A great SEO consultant or strategist can skyrocket the success of your business. Or, they can be a complete waste of your time and money. Here are 6 things you need to know to hire an SEO consultant that produces results.
I’m an SEO consultant myself so this post title might sound contradictory at first—but hang with me for a minute.
The simple truth is many businesses hire SEO freelancers who don’t deliver results. I’d like to help you avoid that.
Here are a few things to consider before you hire an SEO consultant…
What Is An SEO Consultant?
A good SEO specialist will help your business get found by your target audience.
Search engine optimization (SEO) might seem like a black art, but it’s actually much more simple. A true professional will bring a holistic understanding of SEO. And, it won’t include algorithm trickery or black hat ideas like buying links. A few key SEO truths will help you make sense of all the details.
Your consultant should be able to help you develop your website and content to lead the pack among your competitors.
And, they will coach you on how to show your work to Google by growing your domain authority.
Hire a consultant who is eager to learn your business goals and hungry to help you reach them (with a process similar to this):
- Assess your website strengths, industry landscape, and competitors.
- Improve the areas where you’re already building traction (do more of what works). Quick wins always help.
- Publish remarkable content that showcases your authority in a way that connects with your target audience. Words matter.
- Promote your content with high-quality backlinks from people in your network (and industry leaders). This will provide the consistent ROI you’re looking for.
In many ways, they will bring a simple, common-sense approach to help get your business find organic growth online. But, they will also teach you how intricately SEO strategy should be woven into every other area of your marketing.
The 4 Pillars of SEO
- Technical SEO
- Content & UX (user experience)
- On-Site SEO
- Off-Site SEO
And, Local SEO can be included as a solid fifth pillar if you’re trying to reach clients in your local or regional area.
Each of these pillars is a necessary part of your SEO foundation.
SEO Metrics Don’t Matter
You’re not after vanity metrics like “impressions” or “rank first page of Google.”
Those don’t pay the bills for any business owner, right? So make sure your consultant is focused on helping you grow leads and sales. Impressions are okay, and clicks are good, but phone calls and sales are what you need to grow your business to that next level.
Pay attention to where your new clients come from.
Your SEO freelancer should already know:
- SEO is not about traffic.
- SEO is not about keywords.
- SEO is not about green lights in your WordPress plug-in.
SEO is about growing your business—by helping the right people find you when they are already looking for your solution.
Don’t chase search engine rankings. Check out your Google Analytics account to find the metrics most closely tied to new clients and customers. Then, obsess over those.
Make certain your SEO campaign has a clear measurable attached to it.
Your SEO Strategy Is More Valuable Than An SEO Specialist
Keep your SEO vision big-picture, long before you hire a consultant.
If they are a marketer at heart, they will already be ready to fight for your victory (not theirs). Successful SEO campaigns need a long-term, iterative approach. Establish a few simple processes to help you spot the best opportunities, take focused action, and improve quickly along the way.
Consultants will come and go, so find someone who fits your digital marketing strategy. You need to build momentum in the right direction.
Hire An SEO Consultant Who’s More Than Just An SEO Specialist
Data nerds will only get you so far. You need an experienced digital marketing pro who understands how (and when) to apply the best SEO tactics that fit your marketing strategy.
- They need to understand data—but love learning about people.
- They need to love keyword research—but be ready to write quality content that sounds natural.
- They need to love writing effective content—but be able to find out what topics your clients most want to hear about.
- They need good tools—but have the creative insight to get the most out of them for your business.
- They need to know how to speak to robots—but write for humans first.
Find a marketer that’s skilled in SEO—and avoid SEO experts learning marketing for the first time. Effective SEO tactics are always grounded in time-tested marketing principles.
This is why you might not find your best fit on Fiverr or Upwork. You get what you pay for—and your online reputation is worth more than what a $15/hour freelancer can provide.
9 Questions to Ask Prospective SEO Consultants
Come prepared for a conversation that will lay the future groundwork for growth.
- What’s your track record of success?
- What do you do best?
- How much can your work impact my business?
- Do you guarantee the results of your SEO work?
- What’s your approach to Google’s SEO guidelines?
- What SEO tools do you use, and how do you use them?
- What does your SEO reporting look like?
- How much do you cost?
- How do you hand over the work when we part ways?
Ahrefs is one of the leading SEO tools and teaching resources around. They’ve worked with thousands of consultants on thousands of SEO campaigns, so it will be hard to improve their list. Be bold, inquisitive, eager to learn, and ask away.
If you want to hire an SEO consultant on top of their game, they will appreciate that you’ve done your homework.
An SEO Strategist Is An Amplifier, Not A Magician
There are a few things you need to have in place before you hire an SEO consultant or agency.
You need to have a clear target audience, and you need to know what transformation you offer your ideal client. Bonus points if your website already reflects that language.
Seth Godin encompasses this idea in his Simple Marketing Promise framework.
Your product or service needs to be worth discovering. If it’s not remarkable in some way, then you need to go back to the drawing board.
Your website should already provide a great user experience for visitors. I often turn away potential clients because their website isn’t ready to handle an increase in organic traffic. The user experience is so poor, that visitors won’t want to stay on the site.
Start working out your rough marketing strategy—then you’ll be able to see where SEO tactics can fit in (and work like wildfire).
Your SEO Pro Should Give You A Conversion Strategy
Choose blog post topics that fit into your marketing strategy, not ones that drive the most traffic. Those competitive keywords will keep you on a hamster wheel for a long time.
Most SEO strategies are focused on growing SEO metrics, you need to see a clear Conversion strategy. This will outline how they plan to take your ideal people from point A to point B (from new website visitors to paying customers raving about your business).
The team over at Grow & Convert recommends an approach they call Pain Point SEO. Learn what makes your audience tick, and learn what drives them crazy. Then, you’ll know exactly what questions and problems they are searching to solve. That list will give you a wealth of relevant keywords right off the bat.
Then, make sure you match the user intent exactly, and you’ll become known as a major authority in your circle. Organic search traffic seems to follow sites that genuinely serve their readers.
Focus your keyword strategy to get higher conversion rates.
- You probably need a sprint-style campaign to get some momentum started. But, they should be guiding you along in a way that equips you for long-term, consistent growth.
- Always go back to your ideal client, and the problem they want to solve (transformation they are looking for)
- #1 result in Google gets twice as many clicks as the #2 result
DesignRush published a recent article on how to choose an seo agency that is worth checking out as well. They dig deeper into the bigger picture of how a complete agency should approach your SEO strategy.
How I Can Help You With Your SEO Strategy
SEO is an incredibly valuable tool when used correctly. This is why you need to keep these above steps in mind before you hire an SEO consultant. You need to keep a few things in mind before you start.
Did any of this resonate with you? If you want some help along the way, here are 2 ways I can help you use SEO to grow your business:
My 2-month QuickStart SEO Sprint is a great place to start.
Or, if you’re unsure where your site stands, then go check out my quick SEO Assessment. This SEO audit works like an SEO playbook for your business. It comes with an actionable roadmap of your next steps.
Think: less nerdy-technical terms and more “do this next, to improve that.”
You’ll also find my Friday Focus marketing newsletter helpful. Readers get one helpful digital marketing tip every week—and a few interesting links to grow your business. And, you’ll get easy access to my Google Search Console crash course.