This post was first published on Sept. 23, 2019, and was updated on May 1, 2020, for accuracy.

At a high level, a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant’s job is to help your business to be found, but what do they do and what should you look for when hiring one?

What Does an SEO Consultant Do?

A search engine optimization (SEO) consultant is someone with a specialized set of skills in the digital marketing industry.

At a very high level, their job is to attract and convert and get you found in Google search, meaning they implement a number of SEO strategies with the main goal of attracting targeted audiences from search engines and getting them to turn into customers.

This takes a lot of planning, strategy, creativity, and execution. But what are their responsibilities and what should you consider when choosing your next SEO specialist?

1. Goals of an SEO consultant

Another way to think about what a search engine consultant’s goals are would be asking yourself, Why am I paying this person? Goals will vary depending on the client, but my goals for clients usually look like this:

  • Help get you found by your customers. My favorite saying is what’s the point of spending time, resources, and money on great content and a great website if no one can find you? An SEO expert will provide actionable recommendations to help increase visits from organic search.

  • Help you remain competitive in the online marketplace. If you’re not using SEO, well then that’s one less business your competitors need to worry about.

    Think of Google as a plot of land, where you can only build a certain amount of houses on that land. The more homes you own, the more wealth you can create. Same for SEO, the more search engine real estate you own, the more opportunities you have for building wealth.

  • Help you remain relevant online. Ever hear the saying out of sight, out of mind? If you’re not ranking prominently for important targeted keywords, then your customers won’t even consider you. They don’t know what they don’t know.

    You can also think of this as a magazine. The person that’s on the cover has more visibility and is more relevant than someone on page 98.

  • Help you make actionable next step business decisions. SEO and analytics go hand-in-hand. An SEO consultant will look to see what’s working and what’s not working so they can tweak their strategies.

    Monthly reporting is included in every one of our SEO consulting packages because we need to show our clients the value of our work and what we should do next based on data. More times than not, it should always be about the data!

2. SEO consultant job description

Search engine optimization requires years of experience with a highly tuned skillset, so how can you separate the SEO experts from the “fake it till you make it” crowd?

No matter the job description, SEO consultants will usually know how to do the following:

  • They stay up to date on the evolving SEO industry. SEO has evolved over time and will continue to evolve in the future. An SEO specialist will keep up to date on research and learn about new trends in the industry.

    Not a week goes by where I don’t hear about a new update from Google and need to consider how it will impact my clients, their website, and their online visibility.

  • They know how to conduct keyword research. This is the foundation of SEO and content marketing. Selecting the right keywords could be the difference between getting found on search engines and not getting found.

    Every consultant will have a slightly different approach to how they conduct keyword research, which is fine, but make sure you find one that has a solid approach and can properly explain why they selected the keywords they selected.

  • They know how to optimize website content (aka on-page optimization). After the keyword research is done, an SEO consultant should know how to apply those important keywords to the various pages of your website.

    One new thing we’re incorporating to our content optimizations are keywords that touch on NLP (natural language processing) and LSI (latent semantic indexing), which are fancy ways of saying we are looking at additional keyword variations and entities that help search engines understand the terms and concepts on your pages.

  • They can uncover technical hindrances that are negatively impacting the website. An SEO consultant should know how to conduct a technical audit and work closely with website developers to resolve those errors.

    This is an incredibly important aspect of SEO since it helps search engines to access and index the pages of your website. You can have the greatest content in the world, but you risk not being found in search engines if can’t access it. 

  • They can look at analytics and provide next steps. SEO is not a set it and forget it type of digital marketing strategy.

    Sometimes, our recommendations don’t move the needle, but make sure you work with an SEO expert that knows how to look at platforms such as Google Analytics, interpret data, and provide actionable next step decisions to help increase website traffic.

    It’s about testing to see what’s working and not working for each individual business.

3. Skills an SEO consultant should have

There are so many different kinds of search engine optimization consultants where some specialize in a few different parts of SEO, while others try to specialize in one. And that’s ok, especially since there is so much ground to cover in our industry.

It’s sometimes about pairing up the right SEO specialist with what your business needs, but there are usually a few skills all of them should have, which is as follows:

  • Years of experience. The more years an SEO specialist has in the industry, the more experience they have. This is usually the case, of course not always, but chances are they’ve seen a lot over the years and have the case studies to prove it.

  • They have proven results. An SEO specialist should be able to provide case studies and how they’ve helped businesses like yours in the past. They should have proof that they are results-driven and can help increase ROI. And don’t be afraid to ask for references!

  • Ability to see the big picture. SEO campaigns are often long-term. A good search engine optimization consultant should be able to see the big picture when making recommendations for campaigns and be able to communicate the value of their work in a clear and concise way.

    They should also be able to understand how their work impacts and can be interwoven into other marketing strategies, such as public relations, social media, website development, etc.

  • Create custom strategies. While some businesses may have similar SEO needs, it’s not a one size fits all plan. Your business is unique and requires custom strategies to move the needle.

    This is different than the templated approaches that exist. Sometimes those templated approaches work and sometimes they don’t. That’s why you may hear both success stories and horror stories.

  • Explain the value. For many businesses, they know that SEO is important to getting their website found in Google search results, but they don’t know what is involved or how to explain it to leadership, and that’s ok. An SEO consultant will know how to explain SEO to clients in order to illustrate its value.

Now that you know more about the required skills, the next step is to learn how to find a good SEO consultant. I highly recommend you talk to a few different SEO consultants to see which one works the best for you, including us!

We have over 11 years of experience in SEO consulting and was named a top Denver SEO firm by Clutch. If you have a question on investing in your business through top-notch search engine support services, please give us a call. 

About the author

Christina is an SEO consultant and the founder of MediaSesh. She has been in the SEO industry since 2009 and has helped companies of all sizes to improve their visibility on search engines.