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Why your in-house SEO team may be missing the mark

From newly established brands to those that have been operating for years, SEO is essential to maintaining site visibility, understanding and delivering what your customers are looking for, and sustaining website health. This can be done in-house, via an agency or with a mixture of the two.

Choosing between investing in an in-house SEO team, an agency or a mixture is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The right option will differ from company to company. While your needs and requirements are highly likely to change as your business grows, the initial setup will have a considerable impact.

Benefits of an in-house SEO team

  • In-depth understanding of the product or service
  • An appreciation of company processes
  • Ability to cater information to everyone at management level and higher
  • Focusing round-the-clock on one project

Benefits of an agency SEO team

  • Excellent understanding of how algorithm updates have impacted a wide selection of companies
  • Multiple opportunities to idea-share
  • Swift working with clear strategies
  • Ability to work solely, or with, in-house marketing managers

Benefits of a mixed agency and in-house SEO team

  • Understanding how algorithm updates have impacted companies within your sector and how this relates to your site performance
  • In-depth knowledge of the product or service, with opportunities to idea-share
  • Round-the clock focus on a project with swift implementation 
  • Ability to tackle priority work in addition to essential technical site maintenance

What to ask if you believe your in-house SEO team may be missing the mark

There may be multiple reasons why your search engine optimisation is not performing as well as it could; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your in-house team is underperforming. Your team may be operating exceptionally well, but still lagging. SEO is a multifaceted, fast-changing industry. Last week’s strategy may not work this week.

Here is a selection of questions you can ask yourself, and your team, to establish where they may be struggling and whether additional support is required to hit that bullseye and help your site performance (and revenue) soar.  

1) Has search intent changed?

Google is continually training its algorithm to understand the intent behind queries better. A lot of companies had to undertake a significant amount of work following changes to the SERPs last year. With Google’s understanding of search intent ever-changing, it is essential not to rest on your laurels or put all of your hopes on one specific search term. 

Therefore, if you are noticing a significant change in your site rankings, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your team has done something wrong. It may simply be that Google’s understanding of search intent has changed. You can check this using on-SERP analysis

Due to only having one project to focus on, in-house teams have a fantastic opportunity to understand the SERPs in extreme depth. If they notice a considerable change in SERP results, it may be that Google’s understanding has altered and you may want to consider switching your search term focus or amend your content to be more in-line with what is now being served. 

How can an agency assist: When Google’s understanding of search intent changes again, which it most certainly will, a lot of work will have to be implemented swiftly to regain site performance and revenue. For sites of any size, an agency can work with an in-house team to help analyse what the new search term focus should be per page, amend the content and monitor the results.

2) Is your team large enough?

Even if you own a considerably light website, the chances are you will need more than an SEO manager, content writer and access to a developer if you want to be successful. For example, one full-time employee could easily spend all of their time implementing basic on-site technical optimisation. And that’s before even thinking about A/B testing, ideation, strategy creation and staying up to date with the latest advances in all things digital.

Overwhelming workload

In my personal experience working client-side, a quality and essential SEO strategy is often laid aside in place of maintenance tasks or analysis tasks, due to instructions from higher up. Your site may start to lag behind your competitors purely because your team is not as large as others and therefore, through no fault of their own, are unable to implement an effective strategy.

Inclusive targeting

In addition to technical implementation and optimisation, it is vital that any team reflects the diversity of the audience they are targeting. This will prevent anyone from feeling excluded or underrepresented and will increase conversion opportunity. Paying multiple full-time salaries to ensure that everyone in your target audience is adequately represented may be impossible at this moment in time; however, the consequences of underrepresenting your audience will eventually harm your revenue. 

Similarly, you may be missing opportunities because you are only targeting one end-user. For example, the content on a conception website may mostly target women. However, there is a wide variety of content that is better suited to partners, who play a considerable role and should be kept in mind. Inclusive targeting will surely have a positive impact in the long-run; however, that requires a lot more work for your already-strained team.

How can an agency assist: From taking on basic optimisation tasks, through to tackling smaller projects; an agency can help take the pressure off, giving your team the chance to be more creative and focused in their approach. Additionally, ideation from an agency with a diverse workforce may help you find a new, more inclusive angle for your strategy.

3) Is there a skills gap?

Many believe that one person can ‘do SEO’. While that may be true, there is a significant difference between ‘doing SEO’ and ‘doing it well’. Some of the various skills required within SEO include:

  • Creativity: Not only in technical approach but in the way content on the site is formatted and the topics covered etc.
  • Technical knowledge: Basic technical SEO skills (heading’s, redirects, and image compression, etc.) can be easily taught; however, more advanced tasks require considerable knowledge and experience. 
  • Data analysis skills: Your SEO team will need to understand top-level data (such as revenue performance and rankings) as well as how to dig into this data to pull out valuable information.

While one person may be able to ‘do’ all of these tasks, there will be aspects that they will be weak in. This by no means makes them poor at their job, in fact, if they were able to focus more heavily on aspects of SEO that they are secure in, you would most likely see a more positive impact in ROI. The question then becomes, how do you afford to hire enough people to create a powerful team?

How can an agency assist: An SEO agency is extremely likely to have someone who can fill the skills gap in your team. When you invest in an agency, you won’t be investing in a full-time employee, more a range of employees that you can call upon as and when you need them. This could be a retainer or a pre-agreed set of tasks (such as data analysis) to give your team more time to do what they do best.

These are just three questions that may help you better understand the performance of your site and what you can do to help your team perform better with the time they have. There is no reason why an in-house team can’t invest in help from an SEO agency to help take their site performance to the next level. 

We have extensive experience in working with in-house teams, helping them achieve better results. If you are unsure as to how an agency can help your team or are interested in how this could look for your business; we would love to chat.

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