This guide covers everything you need to know before selecting an SEO consultant in Australia and around the world. You’ll learn what you need to ask your candidates and what specific skills you should look for.
There are some real gold nuggets all over this article so make sure to give it a good read!
But first, I want to share a recent experience that can serve as a learning experience for everyone reading. While working with one of my clients, I discovered that his previous SEO consultant was taking advantage of him. This individual had all my client’s website passwords and was using them as leverage against him.
He basically was holding my client’s website hostage for more money for work that he had not done! Following weeks of negotiations and payments, that SEO consultant gave back control of the website and promptly disappeared.
In addition to the emotional stress my client faced, the consultant had also used black hat SEO strategies (strategies not aligned with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) that were negatively affecting the website’s performance.
This situation is very common, which is unfortunate. Not only did my Client have to pay the SEO consultant thousands, but he also now needed to pay for my time to reverse the damage.
This is why selecting the wrong candidate could be a very costly mistake, so I advise you to always take your time to find a good SEO consultant.
But how can you select the best SEO consultant without getting ripped off? Well, let me guide you through the process.
What does an SEO consultant do?
SEO consultants support companies by increasing their organic visibility on search engines. So, if your customer is searching for a specific keyword on Google, your company could appear in the top positions in these results. Having a talented SEO expert working for you is crucial if you want to increase your search engine performance!
SEO also helps your business rank higher on Google Maps, which is another great way for businesses to increase their online visibility.
Another part of the job is to keep you informed and help you strategise your SEO tasks. An SEO consultant who doesn’t regularly catch up with you so you can collaborate is usually a bad omen.
How do SEO consultants add value to your business?
The SEO consultant’s job is mainly to increase the online visibility of your business, but there is more than one way to do this. SEO is a form of marketing so there is some creativity involved.
A good SEO consultant should also be an expert in content creation because the content they propose should attract the right people to your website. Beyond keywords and technical rules, it’s about strategy.
This specialist should work with you collaboratively to create value for your customers by providing high-quality content such as articles, infographics, and even videos. SEO is above everything else about satisfying what people are searching for with the content on your website. The right SEO specialist should know how to design great content for your target audience.
Another service that your consultant should help with is a strategy for increasing your backlinks. Backlinks are known to be a difficult element of SEO because they require a lot of work. A great question to ask your consultant is how they will get backlinks without paying for them (which forbidden by Google) since backlinks should ideally be gained organically.
5 Techniques to use when hiring an SEO consultant
1. Evaluate the results a candidate has obtained for other clients
Your first task should be to check referrals and previous work the consultant has completed. If they have nothing to show, you could be dealing with a newbie. We recommend looking for someone with some good previous experience.
Try to determine if their previous work was successful for search engine visibility by seeing results for yourself.
A good candidate should also be able to provide data and specific results of their work with other businesses. Some consultants may have a confidentiality agreement with their clients, so ask them to show you what they can in a non-recorded face-to-face video call.
2. Contact the candidate’s references
You can validate your candidate’s skills with some of their previous clients, just ask for a reference. This is helpful because it shows proof of results. The more references you get the better, but 2-3 should be enough.
Be sure to ask the references questions related to the candidate’s performance, results, and communication skills.
If the candidate is working for an agency, you can also check their Google My Business profile and their reviews. If the account is not great, that’s a red flag.
One essential tool for any SEO consultant who wants to improve their local visibility with Google is to set up their own Google My Business. If they haven’t done it for themselves, why would they do it for you?
We recommend you ask your consultant to share the search and ranking results for their own website. If they have not put much work into it, that is also a red flag.
In the example below, you can see one case of an SEO business where they just have 8 reviews for more than ten years in business. Does that feel coherent?
3. Ask your SEO candidate some preselected questions
Before you decide to work with any consultant, you should ask them some questions related to their experience and skills.
Here are some questions that you could ask:
What type of SEO strategies do you recommend?
Note: If you notice that the responses are not related to providing more value to customers or increasing the website’s performance, it’s not a good sign. Beware that some candidates may look for shortcuts and use black hat strategies to increase their ranking fast. These are not allowed by the Webmaster Guidelines and will backfire.
How can you support my business to obtain more links from other websites? (Backlink building)
Note: The more healthy links you have directing to your website, the more authority your website will have, but be aware some consultants will create unnatural paid backlinks. If Google catches this, it will penalise your ranking, negatively impacting your SEO.
Also, ask your candidate if you will lose links if you finish your contract with them. If they tell you that you will, look for another option. This strategy is used by some to retain you as a customer, which is very unethical.
Could you guarantee that I will Rank number #1 on Google?
Note: If their answer is yes, run. Google has proven that no one can guarantee you specific positions. Ranking depends on many different factors, and no one can forecast exact positions.
How long will it take to obtain results?
Note: Google and research have proven that it takes between 4 months to one year to implement the correct actions and see results. If they are telling you you’ll get significant improvement in a short amount of time, they are lying.
Why are you different from other SEO consultants on the market?
Note: A talented consultant be able to answer straight away. A dubious candidate may avoid this question or distract you with a guarantee that you will rank #1 on Google with their services.
A good SEO consultant will try to understand your business model and operations, so part of his answer will include that his SEO work is done with consideration to the type of business you have.
They will try to ask relevant questions related to how they could help you grow your business and your value proposition.
Here are some questions you should expect from a good SEO candidate:
- How is the value proposition of your business different from your competitors?
- What are your current lead generation strategies?
- Who are your target customers?
- What are the channels that you are using to reach your customers?
- How do your customers find your website?
- Who are your direct competitors?
4. Learn about your candidate’s personality
Hiring an SEO consultant is like hiring an employee. You will be working with them on an ongoing basis, so you may as well learn a bit about them. If you can’t tell what they are like from the interview, we recommend that you ask them to do a personality test (if they agree to it of course.)
For example, Google has announced that the primary skills for effective performance within a group are emotional intelligence, creativity, and good communication.
If you don’t have an HR team, then we recommend you use a free tool to assess your candidate’s personality and check if they’ll be a good fit for your business. Personality clashes are something you want to avoid.
At the end of the day, would you like someone who is bossier and results-driven or someone who is more relaxed, sympathetic, and creative? If you don’t really mind, you can skip this section.
16 Personalities is a free tool where you can test someone’s personality. This tool has been used by companies and individuals more than 423.000.000 times, and it was developed based on reputable scientific studies.
With 16 Personalities, you will get an evaluation of your candidate’s personality and it will give you a good indication of what it could be like to work with them.
5. Test Your Consultant
You should make sure that your candidate has the right experience and knowledge for your SEO objectives. Depending on the case, you could validate this with a test.
The first test option you could use is to ask the candidate if they are already ranking for a particular keyword for their own business.
Most of your candidates probably either have a business or are working for an agency. In either case, you can ask them to show you some results they’ve had because if they can’t get results for themselves, then how could they get results for you?
The second test option is to ask them their opinion on your website’s performance.
- What issues can they identify and how will they fix them?
- What would they prioritize first?
- What other improvements they can make to your website?
The right consultant should be a person who wants to help you improve your customer’s experience and your website’s performance, not just offer you SEO services to increase your ranking. So they will give you an in-depth answer with details of what they see as your current issues and why. Give them extra points if their answer takes into consideration your business type and industry and they share what they think would work well from that specific SEO perspective.
Can I do my own SEO?
If you have strong writing experience and some development and web design skills you could create useful SEO strategies for your own business. These skills are not easy to gain, but you can start with small actions, and with time, you will improve.
How much do SEO services cost in Australia?
You can find SEO services in Australia starting at around $30 to $180 per hour. So for 20 hours a month, you should expect to pay between $600 AU to 3,600 AU. Usually, the price difference will reflect the consultant’s skills and experience.
If you’re ready to get serious about SEO, leave it to the professionals. Get in touch with us today and let us guide you through the best strategies to make your business shine online!