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How To Find a Good SEO Consultant for Your Website
So your website isn't getting the traffic it deserves, and you're considering hiring an SEO Consultant?
We're an award winning SEO agency, and we're going to discuss how to find, interview and hire the right search consultant for your business.
First and foremost, SEO is straightforward. Don't get me wrong. There is a lot that goes into knowing how to rank websites.
You have to:
- Know the basics of web design/development
- Know Google's Webmaster Guidelines
- Have a strong knowledge of tools (Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Analytics, etc.)
- Understand how to assess a competing website
- Do proper keyword research
- Plan a content strategy
- Plan an outreach strategy for building quality links
These are only a few things that go into a great SEO campaign. So while the barrier to entry may be high in SEO, the actual process is straightforward.
SEO is backed up by measurable analytics that are constantly being tracked. You can access this data both with free and paid tools, such as Google Search Console and Ahrefs, for example. They should be providing you with updates on how your website is performing. They should even be able to show you what they did to achieve that boost in performance. This means that if any search Consultant tries to tell you that SEO is too difficult to understand, this should raise a red flag in your mind.
So with that laid out, let's get to why you clicked on this article in the first place. Don't forget, if you need any help, want to hire an agency for your website, or just want some advice, you can always get in touch with our agency and we will do everything we can to help.
HOW DO YOU FIND A GOOD SEO CONSULTANT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Ask Around About SEO Experts
Ask your friends, family, or any professional contacts you have. Ask on social media. Word of mouth might be one of the best ways to find the best search consultants. Especially since you'll not only get the name of the company, but you'll also get to hear what it was like working with them. On top of all of it, it's from someone you know and trust.
Use your favorite browser to find the best SEO consultants
This is a good way of finding good search consultants, but it is worth noting that just because they are showing up at the top for this does not mean they are necessarily the best. You can often find amazing SEO experts that aren't even ranking for their targeted keywords because they're too busy with their client's campaigns.
Go to local business meet-ups to meet local SEO's
Places like your local Chamber Of Commerce or any local business meet-up are excellent resources. You can run into an SEO consultant or ask other attendees for recommendations on which SEO consultants they would recommend. The bonus is that if you do run into an consultant - meeting with them in person - you'll be able to get a good feel for how well you would work together.
For example, we're a Michigan SEO company. Several times we have gone to public events and met clients that needed our services, whereas, if we had never attended the event, we might not have ever ended up working with them. Local business meet-ups are consistently one of the best ways to network and find new clients & service providers. Not only that, but you're supporting other local businesses!
Search directory lists of the top-rated SEO consultants
Searching local directories allows you to see established search consultants, either locally or in a specific niche. Searching these directories will give you the website of each company listed, and you can then research each company.
Read the reviews of each SEO consultant you're considering
Each company should have reviews on Google and possibly several other 3rd-party websites like Upcity, and Clutch. Using these tools, you can read the reviews of each company you're considering and decide which seems the best fit for your business.
As West Michigan web design & SEO experts, we have many local and international connections and would love to help guide you in the right direction on your search for the perfect consultant for your needs. If you have any questions during your search, we would love to help in any way we can. We will not automatically say "go with us" unless we truly feel we would be a great fit. If you want expert advice, feel free to book a strategy call, and we'll help however we can!
WHAT MAKES AN SEO CONSULTANT GREAT?
A great Consultant will find and leverage your USP
USP (Unique Selling Proposition). They will ask enough questions to understand what makes your business's goods or services unique. They can then use this knowledge to do several different things. Leveraging your USP helps them make more informed decisions about keyword selection, strengthen on-page SEO, and make suggestions to ensure your content creation reinforces and emphasizes your USP to customers and browsers.
The best Consultants will ask questions to try to understand your goals
For SEO to be effective, it requires they need to be asking you a lot of questions. Thorough research ensures they understand - among other things:
- Why do you feel SEO will help
- What you hope to accomplish with an SEO campaign
- What is your USP
- What are your expectations
Questions are any search consultant's best friend. They help us to get an accurate assessment of your project to determine if they would be a good fit. They also help to get a feeling for what your expectations are.
What is the point of understanding your expectations? My next point will answer this question.
Experts in SEO will educate anyone they work with
SEO - like anything - is challenging to get into because there are many things to know before you start. But SEO is overall pretty simple. Just time-consuming. So more often than not, a search consultant will gladly explain why they think changing this heading or the angle and wording of that blog post will help gain your website more traction.
SEO generally has an aura of complexity, so the best SEO consultants will provide additional value to you and your team by demystifying much of this for you. Demystification is a large part of why they need to ask you questions to determine your expectations. If they get the feeling you expect to see instant results, they will help to give you a more realistic timeline. Not that a good consultant cannot show you results within a few weeks because we can. However, ranking for the high-traffic, high-competition keywords you most likely want genuinely does take 6-12 months of consistent effort.
The best SEO's will be honest with you about your ranking potential
Often, a company doesn't have the link profile to go after the most searched terms in their industry. Any good search engine optimization specialist will be honest about your ranking potential. If you cannot rank for specific phrases, they will suggest going after less competitive terms that make more sense. An SEO consultant can build up the company's link profile over time and eventually rank for the more competitive terms. But that could take years, and depending on the SEO budget of your competitors, it could even be impossible.
You will keep strengthening your link profile if you constantly run an SEO campaign for specific keywords. Over time your first link turns to your first hundred, which turns into your first thousand. But, if your competitor has been paying SEO experts consistently for years, they could have amassed thousands upon thousands of links. Continually paying for SEO means their link profile is constantly increasing. Which means it would be nearly impossible to catch up.
While this isn't always the case, you may find it is. In this situation, an expert in search engine optimization will choose less competitive terms you can rank for that will help improve your website's overall authority, which will help you rank for the more competitive keywords.
A good SEO consultant will be upfront about how long it takes to rank
SEO is not an overnight endeavor. It isn't uncommon for it to take between 6 - 12 months to see a significant increase in traffic on a website. So any consultant or company that tries to say you can see results overnight, you're better off just throwing money down the drain now.
SEO isn't something that happens overnight. SEO takes a lot of time, effort, and attention. While you can see results from a quality audit almost immediately, significant traffic increases usually occur after 6-12 months. The adage goes, "SEO is a marathon, not a sprint."
How can an SEO Consultant help my business?
The benefit of a good SEO consultant is invaluable when you consider that over 94% of all users on Google skip right over the search results that are ads when seeking answers to their questions or services they need. Google uses complicated algorithms to determine which pages deserve to shine at the top of the SERPs (search engine results page). Good search consultants realize this and ensure they structure each website they work on according to what Google's algorithm wants to see.
When you hire a search consultant, they will focus first on your website and how they can improve it. These changes to your website might include compressing images, restructuring and renaming headings, adding and restructuring content, and much more. A good search consultant can take a website that gets little to no traffic and transform it into an authority at the local or national level.
The best SEO consultants are efficient. Not only can an SEO consultant help to drive traffic to your website, but we can also help to increase the rate at which a user on your website converts into a paying customer. The rate at which users become customers is known as your conversion rate. Improving certain aspects of your website will improve your conversion rate, such as enhancing your call-to-action. Both of these optimizations - one for SEO and the other for conversions - can be done at the same time.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK MY SEO CONSULTANT?
So now that you've got a few SEO consultants and SEO experts and understand what makes a good consultant, what questions should you ask them?
"How often will you send me updates, and will you be available to help me understand the information contained in the updates?"
Any good search consultant will understand that you feel left in the dark. A good consultant should offer monthly reviews. In these reviews, they will go over the wins and losses. Good search consultants will show you the improvements they have made, what was directly responsible for said improvements, and their plans for the following month. Monthly reviews are not uncommon and are the most likely method for keeping you in the loop. Since progress will be nearly unnoticed for the first 3-6 months of the campaign, monthly updates help to show the progress that is happening under the hood. This progress is the foundation required before you start seeing any significant increase in traffic to your website.
Monthly updates are a standard we employ for our clients as well. At the end of each month, we send them a video or hop in a quick call that outlines our progress that month using measurable data and graphs that are accessible to anyone. In that video or call, we also discuss our strategies for improving your traffic further in the coming months. Whether you need a free SEO audit or a campaign, we are a Michigan SEO company that can improve your rankings.
"Have you done SEO for companies like mine before?"
Asking this question is great to get a feel for how well they know your industry. A good search consultant doesn't need to know anything about your industry to rank you. They will work to learn what is essential to your customers, how they think, and the questions they ask. They will then use this newly gained insight to rank your website with all of SEO's best practices behind them. However, if they have done SEO for companies like yours, it may mean they can rank you faster because they do not have to do as much upfront research. It may also mean that they may be currently helping some of your competitors with SEO.
"If we choose you to help with our SEO, will you work with our competition?"
A good consultant cares more about the results they can get for you than just padding their pockets. Many search consultants and SEO companies have policies that allow them to continue working with multiple businesses in direct competition with one another - unless one of the competing businesses pays for a more expensive campaign that ensures exclusivity. So if that is something you are after to ensure nothing gets in the way of your ranking in the SERPs, it may be an excellent question!
"How long until I see results?"
The first three months of an SEO campaign are usually for recovery. Recovery in the sense that, often, websites are not observing best practices, which directly hurts their ranking. It takes time for Google to realize that a website has had a massive overhaul and that maybe it should reevaluate the ranking potential of the website. All that to say, as we discussed earlier, SEO takes time before you get any serious results. Any search consultant talking about instant results should automatically raise a red flag in your mind unless they give you great reasons.
You can potentially see results within 3-4 months, but in most cases, it will take around 6-12 months before you start seeing the type of results you want to see.
"Will you guarantee rankings?"
The reason this is a great question is that there are no consultants or experts that can do this. There are far too many unknown variables that prevent anyone from being able to predict a ranking accurately. If you ask your prospective search consultant if they can guarantee that you will rank #1 in the search results, and their answer is anything resembling "yes," thank them kindly and hang the phone up.
The simple answer is that, again, no one can guarantee this. Even after heavy research into your website, link profile, competitors, etc., the best search consultant could not guarantee any specific ranking position. There are so many factors that the only thing that can be guaranteed is that you will see an increase in traffic.
HOW DO YOU HIRE AN SEO?
So now that you've identified a qualified search consultant, what are some things to keep in mind before moving forward?
Do you want to conduct an ongoing monthly SEO campaign or just a one-time audit?
The answer to this question largely depends on your goals and current resources.
Do you have in-house web designers/developers? Are you thinking of hiring an in-house search consultant? Do you want to show up in Google and aren't worried about ranking? Maybe a one-time audit would work for you. In that case, making the changes recommended by your consultant may be all you need.
However, a monthly search engine optimization campaign may be the best decision if you don't have in-house web designers/developers, and your goal is to see a significant increase in monthly traffic.
How Long Does Your SEO Consultant Recommend You Continue In Your Campaign?
When working with consultants you've not worked for in the past, a standard campaign length is six months. Six months gives you the time to decide whether or not you should continue. At the end of the six months - after you've made your decision - most search consultants offer contracts ranging from 6 months to several years. So you can either decide to stop your campaign entirely or extend it.
Does your potential consultant offer any cancelation policies?
Regardless of the reason, you need to ensure that there is a way to end the contract if required. Whether you find you don't work as well with your SEO consultant as you thought you would, or something unrelated to SEO hurts your businesses, you don't have the money to continue paying your consultant. Regardless of the reason, make sure they walk you clearly through your right to cancel and any penalties that you may incur in the process.
What are the different payment terms your consultant offers?
Payment terms vary as far as SEO services go. The most common ones you'll see will be an upfront payment, Net 15, and Net 30. Make sure that you and your consultant can agree on terms that work for you both.
Sometimes paying upfront will work best in terms of price because the monthly rates are often slightly lower with an upfront payment than with either Net 15 or Net 30 options. However, payment methods can vary, so this is not always the case, but depending on the marketing budget available, it may be worth discussing.
Does Your Search Consultant Offer Any Month-To-Month SEO Campaigns, Or Just Contractual SEO?
Most consultants will require that you sign up for a 6-12 month contract. This helps ensure that you will ride out the campaign long enough to see the types of results you are wanting to see. Some clients can become anxious, and want to leave way sooner than they should, so this is a way most search experts combat that. However, some clients truly do love not being locked into a contract, even though they know they will have to wait 3-9 months on average to see solid results with their search campaign. If this sounds like you, you may want to find a consultant that doesn't try to lock you into a 6-12 month contract. If this is the route you wish to go, it is important that you ask your SEO consultant about the details of their month-to-month services. It may be important to ask your SEO consultant if their month-to-month SEO services:
- Have penalties for leaving early
- Require any warning before you decide to end the campaign
- Whether or not you can adjust your monthly payment amount as desired
By asking your search consultant the following questions - assuming they offer month-to-month, contract free services, you'll know your rights and freedoms. Generally search consultants that offer this type of internet marketing service will walk you through these things very well. A search consultant that offers primarily month-to-month search campaigns will typically go to greater lengths to answer your questions and set proper expectations before your campaign starts. They typically do this more so than an SEO consultant offering contractual SEO because there is no obligation for you to remain in the campaign if you decide to leave early - before you start seeing huge results. Taking a little extra time upfront to ensure you are well-equipped for what to expect in your campaign is great for them, but it is even better for you, because you will know what to expect before it even happens.
Now You're Ready To Hire Your Search Consultant
So there you go. Now you know how to find, interview and hire a search expert that's a good fit for your business!
Now you should be armed with everything you need to find, interview and hire your search expert. We wish you the best on your journey to find the right search expert for your business. Take your time, be sure you enjoy working with the person you hire, as you'll be communicating with them fairly often over the length of your SEO campaign.
There is a lot to consider, and I don't recommend rushing through this process. Refer back to this article if needed, and take your time. Especially if you are leaning more towards an ongoing SEO Campaign, taking your time is something I cannot stress enough. We would take some time to read additional resources on the topic of SEO. Some good places to start would be other articles we have written. We have an article on how SEO can help, as well as an article that explains a common question we are asked - whether or not Google offers SEO. If you end up deciding to do your own search engine optimization, and feel overwhelmed we have an article for that as well.
So there you go. Now you know how to find, interview and hire a search expert that's a good fit for your business!
Now you should be armed with everything you need to find, interview and hire your search expert. We wish you the best on your journey to find the right search expert for your business. Take your time, be sure you enjoy working with the person you hire, as you'll be communicating with them fairly often over the length of your campaign.
There is a lot to consider, and I don't recommend rushing through this process. Refer back to this article if needed, and take your time. Especially if you are leaning more towards an ongoing campaign, taking your time is something I cannot stress enough. We would take some time to read additional resources on the topic of SEO. Some good places to start would be other articles we have written. We have an article on how SEO can help, as well as an article that explains a common question we are asked - whether or not Google offers SEO. If you end up deciding to do your own digital marketing, and feel overwhelmed we have an article for that as well.