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Should Companies Hire Multiple Search Marketing Firms?

Posted on Jul 1st, 2008
Written by Lee Odden
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    Hiring Multiple SEM Firms

    On occasion TopRank will get calls from prospective clients that ask about hiring multiple SEO agencies in an effort to get the “best of both worlds” in terms of best practices and performance through competition. On the surface, I suppose I could see how someone might think this might make sense but in practice, it really doesn’t.

    The “two is better than one” philosophy might work when it comes to getting a second opinion from a doctor or a mechanic but with SEO, the last thing a company needs is two agencies stepping on each other to make on-page optimization recommendations. Even worse are the possibilities for confusion with link building.

    Imagine hiring two PR firms for the same business and a journalist getting two different pitches for the same thing from two different agencies. Will that really generate better results or just create confusion?

    Coordinating with another agency adds additional costs for each consulting firm as they now need to coordinate work with both the client and another agency.

    If a company wants to get the best search engine optimization results possible, they should hire the best SEO agency for their organization, not hire two or more thinking it will turn out like some kind of “SEO apprentice”.

    With many web sites, it’s enough of a challenge to get all the client side stakeholders on board with the changes in content processes and attention to keywords and links. Having two agencies coordinate which parts of the web site they would be responsible for would add to what is often already a challenging situation.

    Most web sites run off of templates either from WYSIWYG editors like Dreamweaver or a content management system with a database. SEO edits to those templates can affect the entire site or large portions. In that situation you can’t always segment one part for one agency and one part to another.

    The other consideration is that adding another outside agency adds to the client side cost for managing the engagement. Managing multiple vendors means more time from the client side and managing two or more vendors who do the same thing, competitors really, adds even more.

    “What if we create microsites for each segment of our business and hire a different SEO agency for each?” This is a real question that I’ve been asked and you can imagine my answer. First, we don’t believe in creating microsites just for the purposes of SEO. You can get the visibility you want on different categories under the same domain name through the right mix of on page SEO, internal linking and unique inbound links from external sources. Creating multiple microsites will only dilute SEO efforts with each site treated as its own search engine optimization project.

    Not many companies have the unlimited or large online marketing budgets that sit behind requests for multiple SEO/SEM vendors. But for those that do, I would strongly encourage the effort to be put into hiring a single, strategic agency that can provide both high level consulting and training of client side staff for ongoing SEO and link building. Then retain the SEO agency for continued strategic direction, training and implementation when needed. Avoid the additional overhead and headache of hiring two competing agencies willing to work on the same web site for what can be accomplished by hiring the right SEO firm from the start.

    There are many search marketing practitioners that read this blog and I am curious if other client side search marketers or other agencies have engaged in a successful and sustained program working with multiple SEO firms on the same web site?