Hiring a SEO Expert or Consultant – 13 Questions to Ask
You probably know a little more about than the average Joe when it comes to looking for an SEO Expert to hire.
In the unlikely case that you do not, just know that it is the 3-letter abbreviation for the term, search engine optimization. The primary search engine at the center of this short, but powerful acronym, is Google.
The optimization aspect is vital to an online business, typically a website, and largely contributes to the successes and failures of such business.
When people search a term related to your product on Google, do they find your website?
If your website is sound from top to bottom, filled with quality content, provides a great user experience, technically optimized, and has numerous trust signals, they probably do.
The value of SEO is without debate or denial, it is a proven foundation for increased brand exposure, more leads, and increased revenue.
How we optimize a website to achieve improved search engine listings is accomplished via several proven methods:
1. The deployment of valuable and relevant evergreen content marketing.
2. The targeting of buyer intent, profitable keywords.
3. Focus on conversion optimization.
4. Integration of social media marketing.
5. Paying extra attention to mobile optimization and user experience.
6. Avoiding the use blackhat methods which may result in being banned or penalized by Google.
How To Rank Higher In Organic Search Engines
You paid good money for that beautiful website design. You built it, and yet leads still don’t come.
As any internet marketer can tell you, big plans do not often amount to significant search results. They just aren’t one and the same.
Here are some common questions asked by online businesses, just like yours, regarding their current SEO statuses.
Why does my website appear on the 11th page, when my content, services, and products deserve to be on its 1st page?
Which factors exist that are keeping my website in the ranking cellar?
Many of these issues are merely the result of a business owner who cannot devote 100% of their time to their website, or, the result of an owner who got generic or lousy information.
No matter the reason, choosing an experienced white-hat SEO can help you rise to the top.
By acquiring professional SEO services, you can overcome the obstacles which have previously limited your internet success. In other words, you can begin to show up in Google’s top listings.
Top search engine listings are the great divider between the haves and the have-nots, and I am quite sure we both know which side of the divide you would like your business to be on.
Can You Do SEO on the Cheap?
The search term “SEO Expert” will trigger a slew of results, specifically, 13 million of them.
The choices, of course, are the result of SEO consultants vying for your click. Among the plentiful choices, many are just reselling SEO services, but you will not discover that until its too late.
Nothing against overseas workers, but does a worker in India understand your law firm in Texas? I believe that to serve a customer best, you must first understand their business and goals.
While these setups may seem like perfect budget SEO options, they tend to end up costing your business in more ways than just one. Poor content writing, faulty development code, and shady backlinks can ultimately harm your online business.
In the end, you end up paying a professional and legitimate expert to “fix” things.
Budget, or cheap, SEO projects are often the cause of an online business being heavily penalized or even banned from Google.
They are also notorious for fleecing the client thousands of dollars after claiming to be “affordable.” Keyword stuffing, low-quality spam backlinks, pbn links, and plagiarized content are often built into the budget SEO specialist operation.
Non-English speakers typically write second-rate, cookie-cutter content that is snuffed out by Google. All of this leads to very bad scenarios for an online business that thought they were getting “a deal.” By paying attention to the warning signs, you can prevent your business from falling victim to such scams.
Ready to Hire a Professional SEO Expert?
You have made the decision that you are now unwilling to settle for high-risk, low-return, SEO. You have decided that today is the day you will seek out a local SEO Expert to help you achieve high Google rankings. You are ready to win.
Not so fast.There are a few questions that should be asked before haphazardly hiring any SEO company. Remember, the internet marketing firm you employ will have expedited and secure access to everything you have worked hard to create. You should not give highly secure financial and privileged access to just anyone off the street.
Do your homework!
This starts by asking the potential SEO consultant a number of the following questions so that you can better assess their legitimacy.
The first question you want to ask any “SEO expert” is “how long will it take for you to rank my website for top listings?”
This essential question, of course, is a trap.
If the SEO Expert tells you that they can have you listed in profitable top keyword ranking within a few months, they have taken the bait and fallen prey to the brilliant trap you have set. You have outed them as a shady SEO consultant services!
Google does not make public its algorithm. This is specifically for the purpose of preventing blackhat search engine optimization. They will only disclose that their algorithm seeks to place the highest quality content nearer to the top of the results. An
Google’s algorithm updates by the second, thereby eliminating any possibility of utilizing “inside information.” The algorithm is fueled by the use of artificial intelligence which evolves with every passing moment into a smarter, more sound version of itself.
Penalties are a real-life consequence of a business that’s used a scammy SEO company. When you are penalized, don’t expect Google to work with you on the matter. You are liable for your website’s activities in all cases!
A quality, well-vetted, and well-reviewed SEO agency can alleviate such fears from resulting in a catastrophe.
When you hire an honest professional, you get a piece of mind.
Let’s have a look at the rest of the questions you should ask.
1. WHY SHOULD I HIRE YOU AND NOT SOMEONE ELSE?
If the SEO Expert responds by telling you that they can immediately get you top listings which are derived from a series of quick fixes, be concerned. Think of hiring an SEO company with the same respect you would think of a job candidate.
The job candidate would need a history of successful accomplishments, glowing references and potentially a background check. These items are common-place hiring practices for large and small companies alike.
Why wouldn’t these same checks and balances apply? The truth is, basic vetting practices are often overlooked.
The SEO specialist, in many cases, will have more privileged and secure access to an online business and make more money than a regular employee. However, the employee will have went through a series of interviews, background checks, and had their entire work history scrutinized before ever clocking in.
Treat a candidate vying for your business in the same way you treat all of your job applicants and resolve issues before they ever begin. Inquire about the following points:
Ask for examples of past successes.
Ask for a list of satisfied clients along with their contact information.
Ask for evidence supporting a high-quality reputation in the industry.
Don’t take their word for any of this, verify it all.
Look for assurance that the provider will:
Increase the overall quality of traffic to your online business. You do not just want an increase in traffic; you want an increase in qualified traffic that results in increased sales and leads.
The company should not only increase the quality of your organic traffic, but it should also free up your time. Digital marketing is a burden to many business owners because of the consuming nature of it. A good marketing agency allows you more time to work on what matters.
The right person will communicate their practices to you. You should receive in-depth, yet easily digestible reports that display the ongoing successes related to your website. You should be part of the process without feeling overwhelmed.
Google Partner accredited companies or individuals should be the highest consideration.
Legitimacy matters and accreditation via Google Partners is a good indicator of such legitimacy.
Google Partners have passed several accreditation exams. They are on the list of Google’s marketing and advertising consultants, who have been trained and certified.
2. WHY SHOULD I TRUST MY BUSINESS TO YOU?
This is a crucial question. Bad website SEO can hurt or destroy your business.
When you hire an seo professional, you need someone who will not expose you to penalties.
Fraudulent and dishonest practices can harm your online business well beyond the point you terminate their services. Penalties can last for months and even years.
Answers to this question should demonstrate the following:
An in-depth knowledge of your industry and commitment to be your partner
An understanding of online internet marketing strategy honed by many years’ experience
If you have had bad experiences with other online marketing Companies, what will they do to fix those problems
The company should be conscious of potential penalties even without you bringing them up.
Awareness of the importance of long-term success. In other words, a good search consultant builds its new clients from the successes of current clients.
In the event you are currently penalized, what would the potential experts’ plan of action be to remedy those past infractions?
A professional will make you feel at ease and confident in their ability to handle your needs.
3. CAN YOU PROVIDE REVIEWS AND REFERRALS?
Companies rarely hire even the least essential employees without calling references. Shouldn’t this be the case with hiring an SEO consultant who will likely be given secure access to your online business?
A legitimate SEO specialist will have no issue providing you with the names of several clients, and those clients will have no problem validating the SEO consultant’s claims. Current clients typically don’t mind providing testimonials because happy clients know that the industry is plagued by cases of fraud.
Additionally, it might serve you well to inquire into the reasons why past clients terminated services.
An honest SEO professional should have few problems disclosing these details. Also, check out their social media pages to check for customer comments or reviews.
4. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO IMPROVE MY SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS?
You should be wary of anyone who answers this question in a way that projects unrealistic timelines. The SEO consultant does not control Google’s ranking timelines, only Google does.
Here are a couple of further points on the matter.
Google only controls Google’s algorithm.
Your competition is an essential ranking factor. The quality, consumer-likeability, and structure of your competition’s websites can largely affect the speed at which your website can rank.
A legitimate online digital marketing expert will not overpromise you on unrealistic goals; they will shoot you straight.
Honesty is not always popular, but it is the reality.
5. WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO SEO?
A legitimate and honest SEO consultant will focus on your website’s content after being asked this question.
Relevant, high-quality, unique content is the name of the game. Google’s algorithm is built with one ultimate goal in mind, which is to make the consumer’s experience a good one. Your website needs to be part of the process.
If your SEO consultant only creates backlinks for your website, your rankings will suffer due to lack of high-quality and relevant content.
Your website should be an authority on your trade. You should serve as an expert source, one that answers questions or solves problems through services or goods.
In Google’s eyes, you should contribute to the greater good of their search engine infrastructure.
No matter what keywords you seek to rank for, the first consideration should be whether or not your website’s content is the best option to rank.
6. WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
First, question who will actually be working on your project.
SEO consultants who take months to get moving are likely just fleecing you of your money. To put it in plain English, some companies will milk clientsbefore starting any beneficial work.
While reports matter, a skilled online marketer should be doing more than just sending you these reports each month.
They need to be getting their hands dirty! This is where experience has no substitute.
They should present you a project with a plan that includes:
A full listing of services to be rendered.
The number of hours devoted to your project a month.
The plan to create authentic backlinks.
Project reporting specifications.
Setting the initial expectations is not only good for the client, but it is also good for the SEO agencies.
7. WHAT IS YOUR LINK BUILDING STRATEGY?
99% of online marketing companies drop the ball here.
Building links to your online business is a critical part of the SEO strategy. Google relies on natural organic links as a way of passing authority to websites.
The process of organic link building should always begin with the basics.
Become an expert in your business vertical. If you sell pies in Pittsburgh, they should become a local Pittsburgh pie expert.
The SEO company should research and gain intimate knowledge into your competition’s setups. Who else sells pies in Pittsburgh? Can you pre-order pies online? Does one of the pie companies write guest columns on The Food Network’s website? The devil is surely in your competition’s details.
They should break down profitable keywords in your industry.
Ultimately, this should lead to a tailored and unique strategy for your business.
Here are examples of items you should want to see included in any SEO proposal.
Roles and responsibilities of SEO analyst
Overall website audit focused on User Experience
Technical SEO Analysis
Plan to build organic backlinks with high-authority websites.
Addressing on-page SEO optimization
Content Strategy and Marketing Plan
Social Media Marketing
Conversion rate optimization plan
Link building strategies are essential, but those backlinks need to direct consumers to a website that serves to contribute to the greater good. Personally, I specialize in public relations or PR for organic link building.
Google is looking to provide trustworthy content to consumers, which your SEO professional should understand and make part of the strategy for your website.
8. HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
Seeing that instant results are not everything a legitimate and honest specialist can provide. You need to find out how they measure success.
SEO is a strategy for long-term organic growth, not instant traffic.
Organic growth means your website holds its top place on the SERPs. The candidate’s measurements should include a combination of the following: (They are the KPIs of SEO.)
Improved content results in your brand, domain, and services/goods being exposed to a qualified audience.
An engaged audience that wants to learn more about your brand fill out lead forms, order products, and services.
A development of your relationships with influential, authoritative websites which link back to you and improve your authority and rankings.
Brand mentions and links from credible media sources.
Association with reputable sites enhances your reputation and boosts your ratings through higher quality links
Quality Search Traffic:
Organic traffic that creates leads and sales.
Improvements in revenue per lead.
A good SEO company’s ultimate goals for your online business should involve each of these factors.
If it does not, consider moving on.
9. WILL YOU SHARE WITH ME ALL TECHNICAL CHANGES YOU MAKE TO MY WEBSITE?
Transparency is the key to a long-term and healthy relationship between a website owner and a professional.
Receiving unexpected charges on your invoice or waking up to see drastic changes to your website may cause you to experience unnecessary anguish.
SEO typically requires a number of adaptive changes to your website’s design. This may involve adding relevant title tags to existing HTML code or static images.
If they plan to structurally change the site, you need to understand how this might affect your website’s current navigation or look and feel.
Additionally, you should understand the exacts involved in making these changes mentioned above.
Will they be tasked with paying a full-time employee for this work, or outsourcing the labor?
Will these fees be included in your current contractor will they ask that you make these changes using your resources?
By gaining clarity on such matters before signing a contract, you drastically reduce the potential for issues down the road.
10. I SEE SEO ADVERTISED FOR CHEAPER RATES?
According to SearchEngineWatch.com, online businesses should be wary of super inexpensive (cheap) SEO prices. When seeking an SEO company’s services, the quality of work should supersede the savings on cost.
Trying to save a dollar may result in the following:
Cheap links from a mass website directories
Low quality or bulk link-building tactics that worked before April 2012, but not since Google’s Penguin update
Poorly quality work focused on generating fancy reports, not ROI.
A good rule of thumb is not to consider any agencies that are charging below the $1000/month threshold.
By doing so, you increase the chances that your website will incur penalties and that you will end up being financially fleeced.
11. DO YOU FOLLOW GOOGLE WEBMASTER GUIDELINES?
An SEO company should understand the rules and quality standards set forth by Google.
Google’s goal is not to prevent good-natured, useful and competitive products from breaching the top of their rankings; it is to protect the consumer from lousy search experiences.
Your SEO company should embrace and share Google’s ultimate goal. You should not be working with a rogue, renegade company that’s plan for your business is founded on renegade or reactionary qualities. You should not be at war with search engines because that will not end well for you.
“Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you would feel comfortable explaining what you have done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, ‘Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines did not exist?’”
They will penalize or permanently ban your online business for any of the following transgressions:
Unnatural link schemes
Hidden on page text or links
Redirecting users to a different URL than requested
Poor Quality Content
Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
Google is not the leader in search because they are reactionary, they are a proactive business that consistently wins the praise of those who use their search engine.
They will spare no time and no expense in ensuring their standards.
12. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I STOP USING YOUR SERVICES?
Some SEO freelancers or companies use artificial linking schemes to rank clients.
When the client stops the service, the company deletes the link.
You have paid for those links.
Make sure your contract stipulates you own all of the web content you paid for. This is important when choosing an SEO company. I estimate 90% of agencies employ this strategy. It is well known and joked about around the SEO “inner-circles.”
What happens if the company you hired creates a series of artificial backlinks?
Many SEO companies trap online businesses into longterm contracts by deploying the use of artificial and often internal linking systems.
The SEO company may own a blog network that’s the only goal is to prop up clients. These type of blog networks are against Google’s terms. However, some of these networks can avoid detection for short periods. If you take on the services of an SEO company that makes use of such tactics, expect your rankings to drop when you terminate the contract with the SEO company.
Everything you spent on building up your search rankings will suddenly vanish. This will force you to either accept the consequences or rehire the SEO company. This is a favorite scammy tactic deployed by a great many in the online marketing industry,
I build brands and SEO together in a holistic manner.
I do not pursue private artificial blog network links.
When I get your website linked on a high-authority website, it is because your content served to help that site.
That is the natural flow of the Internet, and it cannot be removed after you depart from my services. Leaving my services could result in slower growth due to your brand being digitally marketed less, but it will not just drop from the good graces of Google because I removed you from an internal PBN blog network.
13. WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF SEO?
The future of SEO isn’t something that can be summed up inside of a limited timeslot.
I feel this question can offer the potential client a deeper insight into the SEO company’s ability to adapt to sudden and frequent changes. In the world of search, the only permanent feature is that of evolution.
Some aspects the future of online marketint have been evident for years. Google pursues the highest-quality content. It does this by trusting digital news sources who commonly use other trusted sources to add to their content’s quality experience. Digital PR is the future of SEO because it symbiotically achieves Google’s goal of validating and qualifying new content sources.
While SEO focuses on the deployment of appropriate keywords and quality links that lead back to your website, Digital PR focuses on growing your brand as an authoritative expert in your field. It works with traditional SEO deployment to garner a productive level of trust in your brand.
If your SEO company fails to mention the evolution of Digital PR, it may indicate that the company is far too invested in traditional and archaic SEO values which we expect to change.
The landscape will always be changing; you need the services of an SEO company that’s positioned to change with it continually.
Ready To Start Your SEO Campaign?
If you want your business to thrive in the new era of search, you need the services of a motivated, qualified, SEO company.
Entering the SEO realm is never too late. Online opportunity is an ongoing event. Your well-placed to begin growing your online business in one of the most valuable spaces on the web.
Today, your opportunity to help Google provide consumers with quality content, services, goods and so much more can begin.
But only if you decide to place your trust and patience in the system. There are no shortcuts, but there are plenty of spaces left for those who believe that hard work and sophisticated structure reap the rewards. There are other helpful sources I encourage you to read on the matter of hiring an SEO expert; you might start with this Forbes Magazine online piece.
I also encourage you to reach out to me if you have any questions or would like to discuss my services.
I do not take everyone because I believe in being aware of limitations and not sacrificing any current client’s services, but I do bring on businesses which I feel share the same values and long-term philosophy that I employ.
I do establish relationships with business owners who are patient, believe in quality and have long-term aspirations.
I believe in underpromising and over-delivering.
Thanks for reading this post.
If you are looking for a personalized experience and would like to talk to a human immediately, contact me with any questions about SEO.