What to Look for When Hiring an SEO Consultant
Hiring an SEO consultant is a great investment into the long-term growth of your business, provided you hire the right one. With so many snake oil salesmen in the market guaranteeing first ranking in Google or offering to build links, caveat emptor.
How can you tell which expert is the best partner for you and will actually get the job done? In this post, we offer some guidance around the things to look for when hiring an SEO consultant.
Based on our experience of helping companies hire SEO consultants, we believe your assessment of the candidates should focus on the following factors.
When choosing an SEO consultant, look for a track record of producing results for businesses similar to yours. A proven SEO consultant will be able to provide multiple examples of successful SEO campaigns and show how those optimizations contributed to the client’s bottom line.
The expert’s ability to quickly inform your SEO playbook comes down to experience. You don’t want to waste time or money, so you want to hire a consultant who has the knowledge from having done this for businesses in your industry or similarly competitive markets and from working with different technology platforms, budgets, and levels of organizational buy-in.
Subject matter expertise
SEO is a dynamic marketing discipline. It goes without saying that the expert you hire must be up to date on best practices and latest trends in SEO, as well as have a strong command of SEO toolsets and platforms that facilitate keyword research, competitor analysis, and backlink optimization.
Ability to write copy and a strong technical understanding of website architecture are also foundational to a strong SEO.
If you are hiring an SEO consultant, you don’t just want traffic, you want leads and sales. In today’s realities, you need to look for someone who is a well-rounded strategist across a number of digital marketing areas, including content marketing, social media marketing, and PR, and not a purely technical SEO.
Being able to understand individual search engine ranking factors and apply that knowledge is an important skill, but the key to developing a long-term SEO strategy is having a strong product sense and commercial awareness.
A top-notch SEO consultant will craft a strategy that will help you be competitive in the search channel by developing a genuine insight into the product, the users, the revenue model, and the competitive landscape. A good SEO will always start by asking you lots of questions around the business to inform his thinking on how to build your online visibility.
When looking for an SEO consultant, you want to hire someone who can come up with ideas, implement them, and measure their impact.
An SEO needs to be comfortable with doing relatively geeky analytical and technical stuff day in, day out. The expert will have to crunch through a lot of data, so he or she should have a certain sharpness and ability to draw insights.
At the same time, SEO is about problem solving and creative thinking. For example, when a transactional keyword is either highly competitive or has low search volume, the consultant needs to be able to find creative ways to capture your potential customers’ attention earlier in the funnel with tools and content around your topic.
The best SEOs have a growth mindset, defined by the burning desire to learn and grow. They like to experiment small before scaling bigger and regard failure as a growth opportunity.
When looking for an SEO consultant, stay away from “know-it-all” types. Growth-minded SEOs undertake an ongoing effort to improve their skills, learn new things, and discover new strategies, tactics, and tools.
Part of being a strong SEO consultant is being able to get things done when working cross-functionally with the client’s team. To implement the proposed SEO strategy, the consultant will need to communicate with and get a buy-in from engineers, designers, content writers, product managers, business owners, and other parties who do not report to him.
One of the challenges with hiring a consultant vs. an in-house expert is making sure they prioritize your work and stay committed. One way to address this concern is to find a consultant who is aligned with your company’s purpose and mission.
Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, shares this sentiment:
A good SEO should be someone you can work with, learn from, experiment with and who genuinely cares about you and your business.
How to hire an SEO
There are a lot of self-proclaimed SEO specialists out there, but true experts are few and far between. When hiring an SEO consultant, separating the wheat from the chaff takes time and effort, but finding the right expert to help you grow is well worth the investment.
While there is no single factor that can reliably predict a consultant’s actual on-the-job performance, by focusing on several key attributes and taking a comprehensive view of the candidate you increase your chances of making the right hire.
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