If you’re a business owner looking to get your website to the top of Google’s search results, you have probably been looking for the best way to invest your marketing budget into SEO. The choice often comes down to hiring either a full blown digital marketing agency or outsourcing the work to freelancers.
So the obvious question is agency vs freelancer—which is best?
We’ll blow the surprise and tell you that there is no single best answer to this question. But this guide is going to help you compare factors to make the right decision for you.
Agency vs Freelancer: 4 Factors To Compare
The number of factors you could compare is near limitless. But to simplify the process, here are four of the most important elements to guide your decision.
The bottom line is probably at the top of your list. Generally speaking, SEO freelancers are going to cost you less than agencies.
Freelancers usually have less overhead expenses, so they can pass the savings on to you. Also, many agencies actually just strategically outsource much of their work to skilled freelancers. So they have to upcharge services to you in order to make a profit.
Long story short, if you are looking for the absolute lowest cost, choosing a freelancer is the way to go.
Just keep in mind that you always get what you pay for. So whether you choose an agency or a freelancer, be aware that there will be a range of prices for both options. The professionals who deliver top quality results can also charge top dollar.
Your SEO Knowledge
How much do you already know about SEO? If the answer is nothing or very little, then you may want to choose an agency.
You might be able to find a lone SEO freelancer who can handle every aspect of your digital marketing needs. More often than not, however, freelancers specialize in delivering a particular set of services.
One freelancer is skilled at keyword research, another at content creation, another at link building, and so on.
Agencies have the know-how to assign these tasks strategically, whether to their in-house team or to freelancers. If you aren’t skilled with SEO, it may be hard for you to figure out exactly what services you need to hire out.
If you are interested in building your SEO knowledge so that you can confidently manage it yourself, check out the Superstar SEO Academy. This course has everything you need to become a pro at every aspect of search engine optimization.
Your Time Investment
SEO takes time. Whether it’s spent learning, experimenting, or implementing—it’s hours out of your busy schedule.
When you hire an agency, you will have very little to actually do. Generally, there will be some information exchange and goal setting during the on-boarding processes. But after that, the expectation is usually that your agency manages everything related to your SEO.
If you are hiring SEO freelancers piecemeal for various tasks, you will obviously need to invest a little more time. You’ll be doing most of the strategic planning, for example. And you’ll be regularly communicating with your freelancers about the tasks they need to complete next.
Once you get into a groove, it might not be a lot of time off your schedule, but hiring freelancers will usually be a little more time intensive than going with an agency.
Finally, when it comes to SEO freelancer vs agency, you should consider the quality of work you are expecting. Either option is going to contain a wide range of performance levels, so we won’t paint any stereotypes to lead you to think either is necessarily better than the other.
However, with a freelancer, you generally know exactly who is responsible for every task. This means it is easier for you to evaluate the professionalism and reputation of your SEO before hiring.
With an agency, you’ll probably be working with one representative who is going to be managing a team that you never engage with at all. While you may be able to assess the reputation of the agency, it could be difficult to determine the skill of the people who will be doing the actual work.
Which to Choose—Agency or Freelancer?
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. But to sum up all 4 of those factors…
Choose an agency if budget is not an issue and you want a mostly hands-off SEO solution.
Choose a freelancer if you want to save money by being more directly involved in your SEO management.
Whichever option you choose, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
If You Decide To Hire an Agency
Be sure to do your research and shop around. Unfortunately, a few bad apples have spoiled the reputation of the SEO industry for many business owners. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get scammed or waste your money:
- Know exactly what you are getting for your money and what the payment terms are. While some agencies charge month-to-month, others may require a 12-month contract.
- Search around for business information. Are they licensed? Are customer reviews published on public forums? (not just the curated ones on their website)
- Ask about who owns what. Some agencies will stipulate that they own all content and links, for example. If you stop using their services, they may take your links down and ask you to remove any of their content from your site.
If You Decide To Hire a Freelancer
Since freelancers are often lone operators, the hiring process is a little different. You’ll have to be more involved in strategic decisions, and protecting your investment requires a different approach than with agencies:
- Know what you need. At its most basic level, SEO can be divided into on-page and off-page optimization. But each encompasses many different microtasks that you’ll need to hire out. We put together this complete guide on How to Hire an SEO Freelancer to make the job a little bit easier for you.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’ll find lots of services promising 10,000 backlinks for five bucks, for example. These aren’t going to do what you hope they will, and they could even hurt your site. So just like with anything you spend money on, be a wise consumer.
- Protect yourself from scams by using a freelance marketplace rather than directly paying your freelancer upfront. On Legiit, your money will be placed in escrow and not released to the freelancer until they deliver the work that was promised.
Agency vs Freelancer: You Decide
Now you know everything you need to answer the question of agency vs freelancers. As a final word of advice, keep in mind that SEO takes time. No matter what option you choose, don’t expect results overnight. But if you invest wisely in long term ranking strategies, you will see long term results.