Whether you wish to outsource Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services or hire an SEO Consultant it is critical that you create an internal process that you will closely to follow to search, evaluate and ultimately decide and hire the right SEO Professional for your business. Your process should not be complicated as it should closely parallel the process you should already be following when hiring a key employee.
With this in mind, the following is the outline that you must follow to maximize your search towards finding the right SEO.
- Search Google – yes, search Google. For instance, search for Internet Marketing Services and see who you find. See how many 10’s of millions of competing pages there are for this term. Then enter some of your own terms and see how many competing pages there are for those keywords. Can you find any of your terms that are more competitive? Do you think the companies that you searched for Internet Marketing Services can do for you what they have already done for themselves?
- Visit the top 5 websites and review each one carefully. Determine if there are any flags that would rule the company out of an initial phone consultation. Make your final list.
- Submit an online request and take note of the response speed; a great indication of follow-through and attentiveness – if they take 2 days to respond do you think they will respond faster after they are hired?
- Do a no-obligation phone consultation to fully discuss your website, your competitive position, and your short, intermediate and long term objectives. Here is a checklist of what you want to do with this phone consultation:
- Listen to the emphasis – are they talking more or are they listening more? Are they emphasizing things like meta tags, title tags and sitemaps or are they emphasizing content, relevancy and backlinks? You want the latter set of factors as these are the most difficult but most important parts of SEO. Many SEO Companies avoid the subject because it is a difficult and costly aspect and they fear the loss of a sale by revealing or sharing this.
- Results – when you are interviewing a Prospective SEO Professional, you must see live and “deep” results for existing clients. Live results means simply going to Google, entering a keyword provided by the SEO for one client and verifying first page results. Verify that the client is actually a client usually by seeing the Internet Marketing Company’s name in the footer on the home page. Deep Results is the high ranking for many keywords for the same client … and … the keywords are at least moderately competitive (more than 250,000 competing pages). Then get the same quality results for other clients and verify them live right in front of you from Google searches. Don’t just share screens; do it yourself as this will assure you of authenticity and remove any lingering doubt. Warning: Don’t rush through this … see a number of clients and see many keywords for each.
- Depth of Explanation – if you see the results that you are looking for, does the SEO also provide insight as to how these results were achieved? A confident and self-reliant SEO will offer this information without hesitation as it’s really not a secret anyway and there is no magic; just a great deal of discipline, content and hard work.
- Client Interviews – you must actually interview 1-3 clients, not only to verify the results, but to gauge the ranking the client gives to the SEO. What are your experiences with the SEO? How are they to work and collaborate with? Are you planning on renewing their services? Have you recommended their services before? What improvements would you like to see from the SEO? Don’t ask yes or no questions. You won’t get the information you need. Ask questions that require thought and listen, not only to what they say, but also how they say it.
- Pricing – you need to know the pricing but not with the main objective of selecting the lowest number. You need to know the numbers but you also need to know the following.
i. What does the price include? What does it not include?
ii. Are there any guarantees? If there are guarantees, be very skeptical.
iii. Are all fees paid regardless of performance or are fees, at least to some extent, contingent upon performance?
There is nothing more expensive than making a bad decision on a new hire or a new service. You lose the opportunity time and then you probably will have to start over again with a replacement, not to mention all of the angst. Follow the process and you will “optimize” your successes for your online marketing program.