If your company is considering doing SEO in-house, there are some critical questions that you should address before you proceed.
- Do I have proper resources at my disposal to achieve professional SEO results?
Search engine optimization takes time, and your internal SEO expert will need to have a great deal of it at his or her disposal – especially at project’s outset when target audiences, keyphrases, and optimization schemes are first being established. Even after initial optimization effort, nature of SEO will require this person to spend ample time keeping up with industry trends, monitoring campaign progress, performing A/B testing, and expanding campaign as new product and service areas are added.
Perhaps even more important than time, achieving professional SEO results requires a unique set of aptitudes. The person responsible for your internal SEO initiative must possess ability to learn quickly and to look at your website from a macro-perspective, marrying together needs of sales, marketing, and IT. He or she can not be an aggressive risk taker, as this is often a surefire way to get your website penalized and potentially removed from major search engines. These gifted people exist in many companies, but given unique attributes that these individuals possess, their time is often already spent in other crucial areas of business.
Without enough time to invest in project or right type of person to execute it, an internal SEO initiative is likely doomed to fail.
- Do I know which departments of my company should be involved, and will they work with an insider?
As mentioned above, professional SEO, by necessity, involves marketing, sales, and IT. The SEO expert must work with marketing to find out what types of offers and initiatives are working offline to help translate them effectively online. He or she must work with sales to identify types of leads that are most valuable so that you can target right people in keyphrase selection process. And, finally, your SEO expert will need to work with IT to determine any technical limitations to SEO recommendations, learn of any past initiatives based on a technical approach, and get final optimization schemes implemented on website.
Sadly, in many businesses, these departments have a somewhat adversarial relationship. However, it is duty of SEO expert to act as a project manager and coordinate efforts of all three departments if you are going to get most out of your campaign. No professional SEO project can be completed in a vacuum. For whatever reason, it is often easier for an outsider to get adversarial departments on same page, in same way that a marriage counselor might convince a woman of her undying love for her husband while husband is still grimacing from a well-placed knee in parking lot.
- Will someone be held accountable for results?
This may seem like a small consideration, but it can have a tremendous impact on success of campaign. If you have added this responsibility to some poor soul’s job description with direction that he or she should "do best you can," you’ll be lucky to make any headway at all (especially if person is not enthusiastic about SEO). Whether SEO is done in-house or outsourced, someone will have to take responsibility for showing progress, explaining setbacks, and continually improving results. Without this accountability, it is very common to see an initiative fade as buck is passed.
- Can I afford delayed results based on a learning curve?
It’s a reality – professional SEO expertise has a steep learning curve. While information on how to perform basics of optimization are freely available on web, much of information out there is also contradictory, and some of it is actually dangerous. It takes time for someone unfamiliar with discipline to sort SEO wheat from SEO chaff (on a side note, a "quoted" search of Google reveals that this may actually mark first occasion in human history that phrase "SEO chaff" has been used – we’re betting it’s also last). Simply put, if person you are putting on job has no experience, it will take longer to get results. This may not be a consideration if you aren’t counting on new business from SEO any time soon. However, if you are losing business to your competition due to their professional SEO initiatives, time might be a larger factor.