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Old 08-24-2007   #1
gugo
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Talking SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

I just read an article in SEMPO, where explain why is ineffective to build Sem in house.

Some topics inside the article.
1) SEM and SEO Campaigns are time intensive.
2) SEM requires dedication.
3) SEM is very competitive and the market drives costs up.
4) Successful SEM campaigns demand accurate tracking and analysis of effectiveness.
5) In-house SEM programs often are unaware of search engine policies.
6) In-house SEM programs do not have support.

This article is so focused only in SEM tactics mostly. It forgot some important issues of internal SEM.

1) An agency can work in multiple languages - countries without adding extra cost? At the moment I have to deal with 12 languages, and 52 counties and it is much worthy to train my colleagues worldwide instead of paying 50k monthly to and agency.

2) Confidentiality: I know what I am doing and only me, I will not have any leaks of info.

3) Know about the industry: as rocket science company I really doubt how an external company will understand the needs of my average customer in short time. Minimum they should spend 1 year full time only to understand the business

4) Need people to control internally.
If I hire an agency should be someone also form my company in charge to supervise and to manage the project

5) Link building :
will be build in no related-at-all clusters. I can imagine how they will link their link farms with my specific niche topic

6) Tracking can be solve simply knowing what is important for the business.
If I do sells not in massive scale, how you can define your conversion points? Also the off line conversions

7) Search engine support: Due my worldwide spending I have not one but 3 Google people answering my questions when Adwords behave crazy. Also I am Google advertiser BTW.Just my comments and I still think SEM in house is effective.

What B2B people think about this???

Last edited by gugo : 08-24-2007 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 08-24-2007   #2
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Nice try on the part of the authors, but sorry, they're off the mark.

Here are 6 reasons why outsourced SEM can be ineffective:

1. SEM and SEO Campaigns are time intensive. When your SEM agency is managing multiple clients, time spent on your account can suffer, causing irreparable damage to your campaign. An in-house SEM's sole job, day in and day out, is to monitor your company's SEM efforts, keeping a constant eye on performance.

2. SEM requires dedication. That's why you should hire someone whose sole job is SEM for your firm. Their dedication is what they're getting paid for, plain and simple.

3. SEM is very competitive and the market drives costs up. Why risk your hard-earned dollars on an agency that doesn't know diddly about your business? An in-house SEM understands your business economics and how they fit with SEM strategy and tactics, allowing you to compete smart.

4. Successful SEM campaigns demand accurate tracking and analysis of effectiveness. An in-house SEM understands your internal business tracking methods and metrics, and how they fit with the organization's overall marketing mix. Rather than relying on out-of-the-box analytics solutions, your in-house SEM can look at internal measurements to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns vis-a-vis your other marketing efforts. Furthermore, as an expert not only in SEM but in your specific vertical, your in-house SEM understands the nuances of marketing in your space and can interpret the metrics accordingly - rather than just looking at figures on a page from a canned analytics solution.

5. SEM agency reps often are unaware of search engine policies. Especially if you're speaking to a junior rep who just hired in last week.

6. SEM agencies often do not have support. Having support at the search engines is great, and usually agencies do fine with this. But does your agency have support within your organization? Do they know which guy in IT to go to when your landing page URL suddenly breaks? Do they know which marketing director to approach when they need additional budget for a PPC test? Do they regularly sit down with your CEO to talk about overall organizational goals and strategies?

Don't get me wrong - SEM agencies exist for a reason. Many small to medium size businesses cannot afford to hire a full-time in-house SEM, and for these folks, a good agency is a godsend. But don't diss in-house SEMs. I've been doing this a lot longer than many agency folks, and I find I often know just as much if not more about SEM than they do. We're all in this together, you know!

I wonder what SEMPO's In-House committee thinks of this article??

Melissa
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Old 08-24-2007   #3
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Here is something to think about. . .What if you could have the best of both worlds?

An SEM agency with a twist. An agency that understands their place in the market and can cater to all size businesses (with the exception of the "too small to account for operating costs").

An agency that understands that the client is the expert in their business and does not attempt to stand in the way of that. An agency that simply outsources their tool to clients with in house teams but offers the training and support necessary to take full advantage of the technology.

Now what you have is an in house team that has an SEM tool that allows them full access to an all-in-one SE direct connect API that can handle editorial and bid management with tracking, analytics and comprehensive reporting for all languages and currencies AND. . . a full fledged SEM agency support system from an AM to technical team.

Seems to address both sides of the debate.

For the record, although I am on the agency side, I agree with the statements made about in house teams understanding their business better than an agency. SEM isn't what it was a few years ago, it is a rapidly evolving industry and companies are building strong in house teams, we all need to evolve with it, including agencies. Every business is different and has different needs. Figuring out how to individually address those needs will be the biggest challenge on the agency side as the market continues to mature.

IMHO the most effective large scale campaigns are run by companies that bridge the gap, those that have an in house team fully focused on SEM but also a tool/team that will facilitate them in their day to day. An strong in house team should be proactive, not reactive. With an agency acting as the facilitator of your in house team, a company would effectively have created the perfect synergy. A team (in house) focusing on business specifics of your SEM campaigns and a team (outsourced) focusing on the technology specifics of your SEM tools.

On a side note. Unless you are ebay, it isn't going to make a lot of sense to build the whole thing I described above in house. I have known companies to try and although the effort is valiant, it rarely works the way it is planned. From draw up to implementation there are so many unforeseen factors that will stand in the way.

Just as we have acknowledged that companies are their own best experts, the opposite should be acknowledged. We as an agency are the experts at the technology it takes to maintain successfully optimized campaigns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel66 View Post
Nice try on the part of the authors, but sorry, they're off the mark.

Here are 6 reasons why outsourced SEM can be ineffective:

1. SEM and SEO Campaigns are time intensive. When your SEM agency is managing multiple clients, time spent on your account can suffer, causing irreparable damage to your campaign. An in-house SEM's sole job, day in and day out, is to monitor your company's SEM efforts, keeping a constant eye on performance.

2. SEM requires dedication. That's why you should hire someone whose sole job is SEM for your firm. Their dedication is what they're getting paid for, plain and simple.

3. SEM is very competitive and the market drives costs up. Why risk your hard-earned dollars on an agency that doesn't know diddly about your business? An in-house SEM understands your business economics and how they fit with SEM strategy and tactics, allowing you to compete smart.

4. Successful SEM campaigns demand accurate tracking and analysis of effectiveness. An in-house SEM understands your internal business tracking methods and metrics, and how they fit with the organization's overall marketing mix. Rather than relying on out-of-the-box analytics solutions, your in-house SEM can look at internal measurements to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns vis-a-vis your other marketing efforts. Furthermore, as an expert not only in SEM but in your specific vertical, your in-house SEM understands the nuances of marketing in your space and can interpret the metrics accordingly - rather than just looking at figures on a page from a canned analytics solution.

5. SEM agency reps often are unaware of search engine policies. Especially if you're speaking to a junior rep who just hired in last week.

6. SEM agencies often do not have support. Having support at the search engines is great, and usually agencies do fine with this. But does your agency have support within your organization? Do they know which guy in IT to go to when your landing page URL suddenly breaks? Do they know which marketing director to approach when they need additional budget for a PPC test? Do they regularly sit down with your CEO to talk about overall organizational goals and strategies?

Don't get me wrong - SEM agencies exist for a reason. Many small to medium size businesses cannot afford to hire a full-time in-house SEM, and for these folks, a good agency is a godsend. But don't diss in-house SEMs. I've been doing this a lot longer than many agency folks, and I find I often know just as much if not more about SEM than they do. We're all in this together, you know!

I wonder what SEMPO's In-House committee thinks of this article??

Melissa
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Old 08-24-2007   #4
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

In my experience, here is what usually happens:

1. The company decides it needs SEO.

2. If they have internal resources or are cheap, they assign some poor tech or content writer to "do SEO" to save money, which is kind of like sending someone into a lions den wearing a juicy steak around their neck.

3. Alternatively, they decide to hire an SEO company or consultant "to do the job right and to focus on our core abilities". This is like hiring a stranger to babysit your kids. No matter how good they are, they will probably never be as interested or as dedicated as you can be.

4. At some point, the company decides it made a mistake and that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The in-house SEM is overloaded, or the outsourced firm is too expensive or slow to respond.

5. The company switches.

6. Eventually, they figure out that this other way isn't working either.

7. Smart companies eventually figure out what I consider to be the best method of doing SEO: Do both!

What the best SEO'd companies tend to do, In my experience, and what my recommendation is, is to have 1-2 in-house SEO/SEM's that then work with outsourced firms.

This combines the best of both worlds. The in-house SEO provides oversight and cares about the project. They are also highly responsive and can provide corporate "memory" in case you need to switch consultants.

The outsourced consultants are able to also provide "memory" in case you lose your in-house person, and they also bring other advantages to the table, like scalability, experience with problems and solutions gleaned form other clients, etc.

I find that having an outsourced firm reporting to an in-house SEM is the best combination of fast, cost-effective and results-oriented advantages. It also tends to avoid the major drawbacks, and provides the company with each party watching the others work to correct mistakes or provide alternatives.

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Last edited by mcanerin : 08-24-2007 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 08-25-2007   #5
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

I think one should have at least somebody with decent SEO knowledge "on the team". For example, I'm still far from being a pro SEO and need to gain a lot of experience before I can say something like that about myself.

However, I do have quite a bit of knowledge of SEO and can smell bull****, plus I know people in the field who I could ask if Im not completely sure about a company, etc. and would thus be able to judge if they know what they're doing (plus our company wouldnt bother the SEOs, because I would be able to explain to the company that SEO takes time, because G's algorithm places a lot of weight on the age of a site and on the age of the links, etc.)

Other than that I think there's one major problem with building inhouse staff for SEO: You train them and either they dont become very good or they become very good and decide they can work on their own projects lol...
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Old 08-27-2007   #6
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

I agree that it often makes sense to have in-house SEM staff working along with an agency. You will cover all the bases that way and it can be a great thing.

I just resented the SEMPO article's insinuation that in-housers are hacks who don't know enough about SEM to do a proper job. While that may be true in many cases, it's not universal.

Melissa
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Old 08-27-2007   #7
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Marketing Sherpa found that clients who outsource SEO see more lift.
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Old 08-27-2007   #8
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
I just resented the SEMPO article's insinuation that in-housers are hacks who don't know enough about SEM to do a proper job. While that may be true in many cases, it's not universal.
I completely agree, Mel66.

I've also seen in-house people who were far better than the outsourced help, but they needed to focus on one or two areas, and so got outside help to fill in the blanks.

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Old 08-27-2007   #9
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Some of our best clients are in-house SEO Managers or online marketing managers for medium-sized businesses. It really is the best of both worlds for companies to work this way.
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Old 08-28-2007   #10
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
Originally Posted by beu View Post
Marketing Sherpa found that clients who outsource SEO see more lift.
Please post a link to this info - it'll make for interesting reading for sure.
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Old 08-28-2007   #11
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Agree with everything Ian said. Most firms come to the realization that a bit of both is a good compromise. Of course if you have an exceptional SEO leader in-house or have access to an exceptional SEO consultant, then a hybrid may not be required
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Old 08-28-2007   #12
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
Originally Posted by shor View Post
Agree with everything Ian said. Most firms come to the realization that a bit of both is a good compromise. Of course if you have an exceptional SEO leader in-house or have access to an exceptional SEO consultant, then a hybrid may not be required
shor, notice that the article makes mention of SEM and SEO and in the first paragraph makes mention of oursourcing to "certified firms."

There isn't really bonafide "certification" for SEO firms/individuals that's worth anything, and IMHO since SEMPO is an organization for SEM people/firms, I'd most certainly expect that what's presented by them would be biased in favor of oursourcing - especially outsourcing to their member firms, especially the ones who pay higher membership dues.

Sorry, there's no way I can see this as an unbiased editorial opinion.
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Old 08-28-2007   #13
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

I read the article when it first launched and laughed at how out-of-tune with reality it is.


Marcel Media is not in touch with how much in-house search marketers have evolved in the past 2 years. There are many in-house search marketers that are wildly successful and there are specific reasons why it can run more smoothly in-house, none of which were taken into account.


While I don't know if Marcel Media is like this, it does make me think...

Any agency with such an anti-in-house stance may not end up being an ally for any in-house search marketing efforts you have done to date or will do in the future, quick to cite that if you outsourced everything you probably would have better returns/project run more smoothly/etc.

An agency with an anti-in-house stance should raise red flags. Don't be surprised if they go up your totem pole in an attempt to get the in-house SEO role removed, or they’ll be there to tell your manager why you shouldn’t be taking on more search marketing tasks (even if it’s of interest to you)... and don't think these pitches aren't happening, a different agency pitched this to me today, saying that they could do it more cost effectively if we got rid of the team.


The Big Take-Away:
It brings to light a new aspect to consider when selecting an agency – is this agency going to be your ally for both search marketing AND your long-term goals, or will they stab you in the back in an attempt to up-sell?

When your agency is an ally, the synergy be extremely powerful - they can even help with your internal challenges.

Last edited by seminhouse : 08-29-2007 at 02:10 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-31-2007   #14
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

The article was a bit condescending to in-house SEM professionals. There are a lot of people kicking butt in that space. Agencies can help bring a new perspective and techniques to optimization of campaigns.
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Old 09-03-2007   #15
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
Originally Posted by sportsguy View Post
Please post a link to this info - it'll make for interesting reading for sure.
In order to read the entire report you have to by the book which is $300 but worth every dime.

Either way, here is an excerpt with the quote in bold that I mentioned in my previous post:

"That's why last year we conducted research, asking more than 2,000 marketers whose sites had been optimized, what the results were and whether or not they used an outside expert. The data was phenomenal. The marketers who had used in-house SEO resources saw an average 73% lift in overall site traffic.

The marketers who outsourced SEO to an expert saw an average 110% lift in overall site traffic."


http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=29709


As an "outsourced" agency SEO, I agree with Jill's previous post in this thread. A combination of in-house and outsourced SEO resources seems to be the way to go! That relationship helps me to know the clients business better from an SEO point of view in a short period of time. The in-house folks provide lots of basic information which speeds up the process for implementing high-end tactics.

Last edited by beu : 09-03-2007 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 09-07-2007   #16
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel66 View Post
I agree that it often makes sense to have in-house SEM staff working along with an agency. You will cover all the bases that way and it can be a great thing.

I just resented the SEMPO article's insinuation that in-housers are hacks who don't know enough about SEM to do a proper job. While that may be true in many cases, it's not universal.

Melissa
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Old 09-07-2007   #17
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcanerin View Post
In my experience, here is what usually happens:

1. The company decides it needs SEO.

2. If they have internal resources or are cheap, they assign some poor tech or content writer to "do SEO" to save money, which is kind of like sending someone into a lions den wearing a juicy steak around their neck.

3. Alternatively, they decide to hire an SEO company or consultant "to do the job right and to focus on our core abilities". This is like hiring a stranger to babysit your kids. No matter how good they are, they will probably never be as interested or as dedicated as you can be.

4. At some point, the company decides it made a mistake and that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The in-house SEM is overloaded, or the outsourced firm is too expensive or slow to respond.

5. The company switches.

6. Eventually, they figure out that this other way isn't working either.

7. Smart companies eventually figure out what I consider to be the best method of doing SEO: Do both!

What the best SEO'd companies tend to do, In my experience, and what my recommendation is, is to have 1-2 in-house SEO/SEM's that then work with outsourced firms.

This combines the best of both worlds. The in-house SEO provides oversight and cares about the project. They are also highly responsive and can provide corporate "memory" in case you need to switch consultants.

The outsourced consultants are able to also provide "memory" in case you lose your in-house person, and they also bring other advantages to the table, like scalability, experience with problems and solutions gleaned form other clients, etc.

I find that having an outsourced firm reporting to an in-house SEM is the best combination of fast, cost-effective and results-oriented advantages. It also tends to avoid the major drawbacks, and provides the company with each party watching the others work to correct mistakes or provide alternatives.

Ian
Ian great points!!!

I think each company needs to gauge it's decision based on the size, scope, and resources of its general goals.

I am an in-house SEM/SEO. Here is why I agree that have an in-house SEM works best.

1. The In-house SEM understand the product, the company, and the companies direction.

2. The In-House SEM can make real time changes.

3. The In-house SEM usually does not have such a high turnover compared to outsourced firms.

4. I have found in many instances the account managers at well known SEM firms are not very knowledgeable, and often times don't understand basic SEMing.

5. Having an in-house SEM cuts cost, and bolsters ROAS by eliminating agency cost.

6. Agency's have high turn over, when turnover occurs it places the campaigns back many steps in my opinions.

7. In house SEM's better understand the keywords, and can better make decesions on profitable keywords and unprofitable keywords. In most cases Agencies come up with thousands of UN/NOT relevant keywords to drive up visits and spend, increasing their net bottom dollar while taking away value from the businesses campaigns.

8. SEM firm are now a dime a dozen. Small and mid range companies are in many cases treated like second class citizens when measured up against the needs of the goliath account. The best reps are positioned to the best accounts.

Just some of my thoughts.
However, i do agree with Mel66, that the perfect scenario for companies that have large product assortments and larger budgets is to have an internal SEM working with a agency. To add further, the best case scenario would be to have the agency work through the clients account. This way the client/SEM can makes changes and continue the relationship with the advertiser. HOWEVER THIS ROUTE IS EXPENSIVE.
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Old 09-20-2007   #18
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

This is great discussion on pros and cons of in-house/outsourced SEM/SEO. I prefer inhouse SEM/SEO myself.

For SEM (i.e. PPC only...those who have taken SEOMOZ quiz know what I am talking about :-)), small/medium companies should also include economic thinking like this -

If SEM budget > $ 1MM (for US), Agency fee = 10% ~ $100K

Loaded cost of 2 yr experienced Inhouse SEM ~ $150 (use whatever works for your company, usually it is between $120K to $180K)

Expected uplift from in house SEM - 5% of current budget ~ $50K + someone thinking about this all day + better turn around times

Therefore, time to switch ...
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Old 09-28-2007   #19
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel66 View Post
I just resented the SEMPO article's insinuation that in-housers are hacks who don't know enough about SEM to do a proper job. While that may be true in many cases, it's not universal.

Melissa
Just to clarify this point:

This was not "SEMPO's article".

I was an article posted in our Editorial section as submitted by an agency. As an "editorial" piece, it is allowed to showcase "opinion" on a topic more so than more targeted, educationally focused articles might be allowed.

...and to address what the In-House SEM Committee at SEMPO thought of it, well, let's just say I was first in line to ask WTF when it was posted... Learning it was an editorial, as allowed by our rules, it quickly dropped from my radar - I know the difference - IN-HOUSE ROCKS! ...no matter what an agency thinks...

Duane Forrester
SEMPO In-House SEM Committee Co-Chair
2007 SEMPO Board Member
General search geek...
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Old 09-28-2007   #20
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Re: SEM in house ineffective? give me a break

Hi Duane, I was hoping you'd chime in at some point I should have said "the article on the SEMPO website" - I know it was an editorial and not necessarily representative of SEMPO's viewpoint. I did mention that it was an editorial in my blog post, but omitted that here. Thanks for pointing that out.

Melissa
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