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Why you shouldn’t hire an SEO agency

Look, SEO is important, but should you hire an SEO agency? The answer isn’t always yes. Not every company should hire Crescendo Consulting (or any SEO company for that matter). But when should you hire an SEO agency, and more importantly, when should you say “no?”

Signs you shouldn’t hire an SEO agency

1. You don’t have internal resources dedicated to SEO

SEO is not something that can be done on its own. It’s not like social media marketing where you only need an account, witty prose, and a dream (all respect to social media marketers – your job isn’t easy). Nor is it like PPC where you just need to give a credit card to an agency and say “be fruitful.”

If you want to make SEO work at your startup, you have to dedicate time and resources internally. That includes developers prioritizing seemingly mundane tasks, copywriters taking creative direction, and product teams involving SEO consultants early in strategic decision making. You also need buy-in from the top down so SEO work can be prioritized amongst all the other high priority projects in the cue.

2. You don’t have development resources available

A major part of SEO requires support and help from front end website developers. If your SEO agency includes technical SEO – redirects, internal linking, page speed fixes, etc – you’ll need developers to implement those recommendations. And if you can’t implement recommendations, why pay for them in the first place?

3. You can’t afford it right now

A typical 12-month project for a fintech or SaaS startup starts at $30K and goes up from there. This typically includes technical SEO, a dedicated team, project plan & strategy, setting goals, content strategy, etc. If that budget doesn’t make sense for 12 months, hiring someone in-house who has the skills likely isn’t cheaper (salary, benefits, fixed costs).

Here’s a quick breakdown on what typical retainers cost and what you’ll get for them:

Monthly RetainerWhat you’ll getWho this is best for
$100-$400/moSet up on Yelp, Google My Business, and local link building. Local small businesses in less urban areas that don’t have much competition.
$400 – $800/moSet up on Yelp, Google My Business, local link building, website hosting, basic website development, basic technical SEO such as: keyword research, page speed improvements, meta description and title tag improvementsLocal small businesses in more competitive markets who want to stand head and shoulders above their competition.
$1000-$3000/moEverything mentioned above with more advanced SEO like internal link optimization, javscript rendering, schema deployment, weekly calls and support, work with developers, content creation, advanced link building, disaster prevention, and weekly audits. Startups who want to invest in long term growth. 
$3000/mo +Everything mentioned above with content development, large scale link building campaigns, or implementation of SEO suggestions (if you provide access to your website). Larger businesses, or startups looking to scale their traffic and drive significant revenue. 

4. You need quick wins to immediately bring in revenue

The majority of SEO is building long-term successes and value. If you need immediate traffic, paid search is a much more realistic way to achieve those quick wins. You’ll spend some to get those quick wins, but you could set up a campaign in a day and start advertising day one. It’l also help you learn a lot faster how customers react to different messaging.

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Picture of Jack Treseler

Jack Treseler

Jack is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of experience in marketing finance brands. Jack believes investing and business can be used for good, and loves helping fintech companies scale their business (and their revenue). He's also a fan of pineapple on pizza, but we won't hold that against him.