SEO offers a myriad of valuable benefits to any type of business and reliable consultants are the bridge between them and this gold mine. Unfortunately, there’s no universal SEO certification that business owners can rely on when making a selection. That notwithstanding, choosing the right candidate doesn’t have to be a game of chance. There are guidelines that can be followed to familiarise with the audit procedure, qualities to look for in prospective SEO consultants and things that should trigger a red flag. Another area small businesses struggle with is deciding whether to go the freelance consultancy way, the agency consultancy way or hire an in-house consultant. In this article we will highlight the merits and demerits of each option to enable you make a decision that complements your needs.

In house consultants

Hiring one or more SEO consultants to be part of your full time employees is a great option for businesses that want full control and monitoring of the tasks. Consultants’ time will be fully channeled towards the firm’s SEO. Owners can have tasks carried out on demand as well as get regular updates and reporting.

By being part of the company, the SEO consultant is better placed to get a comprehensive overview of the business goals, mission, vision and culture. Working closely with other complementary departments such as IT, sales and digital marketing, integration of SEO is much smoother.

The biggest downside to an in-house team is the expenses attached to it making it unfavourable for small businesses on a low budget. For starters, you will need to budget for advertising costs. You are about to house a big team comprising of web developer, data researcher and analyst, content developer, link builder and maybe a manager to oversee the team. Multiply these with monthly remuneration, employee benefits and training costs. There’s also the aspect of SEO tools which come with high subscription costs. These factors make it by far the most expensive option of the trio for small businesses. It is more feasible for large corporations with the capital resources or who can pull a few employees from already existing departments to form an SEO team.

Freelance consultants

The freelance wave has taken many businesses by storm because of their ease of hire, convenience as remote workers and cost effectiveness too. Freelance SEO consultants are the cheapest option of the three and reputable freelancing sites offer a pool of talented SEO experts to choose from, charging a fraction of what you would pay to have an in-house employee or agency consultant. What’s more, its ease of scalability is appealing as you can do away with the freelancers you don’t need once the goal has been reached or bring more aboard when need arises. All this must be taken with a pinch of salt because of the numerous cons accompanying this choice.

For starters, they tend to be overworked as they struggle to multi-task various clients’ work to maximise on earnings. This could yield poor results on part or all of the deliverables.

When you work with multiple freelancers doing their thing remotely and autonomously, there is lack of synergy. Co-operation is really important in positively impacting SEO efforts. Lastly, unless you are constantly making follow ups, you may be left high and dry and even have to find a replacement to begin from scratch, if for whatever reason the freelancer is unable to complete the SEO as scheduled or delivers substandard work. Remember, they do not have a brand name to protect anyway.

Agency consultants

An SEO agency consultant collaborates with a team of professionals to yield the best results and uphold the company’s reputation. Agencies have access to unlimited expertise to get the job done. Even if they are tied to several clients, they possess the capacity to effectively handle the load through distribution of tasks among team members. A sudden inability of one or two people to commit for a while, does not cease the process. The job will still get delegated to another expert to pick up from where it was left. This continuity and reliability gives clients peace of mind. Also, the rates paid to agencies for consultancy are lower than the cost of hiring and retaining highly skilled SEO consultants.

One disadvantage of SEO agency consultancy is that it entails a long term commitment and may lead to being locked in a long term contract. However, this is not true for all agencies. Trends have SEO agencies offering tailored packages and one off services for their clients.

As a small business you want to access a long term solution but without the high costs of housing staff internally or dealing with freelancers jumping ship when you need them most. With agency SEO consultants, you enjoy a long term personal working relationship, a pool of versatile expertise attached to them, proven outstanding results and reliability all at affordable pricing.