15 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Consultant


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Questions to Ask to Before Hiring an SEO consultant for Your Business?

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15 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Consultant

Finding the perfect SEO consultant for your brand can be a daunting task. To help you make the right decision, we’ve gathered 15 insightful questions from experienced SEO professionals, ranging from assessing a proposal’s relevance to business to identifying a consultant’s unique value proposition. Discover the essential questions to ask and the reasons behind them in this comprehensive guide.

  • Assess the Proposal’s Relevance to Your Business
  • Confirm Experience With Similar Sites
  • Inquire About Content Optimization
  • Align SEO Metrics With Business Goals
  • Analyze Their Methods With a Trick Question
  • Learn From Failed Campaigns
  • Manage Stakeholders and Prioritize SEO
  • Gauge the Consultant’s Confidence in Their Ability
  • Request Successful Campaign Examples
  • Discover Their Unique Selling Proposition
  • Understand Their Metric Tracking Approach
  • Evaluate the SEO Audit Process
  • Explore Keyword Research Strategies
  • Verify Past Success and Rankings
  • Identify Their Unique Value Proposition

Assess the Proposal’s Relevance to Your Business

“How will the items listed in the proposal help my business grow?”

This will help ensure that the SEO consultant understands your brand and industry and that they aren’t just giving you a cookie-cutter proposal with items that actually won’t serve your business. You also want to make sure they will help you rank for keywords that your ideal clients are searching for, so you’re not just ranking on Google for irrelevant keywords for the sake of ranking.

Julia BoccheseJulia Bocchese
SEO and Pinterest Consultant, Julia Renee Consulting

Confirm Experience With Similar Sites

Because enterprise and boutique sites face vastly unique challenges, the most important questions to ask are the ones that confirm that the consultant you are considering has experience working with sites like yours.

Breaking it down, whereas enterprise sites typically think about “content coverage”, boutique sites perform best when thinking about “content quality”.

To drive content coverage at scale, enterprise sites face technical issues related to creating, crawling, and indexing often API or database-driven, programmatic content at scale. These sites typically have high domain authority, so off-page is often not a focus.

In contrast, boutique sites fare much better when focused on low-volume, high-quality custom content coupled with smart ways to get that content out there in ways that generate high-quality backlinks.

So the most important questions to ask are the ones that confirm you are getting the right skills for the job.

Scott LaughlinScott Laughlin
Enterprise SEO Consultant, Laughlin Search

Inquire About Content Optimization

Clients should ask prospective SEO consultants about their approach to content optimization. If the consultant focuses on things like “add the keyword at least 5 times throughout the page” or “use the keyword in the meta description”, they aren’t focusing on things that will get meaningful results. Content in 2023 is about matching the end-user intent and building topical authority rather than simply adding keywords to a page.

Craig KleilaCraig Kleila
Freelance SEO Consultant, Craig Kleila

Align SEO Metrics With Business Goals

What SEO metrics define “success” for you?

A good SEO consultant is someone who understands what your company should focus on achieving the most significant impact from SEO. Focusing on too many SEO metrics is a waste of time. Choosing the wrong metrics won’t help you achieve your business goals. Therefore, I recommend selecting an SEO consultant who can help you align your SEO and business goals.

Victoria Kurichenko
SEO Specialist and Content Writer, Self Made Millennials

Analyze Their Methods With a Trick Question

How long does SEO take to become profitable?

There are different approaches to tackling an SEO project; however, all good SEOs will agree that it is a marathon and not a sprint. A good SEO will take time to flesh out their SEO strategies with great content to develop backlinks and a strong influx of visitors that can be turned into leads by building a funnel that is targeted and creates value for those visitors.

If an SEO is promising quick or instant leads, then you should be careful. This often entails using more black hat methods that might generate quick traffic but from non-targeted sources and even affect your website’s relationship with Google, as these tactics are a breach of their terms of service.

Kevin HallKevin Hall
Digital Marketing Consultant, Halls Consulting

Learn From Failed Campaigns

Here’s a question that I love to ask SEO writing consultants…

What did you do the last time you wrote a page that “failed” and didn’t get the results (rankings/conversions/engagement) you wanted?

When someone tells me, “My campaigns never fail,” I know they’re stretching the truth or only going for easy wins.

If the consultant shares a story about what didn’t work and what they did to better the results, I know that they’re watching their campaigns and want to see their content converted.

Heather Lloyd-MartinHeather Lloyd-Martin
Founder and President, SuccessWorks

Manage Stakeholders and Prioritize SEO

It is good to have a proper understanding of how SEO consultants manage stakeholders and how they could deliver SEO continuously. Here are a few questions I would ask to evaluate this:How would you work together with our internal stakeholders and teams and sell SEO within the company? How would you prioritize SEO-related work against all other priorities in the company and how would you deal with the limited availability of development teams?

Jan-Willem BobbinkJan-Willem Bobbink
Freelance SEO, NotProvided.eu

Gauge the Consultant’s Confidence in Their Ability

You may never ask this question to an SEO consultant, but it certainly would tell you a lot about their ability:

Discover key details such as their success rate, how much SEO they actually know, how hard they’re willing to work, how invested they are in your success, how confident they are that they can improve your organic volume, and potentially that you’ve found a seasoned pro.

The question to ask is: “Would you be willing to work on a revenue share basis of XX% of sales coming from the organic campaign?”

If they were to consider an opportunity like this, it would be a tremendous benefit to you but would also tell of their ability.

Now mind you, and this is a real deal breaker, if you’re not that hot at sales, the leads could be wasted and the SEO consultant would get the bad end of the deal, so they’d likely want to know how good you are at closing those leads.

Darrin WongDarrin Wong
Owner, Hyprr SEO

Request Successful Campaign Examples

One important question that clients should ask a prospective SEO consultant is: “Can you provide examples of successful SEO campaigns you have implemented for brands similar to ours?”

This question is crucial as it allows clients to assess the consultant’s expertise and experience in their specific industry. A good SEO consultant should be able to provide case studies or examples of successful campaigns they have executed for similar brands, which can show their ability to drive tangible results.

By asking this question, clients can also gain insights into the consultant’s approach and method, which can help them determine whether the consultant’s strategies align with their brand’s goals and values.

Diego GarzonDiego Garzon
Growth Marketing Consultant, DG Content & SEO

Discover Their Unique Selling Proposition

There are many fish in the sea when it comes to SEO consultants. Most will regurgitate the same canned response, but a few will provide that extra level of detail that resonates with your brand and organic search goals.

When vetting an SEO consultant, be sure to get a sense of their skillset and whether those skills are what’s going to help achieve your KPIs. When someone describes what makes them unique, in most cases, it will also align with what they are best at.

Tim PelletierTim Pelletier
Owner and SEO Consultant, Tim Pelletier Consulting, LLC

Understand Their Metric Tracking Approach

Always ask a prospective SEO consultant how they track and measure metrics. An experienced SEO consultant should be able to explain their metrics candidly so that you can feel confident in their strategy and progress.

Ultimately, you want to see growth and improvement in your SEO strategy—but if you don’t know how the data is being tracked, it’s hard to know if your investment is paying off.

Beth ChernesBeth Chernes
Copywriter and SEO Strategist, Beth Chernes Consulting

Evaluate the SEO Audit Process

“Can you explain your process for conducting an SEO audit and what elements do you focus on?”

The basis for asking this question is to identify that the prospective consultant has broad expertise and is not siloed in one specific area of SEO.

Many SEO “experts” focus only on the technical aspects of SEO, such as website speed optimization and mobile responsiveness. This aspect of an SEO audit is a given and, while it is important, it is far from a total solution. What about content optimization, backlink strategies, keyword research‌, etc?

Do they offer to send examples of past successes (in your specific industry, if possible)? Are they able to share references that can speak to these specific results? There is no sense in discussing pricing if the prospective consultant does not meet the standards being set.

Ultimately, I am looking for well-rounded responses that are realistic. If the answers seem too good to be true, they usually are.

Mike McCormickMike McCormick
President and CEO, Full Stack Marketing Consultants LLC

Explore Keyword Research Strategies

Always ask an SEO, “What is your approach to keyword research?” Their answer provides insight into the quality and depth of research they perform, which is foundational to a successful SEO strategy.

Keyword research should include more than just an export of keyword ideas from SEMRush. Hands-on research should also inform keyword selection. For example, they should also look for key phrases that the target audience uses in online discussion forums, blog comments, social media posts, and more.

Melissa CocksMelissa Cocks
Marketing Consultant, ColorMyBnb

Verify Past Success and Rankings

Over my 19 years in SEO, I have heard a ton of stories of how people have been conned by people into buying SEO and not seeing results. I suggest that anyone looking for SEO ask the consultant or agency to show a list of clients that they ranked for and provide me with evidence of the ranking and a phone number (not email) to contact them to verify the ranking. Without this, you could just pay out to an agency with no actual activity or results.

Tim HodgesTim Hodges
Owner, Tim D. Hodges Digital Marketing Consulting

Identify Their Unique Value Proposition

The central question to ask a prospective SEO consultant is “What’s your unique selling proposition?” It’s important to find out what‌ distinguishes a consultant from other service providers. An appropriate answer should show, among others, the prospective service provider’s technical acumen, not readily available elsewhere.

If, however, the answer hints at anything related to the lowest bid, that’s enough reason to dismiss such an offer immediately since cheap SEO is unreliable guesswork with the potential to cause more harm than good to the client’s website rankings.

Fili WieseFili Wiese
SEO Expert, Search Brothers

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