How and when you should build your In-House SEO?

Omer Lewinsohn
Omer Lewinsohn

Founder Of Estrategy Growth

In today’s digital landscape, where online visibility is key to business success, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) stands out as a cornerstone of online marketing strategies. The trend is shifting from outsourcing SEO needs to agencies to building robust Company’s SEO Teams. This evolution is significant in how companies approach their digital presence, indicating a move towards a more personalized, business-specific SEO strategy.

For Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and brand owners using external agencies for their SEO work, this guide aims to illuminate the path towards building an SEO team. It delves into the nuances of SEO agency vs internal team, outlining the benefits, costs, and strategies involved in this transition.

The Case for In-House SEO

In the contemporary digital marketing realm, the case for in-house SEO is becoming increasingly compelling. This shift towards internalizing SEO expertise stems from a range of benefits that align closely with the strategic and operational needs of modern businesses.

1. Enhanced Brand Understanding and Alignment

  • Internals teams have a deep understanding of your brand, allowing for SEO strategies that resonate with your brand’s identity.

2. Greater Control and Flexibility

  • Managing SEO internally provides unparalleled control, enabling businesses to respond swiftly to market or algorithm changes.

3. Improved Collaboration and Integration

  • Internal teams work seamlessly with other departments within your marketing team like PPC, Social, and more,  ensuring SEO is integrated into the broader marketing strategy.

4. Cost-Effectiveness in the Long Run

  • Building an internal team is a long-term investment, providing more control over budget allocation compared to the ongoing fees of an SEO company.

5. Expertise Retention

  • Developing an in-house team leads to a pool of dedicated SEO experts, accumulating valuable industry-specific knowledge.

6. Consistent and Ongoing Optimization

  • An in-house team ensures ongoing optimization of SEO, vital for sustained online growth..

7. Data Security and Confidentiality

  • In-house teams align better with data security and confidentiality protocols, crucial for sensitive business operations.

In conclusion, while external agencies offer expertise and scalability, the trend toward the Company’s SEO Team is driven by the desire for deeper brand integration, strategic alignment, and long-term value creation. For CMOs and brand owners, the decision to shift to an in-house model hinges on a clear understanding of these benefits and how they align with their specific business goals and resources.

Identifying the Need for In-House SEO

Transition to an internal team if you observe inadequate performance from your SEO agency, need for more control and customization, increased importance of SEO in your marketing strategy, or require better integration of SEO with other marketing functions. Evaluate your current SEO performance through metrics analysis, ROI assessment, stakeholder feedback, and market and competitor analysis.

  1. Inadequate SEO Performance with Outsourcing
    • If your current outsourced SEO efforts are not yielding the desired results or ROI, it might be time to consider an in-house approach. This is especially true if you notice stagnant or declining search rankings and web traffic.
  2. Need for Greater Control and Customization
    • When you find the need for more direct control over SEO strategies, or if you require highly customized SEO tactics that align closely with your internal marketing goals, an in-house team can provide this level of specificity and alignment.
  3. Scaling Up Business Operations
    • As your business grows, especially if it heavily relies on online presence, scaling up your SEO efforts with an in-house team can ensure that your SEO strategy grows in tandem with your business.
  4. Increased Importance of SEO in Overall Marketing Strategy
    • If SEO has become a more significant driver of your marketing success, having an in-house team dedicated to SEO can ensure it receives the focused attention and resources it needs.
  5. Integration with Other Marketing Functions
    • When there’s a need for tighter integration of SEO with other marketing activities (like content marketing, social media, etc.), an in-house team can facilitate better coordination and alignment.
  6. Data Security and Intellectual Property Concerns
    • If your business operates in an industry where data security and confidentiality are paramount, having an in-house SEO team can offer better control over sensitive information.

Evaluating Current SEO Performance and Needs

  • Performance Metrics Analysis: Regularly review key SEO metrics such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, conversion rates, and backlink profiles. Compare these metrics against industry benchmarks or past performance.
  • ROI Assessment: Evaluate the return on investment from your current SEO strategy. Consider both tangible results (like sales and traffic) and intangible aspects (like brand visibility and authority).
  • Feedback from Stakeholders after following SEO manager’s rules.: Gather input from various departments (marketing, sales, IT) about how well the current SEO strategy supports their objectives.
  • Market and Competitor Analysis: Understand how your competitors are handling their SEO (in-house vs. outsourcing) and the effectiveness of their strategies.

Transitioning is a significant decision that should be based on a thorough assessment of your current SEO performance, business needs, and long-term marketing goals.

Detailed Comparison of In-House SEO and Outsourcing

  1. Budget
    • In-House: More direct control over spending. Costs include salaries, tools, and training. Long-term investment with a focus on sustainable growth.
    • Outsourcing: Typically involves a fixed fee or a retainer model. Can be cost-effective for short-term or specific projects but may result in higher long-term costs.
  2. Control and Flexibility
    • In-House: Offers higher control over SEO strategies and the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the market or business objectives.
    • Outsourcing: Control is more limited; dependent on the agency’s schedule and approach. Flexibility can vary depending on the agency’s responsiveness.
  3. Expertise and Resources
    • In-House: Builds specialized expertise tailored to the company’s specific needs. Requires investment in training and development.
    • Outsourcing: Immediate access to a broad range of skills and resources. Agencies often have diverse experience from working with multiple clients.
  4. Scalability
    • In-House: Scaling up requires hiring more staff or training existing employees, which can be time-consuming.
    • Outsourcing: Easier to scale up or down based on needs, as agencies can allocate more resources or reduce them as required.

Pros and Cons of Each Approach

  • Internal SEO
    • Pros: Greater brand alignment, continuous optimization, enhanced data security, and direct budget management.
    • Cons: Higher initial investment, requires time to build expertise, limited to in-house resources.
  • Outsourced SEO
    • Pros: Immediate access to diverse expertise, less resource-intensive for the company, scalability.
    • Cons: Less control over strategies, potential for misalignment with brand voice, ongoing costs can be high.

Decision-Making Factors

  1. Nature and Scale of Business: Large enterprises might benefit more from in-house teams due to the complexity and scale of their operations, while small to medium businesses might find outsourcing more cost-effective.
  2. Strategic Importance of SEO: If SEO is central to the business model (like in E-commerce), an in-house team might be preferable for better integration and control.
  3. Budgetary Constraints: Businesses with limited budgets may opt for outsourcing to avoid the overheads of hiring and training an in-house team.
  4. Long-term vs Short-term Goals: In-house teams are better suited for long-term strategic SEO, while outsourcing can be advantageous for short-term or specialized projects.
  5. Internal Expertise and Resources: Companies with existing marketing expertise might prefer to build an in-house team

The decision between internal SEO and outsourcing can vary significantly based on the specific type of SEO your business requires. Let’s compare three common types of SEO: Enterprise SEO, E-commerce SEO, and Local SEO. For each, we’ll consider how in-house and outsourced approaches may differ in effectiveness.

In-House SEO Team Structure – Lean vs Fully Integrated

Offering two types of in-house SEO team structures – a lean version and a fully integrated one – is a practical approach that caters to different organizational needs and resources. Here’s a breakdown of both:

Lean In-House SEO Team Structure

  1. SEO Manager:
    • The central figure in the lean structure, responsible for overall strategy, coordination, and performance monitoring.
    • Manages external partnerships and outsourced functions.
  2. Content Manager:
    • Oversees content strategy, aligning it with SEO goals.
    • Works closely with outsourced content creators to ensure content quality and SEO friendliness.
  3. Outsourced Functions:
    • Link Builders: Contracted on a need basis for specific link-building campaigns. The SEO Manager coordinates their activities.
    • Content Creators: Outsourced to produce SEO-optimized content based on guidelines provided by the Content Manager.

This structure is ideal for smaller businesses or those with limited resources for SEO. It focuses on core internal expertise while leveraging external resources for specific tasks.

Fully Integrated In-House SEO Team Structure

  1. SEO Manager/Director:
    • Oversees the entire SEO strategy, coordinates with other department heads, and integrates SEO with overall marketing strategy.
  2. SEO Specialists:
    • Implement the SEO tactics, focusing on keyword research, on-page optimization, and analytics.
  3. Content Creators:
    • Develop SEO-friendly content, working in tandem with SEO specialists to ensure alignment with SEO goals.
  4. Technical SEO Experts:
    • Handle the technical aspects of SEO, ensuring the website is optimized for search engines.
  5. Data Analysts play a crucial role in following SEO rules. play a crucial role in following SEO rules.:
    • Analyze performance metrics, providing insights to optimize strategies.
  6. Outreach Coordinators (Link Builders):
    • Manage link-building efforts and relationships for backlinks, fully internalizing this function.

This structure is suited for larger businesses or those where SEO is a critical component of their marketing strategy. It allows for comprehensive control over all aspects of SEO, ensuring that each element is tightly integrated and strategically aligned.

Choosing the Right Structure

The decision between a lean structure and a fully integrated team depends on several factors:

  • Budget and Resources: Smaller budgets may necessitate a leaner structure with outsourced functions.
  • Business Size and Scope: Larger businesses or those heavily reliant on online presence might benefit more from a fully integrated team.
  • Control and Flexibility: A fully integrated team offers more control and quicker adaptability.
  • Long-Term SEO Goals: Businesses with a long-term, strategic focus on SEO might prefer a fully integrated team for sustained growth.

SEO In-House vs. Outsourcing: Comparing Different SEO Needs

1. Enterprise SEO

  • In-House: Tailored for large businesses with vast websites. In-house teams can closely align SEO with corporate strategies, ensuring consistent branding across all pages. They’re better positioned for handling the complexity and scale of enterprise-level websites.
  • Outsourced: Agencies might offer more varied expertise and resources that can be beneficial for expansive and complex sites. However, they may not be as integrated with the company’s internal processes and long-term strategic goals.

2. E-commerce SEO

  • In-House: Essential for businesses whose primary focus is online sales. In-house teams can rapidly adapt to changes in product listings, promotions, and consumer trends, ensuring that SEO strategies are closely aligned with inventory and sales tactics.
  • Outsourced: Agencies can bring innovative strategies and fresh perspectives to E-commerce SEO, potentially driving more traffic and sales. However, they might not have the immediacy to update SEO strategies in line with real-time changes in the E-commerce store.

3. Local SEO

  • In-House: Ideal for businesses with a significant local presence or multiple locations. In-house teams can leverage local insights and continuously optimize for local search trends, providing a more personalized approach to the community they serve.
  • Outsourced: While agencies can effectively handle local SEO strategies, they might lack the intimate geographical and cultural understanding that an in-house team possesses, which is often crucial for successful local SEO.

To illustrate these differences between hiring an in-house SEO expert and outsourcing to an SEO agency, let’s represent them in a table format.

SEO TypeIn-House BenefitsOutsourced Benefits
Enterprise SEOAligns with corporate strategies, handles complexity and scale effectivelyOffers varied expertise, handles complex sites with diverse resources
E-commerce SEOQuick adaptation to product and sales changes, aligns with inventory tacticsBrings innovative strategies, drives traffic and sales with fresh perspectives
Local SEOLeverages local insights, personalizes approach for communityHandles local strategies effectively, but may lack deep local insights

Transitioning from Agency to In-House

Moving from agency-led SEO to building an in-house SEO team is a strategic shift that requires careful planning and execution. Here’s a guide to ensure a smooth transition while maintaining SEO momentum:

  1. Conduct a Thorough SEO Audit
    • A thorough audit sets the foundation for your in-house SEO plan.
  2. Define Your SEO Goals and Roadmap
    • Create a clear roadmap with short-term and long-term objectives.
  3. Hire an In-House SEO Team
    • Start by hiring key positions like an SEO Manager or Head of SEO, followed by specialists in various SEO roles.
  4. Knowledge Transfer
    • Collaborate with your agency for a smooth transition of strategies and insights.
  5. Maintain SEO Momentum During Transition
    • It’s vital to keep your SEO efforts running during the transition. This might mean continuing to work with the SEO agency while your in-house team gets up to speed or having overlapping periods where both teams work in tandem.
  6. Develop an In-House SEO Strategy
    • Cover all aspects of SEO, including on-page, off-page, and technical elements.
  7. Implement a Training and Development Program
    • Ensure your in-house team is equipped with the latest SEO knowledge and skills. Regular training and keeping up with SEO updates and changes are crucial for a successful in-house SEO operation.
  8. Integrate SEO with Broader Marketing Efforts
    • SEO should not work in isolation. Integrate your in-house SEO efforts with your overall marketing program, ensuring collaboration between SEO teams and other marketing functions.
  9. Monitor, Evaluate, and Adapt
    • Regularly monitor the progress of your SEO campaigns and the overall performance of your SEO strategy. Be prepared to adapt and refine your approach based on results and evolving SEO practices.
  10. Establish Continuous Communication Channels
  • Keep open lines of communication between your in-house SEO team and other departments. This ensures that everyone is aligned with the SEO goals and can contribute effectively.

Cost Analysis: In-House SEO vs. Agency Costs

Understanding the cost implications of transitioning from working with an SEO agency to building an in-house SEO team is crucial for making an informed decision. This analysis will cover a detailed breakdown of in-house SEO costs, a comparison with agency costs, and factors influencing these costs.

Detailed Breakdown of In-House SEO Costs

Cost ComponentIn-House SEO TeamSEO Agency
Salaries– SEO Manager/Head of SEO<br>- SEO Specialists<br>- Content Creators<br>- Technical Staff<br>- Data AnalystsNot applicable (covered in agency fees)
Training and DevelopmentOngoing training costs for team members to stay updated with the latest SEO practices and trendsTypically included in agency fees, though specialized training might be extra
Tools and SoftwareSubscription costs for various SEO tools and analytics softwareUsually included in agency fees, but can vary
Office Space and OverheadsCost of physical space, equipment, and utilities (if not remote)Not applicable (handled by agency)
Miscellaneous ExpensesCosts for conferences, networking, and industry eventsSometimes covered in agency fees, can vary
Flexibility and ScalabilityCosts vary with changes in team size and strategyAgencies offer flexible packages, which can be scaled based on needs
Expertise and SpecializationDependent on the level of expertise hired; higher for more specialized skillsAgencies provide a range of expertise as part of their service
Geographic LocationCan significantly impact salary and operational costsAgency location might influence fees but generally less impactful

In-house SEO Salaries 

Cost ComponentLean In-House SEO Team (Annual Estimates)Fully Integrated In-House SEO Team (Annual Estimates)
SEO Manager$70,000 – $220,000$70,000 – $220,000
SEO SpecialistsOutsourced/Part-time$50,000 – $80,000 each (2-3 specialists)
Content Manager$40,000 – $70,000$40,000 – $70,000
Content CreatorsOutsourced/Part-time$40,000 – $70,000 each (2-3 creators)
Technical SEO ExpertsOutsourced/Part-time$60,000 – $100,000
Outreach CoordinatorsOutsourced/Part-time$40,000 – $70,000
Training and Development$1,000 – $3,000 per employee$2,000 – $5,000 per employee
Tools and Software$1,200 – $5,000$1,200 – $10,000
Total Estimated Cost$112,200 – $298,000 + Outsourced Services$403,200 – $785,000


  • Salaries: The salary ranges are market averages. Outsourcing in a lean team means lower fixed salary costs but variable outsourced service costs.
  • Training and Development: This investment is crucial for both team structures, although a fully integrated team might require more comprehensive training.
  • Tools and Software: Essential for effective SEO management, with a fully integrated team potentially needing a wider range of tools.
  • Total Estimated Cost: For the lean team, the final cost will include outsourced services, which can vary based on the scope and frequency of outsourcing.
  1. Hiring Costs
    • SEO Manager/Head of SEO: A senior role overseeing all SEO tasks and team members.
    • In-House SEO Specialists: Experts in different aspects of SEO, such as on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
    • Content Creators: For content-driven SEO strategies.
    • Technical Staff: For website and technical SEO issues.
    • Data Analysts: To monitor SEO performance and progress.
  2. Training and Development
    • Ongoing training is essential for implementing an SEO strategy and keeping up with SEO updates and changes.
    • Professional development to enhance skills and knowledge.
  3. SEO Tools and Software
    • Subscription costs for SEO tools and analytics software.
    • Additional resources for monitoring and implementing SEO campaigns.
  4. Office Space and Overheads
    • Physical space for your in-house team, if not working remotely.
    • Associated overhead costs like utilities, equipment, and internet.
  5. Other Expenses
    • Miscellaneous costs involved in SEO work, such as attending conferences, networking events, and industry seminars.

Comparison with Agency Costs

  • Agency Fees: Typically charged as monthly retainers, project-based fees, or percentage of spend.
  • Flexibility: Agencies offer the advantage of scaling up or down based on needs, which can be cost-effective for short-term projects or specific campaigns.
  • Expertise: Agencies provide access to a diverse pool of experienced SEO professionals, potentially saving costs on training and development.

Factors Influencing Costs

  1. Team Size: Larger teams will naturally incur higher costs but can handle more extensive SEO projects.
  2. Location: Geographic location can significantly impact salary expectations and operational costs.
  3. Tool Selection: The choice and number of SEO tools and software can vary the costs.
  4. Scope of SEO Work: The complexity and breadth of the SEO work, including the necessity for specialized skills like local SEO or large-scale SEO campaigns.
  5. In-House vs Outsourcing Decision: Choosing between hiring an in-house SEO team or working with an SEO service providers depends on your business’s specific needs. While in-house teams offer greater control and alignment with company goals, agencies might provide cost savings in the short term, especially for businesses not requiring full-time SEO efforts.
  1. Marketing Integration: How the SEO program integrates with other marketing efforts. A more integrated approach may require a larger, more diverse team, impacting costs.
  2. SEO Strategy Complexity: Advanced strategies like black hat SEO (not recommended due to ethical and sustainability issues) or white-hat SEO can influence the expertise required and thus the cost.
  3. Training and Development Needs: Continuous education to keep pace with evolving SEO practices can add to the costs but is essential for effective SEO management.
  4. Type of SEO Focus: Different aspects of SEO such as internal SEO, content-focused strategies, or technical SEO have varying cost implications based on the specialization required.
  5. In-House Resource Availability: Existing resources within the company that can be leveraged for SEO, reducing the need for external hires or services.

When to Part Ways with Your SEO Agency

Deciding when to transition fully from an outsource SEO  to an in-house team depends on several factors, and it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with the agency during this transition.

  1. Indicators for Transition:
    • There is consistent growth in SEO demands and complexity that warrants hiring an SEO agency.
    • When in-house expertise reaches a level where external input becomes less critical.
    • A strategic shift towards more integrated marketing and SEO efforts.
  2. Maintaining a Positive Relationship:
    • Communicate openly about your plans and the reasons for transitioning.
    • Collaborate with the agency for a smooth knowledge transfer.
    • Offer to provide positive references or case studies for their future clients.


The journey from relying on an SEO service provider to establishing a robust in-house SEO team is marked by careful consideration, strategic planning, and a clear understanding of costs and benefits. This comprehensive guide has navigated through the key aspects of making this transition, offering insights into the structure, costs, and management of an in-house SEO team.

Q: What are the advantages of hiring an in-house SEO professional?

A: Hiring an in-house SEO professional allows for closer integration with the marketing team, better understanding of the brand, and more dedicated attention to the company’s SEO needs. It also enables faster communication and implementation of SEO strategies.

Q: How can I ensure a successful in-house SEO team?

A: To ensure a successful in-house SEO team, it is essential to have clear goals and a well-defined SEO plan, provide access to effective SEO tools, encourage continuous learning and development, and foster collaboration between the SEO team and other departments within the company.

Q: What are the cons of hiring an SEO company?

A: Some of the cons of hiring an SEO company include the potential lack of a deep understanding of the company’s brand and culture, the risk of misaligned strategies, and the possibility of being one of many clients, resulting in less personalized attention.

Q: What are the top considerations when hiring an SEO team member?

A: When hiring an SEO professional, it is crucial to consider their expertise in link building, on-page and off-page SEO, their understanding of the latest SEO tools and techniques, and their ability to align with the company’s marketing and SEO operations.

Q: Should I outsource my SEO or hire an in-house team?

A: The decision to outsource SEO or hire an in-house team depends on factors such as the company’s budget, the need for dedicated and personalized attention to SEO, and the level of control and integration desired between SEO activities and overall marketing strategies.

Q: How can I implement successful SEO within my company?

A: To implement successful SEO within your company, it is important to prioritize website optimization, focus on relevant and high-quality content, align SEO strategies with marketing efforts, and regularly monitor and adjust the SEO plan based on performance metrics.

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