Full Service Digital Agencies VS. SEO Agencies - What's Better?

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | March 2021


Search engine optimization is essential for ranking your website and getting targeted traffic. What you need to keep in mind, though, is that you really can't separate SEO from other key website features and services. In fact, focusing too much on one area can have detrimental effects. Let's explore why you should always look at SEO within the larger context of web development.

SEO Agencies vs Full-Service Digital Agencies

When you search for help with your website, you have many choices. One distinction that you should note is that an SEO agency isn't the same thing as a full-service digital agency. If you don't understand this difference, you may end up neglecting actions that are crucial for growing your audience.

SEO Agencies

Search engine optimization is all about getting your website to rank higher in the search engines. So SEO agencies are mainly focused on activities that are specifically designed to boost your SERP (search engine results pages) ranking. This typically includes:

  • Keyword optimization. Helping you rank for keyword phrases that are important for your business and industry.
  • Building links, including inbound and outbound links. Backlinks, in particular, are a cornerstone of traditional SEO as Google likes to see that authoritative sites are linking to your site.
  • Local SEO, such as optimizing your site with Google My Business.

Full-Service Digital Agency

A full-service digital agency has wider goals, and may offer the following services in addition to SEO:

  • A comprehensive content marketing strategy.
  • Web design and development.
  • Paid advertising, such as Google and Facebook. This is also known as SEM or search engine marketing, distinct from SEO, which focuses on generating organic traffic.
  • Social media marketing. Building a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.
  • Video marketing. Creating and optimizing videos for YouTube, social media sites, and video sharing sites.
  • Email marketing. This may include building a subscriber list with landing pages and newsletters.

When considering agencies, make sure you understand what services they offer. A full-service digital marketing agency is definitely concerned with SEO. However, an agency that specializes in SEO has a narrower focus.


5 Reasons SEO Needs to be Combined with Design, Development, and Content

Here are the top reasons that it's essential to integrate SEO with other key facets of website development and design.

1. Content and SEO are Closely Linked

You need relevant, original, and high-quality content to rank for keywords. In recent years, Google is increasingly rewarding sites based on authority and relevance. This requires you to have a content marketing strategy that provides your audience with the information they're seeking. One problem with having a narrow SEO focus is that you can end up writing for the search engines rather than your visitors.

2. User Experience and SEO Go Hand-in-Hand

When visitors land on your website, they instantly form many impressions that determine how much time they spend there. User experience (UX) is critical for retaining visitors and getting them to take action such as subscribing to your mailing list or donating to your organization. UX is also important for SEO. If your site is cluttered, is difficult to navigate, or has slow-loading pages, visitors won't spend much time there. A high bounce rate isn't good for your SEO and will also mean low conversions for your offers.

3. Website Performance Has a Great Impact on SEO

If visitors to your website experience errors or if pages are slow-loading, it obviously doesn't make a great impression. Studies indicate that delays of even a few seconds can cause people to abandon a site. Additionally, website performance affects your SEO. Site speed is among the many factors Google uses to rank sites. That's why you need a team that knows how to deal with poor website speed issues, errors, and other issues. Some SEOs are unable to resolve these issues without working with a development team. This is inefficient and slow.

4. Your SEO Can be Harmed by the Wrong Web Host

Your web hosting is another factor that has an impact on your SEO. Many hosting companies are competing for your business. Just because you signed up with a certain company when you created your website doesn't mean you have to stay with this host forever. A business or organization may outgrow its hosting at some point.

If your web hosting isn't reliable, it can cause issues such as downtime, slowdowns, and poor performance. There's also the question of selecting the right hosting plan for your needs. For example, as your business or nonprofit grows, you may need to upgrade from shared hosting to something more robust such as a dedicated server or virtual private server hosting.

5. It's Easier to Work With One Team Than Multiple Teams

If you have separate teams running SEO, content, web design, and other functions, it can confuse and slow down your progress. If everything is handled under one roof, communication is simpler, you only have one vendor to pay, and you know that everyone is on the same page. A recent experience illustrates what can happen when you have separate teams working on different aspects of a website.

Recently, one of our clients had a site outage. As our support team was trying to determine what caused their site to be down, their SEO vendor sent a message mentioning that one of their activities could have been the culprit.  It turned out that it was. Once the SEO update was rolled back, everything was resolved and the site was functioning normally again. For some folks, this may be controversial, but I don't think purely focussing on SEO without other services like content, design, development are effective.  

Find an Agency that Serves All Your Marketing Needs

A holistic, integrated approach to digital marketing is more important than ever. While traditional SEO factors such as keywords and backlinks still count, Google is increasingly rewarding sites with the greatest amount of trust and authority. This means that many of the actions taken by full-service agencies, such as appealing web design, UX, and quality content are also important factors for SEO.

ArcStone creates beautiful WordPress sites for thoughtful brands and nonprofits. To learn more about our SEO services, visit our digital marketing page or contact us.

Topics: Digital Marketing