“Should I Buy (Outsource) or Build Search Marketing?”

Sara Holoubek

Sara Holoubek hits it out-of-the-park with a bold piece that helps Web marketing executives decide on either owning search or leaning on outside experts to get the job done.

Ms. Holoubek provides step by step guidance on how marketers can make this highly important decision and in doing so draws fire from so-called SEO’s (search engine optimization) and search professionals who cry foul over truths she tells.

The Truth Hurts: Dispelling Myths
She boldly proclaims…

For those that scoff at the idea of building an in house competency, let’s get the biggest misconceptions out of the way:

1. In house search will never be as good as outsourcing. The truth is that with the proper investment, just about any competency can be built in house.

2. It is impossible to replicate the years of experience within an agency.

3. There is no way a marketer can stay on top of all of the changes to the search landscape.

4. Agencies have access to the best technology.

How to Decide
Marketers must review what it would cost to internalize a search practice yet Ms. Holoubek goes further… suggesting marketers must ask themselves three questions:

1. Culturally, does the firm value building long-term knowledge?

2. Is the organization is capable of a successful build?

3. If yes to both of the above, what is the financial and temporal investment that management is willing to commit?

I suggest going further and considering what the opportunity cost is for a company that decides on outsourcing to a search marketing agency. Investing outside the company as a strategy carries risk. Doing so requires forgoing internal investment. In a knowledge based economy is it wise for a marketer to outsource such a strategic operation? What valuable knowledge and “learnings” are traded-off in return for the convenience of ignorance?

Bring in the Clowns
It seems that the search marketing community has little if any use for analysis of plain truths let alone critical thinking — no matter how expert the opinion. Hence, Ms. Holoubek was seemingly forced to respond to search marketing pros who simply couldn’t handle her balanced and thoughtful (with such professionals and their likely emotional reactions in mind) remarks. It’s an unfortunate but common occurrence in an industry that has so much trouble with things like ethics and its broader perception by marketers.

Many have taken to provide rather illogical arguments against internalizing. In doing so many of these folk deny that search engine optimization is a practice — a core competency of Web development — not some kind of hokus pokus reserved only for the externally anointed.

You go, Sara, and keep up the good work!

About the Author

is the authority on making social media sell. He's a sought-after corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like Brazil's Petrobras. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network. Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His new book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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