SEO Philippines: The Complete Guide

The Philippines has one of the most robust search marketing industries in the world. Tracing its roots to about a decade ago, Philippine SEO started with web developers implementing basic on-page optimization techniques requested by their clients. As the demand for outsourced work grew in the US, the UK and Australia, SEO in the Philippines started to take on a life of its own. The practice soon distinguished itself from web development and gave birth to a small but passionate community of practitioners.

To date, there are tens of thousands of Filipinos who work digital marketing-related jobs. Most of them serve foreign clients but local enterprises have started to see the potential of successful inbound marketing as well. The future is looking very bright as the quality of Philippine SEO gets collectively better, warranting more investments from businesses around the world.

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What is SEO Philippines?

The term “SEO Philippines” can refer to one of two things:

  • A once-popular but now defunct form about search engine optimization in the Philippines
  • A query used by foreigners to find SEO consultants or agencies in the Philippines that they can outsource to.

The latter is the more popular intent behind the phrase as marketers from other countries have identified the Philippines as a primary source of low-cost, high-quality SEO work.

SEO Phil

A Rich Labor Market

As a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 million people, the Philippines is one of the world’s premier labor markets. The country produces some 500,000 college graduates annually, creating a competitive environment teeming with young talents who are eager to prove themselves. The competition for jobs and the low cost of living in the emerging Philippine economy also translates into very low labor costs without the sacrifice of quality.

From SMEs to billion-dollar multinationals, companies around the world have started to realize the value proposition of investing in the Philippines. Initially, only call center jobs were outsourced by Western economies to the country. In just a few years, investors realized the country’s potential for back office-type of jobs. Slowly but surely, development, design and marketing work found its way to the Philippine shores. The pioneers of digital marketing services in the country proved that they’re worth more investments as they delivered great results at a minimal cost.

These days, any work that can be done online is being done in the Philippines by qualified professionals. This is a testament to the Philippines’ mastery of the English language, its Internet savvy and the infrastructure in place to support the growing dependence of foreign countries on Filipino work.

SEO in the Philippines has come a long way in the recent years. Once reputed for spammy tactics, the Philippine SEO scene is rapidly evolving with its adoption of more sophisticated white hat methods to help websites gain better online visibility. In Google’s modern era, Filipino SEOs continue to thrive because of their innate writing skills, creativity and passion for excellence.

The Value Proposition of Outsourced SEO

Outsourcing SEO to the Philippines brings a lot of distinct business advantages to the table. Companies around the globe either hire digital marketing agencies or set up their own offices in the country to derive maximum value from their investments. This allows them to do more with less, giving them the financial leeway they need to grow their businesses like never before.

Here are the key reasons why businesses of all sizes go to the Philippines for SEO services:

  • Minimal Labor Costs – With a competitive job market and lower costs of living, Filipino SEOs can earn a fraction of what their US, UK and Australian counterparts do. Despite that, most of them still live very well because outsourced work pays significantly better than what local employers do. If the average SEO manager in the US earns $7,000 a month, someone of the same caliber can be hired for that position in the Philippines for about $2,000. If junior-level SEOs in America earn $4,000 a month minimum, SEO trainees in the Philippines can be paid as little as $400.That would mean you can hire an entire team of SEOs in the Philippines for the same amount it costs to get one experienced SEO specialist in the US. This allows you to do more with literally less money without sacrificing the quality of output.
  • Little to no overhead costs – If you’re sourcing SEO work from the Philippines via an agency, you’ll only have to pay the retainer or contracted fees you agreed on. SEO service packages from the Philippines usually go around at $1,000-$2,000 per month depending on the scale of the project. You won’t have to worry about things like electric bills, rent, employee benefits, etc. Agency work is a turnkey solution to all your SEO needs.For companies who want to save more over the long haul, building an office in the Philippines and starting their own team is an option. This allows you to put the agency out of the equation, cutting their margins and just paying your own employees directly without a middleman. The drawback to this is having to shoulder overhead costs yourself. Thankfully, rent, electricity, Internet bills and employee benefits are much cheaper in the Philippines than they are in industrialized nations.
  • Fewer Risks – In any business endeavor, there’s always the possibility that your investments won’t pay off., Outsourcing minimizes the risks due to the lower costs involved. Most companies who’ve tried to invest in Philippine SEO but didn’t achieve the results they desired were able to contain the losses and live to fight another day. Unlike in the US, setting up a business in the Philippines is not an all-or-nothing affair with life-changing ramifications.
  • Competitive Advantage – Minimizing costs and risks with outsourced work gives you a distinct competitive advantage. For one, you can start lowering the costs of your own products and services to set yourself apart from competing businesses. If you don’t want to lower your prices, you can still operate the way you do – with a much higher profit margin.

Should I Use a Freelancer, an Agency or Hire an In-House SEO?

One of the basic questions that businesses looking for SEO help need to answer is what type of solution best suits their needs. Depending on the nature of the business, its size and its goals, the answer can vary. The three main options are to go with a freelance SEO specialist, to hire a SEO agency, or to hire your own in-house SEO expert.

All three have their merits and drawbacks. Here’s some information about each type of solution provider and what type of business setups they would work best in:


Freelancer SEO

Freelancers are individuals who are not formally employed by any specific company. SEO freelancers usually work alone from their homes and serve two or more clients. More often than not, they cost less to hire due to the fact that they don’t need to commute to work and they don’t have formal offices to maintain. They also have the added perk of being close to their families all the time.

Hiring a freelancer can really work as long as you can find someone with legitimate skills and professionalism to go along with it. You’ll also have to be comfortable with the fact that you can’t physically check on the freelance SEO specialist at any given time and that he or she might have clients other than you.

Some common drawbacks associated with freelancers include the lack of skills necessary to help an SEO campaign really take off. This is usually die to the fact that there are plenty of Filipino SEO freelancers who hacen’t been trained in methodical and organized campaign conceptualization and implementation. However, that’s not to say that all freelancers are incompetent. Some freelance SEOs are actually very good thanks to their years of experience working in companies or agencies. When you hire a freelancer, make sure it’s not someone who’s too cheap and green. Look for someone who has years of experience and a good portfolio to show. They may charge a little bit more, but they usually do a better job.

Hiring SEO freelancers in the Philippines comes with some inherent risks. The most common complaint we know of is the stability of residential internet connections that freelancers tend to use. If a contractor’s internet goes down, so does his or her productivity for the rest of the day. In most cases, there is no written agreement between clients and SEOs which will serve as a reference on how to remedy these situations when they arise.

More often than not, you’ll just have to cut your losses as a client whenever this happens. Some freelance SEOs in the Philippines will try to make up for lost time or at least work in an internet café when they encounter these issues, but others won’t. In some cases, freelancers even use the “no connection” excuse to skirt deadlines or skip workdays. Make sure that the freelancer you hire has good character and work ethic.

Freelancers are also vulnerable to service interruptions during times when natural disasters strike. Around 30 typhoons batter the Philippine islands every year, making people with residential internet connections prone to service interruptions when a storm hits their area.

Lastly, there are domestic distractions to deal with when working from home. While there are a lot of fine, upstanding Filipino SEO freelancers who can stay professional even while working remotely, others just don’t have that in them. Kids, spouses or even friends can interrupt productivity and break your service provider’s concentration. When choosing a freelancer, interview him or her and ask how their home office is set up. Better yet, ask to view it on video.

SEO Agency

SEO agencies are small companies, usually ranging from 10-180 employees that specialize in search engine optimization services rendered by a team of professionals. SEO agencies in the Philippines usually have offices and they have different personnel performing a diverse set of functions. Many SEO agencies in the Philippines are registered with the government as legitimate businesses, though some are not.

The key advantage of hiring an agency over a freelancer is the fact that you usually get more professional services that what you’d get from someone working solo at homer. For one, agencies usually have professional office setups where people can work undistracted by family affairs. Offices also tend to have access to superior and more stable internet connections that telecom companies only provide to corporate clients.

Office spaces in the Philippines are generally in more secure locations that can withstand calamities. When a big storm wipes out electricity and internet connectivity in residential areas, business districts tend to stay up and running.

Thirdly, being registered with the government goes a long way in making sure the agency keeps its end of your bargains. A registered company can’t just run and change its name. If you have a valid contract with them, you can always use that to keep your service provider honest. In the worst case scenario, it can also be used in a court of law as solid evidence.

And since agencies aren’t one-man shows, you don’t run the risk of service interruption in case your SEO specialist gets sick. Agencies tend to have a reservoir of manpower resources that they can call on to pick up the slack. Reputable SEO agencies in the Philippines will at least give you an account manager who will be your main point of contact and will take care of all your requests, questions and concerns.

Lastly, SEO agencies tend to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing search marketing industry. Because they specialize in this digital marketing discipline, SEO agencies tend to use the latest tools and use the latest best practices to keep their services competitive. It’s no surprise that the majority of attendees in SEO conferences come from SEO companies.

In-House SEO

As the name suggests, an in-house SEO is an SEO specialist who is an internal employee of your company whose time is dedicated solely to improving your business sites’ search visibility. Some companies hire just one in-house SEO expert while others have full-blown teams.

When hiring an in-house SEO, make sure to get someone with substantial experience and a proven track record. This person will be in charge of implementing strategies which can make or break your digital presence. Your company’s time, resources and braintrust will all be at his disposal, so make sure to thoroughly evaluate a candidate before signing him.

Having an in-house SEO doesn’t mean that you should depend on him or her to be the answer to all your search marketing needs. In fact, it’s pretty common practice for companies to still hire external consultants and agencies who can supplement the efforts of their in-house SEO personnel. In arrangements like this, your in-house SEO acts as your project manager while production is mainly delegated to external entities.

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