bringing Your SEO In-House
1. Asses What You Want to Achieve
When you’re deciding to bring your SEO efforts in-house, the first step should always be to assess what you want to achieve so you can carry out an accurate estimation of your costs. Failing to do this is limiting the information that you have access to and is likely to bring higher costs than expected. You might realise that you’re better off outsourcing to an agency after all.
Taking a couple of days to decide on concrete goals that you want to achieve will make it easier to work out what steps you need to take to achieve these goals. Do you want your traffic to increase by a certain amount? Do you want to increase the amount of keywords you’re ranking for? Depending on the extent of your goals, you can work out how many employees you’ll need for your team.
This will help you come to a relatively accurate estimation of your costs, so you can decide whether moving in-house is best, or whether you should continue to outsource. Skipping this first step of assessing your goals and carrying out cost-benefit analysis will be detrimental to your marketing budget.
2. Hiring the Right People
As with any operational strategy, hiring the right people is often the most important factor in whether you’ll end up with a positive ROI or not. In fact, when it comes to a technical marketing strategy like SEO, the people you hire could be crucial for seeing more traffic and avoid penalties for spam tactics.
For this reason alone, it’s best to hire slowly and carefully, taking the time to quiz your potential hires and to wait for the perfect candidate. The potential upside is worth it, as is the potential downside in the form of a penalty that you want to avoid.
If you’re going to be hiring a small team of SEO employees, then it’s often best to engage the most senior member of staff first so that they can be involved in future hiring. This method is often works well because many employees will have friends or former colleagues that they can bring with them, especially in the tight-knit SEO community.
Figure 1: Hiring the right candidates for an in-house SEO team
3. Creating Appropriate Documentation
Once you have hired the right employees, you should work with them to create appropriate documentation for their roles, the tactics you are using, and any business functions. Not only does this help your employees to do their jobs but it also makes it easier to replace them should it not work out between both parties.
It’s vital that your first SEO hires are involved in creating this documentation because they have the technical knowledge needed to create these guides.
4. Setting Up Measurement, Tracking and Reporting
Finally, once your team is in place, and you have a strategy to follow, you must ensure that you set up appropriate tracking and reporting so that you have visibility into your progress. Failing to do this can cause you to work less efficiently and achieve subpar results.
Recommended Tools for In-house SEO Teams
When tackling SEO internally, don’t forget to equip your team with the best tools in the industry, and don’t make them beg for things to do their job well.
Here are some tools your Internal SEO Team might use:
Google Data Studio (for combining the above to and making visualizations).
There are a great many paid tools to choose from. You should do some research to work out what is the best tool for your team – get live demos and trial accounts wherever you can, and maybe in the end you’ll decide on a few tools to give you the best possible resource for your SEO measures.
Ryte is an ideal tool for analyzing, monitoring and optimizing all aspects of your website. RYTE Website Success tool creates the basis for a technically perfect website, with Search Success you can monitor your visibility in Google, and Content Success helps you create great content. Get a live demo, or sign up for a free account.
Transitioning from Outsourcing to In-House
When you are making the transition from outsourcing to working in-house, it’s vital that you look closely at what your outsourced agency has done in the past. Doing this can help you to identify what has and hasn’t worked well in your specific niche.
We hope this article can help you to make the transition smoother, avoiding common pitfalls (that many others have made!) and get a better end-result.