In House SEO Challenges: What Drives Me Nuts in Being an In House SEO

In House SEO Pet Peeves

In House SEO.

For some the term is just another synonym for dull, but that would be the agency folk talking I suppose. To others, it means stability, steady progress and an in depth dedication to what they do.

I have been working in house for over 3 years now. Prior to that I have had some agency and freelance experience. I could easily say that I know best (and worst) of both worlds.

And, perhaps an in house SEO’s life isn’t as exciting compared to what the agency folk face everyday. Definitely it’s not as fast moving. After all, there is only one client /website you look after versus an infinity of projects, clients and challenges that face you in an agency life. Certainly there aren’t that many deadlines and pressure they bring.

Yet, I think there are more challenges to face in an in house SEO than what most people see. But before I tell you about them though, here’s one more thing that needs to be said:

In house SEOs will become more in demand in the years to come.

That’s my personal opinion of course, however I believe that more ad more companies start to see the benefits of hiring an in house SEO instead of outsourcing the service to someone else. There might be certain aspects of the work, like link building or copywriting that will still get outsourced, however, overall strategy and development will soon be managed from within the company.

But before you start polishing up your CVs, getting ready to apply for those jobs, let me tell you about few challenges that every in house SEO faces. You could call them my personal pet peeves but I am pretty sure, I am not the only one irritated by them.

SEO Is Rarely Included In The Company’s Overall Marketing Plan

Even though it’s an integral part of a company’s marketing mix, SEO is rarely included in the company’s overall marketing plan. SEOs are rarely involved in setting up the marketing strategy for a year. In fact, many of us usually discover them only when they happen, and have to find our own workarounds to them.

Worse, any new development in the company is rarely discussed with the SEO, meaning that many decisions affecting organic search presence will be made behind the SEO back.

Not Many Departments Care About SEO

Search engine optimization can be a lonely game, especially if you are the only SEO in the company. Since most people have very little clue about our profession, they don’t put too much attention to SEO. In fact, many other departments barely care about SEO, even tough their work impacts ours greatly.

Even the Smallest Change Takes Time to Get Done

When you work for a client, or your own site, you often have the ability to change things when needed. Amending the code, updating plugins in WordPress or installing new ones, easy. However, when you work in house, you often have to rely on other departments to do the work and that might not be as easy as it sounds.

Even the smallest changes can take days to be made, you need to get a buy in from other departments and people and wait until they schedule you into their work.

A Full Year SEO Strategy? WHAT?

There aren’t many constants in the SEO these days. We all know very well that a strategy that works today might not necessarily work tomorrow. Similarly, a content ranking well today might turn out overoptimized and drop.

As a result, SEOs often have to change direction and adapt to new changes to keep and improve the site’s rankings.

Yet, when you work in house, quite often you have to present a year long strategy or a plan you will be implementing, which, given the state of the industry is quite impossible to do.

In such case, I prefer to emphasize on outcomes not the path I will take to get there.

You Rarely Report on the KPIs You Feel You Should

Quite often SEO is considered an another sales channel. As a result, you get to report on things you don’t necessarily feel you have any influence on, like website sales while on the other hand, the KPIs that could show your real progress are completely ignored.

You Have to Benchmark Against the Wrong Competitors

Every company has a list of competitors they benchmark against. They are usually the companies whose offering resambles the one your company offers. However, from SEO perspective, they are often not the ones you don’t compete against. In spite of that you have to keep on reporting your progress against them, even though you know that your real online competitors are completely different.


Now, don’t get me wrong, in spite of all this, inhouse SEO is fun. By all means, this is not a rant post. I love being an in house SEO, in spite of all challenges the job brings.

My aim for this post is to show that in spite of the fact that when you are in house, you have no clients breathing down your neck, no impending deadlines and much slower pace of progress, there are still challenges you need to overcome and battles you have to fight in order to get the job done.

Your Turn

What do you think? Would any of these frustrate you if you were working in house? Or if you do, do you have any other pet peeves you would like to share with us?

Creative Commons Image by James Delaney / Flickr