In-House vs Outsourced SEO: Pros, Cons & Best ROI in 2024

Navigating the choice between in-house and outsourced SEO is akin to deciding whether to hire a chef or dine out—both will satisfy your hunger, but the experience and outcome can be vastly different. In the world of search engine rankings, where visibility translates to viability, this decision becomes even more critical.

In this article, we cut straight to the chase: comparing the cost implications, resource allocation, and strategic control of keeping SEO in-house versus outsourcing SEO to the expertise of a specialized SEO agency. By the end, you’ll have a clear blueprint to decide which route can better steer your company towards its objectives in the digital landscape.

Weighing Your SEO Options: In-House or Outsourced SEO?

In the realm of SEO, one size does not fit all. Agencies often have an upper hand in managing large-scale projects due to their extensive resources, diverse expertise, and adeptness at handling complex SEO landscapes and expansive campaigns.

In-house teams, while sometimes less resource-heavy, bring a unique advantage—their deep, insider understanding of an individual business. This specialized knowledge can be useful in tailoring SEO strategies that resonate with specific market segments. 

Criteria In-house SEO Outsourced SEO
Labor Fixed salaries Monthly retainer or project-based fees
Technology Training and tools expenses Typically includes tools and ongoing training
Expertise Depth in company-specific knowledge Breadth from diverse industry exposure
Flexibility Direct control over campaigns Flexible scaling, up or down
Scalability Limited by in-house resources Easier to scale with agency resources
Resource Allocation Requires dedicated staff and management External management, less internal oversight
Strategic Control Complete oversight and immediate pivoting Some control, depends on communication
Operational Overhead Recruitment, workspace, benefits Generally lower overhead
ROI and Performance Depends on team’s expertise Agencies accountable for performance metrics
Long-Term Investment Cumulative growth of internal capabilities Long-term relationship building with agency
Speed of Implementation Can be slow due to training and hiring Quick setup and campaign launch
Risk Management Risks contained within the business Potential external risks to manage
Innovation Potentially limited by internal expertise Access to latest trends and cross-industry insights
Table: Comparison of In-house SEO management vs outsourced / agency SEO management

Number Crunching: Cost vs. Benefits of SEO Sourcing Decisions

image of graph comparing costs of in-house vs outsourced seo in 2024

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

In 2024, experts estimate that in-house SEO can cost an SMB anywhere from $7K to $40K a month. The breakdown for this statistic is as follows: On average, SEO professionals’ annual salaries range from $40K to $60K (that’s $3.3K to $5 per month). Team sizes usually range from 2 to 8 people. 

Keep in mind that the estimate above does not include state-of-the-art SEO software subscriptions or personnel training costs.

Factor In-house SEO Costs Outsourced SEO Costs
Salaries $3.3K – $5K per professional Included in agency fee
Team Size 2 – 8 people Varies
Training Additional costs Included in agency fee
SEO Tools Additional costs Included in agency fee
Total Estimate $7K – $40K $1000 – $10K+
Comparison of SEO costs in 2024

Outsourced SEO agency costs, on the other hand, also span a wide range, with most agencies offering a variety of different pricing models. Starting from as little as $1000 a month, agency fees can go all the way up to $10K per month, or even higher.

Although agency fees depend on multiple factors, including the scope of SEO services and the experience of the dedicated SEO team, one key factor to look out for is agency size. Typically, smaller SEO teams pass on the benefit of lower overheads to you, thereby charging considerably lower rates compared to more experienced agencies.

SparkLaunch offers SEO packages starting at as low as $500 per month. Our white-label SEO options for agencies make it more cost-effective than building or expanding your existing team.

The Pros and Cons of In-house SEO, in Detail

Why do some businesses insist on creating and growing their own in-house SEO teams? Here are some answers.

The In-House Advantage

Master control

At the heart of in-house SEO is the unparalleled control it offers. Companies gain the advantage of tweaking their SEO tactics on the fly. This level of oversight ensures strategies are not just in sync with marketing goals but can also pivot swiftly in response to market trends or new insights.


An in-house team isn’t just familiar with SEO; they’re experts in your business’s unique landscape. This intimate knowledge translates into SEO strategies that resonate more effectively with your target audience, exploiting every advantage and side-stepping potential stumbling blocks during an SEO campaign.

Bespoke strategies

Customization is where in-house teams shine. They can craft and modify SEO approaches that align precisely with the company’s specific objectives, whether it’s targeting a niche market or a global audience, ensuring that every SEO move is a step in the right direction.

Challenges of In-house SEO

In-house SEO is no walk in the park, however, and businesses are increasingly veering away from this option, preferring to turn to outside help for their SEO needs. This is why:

Higher costs

Maintaining an in-house SEO team can be a significant investment, particularly for smaller firms. The financial commitment extends beyond salaries to encompass training and the latest SEO tools, which can accumulate into a hefty sum.

Expertise: depth vs. breadth

While in-house teams offer deep insight into your business, they may lack the broad-ranging experience that comes from working across diverse industries. This potential gap often limits the scope of innovative SEO solutions.

The balancing act of in-house workloads

In-house SEO teams often have to juggle multiple responsibilities. This multitasking can stretch resources thin, leading to a dilution in the focus and potency of SEO campaigns.

Operational sustainability

The challenges don’t stop at strategy; they extend into the realm of team dynamics. From recruiting the right talent to keeping pace with evolving SEO trends, the operational side of in-house SEO is a terrain filled with its own set of hurdles.

SEO Agencies: The Pros and Cons of Outsourced SEO

As the SEO landscape grows ever more complicated, more and more businesses are choosing to either entirely outsource their SEO needs, or to partner with an agency that specializes in SEO services. Foremost among the many reasons for this are:

The Upsides of Outsourcing SEO

A world of SEO experience

Engaging an SEO agency is like tapping into a reservoir of varied experiences. Their exposure to multiple industries equips them with a toolbox of innovative strategies, often leading to more impactful and successful SEO campaigns.

Cost-effective SEO solutions

Surprisingly, choosing an agency can be lighter on the budget. When you tally up the costs of an entire in-house team – salaries, tools, and training – the agency’s monthly fee, complete with advanced tools and expertise, often emerges as the more economical option.

Efficiency gains

Money saved is money earned. Agencies are adept at swiftly designing and launching SEO strategies. Their expertise in handling diverse campaigns means they can pinpoint and deploy effective strategies quickly, maximizing the return on your SEO investment.

Cutting-edge SEO tools

One of the perks of outsourced SEO is that agencies typically wield the latest SEO tools and technologies. This arsenal not only enhances campaign effectiveness but also provides deeper insights that can enrich your overall marketing strategy.

Flexibility in scaling

An agency’s involvement can be stepped up or down to match your business’s evolving needs. This flexibility is a boon, particularly for businesses experiencing rapid growth or seasonal fluctuations.

The Potential Downside of Outsourcing

Shifting control

Outsourcing SEO can mean giving up control, or at the very least, relaxing your grip on the reins. For businesses accustomed to overseeing every detail, this shift can require significant adjustments to managerial style and policy.

Navigating quality and ethical concerns

The risk that an agency might cut corners or not align with the high ethical standards of your business is a valid concern. Such missteps can have repercussions for your business’ search engine standing, and, even worse, affect your brand’s reputation in the long term.

Keeping a tab on transparency

A crucial aspect of outsourced SEO is ensuring transparent communication and comprehensive reporting. Businesses naturally seek assurance that they will be kept in the loop about the key developments and outcomes of their SEO campaigns.

The Long View: Strategic SEO Decision-Making

The choice between in-house and outsourced SEO is never made in a vacuum. Instead, this decision hinges on a matrix of factors – industry nuances, business size, specific SEO goals, and overarching business growth plans. 

Some businesses might find that the control and tailored approach of in-house SEO aligns perfectly with their strategic objectives. For most others, the versatility and scalability of an agency such as SparkLaunch SEO represents greater growth. The dedicated resources and continuous learning approach of SparkLaunch ensure that your business’ SEO evolves to stay on top of algorithm tweaks and business trends.

To learn more about the best SEO choices to boost your business’s growth trajectory, schedule a free discovery call with our team. There’s no obligation or pressure to sign up, and at the very least, you’ll have greater confidence on the best SEO model for your organization.