Search Engine Optimization: Agency, Freelancer, Or Do It Yourself?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential part of a good marketing strategy. To not be entirely dependent on advertising and to have the right marketing mix, SEO is essential for every company.

To achieve better SEO results, you have three options: engage an SEO agency, hire an SEO freelancer or do it yourself (internally). But what is the best option for your business? In this blog, we explain the pros and cons of the three options.

Search engine optimization

Scenario 1: Expand the activities of your current (full SEO Services) marketing agency

Are you already working with a (full SEO Services) online marketing agency, for example, for Google Ads or social media advertising? Then you can consider expanding the activities there. Another option is to reduce the advertising budgets so that the marketing agency can free up hours for SEO work.


  • You already know the marketing agency, so you know what kind of meat you have in the tub. You don’t have to build up a new relationship with other marketers or SEO specialists, and you don’t have to get used to a different way of working.
  • The marketing agency is familiar with your company. This way, they know what works well and what doesn’t work for your target group. That saves time: Google Ads data can, for example, be used for your SEO strategy.
  • All work under one roof is often straightforward. You probably have a permanent contact person at the marketing agency, so you do not have to communicate with multiple parties and marketers.


SEO is often not the focus of a marketing agency. Most marketing agencies focus mainly on online advertising. That is not surprising.

  • Online advertising sells quickly.
  • You achieve ROI faster.
  • For SEO, you need more patience.

Many marketing agencies have expanded their advertising services with SEO or other specialist SEO Services. The disadvantage is that the number of SEO specialists can be counted on one hand at many large and medium-sized marketing agencies (with at least 25 marketers).

  • Moreover, knowledge is often not available in all SEO areas (technology, content, authority). Small agencies usually do not employ SEO specialists, so the work is carried out by an “online marketer”. You probably already feel it coming: you won’t get the best results like that.
  • At many full SEO Services marketing agencies, the SEO work is carried out by juniors or interns, so you miss professionals’ necessary knowledge and attention.
  • SEO specialists at a broad agency often have a large number of clients they work for. Because of this, they cannot give you all the attention you need. It is because online marketing agencies often only employ one or a few SEO specialists.
  • SEO is a separate field and utterly different from online advertising. The knowledge area at many agencies is, in general, not “the best of the best”. As a result, you may not get the best advice, and the best optimizations are not implemented, which is a missed opportunity.
  • Many online marketing agencies put SEO “on the side” because they want to maximize their sales and not risk losing customers. As a result, you do not benefit from the optimal knowledge and expertise you need to achieve excellent SEO results.

Scenario 2: Hire a freelance SEO specialist

Another option is to hire a freelance SEO specialist. Various agreements can be made with an SEO freelancer. For example, the specialist can work remotely, at your office or a combination of both. Most freelance SEO specialists have years of experience and have often worked as an SEO specialist at a marketing agency.


  • With an SEO freelancer, you always know who will work for you and with whom you work. It is easy to see how many years of experience the freelancer has, which references they have, and how SEO aspects excel.
  • An SEO freelancer’s knowledge level is often high, partly because they often have years of experience.
  • A freelancer will always feel pressure to deliver quality. After all, if you are not satisfied, they will lose an important client, while they often depend on a few clients.
  • It can be cheaper to hire an SEO freelancer, instead of a marketing agency or an SEO agency. Rates of SEO freelancers vary from € 75 to € 150 per hour.


  • Finding the right SEO freelancer can be very difficult. Good SEO freelancers are scarce because they have often already reached their maximum in terms of clients.
  • Within the field of search engine optimization, you have various activities and areas of knowledge. It is tough to find a freelancer who has knowledge in all fields or performs all activities. For example, many freelancers have difficulty performing link building or lack extensive knowledge of technical SEO.
  • Hiring a freelancer is more expensive than hiring someone for SEO yourself.
  • You depend on one person. Is the freelancer sick or on vacation? Then your SEO will not be worked on.

Scenario 3: Hire a specialized SEO agency

Do you not want to build an internal SEO team, but do you want to have all possible SEO knowledge in the short term? Then hiring an SEO agency is the right choice.

A specialized SEO agency knows all areas to help you to the next step. You can outsource all the SEO work to an external agency, so you can be sure that you will achieve good results.


  • You will have access to an experienced and multi-disciplinary team of SEO strategists, consultants, technical SEO specialists, link builders, copywriters and data analysts. Setting up such an SEO team yourself takes a long time and is often too expensive.
  • You don’t have to go to the trouble of finding specialists in all SEO areas, which is very difficult. There are simply few excellent SEO specialists to be found.
  • Specialized SEO agencies work for a variety of companies. All knowledge that is gained can be applied for your website, webshop or platform.
  • A specialized SEO agency is well informed about the latest algorithm updates, SEO developments, the best tools and the best working techniques. It allows you to work with the best people out there and to achieve better results faster.
  • An agency often has licenses for the best SEO tools in the world. The costs of this can be too high for a freelancer or own team. SEO agencies can spread these costs over multiple clients, allowing you to take advantage of these tools’ various benefits.


  • The costs of hiring an SEO agency are often high. That’s because SEO requires a lot of attention, time and knowledge. SEO is not something you can do quickly in between. It is not uncommon to receive a proposal with monthly amounts between € 2,500 and € 25,000. The average hourly rates of SEO agencies vary from € 100 to € 185.
  • As a relatively small customer, there is a chance that you will be assigned a junior or even an intern for your work at various SEO agencies. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, because you have to start somewhere. But this means that there is a chance that your SEO process will not receive the attention of the experienced specialists, while it is necessary.
  • You will not always learn everything about SEO yourself. After all, the SEO specialists work at the agency and not with you as a customer.

Scenario 4: Hire an SEO specialist

You can also choose to carry out all the SEO work in-house. It is often the best choice when SEO is crucial for your company or when your marketing team is so large that an extra FTE is not a problem.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need to go through a learning curve and hire specialists in all areas of SEO. It takes more time than you expect in advance.


  • Your employees know your company better than external parties. To achieve optimal results, you must optimize your website to benefit the visitors. The better someone knows your customers, the better the SEO result will be.
  • When you have one or more SEO specialists around, you can easily switch. The specialist is part of your company, and you don’t have to wait until an appointment is made with an agency or freelancer.
  • You have no delay in communication, something you often do with external parties. If you need something, you can immediately turn to the SEO specialist or the SEO team.
  • Most of the knowledge obtained is safeguarded within your organization.


  • Finding experienced SEO specialists is very difficult. Many companies have vacancies open for a long time. Few SEO specialists are looking for a new position, and SEO specialists are in high demand. So you have to be patient to find the right specialist.
  • Hiring an SEO specialist can be very expensive. It is not surprising to pay € 4K + gross salary for a senior SEO specialist. On top of this are all insurance, social security contributions, workplace costs, pension premiums, vacation days, vacation pay, licenses, costs for training, et cetera.
  • A freelancer or an agency often has a wealth of tools with which significant efficiency benefits can be achieved. As a result, a freelancer or agency does not need as many hours as an internal SEO specialist.
  • When someone works internally, they will often be less aware of all new developments. If the specialist has just come from an agency, that will not be a problem, but there is a chance that the knowledge will lag when you are several years later.
  • Few SEO specialists master all facets well, just like with freelancers. That does not have to be a problem, but for many companies, this means that you immediately have to build a team with multiple SEO specialists.
  • It’s not easy to get rid of employees if they don’t perform as expected. Often you will not find out immediately, because SEO takes time. If you discover after a while that the SEO specialist is not performing, you cannot only dissolve the employment contract. It is easier to dissolve contracts with freelancers or agencies.

Scenario 5: Train SEO specialists yourself

When it is difficult to find SEO specialists, you can train people yourself. You have several options for training SEO specialists: (online) SEO training courses , courses, meetups, events, workshops, hiring external guidance, hiring speakers or having a training course.


  • If you already have someone in mind internally, you don’t have to hire new people. This saves a lot of time in the search for a (potential) SEO specialist.
  • By training people internally you give your current employees the opportunity to develop further.
  • You can choose in which areas you want to train someone and which courses, education or training you will use for this.
  • The acquired knowledge remains within your company.


  • It takes a long time to train someone properly. Before you have trained an SEO specialist who has knowledge of various facets (keyword research, strategy, data analyzes, technical analyzes, copywriting, link building, etc.), you are often at least 2 years further.
  • When you let someone follow a training or course you only learn the basics. Learning SEO is primarily a matter of spending many ‘flying hours’.
  • Because you have to gain a lot of experience, it takes a lot of time before you master everything properly. In addition, there is a high chance that someone who is being trained will make a number of mistakes, which will have an impact on the result. It is important to take this into account.

The choice depends on how you are doing search engine optimization:

For the best choice, it is essential to determine how you are doing with search engine optimization. Are you just starting to perform search engine optimization? Then it is essential to map out your strengths and weaknesses.

To make the right choice, ask yourself the following questions

What does your business look like for SEO? What can you invest in SEO, and what should be the return on it? Keep in mind that the return on SEO takes time: at least 6 to 12 months. What is the current internal SEO knowledge like? What knowledge is not available? And which knowledge gives you a significant boost?

So what’s best for you?

We hope you have a better idea of ​​the options you have for getting more out of search engine optimization. Feel free to contact us. We are happy to help you.

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About the author

Michael Austin

Michael Austin is a Internet Entrepreneur, Blogger, Day Dreamer, Business Guy, Fitness Freak and Digital Marketing Specialist. He also helps companies to grow their online businesses.