Creating an effective SEO strategy and tracking this key business metric is a must for modern companies. However, it’s a nuanced and time-consuming process that requires resources to conduct effectively. As SEO is an ongoing battle in the digital marketing realm, many businesses choose to outsource their efforts.
Outsourcing to an SEO consultant is a wise business decision. However, there are many scam artists and fly-by-night operations to watch for when vetting the options.
So, here are six tips for finding the perfect SEO consultant for your goals.
1. Ask for Referrals
First, start by asking for referrals from other businesses and network connections engaged in the SEO process with an agency or independent consultant. Go beyond asking for referrals and ask for clarification about their experience with search marketing services. This additional exploration will help you weed out biases when looking for a recommendation.
Moreover, ask your contacts who have used these services what they liked, what they didn’t, and what results they’ve seen. If you deem it appropriate, ask about the costs they incurred to get a better idea of the industry standard as you shop around.
2. Look for Proven Results
When you start looking for an SEO service provider, look for proven results. Larger agencies will post case studies and client testimonials on their website for guidance. Beyond that, you have a right to ask for samples and references.
If the consultant you’re vetting can’t provide proven results, they likely don’t have them. In addition, everything with SEO is traceable through Google Analytics and Search Console.
It’s entirely possible to showcase graphs that are only accessible to administrators with the website name blocked out. In other words, there’s no excuse for not having samples.
3. Look for Transparency in the Process
A skilled SEO agency isn’t doing anything magical or secretive. Most SEO consultants are doing things that you could do yourself, albeit less effectively. As such, there should be no secrets in the process. There’s no risk of sharing proprietary information about their methods beyond client and contact names and what tools they are using.
If a consultant seems secretive or unwilling to share their process, they’re likely engaging in black hat SEO practices. These practices are effective in improving SEO but are frowned upon by Google. As a result, engaging in black hat SEO could eventually earn your site a penalty that will be unrecoverable.
4. Beware of Unrealistic Claims
Beware of any SEO agency that guarantees a number one spot or promises quick results. Improving your SEO takes time and consistency. Also, your business may never rank number one for some of the most competitive keywords, even with a targeted approach.
Therefore, look for an SEO provider with a more realistic outline and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. The slow and steady mentality will save you (and earn you) more money in the long run.
5. Consider a Multi-Faceted Approach
There are several actions and strategies under the umbrella of SEO. Search engines look for various factors when ranking pages on a SERP. Some of the top considerations for the crawlers include:
- Site loading time
- Bounce rates
- Fresh content
- Keyword relevance
There are both technical and content-based aspects of SEO. Consider working with a consultant that can offer various approaches to accomplish your goals, or consider working with a few specialized consultants — for example, a link-building specialist and an SEO-driven developer to improve your site.
6. Prioritize Communication and Reporting
Clear communication and reporting protocols are a must when vetting an SEO consultant. Ask about the communication process and how they will share information with your business.
Ideally, you’ll have someone who’s readily accessible to answer questions and can provide a monthly progress report. Again, transparency matters here: all improvements will be present in Google Analytics.
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