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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the non-paid deciding factor in how well your online assets perform in search rankings, which has a major impact on your business overall. By now, pretty much everyone who has had any interaction with digital marketing understands the importance of SEO services, but where is the best place to find them? 

SEO agencies and consultants both provide roughly the same service. Here, we’ll take a closer look at their differences so you can make the right choice to grow your business online.

SEO Consultants: These are individual experts in the area of SEO and generally work as solo “per hour” contractors to support an in-house team. SEO consultants typically spread their expertise across 2-3 different areas of search engine optimization (link building, content marketing, site design) to be able to provide a holistic view of their clients’ SEO situation rather than completely specializing in one area.  

SEO Agencies: These are larger organizations, with anywhere from five to 500 employees. There is a much greater division of labor in SEO agencies, with individuals or even entire teams dedicated to implementing very specific areas of SEO best practice. Often, the individual teams of an SEO agency work in tandem with each other to support your company’s overarching digital marketing goals. 

SEO Agencies vs Consultants: What’s the Difference?

The two choices might seem like it just comes down to size, with an SEO consultant working on their own and SEO agencies having more staff but there are also significant differences between how they operate. These will have an impact on how well your SEO strategy fits your particular business and how successful it is so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each. 

SEO Consultants: The Pros 

The biggest advantage of hiring an SEO consultant is the personalized experience. In general, contractors take on a low number of clients at any given time and work on creating an in-depth strategy particular to their needs. Usually they will meet with the client’s marketing team to ensure best practice is being applied across all channels. On top of that, when dealing with an SEO consultant you know you will always have a single point of contact who closely understands your business’ online assets. 

SEO Consultants: The Cons

Being a single-person operation means that the consultant may be very time-bound and unable to react immediately to any issues. It also means that, most likely, they won’t perform the majority of the tasks necessary to implement the SEO strategy on their own, instead advising on the work needed which can be performed by other contractors (such as social media posting or content writing) or another member of your in-house team. Additionally, they likely won’t be monitoring the SEO health of your website on a day-to-day basis, instead relying on you, the client, to shoulder that burden.

SEO Agencies: The Pros

Many SEO agencies are full-service so they will be able to perform all necessary SEO tasks in-house. This means that the auditing, strategy, ongoing monitoring, and implementation can be handled by one firm for a monthly fee, allowing you and your employees to focus on other areas of the business. Since SEO agencies also have more employees, they can afford to have niche SEO experts on their staff, which can be extremely important for high-competition search rankings. If it is identified that your site needs very specific help (e.g., link building) or the site itself is in a very specific field (e.g., improving podcast SEO) then having access to a qualified expert in the field rather than a jack-of-all-trades can be huge.

SEO Agencies: The Cons

Depending on the size of the agency, your point of contact might not actually know a huge amount about your specific situation or what the rest of the team is doing to support it. This can make it more difficult to get specific answers, like why were the image formats changed or the menu moved from a vertical bar to horizontal. In extreme cases, the SEO agency may also be simply applying a one-size-fits-all program for your website and marketing rather than really taking an individualized approach. 

Conclusion 

Improving your organic traffic comes down to how successful your search engine optimization is. To get help with that, businesses turn to SEO agencies or consultants and there are important differences about how the two of these work. SEO consultants can provide customized service and offer an ongoing, single point of contact for all SEO actions, but they also probably won’t have the capacity or expertise to perform all of the tasks necessary to noticeably boost your organic traffic. 

On the other hand, SEO agencies will be able to either execute your entire SEO strategy themselves or engage contractors needed to assist them. They may also have particular subject matter experts who can squeeze even better gains from your SEO work. However, especially with larger agencies, you may not have the hands-on contact you’d prefer. 

If you’re looking for an SEO team that will actually provide the personal touch and handle all of your SEO needs, we’re always ready to help. Just get in contact here and we’ll organize a preliminary intro.