SEO Consultant vs. SEO Agency: Which is Best for You?

Austin Hunt - SEO Consultant

Written by: Austin Hunt

In this post I’m going to help you decide whether you should hire an SEO Consultant or an SEO Agency.

Every business needs a marketing team that fits their needs and helps them achieve their goals. 

Whether you’re brand new to online marketing or you’re in the market for some new blood (a fresh website, a different approach to digital marketing, or you’ve outgrown your current provider/structure), chances are you’ve heard of two different routes: hire an SEO consultant or work with a reputable SEO agency.

Below is my attempt to provide a fair look at the pros and cons of working with an SEO agency as well as an SEO consultant so that you may be better prepared to choose the best option for your business. Let’s dive right in!

Disclaimer: As an SEO Consultant, it reasons to be that I will be shamelessly biased. That being said, below is my genuine and honest attempt to share with you my experience and knowledge for both. I have worked as high-level SEO Account Manager in two industry-leading Agencies and as a stand-alone SEO Consultant for high-profit businesses over the last 7 years of my life. You may rest assured that I have a more complete picture of the pros and cons of both options.

Note: Both an agency and a consultant can get you the results you are looking for, but depending on your needs, one may be better suited for your business than the other.

What does an SEO consultant do?

An SEO Consultant, or Search Engine Optimization Consultant, is a highly skilled individual who has many years of experience improving search engine results with the goal of improving business and brand websites high-targeted organic traffic – leading to more leads, phone calls, and sales.

When deciding if you want to work with an SEO consultant, you need to be aware of the previous success they have had. The consultant should be able to show you examples of past projects and how they were successful in improving the website’s ranking.

In addition, when you are working with an individual consultant, they should be able to give you their undivided attention. One of the key benefit of working with a consultant over an agency is the level of detail that they will be able to put into each step of the project.

This is not to say that agencies don’t provide high-quality services, but rather that consultants can offer a more personalized touch because they are not splitting their time among multiple clients, nor are there any communication barriers between you and the decision-makers.

What is an SEO agency?

An SEO Agency is a company that offers Search Engine Optimization services to its clients. The company is composed of a team of experts that are responsible for different areas of SEO.

Typically SEO agencies are divided into different teams, each specializing in a different area of SEO. The most common team structure is as follows:

On-Page SEO Team

The on-page team is responsible for optimizing the content and code of the website to make it more search engine friendly.

Off-Page SEO Team

The off-page team is responsible for link building and other promotional activities.

Local SEO Team

The Local SEO team is responsible for optimizing the website for local search results. Sometimes this department is combined with the off-page team.

Technical SEO Team

The technical team is responsible for ensuring that the website is free of technical errors that could hurt its chances of ranking well.

Content Marketing Team

The content team is responsible for creating high-quality content that will be used on the website and in promotional materials.

What are the drawbacks of working with an agency?

While an SEO agency may have a larger team than a consultant, they are not always able to offer the same level of personalized attention. In addition, because SEO agencies typically have a lot more clients, they may not be able to devote as much time to your project as you would like.

You most likely will work with one person within the agency who will act as your project manager. Because agencies are set up in this method, you will rarely have direct contact with the people who are actually working on your project.

This can make it difficult to get questions answered in a timely manner. In addition, SEO agencies have a much harder time pivoting their strategies when necessary due to the bureaucratic nature of their organization.

Is there a price different between an SEO consultant and an SEO agency?

The price difference between an SEO consultant and an SEO agency will vary depending on the size of the project and the level of experience of the team.

In the years that I’ve worked in the SEO industry, I’ve found that there tends to be very little price difference between the two. In general, an agency will charge a slightly higher price than a consultant for the same project as they have more overhead costs.

On average, if you want to work with the best SEOs, you should expect to pay anywhere from $5k-$10k for a small project and $10k-$20k for a larger project each month. If you’d like detailed understanding of how pricing breaks down in the industry, I recommend reading SEO Pricing Models: Pros And Cons For Agency Pricing by Chris Dreyer.

The more important question I would ask is not about price, but about value. When you are looking for an SEO provider, you want to make sure that you are getting a good return on your investment.

Which is a better choice for your business, SEO Consultant or Agency?

The answer to this question depends on your specific needs.

As a good rule of thumb, you should only work with the very best in the industry, whether that is an SEO consultant or agency. Both have their pros and cons, so be sure to do your research before making a decision.

If you want a more personalized approach to SEO, then a consultant may be the better choice. However, if you want a team of experts working on your project, then an agency is probably a better fit.

According to Moz, a leading SEO expert, you should ask these questions before hiring an SEO company. Regardless of the direction you choose to take with your business, make sure you do your due diligence to ensure you are hiring the best possible people to help you achieve your goals.

I would personally recommend setting up a consultation with both an agency and a consultant, and evaluating for yourself which feels like the best option for you and your business.

seo consultant vs seo agency
Give This Some Well Deserved Thought over Your Morning Cup of Coffee

I Invite You to Reach Out

The whole process of figuring this out can be very confusing and time-consuming. Unfortunately the SEO industry as a whole is still in its infancy, so it’s not surprising if you find yourself with more questions than answers.

I want to help you figure this out. If you have any questions or need clarification on anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to chat with you and help you in any way I can. (The first 30-minutes are on me.)

I guarantee that you will find value in our conversation. And, if I cannot help you, I have many different contacts in the SEO industry who can.

Austin Hunt

Meet the Author:
Austin Hunt

Austin Hunt is the lead consultant & founder of Legal Guardian. Over the last decade he has helped thousands of businesses grow their revenue through digital marketing, guest lectured at four-year universities to educate young professionals, and always drinks a cup of coffee on his morning walks.

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