A lot of businesses are too small (or early) to hire an agency, but almost no businesses are too big…
I’m going to explain my thoughts on the former before my opinion on the latter.
In my very humble opinion, marketing agencies are most effective when they are used as an extension or support system for in-house staff.
To be clear, I’m not speaking to the services that allow you to outsource entire in-house positions like CMO or Director of Marketing — I understand the unique value proposition of having an outside agency fulfill a specific role.
Instead, I’m talking about companies that may have an in-house sales role and possibly even someone in charge of marketing, but that’s it.
These are often times the companies who believe bringing in an agency is the answer to all their marketing problems — when in fact it usually resultsin more frustration than anything, from lost time, lost budget, and general floundering on opportunity cost…
The reason is — if you’re a company doing less than say $5 million in annual sales — your 1–2 in-house staff members managing sales/marketing are likely buried with tasks to support your entire organization — and cannot be the effective manager you need them to be in order to execute on your marketing agencies strategic initiatives.
Instead, I believe marketing agencies deliver their weight in gold when there is enough infrastructure within their client businesses to support tactical implementation of their strategically designed campaigns.
So with that said, for companies that have in-house teams managing their demand generation (or marketing efforts, whatever you want to call it) here are the 5 strongest symptoms that justify seeking out a qualified agency to help you drive ROI from SEO:
1. Your Website’s SEO Traffic Has Plateaued
An estimated 25% of keywords searched each month are not inside the top 100M most searched terms.
On top of that, more than 50% of keywords are 4 words or more, so there’s a good chance that your keyword research is incomplete, out of date, or just grossly underestimated.
We find it best to complete a total addressable market analysis every 6 months at a minimum for highly competitive niches online.
It’s important to also understand that there is a difference between maxing out your identified opportunities versus maxing out your total attainable marketshare, where as if you find your business in the latter scenario the only way to grow is to add on new product or service lines.
2. You Cannot Seem To Find Efficiency with Building Links
If you’re like most companies (42%), and link building remains your most difficult challenge you may need to consider bringing on a specialist agency to help increase your monthly link acquisition velocity to a level that enables you to compete in search.
We have clients who’s niche/industry contains keywords which necessitate at least 50–100 new linking domains each month just to sustain a page 1 ranking.
Link building remains one of the most impactful elements of solid SEO if done right, i.e. acquiring backlinks that send signals representing contextual relevancy and trust.. and showing G you’re more deserving of that free traffic than your competitors.
3. You’re Seeing Consistent Declines in Organic Traffic
With Google making on average almost 2,000 changes to it’s algorithms each year, it can be hard for most companies to keep up.
Couple this with the fact that search results are becoming increasingly diversified and complex, often making it harder for companies to win rankings with their own domains.
Then you throw on top of this significant shifts to the algorithms abilities to better match content to query intent, resulting in massive shake-ups in many established results pages (and a lot of websites losing their previously established rankings), and you’re left with a lot of confusion.
4. You’ve Tried (and Failed) to Hire In-House SEO Talent
It’s no secret among the SEO industry pro’s… it’s really hard to hire for Senior and Executive level SEO roles.
So much so that I’ve accidentally developed a decent side business of helping big companies find and land Senior level SEO talent, not because I’m just a good guy — but because of the point I made in the beginning of this post; it helps drive better partnership engagements for agencies.
I think one of the reasons hiring top talent in SEO is so damned hard is because of how valuable these folks are, and they know it.
So what is an extremely valuable employee to do?
Pretty much whatever the F#c% they want, which is usually going into consulting or starting an agency… starting to see my point here?
5. Your Site’s Mobile Version is Not Performing
With more than 50% of searches currently taking place on phones (in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan), if your mobile site experience is slow, or worse, ugly and unintuitive — you’re costing yourself business.
Beyond the piles of research that show how important mobile optimization is to driving conversions (even if only at the top of the funnel / brand awareness phase) with the advent of Google switching to their mobile-first index, and user experience lending to organic ranking signals.
If your mobile experience stinks, you should look to find a Chicago SEO consultant that understands how to fix it, immediately.
SEO Agencies Exist as Augmentation Solutions
If you think your website is falling victim to any of the above mentioned ailments, it’s worth at least having some conversations with qualified help.
If nothing else, you’ll be able to get better insight into:
- 1) what’s wrong with your current digital marketing stack
- 2) what blindspots you may not even be aware of, and
- 3) how much potential revenue or upside is out there for you to capitalize on.