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Professional SEO Services: Which Type Is Right for You?

SEO Success can come from any number of avenues. Some business owners will find themselves fascinated with the process and take it on themselves.

Others will look for an agency to handle the process from start to finish. Still other businesses will decide to “hire” freelancers on an as-needed basis.

The tricky part is figuring out which approach will be best for your business. Each situation is unique after all.

Just a quick Google search alone will reveal that there are countless agencies and freelancers vying for your business. They will both claim to provide everything you need, but it’s important to learn the difference between the two main types of service.

So let’s break it down. There are professional SEO agencies and freelance SEO experts.

Both are aimed at reaching the same goal, but their approaches are unique from one another.

Let’s take a closer look.

Professional SEO Agencies

Professional SEO agencies are often a cut above the rest. And that makes sense. After all, their services will usually come at a premium price.

One of the hallmarks of professional SEO agencies is quality of work.

Pro #1 – Quality

The best agencies will have decades of combined experience under their belt and an established methodology that gets results. These processes help ensure that the quality of work on all projects is standardized.

Pro #2 – Clear Expectations

When you sign on with most professional SEO companies, you’ll find you have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to deliver. They should have a well-documented and smooth process, and this makes your life as a client much, much easier.

Pro #3 – Updates & Reports

Another major benefit to going with an SEO company, is that you’ll get clear and well-defined reports. Updates should be regular in most cases, and this provides peace of mind. Particularly strong SEO reports will be easy to understand for both novice and experienced users alike.

Con #1 – The Pricetag

Now, this isn’t always the case, but SEO agencies can be quite expensive when it comes down to it. Some will charge 5 figures a month, depending on what you need. To learn more about the different types of SEO pricing and what will work for your budget, check out our guide to SEO pricing.

Con #2 – Occasional Inflexibility

Many agencies are able to provide an extremely customized strategy, while still others follow a cookie cutter approach. So it’s worth noting that in some cases, you will be expected to go with what the SEO agency recommends. That means: choose your agency carefully and make sure your goals align.

Freelance SEO Experts


On the other hand, there are countless SEO experts that offer solutions as a one-man operation. Most freelance SEO experts will be more than capable in a number of SEO-related fields and can manage an SEO campaign from start to finish.

Mind you, this isn’t always the case. It’s important to do your research beforehand, and get a feel for the quality (or lack thereof) of their work.

Pro #1 – Pay as You Go

One of the most obvious benefits of hiring a freelancer, is that you’re often able to pay as you go and keep your budget more manageable. You can request specific tasks be completed and pay at an hourly rate in many instances. This keeps project scope in check and budgets don’t necessarily need to get inflated.

Pro #2 – Cost Savings

One of the reasons this approach is becoming more popular is the often substantially lower-cost of doing business with a single SEO expert. Instead of paying the bills for an office, a team, etc, the expert will be able to provide advanced services without the overhead. Those cost-savings quickly make their way to the customer.

Pro #3 – Extra Personalization

Instead of signing up for an established retainer, program or SEO package, you’ll be working one on one with your expert to reach your specific goals. You’ll have a say in which tasks you want them to take on, and this allows you to shape the campaign if you wish to do so.

Con #1 – Risk of Less Professionalism

Now this won’t always be the case of course, but experts are often held to a much lower professional standard then their agency counterparts. And that makes sense. So just be aware that until you build a report with an expert, you won’t 100% know what to expect from them on the quality and dependability front.

Con #2 – Risk of Over-promised Results

The truth is, that hiring an SEO expert can be a bit more of a risky proposition. Like we mentioned before, you won’t know what you’re getting until you’ve established a report. Since SEO takes a substantial amount of labor and time to do right, it’s not uncommon for SEO experts to over-promise big results and struggle to turn them into a reality.

Head to Head Comparison

So we covered a lot of information above. Let’s take this opportunity to rehash the more important points and look at which decision-factors will lead you towards one side or the other.

  • The extent of need – Did you set up your website without any SEO idea in mind? If so, you will probably need help from a professional SEO company who can help you analyze your problem areas and develop a strategy from the ground up. If on the other hand, you have implemented SEO tactics before and have the groundwork in place, a freelance expert would probably be a more appropriate (and cost-effective) choice.
  • Cost – Agencies cost a lot of money and rightfully so. So you’ll want to take a good look at your marketing budget and how much of it you can safely divert to SEO. If you’re cash-strapped, working directly with a freelancer will allow you to at least make some progress with limited budget strain. If you have the wiggle-room needed, working with an agency will deliver stronger results and be worth the investment.
  • Collaboration – If you want an SEO provider that will do everything for you from top to bottom, then agencies are more well-equipped to help you. For site owners with SEO experience who are open to a more collaborative approach, most experts will be more than happy to work in tandem with you.
  • Professionalism – Nothing trumps SEO agencies when it comes to professionalism. As mentioned earlier, they will usually have a system in place that will enable them to provide a high-quality and efficient service. While SEO specialists may be on the shorter end of the stick in this regard, it’s worth revisiting that they can provide a more personal touch in some cases.
  • Transparency – The reports sent to you by SEO agencies will generally be more polished and informative than those provided by an SEO expert.

Which Professional SEO Service is Right For You?

Hopefully after learning more about the differences between the two, you’re feeling more well-informed and ready to make the most appropriate choice for your business.

After all, at the end of the day, only you can decide given the factors above.

That being said, SEO agencies will generally be the right choice if you want a hands-off SEO solution where you can fully focus on other aspects of your business where your efforts are needed.

Freelance SEO experts can be hit or miss, but the best can be competitive in their own regard. Just be prepared for a little trial and error along the way.

At RankPay, we strive to offer the performance of an agency with the cost-savings of pay-as-you-go experts. Hence our “if you don’t rank, you don’t pay” guarantee.

To learn more about how we do SEO, check out our pay for performance SEO page.

Christopher Jan Benitez is a professional freelance writer. He has helped small businesses achieve their goals by implementing a strong content strategy that emphasizes their unique selling points and promoting created content using effective online channels and methods, in particular, social media marketing and search engine optimization techniques.