So, you want to improve your search engine rankings and drive more visitors to your online business, but don’t know where to start.

SEO is constantly evolving since search engines like Google are continually rolling out core algorithm updates to improve user experience. While once SEO meant cheaply bought backlinks and keyword density equations, modern SEO only works when it is part of an integrated and holistic digital marketing strategy.

Securing valuable backlinks now requires influencer marketing, authoritative content, and a touch of PR savvy. Similarly, modern keyword strategy demands user intent research, an in-depth understanding of the target market, and a working knowledge of search engine ranking factors.

The question now is, how do you go about achieving SEO success? Do you hire an SEO agency or go at it yourself? Or perhaps hire an individual SEO consultant to optimize, track, and maintain your online presence?

The route you opt for will depend on these factors:

  • The industry your business operates in
  • Your available budget
  • The available timeframe
  • The SEO results you wish to achieve

In this blog post, we’ll help you learn what value each route provides so that you can make an informed decision.  

Hiring an SEO Agency

An SEO agency or firm will typically have teams of experts that use standardized SEO processes to align your business offerings with the user demand. They will conduct competitor research and site-wide technical SEO, which includes adding structured data and making coding improvements. Finally, they will work to improve your backlink profile through techniques like social shares, guest posting, and improving overall SEO health. 

The benefit of hiring an SEO agency is that you have instant access to a team of experts who are up to date with the latest industry standards, techniques, and technology. Plus, with an agency, you can scale your investment and strategy to suit your changing requirements.

Keep in mind that the first six months of your SEO campaign may be stagnant, and you will likely see ROI in the third quarter.

How Much Will It Cost

The cost of an SEO agency depends on the amount of work that needs to be done. For large websites, with numerous pages, the initial stages may be more expensive.

Hiring an SEO agency in 2020 can cost you anywhere between $750–$2,000/month depending on the project scope. This may go up to $2,500 –$10,000/ month if you’re targeting a global market.

What You Need To Watch Out For

While it may seem like hiring an SEO agency is the answer, it’s important to mention here that not all SEO agencies are alike. One of the hardest things about working with an SEO agency is finding the right one to begin with!

What Kind Of Link Building Strategies Do They Use?

For years, SEO firms have been manipulating search rankings by creating link farms. Consequently, backlinks from low-quality sites signal to search engines that your website is spammy and may result in a Manual Action. Instead of adding site authority and link juice, the proliferation of backlinks might devalue your site—leaving you with less traffic and months’ or years’ worth of cleanup. Ideally, you want to work with an SEO firm that not only watches your link profile but also uses legitimate ways to receive backlinks from credible sites.

Hiring An SEO Consultant

If budget isn’t an issue, hiring an SEO consultant will allow you to focus on your core business while the expert handles your search rankings.

An SEO consultant is a freelancer who understands digital marketing and offers services and guidance to improve your search visibility and helps you rank against competitive keywords. A consultant can amplify your internal team efforts and work with you on areas that need the most attention. The upside is that you can hire these professionals on monthly, hourly, or one-time fee bases. You can gradually move to a full-time commitment with them as your business grows.

How Much Do They Charge?

SEO consultants with a solid reputation and experience in targeting high-end businesses may charge substantially more. They often offer packages—just like SEO agencies—so that you know the value you’re getting for the price.

You may want to steer clear from consultants who tie their clients into 12-month retainers. As a small business or start-up, it’s far more beneficial to work with a consultant who is flexible in terms of budget and strategies, in case you need to end the association on financial grounds.

SEO consultants in 2020 might charge between $80–$200/hour.

The Toss Between An SEO Consultant And An SEO Firm

While SEO agencies may deliver results quicker than consultants because they have a team of experts at their disposal, keep in mind that they have other clients to think about. This is why clients usually have stronger working relationships with SEO consultants than an agency.

However, if you’re pressed for time, an SEO agency is the right call because they don’t require a lot of input from you, and they typically have the track record that speaks for itself.

Moreover, SEO consultants usually have more knowledge about the fast-changing industry than agency employees because they’re a one-man show and are focused on delivering results.

Finding the right SEO agency or consultant can be a complicated process. Just remember that a crucial part of SEO is building customer trust and engagement, and external sources may not be able to do that as well as you do because they don’t know your business and customers like you!

This brings to our third option: DIY SEO.

Doing Your Own SEO

Let’s talk about businesses that don’t have infinite resources to invest in a multi-channel marketing strategy. With growing competition, it’s easy to be elbowed out; and giving up on organic traffic isn’t an option because it’s what keeps your online business afloat.

If your limited budget doesn’t allow you to hire a top-tier SEO agency, or a renowned SEO consultant to make it to the first page, doing SEO yourself is the best option!

The black-box nature of SEO can make it an overwhelming process, but it isn’t impenetrable. Some experts even argue that DIY SEO may be the better option because you know what your target audience is looking for better than any third-party SEO professional or agency.

Given the time, willingness to learn, and proper resources, nearly any business owner can become adept at SEO over a couple of months or a few years. Plus, if done well, there’s little that competes with the organic search visibility that it provides to your online business.

Why Taking The DIY SEO Route Can Be Rewarding

With a fundamental grasp on online tools, resource, and keyword research techniques, you’re well on your way to building high-performing pages. Check out our blog on creating an SEO roadmap of your own. DIY SEO lets you leverage your industry knowledge and customer understanding, and also gives you sole ownership over your SEO efforts, from the accounts to the analytics.

How Much Will It Cost (Spoiler Alert: It’s Free To Start!)

The best part about DIY SEO is that it saves you money upfront.

SEO agencies charge a hefty amount for their services, which will likely eat up a chunk of your overall marketing budget. Even SEO consultants can cost a pretty penny, depending on their level of experience and skill. And this high price doesn’t always guarantee quality work because SEO results are never guaranteed.

DIY SEO has dynamic pricing since there are a number of SEO tools available on the internet that can help you get started with as little as $25/month, like Rank Genie.

Rank Genie is an all-in-one SEO tool. It incorporates a keyword rank tracker, a backlink tracker and in-depth website SEO audit capabilities all on one platform. Get in touch with us to find out more about how you can achieve unprecedented SEO success and dominate SERPs while saving thousands of dollars on SEO with Rank Genie. Start a free trial today!