This post was first published on Feb 13, 2020, and was updated on Mar 5, 2021, for accuracy.
Compiling a list of potential SEO consultants for you or your client’s business is easy; narrowing that list and finding the best option is not.
The process of finding and selecting the right SEO consultant can take time and thoughtful consideration. That’s because experience, knowledge, and industry focus can differ considerably.
With SEO, there is so much ground to cover. Search engines have evolved over time and mastering every single part of it has become a challenge, even for those of us that have been in the industry for many years.
1. How do I find a good company for SEO?
Here are a few considerations to help kick start your search to hire an SEO company or consultant.
- Ask your tribe: One of the best ways to find an SEO consultant for your consideration is to ask the people you know and trust.
Word of mouth still plays an important role in being found and people are usually not going to recommend a person or business they don’t like. There’s a good chance that someone you know is using SEO and would be happy to recommend their SEO partner.
- Look on Google: In addition to referrals, another way to find an SEO candidate is by looking on Google. One caveat to this recommendation is that just because an SEO company is ranking prominently in Google doesn’t mean they’re the best, but that also doesn’t mean they’re not.
The point of this exercise is to gather up considerations and then filter that list based on other criteria, such as reviews, proven results, good vibes, and your budget.
- Review online directories: During your Google search, click on a few directories, such as Clutch and UpCity, for recommendations.
Similar to the last bullet point, just because an SEO company is listed on a directory does not necessarily mean they’re the best. In fact, none of these bullet points could declare that.
But what I like about these online directories is that these can list out an SEO company’s specialties, average price, and reviews from their clients.
- Ask on social media groups: I almost didn’t include this one since you can get a mixed bag of results, but there are so many talented people out there that it’s worth exploring. I’m part of several Facebook groups and have seen posts from businesses looking for SEO consultants and vice versa.
We even received an incredible agency-client this way. There are several SEO-specific Facebook groups, as well as industry-specific ones where there is no shortage of potential candidates.
- Ask for our opinion: We’re always happy to chat and provide recommendations for SEO companies or consultants based on your budget, resources, goals, and expectations, whether that means working with us or not.
I promise you we won’t say to go with us right off the bat, unless of course, we believe we would be a great match. Our goal is to help match the right business with the right search engine consultant. That way both the client and consultant can thrive together.
I also think the SEO industry can have a bad reputation and it’s sometimes because of this mismatch and I’d like to combat that to some degree. We have partnerships with several local and national SEO businesses that specialize in different parts of SEO or have a particular industry focus. We can help guide you.
2. What should I ask my SEO consultant?
Now that you have a few good SEO companies and consultants to consider, the next step is to ask them qualifying questions to see if they’re the right fit for you. Consider these:
- What is your experience with SEO? This is a nice broad question, similar to any interview you’d conduct when hiring for your company, where you get a feel for who they are, what they do, and how they can help you. Based on their answer, you can then pull out a few nuggets of information and follow up questions to dive deeper and get a better handle of their experience.
- Have you worked with a business like mine before? There are some industries where it makes sense to work with an SEO specialist that has worked in before. This can sometimes give an SEO specialist a leg up on the competition since they are more privy to hurdles, FDA rules, and state laws and regulations, that are important for your industry.
- What parts of SEO are you an expert in? There is so much ground to cover with SEO that you’ll need to know what parts they’re experienced in and also enjoy doing. Some search engine consultants focus on content writing, eCommerce, mobile apps, online reputation management, or technical audits, among others, while others specialize in a few areas.
- What is your process and approach? The potential SEO candidate should share how they like to work and what your next steps are. An example would be how we handle SEO requests: we will usually put together a high-level analysis of your current online visibility to inform our initial next step recommendations. This is where trust is built and value is highlighted.
- How do you communicate with clients? Depending on where this SEO candidate is located, they might work in a different timezone or country, so learn how long it can take for you to receive a response, which may or may not be a deal-breaker.
- Can you send me case studies for past clients? The answer should be yes. That is all.
- What SEO tools do you use? This is a popular question we typically get asked, specifically from potential agency clients since they either 1) curious to know what’s being used these days, 2) they want to make sure we have experience in tools they’re already using or have heard of, or 3) they want to know we’re invested in the success of their clients.
- How often and what reports do you send? Reporting on SEO activities and success is a must. This is the one part that usually surprises me when I hear from my clients that their previous SEO company never sent them anything, or they got a report but didn’t know what any of it meant.
- Do you focus solely on SEO? Depending on where your business is at in its journey, it might make sense to work with someone that specializes solely on SEO services or it might make more sense to work with someone that works in several areas of digital marketing.
Think of it this way: if a candidate spends 7 hours of their day working on SEO and 1 hour on social media, that theoretically means they have 260 hours less experience in SEO in one year versus someone that spends 8 hours solely focusing on just that.
On the other side, if you require someone with experience in other digital marketing tactics outside of SEO consulting, such as PPC or social media, then it could make more sense to go with more of a generalist than a specialist – it all depends on yours or your clients’ business goals and objectives.
- What are your rates? This is always the million-dollar question and can be a deal-breaker. Rates can vary considerably based on factors including the amount of support needed and the level of experience an SEO consultant has.
Based on the fee, ask how long desired results should take. Sometimes smaller fees equate to lower engagement, therefore a longer time to see results, while higher fees can equate to more engagement and quicker results.
- Are there any questions I should ask that I’m not? I love this question and I ask it to anyone I potentially work with. This would be a good time for the SEO consultant to provide additional information and provide opportunities for you to get to know them even more.
3. What are the traits of a good SEO consultant?
During your conversation, try to get a handle if they have the following traits:
- They should ask questions about you and your business, what your level of SEO experience is, what you hope to achieve with SEO, your expectations, and the types of problems you are facing.
- They should have the heart of a teacher and know how to explain SEO in a clear and concise way to help you understand the value they bring to the table.
- They should make you feel like you can trust them. Always trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, maybe they’re not right for you.
- They should provide an action plan and explain why they’re recommending what they’re recommending and why it’s important.
- They should have experience with what works and what doesn’t, which goes beyond just regurgitating best practices that anyone can find online.
- They should be honest with what you can expect working with them and how long it will take SEO to work based on your business type, the competition, resources available, and of course budget.
So as you can see, finding an SEO consultant for your business can be a process, but it’s an important one. Your money, time and success are on the line. Make sure you find someone that makes the most sense for your business.
Regardless of who you go with, a good SEO agency or consultant should be an excellent communicator, treat your business like it’s their own, and keep up to date on the evolving SEO industry.
SEO is a long-term investment strategy, so work with an SEO consultant that wants to help grow your business and grow with your business.