The majority of businesses spend somewhere between $500 and $5,000 on SEO every month. No matter the size of your budget, you want to be sure you’re getting what you pay for. Hiring an SEO consultant could really help your business take off this year.
That’s why you’re focused on finding an SEO consultant for your business. Maybe you tried doing SEO yourself. Perhaps you don’t know where to start.
Whatever the case may be, you know you need to find the best consultant for your startup business. These ten tips are designed to help you do exactly that.
1. Set Good SEO Goals
SEO for beginners can seem overwhelming. You might know that SEO can help you rank higher on Google or drive more traffic to your site. In turn, you might set these as your goals for SEO.
SEO is competitive, though. Almost every SEO consultant will have a different way of achieving results. Instead of thinking about “more traffic” or “ranking #1,” try to define some more nuanced goals for your SEO.
Think about why you want to drive traffic. Are you looking for more sales or more downloads of a free eBook you’re offering? Maybe you want to drive brand recognition.
SEO can help you do this, and the right consultant will have the means to get you to these goals. Before you begin shopping around, spend some time thinking about precisely what you want SEO to do for your business.
2. Think about Other Services Too
You might be thinking of SEO as a separate service, sealed off in its own silo. In reality, SEO has an impact on every other part of your marketing strategy. You need to think holistically about it.
To that end, you should think about what other services you need. Finding a great SEO consultant is helpful, but what if you also need help creating a website?
An SEO firm that can do both might be your best bet. Not only can they help you build a better website, but they can also help you bake great SEO right into every page.
3. Ask for Referrals from Your Network
You might think finding an SEO consultant is as simple as getting some search results on Google. Find a couple of top 10 lists, then pick your partner, right?
It’s helpful to look beyond Google to find SEO consultants. Instead of relying on the opinion of someone in a sponsored guest post, ask your network.
Who have your colleagues worked with? How about your peers at similar-sized, non-competitive companies?
Chances are these people will be able to steer you in the right direction. They may have worked with SEO consultants who were more than worth their salt. Your colleagues and peers may also be able to help you steer clear of SEO scams.
4. Ask for Examples of SEO Going Wrong
Sometimes, SEO can and does go wrong. It may be the hyper-competitive nature of a particular niche or industry. In some cases, algorithm changes impact websites that were fine before.
It’s a great idea to ask any prospective SEO client for some examples of “SEO gone wrong.” Ask them to tell you about a time when an algorithm change made a client’s site take a tumble down the SERPs.
These examples showcase what the company does when even the best-laid SEO plans aren’t working. A company that’s able to pivot and change up their strategy quickly is essential in an ever-evolving environment.
A company that’s able to deal with SEO strategies that aren’t working in creative and constructive ways will also be able to help you find your audience.
5. Research and Compare Company Values
Doing SEO right is so much more than finding reliable keywords. That’s why you also need to take a look at the company values of any SEO firm you’re thinking about partnering with.
Why are values so important? They guide the company’s philosophy, and that should affect how they conduct SEO.
Is this company committed to delivering results with tried-and-true formulas? Are they a team of innovators who want to develop bold new strategies? Do they see SEO as part of an overall marketing strategy, or do they think the goal is to rank #1 on Google?
These values should tell you a lot about the kind of partner you’d be signing with. If their company values don’t align with yours, then you may want to look for a partner who is a better fit.
6. Define a Budget When Finding an SEO Consultant
Today’s SEO landscape is hyper-competitive because most companies are investing in it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has led to situations where some SEO consultants will try to upsell services customers don’t need or want.
Some SEO consultants also charge very high prices. For a startup, the very best SEO consultant may be out of the running due to budget.
Make sure you set a budget for SEO and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to haggle with consultants, especially over services you don’t need or want.
If you want to work with someone, but they’re out of your price range, it’s time to get creative. Ask if they could provide mentorship or coaching to a junior in-house SEO professional.
7. Think about Service and Communication
Another thing to consider when you’re trying to find an SEO consultant for your startup is their customer service.
How fast do they respond to you? Are their emails friendly and warm, or do they seem like they’re always in a rush? The best SEO consultants are probably doing a booming business, but you should never feel like you’ve got the short end of the stick because of that.
How they communicate now will also indicate how they’re likely to communicate with you in the future. Make sure you ask them specifically how they’ll report on their activities. Also, think about which metrics they’ll need to report to show SEO success.
Frequency of communication must also be discussed, as well as how you’ll handle changes to the SEO strategy. Having a plan in place gives you both reasonable expectations as you move into partnership.
8. Schedule a Consultation
The next step in finding an SEO consultation is to schedule a consultation. This is your chance to get to know the team and ask any questions.
You’ll want to be sure to ask about the processes they’ll use to achieve your SEO goals. Some consultants use what are known as “black hat” SEO techniques, which can hurt your website in the long run.
Instead, look for consultants who use “white hat” SEO tactics. With the right methods behind you, your SEO will improve.
You should also ask to see case studies. Don’t forget to ask how long the company has been delivering SEO. If they’ve been doing SEO for a while, they should have some success stories to share.
9. Think about the Metrics
Another critical consideration is how any consultant will measure your SEO and report on that to you.
There are many different metrics out there, but some of these numbers aren’t relevant to your goals. If your consultant isn’t using the right key performance indicators, they may not be helping you reach your goals.
KPIs include conversion rates, keyword rankings, and even page loading time. An SEO consultant can track any one of those measurements, but only some of them support your goals. Make sure you and the consultant are on the same page fore you sign on the dotted line.
10. Watch out for Common Missteps
This final tip for finding an SEO consultant is probably the most important. As mentioned, there are plenty of SEO consultants out there who will use black hat techniques or charge high fees, then not deliver.
If you know the signs, you can often spot the SEO consultants who aren’t worth your time. Anyone who promises or guarantees a particular result might be using underhanded techniques to get there. Often, they won’t be able to deliver.
You should also watch out for people who can’t explain what SEO does or how it works. Your SEO consultant should be able to tell what they’re doing. If they can’t or won’t explain, you should ask why they can’t give you the answers.
The SEO Expertise You Need
Finding an SEO consultant isn’t tricky. Finding a good one can be more like finding a needle in a haystack. With these ten tips in hand, though, you’ll be better prepared to find a consultant who fits with your vision for your startup.
Still searching for that perfect SEO consultant? It’s time to get in touch with the experts. With their knowledge and experience backing you, your startup’s website has nowhere to go but up.