The recent 2011 annual report from SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) and Econsultancy gives some data that can make one wonder a bit. The survey is of mostly North American companies and agencies in the search game.
The question I have is about the use (or dare I say popularity) of the in-house SEO model. In-house SEO’s are just that: staffers on a company payroll that have the job of search engine optimization for an organization’s particular needs. SEO agencies ran the show for the start of the SEO era but as more and more people became skilled in the SEO arts more companies decided to bring that function in house. The chart below, however, shows the cycle might be possibly changing again.
The number of companies polled using less than 10% of their SEO budgets for agencies (which is virtually a complete in-house play) dropped from 62% to 50% from 2010 to 2011.
So does this mean that the in-house model is dead? Not by a long shot but it could indicate that the cost of carrying an in-house team has been a focus of cost conscious companies during the recent economic times. Companies may be willing to give up a lot of control (and many would argue quality) by going back to agencies because carrying pay rolled employees is bigger than just a salary and supplies. Most companies add at least 35% of an employee’s total salary to get the total cost of carrying that person with the extra money representing benefits etc.
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Everything in life and business is cyclical so maybe this is just the natural order of the SEO game. We really have so little history of the industry to make any conclusions about how these cycles might play out but in the hyper accelerated world of the Internet maybe we are there already.
One other thing the report pointed out is what SEO’s of all stripes consider to be important with regard to doing their jobs.
The rise of the mobile net is on the mind of the most search marketers with nearly 80% saying it is significant to their efforts. The biggest ‘non-issue’? The Bingahoo alliance with 55% of the respondents saying that it was not significant to them. Looks like Bing has their work cut out for them.
So what is your take on the in-house SEO vs agency issue? Is the cost of the in-house play worth the return one can get from having dedicated resources for the mission critical SEO play? Should a company look at just the cost of having staff or should they be a bit more discerning about what the value is as opposed to just the expense? Is it that maybe in-house teams aren’t returning the results that were promised? Is it that the sample for the study is not representative (in your opinion)?
Let’s hear your voice on this one.
You can get a sample of the report or purchase the full report here.