Choosing an SEO consultant can be a difficult task, especially if you are unfamiliar with Search Engine Optimization and digital marketing in general. But fear not! We’ve created this helpful post to help you find an SEO consultant or consulting services that best fit you and your business’s needs.
Before we get into everything, let’s address a common question we often answer.
Why Do I Need an SEO Consultant?
Depending on your business and the budget you have available; an SEO Consultant may or may not make sense for you. In certain instances, it may make more sense for you to hire an agency not only to make recommendations but also to execute the work.
We’ll touch on that shortly. First, why find an SEO consultant in the first place? To increase organic search traffic to your website of course!
Except, you don’t just want any and all organic traffic, you want specific search visitors that may be interested in the products and/or services your business offers. Increasing organic traffic can make a direct impact by aiding in increasing leads and phone calls to your sales team, sales of your physical products, visits to your store location, and more. Having a search engine optimization consultant on your side can help ensure the keywords your website and web pages focus on will not only increase traffic but also capture the most relevant searches for you.
Increasing organic search visitors can also help fuel other parts of your marketing funnel by helping build your email list, downloads of your content, links to your website, social media, podcast downloads, and more.
Outside of these things, having an SEO consultant can help you or your content team create a content marketing strategy that is keyword-driven, thus you’ll be creating content specific to your target audience.
Now that we’ve stated a few of these things, let’s circle back to the question of why do I need an SEO consultant?
The first question to ask yourself is… who is going to be executing the SEO work? Will you need the consultant to do the work they recommend? Will you execute the work yourself? Do you have an in house team who can execute the work?
The answer to this question will determine whether it would be more ideal for you to find an SEO consultant, who will inform you of the organic search strategy and oversee you or your team executing on it or an SEO agency, who can not only inform your organic strategy but also execute on the items they recommend.
How to Find an SEO Consultant
Finding an SEO consultant is easy; finding the right SEO consultant is a little bit trickier. SEO consultants, for the most part, can be very common to find with a simple online search. But if you want to find the right one, you’ll likely need to dig a little deeper. Here are a few ways to do that.
General Search / Local Search
Typing “SEO consultant” or “best SEO consultant” into a search engine will certainly provide you with many options to choose from, but it can also be time-consuming as you’ll need to review each of the websites you find and then contact any companies you are interested in to find out specifics. This is certainly the most “wide net” approach to finding a consultant.
If you adjust that search to include your local city, for example, “SEO consultant Grand Rapids” you will narrow your search down to mostly local consultants, but it is still a bit of a wide net approach as you’ll need to vet each out individually. That is of course unless you live in a rural area with very few search engine optimization consultants around it.
The biggest issue with this method is that many times there are SEO consultants who spend so much time getting their own website to rank well, that they forget about their clients and customers who are the actual people they should be servicing. Also, many of the “listicles” you may find (ex. “Top 10 SEO Firms in Grand Rapids”) when searching are likely, not impartial. Meaning the consultant either knows the person writing this post, thus the reason they made it on there, or they paid the website to include them in the post.
So while this method will help you find some SEO consultants to look into, it’s the most time consuming as you’ll need to vet them individually and you could still wind up with a less than ideal situation.
Referral from Trusted Partner
A great way to find an SEO consultant is to ask for a referral from a trusted business partner, partner company, or even some of the connections you have within your industry. Since you trust these people and have business dealings with them, they’ll likely be able to help point you in the right direction. Any many times these people will have used or been close to others using the consultant’s services, so you’ll be able to get some non-biased opinions.
That said, we still highly recommend doing your due diligence. Just because an SEO consultant was a good fit for someone else, doesn’t mean they’ll be the right fit for you. I’ll provide some questions a little later down the page that you can ask these people to help find out if they’ll be a good fit for you or not.
Search for your topic/industry for specialists
Our next suggestion is somewhat a combo of the first two suggestions for how to find an SEO consultant; it’s just more specific for your industry. To find an SEO consultant specific to your industry, try searching “SEO consultant [your industry]” and see what you find. The same issues with this method we mentioned earlier apply here as well, but, depending on your industry, this will likely help to narrow down your search to only people who have specific expertise in your industry.
Outside of search engines, talk with other companies or connections in your industry to see if they’ve heard of or worked with any organic search consultants specific to your industry. Your competitors won’t likely give you this information, but that doesn’t mean one of your connections won’t.
In either scenario, make sure you still vet this person yourself.
How Much Do SEO Consultants Cost?
How much SEO consultants cost will depend on a number of factors. These factors include years of experience, the time required for your specific projects, whether they are executing the work or if you are, and more.
Ahrefs recently did a large study around the differences between pricing from SEO agencies, SEO consultants, and SEO freelancers. They found, on average, SEO consultants charge between $75-$100/hour, but this can vary greatly depending on years of experience and more.
What Questions Should I ask an SEO Consultant?
The questions you ask your SEO consultant can really help you get an idea of what working with them will be like. Here are some important questions to ask while vetting out a search engine optimization consultant.
- What metrics and KPIs will they use to determine the success of our campaign?
- What are their monthly deliverables?
- Do they have any case studies you can share?
- Do they have any references we can contact?
- What kind of reporting do they provide and how often?
- What is their SEO process?
- What does their communication look like? How frequently will you talk?
- What is their experience with your industry?
- What will your agreement look like? (similar to: What is the process to cancel?)
- What are your payment options?
Along with this list of questions, be sure to formulate some of your own and dig deeper into their answers by asking follow-up questions such as:
“Can you elaborate on that a little more?” or “How exactly were you able to accomplish that result?”
Asking follow-up questions can help you dig into their answers and find out whether they are flying by the seat of their pants or if they are operating off of a repeatable SEO process they’ve found to work best over their years of consulting.
What to Look for and Avoid with SEO Consultants
While looking for an SEO consultant, there are many things to look for as well as avoid. We’ve broken these down into two main categories to help you determine which type of SEO you are talking to.
White Hat SEO Consulting
A “white hat” SEO consultant is generally known as someone who will follow all of the best practices known for search engine optimization. These people are not looking for shortcuts, but they are looking for things that will benefit your website in the long run. They are familiar with Google’s algorithm updates and what they mean to websites and can identify if you’ve been impacted by any of them.
They ask good questions to you about your products and services so they can better understand your business and industry. They try to get into the head of your target audience while they are searching online and seek to create content these people will be searching for. In short, a GOOD white hat SEO consultant is in it for the long term. They’ll tell you that up front, and likely won’t make many if any promises or offer a “guarantee” that you’ll be #1 on Google for your most valued terms in a short period of time.
Black Hat SEO Consultants (Avoid)
Black Hat SEO consultants are typically the opposite of white hats. In short, they’re looking to game the system somehow. They’re looking to implement things that will help to “trick” search engines into ranking you higher more quickly. Many times these people will tell you they can get you to the top of Google searches or make promises of how much traffic they can get you.
First note: nobody can guarantee to get you to the top of a search engine results page. Even if they get you there for a day, how long will it last? While some of these things may happen in the short term, they are not ideal for the long term and ultimately can get you penalized by Google or other search engines. Digging you out of that mess will take much longer than if you just did it properly the first time.
So be extra careful and wary of any SEO consultant you talk to that makes definitive claims of where they’ll rank you and how much traffic they can bring without substantial documentation to back up how and why.
We hope this post helps you select the right SEO consultant for you and your business and are happy to talk anytime about our search engine optimization consulting services as well as agency services and help determine which may be a better fit for you.