When you’re thinking of hiring someone to help with your website’s SEO, you need to ask yourself this question: Should you hire an SEO Consultant or a SEO Agency? There are lots of differences between SEO Consultants and SEO Agencies, and even Digital Marketing agencies or Digital Marketing Firms. It comes down to expertise. Now, with search engine optimization being so complicated, as well as search engine marketing, social media marketing, Facebook advertising, and even YouTube optimization being complicated, there are consultants and agencies that are specializing in certain areas of digital marketing. Because it’s so complicated, I recommend figuring out exactly what you need and then finding the best specialist in that area.
There are times when you need to hire an agency or digital marketing firm to help provide overall strategy. There are times when you need to hire an SEO Consultant because your search engine rankings all of a sudden have taken a dive–and traffic from organic search is way down. I certainly do not recommend hiring a search engine marketing (Pay Per Click PPC firm) to handle your website’s SEO. They may say that they can do your website’s SEO as well as your PPC, but are they really SEO experts? I personally know the SEO industry very well, having been involved with DFWSEM (I founded the organization back in 2004).
I can tell you honestly that there are, hands-down, several people, several experts, several SEO firms that I would hire to handle my PPC campaigns. But no way would I ever hire them to do anything related to my website’s SEO. And it’s not just SEO consultants and SEO firms, as well as PPC agencies. Hire an SEO Consultant when you need SEO help. Hire a PPC Consultant when you need help with your Google AdWords account.
Differences Between SEO Consultants and SEO Agencies
What really is the difference between an SEO consultant and an SEO agency? Typically, the difference between the two is the number of people you work with. When you hire an SEO consultant, you know who you’re dealing with–they’re going to be the one who does the actual work and the consulting. When you hire an SEO agency, you typically deal with a sales person, who is never going to be person who is actually doing the work and the consulting.
- SEO Consultant – They’re the one actually doing the work on your account. You first deal with them (perhaps in a sales-type manner) and then you’ll talk directly with them on a regular basis for updates. SEO Consultants tend to have a smaller list of accounts that they deal with, due to time constraints. They may be more expensive, though, especially if you retain them to work on your account on a monthly basis.
- SEO Agency – You deal with a salesperson, not the one doing the work on your account. Then, typically you are assigned an account manager (not the person doing the actual work). You’ll typically talk to that person on a weekly or monthly basis, and they’ll interpret, in the best way they can, what’s really happening with your account. In many larger agencies (and in some smaller agencies as well), the person who is actually doing the work rarely talks to you, they’re too busy working on lots of different accounts, fixing and optimizing lots of websites on a daily basis. SEO Agencies tend to have lots of accounts, and they may be cheaper for you in the long run, though.
There are positives to working with an SEO consultant versus an SEO agency. And there are also negatives. I’ve written a lot more about the differences between an SEO consultant and an SEO agency. Read my in depth article about the differences between SEO firms and SEO Consultants.
Bill Hartzer and Hartzer Consulting knows the SEO industry well. In fact, if you’re going to work with a SEO consultant, there are positives:
- SEO Consultants, like Bill Hartzer, rarely outsource the work to others.
- SEO consultants are experts in what they do: search engine optimization.
- If you work with an SEO, can you meet them in person? Or via Skype?.
If you work with or hire someone, like an SEO agency, you may be able to meet with them in person, but they will typically have a “sales person” (even if you meet with the CEO), and I can almost guarantee that they are NOT going to be the ones actually doing the work. They may talk like they know SEO, but honestly, most likely they could not actually write HTML code, and they aren’t working on SEO projects every day. They most likely have never sat down and tried to get a new link for a client website. I even know one SEO firm whose executives never ever write articles. Many think that the senior level staff at this agency are SEO and digital marketing experts because they read their articles all the time. But that content is produced entirely by their staff. And published in their name.
It’s all about transparency. I honestly believe that if you ask someone you hire to do a job, they should be the ones to answer, give you an honest answer about what’s going on. If they are doing the work for you, and they do not outsource the work to someone located overseas, they can give you an honest answer.