Hiring an SEO consultant can be a great idea if you want your company to grow. SEO consultants are highly educated in online marketing and have much information to offer you and your brand. However, not all consultants are alike, and many will use target phrases they know you want to hear to get your attention. We’ve compiled a list of characteristics you should look for in an SEO consultant and features you should avoid to help you make an informed decision.
1. Look Out for False Claims
Many SEO consultants will give themselves credentials you have no way of verifying. Look out for expert consultants who say phrases like:
- “I know exactly how Google’s algorithms work.”
- “All you need is more links – the more links, the better!”
- “I guarantee I’ll get you on the first page of Google’s results page.”
If a potential consultant says anything on the list above, they’re bluffing to get your attention and land the job. It’s best to move on and work with someone else who is more honest about their capabilities as an SEO expert.
2. Work with Experienced Consultants
Before hiring an SEO consultant, see a list of their past and current clients. This is an entirely relevant and reasonable question, and any SEO consultant with a background in the field shouldn’t hesitate to show you their references.
Take it a step further and contact the consultant’s references. You can’t ask them for specific details about the consultant’s work (regarding analytics), but you can ask if they saw improvement in their organic reach due to the consultant’s work. This will help you gauge their expertise and determine if they can help your company.
3. Find SEO Consultants with Knowledge of your Niche
Your audience primarily defines your SEO strategy. An SEO consultant should be able to help you tailor your SEO strategy to your audience’s interests. Work with someone with SEO experience in your niche – without the proper knowledge, you can’t be sure the consultant will know how to help your brand. Any consultant who says they understand SEO in every industry isn’t telling the truth, so work with those who specify their areas of expertise.
4. Work with Consultants Who Strictly Adhere to Webmaster Guidelines
Google doesn’t release its algorithms to the public, but it does have a list of publically available webmaster guidelines. These guidelines outline about a dozen common SEO tricks that can hurt your organic reach – tricks commonly used by inexperienced SEO consultants.
Only work with SEO consultants who strictly adhere to Google’s webmaster guidelines. If you work with someone who uses any of the prohibited tricks mentioned in the guidelines, your website could face penalties from Google – or worse, it could be removed and banned entirely from Google’s search results.
5. Choose a Consultant Who Understands Local SEO
Not all companies rely on local search results, but if you are, be sure to work with a consultant who understands local SEO guidelines. The right SEO strategy can take your small business to the top of Google’s local results page, so you should work with someone to help you get there.
Ask potential consultants about other local brands they’ve helped, and ask the brands how the consultant helped their local results. Not all SEO consultants are experienced in local SEO, so you must find out before making a final decision.
Hiring an SEO consultant can propel your business to new heights, but the key lies in selecting the right expert. False claims, lack of experience, and a disregard for Google’s guidelines are red flags to watch out for. A knowledgeable consultant with proven experience in your niche and a firm grasp of local SEO strategies can be instrumental to your online success. Remember to scrutinize their past work, seek references, and discuss their understanding of your industry. By taking these careful steps, you can ensure that you’re not merely engaging an SEO consultant but building a partnership with a trusted advisor who will guide your brand toward meaningful and lasting online growth.