10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant

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Search engine visibility is critical for all types of businesses wanting to generate potential customers and sales online. It will not be easy for customers to find your website if it doesn’t show up on the first pages of search results. Implementing an SEO strategy requires technical expertise and precious time, so it only makes sense to hire a reliable SEO consultant to handle the digital marketing needs of your business. If you are in doubt about getting an SEO consultant on board, you may be interested to know these 10 important questions that clients often ask:

May I have a list of current and past clients?

In any field of professional service, it makes sense to request a list of current and previous clients from prospective SEO consultants before you decide to hire their services. Depending on the project proposal or work credentials of the candidate may not be good enough, although you will get an idea of how they work on a specific marketing project. A reputable SEO agency is willing to share the contact information of present and previous clients so that you can gauge their effectiveness in conducting an SEO campaign. Your decision-making process needs to know the feedback of old clients regarding the performance of the SEO consultant to see if they can help with your current digital marketing strategy.

You can verify if the clients listed in their credentials exist. You need to give enough time to evaluate past clients since you will invest a substantial amount of money in boosting your website’s online presence. For sure, you do not want to waste your resources on an SEO campaign that does not generate conversions or page visits. You can also see in the client listing how your prospective service contractor handled the SEO strategy of a company that may be related to your business.

How will you improve my search engine rankings?

This is one essential question that clients often ask an SEO professional. As an investor and client, you should know and carefully study the methods that your prospective consultant will implement for your website. You should not rely solely on the scope of work or qualifications to gauge the ability of the SEO consultant you want to work with. The strategy must be clearly explained to you, showing how it will boost your online visibility as well as the time it will take before you notice the result. Remember that any serious SEO campaign does not deliver results within days. Instead, it will require several months of content adjustments and constant monitoring.

Improving search engine ranking will take many “trial and error” episodes to determine if the SEO strategy is effective. Before signing a service contract, check carefully with the consultant’s proposal if any prior technical review will be done on your website to weed out potential problems during the campaign, including broken links, duplicate content, and error pages. The consultant must provide a complete on-page optimization process to make your website SEO-friendly for both users and search engines. This process often involves developing informative content using targeted keywords. On-page optimization also includes improving the URL structure, enhancing internal linking, and developing meta descriptions, headers, tags, and website elements critical to search engine crawlers.

Your SEO agency should not only focus on website content development alone, but they should also pay attention to the off-page optimization process. Off-page optimization involves raising awareness of your content on other websites through regular blog posts, social exposure, and press releases. In this process, the SEO consultant should receive guest posting placement from other established websites as search engines consider a website credible when it generates quality backlinks.

Do you adhere to search engines’ webmaster guidelines?

A reputable SEO agency strictly adheres to webmaster guidelines to not affect the search ranking of the websites they manage. Many SEO firms practice so-called “black hat SEO” to make the website elevate quickly on the search results page. However, search engines are strict regarding unethical SEO tricks, and they directly penalize websites violating the set guidelines. Suppose you notice that your website is always in a poor ranking position despite the hefty investment you have already spent on your SEO campaign. Perhaps your SEO consultant is practicing unacceptable SEO techniques.

Search engines may ban a website if it continues to violate webmaster guidelines, in addition to being relegated below the search results. Be cautious of SEO agencies that offer fast results and content generation methods because they may jeopardize your business goals. A number of bad SEO techniques include the following:

Content automation
Keyword stuffing
Hidden links or texts
Doorway Pages
Deceitful redirects
Purchasing links or link manipulation
Bad link schemes
Illegal guest posting networks
Article spinning
Link automation
Pages and domains with duplicate content
Pages with malicious behavior and viruses

Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing, and Yahoo?

An SEO consultant should not guarantee that your website can land on top of all search engines. A well-managed website may only temporarily reach the top spot due to intense competition in the industry you belong to. You should not hesitate to look for another consultant if you have been promised to become number one within a short period of time. You should also not believe consultants claiming any insider relationship with search engine companies to help put your website on their priority list. No search engines offer this kind of privilege as they have direct control over how high or low your website will appear. The primary job of SEO consultants is to design and manage your website based on algorithmic factors and webmaster guidelines.

Are you experienced at improving local search results?

It is important for small and medium enterprises to indicate their geographical location that can be easily found by nearby customers. If you find yourself in the evaluation phase of choosing an SEO consultant, it is best to consider a service company that possesses vast experience in local SEO. Local SEO can help boost the online visibility of your brick-and-mortar business in your area. You can even have the opportunity to reach other potential customers other than your network. You may also have opportunities to fill up any content gaps not yet offered by other local competitors in the market.

Local SEO enables your business to be found by customers using various methods such as locally targeted keywords and online directories. You can maximize free business tools offered by search engines, Google My Business, for instance, to make your business name officially registered. Google My Business helps increase the search engine visibility of your business according to publicly posted webmaster guidelines. As long as you keep your business profile updated, search engines will always consider your website fresh and relevant in your industry. You can enter business information, operating hours, special offers, and updates into these business tools so you can directly connect with your current and potential customers. Your SEO specialist should put the locality or geographical location of your business in the meta descriptions, headers, and meta titles when developing website pages.

Creating localized content is one of the main responsibilities of your SEO consultant so that your target customers can easily relate to the products and services you are offering. They should also consider the mobile responsiveness of the website since more than half of online searchers now use mobile devices to search for information. Your SEO agency should be equipped to create various industry-specific content such as public advisory, press releases, and blogs written in a local setup.

Will you share with me all changes you make to my site?

Transparency is the key to developing long-term partnerships between clients and SEO firms. As a business owner, you have the right to know any modifications your consultant wants to implement in your website. SEO will most likely require a series of adjustments to your current web page coding. A trustworthy SEO consultant must provide an in-depth SEO campaign report, so you would know what adjustments your consultant plans to makeover the succeeding months.

You should find out if the consultant will add a new title tag to the existing HTML codes or modify the current ones. It’s a good idea to be aware of any newly-created content they will publish on your website to boost page visits and conversions. Your SEO consultant may conduct the following SEO tasks:

Redesign or modify website navigation
Duplicate content removal
Broken links and error page removal
Keyword modification
Performance monitoring
Technical review and page loading boost
Redesign or modify website layout
Content repurpose

How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?

Knowing just about website development and content creation should not be your only basis in choosing a partner SEO agency. They should also be experienced in monitoring the organic traffic performance of a website. An SEO consultant should know how to measure the success of an SEO campaign by tracking down website traffic and where it is coming from. Your SEO expert needs to have sufficient experience in using monitoring tools such as Google Analytics to see if the website is improving in the search ranking or not. These SEO monitoring tools may provide valuable insights into how a website performs amidst the intense competition in local and international markets. The number of page visits, visit duration, and user activity can be evaluated through analytics.

You also need to know the keywords used by online users to find your website, whether through search results or links from other established sites. Be sure to ask your SEO consultant how often they will share valuable information with you. You also deserve to know how your SEO professional can utilize the information to further improve your digital marketing campaign. Participating in brainstorming activities and marketing planning with your consultant is ideal for making the SEO strategy highly customized and goal-driven.

How will we communicate, and how often?

The communication method of SEO agencies with their clients significantly varies. Find an SEO provider that is reachable through telephone calls, email, communication apps, and social media. You can request an appointment or meeting with your consultant to discuss the project’s status and other important marketing concerns. Whenever possible, tie-up with a reliable SEO agency that will automatically contact you and let you know what is happening on your website.

What are your fees and payment terms?

Of course, you need to find out how much will be charged to you for SEO services. An SEO consultant can be paid through hourly rates, retainer fees, or project-based rates. Project-based payments are the most common payment method in the SEO industry since a project timeline is involved in conducting SEO. Overall project cost will likely depend on project complexity and business size. Expect additional expenses for technical auditing, competitor review, and service upgrades.

Before you sign a contract, find out when is the due date of the service invoice and if there is a penalty for late payment. The contract usually specifies which payment platform will be used to pay for the said service. Whether using direct bank transfer, check deposit, or cash, both sides must agree on a conveniently working method.

What happens when we part ways?

Even if the contract expires or is terminated early, full ownership of the website and its content will be given to the client. An SEO consultant may not modify or add any new content to the client’s website without prior permission from the owner. If possible, the contract must specify that the SEO consultant should not use any part of the website in other business endeavors other than featuring these rendered services as part of the portfolio or company credentials. As a site owner, you need to determine if there is a corresponding fee that the SEO consultant will charge you for early contract termination or breach. This must be specified in the contract before it can be signed by both parties.

When Promoting a Time-Sensitive Offer

One of the most challenging marketing challenges is creating time-sensitive offers. Whether you prefer to use email marketing, newsletters, or social proof, the primary goal of a time-sensitive offer is to get customers to take action as quickly as possible. In this strategy, you will use statements that promote a sense of urgency, including “Act Fast,” “Don’t Delay,” “Reply Now,” and other enticing phrases called call-to-action. You need to get the attention of target customers, encourage them to take necessary action, and convert them into buyers.

Of course, the primary goal of time-sensitive offers is to convert customers within the shortest period of time. This is the appropriate time for digital marketers and business owners to move excess inventory, dispose of end-of-season products, and reach a monthly sales quota. They offer various products in bundled deals, discounted prices, and bulk discounts to beef up inquiries and purchases.

Putting Time Stamps and Conveying Scarcity

Be certain about introducing time-sensitive offers to your target customers. Customers need to feel that they may lose a golden opportunity if they miss out on your offer. Consider putting statements such as “order in two hours,” register by 5:00 PM and “subscribe before Sunday.” You should instill in customers’ minds that such offers rarely happen, so consider putting words like “Time is running out” or “This is your last chance.” While it is generally a good practice to inject a sense of urgency into your direct response marketing pieces, there are still customers who are wise enough not to take action immediately, so try to find the most effective triggering point to entice them with your offering.

Conveying scarcity in customer’s mindset is an effective way to promote a sense of urgency, especially if you only have limited stocks to offer them. The idea is to inject the fear of “missing out” on products that you think are highly in-demand with your prospective customers. You can use statements such as “While supply last,” “Only 100 spots left,” and “Limited edition.” This time-sensitive offer is perfect for customers who are determined to buy a product or service but are just looking for a good deal.

The Value of Social Exposure

Tell your audience that everyone who loves your products or previous clients deeply appreciates your services. You should be directing potential customers to pages where they can read positive feedback about your brand. You can also direct your audience to other social media platforms or review sites where your business has been featured. Consider linking review websites and social media to your landing page to help increase online visibility further. Once you have gathered the social proofs of your business, you can introduce time-sensitive offers that can attract new clients again.

Search engine optimization can bring long-term results for your business. However, it is still best to leave this rigorous marketing process in the hands of trusted SEO professionals. If you are looking for a reliable SEO partner, comprehensiveness, dedication, and unparalleled expertise should form part of your considerations. The answers to the questions mentioned above can provide a clear picture of choosing an SEO consultant to execute your SEO strategy.

Founder at Be Visible Media
Dale is an SEO Specialist (on-page and Off-page) and a Content Writer. A self-starter and always hungry for knowledge. In his free time, he watches TV series, scuba dive on weekends, and handles is own blog HOWPO.
Dale Basilla

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