At one point or another in their life, every business owner begins to wonder whether or not they need help with their marketing efforts.

There is nothing weird or embarrassing about this—some people are simply not familiar with certain marketing areas, while others would rather focus on their product than SEO (in your case) or social media. Luckily for everyone, there are experts all around you who can take over your marketing duties and let you develop your business further.

However, how are you supposed to go about hiring one? Where do these SEO experts hide? What should you ask them if you encounter one? How do you know they’re not going to trick you and just take your money?

If you don’t have experience with hiring consultants of any kind, then this task might seem quite daunting to you. This is completely understandable and exactly what this blog should help you out with.

In this post, you are going to find out what YOU need to learn before you hire an SEO expert, what THEY should know during your interview, how single consultants differ from agencies, and a lot more, that will ultimately help you decide which person is perfect for you and your business.

It’s really important to do things the right way, because the future of your company may depend on the person you hire (no pressure, though).

So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

Become Familiar with Search Engine Optimization Yourself

Why do you need to learn about SEO if you’re going to hire someone to do it for you?

The answer to this questions is pretty simple. Because you can’t hire an expert if you don’t know anything about the matter at hand. In this case, SEO.

It’s the same with any other area in your life, from starting a business to fixing a light bulb. If something goes wrong, there will be no one to blame but you. In order for your business to succeed and for you to hire an expert that will take it to the next level, you need to at least understand the basics of SEO.

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You don’t need to spend days and weeks studying the complex matter that is SEO. All you have to do is educate yourself by reading e.g. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO, find out how search engines operate, why links matter, why you need quality content, etc. There’s plenty of material out there which you can use to your advantage, so don’t be afraid to do just that!

Once you become familiar with Search Engine Optimization, go and talk to people who know a bit more about it than you do and see if they can give you a piece of advice or two. Just remember: SEO does not function on the “one-size-fits-all” basis. Just because a certain strategy worked for another business or website, doesn’t mean it will work for yours, too.

That’s why you need to know a thing or two about SEO, and why you’ll want to hire a consultant that’s familiar with your niche. But more about that later in the text.

What’s the Difference Between an SEO Specialist and an Agency?

You probably know what the difference between a solo expert and an entire agency is, but let’s clarify things once again—just in case. Believe it or not, a lot of companies hire the wrong “service provider” for their business and end up with not-so-satisfying results.

  • A single SEO specialist (usually a freelancer) works on their own, suggesting strategies on how a business can increase its organic traffic and improve its website. More often than not, an expert won’t implement those strategies. They will do an audit and just recommend what should be done. The implementation part is left to the company’s in-house team.
  • An agency consists of different types of experts, including writers, account managers, strategists, etc. All of them have their own tasks to complete and work together on a single goal, which is bringing a business the desired results. Most agencies also house other specialists, including developers, PPC experts, and so on, who are there to help out when needed.

Now, which one out of the two you hire depends on a lot of things, including your needs, budget, the number of people at your disposal, etc.

If you don’t have in-house developers, designers, or other experts who will implement the strategies your SEO consultant suggests to you, then you will be better off hiring an entire team/agency to do your work for you. Why? Because you’ll soon have all these strategies and recommendations at hand, with no one to actually implement them.

However, if you do have your team and need someone for a specific channel—in this case, SEO—then a solo specialist (with experience working across teams, with developers and other experts) is what you need. Having them on board will do wonders for your company!

Get an SEO Expert Who Has Experience with What You Do

LIke mentioned above, just because one SEO strategy worked for a certain business, doesn’t mean that it will work for you, too. That’s why you should aim to hire someone who has previous experience with your particular industry and type of website.

For example, if you own a business that sells cars, then it would be ideal for you to find someone who is familiar, at least a little bit, with this industry. That way, they’ll know what the competition is like and what needs to be done for you to get to the top of SERPs. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go out and hire your competitor’s old SEO expert, but do look for people who have some knowledge about your niche.

Another thing you should pay attention to when searching for your consultant is whether or not they worked with smaller businesses or big, international ones. Why is this important? Because doing SEO for a local coffee shop is a lot different than creating strategies for, e.g. Starbucks. The latter has thousands of indexed pages, whereas the former might have just a couple.

The only way to make sure that your consultant will do a good job when it comes to your business is to pick the one person that fits your requirements the best, i.e. that they have experience with your type of website and industry.

How Will You Benefit from Hiring an SEO Consultant?

Deciding to hire an expert to help you with your SEO endeavours doesn’t come easy, mostly because people often have a difficult time parting with their hard-earned money and they are not sure whether or not they will get the right person for the job.

However, if you do find someone who is just perfect for your business, you will not only be happy to “give away” your money, but you’ll also get to enjoy a number of benefits that an SEO expert brings. How will hiring a professional work in your favour?

  • You will see results more quickly. If you decide to tackle Search Engine Optimization all on your own, it will take years for you to learn everything that you need to know and finally do your business justice. Someone with experience will achieve your desired results faster and really help you improve in every way possible.
  • You will save time. As a business owner, you are probably short on time as it is. Hiring an SEO specialist will help you save time and allow you to focus on developing your own product.
  • You will avoid beginner’s mistakes. SEO is tricky and it can be really challenging to figure out what will work and what won’t—especially if you don’t have experience with this marketing area. By hiring an expert, you won’t have to worry about this at all.
  • You will avoid Google’s penalties. Google won’t go easy on you if you do something wrong when it comes to your website’s SEO. In fact, it will probably make you regret not hiring a professional in the first place, because once you make a mistake, it will be hard for you to climb back up to the top of SERPs. If you find someone to do SEO for you, you’ll avoid this stress.
  • You will save money. Hiring an SEO specialist costs money, yes, but if you do something that’s not good for your website, you’ll lose all of that money and then some. Plus, just imagine how much you’d have to spend to actually learn all about Search Engine Optimization all on your own. So, this is definitely a huge plus for you and your business.

Questions You Should Ask the Person You Want to Hire

So, now that we’ve gone over why you need to know SEO, differences between solo experts and agencies, and benefits of hiring an SEO consultant, we’re going to talk about the interview part of the entire process, i.e. some of the questions you should ask your expert before you hire them.

Start with the basics:

  • How many successful projects have you worked on in the past? If they didn’t deliver great results, it doesn’t matter if your SEO consultant worked for their local coffee shop or Starbucks in the past. Ask them how many successful campaigns were they involved in and don’t be afraid to ask for examples.
  • Who were your clients? Many won’t be willing to talk about this, but if they are, use this knowledge to go and check out their old clients’ websites. This way, you will get a better insight in your consultant’s work.
  • Can you provide me with client references? A recommendation means a lot. So, if you find that a certain SEO expert is really to your liking, ask for references and then call their ex-clients to see what they have to say. You can learn on which terms they parted, what functioned and what didn’t, and a lot more. Reach out via email or via phone, and ask them a couple of these questions.
  • Have you worked with similar businesses/on similar websites before? This is what we talked before and said that it’s something you should really pay attention to. A true expert will have worked with both big and small businesses, and in different industries. If one of them is yours, great!

Once you’re done with the basics, move on to more specific questions, for example:

  • How familiar are you with White Hat, Grey Hat, or Black Hat techniques? Your expert might laugh at this question and find it childish, but this is an important question to ask. For example, if you get penalized by Google, you could ask your expert why do they think this happened and if they don’t know the answer, it might mean they are unfamiliar with Black Hat techniques.
  • Are you up-to-date with Google’s latest algorithm and updates? All SEO experts need to be familiar with updates and algorithms brought to us by the almighty Google. A true professional should be able to tell you, in short, how these algorithms affect your rankings, and they should know their facts from myths.
  • How would you describe your approach to SEO? Once a consultant gets a sense of your business, they should be able to tell you how they would approach any problems you might be having. They should also be able to tell you what their goals for your campaigns are and what should be done.
  • How will you improve my rankings? Your expert probably looked at your website prior to coming to the interview, so don’t hesitate to ask them what they would do to improve your rankings. See which link building strategies they’d use, how would they improve your content, etc.
  • How will you report your progress? Ask the SEO expert in front of you to tell you how often you’d get results regarding your business’s overall progress. Would it be on a weekly or monthly basis? Reports should be completely transparent and tell you exactly what was done during the previous month and what should be done in the following.
  • Which tools do you prefer to use when working? All experts usually have a set of tools they like to use while working. You should get a clear explanation of what those tools are, how they can benefit you, and if you need to pay extra for them. If needed, get familiar with tools after they tell you what they are.
  • When should I expect to see the results? Paid campaigns get results pretty quickly. SEO campaigns? They can take months. So, ask the SEO specialist how long they think it would take them to set up a campaign and achieve the goals you set for your business. An experienced SEO professional will be able to provide you with a rough timetable draft. You can also ask them what happens if they fail to fulfill their promises—some, for example, offer refunds.
  • How will I be involved in the entire process? Communication plays an important part in any marketing strategy, which is why you should be involved in your projects, even if you have an expert working on them. To get the best possible results, you should explain to your consultant what you want to achieve and once you start working together, provide them with feedback. If you notice they are not willing to cooperate, run away.
  • How much would you like to get paid? Some consultants will charge you by the hour, some on a monthly basis, others by a project. Ask them this somewhere at the end of your interview in order to get a grasp on how much money it would cost you to hire an SEO specialist and if your set budget is enough.

Naturally, you can add more questions to this list once you start prepping your interview, and once you get familiar with Search Engine Optimization a little bit better.

Don’t Forget to Manage Your New SEO Expert

You’ve interviewed a number of people, picked out the one that you think is just perfect for you, and now it’s time to let them get to work. However, your journey doesn’t end here!

You can’t just let your new consultant do everything all by themselves—you need to be there to provide them with the information you need and track the progress on your own, as well. Basically, you need to manage the SEO specialist you hired.

Naturally, you won’t need to do this constantly (this person is an expert, after all), but you’ll want to keep an eye on them, just in case. Besides, if you want to give your consultant valuable feedback on their work, you need to be up to speed with everything that’s going on. Monitor all the changes yourself, whether or not they’re happening thanks to paid tools or free ones, check which links people click on, etc. Find out if your keywords are ranking better or worse, and then talk to your expert about all of that.

After some time, if you notice that the results have improved, you’ll be able to relax and trust your expert to do all the work. This will mean that you are on the right path to improve your business and that you have chosen your consultant well.

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, the process of finding and hiring an SEO expert is a long one and not that easy. However, you shouldn’t rush it, because this is the person who will ultimately be in charge of your business’s success or failure. Go through all the phases carefully, add a phase or two if necessary, and make sure to pick a specialist only if and when you’re completely sure about them.

With the right person, you should be able to see the boost in your business in a few months time. I hope this article will help you hire the best possible SEO expert for your business and if you have any comments, make sure to leave them below the text.

Good luck!