SEO Outsourcing is an Oxymoron
don’t expect to Outsource SEO
As we approach our 10th anniversary (April 1st) as an Internet marketing agency, I’m reflecting on how SEO (search engine optimization) has evolved during the past ten years. Getting found by prospective buyers in a Google search is vitally important to most businesses, therefore SEO is still the primary goal of most of our clients. Of course, our SEO goal for our clients is getting found in search engines and converting visitors into viable sales opportunities.
The idea of “SEO outsourcing” is an oxymoron! Some will argue that I’m splitting hairs over semantics. Hear me out on this…
The simple definition of outsourcing is to procure goods and services needed by a business under contract from an outside supplier. So far, so good.
While outsourcing has been an accepted business practice for decades, a certain mindset has evolved, which is where I have a problem with “outsourcing” and “SEO” in the same sentence. The mindset to which I refer is the expectation that an outsourced supplier performs all aspects of a contracted function with very little involvement by the client. Most businesses do not have available skilled internal resources to manage their organic SEO strategy. So, they think they can “outsource it.”
payroll Outsourcing Example
When a business outsources their payroll to a company such as ADP, the entire payroll function is handled by the contracted supplier. ADP and the client work together to configure their payroll system, then ADP handles it entirely month-in and month-out.
manufacturing Outsourcing Example
When a business such as Apple chooses to design and market a product such as the iPhone but decides to outsource manufacturing, the decision is very clear. Apple does no manufacturing. This function is entirely outsourced to another manufacturer.
you can’t outsource SEO
The reason I feel strongly that you can not outsource SEO is because the client that engages outside SEO agency services must be actively involved in the process from day one and stay involved. Surely, the SEO company is responsible for specialized “heavy lifting.” But, the client’s involvement in the SEO process is very intricate. In fact, the client’s involvement is absolutely critical for successful outcomes. Therein lies my key point.
A client that believes you can outsource SEO doesn’t have the proper expectation of his or her own involvement in the SEO process.
I’ll briefly review the SEO process to support my case in case you’re still not convinced of my main point that you can’t outsource SEO.
An effective SEO plan requires the client provide their Internet marketing company a comprehensive description of their business. We use a 30+ question document to gain intricate insight into our client’s business.
Persona and Keyword Research
The client should be willing to provide a detailed explanation that will allow the SEO agency to conduct target customer persona analysis. This is often an interesting exercise for the client. Sometimes it’s somewhat eye-opening to identify the business aspects of customer personas. This level of persona understanding greatly positions the keyword research to be meaningful.
The client should provide a list of their key competitors. Once the SEO consultants do the competitive research, the review with the client is invaluable. Detailed competitive research always uncovers insights that require discussion with the client to discern the most meaningful details that can impact the SEO strategy.
A client’s website architecture must be analyzed in detail by the SEO agency. The client’s initial involvement is minimal. However, if (or when) architectural issues are identified that need to be addressed for SEO success, the client’s IT resources or external website developer must be engaged to make revisions. Unfortunately, this process can be an involved and politically charged communication and negotiation process. This part of the SEO process alone has potential to require a significant amount of collaborative effort with the client. But, it’s necessary.
Effective SEO is largely dependent on a content strategy. The process described above will drive the content strategy. It is a collaborative process involving both client and the SEO firm. The SEO content strategy has a beginning, but it has no ending. It’s a perpetual aspect of effective SEO. Collaboration between the SEO firm and the client’s marketing team, and hopefully other departments within their company is important and an ongoing communication process.
Social Media Strategy
SEO and social media go hand-in-hand. Search engines score the extent to which your content is shared through social media. You can’t outsource social media engagement. Your SEO agency should participate by guiding your social media strategy driven by your content strategy process described above. But, the client must be actively engaged in the social media strategy to get optimal results.
In short, a client’s SEO strategy is a very collaborative process. My peeve against “SEO outsourcing” is predicated on the notion that a client and its external SEO company need to work very closely and very collaboratively. This truly requires a commitment on the part of the client. I know this is true of other traditional outsourcing relationships. But, I argue that SEO requires a serious commitment by the client to collaborate and take accountability for its SEO success. That’s why you can’t outsource SEO.