Start A Free 30-Day Trial of RankPay SEO
Sign up before 11/30 for contract-free SEO

When Does Outsourcing to an SEO Agency Make Sense?

You were hoping for a short answer weren’t you? Well, I’m afraid I have some bad news… there isn’t one.

For a variety of reasons, it will take some time and energy to determine if outsourcing to an SEO agency will make sense for you or your business. But I’m going to make this as straightforward and user-friendly as possible.

After reading through this article, you’ll be far better equipped to answer this burning question.

Is Hiring an SEO Agency Worth the Investment?

Before we learn how to decide whether or not you should consider outsourcing to an SEO agency, a little background info…

I hope you notice the use of the word investment. If you follow this blog you’re probably sick of hearing me say it, but I’m going to keep shouting it from the mountaintops until the cows come home.

SEO is an investment.

It isn’t like a logo design where you’ll buy it, and can immediately see the improvement.

Instead, SEO related activities usually go unnoticed by the majority of web users. Furthermore, results take a while to accumulate. A strong and successful SEO campaign will show ranking improvements in a manner somewhat like this:

SEO results

So if I’m being honest, the header to this section is deceptive. Whether or not you hire an SEO agency, there’s going to be an investment involved.

The three major costs you should take into account are as follows.


Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Have you ever considered the implications of the average human lifespan?

  • 75 years
  • 27,394 days
  • 657,450 hours

    SEO takes time

    (Illustration by Tricia Seibold)

It kind of sounds like a lot of time, and it also kind of doesn’t.

Time is scary thing. It’s a completely non-renewable resource, and many of us are strapped for it already.

You can always get more money if you need it. You can always go to bed a little earlier if you run out of energy. But no matter how hard you try, or where you look, you aren’t going to be able to get yourself any extra time.

If you’re finding yourself stressed and strung out, constantly running late and overcommitted, you should seriously consider if you’ll be able to afford the time necessary to teach yourself SEO and get to the heavy-lifting afterwards.

Jayson Demers recently ran some numbers and came up with a solid estimate of the time investiture to expect if you want to run a successful SEO campaign:

Added up, it amounts to anywhere between 12 and 104 hours per week. If you put in 12 hours a week, don’t expect to climb to a top position anytime soon. – Jayson Demers


Many small business owners run themselves absolutely ragged by managing too many aspects of their own businesses. When it might make sense to get an accountant, many will still decide to do it late at night instead.

Close to 1/3 of Americans are bordering on sleep deprivation according to recent studies, and if you read further into that article you’ll find there’s a bunch of nasty illnesses that correlate with extended lack of sleep.

Energy is a real concern for many small business owners. I know from experience that at the end of a 60 hour work week the last thing I want to do is add a new and difficult responsibility to my already daunting to-do list.

SEO is a complicated and saturated marketplace with a steep learning curve. Even with great resources and prolific educational authorities like the folks at Yoast, there’s still no small degree of challenge in getting yourself up to speed.

SEO Academy

Lastly, don’t forget that it’s likely at least some of your competitors have hired trained and experienced professionals who are going to be fighting for the exact same keywords you are.


How much money you spend on SEO can vary greatly. Depending on the type of SEO services you’re looking at, the cost of SEO services can vary pretty greatly.

You may be looking at spending thousands of dollars a month or worse. It really depends on too many factors to give you an accurate idea in such a short span of time.SEO cost

TLDR: SEO isn’t cheap no matter how you look at it.

If you’re going it alone, you’re still going to have to buy access to some online tools in order to both monitor and improve your SEO campaign’s performance. That being said, it’s going to be significantly cheaper for you to do your own SEO than it is to hire any type of agency.

As you can see from an excerpt of Moz’s comprehensive (if not somewhat inscrutable) infographic on the matter, SEO experts don’t come cheap.

But there are alternatives out there that fall more in the category of affordable SEO services and they might be worth a look as well.

Benefits of Outsourcing to an SEO Agency

Performing your own SEO can definitely be a profitable endeavor. If you carefully consider all of the costs and decide that money is the most pressing concern for your business, then it’s a clear-cut decision that you’re going to have to forge ahead on your own!

If this is the route you go, keep in mind that a solid SEO strategy will require good keyword research, persistence, and a data-driven approach.

Further, it’s absolutely critical that your website be properly setup for conversion. The user experience should be clear and focused on calling the visitor to action. There are a variety of great resources available on the web to advance your knowledge on these matters.

Here are a few examples of topics covered in thorough (and free) guides

But this article is about outsourcing SEO so let’s not get too distracted with ways you can improve your own SEO skills. It can also be very empowering to relieve yourself of SEO related responsibilities.

Here are the most important benefits to be reaped from outsourcing your SEO.

Your SEO campaign will be executed by a team of professionals

Ever heard the phrase 2 heads are better than one? What about 5? 10? Imagine how much more would get done on your SEO campaign if you had a team of trained professionals doing it instead of just yourself.

It’s simple arithmetic and digging any further into this point would be unnecessary.

An SEO agency will have established processes and a proven SEO strategy

Most of us working in search engine optimization can remember a time when we were bumbling along, trying to find our way to SERP glory. If it weren’t such a personal passion, I doubt I would have been able to devote the time and energy necessary to become as skilled as I am today.

These things take time to develop. No two approaches are exactly the same. What you can be sure of though, is that if a reputable SEO is able to stay in business, it means they have established strategies and systematized approaches to particular problems.

More importantly, if they’re worth their salt, the SEO agency will have derived these systems proven data regarding their incremental successes.

If you’re just getting your feet wet, how can you hope to compete with people that already have a solid understanding of what activities return reliable results? The obvious answer is, “not easily”.

An agency will deliver results much more quickly

When there’s no learning curve involved, your website and business will more often than not begin to see results far sooner than if you were running your SEO campaign yourself.

All of these benefits tie together and feed off each other to make a pretty compelling argument for the majority of business owners to lean towards outsourcing SEO.

A team of professionals with established processes will be working off proven strategies to get you results faster and at less overall cost. It’s hard to quantify how much time is worth. But consider the big picture: we saw that it’s estimated to be at least a part-time job’s worth work on a weekly basis just to have a shot at getting improved rankings.

On the flip side, you could save a ton of time, and have a strong chance at seeing results sooner than if you were going it alone.

Marketing jack-of-all-trades, ascendant wordsmith, and self-proclaimed World’s Best Dog Dad. I write about SEO, social media and content marketing.