How to Outsource SEO: a Step-By-Step Guide

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What Is SEO Outsourcing?

SEO outsourcing means having a dedicated agency or freelancer help you execute (and possibly create) your SEO strategy to drive more organic traffic from search engines.

Outsourcing your SEO activities is useful if your marketing team doesn’t have the bandwidth, resources, or tools needed to implement an effective SEO strategy. 

If you’re considering outsourcing SEO, think about exactly what elements you want to outsource.

Types of SEO Services to Outsource

Depending on your company’s needs and budget, you can choose to outsource some or all of your SEO services.

Here are the main SEO activities you can outsource:

  • On-Page SEO: Optimizing your webpages to improve visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs) by updating things like title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and internal linking
  • Off-Page SEO: Activities you perform beyond your website to improve your domain authority and visibility in the SERPs, (e.g., link building and guest blogging)
  • Technical SEO: Optimizing your website (including the overall structure) to improve its performance and visibility
  • International SEO: Optimizing your website for different countries and languages by translating country-specific content, implementing language tags, and optimizing for different search engines
  • Local SEO: Increasing the visibility of your website in local search results. This includes optimizing your Google Business Profile, creating local content, and getting local reviews
  • Content SEO: Creating optimized content designed to improve your visibility in SERPs. This also often includes keyword research, creating topic clusters, and optimizing existing content.

You can also focus on outsourcing very specific activities like SEO strategy, SEO audits, link building, UX design, and sitemap optimization.

"What do SEO services include" infographic

Outsourcing with Freelancers vs. with SEO agencies

Deciding whether to go with a freelance SEO specialist or an agency depends on your needs. But know that both typically offer one-time services and long-term projects. 

Freelancers typically work in one of two ways:

  • Per project: You and the freelancer agree to work on a specific SEO project
  • Retainer package: The freelancer offers you a set number of hours you can use for a variety of SEO tasks

Freelancers often provide one or more specific services instead of comprehensive SEO support. 

For example, here’s what you might find when looking for freelance SEO services on Fiverr:

results for "SEO services" search on Fiverr

A freelancer is a good choice if you need help with specifics like optimizing product pages or identifying keyword opportunities.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution, it may be better to work with a full-serviceSEO agency because you’ll have access to a team with a wide range of skills and expertise related to most (if not all) of the services listed above.

They can also provide ongoing support and help you keep up with the latest changes and trends.

Benefits of Outsourcing SEO

Here are the main advantages to working with a freelancer or agency:

Expediency

Outsourcing SEO rapidly solves for your company’s needs. 

Rather than investing in training or hiring new talent, you can outsource those responsibilities to an expert or team. 

This makes sense for many types of organizations. Like smaller teams that are spread thin, businesses with small budgets, teams that need to optimize for SEO at speed, or larger teams that crave specialized help.

Expertise

Freelancers and agencies that specialize in SEO are well-versed in algorithm changes, emerging SEO tactics, and finding new competitors.

It can be a challenge for an in-house SEO team to keep up with these changes. For smaller businesses, it’s hard to hire someone only for SEO. 

But an outside resource is typically experienced and up-to-date. Especially if you choose a partner with experience in many areas of SEO, which you can do with Semrush Agency Partners.

"TOP Professional SEO Services in the World" in Semrush Agency Partners

Cost

Outsourcing SEO is often more cost-effective than hiring an in-house team, which requires significant investments in salaries, benefits, and training.

With outsourcing, you only pay for the services you need without having to worry about overhead costs. 

Drawbacks of Outsourcing SEO

Limited Control

Outsourcing SEO means that you lose some control over your SEO strategies and tactics.

You can still maintain some level of control by setting clear expectations and giving your outsourced SEO partner access to information like: 

  • Detailed audience personas
  • SEO tactics you’ve tried and the results you’ve achieved
  • Insights into your competitors

Communication Gaps

Outsourcing SEO can introduce language barriers and different time zones that make communication difficult. This can lead to misunderstandings and delays.

Establish clear communication channels and rules from the beginning. 

Schedule regular meetings and use tools like Zoom, email, and project management software to stay in touch.

Less Market Knowledge

Third parties may not always have the understanding and insight needed to develop an effective SEO strategy tailored to your specific needs.

But you can find one that does.

Choose an SEO company that has experience in your industry or niche and can provide case studies or examples of successful campaigns for similar businesses.

If you need help, use Semrush Agency Partners. Filter to find a good match for all your SEO needs:

"Filters" section in Semrush Agency Partners

How to Outsource SEO

Here’s the step-by-step process for choosing a good SEO outsourcing partner:

1. Define Your Goals

Start by defining your goals so you can find out what kind of services you need and what results you want to achieve.

For example, if you’re starting an SEO strategy for the first time and your goal is to increase your brand’s organic visibility, you probably need to begin with keyword research.

This was the case for Learning with Experts, a global classroom community struggling to stand out in a crowded online learning platform market.

"Learning with Experts" homepage

When they started working with an SEO agency, they had low online visibility relative to their competitors.

The agency used the Keyword Magic Tool to find new ideas for keywords. Here’s an example of a keyword group they may have found: 

example of keyword group for "garden design" in Keyword Magic Tool

Then, they crafted informative content around those topics that matched customers’ search intent. And optimized category pages.

2. Research and Select the Best SEO Partner for You

Look for providers with a proven track record and positive customer reviews. And pay attention to their experience and range of services.

Here are some factors to consider when looking for an SEO professional or agency that fits your business goals:

  • Expertise: Do you need someone who has a strong background working with other brands from a niche industry? What types of SEO must they understand to align with your goals?
  • Efficiency: How fast do you need to see results? Do you have time for trial and error before committing to an SEO strategy?
  • Cost: How much money can you spend on SEO? What outcomes do you expect from investing in SEO services?

For example, if your business is new, you may want to focus on optimization tactics and researching your competitors to uncover your keyword gaps.

Look for a freelancer or agency that has a track record of success. And be sure to ask for reviews, case studies, and testimonials to help make your final decision.

3. Agree on the Scope of Work

Agree on the scope of work before you begin to avoid potential misunderstandings and wasted budget.

Here are the three most important aspects you should agree on with an SEO provider:

Specific Services

Clarify which services you’re interested in and what limitations or exclusions there are for each.

For example, you can outsource keyword research to improve your rankings in SERPs. But you may have your own dedicated writer to help you create content based on those keywords.

In that case, you can use Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant to help craft a well-optimized piece of content for your website or blog. 

It provides you with actionable tips related to readability, tone of voice, originality, and SEO.

"Get recommendations" button highlighted in Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant

Timeline

Clear deadlines help both sides plan their work and ensure that the project stays on track.

Discuss the time frame for each deliverable and make sure the vendor can meet them. And allow time for revisions, approvals, and other contingencies that may affect the schedule.

Say you’ve hired an agency to publish more SEO-driven blog posts on your site over the next three months. 

A content calendar is a must-have. It’ll help you manage, schedule, and track all content marketing efforts for your business.

You can use the Semrush Marketing Calendar to manage all your content and campaigns. 

Use the filter options shown below to find projects and tasks quickly. It’ll help you keep track of your SEO partner’s progress.

Filter options in Semrush Marketing Calendar

Cost

Clarify the SEO pricing model upfront to get on the same page with your SEO service provider. To stay on budget and avoid scope creep.

It could be a one-time, monthly, or performance-based fee.

Also, clarify what (if any) additional fees may apply. This way, you’ll avoid any surprises down the road.

4. Provide Access to Your Website and Relevant Data

Your SEO service provider will need access to your website and relevant data like:

  • Analytics: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Semrush, or other tools you use to track your website’s performance
  • Google Business Profile: For local SEO
  • Your CMS or hosting service: To improve on-site SEO 

Consider also granting your SEO partner access to historical reports. That will give them deeper insight into your website’s past performance and contribute to their strategy.

5. Monitor Results

Tracking progress will help you evaluate how effective your outsourced SEO services are and identify areas for improvement.

Some metrics to track include:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Monthly organic traffic
  • Backlinks
  • Referring domains

Semrush’s SEO Dashboard makes it easy to track these metrics without needing to switch between multiple SEO tools. Here’s a look at the “Domain Analytics” section:

Semrush’s SEO Dashboard

Outsource SEO the Right Way

When you find a reliable partner to outsource SEO to, you can improve the quality of your website, boost your online visibility, and drive sales. 

If you want support from an agency, get started with Semrush Agency Partners.



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