Outsourcing SEM vs DIY SEM For Agencies: Which Is Better?

In recent years, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has started to be perceived as a practice that could drive footfalls and fulfill desirable sales.In recent years, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has started to be perceived as a practice that could drive footfalls and fulfill desirable sales. However, running a successful PPC campaign is no piece of cake. You have two options when it comes to SEM in specific; should you do everything by yourself or outsource your search engine marketing services to an experienced agency? It’s a tough question to crack but a crucial one.

Outsourcing SEM or in-house SEM, both of these options have their pros and cons, and it all depends on which approach is best applicable to your marketing needs. To help you out, in this article we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of each option, as well as offer our take on which of the two is a better option. But before we jump right in, what exactly is SEM? And how is it different from SEO?

SEO vs SEM: A Quick Recap
Google’s search results are divided into two main categories: paid search results and organic search results.

SEO expertise ensures that your website ranks high on SERPs through organic search. (Search that you have not separately paid for)

On the other hand, SEM relates to paid search optimisation. You pay to get traffic and visibility for your website by appearing at the top of SERPs. PPC (pay per click) is another term used to refer to SEM.

Should you DIY your SEM?

It is important to note that SEM harder than it seems. Only 15% of the traffic on search engines click on an ad, according to a Forbes article. A PPC campaign needs to be exceptional to attract that 15%.

PPC campaigns, thus, come with a massive cost but low RoI (return on investments). This makes in-house or DIY SEM a relatively less ideal option.

Outsourcing SEM: PROS 

1. Access to tools of the trade- Search engine marketers use more than just their minds to perform their jobs – they have many specialised tools that they use to implement and improve specific search engine marketing tasks and efforts.

These tools can burn a significant hole in your pocket and require the proper training to use them in-house. It is better to outsource your search marketing to experts or an agency who use these particular tools daily. 

2.  More Efficient Results- Unlike DIY SEM, outsourcing allows you to seek help from google adwords experts  who work dedicatedly on your SEM efforts and produce results more quickly and efficiently.
With the help of a digital marketing agency, your SEM campaign has better chances of producing positive results that too quickly, owing to their experience and human resources. 

3.Lets you focus on other aspects of your business– Outsourcing your SEM, gives you more freedom to focus on other tasks and aspects of your business. You can monitor your SEM campaign as the specialists handle it while you evaluate your results to come up with better strategies for the future.

4. Expertise & Experience- Going the agency route means that the professionals are solely focused on SEM, are up to date with the latest trends and tools in the industry ensuring that the techniques they’re using will bring the most significant benefit to their client.

Moreover, agencies have worked on a variety of marketing campaigns from different types of business. This means they have more knowledge and exposure as compared to an in-house SEM team. From account structure to conversion optimization and everything else in between, agency PPC specialists are true experts. 

5. Agency Support- Search Engine Marketing agencies offer dedicated agency support who assist in everything from escalating ad approvals to providing competitive insights. It can be assuring to know that if something goes wrong, someone has got your back.

6. Affordable– Going the agency route will save you money. It will save you the cost of recruiting and maintaining an in-house employee as well as the equipment costs. 

Majority of SEM agencies charge approximately twenty to thirty percent of ad spend. This is a lower cost than that of employing another head and getting the systems in place to make it affordable.

Outsourcing SEM: Cons

1.Compliance and Legal Issues- These issues may hinder the agency’s ability to execute the most optimal search marketing plan on a timely basis.

2.Quality Control- When you outsource your SEM, you may encounter a problem where the quality of the work would be compromised and you won’t know until it’s too late. This is a significant con. It can result in considerable lost time and money. 

You can avoid this by following a rigorous screening process before partnering with an agency. Opt for a reputable agency to prevent such problems.


1. Employee Accountability – In-house google adwords experts are ultimately responsible for the success of your PPC efforts. In-house PPC managers are more accountable as the account’s performance can influence his or her employment, salary and advancement. You would expect him or her to give their best.

2.Understanding of your business- No one knows your business better than your in-house staff- having a solid understanding of how your company operates, its core competencies, unique selling proposition, and most importantly, your customers.

3. Experience SEM first hand– The fundamentals of SEM may be complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will discover that SEM is quite interesting.

4. Flexibility – When it comes to flexibility and control, in-house SEM is the best. It gives you more control over specific aspects of the campaign and allows you to manage the campaigns more efficiently.

In contrast, with an outsourcing agency, you must frequently communicate messages from and to the agency. With in-house SEM, you can simply walk to the next office or even turn to the person next to you in case of any questions or concerns.


1. Lack of expertise

The lack of technical know-how and expertise is a significant con for in-house SEM. If you’re not sure that you can execute or know enough to run an SEM campaign, then you shouldn’t take up that challenge. As they rightly say, do what you do best and outsource the rest.

If you are a novice at SEM, you should avoid in-house SEM as you may waste valuable time, money, and may even set yourself back rather than make progress. You want to avoid making mistakes early on that can cost you big time.

2.  Time-Consuming

Managing SEM without professional assistance is a recipe for disaster. Not to mention that it’s time-consuming as well. You can think of hiring a digital marketing agency to do SEM for you.

3. Lack of Accountability
Lack of accountability remains a common pitfall for most businesses as their resources may be limited. When you decide to do your SEO in house, it can fall by the curb of other “priorities.”

On the other hand, when you outsource, you can be sure that the agency will deliver by a specific date if they want you to renew with them again.

So The Question Still Remains: Outsourcing SEM vs DIY SEM for Agencies: Which is Better?

I’m sure by looking at the detailed pros and cons of each option; you would have gotten a fair bit of an idea as to which option is better for you. To give you some more detailed insight, here are my 2 cents.

For more than ten years or so, in-house SEM campaigns have taken a back seat to SEM agencies for most small, medium, and large businesses. This is because building an in-house team for every stage of a PPC campaign isn’t optimal or feasible. The solution is partnering with professionals who live and breathe SEM- Outsourcing SEM! Their literal job is to maximize your PPC ROI.

 It is also helpful to note that most SEM agencies have a monthly rate, so you pay the same amount every month- saving you the headache of fluctuating costs.

With strategic planning and a dream-team at your disposal – success is bound to happen. Get on board with an SEM agency to start your journey of growth.

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