What’s the difference between freelance seo consultant and agencies?
The main difference is obvious, freelancers are independent consultants. They’re usually self-employed and their client base is often localised, although theoretically freelance SEO’s can perhaps work from anywhere with clients from anywhere.
SEO agencies offer similar consultancy services but they’ve a large team. How big an SEO agency will range between anything from a couple of visitors to hundreds. SEO agencies often offer other internet marketing services like web design, pay per click advertising or display advertising in addition to SEO.
Much like other service based industries typically freelance SEO’s are cheaper than SEO agencies. Agencies have higher overheads like offices and sales teams, finance departments and account managers. Most freelancers work independently from home offices making their overheads significantly lower.
Most agencies an freelance SEO’s price their work hourly or on per day rate.
The actual SEO process which agencies and freelance consultants follow is usually quite similar. There is a fairly well toned best practice process for optimising a web site which will looks something similar to:
- Keyword research
- Technical optimisation
- On site optimisation
- Link building
Terminology and the important points of every part of the process will be different from agency to agency and consultant to consultant but many will follow this formula by and large. Some freelancers may focus on a certain part of the SEO process like link building but the majority are all rounders who can complete all parts of the process.
The biggest difference having an agency is probably the degree of account management involvement which is often ideal for larger campaigns with big brands.
The caliber of SEO work delivered by agencies and freelancers varies greatly so no real comparison can be drawn and as a small business considering working with either a consultant or even a consultancy it’s your responsibility to seek assurances about the reliability, credibility and performance of who you hire to do your SEO.
Seek references from other customers about the ability of working with the agency or the freelancer and check their clients results in Google search results.
Agency’s often sell themselves on the benefit of having a multi-disciplinary team at their disposal comprised of departmental specialists like link builders and copywriters. This will certainly be a bonus but just normally freelancers can offer a higher quality of service and results insurance firms more personal experience on your own project.
Having a team can provide agencies a bonus in this respect but often freelancers are ex-agency employees who will be in the SEO business longer and are towards the top of the game. Whenever using an agency make sure you seek assurances about the ability of the team members taking care of your project. Sloppy SEO work conducted by under qualified consultants can in some cases damage your websites search rankings a lot more than it helps.
Managing an SEO campaign has different challenges in various industries and often specialist experience working in a specific sector could be a big advantage. Some freelance SEO consultants will specialise in a sector like travel, retail or finance or in a specific geographical area like local businesses in London. Most SEO agencies don’t specialise in a sector because they’d soon go out of potential clients (as an agency should only use one site in a certain niche to prevent conflict between clients) what this means is they may be more generalists however they will often have the ability to draw on knowledge from other campaigns in the exact same niche.
Some larger SEO agencies have developed bespoke tools to handle their clients campaigns and generate reports. Technology is obviously an important element of SEO except for the most part the very best SEO tools can be found to everyone (at a price). Most agency tools are made to create reports and streamline parts of the SEO process. They are able to certainly help but be aware that there’s no secret tool or little bit of technology which will deliver you higher search rankings- only good solid SEO work can do that and it always involves the human touch.
There’s certainly no one size fits all answer for whether a freelancer or agency would have been a better fit for the SEO project. When you’re seeking proposals I’d recommend conversing with both, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of every and ultimately choose based on the quality of the proposed solution and integrity of personal references.