By now, most business owners with an online presence should know all about search engine optimization – or SEO. And, for many companies, it’s something that they pass on to a third party. It’s easy to see why – you can get the experience of a professional; it is cost-effective, and it gets results. The trouble is, outsourcing your SEO only does those things if you hire the right person or firm.
Sadly, the SEO world – like many other marketing areas – is awash with unreliable people. They promise the earth but deliver little – or worse. So, if you don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself, how can you be sure you hire the right person for the job? Here are a few questions you should ask to ensure you make the right choice.
What success have your brought for previous clients?
Get a list of previous clients – and current ones, too. Any reputable SEO consultant will be happy to show you their previous work. References are essential in any job interview, and outsourcing tasks are no different. You might not get any in depth analytics, but you should get an overall look at the campaign’s effectiveness.
What are your methods?
This is another important question that is worth asking at an early stage. If a consultant won’t tell you how they achieve their results, it’s probably best to walk away. There are good – white hat – SEO techniques, and there are underhand tactics, too, known as black hat SEO. If your consultant uses the former, it’s a good sign, and you can expect positive results. If it’s the latter, you will be swimming in murky waters.
How do you approach link building?
In the old days of SEO, links to your website were like gold. It told the search engines that you were relevant for a particular keyword, but the practice underwent a lot of abuse. So, Google and the other search engines decided to do something about it. These days, you need high-quality links pointing to your site, and if they are low quality, you might suffer from a penalty. And, according to SEO consultant Thomas Oldham, your website may even receive a ban. So, ask your consultant how they approach link building and run a mile if they don’t talk to you about valid tactics.
How do you measure success?
Success in SEO is easy to define – there will be an increase of traffic visiting your site. But, if that is your consultant’s only measure of success, then it might be a warning sign. Traffic just isn’t enough – you need to know where that traffic comes from, too. The Internet is awash with bots that click on sites all the time, and a little manipulation can see a temporary boost in your figures. So, be aware that the quality of traffic is more important than its volume.
Will I achieve number one ranking?
If your consultant makes you this promise, run a mile. It’s possible to reach a number one ranking for your favorite search terms, but it’s impossible to guarantee it. Many unethical SEO consultants will make this promise, and use nefarious tactics to achieve their goal. It might get you to a number one ranking, but it won’t last. And there may be severe penalties from Google to deal with, too.