SEO Consultants vs. SEO Agencies – Which Should You Hire?

It’s a debate as old as the advertising industry itself, and Portland small business owners are not exempt from it: do we hire an outside agency to handle our marketing, or do we collaborate with a consultant and do the work ourselves? There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and it’s not always apparent which approach will be best for your business. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, the answer can become even less clear. There are companies and individuals on both sides of the debate vying for your business, explaining why their services are better than their competitors’.

At omgSEO, we like to think we’re fairly unbiased on this issue. After all, we offer both SEO consulting and ongoing SEO campaign services. We believe that some businesses benefit more from consultation and some more from agency work. As a small business owner, it is your responsibility to identify your digital marketing goals and decide which approach will work best for you. To help you with this decision, here are a few pros and cons of both digital marketing consultants and SEO agencies. Good luck!

SEO agencies

Pros:

  • Larger agencies tend to have more SEO tools and resources at their disposal.
  • Larger agencies tend to have more financial stability and thus stick around longer.
  • Agencies tend to offer structured SEO packages, telling you up-front exactly what you’ll get and how much you’re going to pay for it.
  • A bigger staff means more cumulative experience working on your campaign.

Cons:

  • The person pitching you a campaign is rarely the one doing the actual work, which can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment when the campaign doesn’t perform as well as you were expecting.
  • Structured SEO packages are inflexible and don’t take your specific business needs into consideration.
  • Most agencies spend more time and energy on clients with larger budgets.
  • SEO agencies tend to focus more on delivering statistics and analytics and less on explaining why those numbers are important to your business.
  • Agency work is almost always more expensive – they have more mouths to feed, after all.

SEO consultants

Pros:

  • The digital marketing plan a consultant develops with you is specific to your business, location, and industry.
  • Each SEO campaign is treated differently. Consultants rarely apply the exact same approach to multiple companies.
  • A consultant is involved in every aspect of your campaign and can answer most any question you may have without having to refer to another department or team member.
  • Consultants tend to emphasize education and transparency, explaining exactly what you need to be doing and why you need to be doing it.
  • Building a healthy business relationship with a consultant is often much easier than with a large, faceless agency.

Cons:

  • Consultants expect you to put some effort into your SEO campaign, which some business owners don’t have the time or willingness to do.
  • Because they are limited on resources, working with a consultant can take longer than working with an agency.
  • Digital marketing consultants wear many hats, which sometimes limits the number of things in which they can become experts.
  • Depending on how often you meet, hiring a consultant by the hour can be more expensive than buying an SEO package from an agency at a set monthly price.

As you can see, there are risks and benefits to both agencies and consultancies. There are many variables that come into play when making this decision, such as budget, time frame, internal resources, and the nature of your specific industry. If you run a fast-paced company in a demanding industry with a large marketing budget, hiring an SEO agency might be right for you. On the other hand, if you want to be involved in your digital marketing campaign and have some time to dedicate to it, you’d do best to hire a consultant. Again, the decision ultimately rests on your specific marketing goals and the nature of your business and industry.

What have been your experiences working with SEO agencies versus hiring a consultant? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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