Third Parties: Agencies and Contractors

“Make greatness attainable by all.”

John Wooden

Third Parties: Agencies and Contractors

In most companies, not all SEO work is done in-house. Much of it is outsourced. Technical audits, keyword research, on-page optimization, copywriting, link building outreach, application/web development, reputation management, general consultation.

In-house teams commonly outsource these tasks or projects to SEO/marketing agencies, independent consultants, freelance copywriters, off-shore developers.

Companies hire outsiders for a variety of reasons:

  • Cost savings
  • Productivity / Lack of internal resources
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Risk aversion: big brands get nervous letting SEO teams blast emails for links
  • Reassurance: executives sometimes need third-party agencies to perform technical audits, and validate your in-house roadmaps before the work starts.

Whatever your reasons are, the SEO manager is generally held accountable for generating a good ROI on the engagement.

Here’s the secret to outsourcing: average teams view and treat external folks as vendors. Good teams view and treat them as partners and teammates. Average teams give them just enough information to do the job. Good teams involve them as if they were members of the SEO team, and share company intel with them so that they have enough information to do an exceptional job.

Questions Worth Asking

Between agencies and contractors, what outsiders are right for your business to support SEO?

Big brands work with local or reputed SEO agencies for technical audits, link building, reputation management, and keyword / content development. If you have one, what are their goals?

What skills or work gaps can they fill in that you can’t fill with your in-house team?

Enterprise retail companies often promote via catalogs, and other traditional marketing methods. This limits in-house creative (copywriting, photography, etc.) teams from providing SEO teams optimum support.

If you need to hire freelance copywriters, how should you justify the expense to leadership? What rates should you pay? What pages should you target? What word count range should they hit?

What brand guidelines (voice / style / tone / customer personas) should they write around?

Who edits the written drafts internally? Who optimizes the content for hyperlinks, styling, imagery before posting content on the web?

How should external work be integrated into internal workflows so that when working on large on-page SEO projects (batches of 25+ pages per week), you can create efficient, scalable processes?

Good copywriting can not only influence rankings, but also earn you Featured Snippets in Google. How should you create better requirements for writers so that they’re writing to solve problems, answer questions, and offer helpful information, and not stuffing keywords?

How should you measure success of an SEO agency’s engagement?

What metrics/KPIs should you hold them accountable to?

What intangible value can they bring to your team? Examples: industry expertise, knowledge/lesson sharing from experience w/ similar clients, strategy validation, critical feedback, etc.

What level of access should you grant agencies with to your data reporting, your SEO tools, your internal systems? When an contract ends, what steps should you take to protect your company’s confidential documents, log-ins, and strategies?

Are there ways you can leverage the networks and contacts of your agencies, vendors, and consultants to collaborate on projects?

If an agency performs a technical audit, and provides you a roadmap of enhancements to implement, how should you take action? How does it align with your existing SEO roadmaps?

How should you communicate information to IT and executive teams to increase urgency, prioritize next steps, and complete the work?


Build good partnerships and team camaraderie with everyone you work with. Give outsiders a chance to make meaningful contributions. You’ll tangibly notice the quality of your ideas, the results of your work, and the expertise of your subject matter improve. Make great work attainable by all.

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