For businesses with an online presence, SEO is essential for generating organic traffic.

Once the value of SEO is recognized, an important question arises: Do I need to hire someone to do our SEO in-house?

After all, 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 best person for the job? 

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

Table of Contents:


Do You Need to Hire Someone For SEO?

First, let’s discuss how to decide whether you need to hire an SEO expert 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 completing basic optimizations will deliver the results you seek. In that case, you probably don't need to hire an SEO manager. 

But 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 effort to optimize your website for SEO? Perhaps the website is optimized fairly well, and you only need some minor tweaks to improve its performance.

What’s your budget and how well do 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 on your digital marketing team or if you can get by with the resources you have already. 


The Benefits of Having an In-house Enterprise SEO Expert

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

  • Improved Search Visibility: Good SEO managers will keep abreast of the best practices for creating a search-friendly website. They will work on everything including content marketing, link building, keyword research, on-page optimization, and technical issues like adding correct markup for global businesses. 
  • Increased Traffic and Conversions: A good SEO will ensure that the business puts its best foot forward so that your website can rank well. They will also help improve the search experience to keep users engaged and increase their likelihood of converting. 
  • Enhanced User Experience: In addition to improving search visibility, the SEO specialist will also ensure that you are always providing a good experience to online customers, particularly those coming from the organic channel. 
  • Dedicated Focus: An in-house SEO expert offers undivided attention to your organization's SEO needs. Their sole responsibility is to optimize your website's performance in search engines, ensuring that your online presence aligns with your business objectives.

  • Deep Understanding: In-house experts develop an in-depth understanding of your company's industry, target audience, products, and services. This specialized knowledge allows them to tailor SEO strategies that are uniquely suited to your business.

  • Immediate Responsiveness: With an in-house expert, you have direct access to SEO insights and strategies whenever you need them. This immediate responsiveness is invaluable in addressing sudden changes in the SEO landscape or reacting to emerging opportunities.

  • Alignment with Company Goals: In-house SEO experts are well-integrated into your organization's structure and culture. They work closely with other teams, aligning SEO efforts with overall business goals and strategies.

However, keep in mind that SEO takes time to start delivering results. It is a long term strategy and typically takes about four months to a year before you reap the full benefits of the person’s SEO services. 

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 professional SEO services aren’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 SEO campaign's execution. 

Therefore, the first logical SEO hire is the manager. 

Recommended Reading: Bringing Your SEO Strategy In-House


What to Look for When Hiring An Enterprise SEO Expert

Hiring SEO experts starts with knowing what skills and qualities an ideal candidate should possess.

As you’ve seen above, SEO managers typically take a strategic role in an organization. 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
  • 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 of a website, conduct competitive analysis, run technical SEO audits, and more to develop an effective SEO strategy that aligns with the company's goals. 

Because of that, the person must have strong analytical skills, experience with evaluating large data sets, and stay knowledgeable about algorithm updates and other important industry advancements (e.g. generative AI) to drive conclusions.

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

From working with SEO agencies to freelance writers, SEO managers must have strong communication and project management skills to ensure a timely and quality execution of the strategy.

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 need 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. But, 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 manager 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 its 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.

<<This post was originally published in April 2020 and has since been updated.>>