Many small businesses don’t think twice to ask internet marketing agencies who will actually be performing the implementation work. It’s assumed the SEM strategy, keyword research, copy writing, information architecture analysis, code and server audits, link building and reports will he handled by the same people (or their co-workers at the office) that are selling said services.
In the world of advertising and public relations, it’s common to outsource portions of a program where a lead agency is designated to manage any third party specialists. Clients either insist on working with multiple agencies or they designate a strategic agency to direct the work of specialist groups.
For example, our internet marketing services firm worked on a project where an advertising agency was designated as responsible for branding, messaging and design. The client also hired an interactive shop to build the back end of the site and TopRank was brought in for search engine optimization consulting. The three agencies worked together to complete the project successfully.
Incidentally, it was a fortunate thing the client brought in a SEO firm before the site design and back end development ever started or it would have been a VERY expensive rewrite. It’s usually pretty transparent in such a situation what is being handled by who.
Increasing numbers of small and large businesses are investing in natural search optimization and therefore the demand for such services have skyrocketed. Clients expect their ad agencies, PR firms, interactive shops and even SEM agencies that focus on pay per click advertising to also offer SEO.
The variety of creative, technical and social marketing expertise required to excel and succeed with current search marketing programs makes it a formidable challenge for any agency to staff accordingly. This is especially true of search marketing agencies that are high in demand.
While many of the niche experts will spend a lot of their time building out their own content networks, they also often outsource. It’s also true that many of those new to SEO have learned to promote themselves as speialists in specific areas to get a name for themselves and expand their consulting business from there. Hunger for new work can lead to over-enthusiastic promises. Remember “vaporware” in the nineties?
A while back I noticed a request on a discussion thread from a Minneapolis based PPC consultant getting more into the SEO space, that someone was needed to build links for one of their clients. The requirements for this outsourced SEO task were that the link builder would not need to report specifics or even work directly with the client. All the PPC consultant needed from the outsourced link builder was a guarantee that “x” number of links were acquired monthly.
I suspect that this kind of request isn’t unique amongst consultants trying to expand their offerings. It raises a big question: Did the client knew what they were paying for had little if any Q/A?
“Just get me some links” for a SEO program is like saying, “Just get me some people” when hiring staff. Where are they from? Are they relevant? Are they from “bad” neighborhoods (link farms) or authoritative sources? Successful outsourcing in both situations requires specifications, quality standards and ongoing communication to meet client needs.