Should Your Company Hire an SEO Consultant or Employee?

October 26th, 2009 · No Comments · Business

There are some advantages to hiring an SEO consultant over an employee and vice versa. However, it can sometimes be a chore trying to decide whether you need a SEO consultant or employee to satisfy your search engine optimization needs.

If your company has never hired a SEO consultant then it’s possible you don’t know the benefits of hiring an SEO consultant. On the surface it may seem an SEO consultant cost more than an employee because an employee hourly rate is about $25 versus SEO consultants $75+ per hour rate, but in reality consultants are usually cheaper or the same in cost.

When you hire a SEO consultant you normally pay an hourly rate and that’s it (excluding taxes, retainer fees, etc.). Labor, materials, etc. are all wrapped in the rate or quote. However, when you hire an employee there are so many additional cost in addition to the salary/ hourly rate, for an employee you must pay for:

  • Health insurance
  • 401K
  • Personal days
  • Vacation days
  • Training
  • Stationary & Supplies
  • Office space
  • Materials (tools/applications)

So, if you think about hiring an employee you’ll have to pay a salary/hourly rate plus the above — in this frame of thinking a $75 per hour SEO consultant will cost much less than an SEO employee.

An employee is a part of your business and therefore you are fully responsible for the employee. A SEO consultant is not a representation or part of your business, it’s an outside vendor, providing services to your business. The employee relationship may be more difficult to terminate in terms of legalities, while the SEO consultant relationship can be terminated any time as long as it doesn’t violate contractual agreements, thus likely disarming any claims of disgruntled employees.

A SEO consultant is expected to complete the job without any guidance or training from you, they can complete the job in any fashion deemed responsible as long as it meets deadlines this includes the amount of hours spent on the project, the time which the project tasks are executed, and the location at which they complete the project. SEO Consultants can have multiple projects completely separate from your own, in most cases a SEO consultant will have multiple clients which deserve their attention. An employee is different in the fact they are given instructions to complete their work and are confined to company policies.

With that being the case it should help you decide when to hire an employee instead of a SEO consultant. If your company wants full control and plans to manage the project then hiring an employee is probably best, but if you are looking for someone to take the ball and run the project to full completion then hiring a consultant is your best bet!

Here are some other reasons why you might want to hire an SEO consultant,

  • if your business does not relate to SEO (most employees wear different hats in a company. The position you are hiring for should be scalable and inline with your business offerings so you can utilize the employee in other capacities instead of solely SEO duties. i.e. If you are a construction company then it’s likely you do not need a full-time SEO employee, in this case an SEO consultant would be best)
  • if the position does not require at least 120 hours per month then there is no need to hire a full-time SEO employee as they will likely not reach their hourly quota each week
  • if you are in need of seasoned professionals with experience and expert knowledge. Employees are likely not going to have the skills needed to improve your website rankings and traffic in a way that quantifies, if they are then they will likely cost more than the average. SEO Consultants are commonly masters of their domain and come to the table already skillful

There are reasons when you should hire an employee over SEO consultants, because employees of course bring their own value. Employees are much more manageable and can be an intricate part of your overall business. Employees can create documentation, procedures, instructions, and guidelines which can become company policy and passed along to new employees to continue being the lifeblood of your business.

Here are other reasons why you should consider hiring an employee,

  1. if the position is an essential part of your company or business offerings. If the SEO position plays an important role to gaining new business or sustaining existing business then it’s probably best to hire an employee for the SEO role
  2. if your company needs full control or project management capabilities. If you have construction company then it is pointless for you to understand every nook & cranny involved with SEO you just want to know that what you’ve paid for has been implemented, executed, and completed successfully — which you can get from detail reportings and analysis, but if you are an SEO or web company then it may be worth having full control.
  3. if your company has loads of internal work specific to SEO or web management. If your company has neglected their online presence for too long and now they are far behind, where they need new hosting, new web design, new applications designed, and new SEO marketing plan then hiring an employee may be worthwhile since it will be long term and an overload of work.

In some instances, even with construction companies there will be a strong need for an SEO employee. It might be the construction company is deciding to move forward with creating a social media network online in the construction niche or maybe they are implementing a forum board or blog on their own pages. In cases like these hiring a full time SEO will be a wise decision.

The information above will hopefully help you make the right decision when hiring an SEO consultant or employee. In many cases it’s just a reconditioning of the mind, because most traditional business thinkers are unable to conceptually understand the use for consultants — while they enjoy being in full control. But consultants can be used in a business wise way to save time and money for the company, in ways employees can’t.


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