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Search Engine Marketing: Outsource or In-House?

by David Felfoldi  |  
August 7, 2007
  |  9,444 views

By now, your company has probably discussed some type of search engine marketing (SEM) initiative. You are not alone. SEM has become increasingly important to all who look to do business and use the Web as a marketing tool.

According to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), the SEM market is over $10 billion in North America alone. Therefore, the biggest question isn't whether you should use SEM (you probably should, if only for brand awareness and direct sales), but rather who will manage your SEM campaigns.

Almost two-thirds of advertisers report they intend to manage all of their SEM initiatives in-house; some 57% of advertisers say they will keep their paid placement entirely in house, 61% say so regarding their organic SEO efforts, and 59% say they will maintain their paid inclusion in-house.

Other industry surveys report that for the past two years 74% of respondents kept SEM in-house.

What should your organization do? It depends. When reviewing your options for in-house or outsourced search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) bid management, consider the following.


A wide range of skills is needed

Effective campaigns require a broad range of skills, far more than one single person can offer (although many might say they can). You will need the following personnel:

  1. SEO specialist
  2. Copywriter to draft effective content
  3. PPC specialist to optimally manage your bids
  4. Web stats analyst to monitor and analyze web traffic patterns
  5. Usability professional to ensure your campaign is engaging the user and increasing conversion rates
  6. Web designer to ensure the site landing pages are laid out in an attractive fashion
  7. Web programmer to code the site
  8. Network administrator to ensure the site remains up and running
  9. Project manager to ensure everyone's efforts are coordinated and to remain on budget and within the timeline

Bottom line: SEM is truly a team effort. Be wary of trading breadth for depth by hiring one person for such an important marketing investment.


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David Felfoldi is chief experience officer and founder of Sherpa! Web Studios (www.sherpawebstudios.com), a digital experience marketing and development consultancy based in Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to make the Web a better experience, including for people who write emails in all capital letters.

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