There’s a lot you need to expect from your SEO expert, whether you engage SEO consultant services or hire an SEO consultant in-house. They need to deliver on more than just keywords and content – there’s intensive research involved, strategizing, creating and distributing content, and auditing and reporting on the success of your strategy. SEO has become such an important part of your online marketing strategy, in fact, that you need to make sure you hire an SEO professional, and not just someone who has good software for establishing keywords, or creating backlinks. Here are the questions to ask an SEO company or consultant before engaging their services.
1. What services will you provide?
Competent SEO consultant services will provide you with a full range of services, and not try to take shortcuts. They will start by finding out what your objectives are, and go on from there. Search engine optimization is not an overnight job, and anyone promising you that they can get you to the first page of Google results within a week is either lying, or is using some unethical techniques to do it, which may work in the short term, but will eventually get you pushed out of the rankings and possibly even excluded from them. SEO takes time and effort and there simply isn’t a legitimate quick fix, so ask for an SEO client checklist, sample strategy or examples of how they have created optimized content in the past.
2. What’s more important – SEO or Content?
This is a trick question. Let’s clear that up right now. There’s a lot of back and forth still going on about whether SEO or Content Marketing is the most important strategy, and it’s a nonsense argument. SEO relies on content marketing to work effectively, and content marketing is useless if your objective isn’t to improve search engine rankings. Let’s go so far as to say, SEO and content marketing are really just two, critically linked, aspects of search engine marketing, or optimized content marketing. If your potential SEO expert for hire starts blathering on about how much more important SEO is, they don’t really understand what it is or how it works.
3. How do you improve my search engine rankings?
If you want to hire an SEO consultant, you need to get into specifics with them. No, they don’t need to lay out their entire strategy before you, but they need to be able to give clear, concrete and understandable answers as to how they will improve your search engine rankings. They may have a few proprietary tricks up their sleeves, and that’s great – they don’t need to give those to you on a silver platter. However, things change rapidly in SEO, thanks to constantly shifting algorithms, upgraded methods and new and interesting ways of doing things, and if your SEO consultant is still talking about techniques that have fallen out of favor, that means they’re not going to be effective.
4. What types of link building do you use?
In the early days of SEO, all that was needed was some clever – and often sneaky or dubiously ethical – methods of pushing your website to the first page of search engine results. This included many black hat link building techniques which got past Google’s algorithms and filters and jumped you to the front of the queue. Nowadays, with Google spending an incredible amount of time and resources on creating algorithms that block these black hat techniques, you really don’t want to hire an SEO professional who uses them. Get familiar with what techniques are legitimate, and which ones might get you disappeared of the results, and make sure you’re asking for specifics.
5. What kind of analytics do you use?
Your SEO consultant needs to know the best SEO analytics tools available at any given time, and be competent in evaluating which ones will be suitable for you. Just piling on one tool after the next can result in confusing, excessive data to sift through, though, so it’s good to know how your consultant is going to approach your analytics. The most important information that they need to be gathering is: how much engagement are you getting; what is the quality of the engagement you’re getting; what content is working and what isn’t?
6. What will you do for my company?
This may sound a little like the first question, but there is a difference. Is the first question, we were asking about the full range of services that the SEO consultant provides, and here we want to get down to detail. At first, you need to ensure they know what they are doing and that they offer a wide enough range of services to accommodate your needs, then you want them to pitch at least the beginnings of a strategy. This involves doing some research into your industry, who your competition is, what’s working in the industry and so on, then coming up with a workable framework of a plan, from which a strategy will grow. No single strategy works exactly the same way for two different companies, so you need to ensure that your SEO services will do what they need to do for you.
Want more background on how SEO works, so you can ask the right questions? Read through our blog on SEO and find out everything you need to know to make an informed choice.
Had a good, bad or weird encounter with an SEO service provider? Let us know in the comments.