Today, increasing organic traffic and improving inbound marketing is all about SEO, or search engine optimization. When done right, your website will rank high in search results when your target audience searches for keywords related to your services.
Many brands don’t know where to start to improve their website’s rankings, so they hire professional SEO services. Deciding to hire a consultant can be difficult. If your brand is struggling to make a name for itself, it’s likely that you don’t have extra cash floating around in the budget. But, hiring the right consultant can turn that all around. Not only will an SEO professional help to increase your traffic and conversion rates, but they’ll free up your time to focus on more important things, like running your business.
If you’re unsure how to find the right SEO consultant for you, here are six tips to point you in the right direction.
1. Know the Warning Signs
Knowing the signs of bad SEO consulting is incredibly important when you’re trying to choose the right service for your brand. There are tactics that some services will use to try and convince you that they know what they’re doing and that they’re the most qualified, but these can be empty promises.
One major red flag is what we call black hat SEO tactics. Black hat SEO includes buying links on other sites, keyword stuffing, or writing poor, irrelevant content just to improve page rankings. These tactics can result in penalties from Google, and whether you were aware that the consultant was doing this, you’ll be the one to pay the price – not the consultant.
Another thing to be wary of is grand promises with vague descriptions. If a consultant says they can quadruple your website traffic in two weeks with a strategy that only they know, you can be sure that it’s too good to be true. SEO is a science and there are clear steps you can take to improve your page ranking. If someone claims to have special knowledge or claims they know how to achieve insanely good results, they’re selling you a flashy presentation rather than demonstrating their expertise (or lack thereof).
2. Get References from Your Peers
One way to protect yourself from being drawn into a contract with a bad SEO consultant is to read reviews from real people and your peers. Googling “Best Professional SEO Services” may not be the best way to find the right consultant for you. Sure, they’ve displayed their ability to rank high on that SERP (search engine results page) and that may appear to show their expertise. However, it doesn’t tell you if they give that same care and attention to their clients.
Talk to others who have worked with a consultant to improve their inbound marketing strategies. Who did they work with? Were they satisfied? If not, why not? Speak with someone directly and ask questions, otherwise you’ll have to try and find your answers in reviews on third-party sites.
3. Have Specific Goals (and KPIs) in Mind
KPIs, or key performance indicators, are the metrics that you’ll use to determine whether a consultant is truly helping to improve your inbound marketing strategy. You’ll need to check in regularly with the consultant to ensure that these KPIs are improving.
When you’re deciding between professional SEO services, keep specific goals in mind that you hope to achieve. Also, consider which KPIs will be used to measure if these goals are being met. Some important KPIs include the number of organic sessions you have, search engine rankings for specific keywords, conversion rate, phone calls, and others. Ask the consultant exactly how they improve these KPIs so that you know you’ll get the results you need.
4. Ask for Samples
Asking an SEO consultant to provide you with concrete examples of their work is a great way to determine if they’re a good fit for you. Ask them if they’ve worked for brands like yours and ask about the results they achieved. Now is the time to be picky.
Also, take some time to look at their website. Do they write good content? Is their site easy to navigate? These are good indicators of their abilities. Bear in mind, though, that many consultants will be more focused on client sites than their own, so don’t lose confidence in them just because a couple things aren’t what you’d expect.
5. Look for Quality Communication
Good communication is essential when choosing the right SEO consultant. A good SEO strategy takes months and even years to establish. When you enter a long commitment like that, you need to know that they’ll communicate with you effectively.
Establish how often you’ll communicate and the ways in which you’ll communicate if you hire them. It should be easy to reach them even while you’re in the consideration process. If you find yourself waiting long periods to hear back, or even if you’re just not on the same page as the consultant on a personal level, it could be time to move on.
6. Ask Questions
You can never ask too many questions when you’re deciding on an SEO consulting service. Before hiring, be sure that they can meet your needs and that you have a clear understanding of how they’ll do so. Here are some questions you should ask before hiring:
When will we start to see results?
What fees should I expect?
What happens if I want to cancel?
Will I own the website if I leave the contract?
What will you need from us to be successful?
Do you offer multiple contract/budget options? If so, what are they?
Get a Free Content Analysis Before Paying Anything
SEO is a fast-paced, high-stakes game that brands are forced to engage in if they want to compete in the digital age. While many are tempted to tackle this on their own, there are plenty of reasons why reaching out to an inbound marketing agency and getting their help may make sense for you.
The many benefits an agency provide means a better ROI on your money invested in SEO services. Get a free SEO/content analysis from First Page Strategy and our audit will tell you what to change and why. With our help, you’ll be better able to keep up with your competition and bring new visitors to your site, all at a fraction of the cost for an in-house marketing team.