05 November 2009 12:36pm
Was wondering if anyone had any advice from their own experience, or has seen any good information anywhere on the web, about the processes involved in bringing SEO in-house.
We currently use a supplier on a few days a month basis to carry out SEO maintenance, having already audited our site and made the technical and content changes we need to make from that.
I'm just not happy with the transparency of it, I can't nail down what activities they are doing when, which of them is helping, and it's all a bit clandestine and cloak and dagger. Also, we are in a position where we are growing the e-commerce team here and there is an opportunity for an internal person to take this on.
However this person is no expert, so I'd be looking to retain some kind of specialist guru services, albeit not necessarily in a really hands on way.
Any thoughts really welcome!
Managing Director at iThinkMedia
05 November 2009 13:28pm
I brought SEO in-house whilst working for a leading UK retailer in the Electronics Sector. One thing that frustrated me most whilst working client side (especially for a large brand) is that many Search Agencies exploit the often naivity of online teams when it comes to SEO and can make a small fortune out of work they claim to be doing but never actually are.
It's also common that because many external agencies don't have the technical web design skills within their own company much of the service is based on recommendations that need to be implemented by your own team (which inevitably never make it past your inbox) or off-site SEO in the form of link building.
Not all agencies follow this method and I'm certainly not trying to condemn fellow service providers in this sector but from my experience (of having many agencies pitch to me in the past) there was ample opportunity for PPC service providers to branch out into SEO based on their expertise and reputation within the PPC sector. Once SEO became a familiar phrase a few years ago there was plenty of demand but a limited choice of specialists (particularly for established retailers who already had an online presence).
One of the reasons I set up my own Search Marketing agency was that I spotted a gap in the market for an agency that could offer transparent task lists and implement our own recommendations onto our client's websites. Leaving our client's marketing, design and content teams to get on with their day to day roles with the piece of mind that we would ensure their sites and content are optimised correctly.
Our client's know exactly what we are doing each month and we provide the proof in a monthly review to ensure that trust is always present between supplier and customer.
From my background I started off as a web designer learning my SEO trade over a period of 10 years so when I had agencies pitch to me I wanted to know more than how they would just link to my site through keyword rich anchor text. Naming no names but one of the largest UK search agencies once struggled in a pitch when I prompted them for service offering beyond 'fuzzy links' and 'targeted article submission'!
SEO is a specialist trade and there are many factors to creating a succesful SEO strategy and of course implementing it. My advice would be to build a team around content and have competent designers that can code correctly (avoid image based content). A central figure (in the role you mentioned) could then either work with a consultant/agency to ensure that site structure, coding, search engine accessibility, off-site SEO and of course content is optimised correctly when added to the site.
They should also ideally work closely with a Site Development Manager to push through any platform enhancements (which will be common on an ecommerce site).
If you can find someone to work in-house that has the expertise and can manage all the above directly then great, but someone of this calibre and a track record won't come cheap.
Hope that helps!
Technical Project Manager (MBA, MBCS, CITP, CEng) at Naxtech.com
05 November 2009 15:55pm
As a whole I'd agree with Chris in that if you can find people with the right skills and expertise it is worth considering doing things in-house.
Indeed, some agencies may simply not do things trasparently. ..which creates a gap in the market for agencies that offer an all-in-one service in the sense that they provide SEO as well as web design or other relevant services.
On the other hand, there are cases where a company may not want to give access to their website to external agencies, or maybe the external agency is not familiar with the client's system or platforms, in which case the only option is for the agency to provide a report of recommendations and work with your various teams (marketing, web development, etc) to ensure that the necessary changes are implemented.
As a company we provide clients with the choice of working with us in whatever way they feel most comfortable with: either doing everything ourselves or via their own internal teams. In some cases, we have even worked not only with the client's teams but also with their existing web suppliers and worked just as if we were part of the client's team. In short, we work in a very flexible way.
Where we found a big gap in the market is doing SEO but in a combination of technology with marketing (ie. SEO), which means that we do not only look at a website just from a marketing perspective but we also review and evaluate many aspects of the whole system from programming, updgrade-ability and application performance to database structure and utilisation. The end results are really really good and do not even need to rely on link building, article writing or anything like that. There are even cases where such activities (link building, etc) are not allowed (eg. Pharmaceutical SEO). Still, we have managed to achieve great results and are very proud of having very happy customers who are happy and "want" to pay us as opposed to "having" to pay us.
As a whole though, I think it is critical though to always keep all communication channels open with the client, ensure that everyone is aware of what needs to be done and what the end result/objective is and try to bring all relevant stakeholders together from the very beginning...from web developers and editors to the marketing/sales people and the marketing or operational director.
Having the right skills either internally or externally is great but the fact is that reaching your goals cannot be done without team work, good communication and cooperation.
Deniswww.naxtech.com - web development and online marketing
franchise holder at Les Bons Voisins
11 November 2009 13:34pm
This can be one of those classic risks where it can be done in house at a lower cost than externally simply by charging someone with responsiblity for it. But, unless you know what you were getting before, what you can get from a quality organisation and how much it would cost to get what you want from the in house solution it's difficult to get this right.
In real terms you could start by putting your existing suppliers on a warning that you need transparency in their reports if you are to continue to use them. That is only fair, should help explain whether they are adding value and will quickly give you a benchmark against which to measure other solutions.
Owner at O'Mahony Donnelly E-Business
15 December 2009 12:58pm
All of the comments above give good points, so I won't duplicate - but do want to ask - Are you getting a good return on what you are paying for external SEO? You may not know what the SEO people are doing (or if they are doing anything) and this may make you uncomforable, but if there results are there it may be better than making a change that may hinder results and cause you more work to manage.
I would question that you are working with a company that you don't seem to trust and perhaps a better tactic would be to meet with them and ask for better activity reports or explanation of what the service involves that would improve that trust factor - or find another company that is more transparent and trust worthy.
15 December 2009 13:07pm
Watching the recent announcements on Google live search it's possible now is the best time to challenge the SEO work you are getting from outside. Live search may require a revisit of the SEO work currently being done. This means an ideal opportunity to improve and therefore your understanding of the work you are presently contracting out is critical.
Instructor at Seattle Central Community College
16 December 2009 18:48pm
As Ann mentioned part and parcel of good SEO is good analytics. Whether you bring it in-house or use a vendor they should be able to show exactly what is working and what is not. If you haven't read Avinash Kaushik's article on <a href="http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2006/12/hiring-a-senior-web-analyst-heres-a-suggested-job-requisition-description.html">hiring a Senior Web Analyst</a> it's certainly worth it.
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