Is It Better To Hire A Local SEO Firm Versus An Agency Outside Of Your Area? - 138

Why You May Not Need a Local SEO Firm to Meet Your Needs

In this episode, Jesse and Sue discuss the topic of going with a local SEO firm versus a remote agency. Are you wondering whether or not it is beneficial to go with a local SEO agency for your local SEO needs? Jesse and Sue measure the pros and cons of working with a local agency versus working with an agency with greater reach. If you’re looking into hiring an SEO firm, this episode will be a great listen to help you make your choice!

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What you’ll learn

  • What factors to consider when choosing an SEO agency.
  • How tools like Brightlocal make getting to know your local layout easy even for remote agencies.
  • Why a remote brand may have significant advantages over a more local company.

Transcript For Is it Better to Hire a Local SEO Firm Versus an Agency Outside of Your Area? – 138;

Jesse Dolan: When we launched Intrycks, it was about eight years or so ago, we were remote from day one because we wanted to make sure that we could serve clients all around the country. We could hire talent all around the country.

Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here with Sue Ginsburg. Sue, we are going to answer some questions from out there in the metaverse, kind of a joke with the recent Facebook. A flat joke, as most of them are, the new Facebook rebranding. But in all seriousness, no, we’re here to answer questions from clients, from listeners and from everybody else we bump into about SEO. Take it away, Sue. What are we talking about here today?

Sue Ginsburg: Today’s question is, “Is it better to have a SEO firm working … Oh, sorry, let me back up. “Is it better to have an SEO firm working on your business that is local?” And this question comes from a listener who is owner and CEO of a business in Orlando, Florida.

Jesse Dolan: And I guess we can chime in for everybody who’s been watching our videos. They will notice something a little different here, no virtual background anymore, Sue. I guess let’s just talk about it freely, we’re not going to hide from this. We are going to show you the graphic here for Orlando, but no more virtual backgrounds and no more Carmen Sandiego jokes or discussions about where Sue was at.

But we are always going to mention where these questions come from, where they originate from, and tie that back. Yeah, this is coming via Orlando.

Sue Ginsburg: Feel like I just got my wings clipped, Jesse. No more virtual travel. Wow, wow.

Jesse Dolan: Just real life now.

Sue Ginsburg: Okay. That’s right, that’s right. Quote of the day, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” And that is a quote from Steve Jobs. And I really like that quote, having to do with what we’re talking about today. Because we want to rely on our experts to give us the advice, council and guidance that they know from their expertise. So thank you Steve Jobs for that.

Okay. I will start by asking all of our listeners. Last time you bought something online, how did you find out who had what you wanted to buy? I’m guessing you searched for whatever you were looking for. And curious to know, when you ended up seeing your results and choosing, was it from a store in your neighborhood? Was it from a store in your city? Was it from a store in your state? Was it a store from anywhere nearby you?

And if I took a straw poll of listeners, I’m going to guess the answer to that is at least 50% of our online purchases, unless are searching for local, are coming from out of your state. Unless you specifically are asking for the geography that you’re in, or again local, your search results will be coming from much more than just where you are locally, geographically. That’s the world we live in today and we can thank Amazon, we can thank the internet, we can thank websites, SEO, you name it. That’s the world we live in.

A few weeks ago when I was speaking to a business owner and he asked, “Is it better to have an SEO firm that’s local,” it took me back a little. He’s a very smart man, a very sharp businessman, exploring how to get visibility in his firm. And he asked this question, which is a good question. And my instinct was to say, “No, the internet is everywhere.” But I also added, “We do have somebody who lives about an hour from you, if that’s what you want.” Good idea to look at in SEO, good idea to look at for anything.

We had a good conversation, I learned a lot. And I then asked Jesse and Bob what they thought about this and got another education. There are a lot of resources a business owner needs to hire, many of which are better to hire locally, and I can understand that. But when you’re talking about SEO, does that really matter? So why don’t we all get it a little smarter today on that topic, and Jesse, I will toss that over to you. So you can tell us. Is it better to hire an SEO firm that is local to where you are?

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I think it’s a interesting question. And like you said, we had talked about it a little while back when it first came up, and really the first time I’d ever really heard that question too. And we instantly thought this is a great topic to talk about because even though we hadn’t fielded this question before, it’s probably something that’s going through people’s mind out there.

It is interesting how you pose at the front side, buying things online for eCommerce can be anywhere. But then when we think about as a business owner, the services and the vendors that we’re using, you do maybe tend to think local. This is not a direct example about like a plumber, or a car mechanic, things like that are for sure, local. But when you start talking SEO, digital marketing, things like that, it doesn’t have to be local.

I think it’s a good question. It’s not, does it need to be or not, but is it better or not? And there’s some multifaceted parts in there to tease out here. First and foremost, some of the reasons where that would make sense, if somebody’s local to your area, part of local SEO is the geographic references. If you want to be found for auto repair near me, or auto repair Atlanta, or auto repair Orlando or Minneapolis, et cetera, as a SEO, you’re going to have to know what those towns, the cities, those suburbs, landmarks, those kinds of references are. And to an extent, if you are local, you should just inherently know them. So you have that knowledge base built in.

On the flip side, I don’t think that there’s any secrets out there nowadays about cities, suburbs, populations, those kinds of things. That’s something that has never been a obstacle for firm, is to be educated on what’s the popular suburbs, landmarks, things like that for any given geographic area. On that counterpoint, as an argument for somebody local, well, they just know the local area. Yeah, that’s true, but that’s not any proprietary information that can’t be found with a quick Wikipedia article or other resources that give all kinds of information for that.

The other part that is interesting, like you said, is if somebody’s in your area you can meet with them face-to-face as needed, which definitely could be a positive thing that no remote person could do. We can have Zoom meetings, telephone meetings, things like that. But if somebody is in your neighborhood, in your area, you can meet with them face-to-face if you ever need to.

Counterpoint to that, I bring up is if I’m a business owner and I need to go meet with my marketing people, or they need to meet with me. We’re talking, I don’t know, five, 10, 15, 30 minutes of travel each way back and forth, it’s actually a lot more efficient to not meet in person. The last couple of years with the pandemic and everything, I think we’re all a lot more comfortable and used to meeting virtually face-to-face over Zoom, instead of face-to-face in the same room, which does kind of rhyme. I don’t know if we can trademark that or anything, but that did sound good there.

Again, counterpoint, it’s cool to meet face-to-face and all, but super easy and efficient to just jump on a Zoom call or a telephone call too and tackle some quick issues. And again, from our experience that has never been a stumbling block. And quite the opposite, when we launched Intrycks, it was about eight years or so ago, we were remote from day one because we wanted to make sure that we could serve clients all around the country. We could hire talent all around the country, which is another point I’m going to get into here in a second.

We saw that as a benefit, not so much something negative against being remote. But to each his own. We’re trying here to talk both sides of it. So far I definitely think, overall, we’re leaning towards the, you don’t need to have local presence for an SEO or for a digital marketer that you’re going to hire. I think we’re slanted, we’re biased, because we are a remote company. We serve clients, not only all across the US, but around the world really. And so we strongly believe that you do not need to be local to be an SEO or a digital marketing agency for your clients. And vice versa, if you are looking for somebody they do not need to be local.

Another thing here is on the other side now, arguing why it is good to be remote, is something I touched on. If we are a remote company … We are a company, it’s not a remote freelancer that we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a SEO agency, a digital marketing firm, employees, team members. And one of the benefits for us, again going remote, when we launched Intrycks was that if we’re going to be a physical brick and mortar company located, let’s just say, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, naturally we’d be hiring people in and around our area that could also come to work at our office. And I’m sure there’s plenty of good people in the area that are worthy of hiring and can build a great team.

But with the nature of this industry and the type of work, being that it’s all computer based, why shackle yourself to a certain territory or city? Instead, be remote and allow yourself to hire the best people for the job, no matter where they live. You can have flexible scheduling, flexible hours, flexible locations. People can travel around the country if they want, they don’t even need to have a permanent place. I know something that you personally do, Sue, is travel and setup shop wherever you’re at for that week, that month or things like that.

In that argument, if you’re hiring a firm, if they are a local firm, again, there can be some proximity advantages there. But I think the best firms are built on the best talent and the best people, to deliver the best services to clients. And you just are limited if you’re only having people in your own backyard work for you. I think there’s something to be said for that.

As well as just, quite frankly, the cost, the overhead, the vanity of having that physical location. Now this doesn’t mean if somebody’s local that they have to have a brick and mortar business and agency. But we chose to go remote so that we don’t have the overhead of rent, of a lease for a building, for signage, for garbage, for internet, for all those things that come with having a brick and mortar agency.

There’s plenty of arguments where that’s good for a company. There’s also plenty of arguments where it’s great to be remote. The overhead that you get to free up, reinvest into your talent, into your tools, into the things that you do to provide your services to your client in a much more efficient manner. And I’m leveraging that, this isn’t a discussion necessarily on remote or not, it is a discussion on if your agency should be local or not. But I think once you say it doesn’t have to be local, you do open that can of worms of it being remote. It’s pretty synonymous there, I think.

Kind of weaved in and out of a few topics there, Sue, but I guess if we wanted a short answer I would say no, it is not better to have your SEO agency be local. There can be some advantages on a personal bias, what you like, who you like to deal with and things like that. But from the standpoint of delivering SEO, for knowing the geographic area, for knowing your business, for delivering good services and good results, I can’t really find a single argument where having somebody local versus non-local is an advantage, or they should do a better job just based on that factor alone.

It really does come down to the people on that team, the approach that that team has and what they’re doing. Because SEO can be done by anybody who can access your website. It’s all digital, there’s no physical tie into it whatsoever. Logically, that just can’t be an argument. That’s a yes in my opinion.

Sue Ginsburg: I never thought about this before. Let me ask you, when you were setting up Intrycks and you were intentionally setting it up remote, was that part of your strategy to be able to offer value pricing for services?

Jesse Dolan: Not really.

Sue Ginsburg: Because you have lower overhead.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Not really to offer value pricing, to keep prices low by any means. As an agency and as a firm, we actually try to operate on the other end. We are more of a premium. Very good at what we do, very robust in the services we offer, but done in a sense of making sure that the overhead element of running a business didn’t factor into our cost.

Thus, yes, I guess we could be cheaper in a apples to oranges way, but it wasn’t done in a way to position us to be a lower cost provider, just to frame it up like that. But definitely was done to be an efficient model of, this is excess, we don’t need the overhead of a physical location to be part of our business model. All it would serve is the ability to have a sign somewhere, maybe pump up the ego a little bit, saying, “Here’s the location, here’s the office. Look at this.” I think there’s a lot of things like that, that business owners like.

In coming from being ridded in 20-plus years of physical brick and mortar business from a service location, understand that and understand what marketing also can do for you as an agency. That said, definitely wasn’t part of our model and we wanted to just cut out all the fat. So employees can get paid, vendors, contractors can get paid. Again, we can have good people, good services, good tools. So we can do a better job for our client and make sure we’re not passing along any costs that really aren’t part of the provision of services to them, i.e. the overhead. Keep that as minimal as possible.

Sue Ginsburg: Well, I would maintain that I’m looking at value versus cost. And I think that our fees are value based, compared to the competition at the level that we operate.

Jesse Dolan: Sure. Yep, yep.

Sue Ginsburg: Maybe that allows us to do that more or whatever, but-

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Sue Ginsburg: Interesting, I can think of a situation where it’s the exact opposite in certain industries. When I was at 3M, the advertising agencies that we worked with were always out of New York.

Jesse Dolan: Sure.

Sue Ginsburg: I don’t know if that’s because my director thought good advertising agencies means go to New York, or they liked to travel to New York or why that was. But that’s a case where it’s the exact opposite, where they didn’t want to go with anyone local because they thought all the good talent was in New York, which-

Jesse Dolan: And you start talking broadly about advertising agency. If we’re talking TV commercials, billboards, print publications, there can then be a lot of logistical things. Subcontractors, where you need physical meetings, transferring of files, materials, information. There’s a lot of reasons where to get a large agency of record. And not just working on websites, which is what SEO is. I think then that’s a completely different conversation, and I could see where maybe some of that would ring true.

But again, here within the narrow focus of my web people, my SEO people, do they need to be local? I don’t think any of that makes any sense. Everything’s digital, totally transportable, stored in the cloud, part of your website, et cetera.

Sue Ginsburg: Great, great point. And I also think, like you said, if we had talked about this two years ago, people may have felt differently before COVID in realized how much easier in many senses Zoom meetings is.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Sue Ginsburg: Even though at first it felt awkward, I think now we’re all used to it. And there’s a lot to be said for in person meetings, but I do feel like you get to know people over Zoom. And it’s funny, I got an email from one of our clients this morning saying, “Let’s have coffee soon.” And she put it in quotes. She lives on the West Coast and I don’t.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Sue Ginsburg: And I just thought that was really nice.

Jesse Dolan: Yes. No, that’s really cool. Like I said, things mean not what meant two years ago.

Sue Ginsburg: That’s right.

Jesse Dolan: But I think it’s really … I mean, we’re even more connected now than we were before. So all of this, again, whether you’re hiring an SEO locally or remotely or different cities, yeah, this has been a silver lining of the pandemic, is the comfort level we all have with video conferencing-

Sue Ginsburg: Right.

Jesse Dolan: … prior to before. And yeah, as it translates to business, you can just get things done in ways that we couldn’t before. And yeah, again, just another example reinforcing that your SEO agency, no, they do not need to be in your county, in your backyard. And I think we gave a few arguments to where it’s even better if they’re not quite frankly.

Sue Ginsburg: You also think about how much we all learn from podcasts. And what if somebody asked the same question, does the podcast you listen to, is it better if it’s local?

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Sue Ginsburg: Who cares, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need the in person things to be listening to a podcast, so-

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Great, perfect. Again, it comes back to is the thing that’s being provided to you, does the logistics, the physical location of it matter? If yes, then yeah, it makes sense. But if it doesn’t, if it’s a digital, if it’s a virtual, if it’s portable, transferable, doesn’t matter who you’re dealing with. It just matters that you’re dealing with somebody who’s good.

Sue Ginsburg: That’s a great point. Okay. If you remember one thing and one thing only remember this, using SEO to optimize your website and your GMB requires three things, a computer, internet connection, and an SEO expert. And where the person is located has no bearing on the effectiveness of the SEO. And in fact, may open up your realm of people to consider because it doesn’t matter. And I think after hearing this conversation, everybody will understand why we’re saying that.

Jesse Dolan: Right on.

Sue Ginsburg: Quote of the day again, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Thank you, Steve Jobs.

Jesse Dolan: Yep. And that’s great as a business owner. I mean, anybody on our team, we’re always adding to our team that’s listening, that’s one of the first things we talk about, is we have a way that we do things and we want you to do things our way, but we want you to tell us any improvements you have. Consistency is good, everybody needs to do it the way that’s the SOP, but bring on talented people and have them improve your SOP and be continually improving. If anybody did that good, we know it was Steve Jobs on Apple.

Sue Ginsburg: That’s right.

Jesse Dolan: All right. Hopefully all you all listening out there, that’s some good stuff. If that helps you make some decisions or maybe think about some things in a new way, that’s what we’re here for. If you have a question you would like us to talk about here on the show, go on out to, scroll down to the bottom, click the button for Submit a Question. You can type it in and send it, Susie and I get it. She’s going to talk with you, let you know when we put it on the show so you can be on the lookout for it and maybe even elaborate on anything.

If you want to take it to the next step and actually call in and record that question, we’ll also put it on the show, we’ll play your audio. That does give you a chance so maybe drop a little plug to your company, mention your website, things like that too which is cool. And of course, you’re going to get one of these fancy Intrycks T-shirts sent off to you in the mail for going out on at a limb and putting your voice on audio to be broadcast all around the world for our listeners.

Again, if you got a question,, scroll down to the bottom, click Submit a Question and we’d love to hear from you. All right, Sue. Thanks for serving up the question there, great topic. And we’ll catch everybody on the next episode.

Sue Ginsburg: Good, see you.

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