Differences Between an SEO Agency and SEO Consultant

Many times business owners wonder what they should do for their search engine optimization campaigns. Often times the thought of having to do keyword research, link building, competitive analysis, and all of the other duties associated with running a thorough and properly executed SEO campaign seem like too much for someone who’s running a small to medium-sized business. The nuances of SEO cannot be picked up in a day or two. It takes months for Google’s algorithm to update and consider websites for high positions (preferably above the fold where most people click). At this point you’ll have to decide whether to use a SEO consultant or hire an digital marketing and SEO agency.

Hiring a SEO Consultant

There are several benefits to hiring an independent SEO consultant to run your campaigns:

  • They cost less money. Because a consultant won’t typically have to deal with the same overhead that an agency does they’re able to charge less for their work. Often by the hour. Although sometimes a consultant will charge per project.
  • Flexibility. A consultant can travel to your location and work hand and hand with your marketing team. Having a SEO heavily involved in the other aspects of your business increases synergy.
  • Unbiased opinions. SEO consultants are usually very straightforward when dealing with clients. Because they don’t have the pressures and red tape associated with climbing the “corporate ladder” at an agency or in-house for that matter.

There are some downsides to hiring a consultant. Sometimes you don’t have the accountability you’d get with in-house people or an agency. When something needs to get done and you’re left with a project that you can’t lead it doesn’t exactly put a warm feeling in your belly about SEOs.

Hiring a SEO Agency

Be prepared to spend more money when hiring an agency. Also, you can expect being locked into a binding contract that needs you to “show proof” if the agency isn’t working out. But, there are some upsides to hiring an agency.

  • More resources. Often times a consultant lacks the technical skill set required to run a digital marketing campaign. An agency often has designers, programmers, and copywriters. All things you’ll have to find independently if you go with a consultant.
  • Accountability. Often the result of a contract but nevertheless, when you hire a SEO agency you can expect a certain level of customer support. Knowing that you won’t be “left hanging” is comforting when a lot of money is at stake.
  • Pulled experience. At an agency you’ll find people who’ve been working on SEO for years. Their shared experience and mindsets offer a diverse opinion set that helps you look outside the box.

Unfortunately it usually comes down to money. Instead of looking for what suits the business for a holistic perspective, people are often blinded with promises of first page rankings and “SEO Packages”. One thing you definitely need to do is first get a quote. Then talk it out and see what fits best for your SEO campaign(s).

Clayton Curtis is a SEO consultant living in Atlanta, GA. He also writes for the digital marketing blog 30 Beats Per Second

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One Response to "Differences Between an SEO Agency and SEO Consultant"

  1. Hi Clayton, your post brings out the difference between SEO consultant and agency really well. I think if one is new and starting out small, then perhaps a SEO consultant will be better as the budget and scale of operations is small. Also, one requires more flexibility in the initial phase. At a later stage, it may better to opt for an agency as it offers better expertise( different people pooling in their experience) and more professional approach…

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