Finding an SEO consultant is a big step for every company.
- Who do you hire?
- Where do you find them?
- How do you know that they’ll do a good job?
- Is this person the right fit for your company?
These questions will bounce around in your mind. That’s okay because they should.
Finding a qualified SEO consultant can explode your company’s growth, but hiring the wrong one can be devastating. You SHOULD be asking these questions.
That’s why today I’m going to give you 8 steps you need to cover when you’re trying to hire an SEO consultant.
Let’s jump right in.
8 Steps to Finding a Qualified SEO Consultant
1. Audit Their Online Footprint
An SEO consultant should be able to demonstrate that they know what they’re doing. All that matters are the results that are being achieved TODAY. Not years ago.
That’s why I laugh when some “experts” claim that ranking for “SEO” keywords is “worthless”. If these keywords are “worthless”, then why aren’t these supposed experts easily ranking for them?
Well, the answer is simple. They can’t.
You’re hiring an SEO consultant to get you more traffic, leads, and customers from organic search.
How could you possibly trust someone or a company that can’t visibly do it themselves?
That’s why I’ve put in concentrated effort to rank for “SEO” keywords since I launched Gotch SEO. From the very beginning, I wanted to PROVE to clients that I knew what I was doing.
Of course, getting client results is more important. But ranking for your industry’s keywords is further proof that you know what you’re doing.
How can anyone deny this?
One last important point here:
Be careful of “experts” that claim to have “achieved” results when they’re an in-house SEO.
All the results I’ve achieved for Gotch SEO and our clients are my own doing.
I didn’t have a massive team with an enormous budget pushing these results forward. I didn’t join an already successful company and claim that I was the catalyst for their growth.
Most companies I’ve worked with have virtually no organic search traffic or rankings. I grew them from the ground up. I didn’t jump on an existing rocket ship and claim I did some magic.
The TL;DR of this section is simple:
Only consider SEO consultants that have real results that you can see with your own eyes.
2. Know What You Need
There are a variety of reasons to hire an SEO consultant. It’s a good idea to know what objectives you want to achieve by hiring an SEO consultant.
I recommend reading “what does an SEO consultant do” to figure this part out.
3. Make Sure It’s a Good Fit
I believe two people need to genuinely like and enjoy talking to each other for a business relationship to work out. It’s crazy how well principles in your personal life translate into the business world.
Would you be friends with someone who didn’t like it? Then why do we do business with people who make us cringe even thinking about them?
I used to take on pretty much every client because I was money-hungry.
I’ve learned over the last 5 years of running an SEO company that this is a horrible idea. That’s why I always make sure it’s a good fit before engaging in any relationship. You should do the same.
When you speak to a prospective SEO consultant, you need to be thinking about a few things:
- Do you like this person? Seriously. Do you enjoy speaking to them or are you guys constantly interrupting each other, not listening, etc?
- Would you enjoy speaking with this person routinely for several months or years? Or would you dread every phone call?
Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. Every time I ignored “my gut” and all the warning signs, I ended up regretting it.
I just recently told a prospect (who was willing to pay $5,000/mo + for SEO) that I had to pass on the engagement.
Am I insane for passing up money? Maybe.
But in my eyes, my personal health and wellbeing in the long-term are far more important than money (or dealing with a nightmare client).
4. Discover Their SEO Methodology
There might be some situations that warrant sketchier SEO strategies such as companies in pharma, gambling, etc. However, most companies (in non-controversial industries) should use safe, long-term focused SEO strategies.
You don’t need an SEO consultant to say that they’re “white hat” to know whether that’s true or not. You just need to analyze what they’re saying.
A qualified SEO consultant will talk a lot about the following:
- SEO Audits
- Content Audits
- Technical SEO
- Site Architecture
- User Experience (UX)
- Keyword Research
- Keyword Qualification
- On-Page SEO
- SEO Content Development
- Link Prospecting
- Link Acquisition
The most important element to ask questions about is link acquisition.
There are many SEO consultants (and companies) that still use high-risk link building tactics. Some of these tactics include Private Blog Networks (PBNs), public blog networks, web 2.0s, profile links (on irrelevant websites) or pretty much any link type that isn’t acquired through an editorial process.
These backlink types can work in the short term, but can get you penalized in the long-term. Then you’ll have to hire another SEO consultant to get you out of the penalty!
Avoid this at the on-set.
If a consultant tells you that their link building process is “proprietary” then run for the hills.
Qualified SEO consultants don’t have anything to hide.
In fact, they would be proud to show what they’ve done.
5. Get Clear Expectations
It’s the SEO consultant’s job to set clear expectations. These expectations will largely depend on what type of work is being done.
If they’re developing an SEO strategy from the ground up, they may say that you can expect to see improved SEO performance within 6-12 months (if you’re taking the necessary actions).
Just remember to be realistic.
SEO is a long-term game. It doesn’t have an on and off switch like paid media. It takes time to see results, but in the long-term, I believe it dominates all other channels (as far as CAC).
6. Trust Them (If They’re Qualified)
You’re hiring an SEO consultant because you’re not an expert in SEO. A qualified SEO consultant is. That’s why you should listen to them.
I’m not saying you should have blind faith in them and not ask questions.
But if you are micromanaging them and not giving them the freedom to do what they believe is best, then you will not have a successful relationship.
All you need to do is think in reverse.
Would you like the SEO consultant to tell you how you should fix the sewage backup at your client’s home?
I think we both know the answer!
7. Be Action-Oriented
The best SEO consultant in the world will fail if you or the company doesn’t take action on their recommendations or plan. Unfortunately, this is very common.
Listen to this part very carefully:
Do not hire an SEO consultant until you’re willing and able to take action on their recommendations and game plan.
8. Don’t Wait
We all exhibit levels of procrastination in life. Some more than others.
Entrepreneurs and existing companies are on the low end of the procrastination scale, but it still happens a lot.
It happens to me when a “new” marketing channels come into play like “chatbots”. The procrastinator in me starts asking:
- “Is this worth my time?”…
- “This probably a fad!”… or:
- “I need to focus on ___ and this will only hurt my focus.”
These are excuses to avoid the pain of learning something new or trying something different.
I can tell you this:
Procrastinating on doing SEO or not hiring an SEO consultant to help you can be detrimental.
Getting SEO results takes time and I can guarantee your competitors aren’t going to wait for you. So, whether you need to optimize your existing SEO performance or need to start from scratch, today is the day.
Take action and hire an SEO consultant today, so you can grow your company by leveraging the power of organic search.
Need My Help?
I’ve decided to take on a small amount of consulting clients. If you want help from a qualified SEO consultant like myself, then please take advantage of this opportunity today.