In House SEO

In House SEO Adoption

There's not much information available on the rate of adoption of in-house SEO, but driving some of the demand is poor experiences with SEO companies. Some of the results delivered may have been disappointing and other times it was believed the SEO provider could do magic, and make Google behave and accept a Web site and keyword positioning that was inappropriate. Other times, the SEO provider couldn't interface with competing in house stakeholders and get them to work together to appeal to Google's needs. The company then considered bringing it in-house so that magically, everyone would come onside and work together to achieve organic search visibility, and Google would step in line with the company's preferences.

In dealing with corporate clients, I do often act as intermediary between competing internal departments, holdouts, and others who don't understand or appreciate the business value of SEO. However, in the end, the company itself must see SEO as important and not something done by the "temp." It has to be organized by an executive who champions the cause of SEO - obviously the visionary who can see the huge potential. Bringing a newbie in and giving them a desk to sit at, will not do much to solve internal squabbles and create respect for SEO. In fact, it will often degrade the perception of SEO and what is really needed for your company to succeed.

An important truth about SEO projects is that once they're up and running, only ongoing maintenance and development are normally needed. With the bulk of the work correctly implemented, there's no need for an in-house specialist. So before you get saddled with a yearly salary for questionable performance and lost opportunity, consider the true value of an SEO consultant who is dedicated to top results. There's no reward for 5th place.

The SEO Talent Shortage

The increasing shortage of professional level, experienced search engine optimization experts is causing some companies to consider in house SEO, and to train marketing staff for SEO/SEM positions. The amazing thing about this, is that there are few requests for SEO training. It appears some are bringing SEO in-house, yet it's a mystery as to how they're developing high level capabilities in these recruits.

Bringing SEO in-house involves paying a full time salary for mediocre results.

Check out the SEO job boards for a view of a lot of companies trying to save a buck by hiring and supposedly training someone for this critical task. You'll also see ad agencies trying to cash in on the SEO boom by creating a so called "SEO Specialists" for their clients, who are unaware of how that is going to turn out for them. Look at the top business projects going on in the world and you'll see consultants hired for the key tasks. Saving a dollar costs ten dollars and could result in disaster. If your business is your lifeline, disaster is not an option.

Industry people are aware that top flight SEO is a serious yet creative business and given the impressive revenue results possible, should be given to a top flight specialist. Recent studies have revealed much better results achieved by experienced specialists. With Google fighting paid links, the market is heading back to organic optimization, and those stuck with unskilled SEO providers are going to suffer in the years ahead. An inability to understand the organic sphere, plan and design a successful organic campaign, and implement optimized content in a timely fashion will leave the company desperate for results. Combining paid links and in house SEO, mediocre results have been achievable, but the key issue is the lost opportunity to capture significant new business using a sophisticated and carefully planned strategy. With the diminishment of paid links, the SEO-as-common-advertising-buy attitude needs adjustment.

In house SEO is also driven by insecurity and the cost cutting mentality, along with the belief that if the ship is sailing fast, it will just stay on course. Nothing but profit, and a dumping of the task onto some college grad. The key profit generating activity for your company needs more respect. Perhaps respect is the key issue.

A report on Marketing Vox revealed the paradox that exists where although search engine marketing is generating most of their profits, some businesses still have no intention of improving that effort by outsourcing to experts. The study showed web site owners were dubbing in keywords as their SEO strategy, hardly a serious approach to a key revenue source.

I've seen first hand with several companies who have brought SEO and SEM in-house and have seen sales plummet. Their stats fell every month and they were forced to spend more on PPC and offline marketing campaigns. They cite issues with the level of compensation going out to professional SEOs. Without the skill, production quality, and connections of the SEO/SEM specialist however, their fortunes have flagged. They should be formally called sales cutting.

If you still haven't decided on how to implement SEO, consider for example, whether you would hire a branding specialist for your company or product brands, or whether you'd just hand it over to junior designer and think they'll eventually get the knack. An experienced specialist who has developed content for web sites over many, many years knows how to position that content to generate high rankings, lasting results and quality leads. Long term, lasting productivity is perhaps the top deliverable by a professional. With that in hand, there is no need for a full time staffer, or the high costs of training and attending big SEM conferences.

A business must be efficient and focus on core competencies that are critical to success. One of my clients is adamant about that. They have "no intention of becoming a search engine optimization company." We've generated unbelievable results for them so why would an intelligent enterprise risk that?

Quality search engine exposure generates excellent new sales leads, customer loyalty, and brand exposure, and it's something that needs to continue to allow full development of the SEO/SEM effort.

Rest assured that monumental business success is a very likely outcome if you are determined and you have the best people to make it happen. If you have weak contact with your SEO provider, then it's time to get reacquainted and ask yourself why you aren't more committed in getting them involved in your success. Your arms length dealings with them might indicate some integrity issues. If they are going to bring you huge profits, it just makes sense to give them the respect and support they need to do it.

Avoiding the Real Causes of Disappointment

When cost issues crop up, it usually signifies a lack of confidence in your core product/service and that something might be wrong with how your business is conducted. Downgrading your SEO/SEM effort won't repair problems with your business or marketing plan or your unique value proposition. If online generated sales conversions have fallen, don't blame it on the sales pipeline. If people aren't buying, it indicates a problem with your overall value proposition. Take another look at your web design too. It could be it isn't inspiring your visitors anymore.

Common arguments used by in-house SEO evangelists center around the idea that familiarity with the product/service, company culture, and having constant daily contact with staff members is required. They imply that SEO specialists lack the time or desire to get intimate with client's products and business. As part of our work with corporate clients, we get to know their products, services and organization very well. Our communications with staff are just as detailed. Very often, we can perform better because we're not tied up in office politics. Our objective views of the company's situation helps them avoid myopic decisions. Businesses need external input and we're often a key source of reference regarding everything from web site design to value proposition. All these things play into whether search engine optimization will be profitable.

In each argument, you can see that the real issue is that the company is not leveraging all the value an SEO company can deliver. Assess the full dollar value SEO and SEM can deliver to your organization and make a firm commitment to making them a key player in that success. They will produce 110% of expectations and give your business a powerful advantage.

Mysterious SEO

SEO is often a mysterious process and while an SEO specialist doesn't want to divulge how he or she creates outstanding results, having you think you can do it on your own at a top level is not doing you a favor. I have had so many marketing managers tell me that they know enough to be dangerous, and that's so true. These people have clear self-awareness and are competent managers.

SEO in particular, is one position you don't want to in-source. It requires a skill set, creativity, and experience that is unusual. It requires freedom and creativity. That doesn't mean we all dress weird and live Bohemian lifestyles. We are mental gymnasts and juggle a number of complex concepts and activities while meeting the needs of diverse corporate clients. SEO is all about modifying, converting, and playing with the meaning of words and how they're used on web sites and developing strategies for getting help from other web site owners. You need the best content developer/optimizer/strategist you can find. Google and Yahoo are showing a clear preference for unique content and when this is professionally optimized, it is very successful. The range of skills of a professional SEO is immense and the thought that this talent can be developed in few short years is unrealistic. It's taken me ten (10) years to develop all the technical and creative skills that I use daily.

Cheap Tricks

If you've heard that newbies can collect inbound links from Wikipedia or articles sites or you can outsource link building to India, don't fool yourself. Those days are long gone and you need specialists with the ingenuity to make your site(s) perform in a crowded, competitive market.

If you're thinking of bringing your SEO in-house, don't waste your time. There is little chance a single newbie or a web designer is going to pick up on search engine algorithms anytime soon, let alone a whole team of newbies. If you can find an SEO specialist with good all round content generation skills, ranking algorithm expertise, marketing knowledge, and the ability to get your links established on exactly the right sites, then you've got it all. You're at the top of the food chain with someone focused on your needs.

To find a good SEO provider, check out how many top rankings their clients have. If their clients are well ranked for all the relevant keywords for their business, then you're seeing outstanding SEO performance. That's the best visibility possible and it's generally only delivered by a top notch SEO specialist. Compare their abilities to an under motivated in-house person working on a couple of corporate or ecommerce sites, and you can clearly see the advantage SEO companies offer.

The success of search engines, particularly Google in expanding their overall share in the online marketing sphere, means SEM and SEO will continue providing more value to businesses. And the complexity of algorithms will increase too. In house people dedicated to one Web site in an organization don't have the market intelligence that an SEO Company possesses with its many diverse clients. Better methods and performance feedback provide an advantage you won't regret having.

If you need assistance finding the right SEO provider for your needs, contact me, and I may be able to help you with the decision making process.

Gord Collins is SEO Director at Bay Street SEO. Gord writes frequently in magazines, blogs, and forums on new trends in search engine optimization and search engine marketing. He provides SEO services to numerous major U.S. companies and other SEO companies.

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