Every business faces the necessity of marketing in some way or another, and for those businesses with an online presence, marketing undoubtedly includes an SEO program. Whether the business has been marketing for years or has just launched its promotional efforts, at some point, it has to focus on generating or increasing organic traffic. 

Once it's determined that SEO is needed, the next decision may require a human resources manager: Do I need to hire someone to do our SEO in-house?

After all, as we’ve previously mentioned, talent is one of the three things you need to deliver a successful SEO program, followed by tools, and training. But, when is the right time to hire, and what should you consider when choosing the right person for the job? 

These are the exact questions I’m answering in this post. 

When to Hire an SEO

First, let’s discuss how to decide whether you need to hire an SEO right now. I believe that the best way to do so is by answering the following questions:

How competitive is the search landscape in your industry or business niche?

Perhaps your industry is not very competitive and doing only basic optimization will deliver the results you seek. In that case, you most likely do not need to hire an SEO manager. 

However, if the opposite is true, and you operate in a challenging and competitive market, then you should consider hiring talent to manage your SEO program. 

What’s the status of your website’s optimization so far?

Has there been any work done on it at all? Perhaps the website is optimized fairly well, and you only need some minor tweaks to improve its performance.

What’s your budget and how your other marketing channels perform?

Do you have separate teams working on your PPC, email marketing or social media marketing? What is their workload so far? Could they take over some of the SEO activities?

Answers to those questions will help you determine whether you need to hire someone for SEO or if you could do it with the resources you have already. 

How SEO In-house Can Drive Value to Your Business

Let’s assume that your answers suggest that it is time you invest in SEO. Here are the sort of benefits you can expect from having an SEO on your team. 

  • A good SEO will ensure that the business puts the foot forward so that your website could rank well. They will also help improve the search experience, from the way the search result engages users to entice them to click to your website, and potentially, convert. 
  • Good SEO managers will also recommend and keep abreast of the best practices for creating a search-friendly website. They will work on everything, from content to on-page optimization to technical issues like adding correct markup for global businesses. 
  • The SEO specialist also ensures that you are always providing a good experience to online customers, particularly those coming from the organic channel. 

However, keep in mind that SEO takes time to start delivering results. Typically, it takes about four months to a year before you reap the full benefits of the person’s work

I believe that it is worth keeping the timeline in mind when you make a decision about whether to build out an SEO team. 

There is one more thing I’d like to mention here. Sometimes, in-house SEO isn’t enough to deliver a successful program. 

In fact, from our experience with clients, we’ve discovered that the most successful companies support their in-house capabilities with an agency. 

Those companies manage and strategize for the SEO program in-house, which is typically done by an in-house SEO manager. However, the manager also utilizes an agency as their SEO team, helping them with various aspects of the execution. 

Therefore, the first logical SEO hire is the manager. 

Recommended Reading: Bringing Your SEO Strategy In-House

What Does an Enterprise SEO Manager Do?

As you’ve seen above, SEO managers typically take a strategic role in an organization, typically. Their role is to facilitate, rather than to execute. 

In general, they are responsible for three incredibly important aspects of the SEO program:

  • Strategy development
  • Evangelizing the SEO across the organization and getting all the stakeholders involved on board with the program, and
  • Driving the execution.

Here’s how that works in practice:

An SEO manager formulates the complete SEO roadmap to deliver on the company’s goals.

They evaluate the current organic search performance, the website, conduct competitive analysis and more to develop the complete SEO strategy. 

Because of that, the person must have strong analytical skills and experience with evaluating large data sets to drive conclusions.

It is also the SEO manager’s responsibility to oversee any outside vendors.

SEO agencies, freelance writers, and more - to ensure the timely and quality execution of the strategy.

As a result, the person must also have strong project management skills. What’s more, their personality must allow for managing and supervising outside teams. 

Finally, the person must also be someone we call a traffic manager.

As part of their job, an SEO manager must facilitate cooperation between other departments. The person must evangelize the SEO program across the entire organization, and get other departments on board. They must be able to get the buy-in for their strategies and convince other teams to participate in the project. 

Doing so requires strong people skills and the ability to strategically position SEO across other departments.

Recommended Reading: Building an SEO Center of Excellence Ebook Series

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an SEO Manager?

An SEO manager is a full-time role. It is, of course, possible to hire someone part-time and have them deliver the strategy. However, given the amount of work required, it’s better to have them in the company full-time. 

On average, an SEO manager earns around $60,000 - $150,000, depending on their experience, knowledge or industry, and where they’ve worked prior to applying to your company. 

Although it might seem like a lot, you must factor the value a person can deliver to the company when evaluating the investment. 

If, on average, the company generates X in annual organic sales without the SEO manager and the person increases that performance by Y% within their first year, the investment pays off Z times. 

Any further performance improvements only further add to the company’s bottom line. 

Recommended Reading: The Ins and Outs of SEO Pricing


Every company eventually faces the necessity of taking their SEO program further. That’s usually the time when they begin to consider hiring someone to manage SEO in-house. 

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you have a good idea of how to assess whether this is the right time to hire an SEO manager for your business, and what you should consider when doing so.

Looking to hire for an SEO role at your business? Download our recommended job descriptions for Senior SEO Content Manager and SEO Analyst.