SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engine results pages. A good SEO strategy can increase organic traffic, generate more leads, and improve brand awareness. Many website owners wonder if it’s worthwhile to hire an SEO expert or agency. Here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of hiring a professional to handle your SEO.

Is it worth hiring someone for SEO?

Why You May Want to Hire an SEO Expert

Hiring an SEO professional can provide the following key benefits:

They Have the Latest SEO Knowledge and Skills

SEO is an ever-changing field. The algorithms and best practices today likely won’t be the same six months from now. When you hire an SEO pro, you get access to the latest technical SEO knowledge. They know all the intricacies of SEO and keep up with algorithm updates from Google and other search engines. An expert SEO will ensure your site follows the most up-to-date SEO best practices.

They Can Offer an Objective Outside Perspective

It’s easy for companies to have blindspots when evaluating their own website. An objective outside perspective can quickly identify existing issues hurting your SEO. A skilled SEO professional will thoroughly audit your site and point out problems you likely never noticed.

SEO Takes Significant Time and Effort

Doing SEO right takes a lot of work. It involves everything from keyword research and competition analysis to fixing technical SEO issues and creating content optimized for search engines. Handing off SEO tasks frees you up to focus on running the other aspects of your business.

Increased Organic Traffic and Revenue

At the end of the day, the goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic to your site. More traffic means more leads and customers. An experienced SEO pro has the proven knowledge necessary to improve your organic search visibility and traffic. Any increase in traffic directly translates to higher revenue.

Why You May Not Want to Hire an SEO Expert

Before rushing into hiring someone to handle all your SEO, consider the following potential downsides:

It Can Be Expensive

Outsourcing your SEO usually doesn’t come cheap, especially if hiring an agency. Expect monthly retainers ranging anywhere from $750 up to $5,000+. Small businesses may not have enough marketing budget to afford the ongoing costs. Make sure to get pricing estimates upfront so there are no surprises.

You Lose Some Control

Giving an outside company complete control over your SEO also means relinquishing some control. Make sure you fully understand and agree with the strategies they want to implement on your website. Don’t blindly give them access without learning what types of linking building tactics or other methods they plan to use.

Results Take Time

Don’t expect overnight success with SEO. It takes consistent, long-term effort to see tangible results in organic search. Depending on how competitive your industry is, it might take 6-12 months before you start seeing your site rankings and traffic improve. You must have realistic expectations on the pace of progress.

Bad SEO Can Damage Your Site

Incompetent or shady SEO companies can actually end up doing more harm than good. Certain black hat tactics like keyword stuffing or shady link schemes could seriously hurt your search rankings if discovered. Thoroughly vet any SEO pro to ensure they follow ethical, white hat SEO methodology.

Key Factors When Hiring an SEO Expert

If you decide moving forward with hiring a professional SEO makes sense for your business, keep these tips in mind to find the best person for the job:

Clearly Define Your Goals

Before even requesting quotes, you should be very clear on what you want to achieve from SEO. Do you want to increase organic traffic by 30% within 6 months? Generate 50+ new leads a month? Get specific page one rankings for target keywords? Defining these SEO goals help narrow down providers to those with the capability to meet said goals.

Research Their Background

SEO companies and consultants vary wildly in terms of skills, experience, and qualifications. Research a potential SEO’s background including years in business, past client results, Google certifications, and examples of their work. Beware of those unwilling to provide references or case studies. They may be hiding shady or ineffective tactics.

Look for Technical SEO Experience

The technical side of SEO – things like site speed, structured data markup, indexing issues – sets apart good SEOs from average ones. You want someone well-versed across the technical SEO spectrum, not just creating content. Ask targeted technical questions during the vetting process.

Review Pricing Models

SEO project pricing depends heavily on the scope of work involved and can be structured several ways. Common models include monthly retainers (most popular for agencies), hourly rates, and fixed one-time fees for specific projects. Get bids from multiple SEOs outlining exactly what is included before comparing pricing.

Assess Communication Skills

For an successful partnership, you need an SEO expert who excels at regular communication. During interviews, pay attention to their communication style and clarity in explaining concepts. Ensure you understand the terminology being used. Ask how often they will be providing reports and analytics metrics showing the progress being made.

Key Takeaways for Hiring an SEO

Here are the key high-level takeaways from our extensive guide:

  • SEO is complicated so hiring a professional can provide expertise and bandwidth you likely lack. Make sure to research their background thoroughly.
  • Clearly define your goals upfront and look for an SEO able to demonstrate a path to achieve said goals.
  • Focus on SEOs with extensive technical expertise across all facets of optimization – not just content.
  • Review multiple pricing models as you assess options. Monthly retainers give ongoing support but may have big upfront costs for small businesses.
  • Communication skills are vital. You want regular reports with progress updates and access to ask questions.

Hiring for SEO is an investment into growing your organic search presence. In most cases, the long-term traffic benefits outweigh the initial monetary costs – as long as you vet potential SEOs wisely. Align goals and communicate clearly for an arrangement leaving both parties in a better position.


Deciding whether to hire an SEO ultimately comes down to your specific business situation. For well-funded companies serious about driving growth in competitive spaces, hiring SEO talent often gives the best ROI. Their expertise simply outpaces what you could achieve handling optimization in-house while also running the rest of the business. However, for bootstrapped startups or less competitive industries like local service businesses, it may be better to just focus on SEO best practices internally before considering major investments in outside help. Carefully weigh all pros and cons before moving forward to give your company the best chance of organic search success.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much does it cost to hire an SEO?
    SEO costs vary widely based on scope of work, experience level, and whether hiring an individual freelancer or full-service agency. Typical ranges are $750-$1,500 monthly for freelancers or $3,000-$7,500 for agencies. Define goals and get custom pricing estimates before comparing options.
  2. What SEO results can I expect in 3-6 months?
    If executed correctly by a competent SEO, expect organic traffic to increase 15-30% within 6 months. You may also see progress towards individual keyword ranking goals. Exact metrics depend heavily on competitiveness of keywords targeted and existing site issues. Manage expectations that scaling rankings takes 12+ months.
  3. What SEO qualifications should I look for?
    Ideally your SEO has 5+ years experience, Google certifications like Analytics IQ, proven results for past clients, and specialization in technical SEO areas. Soft skills like communication abilities are also important when vetting.
  4. What SEO tactics should I avoid?
    Stay away from any SEO promising quick results using shady tactics like keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects, paid links schemes, doorway pages, scraping content, or hidden text. These “black hat” tactics can severely damage your site’s reputation and search visibility.
  5. Should I ask for references from an SEO?
    References or case studies should be standard materials provided in any SEO proposal. The best way to evaluate expertise is seeing their impact for actual clients previously. If they cannot provide examples of past work, view that as a major warning sign when considering hiring.
  6. What technical SEO skills should an expert have?
    At minimum your SEO should understand how to analyze site speed, improve page load times, identify crawling issues, create XML sitemaps, implement metadata/structured data, and monitor site indexing. Knowledge across basic to advanced technical landscape is imperative.
  7. Can I handle SEO in-house instead of outsourcing?
    If you have bandwidth and some digital marketing knowledge, doing SEO in-house is possible. But recognizing blind spots, having time for proper execution, and acquiring latest expertise is difficult handling internally while running broader business.
  8. Should I focus solely on SEO, content, link building?
    A balanced approach across core areas – technical SEO, content creation, link building – works best long term. Trying to shortcut with only one aspect can temporarily boost traffic but won’t support sustained rankings growth.
  9. What SEO pricing models are most common?
    Monthly retainers and hourly consulting rates are the most typical pricing approaches from individuals or agencies. One-time project fees also occur for specific initiatives like overhauling site architecture or conducting competitive analysis. Compare proposals across potential partners.

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February 2024


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