Deciding on the right SEO solution can be overwhelming. Brands and marketers must consider which tactics, strategies and service providers can bring a search campaign to life.
The goal of this article is to provide a guide that delivers a breakdown of considerations and help your brand select the best SEO solution to meet your brand’s needs. By asking strategic questions about the benefits and risks of utilizing a platform, agency or mix, you can reach confident decisions based on needs and available resources.
When analyzing the pros and cons of an agency versus platform solution, the primary factors can be reduced to four basic elements — capacity, expertise, resources and responsiveness.
For the sake of this article, we’re considering agencies to be third parties that support brands — SEO consultants could certainly fit in this category, too. Platforms are tools that go beyond tracking keyword rankings and provide SEO recommendations, along with some level of efficiency-driven automation.
Agencies tend to offer more control of overall digital strategies by developing personalized strategies around your needs. Because many agencies offer complete marketing solutions, they are able to tie SEO into other marketing elements such as content, Web design and advertising. This can lead to more comprehensive and effective SEO strategies that can generate results across channels.
Platforms offer less integration, but they provide a variety of packaged SEO solutions that can support other digital marketing and content strategies and workflow. They create efficient process structures that automate and consolidate time-consuming tasks. Many platforms also provide instant access to up-to-date data and competitive insights, giving your brand the freedom to draw current industry standings and easily benchmark campaigns.
SEO platforms offer expertise within the realm of search, but often not much else. Their software applies cost-effective solutions that generate organic search results but lack a human element, which can be critical in deliverables like keyword research and page selection. When managed properly, platform solutions can drive SEO; but they will be limited in advice for optimizing within multiple digital marketing channels, which often have a symbiotic benefit with SEO.
Agencies are often composed of large teams of experts with backgrounds from various fields and industries. Good agencies stay up with trends and react quickly to changing market needs. Brands look to them as thought leaders and industry experts across many fields. Their diverse backgrounds come together to offer valuable knowledge and expertise that can be applied to complex marketing plans.
Agencies provide hands-on SEO, which allows brands more control over quality and strategy, but they often come with higher prices. Their ability to bring a human element to search helps identify problems, but their efforts can be time-consuming and more expensive than box platform solutions. Also, many partners require contracts with upfront commitments.
SEO platforms can offer shorter contracts, often at a cheaper cost. By eliminating manual updates, platforms can streamline processes and implement tactics efficiently, but with less personalized care. If knowledgeable internal resources don’t exist to extrapolate SEO recommendations from platforms, it can be difficult to maximize the dollars invested, even if the cost is less than paying an agency.
Many platforms offer standard customer service options that require users to submit requests through online systems. Others offer representatives, but they focus more on being reactive to issues than proactive to the needs of your brand.
Agencies are structured to provide more devoted and personalized services to clients. Your partner will provide specific resources to your brand and is responsible for understanding your industry and crafting personalized strategies developed around your needs. Fewer clients mean partners can build relationships and bring a human element to constructing and implementing a comprehensive SEO program.
These considerations can help marketers make informed decisions when choosing the best SEO solution for their brand. Here’s a list of questions to ask your team to help you determine the best path to reach the results your brand needs.
Below we’ve provided a visual guide to help brands identify the SEO solution that best fits their needs. What other considerations do you feel should be made when evaluating whether to choose an agency or a SEO platform?
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