When it comes to figuring out what to do with all of the data regarding your website and how best to leverage it to help your business grow using SEO, the power of an experienced SEO consultant can be felt and seen.
According to a study conducted by The Manifest, only 49% of small businesses invest in SEO. It is no secret that SEO is one of the most effective, long-term strategies for generating business online. Without an expert who can take the data and turn it into an effective plan, results may be dismal. This is why it is important for businesses of all sizes to take the time to not only consider an SEO Consultant but to think about the risks of not hiring one.
Thankfully, searching for the best SEO consultant is a bit easier with a handy guide on what to ask SEO consultants. It is important that SEO’s understand your business needs fully.
What do SEO Consultants Do?
What do SEO consultants do? An SEO consultant has the role of using data and their experience to inform and develop a strategy that will help a business reach its KPI goals.
Some examples of when an SEO Consultant is hired to help are:
- The business has a problem being found online
- Traffic is coming to the website, but the conversion rate is low
- There may be a marketing team in place, but no one has expertise in how to analyze the data to find solutions or identify problems
- The company is reliant on PPC and needs helps to be able to stand on their own two feet through the use of organic SEO
If you are ready to learn how to find a good SEO consultant, first you will need to have a clear picture of what your business marketing strengths and weaknesses are. That will allow you to pair the company needs with the SEO Consultant more effectively.
Technical SEO Consultant
When it comes to SEO, there is a technical component that cannot be left unaddressed. A technical SEO consultant has the education and experience to help not only identify what issues are affecting how a search engine crawls your site but can provide a plan on how to resolve them using best practices and up-to-date methodologies.
Here are a few examples of issues that your SEO consultant will advise you on:
- Poor website structure and how to help Google and other search engines “see” your content
- Website speed problems and how to fix them
- Indexing issues and how to resolve them
- Low conversion rates and how to improve goal completion numbers
- Advice on the mobile experience and how to improve the user experience
Small Business SEO Consultant
Every SEO consultant comes with a unique blend of education, experience, and insights. A small business SEO Consultant is specialized in helping entities that fall within specified employee and annual receipt figures as classified by the Small Business Association guidelines.
The unique challenges that small businesses face in their day-to-day operations must be handled with care and attention to detail. One month of fewer leads would affect a large international corporation very differently than a small business. A small business cannot often survive what a large corporation can.
A small business SEO consultant with experience in your niche and company size can share tactics for local SEO on top of their other SEO services. The technical SEO aspects plus the on-page and local expertise can greatly benefit small businesses that otherwise may not have the knowledge to implement these customized strategies.
How to Find a Good SEO Consultant
If you are ready to take the time to find the best SEO consultant for your business, there are several questions you should ask before ever hiring one. Just like any interview, you want to make sure that the consultant’s background and experience align with the needs of your business. It is imperative that you ask questions that will make you feel confident that they understand your needs, can offer high-quality feedback and don’t show any red flags.
What To Ask SEO Consultants & What You Should Ideally Hear Back
Question 1: What SEO consulting services do you provide?
Answer: When it comes to asking about what SEO consulting services are provided, what you want to know is if this person provides a plan. What deliverables you can expect to receive from the consultant, why are they of value, and how they will relate to your company goals? Our SEO Consulting Services include one on one consultations each month, a 6 part audit checklist, keyword research strategy coaching, technical SEO advice, competitive analysis tactics, ideas for link building, and content strategy ideas, for example.
Question 2: What Industries do you have the most experience working with?
Answer: SEO Consultants have often started their journey as SEO Specialists in the marketing industry. In those types of roles, they gained experience by working with various business owners to help them achieve better results in a plethora of industries. Ask the consultant which they have the most experience in, and which 2-3 they are the most knowledgeable on. If you work in the B2B industrial sector for example, and the SEO consultant has only worked with B2C types of companies in the retail sector, they may not be the right fit.
Question 3: Have you worked for a company in our industry in the past?
While it is not a deal-breaker if they haven’t worked for a company in your specific niche, it would be very beneficial to have a consultant who does have that unique experience.
Question 4: How long does an SEO consulting service typically last?
Answer: Some consultants work on monthly plans, some charge by the hour as needed, some may offer a one-time package and then move on to the next client, while others can use a hybrid model. The fundamental company SEO issue at hand will be the determining factor in understanding how long it will take to resolve the problem.
Question 5: How long have you been working in SEO and what are your current certifications?
Answer: Ideally, you want an SEO Consultant with a minimum of 5 years of experience in the field that has been mentored or gone the extra mile to achieve certifications, attend industry events, and has worked in an environment where their work has been critiqued by other SEO’s.
Certifications in a variety of Google products are a must. Training program completions in various well-known industry software and platforms and additional certifications that allow them to understand business and data on a higher level are all welcome. Make sure to ask the consultant if their certifications are up-to-date and feel free to check for yourself as well.
Question 6: Have you worked as an SEO consultant solely for your own clientele, or as part of an agency?
Answer: While working as a freelance SEO consultant is not a bad thing, I warn clients to be wary of consultants who have not worked in a setting where their work has been critiqued and verified for its quality by others. Consultants who have had agency experience during their journey as SEO Specialists beforehand often have been exposed to more businesses and have had to complete a high number of hours of work to move up to a consultant position. With a freelance SEO Consultant, you will have to ask more questions in order to try and verify exactly how often and how much consulting work they have done and find proof.
Question 7: Why did you decide to become an SEO Consultant?
Answer: When asking them why they became an SEO consultant, you want to feel their passion not only in SEO but with helping others. Educating each client about SEO and being transparent is very important in this type of relationship. Find out what drew them to this type of work, what keeps them motivated, and if it is their long-term goal to work as an SEO Consultant. A red flag can be someone who answers that they are working in this position right now but plan to move to an unrelated field in the near future.
Question 8: Do you have a business background? Have you ever owned one?
Not all SEO Consultants have owned their own business, and while it is not a requirement, having someone who understands the trials and tribulations that owning a business entails is very helpful. The entrepreneurial spirit is one that you should seek to find in the consultant’s answer at the vert least. They will be in charge of using data and experience to come up with the strategy to take your business into the next chapter. They should possess a “we can do it” attitude and not be afraid to come up with creative solutions.
Question 9: How would you measure success for our company?
Answer: When it comes to answering how an SEO consultant measures success, this is where we recommend you pay very close attention. If an SEO Consultant just says a blanket statement like “we can bring you more traffic”, this is a big red flag. The best way to understand what success means is to ask the owners and stakeholders of the business what their goals and needs are. They need to have a thorough understanding of their goals, the core issues at hand, and then the SEO consultant can develop the KPIs that would measure progress towards achieving those goals.
Question 10: What are your primary methods of communication?
Answer: Communication is key to the success of any project. What you want to find out is if your communication style and hours are in sync. An SEO consultant who offers virtual meetings and email communication methods may not be a fit for a company that demands that they have face-to-face sit-down meetings bi-weekly. This is your chance to learn what communication methods would work best to deliver the information in the most efficient manner possible for both parties involved.
Question 11: How will we be receiving updates from you?
Answer: An SEO consultant will need to provide the results of their research and efforts into an easy-to-understand format for their clients and at an interval that makes sense. A monthly report is one method of receiving progress information, as well as consultation time during a set day/time during the month. Ask your consultant what their process is for delivering updates and what that will look like.
Question 12: Can you share a few clients whom you have helped with your SEO Consulting Services?
Answer: This is a great question to ask as you will learn about potential references that you can contact as well. They should share at least a few people that may be contacted with their permission in order to verify their workflow and the results they helped their clients achieve through their consultations.
Question 13: Do you promise to make our website rank #1 on Google?
Answer: If the SEO Consultant begins promising #1 rankings…this is a big red flag. There is no crystal ball that can guarantee that through the information shared, that a #1 ranking will be achieved. What a consultant can offer is a clear plan, backed by data and education, on how best to improve your business’s online presence, create more opportunities for results, and help the site rank methodically.
Question 14: What process or approach do you use to help your clients rank?
Answer: This is where a process and method need to be shared. At Avalanche Creative, for example, we use our evidence-based approach with SEO to drive results for our clients. We use a proven process that includes educating our clients, conducting a 6-part audit, and extensive research to deliver a plan that will help our clients increase their ROI. The SEO consultant you choose should be able to share their process with you as well.
Question 15: Do you have experience with international SEO?
Answer: This is a great question to ask if you are an international business. International SEO requires another set of skills that local SEO does not include. It is important to align the needs of the business with the SEO consultant that has the experience and know-how to guide you along with this specific type of SEO endeavor.
Question 16: What is the #1 thing you would advise business owners NOT to do?
Answer: What an SEO consultant advises a business owner not to do will vary from person to person. One example of what NOT to do would be to have a website made and then forget it. SEO is like farming. It will require a consistent schedule of watering, sunlight, and quality care to ensure you create the best harvest of crops. If you simply water and care for it for one day, the seeds will never have the chance to grow.
Question 17: How much does it cost for SEO Consulting and what billing methods do your offer?
Answer: the cost for SEO consulting services varies from consultant to consultant as it depends on their level of experience, skill level, the amount of consulting hours needed, and more. It is important to at least obtain a range from the SEO consultant and to learn about what payment methods they accept and what the billing process will be. One thing is certain, cheaper is not always better. When it comes to your business, the quality of the consultant is key.
Question 18: What are the next steps?
Answer: After the initial consultation, you will want a clear outline of what the next steps are in order to begin working together. Some examples of the next steps are signing an agreement, providing access to the website or any other requested items, receiving a communication plan in some cases, and the timeline of deliverables (consultations).
Compare The Business Needs Against The SEO Consultants’ Responses
Once the initial consultation is over, go back and compare the answers with what the company needs and goals are. Does this consultant have the experience needed to make you feel confident that they can advise you properly? Do they have a communication style that aligns with yours? Is the value they deliver worth the price? Compare the answers and take your time making your selection.
Talk to An SEO Consultant Today
Take the first steps today and begin reaching out to qualified SEO Consultants who you can talk to. You have everything to gain. Now that you are armed with the knowledge of how to find a good SEO Consultant by asking them the list of questions above, it is time to begin your search. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.