SEO is complex, and one of the best moves you can make for your business is to hire out the task of improving your rankings to an expert. But with so many people out there claiming to be experts, and with no real credentials for the field, how do you know if someone is any good or not? Use these tips to find out if you’re hiring.

How do you keep up with SEO changes?

An SEO specialist makes a point to keep up with Google’s frequent algorithm changes. There are about 3 every day so this is no simple task!

With a dedicated person on your side keeping up with these changes, you won’t have to worry about the nitty gritty of SEO (feels nice, doesn’t it?).

What will you do to help me improve my rankings?

To get results you need a plan. If you don’t target keywords, plan content, build links, you will never see a consistent rise in traffic and income (and that is the point, right?). Ask the consultant, straight up, what is their plan for improving your rankings. If they can’t provide a detailed outline, run away.

An SEO Specialist should be able to provide you with at least an outline of a plan to improve rankings, and then a more detailed plan once she gets to know your current SEO status and business goals. If she doesn’t make it crystal clear how she’ll be able to improve your rankings, or if it’s of the ‘wait and see’ variety, then it’s on to the next interview!

A basic SEO Improvement Plan Includes:

  • An SEO Audit to understand your current status
  • Deep research to curate the best keywords for your business
  • A plan for fresh and updated content including your new curated keywords
  • A detailed strategy for building links
  • A Social Media and Editorial Calendar strategy to maintain and grow SEO status
HOW TO HIRE AN SEO

Will you teach me about what you did to improve my SEO?

You’ll know a good SEO consultant by how she reports what she’s doing. If a consultant can’t, or worse, won’t, give you information about what she did to improve your site, move along.

A good SEO specialist will take the time to explain SEO as it relates to your situation. While they won’t teach you everything there is to know about SEO (got a spare year?), you should get a good understanding of how your consultant improved your sites’ SEO performance. You’ll learn how SEO will affect your bottom line, ideally through consistent reports (bonus points if the reports are pretty and easy on the eyes!).

A few things you should get in a report from your SEO Consultant:

  • Target keywords and their current and past rankings
  • Content Audit, as it relates to SEO, including ‘under the hood’ elements like headlines, meta descriptions and alt tags)
  • A list of backlinks, plus chart showing growth of overall # of backlinks
  • Organic traffic report
  • Strategies to continue improving

How will you know the SEO Improvements are actually working?

What’s the point of all this SEO work anyways? You may be showing up higher in the search results, but so what? An SEO specialist will be able to track your success using a few key metrics that ultimately affect your bottom line.

Key metrics that show true SEO progress:
(These will be a direct result of SEO work on your site)

  • Increase in organic site traffic
  • Increase in keyword rankings

Secondary Metrics that show SEO Progress:
(These will be a result of SEO and other business marketing efforts)

  • Increase in Sign-Ups
  • Increase in Social Media Followers
  • Increase in Sales

So, will I see SEO results right away?

If someone tells you they can get you immediate results, or that they have a ‘secret’ method of getting you SEO gains, then beware: they’re selling a digital version of snake oil.

SEO is complicated, but it isn’t secret, and getting good results is a combination of know-how and hard work. It also takes TIME. Imagine if you went to a personal trainer and she told you that you could get a 6-Pack by next week. You’d be quite skeptical, right?

If your site is brand new and/or has never been optimized before, you’ll start to see significant improvements in 3-6 months (about the time you’ll see that 6-Pack emerge 😉 ).

How will you learn about my business?

All SEO principles are the same, but all business are not. Your Consultant will need to learn about your business goals to know how to properly apply SEO principles. Your SEO specialist should have questions for you about your business, as well as logistical things like needing access to your Google Analytics and website back-end. You’ll need to provide some info initially and be available for questions during the process.

I have a local business…does SEO even matter for me?

If you have an amazing base of referrals, that is amazing! It may seem like you don’t really need SEO if business is booming from referrals. But consider this: there are people in your area searching online for exactly what you provide, and what if they can’t find you? Not having good SEO is the same thing as leaving money on the table. Even with a customer acquisition model based on referrals, you could be missing the opportunity to raise your prices, meet your ideal client, and expand your referral base.

An SEO specialist will know all the details of getting you found in local search, and she’ll know all the ways to optimize for local search and use Google’s tool for local businesses, “Google My Business”.

Ask the SEO consultant about success stories about local based businesses they’ve worked with who have successfully improved in this area.

The key when choosing to work with an SEO Consultant is to be thorough, don’t be afraid to ask bold questions and know that you are going to be in a relationship for the long haul.