Selecting an SEO agency or consultant to work with can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your website and your business. On the positive side you would hope to see increased business and revenue alongside visitors from search engine traffic. On the negative side you could be risking spending your money on selecting a partner that does nothing to improve KPIs.
If you’re in the process of looking to partner with an SEO agency or consultant here are some things you should consider.
1. Experience and Expertise:
When considering an SEO consultant, prioritize those with a proven track record of success. Review their portfolio and case studies to understand the outcomes of their previous projects. A seasoned consultant should have a diverse range of experiences, demonstrating adaptability and effectiveness across different industries.
Look for tangible results, such as improvements in organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversions. Additionally, consider the duration of their engagements and whether they have successfully managed long-term SEO strategies.
You want to get an idea of how do they handle strategy and what do they do when challenges arise. Take a look at their LinkedIn profile or any relevant social media participation.
2. Understanding of Your Business:
A reputable SEO consultant should demonstrate a keen understanding of your business and its unique challenges. They should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach but rather tailor their strategies to align with your specific goals and industry requirements.
During initial discussions, the consultant should ask detailed questions about your business objectives, target audience, competitors, and existing marketing strategies. Their ability to grasp the intricacies of your business will directly impact the effectiveness of their SEO efforts.
There are definitely SEO fundamentals and best practices that websites should look to implement, but the success strategies and audiences surrounding your business could differ across industries. You should be skeptical of any agency or consultant that offers what feels like a templatized approach.
Transparency is a cornerstone of a successful client-consultant relationship. A trustworthy SEO consultant should be open about their methodologies, techniques, and the expected timeline for results. They should also provide clear communication channels and be willing to address any concerns or questions you may have.
Regular reporting is essential. The consultant or agency should offer detailed insights into the progress of your SEO campaigns, including analytics, key performance indicators, and any adjustments made to the strategy based on performance data.
You should know exactly what is being worked on. Best case scenario is that you will be guided through work ahead of time and kept updated throughout the process or given an end of month report.
4. Knowledge of SEO Best Practices:
A competent SEO consultant must exhibit a deep understanding of both on-page and off-page optimization strategies. On-page factors include optimizing meta tags, headers, and content, while off-page factors involve building quality backlinks and managing online reputation.
Moreover, they should emphasize the importance of a robust content strategy. Content is a critical component of SEO, and the consultant should advocate for creating high-quality, relevant content that adds value to your target audience.
Schema, while not a direct impact on search engine rankings helps google and other search engines understand more about the content and data on your website. Every website is different, but implementing Schema should be a best practice as part of your SEO growth plan.
5. Adaptability to Algorithm Changes:
Search engine algorithms evolve, and a proficient SEO consultant must stay abreast of these changes. Inquire about their awareness of recent updates and their strategies for adapting to algorithmic shifts. Their ability to adjust tactics and anticipate future changes demonstrates a commitment to long-term success.
Ask how they stay informed, whether through industry publications, forums, or direct communication with search engine representatives. A proactive approach to staying updated on industry trends is indicative of a reliable SEO professional.
While an SEO professional should know about algorithms, a better scenario is they take information about previous algorithm changes and develop strategies based on what they’ve learned and discovered as a result. I coin this as ‘future proofing’ a website. For example it’s hard to argue about implementing strategies you know google is ‘pro’ – content that matches what the user is searching for, organizing your website so it loads quickly, a nice clean design with a layout that makes sense, and others. Don’t fear the algorithm, focus on making your website the best that it can be that keeps the end-user at the heart of it.
6. Technical SEO Skills:
Technical SEO is a crucial aspect of optimizing a website’s performance. A capable consultant should possess the skills to conduct a comprehensive technical audit of your website. This includes identifying and rectifying crawl errors, optimizing site speed, and ensuring proper indexing by search engines.
Inquire about their experience with technical aspects such as XML sitemaps, robots.txt files, and canonical tags. A consultant well-versed in technical SEO can address issues that may hinder your website’s search engine visibility.
If you have a large website with over a thousand pages, this becomes increasingly important. Your SEO consultant or agency should explain to you if they see Google removing pages from its search engine and strategies to halt that decline.
1. Guaranteed Rankings:
Beware of consultants who make guarantees about specific rankings. SEO results are influenced by various factors, and no one can guarantee top positions in search engine results. Genuine consultants focus on delivering improvements in organic traffic, visibility, and conversions rather than making unrealistic promises.
Trust your gut here. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. You can do damage by hiring a poor SEO consultant who promises quick results but cuts corners to get there. This can cause long term damage
2. Lack of Transparency:
If a consultant is hesitant to share their strategies or avoids answering questions about their approach, it could be a red flag. Transparency builds trust, and a reluctance to disclose methods may indicate questionable practices or a lack of confidence in their expertise.
3. Outdated Techniques:
SEO is a dynamic field, and outdated techniques can harm your website’s performance. Ensure the consultant is up-to-date with current best practices and follows industry standards. Ask about their approach to algorithm updates and how they adapt strategies accordingly.
4. Overemphasis on Keywords:
While keyword optimization is essential, an excessive focus on keyword density without considering content quality can be detrimental. A proficient consultant should prioritize creating valuable, user-friendly content that aligns with search intent, rather than relying solely on keyword stuffing.
5. Black Hat Techniques:
Avoid consultants who engage in black hat SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, or buying links. These tactics violate search engine guidelines and can result in severe penalties, including loss of rankings or even removal from search engine indexes.
6. No Analytics or Reporting:
Regular reporting is a fundamental aspect of SEO management. If a consultant fails to provide detailed analytics and regular updates on campaign performance, it may indicate a lack of transparency or a disregard for tracking and adjusting strategies based on data.
7. Poor Communication:
Effective communication is crucial for a successful SEO partnership. If a consultant is unresponsive, fails to meet deadlines, or lacks clear communication, it can hinder the success of your SEO campaigns. Clear and consistent communication ensures that both parties are aligned on goals and expectations.
8. One-Size-Fits-All Approach:
Each business is unique, and a reputable consultant understands this. If a consultant adopts a generic, one-size-fits-all approach without considering the specific needs and challenges of your business, it may lead to suboptimal results. Look for a consultant who tailors strategies to your individual requirements.
There used to be a time when search engines were easily manipulated and search rankings were easy to come by. Those days are no more. It takes a well-defined strategy containing many different levels of expertise and knowledge.