Every business will eventually realize that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing channel worth investing in. #1. Hire a Local SEO Agency One easy way to invest in SEO growth is to hire a local digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO to execute an SEO campaign for you. Most cities have at least one good digital marketing agency. Working with a local company is an excellent way to build relationships that can benefit your business long-term. Why this is a Good Option: Hire a local agency if you have limited in-house resources. Your business may not want to hire a permanent individual or group of individuals to manage ongoing SEO efforts. An agency is equipped with a team of professionals who can hit the ground running and immediately begin to complete projects designed to improve your website’s organic search presence. Hiring a local SEO agency will also eliminate overhead new hires incur. Hiring a local agency for SEO will allow you to set up in-person meetings to make sure that they are on-task and achieving your desired results. Why this Might Not Be the Best Option: Agencies are expensive – especially effective marketing agencies. Most agency contracts are duration-based, rather than results-based. This can mean that your SEO team does just enough work to get their contract renewed, rather than going all-out to drive your growth. For most businesses, it isn’t sustainable to hire a marketing agency to manage your SEO efforts long term. The cost is generally much too high. Finally, it may not be possible to hire a local SEO agency in your location. #2. Hire a Remote SEO Agency If you aren’t able to find a reputable local SEO agency, then it may make sense to hire a marketing company based elsewhere. The nice thing about SEO campaigns is that you don’t have to have someone on-site to manage your organic search efforts. SEO can be managed remotely, from anywhere in the world. This can allow you to shop around and find a qualified company at a great rate. Why this is a Good Option: Many rural companies may not have access to a good, local SEO and digital marketing agency. This might make hiring an experienced SEO marketing team to manage your site remotely the best option for you. Doing so allows you to choose from a much wider range of companies. You can compare quotes and services to find the right balance of experience and cost. Why This Might Not Be the Best Option: Hiring a company to manage your SEO efforts remotely can be dangerous. You can do it successfully, but it can be challenging to know exactly what they are doing for you. Some businesses may worry that the company is not doing as much work as they say they are. It can also be more challenging to verify that the agency’s online reputation matches the quality of the work they will deliver. While working with a remote SEO consultant or agency can be the least expensive option, it usually carries the most risk, and you should expect to put in extra time and effort to manage the agency you hire. #3. Hire One Experienced Individual and Allocate a Modest Freelance Budget Consider hiring one in-house SEO Marketing guru if you want a dedicated team member focused solely on your business. By hiring one, experienced employee to be 100% committed to your brand, and to work in-house you can be fairly certain of what you’re getting for your money. I would also consider allocating a small monthly budget for freelance writing support once he or she determines a good blog or content strategy to achieve your SEO goals. This will make your SEO wizard more productive. Why this is a Good Option: This is usually less expensive than hiring an agency, and requires less overhead than bringing on an entire team of SEOs in-house. It also allows you to incentivize the new hire’s contract, offering a lower base-salary with performance-based bonuses. This can be a good way to attract competent SEO professionals who know they can achieve results, while reducing your company’s up-front financial risk. Why this Might Not Be the Best Option: When you hire one person to manage a campaign, you run the risk of hiring someone who interviews well, but can’t actually produce the results you want. This is true of any job, but especially so of SEO hires where your CEO may not know enough to discern a slick-talker from a knowledgeable marketing professional. You can combat this by doing your homework so you’re prepared to ask appropriate interview questions. #4. Hire and Build an SEO Team In-House Serious about investing in SEO as a source of long-term growth for your company? Creating new positions at your company may be the best choice. Hire a group of SEOs might be the most effective way to build an SEO team which is invested in your corporate goals. Your new employees will be laser-focused on achieving results for you. Why This is a Good Option: You can sit down with HR and your marketing department and outline the sort of team you want to run an effective set of SEO campaigns for your company. Identify how many “worker bees” you need and the qualities you’re looking for in an SEO Manager, then build a team. You may decide to hire 2-3 people to start, which leaves room to expand your SEO team at a later date if needed. Why This Might Not Be The Best Option: Creating new positions at your company will increase your overhead. You may also struggle to find qualified candidates, depending upon where your business is based. Finally, hiring more than one new person is accompanied by a greater risk of those hires not working out. This can cost your company time and money. Final Thoughts on How to Build an SEO Team for Your Business Each of these four options can work for your business. It’s up to you to figure out what approach will work best for your company’s unique needs. Take time to outline your goals and budget. Plan ahead, and speak with a few local agencies to get a sense for what they offer. Some will likely complete an SEO assessment for your website free of charge. I also recommend that you speak with a few local businesses that seem to be doing well with digital marketing. Learning what has worked well for others in your area can be a great way to get a great return on money you invest in SEO. Begin with a modest budget. If you choose to hire an agency, try to negotiate a more complete package than what they initially offer. Plan to agree to a 3-6 month engagement. Six months should be enough time to gauge how valuable the results of your investment are. Learning what sort of growth an investment in SEO produces for your company will help you decide how best to build a long-term SEO team or strategy. Whether it makes sense to build an SEO team in-house, or periodically contract with third-party experts, SEO is an excellent way to generate high-quality business leads, and clients.