outsource seo hero

How to Outsource SEO Services to Agencies (Why You Should)

Jonas Sickler, Digital Marketing Analyst

Key Points

  • When you outsource SEO, you work with a third party to handle some or all of the SEO work for your brand.
  • When you hire an experienced company that focuses exclusively on SEO, you instantly expand your bandwidth and benefit from their expertise.
  • Outsourcing your SEO reduces hiring and training costs and unlocks your ability to rapidly scale.

SEO can return massive ROI, especially when compared to marketing tactics like paid search. In fact, Google states that SEO delivers a 5.3x ROI in comparison to paid search which returns a measly 2x ROI.

We aren’t just talking about vanity metrics, either. Here are just a few examples of SEO results we’ve achieved for our clients:


553% Increase in organic customer acquisitions

Case Study

Terakeet has delivered up to 12.2x return on investment

Case Study

Increased organic search revenue by 30.2%

Case Study

But, achieving results like those is nearly impossible with an in-house SEO team. Effective search engine optimization requires a deep bench of expertise, as well as planning, analysis, technology, and limitless scalability in order to see major results.

If you’re the head of growth at a billion dollar brand, you need to outsource SEO projects to a company that can scale with you.

Read on to discover the benefits of outsourcing your SEO services to an agency, how to do it the right way, and why you should choose us.

Outsourcing SEO basics

Outsourcing search engine optimization is relatively simple. You work with a third party company to handle some or all of the SEO work for your brand. Depending on your needs and abilities, the third party might:

  • Conduct competitive analysis
  • Optimize the technical aspects of your website
  • Do keyword research
  • Create a content strategy
  • Write new content
  • Optimize existing pages (on-page SEO)
  • Organize internal links
  • Construct wireframes for new web templates
  • Conduct strategic outreach
  • Build backlinks

You have three clear options when outsourcing SEO services:

  • Hire an SEO company
  • Hire a digital marketing agency (with SEO as one of their services)
  • Work with a freelancer/independent contractor

Outsource to an SEO company

Hiring an experienced SEO company is a highly effective approach. Because they focus exclusively on SEO, you can have confidence in their expertise, methods, and resources. They should be able to share case studies with exceptional ranking, traffic, and business results, and so be sure to request examples.

For example, if you take a look at the Success Stories on the Terakeet website, you’ll find examples where we:

  • Increased Google market share by 265% for a mortgage and lending company
  • Grew organic customer acquisitions by 553% for an online bank
  • Increased organic revenue by 30.2% for a DIY retailer
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Value of Organic Search White Paper

See how an investment in organic search delivers ROI that compounds over time.


Work with a digital marketing agency

The second option is to work with a digital marketing agency that offers a range of marketing services, including SEO. This can be a good approach for integration across marketing channels, such as paid search, display advertising, native advertising, retargeting, and PR.

The problem is that these agencies are not as sophisticated with their SEO strategy and execution as an SEO company would be. You’d therefore likely be settling for a watered down approach to SEO. Or, they may even outsource to another vendor. You could see results at first. But, you’re not likely to increase your Google market share by 265% this way.

Hire freelancers

The third option is cheaper and requires you to be more intimately involved with the entire process. In other words, you can’t just set it and forget it.

Moreover, even the most seasoned SEO professionals can’t deliver results at scale. They’re often consultants who provide recommendations which your team will need to implement. Or, they funnel work through an SEO outsourcing company that white labels its services. Unfortunately, when an SEO reseller is involved, you have almost no control over the process or quality of work being done.

Ultimately, freelance consultants work fine for small and medium businesses, but they can’t impact a billion dollar enterprise.

Why outsource SEO services? (in-house vs outsourcing)

Brands invest in organic search in different ways. Some hire an in-house manager and outsource components of the strategy, while others work with larger teams internally. And, some brands outsource all of their projects.

However, at some point in your SEO journey, scale will become an issue. You’ll be challenged to hire and manage a larger team. You’ll have too many disparate vendors, and deliverables will be fragmented, misaligned and lower quality.

At that moment, you’ll find yourself asking whether you should do SEO in-house vs outsourcing it. The biggest reason to outsource SEO is that it allows you to focus on what you do best while gaining the benefit of SEO expertise. As a result, you’ll drive your organic results further than you could on your own.

Instead of spending thousands of hours on the minutiae of SEO, you can focus on developing your marketing strategy and improving marketing integration across channels (and across internal departments). 

With SEO outsourcing, you can expand your team’s bandwidth without the overhead of hiring an internal team. You gain insight and expertise from SEO strategists and specialists who have experience with multiple clients in a variety of industries. This diversity enables a more effective strategy

When should you outsource SEO projects?

There are several scenarios when it’s better to outsource your SEO projects. 

If you need more expertise

Organic search is incredibly competitive. Effective SEO requires expertise. It’s much more involved than just putting a few keywords in the right places. Or adding some web pages. Or starting a blog.

The best SEO companies go far beyond rankings and organic traffic in impacting your business. They look to increase your customer acquisitions, revenue, and market share. They enable you to capitalize on the low acquisition costs of organic search so that you’re able to drastically reduce your paid media spend.

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Fortune 500 Enterprise SEO Playbook

Discover how enterprise brands can create content that builds authentic audience connections.


When you want to scale

Because of the amount of work involved, it can be tough to scale your SEO when you’re doing all the work yourself. With an outsource team, you’re able to literally 10x the output of your SEO program.

For example, let’s say you want to build relationships with publishers and influencers. Internally, you can feasibly engage with a few dozen. Beyond that, the effort grows exponentially.

Compare that to working with a professional SEO company, and it’s night and day.

Terakeet manages a database of more than 9 million publishers and influencers which allows us to target the most relevant publishers for each of our customers. We seamlessly connect and collaborate with them through our proprietary outreach software to drive backlinks for the brand.

For one client, we achieved an audience reach of more than 31.2 million through our content placements. You’re simply not going to get that kind of scale without technology, process, and manpower.

When you want faster results 

SEO companies know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the value of organic search. They can help you both get quick wins and create a long-term strategy that will result in consistent organic search traffic. Outsourcing your SEO to an experienced SEO company allows you to get quicker results and saves you from costly mistakes. 

The speed benefit of outsourcing also ties directly to scalability as described above. With a larger team, and with stronger technology, you’re able to get results faster than you would with a small team.

Benefits of outsourcing SEO work

There are many reasons to outsource SEO work, including the following five advantages:

Reduce costs of hiring and training

It’s expensive and time consuming to hire and train an in-house SEO team. Costs include salaries, bonuses, equipment, software subscriptions, healthcare, benefits, employment taxes, vacation time, as well as ongoing training.

You’ll need to educate your team on the principles of SEO, and multiple SEO tools (keyword research, competitive analysis, content gap analysis, on-page optimization, strategic outreach). It takes more than a few training courses to become an SEO expert. Furthermore, training never ends because the industry is always evolving.

Outsourcing your SEO allows you to get deeper expertise, while concurrently saving money that would have been spent otherwise on hiring and training.

Decrease time to proficiency

The complexity of SEO means that it has a fairly steep learning curve. Becoming proficient in all the skills and tools needed to effectively execute SEO is challenging and requires a fair amount of time. Expect to spend quite a bit of time getting team members up to a sufficient proficiency level.

And even when you do, it’s rare when one individual is going to be adept at both technical SEO and content creation, or both content gap analysis and blogger outreach, etc.

When you outsource SEO, you get a team of experts ready to work on day one. As a result, you see faster outcomes.


Reduce risk of inexperience

I was speaking with someone who does SEO at a large manufacturing company the other day. They thought that since their website’s traffic is primarily on desktop, that Google’s mobile-first indexing model would not apply to them. Of course, this is not true. Mobile-first indexing applies to all websites, regardless of the percentage of traffic from desktop.

This can be the level of knowledge found and the types of mistakes made when someone is inexperienced. It can lead to not only worse organic rankings, but can weaken the very foundation of your SEO program, hurting your organic results for years to come.

When you hire outside SEO experts, you eliminate these types of risks.

Efficiently scale SEO projects

The labor-intensive nature of SEO makes it difficult to scale, especially if you’re working on it by yourself. There’s simply not enough time in the day to do all the keyword research, page optimization, content creation, backlink building, and all the other tasks involved in effective SEO. 

If you really want to scale your SEO projects, you need an entire team working on them. This is where outsourcing comes in. It’s much more cost effective to outsource your efforts to a team than try to build and maintain internal resources.

Improve SEO ROI

Outsource SEO to significantly increase your ROI. If you outsource to a company with a strong track record of outsized results, you achieve more than if you try to do everything internally.

You’re engaging in SEO for more than increased rankings and traffic, but to impact the business. You can do that, for example, through leads, customer acquisitions, revenue, customer perception, customer lifecycle, and market share.

With an internal team, it’s difficult to make personnel changes even if results are lackluster. It’s far easier to achieve the best ROI on SEO with a diverse, experienced outsourced team, because it’s easier to hold an outsourced team to account.

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Content Strategy Playbook

The Fortune 500 CMO’s guide to content strategy.


How to outsource SEO

Now let’s talk about specific steps to follow when outsourcing your SEO. 

1. Determine your goals

Before you partner with an SEO firm, you need to know your primary goals. “I want to rank #1” is far too vague and not a real goal — you need to be more specific.

Obviously, you want more website traffic. But, what type of traffic do you want? Are you trying to increase sales of your most profitable products?

Do you primarily operate nationally, or do you have an international customer base? Do you have local stores, hotels, restaurants, or other local brick and mortar outlets that need to be individually supported? Are there specific geographies where you need to strengthen your business?

Do you need to generate more leads and customer acquisitions? Are there certain competitors that you want to overtake?

Are you effectively engaging with your audience at all stages of the customer journey, or are there steps in the journey that require special attention?

What level of revenue do you need to see from your SEO campaigns?

Answering these questions can help you determine the SEO company you want to work with and the services you’ll need.

2. Determine the services you need

Your SEO goals will help you determine the services you need. Do you need comprehensive SEO services, including everything from keyword research to technical SEO to content creation to link building? What about local SEO, reputation management or algorithm recovery help?

If your needs are narrow, you can partner with a company that specializes in those particular items. If they’re comprehensive, you will want to partner with a full-service SEO company. 

3. Determine your timeframe

It’s important to remember that SEO is a long-term strategy. If you’re looking for quick results, you probably should invest in something else, like PPC. 

If you’re going to outsource your SEO, you need to be patient with the results. At a minimum, your timeframe should be 12 months, but expect more significant results after that. If an SEO company promises overnight success, stay away. They have no clue, or they are likely doing black hat, shady things that could get you penalized by Google.

4. Evaluate multiple SEO agencies

When outsourcing your SEO, look for a company that’s an expert in the industry and consistently demonstrates outstanding results for their clients. It’s also a good idea to review a firm’s online presence to make sure they don’t have bad reviews.

Next, scrutinize their case studies to reveal the types of business results they focus on. Are they filled with vanity metrics (more on that later), or results that drive meaningful business outcomes?

Once you identify a few companies, schedule consultation calls and ask them these questions

  • How many years have you been in operation?
  • Do you work with small business owners?
  • What makes you different from competitors?
  • How will you understand our customers?
  • Do you offer technical SEO, on-page optimization, and linkbuilding?
  • Can you provide high-quality content development services?
  • How would you capitalize on our organic search opportunities?
  • What tools and technologies do you use?
  • Do you have case studies of customers like us?
  • Do you outsource or resell contracts?
  • Can you provide client references and testimonials?

Any reputable firm should be able to answer these questions relatively easily. If there is a lack of transparency regarding any of them, that’s a red flag.

You’re looking for a company that has a solid track record of helping clients reach their SEO goals, not one that over promises and then underdelivers. And don’t bother asking if they do white hat SEO, because everyone answers yes to that question.

5. Choose the best SEO company

After finding the best fit, it’s time to choose the SEO company you’re going to work with and get down to business. 

From the outset, clarity regarding expectations and outcomes is essential. You should clarify:

  • Exactly what your SEO goals are
  • The specific services you’ll receive
  • Timeline for deliverables
  • Success metrics
  • Communication protocols (e.g., using a project management portal, etc.)
  • Frequency of reporting and meetings

Determining these things at the beginning of your relationship with an SEO firm sets you up for long term success and a healthy working relationship.

Outsourcing SEO best practices

As marketers, we may feel that we’re immune to sales pitches. But keep your guard up and stay focused on the metrics that impact your business. After finding the best fit, it’s time to choose the SEO company you’re going to work with and get down to business.

Look for the highest ROI, not the lowest price

When looking to outsource SEO, you probably won’t go with the cheapest option (hopefully). However, don’t always overlook the most expensive company, either. It may seem like you’re saving valuable marketing dollars. But, those savings won’t mean squat if you don’t see any marketing ROI in the long run.

Ask yourself one thing: Is your goal to save a few dollars? Or, is it to crush your organic search goals drive massive shareholder value?

Instead of pricing, focus on the results you need, and whether the firm you’re considering is up to the challenge. As mentioned above, ask for case studies and make sure they aren’t for a small business in an easy keyword space.

Don’t chase vanity metrics

It’s not uncommon for marketers to narrowly focus on one or two keywords and to continually see where the brand ranks on these. Your SEO metrics should be directly related to your business goals, and that means looking more holistically across your entire keyword landscape opportunity. It also means measuring success far beyond keywords and traffic, and instead looking at business impact.

Ranking high for a particular keyword might make you feel good, but if it doesn’t translate into more leads, conversions, or customers, it’s just a vanity metric.

Regularly review reports and results

While it’s essential that you be patient when it comes to SEO improvements, it’s also important to regularly review quarterly reports and analyze results. Discuss and agree with your SEO agency on your priority metrics and the types of dashboard data and ongoing reporting you can expect.

Is it time for you to outsource your SEO?

If you want to enjoy the benefits of a high-performing SEO program, then it’s time to consider outsourcing your SEO. 

Outsourcing frees you up to work on critical projects and tasks and still grow your organic search presence. By relying on a team of experts who do SEO full-time, you can scale your SEO efforts, reduce costs and mistakes, and see results faster than if relying solely on an in-house team.

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