How do I find a good SEO consultant?
From watching for warning signs to relying on trust, here are 12 answers to the question, “What are your best tips for how to find a good SEO consultant?”
- Be Aware of the Warning Signs
- Find a Consultant that Doesn’t Gatekeep Information
- Ask for Referrals
- Look for Experience in Your Industry/Niche
- Try Your Business Network
- Invest in Well-rounded Knowledge
- Don’t Let Guarantees Lure You in
- Check Behind the Content Strategy
- Attend an SEO Meetup
- Use Your Gut Instinct
- Take Advantage of LinkedIn
- Work With Someone You Can Trust
Be Aware of the Warning Signs
Sadly, due to bad practices and experiences, SEO has somewhat of a reputation. However, there are some amazing SEOs who are working hard to do good work and improve the reputation of the industry.
It is so important for brands to know the signs of consultants using bad practices, as their actions could have a negative impact not only on your site’s visibility but also on your brand.
Some red flags to look out for include: making lofty promises for small budgets, guaranteeing a certain number of links (which often results in buying links), and promising a certain number of ranking keywords.
Find a Consultant that Doesn’t Gatekeep Information
Find a consultant who is happy to share processes and impart knowledge. A good consultant is confident in their abilities to retain clients by keeping themselves relevant so gatekeeping information isn’t necessary. Shared knowledge allows consultants to pass work to internal teams, leaving the consultant room to continuously push the strategy forward.
Ask for Referrals
Run a query on Google for a term related to your business, but not something you want to directly compete for. Find a business on page one that is not a competitor of yours, reach out to them, and ask if they can recommend a good SEO.
They are likely working with someone or an agency that has a proven track record in your vertical, which is proof positive that they can help you as well. Hopefully, they can connect you with someone good, and if not, pick a different company on page one to reach out to.
Look for Experience in Your Industry/Niche
What makes a good SEO consultant for you depends on your specific situation. Choosing someone with a proven track record in your industry or niche greatly increases the chances of success.
For example, if you’re a B2B SaaS, search for consultants with clients and case studies in that category. You could even narrow it down to “e-commerce B2B SaaS”. SEO strategies vary from one industry to another. Choosing an experienced consultant will speed up the execution of a plan that is more likely to yield results.
Try Your Business Network
There are many SEO consultants, some of them are great, and some of them are not. Personally, I would avoid using “marketplace websites” where consultants can offer their services. Rather, I would look for consultants using Google Search (because if they can make themselves findable, they can—hopefully—make you findable too), or I would ask business relations for recommendations.
In both scenarios, it’s important to ask about the projects they’ve worked on, how they’re collaborating with you as a client, what their experience is, and what their view on SEO is. It’s better to spend a bit more time getting to know a consultant than to switch to another consultant after one year. That would be a waste of time and money.
Invest in Well-rounded Knowledge
A modern SEO consultant should understand multiple aspects of marketing, such as human psychology, the target audience’s culture, the social media landscape, web analytics, web design, content, product, business models, and more.
Making decisions that are only beneficial in the short term, without considering the overall marketing plan or business goal, can be detrimental. To gain an insight into the person’s overall knowledge of marketing, two steps can be taken:
- Ask specific questions during the discovery call that will inform you whether the person understands the big picture.
- Look at their LinkedIn, Twitter, or blog to get an idea of any broader knowledge or experience they might have.
Don’t Let Guarantees Lure You in
No SEO worth their salt will tell you they will get your website to number one for [Insert Keyword] by the end of next month. The best will under-promise and over-deliver.
Do not be lured by guarantees, especially ones that can’t be backed up by a third party or data. A legitimate SEO will be very willing to share case studies and testimonials. Ask for testimonials, not guarantees!
Check Behind the Content Strategy
A solid audience understanding should filter SEO consultants. To find an expert that can really help you in your organic growth, find a super specific keyword related to your ICP and look for it, with a somewhat vague intent. Then ask your potential consultant about their content strategy for ranking on this specific topic and other factors that contribute.
Attend an SEO Meetup
Search online for local SEO meetups that you can attend. This is a great way to speak to SEOs about your project and find the right one for you. Remember that some SEOs have more knowledge in particular niches, and finding one who has experience in the niche you are working in will be to your advantage.
Remember to show up with a few questions you can ask to help you make the right decision. I’d ask questions about experience, rates, and expectations for deliverables.
Use Your Gut Instinct
Unfortunately, as with any industry, there are some SEOs out there who only care about their own profit. You need a trustworthy consultant who will give you impartial advice to allow you to invest wisely. Meet and discuss your needs with candidates face to face, either in person or on a video call, and use your gut instinct to establish whether you can trust each candidate.
Good SEOs know SEO isn’t a worthwhile investment for every organization—so one question you could ask is, “Can you tell me an occasion where you have advised a client not to invest in SEO?” Failing that, “Can you tell me an occasion where you wouldn’t recommend SEO to a client?”
If they can’t answer either, that’s a definite red flag. If your client has done some background research before the call and discusses how you can build your topical relevance and authority, then you’re onto a winner.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn
LinkedIn connects you with qualified SEO consultants worldwide through one quick search. Simply search for “SEO consultant”, filter by People, and you’ll have roughly 85,000 SEO consultant profiles at your fingertips.
It is the world’s largest professional network after all! You can narrow your search even further to find a consultant that best aligns with your business by filtering for specific locations, industries, hashtags, and languages, among other settings. A good SEO consultant will have a strong LinkedIn profile with solid experience and glowing recommendations.
Work With Someone You Can Trust
It’s a difficult subsector of marketing to understand if you have no prior knowledge, and there are a lot of “third-party resellers” eager to answer your questions, so be careful.
I always suggest that you work with someone you can talk to, who understands and is genuinely interested in your business. Expect that some work is done upfront in analyzing your project, as this will allow you to understand their skill level.
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