Today in Search Engine Optimization market a website owner has two choices of SEO specialists: freelance SEO specialists and SEO companies. So if you’re a website owner looking for someone to optimize your website, you either seek the help of an SEO freelancer or an SEO company but who do you choose who? Thats a question that we will explore in todays blog.
If you’re looking for cheap SEO services, you may want to hire a freelancer to do the job. Usually, the rates of these freelancers are lower than that of established SEO companies. But as they say, what you pay is what you get so be careful. Hiring a freelancer to do SEO work for you is really risky especially if you don’t know their work ethics and knowledge in optimizing websites. To be sure, ask for references and feedback from past clients. Ask his or her previous projects, ask if the campaigns were successful or not. From there you will know more or less if the person is capable to do the job. Also make sure that you have a written contract that states what the SEO specialist will do for they money you paying him. Most SEO freelance specialist or companies cant promise 100% guarantee or specific time frame in which the result will be achieved, because different keywords will differ with amount competition it will take and googles is not always predictable specially when it comes to local SEO work and positioning your business on the google maps. So just try to mark up a plan of progress for your website have them show you that your PageRank is increasing and so on.
SEO companies on the other hand are already established in this line of work. They know what to do and they do it well. There is a connotation that SEO companies charge very high for their services. Well, yes it is true for some, but there are actually a lot of SEO companies that offer affordable SEO services. Hiring an SEO company is less risky than hiring a freelancer. These people are already tried and tested so you’re sure that they will really deliver results. With a company it is less likely that you be scammed because a company has a reputation to hold up wheres a freelancers don't.
Choosing an SEO specialist all boils down to your budget. In my own personal opinion, if you have sufficient budget, I suggest you hire an SEO company to do the work for you. This way you are really assured that the work will be done well. You don’t have to worry if the work is done properly or not. You just sit back and watch your site ranking go up the search engines.
What’s the difference between freelance SEO consultants and agencies?
The main difference is obvious, freelancers work as independent consultants. They’re usually self-employed and their client base is often localised, although in theory freelance SEO’s can work from anywhere with clients from anywhere.
SEO agencies offer similar consultancy services but they have a large team. The size of an SEO agency will range from anything from a couple of people to hundreds. SEO agencies often offer other internet marketing services like web design, pay per click advertising or display advertising as well as SEO.
As with other service based industries typically freelance SEO’s are cheaper than SEO agencies. Agencies have higher overheads like offices and sales teams, finance departments and account managers. Most freelancers work independently from home offices making their overheads significantly lower.
Most agencies an freelance SEO’s price their work hourly or on a day rate.
The actual SEO process which agencies and freelance consultants follow is usually quite similar. There’s a fairly well developed best practice process for optimising a website which usually looks something like:
1. Keyword research
2. Technical optimisation
3. On site optimisation
4. Link building
2. Technical optimisation
3. On site optimisation
4. Link building
Terminology and the details of each part of the process will vary from agency to agency and consultant to consultant but most will follow this formula by and large. Some freelancers may focus on a particular part of the SEO process like link building but most are all rounders who can complete all parts of the process.
The biggest difference with an agency is probably the level of account management involvement which can be useful for larger campaigns with big brands.
The quality of SEO work delivered by agencies and freelancers varies greatly so no real comparison can be drawn and as a business considering working with either a consultant or a consultancy it is your responsibility to seek assurances about the reliability, credibility and performance of who you hire to do your SEO.
Seek references from other customers about the experience of working with the agency or the freelancer and check their clients results in Google search results.
Agency’s often sell themselves on the benefit of having a multi-disciplinary team at their disposal made up of departmental specialists like link builders and copywriters. This can certainly be an advantage but just as often freelancers can offer a better quality of service and results by having more personal experience on your project.
Having a team may give agencies an advantage in this respect but often freelancers are ex-agency employees who have been in the SEO business longer and are at the top of their game. When working with an agency be sure to seek assurances about the experience of the team members working on your project. Sloppy SEO work conducted by under qualified consultants can in some cases damage your websites search rankings more than it helps.
Managing an SEO campaign has different challenges in different industries and often specialist experience working in a certain sector can be a big advantage. Some freelance SEO consultants will specialise in a sector like travel, retail or finance or in a certain geographical area like local businesses in London. Most SEO agencies don’t specialise in a sector because they would soon run out of potential clients (as an agency should only work with one site in a particular niche to avoid conflict between clients) this means they may be more generalists however they will often be able to draw on knowledge from other campaigns in the same niche.
Some larger SEO agencies have developed bespoke tools to manage their clients campaigns and generate reports. Technology is certainly an important part of SEO however for the most part the best SEO tools are available to everyone (at a price). Most agency tools are designed to create reports and streamline parts of their SEO process. They can certainly help but be aware that there’s no secret tool or piece of technology that will deliver you higher search rankings- only good solid SEO work will do that and it always involves the human touch.
In conclusion there’s certainly no one size fits all answer for whether a freelancer or agency will be a better fit for your SEO project. I’d recommend talking to both, doing some background research on a agency, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each and ultimately choose based on the quality of their proposed solution and quality of their pervious projects and integrity of their references.