Expertise
9 mins read

Are SEO Services right for you?

Marketing
SEO Strategist
Marketing

SEO Strategist
Bethany is an experienced SEO Strategist at Rawnet. Focused on driving organic traffic and qualified leads, she has successfully collaborated with many clients, including Hypnos, Leafletdrop, Relish, Phoenix Asset Management Partners, Hornby Hobbies, BOC, and Akumina, since joining Rawnet in 2023. Bethany's role involves meticulous analysis of competitors, market trends, and audience search intent to craft effective strategies. She produces high-quality content tailored to each client's positioning, offering, and target audience. Her dedication to staying abreast of evolving digital trends ensures that Rawnet's clients consistently achieve optimal online visibility and success.

Considering SEO services can transform your online presence and drive growth.

When you’re considering investment in search engine optimisation (SEO) services, there are several factors to consider. We take you step by step through why it’s important to invest in SEO in general, weighing up your options between in-house and outsourced investment, and what to look for to find an SEO agency that understands your business.

Why Invest in SEO?

SEO can be a tricky thing for many marketing professionals to wrap their head around, never mind for business owners and decision-makers. Having a website and running marketing activity across different platforms will mean your customers can find you when they’re looking for you. But what happens when they don’t know they need you yet?

SEO mainly focuses on helping your website appear (rank) within search engines for relevant keywords, most often unbranded keywords. So you might have called your business something like ‘Brighton Gardener’, so that when people search ‘Brighton gardener’ then you appear first, but you also want to appear first (or as close to first as possible) when people also look for ‘gardening services Brighton’.

When done right, SEO can help you achieve improvements for your marketing and business more widely. Good SEO will:

1. Increase Visibility and Bring Valuable Traffic: Organic traffic from search engines is generally more likely to convert, because they are users actively searching for products or services your business offers. Even ranking for queries related to gathering information are likely to put you in front of customers at some stage in their buying journey, as 59% of people use Google to research a purchase they plan to make in-store or online.

2. Improve Marketing ROI: SEO is often considered more cost-effective than paid advertising strategies, because in essence, all you need to invest in is a writer or SEO specialist’s time and traffic is ‘free’. While SEO needs continual investment, improvements and traffic tends to compound over time.

3. Improve User Experience: UX and SEO best practices often go hand in hand these days, so engaging a SEO specialist, especially technical SEO, can help find issues and solutions for your website’s site speed, mobile friendliness and structure or hierarchy.

4. Build Customer Trust: Ranking higher in search engines often is enough to build credibility with your target audience. There’s also many SEO signals built around trust so you may find that actions to improve your website’s ranking also naturally helps produce content like case studies, reviews or staff bios that builds trust with potential customers. 

5. Gain a Competitive Advantage: Even in today’s day and age and how reliant we all are on search engines for our everyday internet habits, many businesses don’t optimise their presence online for search engines. As of 2022, 47% of small businesses don’t include SEO in their efforts

So now you know why SEO is an important part of a well-rounded marketing strategy for your business. But how do you actually do it?

What Are SEO Services?

SEO services are usually when a freelancer or agency takes over your SEO management partially or completely for you. This involves the third party tracking what keywords you rank for or that you would like to rank for, how well you rank for them, analysing why, and providing recommendations to improve.

As there can be many potential reasons why your website may not be ranking as highly for relevant and desirable keywords as you would like, SEO services are usually split across different areas. So you can hire third parties to research which keywords you should aim to rank for, optimise your website, write content to rank for new keywords, build links, monitor the technical performance of your website or even improve your ranking on third-party platforms through Amazon SEO or Shopify SEO. 

Investing in SEO in-house vs outsourcing

When you know you want to invest in SEO, you then have three main options: hiring an in-house specialist, outsourcing to a freelancer or outsourcing to an agency. There are pros and cons to each of these approaches: 

 

Investing in SEO in-house

 

Pros:

  • More control and oversight of the SEO strategy and implementation.
  • Dedicated resource for your business (100% of their time is for you), creating a better understanding of your products, services and industry.
  • Easier to communicate and collaborate with other teams.

 

Cons:

  • Higher cost over time with salary, benefits, tools and training. As an ever-changing field, continuous training or time for learning & development is essential for an SEO.
  • Expertise and resources are often more limited than in agencies.
  • Potential for loss with staff turnover and it is a significant time commitment to recruit, train and manage an in-house employee or team.
  • Can be hard to scale and almost impossible to do larger projects alone.

With many companies seeking to cut back on marketing roles and 42% less advertised on LinkedIn in 2023 than in 2022, many businesses are combining SEO with PPC, content email, or social media marketing in executive roles. While this may help to reduce overall cost, the younger people with generalist experience often hired end up stretched thin across all these areas. This ultimately creates a thin, ineffective marketing strategy that won’t lead to business results.

 

Investing in SEO with a freelancer

 

Pros:

  • Lower cost than a full-time in-house employee or agency support.
  • Often provides specialised expertise and skills in specific SEO areas.
  • Scalable as you can hire for specific projects or short time periods.

 

Cons:

  • Limited availability and bandwidth with balancing other clients.
  • Lack of long-term commitment or accountability with working to short contract periods.
  • You may find quality, reliability and consistency issues depending on their experience and bandwidth.
  • They may struggle to communicate and coordinate effectively with your internal teams and can be harder to align with company culture and goals.
  • Still requires your time investment to set deadlines and manage deliverables from the freelancer.

 

Investing in SEO with an agency

 

Pros:

  • Access to a team of professional experts with diverse skills and experiences, creating well-rounded SEO strategies.
  • Scalable resource with capacity to handle larger projects when you need.
  • Exposed to industry best practices, latest trends and the best tools, without additional cost to you.
  • Proven track records of successful SEO work with other clients, usually more so than freelancers.
  • Accountability and long-term commitment: your success is evidence of an agency’s success so they’re often motivated to do everything they can for your business.

 

Cons:

  • Costs often higher than freelancer and in-house staff, depending on your contractual wants.
  • Less direct control over strategy and implementation, with the potential to miscommunicate or misalign on your needs.
  • Requires upfront time investment to find the right agency for your needs, and get them informed and integrated into your business.

 

How to choose

 

Choosing between in-house, freelance or agency support really depends on your budget, size and complexity of SEO needs, how much control you would like over your SEO strategy and the availability of all these services. Freelancers and agencies are obviously more freely available and quicker to start SEO work than finding and hiring the right candidate in-house.

If you want the best of most worlds, then try combining your in-house resources with outsourced support from an agency to balance between cost, expertise and control. A good combination can be to appoint care of SEO within your business to someone on your marketing team, if not your marketing lead, providing some training and wants to get them started, with an agency to support with SEO auditing and setting a strategy roadmap.

UK SEO Services vs. US

The beauty of agencies, and freelancers to a certain degree, is that you don’t necessarily have to engage with those closest to you. In fact there’s a growing trend of businesses in the US engaging with agencies in the UK for different needs, including marketing.

UK SEO services can be more cost-effective than US SEO services, but the UK also has an international reputation in digital marketing. Many agencies work to high standards to ensure high integrity and high-quality outputs. Larger UK agencies, especially, have started expanding into the US and currently working with international or specialising in international digital marketing. 

The UK is a great market for both European and US businesses to consider SEO services, as there is a natural time zone overlap. The UK also has language and cultural overlap with the US, with easy links to support marketing expansion in European markets. 

What To Look For In Agency SEO Services

1. Experience & Expertise

The agency should have a proven history of achieving results for a client in your industry. Industry knowledge will enable them to create better SEO strategies quicker by better understanding your target audience, competition and landscape. Look for or ask about case studies, client testimonials, and any portfolio that showcases their past work and the results they’ve created.

Ensure the agency has a team with diverse skills, including SEO experts in on-page optimisation, technical SEO, content creation and link building. Consider also if the agency offers complementary services which can further aid your SEO strategy in the long-term, e.g. PPC services to further improve your visibility for target keywords, UX or development services to implement or further technical SEO recommendations, or email marketing to capitalise on content created. 

2. Communication & Transparency

The agency should be able to explain SEO concepts clearly and concisely to laymen, so ask questions when you meet them. In addition to being clear communicators, they should be responsive, keep you informed, and actively look to collaborate with you.

It may be hard to work this out before engaging in SEO services but ensure the agency can and does do (for their existing clients) regular, transparent reporting on traffic, rankings and conversion or business metrics. If they’re unclear on what data they’re reporting on, how they would obtain it or overly focused on traffic and keyword metrics without conversions, these can all be a bit of a red flag.

3. Effective & Ethical Approach

Avoid agencies that offer one-size-fits-all strategies - you may be able to tell this when you first engage with them as their next steps or outlined plan doesn’t seem to fit your business needs. Good agencies should develop customised SEO strategies based on your unique goals and audience. This should be evident because they want to find as much information about you as you do about them during the pitching process, and they’re happy to change or provide alternatives based on new information.

For SEO services especially, look for an agency that prioritises long-term, sustainable results over quick fixes. Be wary of agencies promising quick traffic changes, as these strategies will unlikely create business results. Also, ask your agency about white-hat SEO tactics, as they should be open and willing to use only ethical and Google-approved SEO techniques to avoid penalties or damage to your website's reputation. Google has recently cracked down further on what it perceives as site abuse, which is just as important as ever in an AI-powered SEO landscape.

4. Fit

Most businesses' highest priority is finding an agency that provides adequate value for their cost. Start your process by getting quotes from several agencies and comparing their pricing structures. Be wary of agencies that offer extremely low prices, as this can be a red flag for low-quality services. 

However, the value an agency offers must also be considered. Paying a bit more for a reputable agency can yield better long-term results and is, therefore, a better investment. The ideal agency should be interested in building a long-term partnership and be able to scale their services in the future should you require them, whether this means additional SEO support or access to further services with them.

Choose an agency whose work culture aligns with your company's values and communication style. A good fit here leads to better collaboration and results with your internal teams. SEO impact can only be made when recommendations in content or website changes are able to be implemented by marketing or development teams so this can be make or break for many strategies. 

Takeaways

  • Good SEO gives you a competitive edge by increasing visibility, bringing in valuable traffic, improving your marketing ROI, improving your UX and building customer trust.
  • SEO services are when a freelancer or agency takes over your SEO management partially or completely for you. A good agency or freelancer should have experience across multiple disciplines in SEO, but especially those that suit your needs.
  • There are pros and cons to investing in SEO services, such as building your in-house resources, hiring a freelancer, or hiring an agency. What you choose depends on your budget, size, needs and desired for control over strategy.
  • Don’t be limited to location when you look for agencies to partner with - the UK is especially well-known for digital marketing and SEO services.
  • If you choose to outsource SEO services to an agency, look at their expertise, experience, communication, transparency, effectiveness, and ethical approach and that they are a good fit for your budget and business needs. 
  • SEO is a long-term strategy, so look for an agency that wants to be your partner and may be able to offer more value with other services or projects. Be aware that SEO is only possible when good website infrastructure, content production and development changes can be utilised to make optimisations possible.

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