Tips for Hiring an SEO Consultant

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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If you own a small business, it probably doesn’t make financial sense to hire someone to do your SEO in house. Small to medium sized businesses can benefit from outsourcing the work to an SEO firm, but we understand that sometimes that isn’t financially possible either.

The next best thing is to work with an SEO consultant who can outline what should be done so that you’ll know that the work you’re doing on your own is what you should be doing in order to improve your website’s presence in search. Of course, not all SEO consultants are created equal. Here are a few tips to follow during the hiring process:

No Need to Ask for References

When it comes to hiring a digital marketing firm to help with your SEO and other marketing efforts, you may be tempted to ask them for references. We have found that this isn’t a good tactic to follow for multiple reasons. First, due to non disclosure agreements, the firm may actually have no references they are allowed to give. Active clients don’t usually want you to share their information with others, and giving out these references breaks the bond of trust between the firm and the client. It is unfair of you to ask them for this information.

There are other reasons why you shouldn’t worry about references. First of all, you can gauge a firm’s expertise based on the information on their website. For example, if they have testimonials and/or case studies, this should be enough to go on. Secondly, each industry is different and therefore, each SEO plan might be different. Not only that, but SEO changes constantly, and what the firm did for one client may not translate to the plan they would use for you. In other words, speaking to past clients could actually do you more harm than good.

You Should Understand SEO

This may sound counterintuitive, but it really is a good idea to have a basic understanding of digital marketing and SEO before you start working with a firm. It is extremely valuable when hiring an SEO consultant since you want to work with someone who is going to play by the rules and utilize modern tactics that will actually make an impact.

You can start by browsing through the with the Google Webmaster Guidelines. A firm that uses the best practices will, no doubt, follow Google’s guidelines when formulating their plans, so this is a great place to start. You can also easily find information on digital marketing and SEO online. You want to read just enough to be able to understand the basics. This will help you understand the process, and as a result, you get more out of it.

Speak on the Phone

You want to know that you’re hiring someone that you can work with. Email is great, but a phone conversation helps to establish a rapport. An initial phone conversation with an SEO consultant should be two-sided. You can learn about their experience and ask them questions about their process.

Equally important, the SEO can ask you about your business, its history, target audience, other advertising and marketing efforts, competition, etc. An SEO consultant will do a much better job when they take the time to get to know your business in order to create a personalized, relevant strategy. If they aren’t asking you these types of questions, you might want to look elsewhere.

In the world of digital marketing and SEO, like any service-based business, references are pretty standard. A reputable SEO consultant will understand that a business owner will want to speak to prior clients and should be able to offer at least a few references. If the consultant isn’t willing to provide references, it could be a red flag.

Working with a digital marketing firm on your SEO should be an enjoyable experience. After all, they’re going to help you make improvements to your website that will enhance the user experience and increase organic traffic in order to grow sales over time. Selecting an SEO consultant to work with shouldn’t be done on a whim. Take the time to do your research and get to know any SEO consultant you are considering. This effort will pay off in the end.

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