How To Hire A Professional SEO Expert

Check its track record. One of the easiest ways to initially filter an SEO candidate is by looking over its online track record. Does the agency have positive customer reviews on major business directories and SEO-specific websites? Has the agency received any awards or other industry recognition? Does the agency have any case studies with specific results on its website or on other websites? If an agency (or freelancer) is invisible in terms of its online profile, then the question to ask of them is: Why is this the case?

Check its SEO performance. How does the agency rank for SEO-related keywords on Google search? Is it near the top? Is it middle of the pack? Is it nowhere to be found? Some SEOs, especially smaller agencies, don’t have the time, resources or need to optimize their businesses — but many do, in fact, rely on SEO for lead generation and need to execute their own SEO campaigns successfully. Again, if you see mediocre results, ask the agency why this is the case.

Look for obvious red flags. Unethical or incompetent SEOs sometimes make the filtering process easy by committing easy-to-identify errors. When you want to hire a professional SEO expert, you will never hear one that offers cheap package deals, that guarantees rankings or traffic, that promises certain results in a specific period of time, that refuses to provide references, that cloaks its presentation in technical SEO jargon, that is reluctant to have you visit the office or meet staff, or that fails to provide easy-to-understand and detailed monthly performance reports. If you encounter any of these things in your search, you will not want to hire the SEO services that source provides.

Look for the right fit. Even if you’ve identified an outstanding SEO agency, it still may be the wrong choice if it’s a bad fit. SEOs tend to specialize in one area or another, and those specialties need to line up with what you need. It’s probably a bad fit if:

  1. You have an e-commerce site and the agency specializes in lead generation.
  2. You need a 10-hours-a-week campaign, but the agency has bandwidth for only five hours a week.
  3. The focus of your ideal SEO campaign is in areas where the agency is weak, such as content marketing. For instance, the agency may be weak in content marketing while you will be relying on article placement for link building. Or another common and somewhat opposite case, when your website needs a lot of technical updating and development, but the agency specializes in content marketing.
  4. You are small fish in a big pond. If the agency’s wheelhouse is, say, $5,000/month SEO campaigns and you’re in the $2,000/month area, then you may not get the priority attention your campaign will need to succeed. You want to hire a dedicated SEO, not one that is good but going through the motions with your organization.
  5. You are a big fish in a small pond. The flip side of the above issue may seem attractive, but it may not be. Being the biggest client of an agency can be risky if your business scales. It’s better to hire a dedicated SEO team that can grow with you than to build momentum and then have to go through the costly and risky process of switching SEO agencies.

Look at their business fundaments. Beyond SEO expertise, it’s important to hire SEO experts with solid business footing — otherwise you will be looking for a new agency way before you want to. Issues to review in this regard include:

  1. Years in business
  2. Annual revenues
  3. Revenue growth
  4. Five-year business plan
  5. Credit rating
  6. BBB rating
  7. Size and quality of its full-time staff
  8. Size and quality of its office(s)
  9. Business experience and accomplishments of its leadership
  10. Size and quality of its client base
  11. Client retention rate
  12. Employee retention rate

When looking to hire a professional SEO expert, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of SEO and fail to probe these business fundamentals — don’t make that mistake. In particular, if you can make a visit to the SEO’s office, you’ll have a chance not only to get answers to all of these questions, but also to interact with the staff, which is also very helpful. An SEO campaign is an ongoing effort with lots of communication between you and the agency, so you want to work with people with whom you feel comfortable.`

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