If you are looking to increase your website traffic, you may be thinking about hiring an SEO professional or agency.
SEO can have a major impact on your business’s bottom line, with online commerce growing every year and competition increasing for those precious page #1 rankings.
Here we look at the pros and cons of hiring an SEO freelancer vs an agency so you can decide which is best for you.
NB: For the sake of objectivity, I am an SEO freelancer that has worked in digital agencies so hopefully this is a balanced account!
Your Point of Contact
With a freelancer you should just be working with one individual who should have total control over the project, although they may be subcontracting some work out such as writing.
Digital agencies typically work with account managers, who often project manage multiple clients whilst specialists do the work. This can vary depending on the size of the agency.
One issue with agencies is they can have a high turnover of staff meaning they end up hiring inexperienced account managers who may have difficulty handling multiple clients.
Whether working with an SEO agency or freelancer it’s worth asking who your exact point of contact will be and their experience in the role.
Both agencies and freelancers should provide similar performance markers with keyword ranking and website traffic reports, with some mutually agreed goals at the start of the contract.
You may also want to ascertain how many clients will be handled by either your account manager in an agency or the freelancer themselves.
On top of this digital agencies tend to be multi-disciplinary – offering social media, web development and other related services. Whilst this can be positive, it’s very difficult to have specialists in so many different areas and so you may find your SEO is being handled by a social media specialist or someone less passionate than a specialist freelancer!
In fact, SEO in itself is a very broad topic with subcategories of technical SEO, copywriting as well as PR and link-building.
Freelancers will generally take on less clients and therefore have more focus on individual businesses – you don’t want to be lost in a crowd of clients as can happen in some larger agencies.
Freelancers will undoubtedly have a lower hourly rate than agencies due to their lower costs on overheads such as premises, employees etc.
Of course, the price of freelance SEO also varies hugely – with some on freelancers on sites such as Upwork and Fiverr offering very low rates.
It’s always best to be a little wary about very low cost freelancers as they may take on lots of clients in order to cover their costs or may be using outdated or black-hat practices which can damage your site’s SEO over a long period of time.
The results are ultimately what defines how good an SEO agency or freelancer is – have they been able to increase the number of organic website visits? Have they helped increase your revenue from online channels?
If SEO is done properly, it should pay for itself 10 times over and – unlike PPC, online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay or other online ads – the clicks and conversions on your website come at no extra cost making it much more cost-effective long-term.
Ultimately, both agencies and freelancers can help you get good results for your business. There are both good and bad SEOs working in both settings so do as much research as possible, checking case studies and third party reviews, before you commit to a contract as the contractor could ultimately make or break your online success.