But how do you get your website to rank highly in search engine results if you lack the technical expertise and/or time to optimise your site? In this case, it would make sense to hire an experienced search engine optimisation (SEO) consultant to help you out.
There was a time when having a website for your business was something for online merchants and the tech-savvy entrepreneurs; well, those days are long gone. Today, creating a website for your business is no longer something you do as an afterthought but as a key strategy for competitiveness. With virtually everybody online these days, you’d be putting your business at a great disadvantage if you didn’t invest in its online presence.
Creating a website for your business is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. If your website does not show up on the first page of search results on Google, Yahoo or Bing, then your potential customers might still not know of your existence. For your website to actually help improve your business, you’ll need to have better search engine visibility. This not only boosts the number of visits to your website but can also lead to increased brand awareness, increased sales and profits.
SEO consultants are not made equal
Just like other professionals, SEO consultants come in two varieties: those that are good at their job, and those looking to make quick money at your expense. Separating the grain from the chaff can be challenging especially if it’s the first time you’re hiring a consultant for your website.
While a simple Google search will produce a list of websites offering SEO consultation services, finding an experienced and reliable consultant that will work hard for you at a reasonable price will require a bit more effort. You will need to do a bit more digging to ensure that you get a consultant who is genuine and actually knows what they’re doing, while still remaining affordable.
Although choosing the right SEO consultant can be somewhat difficult, it’s not an impossible task. With the right knowledge, you’ll be able to hire someone who’ll suit your needs. We’ll give you some practical tips to give you some direction on your SEO expert search.
The Prerequisites for hiring an SEO expert: Budgeting
Before you even begin shopping around for a person to help you out with your SEO, start by establishing how much money your business can afford to put aside for the campaign. Many small to medium-sized businesses will have a limited budget for SEO, so hiring big SEO firms for your business is out of the question. That does not mean, however, that you cannot get good value for your money from smaller, affordable SEO companies.
When coming up with your SEO budget, keep in mind that search engine optimisation is an ongoing undertaking, not a one-time thing. So make sure the budget you come up with is sustainable and will not overstretch your business’s finances, you can always scale up later if you need faster results. Of course, to a large extent, your budget will determine how fast your SEO results will come.
Define your SEO goals
If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it will be difficult to quantify the success of your SEO efforts. It’s, therefore, crucial that you have a sit down with your team and figure out what you want to achieve with SEO before proceeding with your search for a consultant.
There’re good goals as well as bad ones.
- Seeking traffic from specific groups.
- Trying to boost revenue through new sales.
- Trying to boost free trials, free sign-ups, or downloads.
- Trying to boost your brand’s sentiment.
- Wanting more traffic with no end goal.
- Trying to beat a certain competitor for certain phrases or keywords.
- Improving ranking for no specific reason.
Put down at least three goals for your SEO and communicate them with potential SEO consultants when making your evaluation.
Now to the core of the matter.
Things to look for when choosing an SEO consultant
Here’re some of the critical things you should look for when selecting an SEO expert for your website. Get them right, and the likelihood of finding your diamond in the rough will be more probable.
1. Portfolio. An SEOs portfolio is not everything, but it is something. Check the portfolio of the SEO expert in question to see if they have undertaken campaigns for other businesses that are verifiable. See if the person or firm has had success in their campaigns with a strong number of clients. Request to see case studies and references so as to find out whether past clients were satisfied. If other businesses have found success using the SEOs methods, then your business will most likely benefit as well.
2. Strategy. Your SEO consultant should be able to detail to you a long-term white hat strategy for your campaign. Be very wary of SEOs who use shortcuts to get high rankings. They’ll most probably use black hat (spammy) SEO strategies that will get your site delisted or penalised by search engines. Choose an SEO consultant who plays according to Google’s guidelines and takes your site’s visitors into account, not only the bots that index your pages.
3. Personalised and Transparent SEO. Look for a company that will look out for you as a client. You want someone who will deal with you professionally to help you achieve your goals without leaving you in the dark. You’ll also need to ensure that your SEO has an appropriate pricing scheme that clearly describes what you will be getting for your money. Sometimes, especially when your budget is a bit limited, you might be required to put in some work to help grow your site. Make sure this is discussed and your role established before you begin.
4. Content marketing and social signals. Growing your website will require more than on-site optimisation. Make sure your SEO is adept at content marketing as well as social media marketing. Your SEO consultant should be able to provide you with guidance on how to properly leverage your social media to drive traffic to your website.
5. Communication. Search engine optimisation is a pretty complex field with a lot of technical aspects. It’s for this reason that you should look for an SEO expert who will be able to communicate with you on a personal basis in a simple way that you can understand. Although in-person communication might not always be possible due to distance, look for an SEO that is willing to talk with you on the phone or on Skype to keep you updated on what is going on with your site.
Do not make these mistakes when choosing your SEO consultant:
- Believing there is a quick route to SEO success. Search engine optimisation takes time, more so when it’s done right without any trickery. Avoid any SEO specialist who promises overnight success as there’s no such thing in SEO.
- Trusting online lists of top SEOs. There’re numerous websites on the internet claiming to have a list of the best SEO consultants. These types of sites are just aggregators and usually sell their listings to SEO firms.
- Using Google to filter your choices. Although Google results are a good place to start when looking for a good SEO consultant, don’t use it as your only filter when looking for a specialist to hire. Dig deeper to find someone who will give you value for your money.
SEO can be a pretty intimating subject if you are unfamiliar with it. It’s, therefore, important to equip yourself with some basic knowledge as this will come in handy when you’re searching for a good SEO consultant for your website.