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SEO Agency or DIY Software: Which Route is Right for Your Business?

September 21, 2020
Andy Allen
written by Andy Allen
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There's so much choice when it comes to SEO strategy but who should lead: an SEO agency or DIY software? This article compares the two.

Whether you’re a small business, start-up or established digital agency, SEO will be a vital part of your marketing mix. In fact, 61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.

But, when it comes to delivering an effective SEO strategy, there are now more routes than ever. Many businesses, large and small, will hire an SEO agency whilst others prefer to take the reins and deliver this themselves using a DIY software platform, such as Hike.

Here we explore the two avenues available to small-to-medium sized businesses – SEO agency or DIY software – and discuss the pros and cons of each option against seven different categories, which should help you to decide which is right for your business.

1. Time

Time is of the essence and not all business owners will have the time to use a DIY platform to implement an SEO strategy. To drive optimum results, most platforms will require an average of 8 to 24 hours per month spent using it, depending on the size of your business and the competitiveness of your market.

If your business is cash-rich but time-poor, you’ll likely benefit more from using an agency, allowing you to focus on more pressing matters. Choosing the right SEO agency can be challenging, but find one that you can trust and you can take a step back and leave it to the experts.

Any good agency won’t just send you monthly, detailed reports, but will also ensure that you fully understand the data.

Verdict: SEO Agency

2. Cost

Whether your business has been affected by the global pandemic or not, cost is an important factor. If you’re a cash-rich company, you may want to opt for an SEO agency to deliver your SEO strategy.

Using an agency will cost you anything from $300 per month for a small business all the way up to $5,000 per month for an international or eCommerce company. A fair average, according to a study by Ahrefs, is $501 to $1000 per month, with 23% of survey respondents charging this rate.

That doesn’t mean you won’t receive a good return on investment, but if you’re really looking to save money, then a DIY software platform will be a better solution for you. These, of course, also vary in price, but a holistic platform like Hike will cost $45 per month, upwards.

Verdict: DIY Software

3. Return on Investment (ROI)

Driving a strong ROI is vital for any marketing channel, whether online or offline. Fortunately, when it comes to leads from search engines, average close rates stand at 14.6%, while outbound leads, such as cold-calling and direct mail have a close rate of 1.7%.

If opting for a DIY SEO platform, you’ll be spending very little whilst still reaping great results, so achieving a good return on investment will be easy. On the other hand, if working with an SEO agency, ensure they demonstrate a good ROI within frequent reports, and don’t leave it to chance.

That said, if your digital agency has chosen keywords with a high monthly search volume and they’re achieving top search engine ranking positions and organic traffic increases, you’re likely onto a winner without ever having to lift a finger.

Verdict: Both

4. Learn Valuable Skills

Did you know that Google makes continuous changes to its algorithm? Last year alone, Google launched 3,620 different changes to its search algorithm, keeping SEO teams up and down the country very busy. But, learning SEO doesn’t have to be difficult.

If you’re aiming to enrich your business’s skillset, an SEO platform can help you to achieve this. From conducting keyword and competitor research to improving page speed and creating crawl reports, a good platform will teach you how.

Adzooma offers a free SEO Performance Report for users which analyzes your website and identifies immediate actions you can take to improve your SEO. Not an Adzooma user? You can sign up for free here and gain access to this feature, a whole suite of additional reports and so much more.

A good platform will be brimming with how-to videos, detailed guides and a decent support team. All you need is a thirst for knowledge.

Verdict: DIY Software

5. Understand the Competition

Understanding your competition underpins any good SEO strategy. After all, it’s not just about your own approach but also your market size and saturation.

A DIY software platform will allow you to conduct initial competitor research, whilst closely following the competition throughout your campaign. From keyword positions to backlinks, understanding your competition allows you to strive for improvement and, eventually, excellence.

On the other hand, you might find a specialist agency that’s particularly knowledgeable within your industry or niche. Some agencies will only work with hospitality clients whilst others may only work in the automotive field.

Having access to industry intel is invaluable for any growing business.

Verdict: Both

6. Form a Deeper Understanding of Your Customers

In order to be successful, any business must develop a strong understanding of its customers and their needs. There are many ways to do this within marketing, from consumer surveys and buyer personas to keyword research and analytics.

Conducting keyword research with SEMRush allows a business to understand customer intent; a want or need for information, a product or service. And when a customer has a want or need, they turn to Google.

By conducting keyword research, you can develop a firm understanding of what your customers are searching for, how many people are searching for those particular terms and whether your products or services experience seasonal trends.

To get down and dirty with data, use Google Analytics to measure KPIs including the number of website visits, which channels are driving traffic and conversion volume. Google Analytics is a free Google tool that can be used by all, whether you’re a small business owner or established digital agency.

Verdict: DIY Software

7. Integrate Your Other Digital Channels

Juggling multiple digital channels yourself, including SEO, PPC, social media, email and video marketing can be hard work.

By working with fewer agencies to deliver more than one of these, you can ensure the teams are working closely together. Plus you’ll likely receive one detailed, holistic report, rather than being bombarded with multiple reports at various times of the month, all of which will need your attention.

To add to this, some full-service companies also provide discounted pricing for customers who scale up their business from a simple SEO plan to a full-service package, so be sure to ask for a custom plan and quote.

Verdict: SEO Agency


By now, you’ll hopefully have a better idea as to which route is best for your business. Ultimately, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to choosing a route, only preferences.

No matter which road you’re thinking of going down, research the company and read plenty of third-party reviews, case studies and testimonials. Don’t be afraid to contact one of their current or previous customers to get an honest and authentic verdict.

Finally, enjoy the process. Whether working with an agency or developing a strategy yourself, seeing your keywords improve, your traffic increase, your enquiries convert and your business grow is extremely rewarding.

After many years in the industry, there’s still no better feeling than seeing your keyword jump up to position one in Google.

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