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In-house Vs. Agency SEO: What We’re Telling Clients

by Phil Golobish

The search engine marketing (SEM) industry has grown to support a few major events. Perhaps the largest and most well known of these events is the series, Search Marketing Exposition (SMX), organized by the publishers of Search Engine Land.

Last week, I had the opportunity of attending SMX East 2011 in New York City as an exhibitor. Aside from the awkwardness associated with having the largest and most unkempt beard in the place, I had an amazing time talking with other agencies, vendors, and potential clients. Needless to say, there was a lot of opportunity to “geek out” about search.

However, there were equally as many opportunities to answer questions from newcomers to the industry. To my surprise, the most common question asked was: “What does Slingshot SEO do?”

The first few times I answered the question above with, “you know, Internet type stuff. Do you want a Slingshot monkey?” The typical response was to chuckle, accept our tchotchke, then leave. However, after being verbally smacked upside the head by two Slingshot sales people for my horrible answer, I switched to: “Slingshot SEO is the premier, full service, professional SEO agency.”

Sales people are smart. As soon as my answer included the keyword phrase, “SEO agency,” nearly every person then asked, “what is an SEO agency and why is it better than in-house?” To which I happily replied with something to the effect…

Agency SEO
As an SEO agency, Slingshot has the time, resources, and breadth of experiences that in-house SEOs typically don’t have access to. Tight integration between an agency and the client is typically when both are most successful. Agencies like Slingshot SEO perfectly compliment any in-house SEO’s campaign with immense fire power and methodologies that have proven to scale across any campaign. They sell strategic wins.

In-house SEO
SEOs that work in-house for their companies are typically masters of their market. They understand their product or service and how it’s represented online. Depending on the needs of their strategy, they hire and then integrate with an SEO agency for access into insights gained from broader experiences and to resources they don’t want to afford or manage. Their strategic wins are their own.

In my experience as an SEO Consultant, dedicated in-house SEOs are still a rarity in most Marketing Communication departments. However, if my recent experience at SMX is any indicator, search engine marketing is quickly approaching the mainstream and what was once rare will become the norm. What do you think about agency SEO versus in-house?


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