It’s a battle you might not have considered before: SEO agency vs SEO content writer.
But it really is a question you should consider. Because a lot of people go straight into hiring an SEO agency when potentially, a good SEO content writer could get them great results at a more affordable price💰.
So, do you need a full SEO package with a fancy SEO agency?
Or, is an SEO content writer going to help you build authority, trust and rankings?
Traditionally SEO has meant tinkering with backlinks, on-page SEO and all the techy bits like site speed. But, with the modern-day Google algorithm, content is equally (if not more) important when it comes to winning the ranking war.
That’s why, in this blog, we’re going to explore the differences between SEO content writers and SEO agencies, to figure out which one is best for your business.
Related content: What is an SEO content writing service? And how does it all work?
SEO Content Writer vs SEO Agency: What is the difference between the two?
In order to figure out whether a content writer or agency is going to suit your business best, you need to understand the differences between them.
- What’s the difference in cost?
- What does their service include?
- What results do they get you?
- What’s the difference in skillset?
- How do they work?
So, let’s look further into these to help you decide which one is right for your business
1. SEO Content Writer vs SEO Agency: What is the difference in cost?
One of the most important decisions for a business (especially in the current climate) is COST💰.
How much money are you going to need to budget every month?
And the cost between an SEO content writer and an SEO agency can vary quite substantially.
How much does an SEO content writer charge?
The 2021 ProCopywriters survey showed that the average daily rate for a copywriter is £387. Yes, content writers and copywriters are arguably different professions. However there is a lot of crossover between skillset and writers, so it’s worth using it as a benchmark for costs.
An SEO content writer usually charges anywhere between £200 and £700+ per blog article (yes, it’s a pretty wide range). But the exact cost will usually depend on the individual writer’s skills, experience, and exactly what services they offer.*
This might sound expensive, but content writing and SEO are highly skilled and time-consuming work. Once you factor in keyword research, competitor research, writing, proofreading, and optimising you are looking at around 6-10 hours per blog.
Plus you are paying for the experience and expertise of an SEO content writer that will enable your website to rank highly on search engines.
Most SEO content writers charge per blog, so exactly how much it will cost you will depend on how many blogs you want to publish per month.
Some SEO content writers may also charge per word (although this is less common). This could be anywhere from $0.02 per word, to $2.00 per word.
How much does an SEO agency charge?
In comparison, SEO agencies charge monthly and this usually starts at around £1000 per month all the way up to £10,000+ per month. And it’s worth noting that they are usually a little less flexible as they usually have six-month minimum contracts.
According to this research by AHREFS, SEO agencies charge an average of $2,819.87 per month for SEO. It’s unclear if this charge includes content writing and how much content writing that would be. From our own research looking at SEO agencies in the UK, 13 out of 20 SEO agencies we looked at offered content marketing as a separate service to their other SEO services.
As we talked about in our blog on SEO agency problems, the monthly cost doesn’t always include content creation (especially if you opt for a cheaper SEO package).
So you’ll either have to do that yourself or pay more to the SEO company to do this for you. If you want this included then it’s likely that you will be looking at the higher end of this monthly budget.
Out of twenty SEO agencies we looked at, only one provided a price. They had three packages. Their middle package is £2899 per month and includes a blogging strategy and content calendar but nowhere did it say they would create content on your behalf in this package.
Obviously, an SEO Content writer and an SEO agency offer different services. An SEO agency will dive deeper into the more technical aspects of SEO that can affect website performance and rankings (in a way that an SEO content writer generally won’t do!) We’ll come onto that a bit more later.
Related content: The biggest problems with SEO companies
Who is the winner?
For cost? An SEO content writer!
An SEO content writer is usually cheaper than hiring a full-service SEO agency. Seeing as content has the biggest impact on your search engine rankings (particularly if you have a healthy website) then this might be the best option for you.
Either way, you’re going to need content if you want to increase search engine rankings and get more traffic to your website. And we think hiring a specialist content writer who understands SEO, rather than a specialist SEO who may or may not ‘get’ good writing, is best.
2. SEO Content Writer vs SEO Agency: What does their service include?
We’ve talked about cost, however, there is another side that relates to the value of the service.
What are you actually getting for your money?
Is the service the same, or are you paying for two different things?
What does an SEO content writer do?
A traditional content writer does just that – writes content! And while an SEO content writer does everything that a traditional one does, they also focus on (you guessed it) Search Engine Optimisation.
Their main task revolves around creating blogs that help your website rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
They should have a comprehensive understanding of SEO, and how to optimise written content for keywords without stuffing them in and making it totally nonsensical. However, they will usually work off a content plan created by a business, rather than planning or directing the content themselves.
Will SEO content writers write guest posts on other websites?
In addition, some SEO content writers will create guest posts for other websites to help increase the backlinks to your website. This increases your Google authority and business awareness and overall improves your SEO. But they won’t do the ‘outreach’ for you i.e. approach website owners asking them if they will accept a guest blog post.
If you’re planning on hiring a content writer to do guest posting for you, you’ll probably need to do the outreach yourself. But if you have a strong network of people you can approach, hiring an SEO content writer can be a much more affordable option.
Most SEO content writers:
✅ Write professional, well-written and engaging content
✅ Understand tone of voice and style
✅ Have knowledge of SEO and how to rank on search engines
✅ Be able to optimise your content for keywords and phrases
✅ Might offer keyword research
❌ Upload the content to your website
❌ Create or source imagery
❌ Run an SEO audit
❌ Run a technical audit on your website to understand if there’s anything preventing you or limiting your search engine rankings (such as slow site speed)
Of course, each individual will vary, but this is the most common service for SEO content writers to offer.
What does an SEO agency do?
In comparison, SEO agencies focus on all aspects of SEO (not just the content).
They may offer writing (although in some cases they outsource this as they’re not specialist writers). Plus they look at building backlinks, technical SEO (such as website speed, fixing issues, mobile-friendliness etc), and optimising website pages.
Plus, they take a much bigger role in keyword and competitor research in order to find out what you should be ranking for with your content.
Most SEO agencies will:
✅ Competitor and keyword research
✅ Help direct blog topics
✅ They may outsource content writing or have in-house writers or give you some direction on the content for you to do yourself
✅ Optimise your content for keywords and phrases
✅ Build back-links
✅ Optimise website pages
✅ Fix any technical SEO aspects
❌ Create or source imagery
❌ Often don’t focus on writing in your tone of voice/brand
❌ Often don’t focus on how to convert people from the content
Again, the exact package will vary depending on the agency, and cost.
Who is the winner?
SEO Agencies (but with a caveat!)
On the face of it, an SEO agency covers A LOT more ground than an SEO content writer, which you would expect given the difference in cost.
But because content is such a vital part of SEO, it really is important that whoever writes the content is an expert who knows how to write compelling content. You may rank on search engines with content, but that content still has to engage your reader. Otherwise, it’s all pretty pointless if they hit that backspace button!
So absolutely, SEO agencies do more stuff but make sure you choose one that prioritises content. The best place to start to check this is by looking at an SEO agency’s blog to see what kind of content they create for themselves. Is it helpful? Is it engaging? Or is it full of jargon or just about themselves and what award they’ve won that month?
Related Content: DIY SEO vs Hiring and Agency – Which One Should You Choose?
Remember: Content that gets backlinks has to be good
And remember, backlinks are another huge ranking factor. If you have backlinks to your website (i.e. links from other credible websites that link back to your site) then this tells Google you are trustworthy.
One of the best ways to gain backlinks is by producing stand-out content that people will link to. This is another reason why it’s so important you hire specialist writers who will do lots of research into your topic and write compelling content. Mediocre content does not get backlinks!
3. SEO Content Writer vs SEO Agency: what results do they get you?
RESULTS! They are kind of the reason that you are writing content, or worrying about SEO, right?
So, it’s definitely something you need to consider when choosing which one is right for your business.
And honestly, both SEO content writers and SEO agencies have the same ultimate goal:
To get your website ranking organically on search engines.
This should (in theory) lead to increased website traffic, and hopefully revenue for you💰.
The main goals of SEO content writers and SEO agencies are to:
✅ Increase your search engine rankings for a variety of keywords
✅ Increase your website traffic
✅ Increase your backlinks from high-authority websites
Luckily, this is super easy to track. You can do it in Google Analytics, which is completely free. So you can check how well your SEO agency or SEO content writer is doing.
Of course, SEO is great and everything, but it only kinda gets you halfway there. Once you have rankings and traffic you should want to convert that traffic into actual sales.
This is where your SEO content writer should come in. An SEO content writer should also focus on how to convert your readers into leads. They’ll do this by encouraging your reader to join your email list or find out more about your services.
Who is the winner?
Both an SEO agency and an SEO content writer should increase your search engine rankings and website traffic.
But, SEO agencies can be more focused on the rankings and traffic, whereas an SEO content writer should also focus on converting readers into leads. However, an SEO agency is much more likely to give you a comprehensive report on how they are doing (such as the increase in rankings, traffic, backlinks, domain authority etc).
Whoever you choose, make sure they value leads and sales just as much (if not more!) than rankings and traffic. If you choose a content writer, you will probably need to keep an eye on how well things are going through your Google Analytics (it’s recommended you do this anyway). If you hire an SEO agency, you should receive a more comprehensive report from them.
4. SEO Content Writer vs SEO Agency: what’s the difference in skillset?
Although both SEO content writers and SEO agencies have the same ultimate goal their skillset, and emphasis on how they get there is a little different.
What skillset does an SEO content writer have?
As you would expect, SEO content writers are expert writers. Their aim is to capture the essence of your business and translate that into an engaging, entertaining and informative blog that your potential customers love and gain value from.
Yes, they’ll scatter in the necessary keywords, and optimise the entire blog so that Google likes the look of it. But that’s just because they understand you have to appease the Google Gods in order to rank in search engines.
SEO content writers are writing for humans.
And because of that, they are really good at emulating the tone of voice, building trust, nurturing relationships and ultimately converting website visitors into paying customers.
What skillset does an SEO agency have?
In comparison, SEO agencies’ skillset lies in SEO (unsurprisingly). And they are much more concerned with and knowledgeable about development and technical SEO.
SEO agencies understand all aspects of technical SEO and what makes a website appealing to search engines. They typically:
- Offer a website audit and fix any issues such as site speed
- Come up with an SEO strategy
- On-site SEO such as optimising your pages and imagery
- Off-site SEO such as creating a backlink strategy
- Content marketing – either in-house or outsourced
Yes, they can write content, however, many aren’t usually expert writers. And unless you pay larger fees for SEO agencies with expert in-house writers, you may find that they outsource content writing work to a freelancer. Because of this, you may find that they place less emphasis on things like brand voice and style. The articles may sound a little cold, overly factual and not particularly engaging.
Ultimately they are focussed on getting traffic to your website, and while content is a means to an end for this, it’s not the main focus.
Who is the winner?
It’s difficult to pick a winner here as they both have different skillsets, and that’s okay. If you’re looking for a specialist writer who knows SEO, then an SEO content writer may be better. If you’re looking for more technical help and expertise, then an SEO agency may suit you better.
What if you need a specialist writer with technical knowledge?
It’s worth pointing out here that this is exactly why we set up our SEO and Blog Management Service. We are expert writers (Lyndsay has a master’s in creative writing and writes professionally for all sorts of businesses and industries), but we’re also web experts.
We ran a web agency for over a decade so understand all the technical issues that could prevent you from ranking. And we know how to write content and also how to upload it to your website, format it, design imagery etc.
If you’re looking for a company that sits nicely between an SEO content writer and an SEO agency, we might just be the right fit.
5. SEO Content Writer vs SEO Agency: how do they work?
Due to their overall goal, and associated skills, the actual process that an SEO content writer takes is quite different to an SEO agency.
How does an SEO content writer work?
An SEO content writer will dive straight into keyword research and writing. Their aim is to get content live on your website as soon as possible.
They will usually expect you to have a content plan ready (or they will charge more to create this) and from there they will write your content.
They typically check in with you every month to see what content you’d like to publish for that month. They’ll often write 2, 3 or 4 blog posts per month and they usually recommend you commit to 3 months working with them (although often, they have no minimum commitment).
They might need to get some of the expert knowledge from your brain to theirs and can do this via email, video, voice notes or whatever suits you.
But then they are off! 🐎
Tapping away on their laptop getting content ready for your business.
Once they’re finished it’s usually up to you to upload this content, format it, design imagery and optimise it for search engines. Some SEO content writers may upload it for you, others avoid this as they’re not web experts and every content management system is different.
How do SEO agencies work?
SEO agencies take a more reserved, strategic approach.
You’ve got to know where you are in order to know what work needs to be done. SEO agencies will usually kick things off with an SEO audit to see how your website performs and if there are any technical issues to fix. They’ll also examine your current traffic, rankings, backlinks etc to see where you are right now. They’ll probably have a gander at your competitors’ websites too.
This allows them to create a plan that will get you from where you are, to where you want to be. This plan will vary depending on exactly what’s going on with your current setup.
After this, they’ll likely get on keyword research and focus on fixing any technical issues that are stopping your website from ranking.
They’ll then focus on on-page SEO, i.e. optimising your current website pages for search engines.
It’s not usually until after this is all done that they start to turn their attention to content creation (if that’s included within their package). So, it may be a few months before you actually see any content being produced or published. Of course, this depends on the company and budget, but they tend to get to content later on in the process.
SEO Content Writer vs SEO agency: which one should you pick?
So, content writer or SEO agency: which one is right for you?
Ultimately, which one is best for your business will depend on what support you are looking for, and what your business budget is.
Hiring an SEO content writer will usually deliver results faster and cheaper but only if your website is healthy. That means there’s nothing preventing or limiting it from getting ranked on search engines. In other cases, you may want a full SEO agency to manage all the technical aspects of your website, especially if you have a large website with a lot of pages and lots going on!
However, there is a third option, which is a blog management service.
It’s kind of a mid-point between SEO content writers and SEO agencies. We do an SEO audit and deep dive of your website, identifying any problems. Plus, we do ALL the work around your blog including planning, writing, optimising for SEO, designing imagery, uploading and formatting. Basically, we manage the entire blog!
We take care of any SEO issues, while also creating content that ranks and drives traffic to your website. Which is really the best of both worlds! Win/Win!