You’re a business owner and have decided SEO would be a good marketing strategy for you.
Search is still (in my opinion) the MOST EFFECTIVE form of marketing. Allowing your customers to come to you, pre-sold! What could be better!
But you are now faced with a tough decision, (the endless debate); do you go with a seo agency, or do you go with a seo freelancer?
There are pros and cons to both, but what is actually better?
There are 3 types of “seo agencies” to choose from.
- Design agencies that “also do SEO” – Avoid these like the plague, although they might be good at what they do, if SEO is an add-on they will rarely have skilled individuals working on ongoing client’s projects. Always check if your design company has any good case studies, chances are they don’t.
- Digital marketing agencies – This is the most common type of seo agency around nowadays. There are hundreds of these in the UK and you have to be super careful who you go with. They take care of your social media promotion, content marketing, local seo, search, paid advertising and more…. But fall into 3 categories when it comes to effectiveness:
- Plain rubbish – You see and hear about these ones all the time, and is one of the reasons why SEO has such a bad name. About 40% of all digital marketing agencies come into this bracket. You can usually find them out. Always ask for case studies/testimonials and more information, chances are they will give you “results” that are easily achieved and not relevant or profitable to the client in question.
- Awesome; the type of company that will earn you a 10x ROI, they have the best people in the right positions (head of search | Content creators | PPC analyst etc.). But are also extremely expensive and tend to work with top brands. (Everyone will claim they are an awesome digital marketing agency, but the reality is only 3-5 companies I’d put in this category!)
- The Turtles: The second type is the slow and do everything by the book type, this is the category that 50% of companies fall into. They know their stuff (kind of) but don’t utilise the resources given effectively. The primary problem in these type of companies is too many corporate levels (eating costs and increasing overheads.)
- SEO Agencies – The companies that purely brand themselves as SEO agencies. Nothing more, nothing less. These are my favourite although they are few and far between nowadays. If a company purely brands themselves as an SEO agency you know they know what they’re doing if they are still in the game! Case studies are usually based directly on rankings and profitability. These are easy to find search a variation of the “seo agency” keyword, top ranking ones are usually the way to go.
A much more personal approach to seo and marketing.
The most important aspect when looking for an SEO freelancer = CASE STUDIES and TESTIMONIALS. Always ask for these and check them up too!
There are still different types of seo freelancers! Not all of us are super men!
- The useless – Trained as a salesmen, reads multiple warrior forum threads, buys all the “rank in 1 week” trainings and spends most of the time creating EMD and trying to rank for “green nike air trainers that light up for women”. Should be (and can be) avoided easily; simply ask for any rankings, or a blog/website they brand themselves via (aka their agency or freelancer front.) These people will also talk a lot of SEO lingo without actually knowing what it means.
- The Outsourcer(er) – Similar to the outsourcing agency, these people usually go to odesk or freelancer.com and post to find an “seo expert” they can pay $2 per hour to, that will do the work for them, they will then keep the difference and hope the individual knows what their doing.
- The perfect – Professional and personal seo freelancer who knows their stuff. Ranks well for anything they try to do. Doesn’t BS, doesn’t outsource, and simply performs good SEO! There are a lot out there (believe it or not) but we tend to be poor salesmen (it’s true!)
Personal note: In my opinion if you are going to brand yourself as a seo freelancer you need to do 4 things; 1.) Rank top 3 for your locational keyword 2.) Slowly rank for the national seo freelancer / seo consultant keyword phrase. 3.) Have effective clear price points and don’t budge, if you are the best at what you do, don’t charge less just because you work from home and 4.) Have at least 5 testimonials and case studies that you can show clients.
You can get both good and bad agencies and freelancers. It all comes down to what they know and do. But if I had to choose I would go with a freelance consultant over an agency.
The Price discussion:
Which method will give you the highest quality of service per pound spent, AKA: value of service.
In my opinion your money is more effectively spent with a freelancer than an agency. Price doesn’t mean quality of service. Sometimes these agencies will be outsourcing the work and taking a 75%+ profit figure (reference here). This means you’re paying £1000 for £250 worth of SEO. (That’s assuming they are outsourcing to people who know what they are doing.)
Agencies have such high overheads that they would have to charge more for the same quality service simply because they have staff to pay, premise to rent, as well as corporate levels to support. All of which cost money.
Article coming soon on “How to brand yourself as an SEO Agency (even if it’s just you!)” – In March (Follow me on Twitter to keep up to date.)
If you are that good, nay, GREAT at what you do, whatever it be; seo, sales, web design, you wouldn’t need to hide behind a corporate front. The individuals I would consider to be the greatest seos ever are all individual freelancers or own their own companies, not “head of search” at some digital marketing agency.
Let me know which one you prefer and WHY?
Share, comment and all that good stuff :).