Managed SEO Services: A Comprehensive Guide on What To Expect

With hundreds of managed SEO services right at your fingertips, you’re presented with the opportunity to tap into the expertise of seasoned professionals who can help you climb the search engine rankings—at a price.

Managed SEO Services

But this begs the question: what exactly is the difference between managed SEO and traditional, non-managed SEO? And more importantly, is investing in professional SEO management services worth it?

The short answer is yes, it’s absolutely worth opting for managed SEO services.

Managed SEO services offer numerous benefits that can significantly impact your online presence and overall business success.

Among others, they can help you boost online visibility, drive organic traffic, and offer a strong return on investment (RIO). All this results in increased website traffic, more leads or sales, and a respectable boost in revenue.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about managed SEO, including the benefits of opting for professional services, considerations when choosing a provider, and more.

Managed SEO vs. Traditional SEO: What’s the Difference?

Here are the differences between managed SEO vs. traditional SEO:

In-house vs. Outsourced Expertise

With traditional SEO, you rely on yourself or your in-house team to manage and handle your SEO. This means that you actively have to put out the effort to research keywords, build backlinks, and optimize your website’s structure to see meaningful results

You also have to keep up to date with the ever-evolving nature of search engine algorithms and the latest industry trends.

As rewarding as it feels to handle all aspects of website optimization yourself, managing SEO alongside running a company can be challenging and demanding.

SEO, by itself, requires time, effort, and expertise. Because of this, most business owners invest in managed SEO to take the load of handling the technical affairs of the website off their shoulders.

This is where managed SEO comes into play. When you opt for professional services, you’re relying on outsourced expertise.

Managed SEO providers are well-versed in the intricacies of SEO and constantly updating their knowledge on industry trends, algorithm changes, and emerging best practices.

After all, SEO is their primary focus—their bread and butter.

Scalability and Adaptability

Unless you’re an SEO guru, keeping up with SEO practices can be a daunting task.

It isn’t only about understanding the fundamentals of SEO; it’s about mastering various SEO tools (Google Analytics, Moz, SEMRush, etc.), navigating on-page and off-page SEO, and optimizing search engine algorithms.

If you’re relying on in-house staff, you’ll have to constantly keep them up to date on the latest trends, invest in the latest SEO tools, and divert resources away from your core business.

This isn’t the case with managed SEO. When it comes to scalability and adaptability, professional SEO services win by a landslide. These agencies can readily adjust to changes in your business needs or the SEO environment.

They not only have the flexibility to allocate more of their resources if needed, but they can change strategies and address emerging trends without the overhead of hiring and training new employees.

Strategy Focus

Website owners develop and execute their SEO strategies independently. These strategies are typically based on their existing SEO knowledge, taken from YouTube guides, articles, and marketing books.

While these strategies can be effective to a certain extent, they often lack the comprehensive, data-driven, and up-to-date approach that professional services offer.

Managed SEO services employ SEO experts with years of experience in the field. Their knowledge goes beyond what you’d see in guides and online tutorials.

They take on a more comprehensive and strategic approach to SEO, leveraging advanced SEO tools and analytics to make informed decisions.

What Does Managed SEO Services Bring to the Table? 

Reputable and experienced SEO agencies offer the following services:

SEO Audit and Analysis

Managed SEO services regularly evaluate how well your website is optimized for search engines.

They analyze the site structure, content quality, and technical aspects of your web page (site security, mobile-friendliness, load speed, etc.) to identify areas for improvement.

They also perform a thorough competitor analysis to evaluate how your business fares in the industry, giving you a competitive edge over others.

Keyword Research and Strategy

Keyword research is the cornerstone of every successful SEO strategy, and managed SEO services excel in this area.

SEO professionals use comprehensive keyword research tools to help you discover thousands of relevant keyword ideas according to your niche.

They also guide you on how to prioritize said keywords by using key metrics and criteria. 

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization, also known as on-site optimization, is the process of optimizing individual web pages to improve search engine rankings and visibility.

Managed SEO services implement on-page elements such as URL, site architecture, visual content, and keyword usage to make your content all the more likely to get indexed and ranked. 

Off-Page Optimization (Backlinking)

Apart from gaining exposure through external channels, such as social media, news outlets, and the like, off-page optimization heavily focuses on building backlinks.

SEO professionals help you with this task, allowing you to acquire high-quality, relevant backlinks from a trusted, authoritative site. This is important because websites with strong backlink profiles tend to perform better in search engine rankings.

Content Creation and Optimization

Don’t have time to upload up-to-date, high-quality, and engaging SEO content on a regular basis? Managed SEO services can help with that, too.

For example, at SEO North, we provide business owners and content creators with well-researched, informative, and relevant content in the form of blog posts, reviews, brochures, infographics, and more.

The content we produce is not only user-friendly but also optimized for search engines to improve your website’s visibility and organic traffic.

Technical SEO and Site Structure

Technical SEO is a multi-faceted process that involves various tasks to improve user experience. This includes:

  • Creating an SEO-friendly site structure
  • Ensuring your site structure is mobile-friendly
  • Optimizing page load speed to enhance user experience
  • Organizing content into categories and subcategories
  • Implementing a schema markup
  • Submitting your sitemap to Google

By opting for managed SEO services, you can leave the technical aspect of SEO in the hands of professionals who specialize in these tasks. They have the expertise and resources to address the technical intricacies of SEO.

Performance Monitoring and Reporting

Professional SEO services have an eye on your website’s performance and provide you with valuable insights through regular monitoring.

These services track key performance indicators to determine the health of your website. These indicators include keyword rankings, click-through rates, bounce rates, conversion rates, and more.

Based on the insights gathered, SEO services offer recommendations and adjustments to your SEO strategy.

Considerations When Choosing a Managed SEO Provider

With hundreds of professional SEO agencies to choose from, finding the right provider can be a daunting task. To help you decide, here are some factors to consider:

Expertise and Industry Reputation

How long has the managed SEO provider been in the industry, and what’s their reputation like? Look into their track record, client testimonials, and case studies to assess their expertise and credibility.

Don’t be afraid to contact agencies directly and ask them for examples of previous websites they worked on.

Even if they’re unable to disclose their client’s name, they should still be able to show you screenshots or reports from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and whatever SEO tool they use so you can see tangible results they’ve achieved for their clients. 

Transparency in Reporting and Communication

Continuing from the previous point, transparency and willingness to show results can be a good indicator of the agency’s confidence in their work. If the provider keeps making excuses or is hesitant to share tangible results and data, you’re better off searching for a different company.

Additionally, make sure the provider is happy to discuss their strategies, progress, and challenges openly with you.

Your company of choice should likewise offer custom reports with various KPIs, as well as relevant and actionable insights that cater to your website’s long-term success.

This is vital because some SEO providers use black-hat techniques to achieve immediate results.  

Their clients would appear at the top of the search rankings for the first few weeks, believing their investment paid off. However, they may soon find themselves facing a series of penalties imposed by search engines, which can result in their website’s plumbing rankings and visibility.

Unfortunately, we’ve worked with clients who have experienced these nightmare scenarios and come to us to fix the damage caused by unethical SEO practices.

Open and transparent communication with your SEO provider is the best way to protect your website from black hat practices and their potential consequences.

Customization and Scalability of Services

Search for SEO providers that offer a number of customizable services. Ask them if their SEO packages are flexible and can be adjusted as your business evolves. You can also question them on how they determine the most suitable SEO services for your business.

Customized and scalable services ensure your SEO strategies are tailored to your specific needs.

Reputable SEO agencies have at least the following services:

  • Keyword research
  • SEO audit
  • On-page optimization
  • Off-page optimization
  • Technical optimization
  • Project plan
  • Progress report

Pricing and Contract Flexibility

At the end of the day, it all comes down to pricing and contract flexibility. Managed SEO services aren’t cheap, so understanding the pricing structure and contract terms is essential to make an informed decision. 

First and foremost, be wary of agencies offering a “comprehensive SEO package” for $150 a month or less.

According to GlassDoor, SEO specialists make an average of $67,000 a year.

If an agency charges clients only $150 for an entire month’s work, they’re either relying on questionable methods to handle dozens of contracts at a time, making unrealistic promises, or employing non-specialized staff with limited experience.

Remember: quality SEO services come at a reasonable price that reflects the expertise and resources required to deliver results.

In general, professional SEO services cost anywhere between $500 to upwards of $1,000 a month. Large SEO projects can cost double that amount, between $2,000 to $5,000.

Pricing differs widely depending on the SEO services you need, your campaign goals, and how quickly you want to see results.

As for contract flexibility, most firms require a 6 to 12-month minimum contract. Some agencies offer no cancellation during this period.

If you’re on the fence about the contract terms provided by your chosen agency, ask them if there’s any possibility to negotiate contract terms.

Regardless of the contract you’ve agreed on, make sure it lists the following:

  • Contract duration
  • Specific deliverables and KPIs
  • Client responsibilities
  • Established roles (i.e., who will be delivering each aspect of the work)
  • Terms of payment
  • Contract pausing and early terminations

Potential Challenges in Managed SEO

As with most services, managed SEO comes with its own set of challenges. These include:

Communication Gaps 

Effective communication is crucial for a successful partnership. Communication gaps can lead to missed opportunities, misunderstandings, and misaligned strategies.

Ensure that the company you’re opting for has a well-established communication system to avoid these mistakes.

Aligning Business Goals With SEO Strategies

SEO strategies and business goals should be closely aligned with each other.

Clearly define your business objectives and what you aim to achieve through SEO, whether it’s increasing organic traffic, improving conversion rates, or expanding your online presence.

Your SEO provider should regularly look back at these goals to ensure that the strategies they’re employing contribute to your end goal.

Dependency on External Entities for Core Marketing Functions

No service lasts forever. There comes a time when you and your SEO provider part ways.

Relying on external entities like SEO services can create a dependency that can be crippling if not managed correctly.

Always have contingency plans to address various scenarios, including the end of a contract or changes in the provider-client relationship. 


Managed SEO services provide businesses with a valuable opportunity to enhance their online presence, boost visibility, and drive organic traffic.

By relying on outsourced expertise that keeps up with best SEO practices and industry trends, you can focus your time and energy on building what you love: your business.

Published on: 2023-11-06
Updated on: 2023-11-06

Avatar for Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.