SEO through Freelance or an Agency?

SEO is a great way to generate leads for your business. It’s also time-consuming, and many local companies don’t have the capacity to give it the attention it needs.

Fortunately, there are several options available to outsource the effort, the most common of which are to implement your SEO through a freelancer or an agency. 

But how do you know which option is best for your business?

In this article, we explain the benefits and drawbacks of freelancers and digital marketing agencies so you can reach the right decision and give your business the best chance of appearing at the top of the search results. 

Should You Pay Someone to Do Your SEO?

Whether you’re starting out with SEO or partway through implementing your SEO strategy, the question may already have arisen: ‘Should we pay someone to do our SEO for us?’.

If you find yourself faced with the following issues, then the answer is probably yes:

  • We don’t have the capacity in the business 
  • It’s distracting us from our core services
  • SEO is a sea of information and we don’t know where to start
  • We don’t know if our SEO strategy is correct or whether it’s working
  • The technical aspects are unappealing and difficult to learn
  • We aren’t getting the results we want, or we’re not getting them quickly enough

It goes without saying that paying someone to do SEO comes at a cost, but so does performing SEO yourself on your business’s time as you forgo potentially lucrative work – this is especially true (and especially frustrating) if your SEO efforts are not working as well as you’d hoped.

In such situations, we recommend reaching out for help from the SEO specialists.

What’s the Difference Between an SEO Freelancer and an SEO Agency?

When it comes to paying for SEO through an external party, there are two main providers: freelancers and digital marketing agencies. But what’s the difference between the two?

An SEO freelancer is typically a lone professional offering their SEO expertise to companies on a relatively informal basis. Freelancers are paid project-by-project or at an hourly rate.

An SEO agency, or digital marketing agency, is an organisation that works with its clients to improve their SEO. When working with an agency, your business will typically receive the attention of various specialised employees rather than just one. Often, digital marketing agencies offer services in addition to SEO, such as pay-per-click or social media marketing.

Pros and Cons of Using a Freelancer for SEO

pros and cons of a freelancer


  • Flexibility: Freelancers only advertise their services when they have immediate capacity – this often makes them flexible and ready to start at the drop of a hat.
  • Often (but not always) lower costs: On average, freelancers cost less on an hourly basis as they don’t have the overheads of a larger company. Costs should always be carefully negotiated as fee structures tend to be more fluid.


  • Quality not assured: It’s easier to plump up a single freelancer’s CV than it is to enlarge an entire agency’s reputation. You never truly know whether you’re getting who you’re paying for.
  • Adjacent skillsets not provided: Freelancers are a one-man band. While they may offer experience and expertise in SEO, most of the time can’t supplement it with additional skill sets, such as web design, content marketing and social media.
  • Less access to SEO tools: SEO tools, such as keyword ranking trackers, keyword research databases and advanced website analytics, are costly. While agencies can spread the costs over their dozens or even hundreds of clients, freelancers don’t have that luxury. 
  • Require more management: If one freelancer has designed and built your website, and another freelancer is carrying out the SEO, the responsibility for managing the interaction between the two falls on you.
  • Flexibility can have its downsides: Just as freelancers may take your business on board quickly, they may disappear just as fast, leaving you in the lurch.
  • Competing with the day job: Many freelancers supplement the income of their day job with freelance work, so you might find they only work out of hours.

Pros and Cons of Using an Agency for SEO

pros and cons agency


  • Proven track record: It’s difficult to hide from your reputation as an agency, especially in the age of sites like TrustPilot and Google Business. When you find an agency with a favourable online showing and numerous positive reviews, you can be sure it’s legitimate.
  • A range of professional opinions: SEO is not a straightforward science. There isn’t one right answer. An agency brings a diverse range of professional opinions to your website, so if one approach isn’t working, you can be sure the next will.
  • Cover all the SEO bases: SEO is a broad church. While knowledge of the fundamentals is a prerequisite, many SEO experts specialise in certain topics, whether it be technical SEO, local SEO, off-page SEO or other competencies. A one-stop-shop freelancer can’t specialise in everything, but an agency will have numerous specialists covering all the bases.
  • A broad range of services: Digital marketing agencies often offer more than SEO. Services such as web design, pay-per-click, content marketing, social media are all commonly also offered. If you decide to expand your digital marketing efforts, an agency can easily coordinate it with your existing strategy.
  • Access to multiple SEO resources: Agencies pay for access to a suite of SEO tools and data sources, such as ahrefs and ubersuggest, allowing them to use this data to power your SEO.
  • Scalability: Agencies offer different tiers of service, from basic SEO to a more comprehensive offering – that means you can start small and grow your efforts without switching providers.


  • Often (but not always) comes at a higher cost: On average, agencies come at a higher cost than freelancers; however, when you factor in the value of the additional tools and broad expertise they bring to the table, the value is clear to see.
  • Contractual ties: Engaging an agency is more formal than employing the services of a freelancer. While this provides more certainty for the months or years to come, it might also mean signing up for an extended period.

When Should You Choose an SEO Agency Over a Freelancer?

If any of the following apply to your situation, we would advise engaging an agency over a freelancer.

  • You want the certainty of a good track record backed up by contractual accountability
  • You want to clearly understand the value of work you are getting
  • You want good results as quickly as possible
  • You want scalability; you want to increase your SEO as your business grows
  • You are considering branching out into other digital marketing avenues, such as PPC
  • You don’t want the hassle; you want to pay the money and let the experts manage entire process for you

SEO Through Freelance or an Agency: Final Thoughts

Choosing who manages your SEO is a key decision for your business, especially if you’re attempting to implement SEO on a budget. You want to ensure you are working with a trustworthy and competent party whose goals align with your own.

Freelancers and agencies are two potential options, with each providing their own benefits and drawbacks.

If you prioritise reputation, accountability, scalability and expertise, then working with a digital marketing agency is a great way to devise and implement your SEO strategy.

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