ADDED:Â Welcome SmallBusinessNews readers!Â Just an advanced warning that this article contains a range of profanities.Â But seeing you already read the article over at SBN or by email that’s too little too late ain’t it?Â Perhaps that should be the motto for the SEO industry? Ho-hum.
I read an article over at SEW today by Justilien Gaspard, which gives reasons why companies should keep their link building efforts in-houseÂ (hat tip to Sphinn).Â While I agree with the points made, I do think the general argument only really applies to a minority of companies – so I thought a post showing the flip side was in order.
First of all, the core of my argument here is that SEO professionals are like doctors.Â Experienced and knowledgeable, they can diagnose a variety of problems from limited information – they can spot hidden solutions and don’t necessarily jump to conclusions.
And with that in mind, I would label absolutely every other person who flirts with SEO as the biggest fucking hypochondriacs in the world.Â And this is why…
I’d class a SEO professional as someone who has a reasonably wide scope of success in SEO.Â That might be through their own sites, or managing client sites – the point is that the hands on experience over a number of projects arms them with the knowledge to be able to adapt to most future projects that come their way.Â Basically, it takes more than optimising a single 20 page site for a low competition term to really consider yourself as a professional.
The problem is that the first barrier to overcome when understanding the industry is first getting your head around the concept (on page optimisation / link weight).Â It just seems too easy for a lot of people when they get to this point and that gives them a kind of self confidence that I would guess doctors see every day when they have to address people self diagnosing their own ailments.
An arrogant belief that they must be right because SEO is oh-so simple – the kind of arrogance that means SEO agencies and consultants get a lot of work fixing DIY SEO problems – the kind of arrogance that enables marketing agencies to demand “100 PR4 deep links” for their client’s site – the kind of arrogance that leads to corporate websites losing all organic traffic because their newbie in-house SEO doesn’t know shit.
There are loads of reasons why in-house link building simply isn’t a practical approach from the majority of businesses (of all sizes) out there – these are just a few:
Where you going to recruit a link builder from?
There are no link builders.Â It’s not a career.Â Sure – agencies will have link building teams – these people are trained internally and very rarely arrive at their job with experience (of course this will change over time though).Â There are link building specialists, but the money they can make there’s no chance you’ll get them working for you.
Link building is a boring, shit job on the whole.Â It can be very repetitive – lots of admin work involved.Â Â Generally an entry / graduate level position agency side.
There is little scope for career progression as an in-house link building – you will be a team of one in most companies so no chance of a promotion to manager (that’s why your job title probably already has “manager” in it! ).Â You could perhaps move to a different company, but your job will basically be the same (just a different industry).Â And when you get experienced enough, it’s time to move into the consultancy to see your pay cheque and add a few zeros to it!Â
The only prospect of recruiting an experienced staff member to take on a link building role would be to focus on the industry experience rather than the link building experience – that would be an effective approach, but obviously has some pitfalls.
I don’t mean disrespect to any link building professionals out there.Â My point here is that as happy in their job as people may be just now, I would imagine most would be early in their career and would expect to be in a more challenging position in 5 years time.Â In-house link building can’t offer that – agency link building can to a certain extent (larger team, more clients, more work, more experience).
If you can’t offer your employee a future with your company, how do you expect their function in the company to be part of an effective long term strategy?
Perhaps you will simply have a member of staff “do link building as well”?
Seriously?Â Then your chance of them have any link building experience is reduced and they won’t be focused on the task.Â Not a big deal – smaller companies commonly have staff members undertaking multiple roles and this can work very well.Â It also has the bonus that you can combine industry / company experience with the job role.
But it is a short term solution.Â Either their “other job” will take more of their time up or the link building will.Â At that point, your company needs to consider a longer term strategy – simply juggling link building isn’t giving it the importance it should have (if you are considering in-house link building in the first place).
The main problem is experience
Recruitment and staff retention concerns aside, what if your staff member screws up?Â Remember the hypochondriacs who took that mild headache and jumped aboard the “OMG BRAIN TUMOUR” ship?Â That’s your newbie link builder that is.
SEO is full of chains of thought that lead to the wrong conclusions.Â Ooh – I added more keywords to the page and it ranks better – let’s add even more!Â Shit, Google didn’t like that – I know, let’s make the text the same colour as the background.Â Nope, OK can we just push it off page with CSS?Â No?Â Damn…OK hire the consultant to fix this…
Everything in moderation – this applies to link building as well.Â Just because your new recruit knows “links = rankings” and has some previous experience on their CV, doesn’t mean they are fully versed in the more advanced areas of link building.Â Not applicable to all candidates of course, but there’s a reason that hiring someone full time may be less expensive than outsourcing!
So what does outsourcing your link building bring to the table?
Let’s run down the list:
- Experience – to do the right thing.
- Peace of mind – that the right thing is being done.
- Stability – agencies and professional link building services usually have teams so even if someone moves on or is off ill you still get the work done.
It seems like a short list doesn’t it?Â But that’s what you pay for and I don’t think I need to elaborate on this anymore.
If you are considering hiring someone to do your link building in-house, then consider this.Â If you don’t know enough about the job to do it yourself, then you don’t know enough to know howÂ well they are doing their job or how much risk your business is at.
OK, that sounded way more melodramatic that it should – if things go wrong, it isn’t the end of the world.Â But as a conscious business owner / manager, you do need to know about the possible issues that you could be facing.Â
If I had to sit here and develop an ideal strategy for a large company / website, then of course that would include someone in-house, full time dealing with link building and related areas.Â However, the reality of business, careers and the SEO industry means that simply isn’t a practical solution for many companies.
Long term strategies NEED to be grounded in reality – otherwise they just become bollocks marketing documents with no real purpose.
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