In an ideal world, search engine optimization (SEO) is something you can handle on your own for your business. You know your business best, so you would know how to make it visible to the digital world, right?
But that’s not always the case. SEO can be time-consuming and ineffective if you are not aware of the latest best SEO practices. Google updates its algorithm all the time – so a good strategy is only part of the issue. Staying updated with these changes is another.
At the same time, outsourcing SEO may seem like venturing into dangerous territory. How do you trust someone with your digital presence?
Here, we give you a list of questions to ask an SEO consultant before bringing them on board. With these eight questions, you can rest assured that you’ll find the best SEO consultant for your business, your website and other online platforms.
You can know how much you can trust your SEO service provider if you qualify them with these questions:
A seasoned SEO consultant will know that Google and social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok release updates often. These updates can easily impact ranking, traffic and other metrics tied to your digital presence.
Ideally, this is how an SEO consultant should deal with algorithmic updates:
• Give the update some time to “settle down.” In the period right after the update hits your content, you will see fluctuations in your metrics. Mitigatory steps at this point may not necessarily help. It may be prudent to wait for the update to do its job and then take stock of the situation.
• Conduct competitor research on how the updates affected their rankings and performance. Take note of steps the competitor must have taken, what worked and what didn’t, etc.
• Comb through the reactions of authoritative SEO sources and your industry in general.
• Go through the pages/posts etc., that have been impacted, and start with minor changes before scaling up the review to understand how small adjustments work with the new algorithm.
Any SEO consultant who says they can anticipate precisely how the algorithm will affect your content may not be a prudent choice.
There are scores of metrics to evaluate SEO success. The SEO consultant should be able to identify the ones that require the most attention. There is no single correct answer, as many variables influence the metrics. Here are some metrics the response should feature:
• Average ranking over fixed periods: Google says there’s no fixed time frame for changes in ranking. The changes could be days, weeks, or months after you update the content on your website. An SEO consultant who knows this will recognize that you should look at average ranking over substantially long periods to determine performance.
• Organic traffic: Paid traffic may be useful, but organic traffic is one of the true indicators of how well your SEO efforts are panning out. When users visit your website through search results without any sponsored/promotion efforts, you know your content is relevant and inbound marketing is working.
Other factors include on-site metrics like conversion rate, interactions per visit, etc. Another metric critical for SEO is the leads generated due to all the above factors.
An SEO consultant must have a qualification process for backlinks. Focusing on quantity (“we need ten backlinks this month”) is not enough.
This qualification process could include questions like:
• Does the link contain relevant information to your customer’s search intent?
• Is the backlink coming from an authoritative source?
• What kind of traffic does that source receive? What other types of links does this source include in its content?
Topical relevance should be the dominating factor in determining the value of a backlink.
Even if the SEO consultant doesn’t have advanced user experience or UX knowledge, they should know on a fundamental level how UX can influence SEO.
Good UX stems from easy-to-navigate websites, digestible placement of content, visually appealing elements and relevant typography. These factors impact website engagement, bounce rates, loading times and user experience. In other words, UX affects SEO efforts in tangible ways.
An SEO report should be accessible enough for you to comprehend and easy for them to break down for you.
It could include critical findings related to backlink sources, numbers related to sales conversions, traffic, engagement, etc. and status updates on SEO issues. The data in the report should be based on a comprehensive set of tools and authoritative sources.
SEO efforts do not give results according to arbitrary timelines. Outcomes cannot be anticipated or guaranteed. The sheer amount of factors and moving pieces mean that even with excellent SEO, results can take time.
This situation doesn’t mean you should allow SEO strategy implementation with no milestones or timelines.
Your SEO consultant should be able to know how to track results to give you fluid updates related to impact. Their understanding of the website performance, whether the results take two weeks or two months, is vital.
Steer clear of SEO consultants guaranteeing results in weeks. These promises stem from an uninformed perspective of SEO. Google’s algorithms and updates to Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms usually come with little-to-no prep time, and no one knows how exactly these algorithms or changes to them affect a website.
SEO is not limited to keyword research for blog posts and web pages. That is just one tiny aspect of SEO services. Check with the SEO consultant what their range of expertise includes. Their responses will come under the following:
• On-page SEO: Primarily “content SEO,” including optimization of content, images, videos, meta descriptions, alt tags and other title tags and meta descriptions.
• Off-page SEO: Includes sourcing backlinks, providing social media services, managing reviews, etc.
• Organic SEO: Bringing in traffic and enhancing rankings using non-paid strategies for search engine visibility.
• Local SEO: The focus on ranking for a fixed local area when you have customers limited to one or more geographical regions.
• Technical SEO: The “behind the scene” elements like code accuracy, website speed, mobile compatibility, etc.
• Platform-specific SEO (Amazon, Shopify, etc.).
An SEO consultant may not offer all these services. However, know that all these SEO elements work in tandem, so pick a consultant accordingly. Their niche expertise should coincide with your vision.
While many SEO strategies are industry-neutral, some elements require tweaking to fit in with your industry. Take law firms as an example. They will need more focus on local SEO to feature at the top of the “local pack” of results. This is because they want to rank for users in the areas they provide legal services.
Remember that SEO works the same no matter what niche you operate in. If an SEO consultant is trying to sell you services at a premium price because your industry is technical, that’s a red flag. You want somebody who can adapt to the minor changes in focus depending on the industry, not someone who treats “SEO for industry X” as vastly different from “SEO for industry Y.”
In case you are still on the fence about doing the groundwork on your own or hiring an SEO consultant, we will also show you some benefits of the latter choice:
There are plenty of SEO resources online you can refer to for fundamental conceptual understanding. But even then, you will only be scratching the surface. Apart from handling other aspects of your business, investing time in a half-baked DIY SEO strategy is not feasible.
Save yourself the financial investment and eliminate the “if I do it myself, it will be better” mindset. Instead, go for an SEO consultant with proven industry experience and a core focus on the SEO services you need.
Wouldn’t you recommend a busy individual to outsource technical housekeeping jobs like plumbing? Consider SEO as the plumbing for your website, and there you have your answer.
Staying ahead of SEO tools and constant changes in algorithms is an arduous task.
At any given point, some website is facing the wrath of an algorithm, and it can be disheartening to try and fix the damage if you are not sure what went wrong in the first place. You may also be unable to keep track of the newest SEO tools that can make SEO strategies easier to implement.
An SEO consultant’s job is to be aware of these developments and make them work for your website as much as possible.
SEO is not a one-time job. Even when your website is in line with all the best practices and algorithms, it will require updates frequently to stay relevant or maintain its ranking. Therefore, the process is ongoing, and a part of an SEO consultant’s job is to revisit and refresh SEO efforts and strategies.
At Vizion Interactive, we handle all parts of the SEO funnel. With our SEO consulting services, you get customized SEO solutions that are unique to your business. Our wide range of SEO services is all that you need to help boost your online visibility.