In this episode of Search for Beginners, we go over recommended qualifications you should look for in a potential SEO consultant. From asking the right questions, checking references, and holding an interview, stay tuned to learn the best practices and methods to follow when searching for the right SEO consultant.
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Optimizer. Hiring an SEO specialist has the potential to improve your site and save time, but you also risk damage to your site and reputation if you hire someone who gives you bad advice or recommends bad practices and bad shortcuts.
Conduct an interview
Here’s a general set of recommendations to have in mind as you go about hiring an SEO specialist. First, conduct an interview with your potential SEO consultant. A good SEO specialist doesn’t focus only on search engine ranking, where you appear, but rather on how they can help your business through improving how you appear.
Good SEO consultants tend to ask questions like: What makes your business, content, or service unique, and therefore valuable to customers? What does your common customer look like? How do they currently find your website? How does your business make money, and how can Search help with that? What other channels are you using? Do you use offline advertising? How about social networks? Who are your competitors? What do they do well online and, potentially, offline? If the expert doesn’t seem interested in learning about your business from a holistic standpoint, consider finding another expert. It’s difficult to optimize properly without knowing about a business’ goals, its customers, and other existing marketing efforts. Be wary of an expert who gives unrealistic guarantees of ranking first on Google. No one can guarantee that, and often those who try to guarantee that do so by engaging in practices against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, like creating unnatural linking and doorway sites. This could result in your pages or website being permanently removed from Google’s results if there are particularly strong violations.
The second step in hiring an SEO is to check references. You want to check with past clients, and confirm the SEO expert was able to provide useful guidance and worked effectively with their teams. You want to ensure their results were sustained rather than temporary. A good expert will help SEO become a part of your general business operations. They should be focused on long-term plans and helping your brand.
Request a technical and search audit
Step three is to request a technical and search audit. If you trust your SEO candidate, give them a restricted view, not full or write access to your Google Search Console data or Analytics data. Before they actually modify anything on your website, have them conduct a technical and search audit to give you a prioritized list of what they think should be improved for SEO. In the audit, the SEO expert should prioritize issues and suggested improvements. These suggestions should be based on data about your site, should apply well to your online presence, and should avoid unnatural practices that may go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The suggestions you should look for will ideally focus on techniques and strategies that target a human audience, as opposed to a search engine. The audit also should estimate the overall investment and the positive business impacts.
Evaluate potential SEO consultants
After interviews, reference checks, and technical audits, you should be ready to evaluate your potential SEO experts. A good SEO expert will prioritize ideas that will improve your business, using the least amount of resources. They will also suggest improvements that may take more time in the beginning, but will promote growth in the long term. They should feel like someone you can work and experiment with, learn from, and help forge a path ahead for you and your business. Once hired, work with them to agree upon goals, metrics, and how to track results beforehand, so you know what you are getting out of this.
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