I know a lot of Australians are hesitant to outsource work overseas. In fact, a lot of people in western countries, in general, will often shudder at the thought of outsourcing. Collectively we are worried about keeping jobs in Australia, but sometimes it just makes economic sense to do this. Some projects simply would not be profitable if you hired a full-time local staff member for every step of the process. This would be catastrophic for a digital marketing agency, and when COVID hit, my current digital marketing agency, Digital Next, did quite well in comparison to similar companies that suffered significant layoffs.
In my 10+ years of SEO and digital marketing, outsourcing has been a major part of my career for major sections of it. In most of my agency roles, we’ve outsourced a lot of our resources to India and the Philippines. This is typically a lot of the grunt work, whilst the higher strategy and client communications are all done locally here in Australia. I’ll explain the dynamics below.
Outsourcing SEO Work
The other side of SEO that definitely needs to be outsourced is Link Building. The amount of effort it would take for an individual to prospect hundreds of different websites, negotiate to get guest posts to publish and ensure they all go live is incredible. And don’t forget ensuring everything is tracked and fed into client reports. This simply would not be possible without our great team in India. Our account managers plan and choose the websites that need to be contacted, but the grunt work is done overseas.
We outsource a lot of our content for guest posts as well, but this is typically done by local Australians or other native English speakers. Many agencies will outsource overseas, but due to the high quality of websites we publish on, they can be quite strict on the level of quality and local knowledge required to meet their guidelines.
Due to the cyclical nature of our SEO campaigns, content writing for guest posts or on-site blogs only occurs over a 10 day period of the month, so we have to outsource this to freelance writers, otherwise, we’d have a lot of staff with very little work to do for the other 20 days. By outsourcing to a large pool of writers, it also enables us to use writers who are great in certain areas, such as writing B2B content, law-related topics or articles aimed at certain demographics. It also means that when a writer is sick or unavailable, we can scale up the workload with other writers or quickly find new writers to cover the slack. The turnaround time of our work is so crucial that having full-time writers who get sick or go on holidays could completely bottleneck the process and hinder our great relationships with both our clients and the bloggers we work with.
Outsourcing Paid Search
At my current role, we do not outsource anything on the paid search team, but I’ve worked at agencies which do and I’ve also worked client-side with agencies that do. Overall, I’ve found the experience with off-shore teams to be quite good when it comes to paid search with Google Ads. The way it generally works is there will be a local account manager who is in charge of the day-to-day communications, meetings and phone calls and much of the bulk work will be done to the account managers’ specifications overseas.
The difference in time-zones is quite practical for Australian companies as Australia is a few hours ahead of both India and the Philippines. There’s nothing like having a client meeting during the day, especially if it’s in the afternoon, then assigning the work overseas and having it be ready for me to check by the next morning. It could even be live by the next morning, but typically I’ve worked where all client ad text is approved before being set live. The local account manager can then just set them live once the client is happy and it’s been approved. This system is very efficient with the right team.
The approval and editing process is quite crucial here as whilst some outsourced PPC specialists have the great technical knowledge, their wording or local product knowledge may need some tweaks and again, the account manager should always be across everything and edit before the client approves.
One thing to keep in mind when using outsourced teams is that it’s best to be transparent about it. At Digital Next, we are quite open about our use of outsourced work, as you can see by this article. I’ve worked at agencies where a lot of work was outsourced, but it was treated as our dirty secret. If you are going to reduce your overheads by hiring outsourced teams, you should pass those savings to your clients, if you are going to do it and lie about it, then you’re not someone I’d want to do business with.
Overall, outsourcing work has made our company quite profitable but also competitively priced. It’s helped our company survive COVID-19 and I should probably thank this business model for me being able to keep my job in 2020 as it’s been quite hard for digital marketers this year.