When taking on new personnel in any field it is always wise to create a check-list to be able to compare different applicants and how they best fit in with your vision for them and the role that they are to fill. This procedural advice is no different when seeking the right SEO consultant for the online side of your business, except that in today’s climate in which hiring SEO consultants can make or break your company, the need for scrupulousness is even greater. A wisely chosen SEO consultant can turn visitors into leads and leads into customers, resulting in a significant boost to the bottom line, while a poorly chosen SEO consultant could throw your business into turmoil by crushing visitor traffic.
Before you start your search for an individual SEO consultant, just consider the options.
Your initial choice here is whether to go for a freelancer, offering SEO services; an SEO company or agency who have teams of SEO consultants (suitable for larger companies with bigger budgets); or in-house SEOs. You can hire an individual SEO on a short term basis to help kick-start the process and inform initial strategy.
- Ask for references and a list of previous and current clients
Any SEO consultant worth their salt should be able to provide these and help you to gauge their efficacy as a candidate as well as compare their other clients with your own business, to see if any valuable crossover experience has been had. You should be provided with at least some tangible evidence that the consultant in question has had a positive impact on their client’s search rankings and conversions.
- Ask for a detailed plan of action
One particular and very common warning sign is an SEO consultant who is reluctant to go into any detail as to their proposed methods for enhancing your SEO, often insinuating that it would be too complex to understand. You should be provided with clear explanations as to the tools they would use to improve your SEO rankings as well as a time frame for achieving agreed targets. In addition you should ensure that your candidate undertakes an initial review of your website to highlight any intrinsic problems with your site that could be causing issues and could delay progress, such as broken links, meta-tags and error pages. Make sure that you ask whether your consultant will provide ‘off-page’ strategy targeting awareness on other sites and platforms and cross-pollination.
- Set a reality check trap
If your consultant starts bandying about phrases like “I can guarantee your site number one spot in Google’s rankings within a year” then send him or her packing as fast as you can. Such claims are pure fantasy designed to lure companies into parting with their money, often for very little at all. Other red flags include those who claim to have insider knowledge in major search engines and any potential algorithm changes. Pure hot air.
- Make sure they can go local
Having your site feature prominently in local search engine results is vital to all small and medium bricks and mortar companies looking to forge an identity and customer base in the local area. There are specific techniques to targeting local SEO and you should listen out for mention of getting to grips with your site’s title tag, meta descriptions and achieving listings on Bing, Google and Yahoo’s local listings, to gain a foothold in online directories for regional businesses.
If you ensure that you follow these key pieces of advice when selecting your SEO consultant then you shouldn’t stray too far from the right path.