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In-house SEO vs outsourced agency talent: Who wins the debate?

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In-house SEO vs outsourced agency talent Who wins the debate

30-second summary:

  • SEO involves a lot of tasks, processes, and technicalities that are hard to master and manage
  • Investing in an in-house team can have lots of advantages, like building specialized talent, greater control over performance, productivity, brand and process alignment
  • However, outsourcing to an SEO agency may not deliver the above-mentioned benefits but can be easier on your marketing budget and overheads
  • So, how do you identify the right fit for your business?

There are too many parts of SEO and many of those parts are constantly moving and changing. The more a site grows, the more challenging SEO is going to be. So what’s a better approach: to start building your own in-house SEO team or rely on an agency or freelancers?

Let’s see…

Pros and cons of building your own team

Pro #1: You build your own internal talent and knowledge

Your team is your biggest asset. Your company is only as good as the people behind it. These are all cliches but they hold true.

Having an in-house team to rely on makes your SEO strategy more consistent and aligned with your company’s culture and your product positioning strategy. Plus, there is a smoother flow of ideas and communication that leads to better results. You also stand to gain from the cross-pollination of talent that feeds into innovation and greater problem-solving.

Con #1: Talents tend to move on

There’s one huge issue with talented people: They tend to overgrow their employing businesses, and they do that pretty quickly.

It often becomes hard (and expensive) to keep the talent, even if your organization was the one that grew it.

Pro #2: You hold someone responsible

If you are good at hiring, you will likely find someone responsible who will take their training and tasks seriously. The person will have clear ownership which makes everyone’s lives easier and your business more effective. 

Any business initiative is going to be successful only if there’s someone inside the company to “own” it.

In-house teams are easier to control, you can ask for and obtain reports within a day. You can ask for clarifications without running out of your billable hours.

Con #2: It is expensive

Not many businesses can afford to have an internal SEO that has nothing but SEO… Apart from regular and inevitable payroll, there are also HR processes that contribute to the overall expenses. And let’s not forget about employee insurance and other benefits.

Yes, growing your own team is generally a great investment but only if your budget allows it. Plus, there’s always a risk your investment will simply leave your company one day (see above).

Pro #3: You own your data

Privacy is a big issue when it comes to letting anyone do marketing for you. On the other hand, you can also control the technology and privacy much more efficiently ensuring that your data is accessible to your internal team only.

Additionally, when you outsource anything, you will inevitably miss lots of data, like contacts that were acquired, templates that worked better, and other assets.

When you have the work done internally, you end up accumulating contacts you can rely on going forward. You also eventually build your own data and find innovative ways to build it into your search marketing strategy.

Con #4: It is slower

Unless you have a huge team, SEO tasks will pile up. They are very hard to organize and scale without outside help because there are too many variables and most of them are done on a continuous and regular basis.

Relying on freelancers to outsource SEO tasks is often the only way to get things done and free some time for looking into analytics to align your SEO strategy better.

Pro #5: The process can be better integrated

SEO is no longer an island. It can only be really effective if it is well-integrated into all processes within an organization, including product development, IT, sales, and customer support.

The intersection of digital and physical consumer experiences is also a strong reason as to why SEO needs to have strong integration with digital marketing, martech, and sales. Your business can achieve its goals only if it has a unified footprint.

Con #5: You cannot build a team that is good at everything

The biggest problem with SEO is that there are several moving parts that require absolutely different training and skill sets.

Remember the graph?

SEO graph and relativitySource: Anthony Palomarez

SEO always includes content creation and optimization, technical support, and link building (which normally includes email outreach, relationship building, and linkable asset creation which, in turn, involves graphic design or video production tasks).

If you need to understand all of these moving parts better, I have a simplified flow chart for you:

the scope of SEO

Let’s not forget that many of those parts will have to evolve based on ever-changing Google guidelines and ever-developing search algorithms that are hard to keep up with.

With such a variety of skills required, building a team that would handle almost everything is next to impossible, even for corporate entities.

Of course, today’s technology makes it much easier. You don’t have a web developer to build a landing page, or handle on-page SEO essentials. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create visuals, or even put together an effective lead magnet.

But even with smart technology, to handle all the parts of an SEO strategy you will need a pretty huge team, which is – again – expensive.

The truth is somewhere in the middle

The takeaway from the above is somewhat of a dilemma: You want a team to control something that you may never be able to control.

The best solution is usually in the middle:

  • Hire an SEO manager who has thorough SEO knowledge
  • Let that SEO manager find companies and freelancers to outsource different moving parts to

This means having an SEO manager who is brilliant at both SEO and project management.

Yes, it will take time to find the right person but finding the right person is never easy. 

It is well worth your time though:

  • Your in-house person will be able to “translate” any SEO jargon to you whenever you need to understand what is going on
  • You will have someone owning the strategy and process 
  • There will be a person who will be inside your company to ensure your SEO strategy is aligned with your overall product positioning strategy and include other teams in the SEO processes

In reality, if you want your SEO strategy to deliver results, you need both: An internal person (or a team) and someone outside your company to rely on. This is not a question of choosing one.

Conclusion

Managing SEO is hard. Don’t feel discouraged. There’s no valid alternative to organic search traffic. Find the right person who will be able to manage the process for you and find reliable partners to outsource different SEO tasks to. This way you will keep the strategy under control while still being able to afford it. Good luck!


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

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How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher

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How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher

How To Measure The Largest Contentful Paint Of Your Website

Run a free website speed test to find out. Your LCP speed will be displayed immediately.

The results of your speed test will tell you if:

  • The LCP threshold is met.
  • You need to optimize any other Core Web Vital.

How Is The Largest Contentful Paint Calculated?

Google looks at the 75th percentile of experiences – that means 25% of real website visitors experience LCP load times of 3.09 seconds or higher, while for 75% of users the LCP is below 3.09 seconds.

In this example, the real-user LCP is shown as 3.09 seconds.

Screenshot of a Core Web Vitals data of DebugBear.com, November 2022

What Are The Lab Test Results On My Core Web Vitals Data?

With this specific web speed test, you’ll also see lab metrics that were collected in a controlled test environment. While these metrics don’t directly impact Google rankings, there are two advantages of this data:

  1. The metrics update as soon as you improve your website, while Google’s real-time data will take 28 days to fully update.
  2. You get detailed reports in addition to the metrics, which can help you optimize your website.

Additionally, PageSpeed Insights also provides lab data, but keep in mind that the data it reports can sometimes be misleading due to the simulated throttling it uses to emulate a slower network connection.

How Do You Find Your Largest Contentful Paint Element?

When you run a page speed test with DebugBear, the LCP element is highlighted in the test result.

Sometimes, the LCP element may be a large image, and other times, it could be a large portion of text.

Regardless of whether your LCP element is an image or a piece of text, the LCP content won’t appear until your page starts rendering.

For example, on the page below, a background image is responsible for the largest paint.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of DebugBear.com, November 2022

In contrast, this page’s LCP is a paragraph of text.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of DebugBear.com, November 2022

To improve the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) of your website you need to ensure that the HTML element responsible for the LCP appears quickly.

How To Improve The Largest Contentful Paint

To improve the LCP you need to:

  1. Find out what resources are necessary to make the LCP element appear.
  2. See how you can load those resources faster (or not at all).

For example, if the LCP element is a photo, you could reduce the file size of the image.

After running a DebugBear speed test, you can click on each performance metric to view more information on how it could be optimized.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of a detailed Largest Contentful Paint analysis in DebugBear.com, November 2022

Common resources that affect the LCP are:

  • Render-blocking resources.
  • Images that are not optimized.
  • Outdated image formats.
  • Fonts that are not optimized.

How To Reduce Render-Blocking Resources

Render-blocking resources are files that need to be downloaded before the browser can start drawing page content on the screen. CSS stylesheets are typically render-blocking, as are many script tags.

To reduce the performance impact of render-blocking resources you can:

  1. Identify what resources are render-blocking.
  2. Review if the resource is necessary.
  3. Review if the resource needs to block rendering.
  4. See if the resource can be loaded more quickly up, for example using compression.

The Easy Way: In the DebugBear request waterfall, requests for render-blocking resources are marked with a “Blocking” tag.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of DebugBear.com, November 2022

How To Prioritize & Speed Up LCP Image Requests

For this section, we’re going to leverage the new “fetchpriority” attribute on images to help your visitor’s browsers quickly identify what image should load first.

Use this attribute on your LCP element.

Why?

When just looking at the HTML, browsers often can’t immediately tell what images are important. One image might end up being a large background image, while another one might be a small part of the website footer.

Accordingly, all images are initially considered low priority, until the page has been rendered and the browser knows where the image appears.

However, that can mean that the browser only starts downloading the LCP image fairly late.

The new Priority Hints web standard allows website owners to provide more information to help browsers prioritize images and other resources.

In the example below, we can see that the browser spends a lot of time waiting, as indicated by the gray bar.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint & Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of a low-priority LCP image on DebugBear.com, November 2022

We would choose this LCP image to add the “fetchpriority” attribute to.

How To Add The “FetchPriority” Attribute To Images

Simply adding the fetchpriority=”high” attribute to an HTML img tag will the browser will prioritize downloading that image as quickly as possible.

<img src="https://www.searchenginejournal.com/optimize-largest-contentful-paint-debugbear-spcs/471883/photo.jpg" fetchpriority="high" />

How To Use Modern Image Formats & Size Images Appropriately

High-resolution images can often have a large file size, which means they take a long time to download.

In the speed test result below you can see that by looking at the dark blue shaded areas. Each line indicates a chunk of the image arriving in the browser.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint &#038; Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of a large LCP image on DebugBear.com, November 2022

There are two approaches to reducing image sizes:

  1. Ensure the image resolution is as low as possible. Consider serving images at different resolutions depending on the size of the user’s device.
  2. Use a modern image format like WebP, which can store images of the same quality at a lower file size.

How To Optimize Font Loading Times

If the LCP element is an HTML heading or paragraph, then it’s important to load the font for this chunk of text quickly.

One way to achieve this would be to use preload tags that can tell the browser to load the fonts early.

The font-display: swap CSS rule can also ensure sped-up rendering, as the browser will immediately render the text with a default font before switching to the web font later on.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint &#038; Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of web fonts delaying the LCP on DebugBear.com, November 2022

Monitor Your Website To Keep The LCP Fast

Continuously monitoring your website not only lets you verify that your LCP optimizations are working, but also makes sure you get alerted if your LCP gets worse.

DebugBear can monitor the Core Web Vitals and other site speed metrics over time. In addition to running in-depth lab-based tests, the product also keeps track of the real-user metrics from Google.

Try DebugBear with a free 14-day trial.

How To Optimize The Largest Contentful Paint &#038; Rank Higher In GoogleScreenshot of site speed monitoring data on DebugBear.com, November 2022



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