SEO Basics & Fundamentals

What To Know Before You Hire Someone For SEO?

Before you hire someone for SEO, it is essential to understand that SEO is a long-term investment that requires a strategic approach, consistent effort, and a deep understanding of the ever-changing search landscape. Whether you are considering an SEO agency, a consultant, or an in-house expert, the right choice depends on your business goals, budget, and the ability to integrate SEO into your overall marketing strategy. Hiring an SEO professional can lead to significant improvements in your online visibility, organic traffic, and ultimately, conversions and revenue.

Understanding SEO and Its Importance

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of structuring your website and its content to improve visibility in search engine results. SEO encompasses a range of activities, from optimizing the web content and structure to building high-quality backlinks, that can significantly affect where your site appears on search engine results pages (SERPs).

The importance of SEO stems from the fact that the majority of online experiences begin with a search engine. Ranking higher in search results can drive more traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and ultimately lead to more sales and conversions. However, SEO is not a one-time deal. It’s a continuous process due to the constant updates in search engine algorithms and the evolution of user behavior.

What to Look for in an SEO Professional

Searching for the right SEO professional requires due diligence. Here are some critical qualities and areas of expertise to consider:

Experience and Track Record

It’s important to work with someone who has a substantial track record of success in SEO. Check their references, ask for case studies, and look for reviews or testimonials that speak to their experience and effectiveness.

Understanding of All Three SEO Tiers

SEO operates on three levels:

  • Technical SEO: Ensuring that search engines can crawl and index your website without any issues.
  • On-page SEO: Optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic.
  • Off-page SEO: Actions taken outside of your own website, such as link building, that impact your rankings within search engine results pages.

Your SEO hire should be well-versed in all three areas to maximize the success of your SEO strategy.

Market Knowledge and Competitor Analysis

A great SEO expert not only understands SEO but also has a good grasp of your industry and who your competitors are. They should be capable of conducting thorough market analysis and competitor research to inform your SEO strategy.

Clear Communication and Reporting

SEO can be complex, but that doesn’t mean it should be incomprehensible. Ensure that the person you hire can explain their strategies in a way that’s clear and understandable. Regular, concise reporting should be a part of their service to keep you informed of the progress.

Flexibility and Forward-Thinking

The search landscape is always changing. Your SEO expert should be adaptable and proactive about future trends and changes to search engine algorithms.

Understanding of Your Business Goals

Any SEO activity should align with your broader business objectives. A good SEO professional should take the time to understand what you’re hoping to achieve and tailor their efforts accordingly.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Professional

When interviewing potential SEO hires, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. Here are some to consider:

  • What is your approach to SEO?
  • Can you provide examples of previous work and share the results?
  • How do you stay updated with the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes?
  • What tools do you use for SEO analysis?
  • How will we communicate, and how often?
  • What sort of results can we expect, and in what timeframe?
  • How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
  • What are your payment terms and contract conditions?

Red Flags When Hiring an SEO Professional

Beware of SEO professionals who promise instant results, use black-hat SEO tactics, or claim to have special relationships with Google. Here are some red flags:

  • Guaranteeing a #1 ranking on Google.
  • Insisting on long-term contracts with no clear exit strategy for you.
  • Using jargon to confuse you rather than explaining their methods clearly.
  • Vague about the strategies they’ll be using.
  • Unable or unwilling to provide clear, regular reporting metrics.
  • Pushing services that you don’t need or that don’t match your business objectives.

Setting Realistic Expectations and Achieving Alignment

SEO does not provide instant results. It often takes months to see the fruits of SEO labor. Setting realistic expectations with the SEO professional you hire is key to a successful partnership. Ensure that your goals are aligned, and you have a mutual understanding of the anticipated timeline for potential results.

Moreover, while SEO can provide significant ROI, it’s not the only aspect of digital marketing. Your SEO strategy should work in harmony with your content marketing, social media, PPC, and other marketing efforts.

Finishing Thoughts

Hiring the right SEO professional is a crucial step in unlocking the potential of your online presence. It requires a thorough vetting process, open communication, and a clear understanding of your business objectives. Remember that the best SEO strategies are built on solid relationships, ongoing commitment, and an unwavering focus on achieving long-term goals. By preparing for the hiring process and knowing what to look for, you can establish a partnership that not only improves your search engine rankings but also drives meaningful business growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SEO and why is it important for my business?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of optimizing your website to increase its visibility for relevant searches on search engines like Google. This is important because it helps drive organic traffic to your site, enhancing the likelihood of converting visitors into customers. In today’s digital age, a strong online presence is crucial for businesses to reach their target audience.

What qualifications should I look for in an SEO professional?

When hiring for SEO, you should look for someone with a strong understanding of SEO best practices, including keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, and content creation. They should also be well-versed in analyzing SEO metrics and using tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Certifications from reputable SEO organizations can be a plus, as well as a track record with successful SEO campaigns.

How do I evaluate an SEO expert’s effectiveness?

Evaluating an SEO expert’s effectiveness can be determined by reviewing their portfolio and case studies, considering client testimonials and references, and examining their ability to stay current with SEO trends and Google algorithm updates. Also, setting clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as ranking improvements, organic traffic growth, and conversion rates can help track the progress and impact of their SEO strategies.

What kind of budget should I consider for SEO services?

The budget for SEO services can vary greatly depending on the size of your business, the competitiveness of your industry, the scope of the project, and the experience of the SEO expert. Some SEO professionals may charge hourly rates, while others may offer monthly retainer packages or project-based pricing. It’s important to discuss budget upfront and understand what is included in the services provided.

How long does it take to see results from SEO?

SEO is a long-term strategy, and it typically takes several months to see significant results. The timeframe can depend on numerous factors including the current state of your website, the competitiveness of your keywords, and the effectiveness of the SEO strategy implemented. Typically, you might expect to see some improvements within 3 to 6 months, but it can take a year or more to achieve substantial progress.

Can I do SEO on my own or should I always hire a professional?

While it is possible to learn and implement basic SEO strategies on your own, hiring a professional can bring in expertise that may result in better and faster outcomes. SEO encompasses a wide range of techniques and requires ongoing attention to changes in algorithms and the market. If you’re not familiar with these practices or if you don’t have the time to dedicate to SEO, it’s generally advisable to hire an expert.

What does a typical SEO engagement with a professional include?

A typical SEO engagement may include an initial website audit, keyword research, developing an SEO strategy, on-page optimization (including meta tags, headings, content optimization), technical SEO improvements, content creation, link building, performance tracking, and regular reporting. Depending on your needs, you may also require local SEO, eCommerce SEO, or mobile optimization services.

How do I ensure that the SEO strategies used will not penalize my website?

To ensure that your website is not penalized by search engines, you should hire an SEO professional who follows white-hat SEO techniques and adheres to search engine guidelines. It’s essential to avoid tactics that attempt to manipulate rankings in disapproved ways, known as black-hat SEO, which can result in penalties. Discuss their approach and make sure transparency is part of their service offering.

Should I focus on local SEO or a broader SEO strategy?

The focus on local SEO versus a broader SEO strategy depends on the nature of your business. If you have a physical location and want to attract local customers, then local SEO is essential. It involves optimizing your online presence to appear in local search results. If your business is not tied to a specific geographic location or you aim at a larger audience, a broader SEO strategy targeting larger markets may be more beneficial.

What should I ask an SEO candidate to determine if they are the right fit for my company?

To determine if an SEO candidate is the right fit for your company, ask about their experience with businesses similar to yours, their approach to developing and executing an SEO strategy, how they measure and report on success, and how they stay up-to-date with SEO trends and Google algorithm changes. Also, consider asking for references and examples of their successes with other clients.

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Joe Fares

Founder of UltraSEOSolutions and a Digital Marketing Consultant, a great advocate of educating beginners on the competency of SEO, and helping small businesses dominate their niche. Joe is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship, and has been awarded by Payoneer in 2017/2018, for being the most successful entrepreneur in the MENA region.