For every company, hiring an SEO consultant is a big step. You’re likely to have a bunch of questions lingering in your mind, such as:
- Who do you hire?
- How can you know that they’ll do a good job?
- Where will you find them?
- Will they be a perfect fit for your company?
Well, it’s okay to have such questions and concerns, and you should definitely be asking about them. Hiring the right SEO consultant can help to expand the growth of your company while hiring the wrong one can be devastating to your bottom line.
In this post, we’ll share the 8 essential steps to follow when hiring an SEO consultant, to make the process a breeze, and more effective. Let’s jump right in.
8 Essential Steps to Follow When Hiring an SEO Consultant
1. Audit the Online Footprint of the Consultant
As a professional, the SEO should be capable of showing you that they understand the industry and know what they’re doing. What matters is the results that they have achieved so far, and are being achieved today.
For instance, if an ‘expert’ claims that ranking for SEO keywords is ‘worthless’, pay careful attention to their rankings. Ask yourself, if these keywords are so “worthless”, why aren’t they ranking for them? In many cases, the answer is simple, they simply can’t.
You want to hire an SEO consultant so as to get more traffic, leads, and loyal customers from organic search. Why would you trust a company or individual who can’t visibly do it for themselves?
This is why we’ve put in so much effort to rank for SEO keywords since we launched. From the start, we’ve put in the necessary effort to prove to our clients that we know what we’re doing.
Of course, the priority is getting clients exceptional results. Still, ranking for the keywords used in the industry is further proof that you know what you’re doing.
The last key point here is this: be careful of consultants who call themselves “experts” and claim to have achieved results when they’re an in-house SEO. All the results we have achieved for our firm and clients are our own doing.
We didn’t have a big team with a massive budget to push the results forward. We didn’t collaborate with an already successful firm and claimed that we were the catalyst for their growth.
Most of the clients we’ve worked with had virtually no organic search rankings or traffic. We helped them grow from the ground up. We didn’t jump on an accelerating rocket ship and claimed to be part of the magic.
In short, only consider the SEO consultant who can demonstrate real results; results that you can see with your own eyes.
2. Know Exactly What You Need
There are many reasons why you would want to hire an SEO consultant. However, it’s wise to outline the objectives that you want to achieve when you hire the consultant.
You can check “Understanding the Integrity of an SEO Consultant” you get a better idea of what you can expect from SEO consultant.
3. Ensure They’re a Good Fit
For a business relationship to work out well, the two parties need to like and enjoy talking to each other genuinely. It’s crazy how real-life personal principles can translate so well in the business world.
Consider this, would you be good friends with someone you didn’t like? Well, why would you then want to do business with people who make you cringe by even thinking about them?
In the early days, we used to take on almost every client that came in our doors because we were money hungry. But over the years of running a successful SEO practice, we’ve learnt it’s a terrible idea. Today, we try to make sure that any relationship is a good fit before we engage in it. And you should do the same.
While speaking to your various prospective SEO consultants, have the following questions in mind:
- Do you genuinely like the person? Do you find it easy and enjoyable to talk to them or do you find yourself constantly interrupting each other, drifting away, or just not listening?
- Would you stand speaking to this person regularly for several months or years without fear of judgement?
This step is essential, don’t underestimate it. From experience, each time we ignored the “gut” feeling and other red flags, we ended up regretting it. Today, we can easily pass on a good amount of money from a prospect, why? In our eyes, the personal health, peace of mind, and the well-being of our team are far more critical that the money, or having to work with a nightmarish client.
4. Learn More about their SEO Methodology
There might be situations where you need some sketchy SEO strategies, such as with companies in industries such as gambling, pharma, etc. Nonetheless, most of these companies should ideally be using safe, long-term oriented SEO strategies, albeit being in controversial industries.
An SEO consultant doesn’t have to say they’re white-hat for you to tell that they are telling the truth. You want to analyse what they’re saying.
In general, a qualified SEO will speak a lot more about the following:
- Content audits
- SEO audits
- Keyword research
- Site architecture
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Keyword qualification
- User experience
- Link acquisition
- Link prospecting
- SEO content development
One of the key elements to ask more about is the link acquisition strategy.
Even in 2018, there are many SEOs that still use the high-risk link building strategies, such as the use of Private Blog Networks (PBNs), web 2.0s, public blog networks, profile links and/or irrelevant sites, or any other type of link that isn’t acquired through editorial processes.
These kinds of backlinks can be effective in the short-run, but they can easily get you penalised in the long term. At that point, you will have to hire another (presumably more expensive) SEO consultant to clean up the mess and get you out of the penalty.
So, avoid this like the plague. In case a consultant mentions that their link building strategy is proprietary, run for the hills! Professional SEOs have nothing to hide about their strategies. In fact, they should be more than willing to show you how they do it.
5. Have the Right Expectations
It’s the job of your SEO consultant to set clear expectations. These will largely depend on the kind of work that needs to be done.
If they have to develop an SEO strategy from the ground up, they might tell you to expect improved SEO performance within 6 to 12 months with the necessary actions. But try to be as realistic as possible.
SEO is a long-term game, and it doesn’t have an on or off switch button like the paid media. It will undoubtedly take some time to see results, but in the end, it will dominate all other channels.
6. Trust them
In the first place, you’re hiring an SEO consultant because you aren’t a pro in SEO. So, if you do find a qualified SEO you can work with, you should listen to them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should have blind faith in them and not ask any questions.
Nonetheless, if you’re micromanaging a team and you aren’t giving them the necessary freedom to do what they know or believe is best, then your relationship will not be effective. All you have to do is think in reverse.
Would you ask the SEO consultant to explain to you how you can fix a sewerage backup at one of your client’s home? Well, we both know the answer.
7. Be Action-Oriented
Even the best SEO professional in the world will fail if their client doesn’t follow their laid out plan or recommendations. Unfortunately, this is quite common.
Tread on this part very carefully:
Don’t hire an SEO consultant unless you’re ready to take action on their game plan and recommendations.
8. Don’t Wait
In life, we all have different levels of procrastination, some more than others. Overall, existing companies and entrepreneurs are on the lower end of the spectrum, but they still do procrastinate a lot.
Trust me, it still happens to me when new marketing channels are launched, such as “chatbots”. The procrastinator in me will say:
- “Is this really worth my time?”
- “This must be a fad or something.”
- “I’d rather focus on this and check this out later.”
There are many more excuses to avoid the pain of having to learn something new or trying out something different. Still, procrastinating on not hiring an SEO professional or not doing SEO at all can be detrimental.
Keep in mind that your competitors won’t wait for you to make up your mind. So, today is the day. Take action and invest in SEO, so that you can grow your company to new heights by leveraging the power of organic search.