As a business owner or marketing executive, you realize the importance of good SEO for online marketing success. After all, we know your position in SERPs (search engine results pages) determines success, with links showing up higher in the search results gaining significantly more clicks than those lower on the first page of results and those on subsequent pages garnering very few clicks. Because SEO is technical you should look for a professional SEO expert to guide you in optimizing your search strategy.
Well, for your information, it is not an easy task to find and hire a professional SEO expert that works well with your company and is affordable. A major consideration is whether you’ll hire a full-time SEO expert or contract with an SEO consultant. Unless you have the bandwidth and need for a full-time employee, most of you will hire a consultant or a consulting firm to fill your SEO needs.
If you’re like me, you’re inundated with offers by so-called “SEO experts”. Every day I get a number of emails from these erstwhile consultants hoping to support their business with my hard-earned income. How do you know which of these “experts” to hire?
Today, we’ll look at what factors to consider as you weed through the many options out there to fill your SEO position? Without a firm hiring strategy, along with the right criteria to guide your efforts, you may find you’ve made a huge and expensive mistake.
Often, the best SEO experts work remotely, so don’t eliminate a great performer simply because of location. Also, you may find overseas consultants charge less for services than those located in the larger cities and high cost of living countries such as the US and much of Western Europe.
The information in this article is designed to help you understand the process of hiring a professional SEO expert; the questions to ask and the steps you need to ensure you’re hiring the right person.
Hiring a professional SEO expert
Entrepreneur posted an article listing 5 factors you must consider when hiring a professional SEO expert. These are:
- Experience. All things being equal, an expert with more SEO experience is better than one with less experience. Also, consider their existing and past clients to determine whether the SEO expert has a history of increasing both the number of clients and the type of client. You might want an SEO expert who has experience in your market niche or in local SEO in your area.
- Performance. Obviously, you want an expert with high performance across meaningful metrics. Among the metrics you must consider are: increase in the number of backlinks, increased traffic, and improved conversion. Remember that good SEO takes time, so don’t go with an expert who promises you first-page search results in a short period of time. Often, that promise indicates they either don’t truly understand SEO or plan to obtain first-page results with keywords that don’t increase traffic much or matter to your target audience.
- Industry presence. A good SEO consultant or firm understands the importance of content for good SEO, hence they should produce valuable content for their own website. Do they produce white papers or other evergreen content? Do they present at SEO conferences?
- Customer reviews. Ask to see the recommendations from previous clients and go a step farther by contacting several of these references to ensure you get the full picture of the SEO expert’s past performance.
- Cost. Don’t use cost as your only measure of a consultant. Some high-priced consultants rest on past laurels and haven’t kept up with the rapid changes happening in SEO. Meanwhile, some low-cost consultants may really know their stuff but don’t have as much experience so they charge less. Sometimes you get what you pay for and sometimes you don’t. Remember that a professional SEO expert isn’t cheap so don’t expect to hire one without a decent budget.
Where to find an expert
1. Ask your community
Your professional network is a circle of trustworthy business owners and marketing executives you meet in the course of your business operations, such as at networking events, conventions, or even at a professional meeting. These owners and executives share many of the same business needs as you, especially if they operate at least part of their business online. They also share your concern for getting your money’s worth from hiring professionals in support of their business at the best price possible.
Therefore, ask them for recommendations/referrals to SEO professionals. Develop a list of these professional SEO experts recommended by your network, but don’t stop there. Get detailed feedback about the performance provided by these experts and ensure you have quantitative measures in support of their performance.
Next, you might start the interview process by contacting the group of SEO experts with the best references through social media, especially LinkedIn, which specializes in professional networking.
2. Attend Networking Events
Attending networking events is a great way to both meet potential hires as well as to make connections with other businesses to get their recommendations. If you’re interested in local SEO, you probably want to stick with local networking events to limit your options to those that fit. Visit Meetup (a company hosting local events all over the US) or another company in your country to find face to face meetings and networking events of interest.
In addition to limiting your options, meeting face to face helps you learn more about the consultant to determine whether they’re a good fit for you and your needs. A local networking event also gives you opportunities to learn about the consultant’s personality, their commitment to helping you achieve your goals, and their work ethic.
Don’t expect to hire a consultant from the networking event. Instead, use the time to get to know them and set another meeting to get into the nitty-gritty. And, always insist on a written document containing the scope of work, charges, and payment agreement.
2. Go through reviews
As mentioned earlier, get reviews for experts recommended by your network or consultants you meet at networking events. Follow-up by requesting specific measures of performance, like those listed above, from prior clients.
Ensure your process focuses on finding the best fit for your business. Although finding the right expert may take time, the decision significantly impacts the success of your business and deserves the time and attention devoted to the process.
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