In this day and age, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer optional. If you aren’t able to keep your website at the top of search engine results, your customers might not be able to find you. Today, you need a strong online presence in the form of a high page ranking to lead to a higher conversion rate.
This need for strong SEO leads many companies, both big and small, to hire a professional. It’s a smart move to look into SEO work from professionals who can eliminate many of the errors and mistakes first-time optimizers make with their own websites. If you lack the time and expertise needed to make an impact online, it’s best to leave it to the experts. However, how do you know who can actually deliver on results and who’s full of hot air? In this day and age, anyone can be an “expert” in SEO. Here are 5 key questions to ask before you hire a professional.
1. Ask to See Current and Past Clients
Your first question should be for a list of current and past clients. No matter what the professional says, his or her work should speak for itself. Treat this list the same as a reference. Review the online presence of these companies. Are they mobile-friendly and easy to use? How do their websites rank on popular search engines?
You can learn a lot about a professional’s skills from their past work. While they might not be able to share individual analytics or other private information, they can talk about ways they’ve made a positive impact.
2. Do They Follow Guidelines?
The last thing you want is to hire an expert in blackhat SEO. If you’re new to SEO, you might not know the difference between Google-approved practices and those that will get you blacklisted on search engines. Do your research into Google’s public webmaster best practices and ask your professional directly whether they adhere to these guidelines. You don’t want to find your website banned from search results because of a bad hire.
3. Can They Guarantee Number One Ranking?
One of the biggest red-flags of any SEO “expert” is hearing them say they’ll get you to that coveted number one spot on Google. Run away as fast as you can if they try to convince you that’s possible. While it isn’t unheard of to rank highly if you have quality content, no reputable expert would make such a bogus guarantee.
Real experts know they don’t have 100% control of search results. They can make a positive impact on your online presence, but they can’t make your ranking a priority on the results page. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Will They Discuss Their Methods?
A reputable SEO expert will be willing and able to openly discuss their methods. How do they talk in detail about how they get results for their clients. They’re realistic with their strategies, as well, and they can provide a clear timeframe that makes sense for your unique needs.
One part of this process might be asking for an SEO audit. This is when he or she will review your website for any existing problems that need to be addressed, as well as look for potential areas to improve. From there, your potential hire should be able to provide a clear method for improving your SEO from the ground up.
5. How Do You Measure Success?
Not all success is ranked equally. How will your potential SEO expert measure the success of your efforts? In order to see improvement, they need a clear strategy for understanding changes in traffic, search results, and demographics. Most professionals utilize Google Analytics, but ask if they’ll share what tools they plan to use.
Be upfront with them about how often they plan to share these results. This data will be instrumental in your marketing efforts and in assessing how successful they’ve been. The more you can learn about their process before you begin, the more confident you can feel in their process.
Choosing an SEO expert can be a smart choice for your business. Optimizing a website takes a lot of time and understanding of complex technical procedures. This is better left to the pros if you want real results. Just make sure you ask these questions above before signing an important contract.