SEO: In House Vs. Agency

By Simon Ensor
SEO 11.06.2019

Investing the time, energy and resources into a beautiful website without also investing in SEO, is like buying a new car and not buying petrol. It’ll sit on your driveway looking pretty, but it’s not going to get you anywhere. However, entering the world of SEO, how it works, and trying to make a decision about the best route forward for you and your business can seem like a mind-boggling task. We’ve taken stock of what’s out there and the different SEO solutions that are available. We’ve put together a comprehensive, transparent pros and cons list to help you make an informed decision about your next steps. So, without any further adieu, let’s take a look.

SEO Agency Pros and Cons



SEO agencies go through the long process of attracting and hiring skilled individuals for their agency. Using an agency means that the recruitment process of trying to find the right people for the job, vetting them and the fees involved rest on the shoulders of the agency, not you. For many businesses, this is one of the main driving factors behind hiring an agency – the recruitment process can be lengthy and expensive, whereas with an agency, it’s a matter of finding the agency that fits your needs and getting started.


SEO agencies work with a number of different clients at any given moment. As such, they’re constantly exposed to new techniques, advancements and changes across a multitude of industries. This experience means that where an in-house team may become blinkered to standard industry practices, an agency can use innovative and creative solutions from other campaigns to give you an edge over your competition.

Ready to hit the ground running

SEO agencies are geared up to grab your SEO campaign with both hands and run with it. They’ve got the team, the technology and the drive to give your SEO campaign the best possible chance of success right away. They don’t need to settle into the office, or the job. You don’t need to provide any equipment or technology – if the team have capacity, they’re ready to go straight away.

Office Politics

One of the positives of not working in close proximity with your existing team is that they won’t get mixed up in the office politics that occur in an every day office. They can immerse themselves in your brand and your company, whilst still being far enough removed to focus on your campaign and give honest feedback and suggestions.

Easier to cut ties with

Whilst you should take your time choosing the right agency for you, and a good agency can deliver fantastic results, there is always the possibility that the relationship comes to an end. It may not be straight away, it could be a few years down the line. Sometimes they might just not be the right fit, or you feel that the maximum value has been achieved over a certain time period. Morbid though it may seem, if you don’t get on with an agency, they’re far easier to let go of than a hired in-house team.

Agency Competition

SEO agencies aren’t exactly sparse which means that they’re all in competition for your business. All agencies want to appear to be the best at what they do, and the only way to achieve that is to constantly achieve great results to promote word of mouth and enhance case studies. The proof is very much in the pudding with SEO, so agencies are constantly working to prove that they were the right choice for you and to maintain your business in the long run.

Split time and focus

SEO agencies, by nature, have a lot of other clients that they’re working with. The work that they’re putting into your campaign will be scheduled. Though they’ll focus solely on your campaign for the scheduled time slot given, adding in extra work and hours may prove expensive or difficult depending on the agency that you’re working with.

Slower communication

Even with the advancements in social media, instant messaging and video calls, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. A good SEO agency will remain in constant contact with you, but your account manager may not always be around to take your call or reply to your e-mail instantly, whereas with an in-house team they’re just at the end of the office.

Lack of ownership

The work that an agency like Yellowball will do for you will deliver high ROI. However, should you also request design/creative work, some agencies will hold the rights and ownership to that work. With an in-house team, any work is owned by you and can be used in any way for the eternity of your company without any restrictions. This is definitely a clause to look out for in contracts – for what it’s worth, we believe that if you pay for something you should own it!

Could be the wrong agency for you

In house recruitment processes can be very time consuming. Selecting an agency also takes time. You have to interview, review proposals and assess proposals. There’s still a chance that when it comes down to it, they’re the wrong agency for you. The agency can be hugely talented, but the two visions just don’t match up, resulting in going back to the drawing board to find a better fit.

Can be difficult for other employees to see the value

The value of SEO cannot be disputed, however it can be difficult for your current team members to see the value. It can produce difficulties for both parties working efficiently when your SEO team aren’t in-house. An in-house team helps to keep your SEO campaign on your employee’s radar and make your existing departments feel involved in the campaign.

In House SEO Pros and Cons


Brand focused

One of the biggest pro’s of an in-house team is that they’re focussed solely on your brand at all times. The theory is that you’re getting the full working day out of them. An SEO agency has many other clients to look after and you won’t be getting a full day’s work from them every day. An in-house team can be moulded to and around your brand without the distraction of other clients and industries.

Immediate communication

The added benefit of having your team at the other end of the office instead of the other end of the phone is that they have the dedication to your brand to be able to move tasks around and re-prioritise at the drop of a hat. Because agencies have schedules and commitments to other clients, what may be an urgent task for you, could be placed into a work queue instead of being prioritised straightaway.


Yes, recruiting multiple team members can be a headache and a long process, but having the extra peace of mind that comes with personally vetting and interviewing each person that will be working on your campaigns and company is invaluable for some companies.


One of the added benefits of an in-house team is that they can be a little more flexible in the work that they’re doing for you without added fees or increased costs. You can work with them to add social media into their SEO strategy without social media being an additional cost to their service as many agencies would. That’s not to say that team members wouldn’t renegotiate salaries based on their workload and responsibilities that they’re being given though.

Lack of exposure

In-House team are likely to have less exposure to alternative methods and strategies when compared with an agency.. This can result in a one-track mind in the execution of your SEO campaign. Although your in-house team may have a wealth of experience across different industries and sectors, the world of technology changes at a frightening pace, an agency would have experienced and dealt with more of those changes than an in-house team.


It’s easy for other departments to take advantage of your SEO team, asking for a quick social media post here and there, a quick design mock up and before you know it, they’re no longer your SEO team. They’re SEO, marketing, design, and social media managers. Suddenly your SEO campaign is no longer getting the theoretical 8 hours per day. Anyone who has run a team or a business will be aware of the dichotomy between theory and reality!

Training time

A large part of hiring an in-house team, or any new member of your business is getting them integrated with the teams, company atmosphere and reporting lines. The first few months of work can often be taken up with training, settling in and establishing how your new team will work together, meaning it takes longer to start seeing real movement or results than it would with an agency.


The fees involved with hiring a new team and the on-going employment thereafter can be a big bill to foot. In fact, often much larger than you originally expect. With recruitment agent fees easily reaching 20% of your new employee’s salary off the bat, taking NI, PAYE, pension and any employee benefits that you offer into consideration, too, the cost of a new team is far more than just a salary. Of course there’s then the expense of the technology and equipment required for your team to successfully execute your SEO campaign. The cost of the first could break down as follows:

£35,000 salary

  • £7,000 recruitment fee
  • £750 Laptop
  • £3000 software subscriptions
  • £4800 desk (if working to a £400 per desk format)
  • £350 statutory 1% pension contribution
  • £4380 PAYE & NI

Total: £55,280

With an agency, this expense has already been covered, and you’ll only be paying a single monthly payment that covers all costs, the sum of which would likely be less than the cost of a single employee’s annual salary alone. You should also bear in mind that this does not give you access to a Head of SEO, Account Director or Manager. However, the same percentages can be applied to a different salary.


In the UK, employees have much more protection than in the US for example. And rightly so! What this does mean though that following a probationary period, that individual becomes far harder to remove than an agency. In addition, employees are able to give notice and leave whereas an agency is bound by their contract. It might be a pessimistic outlook but these things do happen. The reality is that an agency provides you with higher levels of flexibility.


The appropriate route for you is heavily dependent on your needs as a company. If you’re looking for great results from a highly specialised team that lives and breathes SEO on a daily basis, then an agency is probably the best route for you. On the other hand, although some agencies offer a bespoke service, they simply can’t give the level of brand dedication that an in-house team can. It’s important to spend time evaluating your options to make the right decision for you and your company, so if you have any questions or if you know that Yellowball is the right SEO agency for you, we’re just on the end of e-mail or 0203 176 7662.

Let’s work together

Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter a telephone number
Please confirm that you agree to our Terms & Conditions