While critical for your business, effective SEO requires specialized knowledge and experience that most business owners don’t have. Thankfully, you can hire SEO consultants or agencies to take care of this for you.
One potential problem with this route is that most executives don’t know how to pick the right consultant. Because the realm of SEO is so murky, it is easy to get taken by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, or to be given bad advice that brings you into Black Hat territory.
To help you, I am going to share with you some signs that your chosen consultant is really the genuine article.
No Wild Promises
Search engine marketing involves so many factors against so much competition that it’s virtually impossible to accurately predict a campaign’s results. An experienced professional will know this and, while he can promise an increase in ranking, he will refuse to say how much of an effect it will have—because he won’t know. Anyone who promises “first page results!” within a certain time frame is either lying to you or is going to use underhanded tactics. Read my basic SEO guide first.
A Variety of Techniques
As I mentioned, SEO involves multiple variables, and a true professional will employ multiple methods to increase your search engine ranking. These include improving your website (which may require an overhaul if it’s particularly bad), legitimate link building, and content marketing. The actual details of each method may vary depending on the current search engine versions. Search engine companies change their algorithms often, and what is good SEO practice one day may no longer apply the next. A professional stays up to date with these changes. Make sure you do not get into trouble with Google.
They Take the Long View
Black hat techniques might drastically raise your rankings for a month, but the true professional is more concerned with your website’s long-term health. Your SEO rankings will increase while the consultant is working for you, but he doesn’t want to be your crutch. He will be prepping your site for further growth long after he leaves. Some of his initiatives—like site maintenance to content marketing—will have to be continued after his contract ends if your site is to continue increase in ranking.
Great Reviews from Old Clients
Before you agree to sign the consultant on, ask for the numbers of some old clients. Interview them and listen to what they have to say about the consultant’s performance. Don’t just note that they’re happy. Ask why they’re happy. What did the consultant do for them? What was his process like? Remember that what works for one business might not necessarily work for yours. It’s not unheard of for a company to be disqualified because of a good review. The old client might have been happy with agency’s process, but their workflow or processes run counter to yours. Inspect their website and ranking to see if the SEO consultant did good work.
Also, check that the referral company is itself legit. Unscrupulous vendors might be giving you false names in an effort to win your business.
With these tips, you will now be able to assess potential SEO consultants and find the right one for your business. Good luck and I wish you a fruitful search!