Agencies vs. Freelancers: Who to Hire for SEO

It’s almost impossible to do all the necessary work for a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign entirely on your own. Responsibilities include conducting keyword research, surveying your audience, analyzing the competition, creating massive quantities of content, building backlinks, and conducting analytics to gauge the effectiveness of your tactics thus far. Even if you’re working 80 hours a week, there may not be enough time to do everything.

That’s why many people choose to hire additional professionals to assist them with this endeavor. You might hire a Boise SEO agency, a national SEO agency, a team of freelancers, or just one or two freelancers to help you accomplish what you need.

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But what’s the right approach? Should you work with an agency or freelancers?

The Advantages of SEO Agencies

Agencies are entire organizations that typically include full teams of SEO professionals, including researchers, analysts, content writers, technical experts, developers, and account managers. They may charge you money in any number of different ways, but most agencies prefer working with a fixed monthly retainer fee.

These are some of the best advantages of working with SEO agencies over freelancers:

Less Initial Effort Required.

For starters, working with an SEO agency is usually much less work than working with SEO freelancers. When deciding which agency to work with, you’ll need to do some research and vetting, but once you finalize your decision, you’ll have access to a full team of SEO experts who can cover all your needs in one place. In contrast, hiring freelancers means you’ll have to research and vet every new addition to your team – and you may have to do it frequently if you’re freelancers leave.


For the most part, agencies are more reliable. If a freelancer becomes unexpectedly unavailable, your SEO progress may halt; but if an individual in an agency becomes unexpectedly available, the agency will Make sure to find a replacement so your work isn’t interrupted. Additionally, agencies are highly incentivized to keep your business, so they’ll do everything possible to get you the results you want.


Agencies are known for their consistency as well. The internal moving parts of an agency are typically highly coordinated, with many checks and balances, so you never have to worry about the quality of the work you receive.


Finally, agencies are typically highly scalable arrangements. Most SEO agencies offer a wide range of different packages and service plans, which means you can take advantage of simple, starter packages when you’re first starting out – and you can graduate to a bigger package when you’re ready. This is also advantageous if you want an ongoing SEO relationship with the same party for many years, as freelancers may be less reliable on this front.

The Advantages of SEO Freelancers

Working with freelancers is much more flexible since you’ll be able to handpick the individual people responsible for conducting your SEO work. For example, you can hire individual writers, technical experts, and campaign planners to carry out their individual tasks and coordinate them all from a high level.

These are some of the best advantages of working with SEO freelancers over agencies:

Total Flexibility.

Finding and doing due diligence for freelancers can be time-consuming, but the tradeoff is that you’ll have total flexibility in putting together the team you want. If you feel you can handle the content creation yourself, you can focus on hiring other experts to complement your efforts. If, in the middle of a month, you decide to scale your efforts up or down, you can tinker with the balance of your freelance team to meet those goals.


Generally, freelancers are less expensive than working with an agency. Even if you build an entire team of freelancers with different specialties and areas of experience, you should still end up paying slightly less than you would for an agency with a similar capacity (though this isn’t always the case).

More Control and Direction.

Most SEO agencies are willing to work with you and follow your direction. But when you’re working with a team of freelancers, you’ll have total control and direction over the campaign.


Finally, working with freelancers gives you more modularity. If you’re very satisfied with most of the work you’re receiving, but you’re dissatisfied with one component, you can let that individual freelancer go and replace them with someone better. If an agency messes up, you’ll need to fire the entire agency.

So which one is right for you? That depends on your industry, your budget, your work philosophy, and how much control you want to have. If you’re trying to see the best results while expending minimal effort, SEO agencies are typically the better choice – but freelancers are also a good fit for millions of organizations and individuals. At the end of the day, it all depends on your priorities.