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Before we jump head first, I wanted to share one of my recent experiences. While working with one of my clients, I discovered that his last SEO consultant was taking advantage of him. This individual had all the my client’s website passwords and he used them as leverage against him. 

He basically was holding my client’s website hostage for more money for work that he has not done. Following weeks of negotiations and payments the SEO consultant gave back the website and disappeared. 

In addition to the emotional stress my client faced, the consultant was also using black hat SEO strategies (Strategies not aligned with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) that were negatively affecting my Client’s website performance. 

This situation is very common, which is sad. Not only my Client had to pay the SEO consultant thousands, but he also needed to pay for my time to reverse the damage.  Selecting the wrong candidate could be a very costly mistake. So take your time to find a good SEO consultant.

Then what should you do now? How can you select the best SEO consultant without getting ripped off? That is the topic that I would like to guide you through with this article.

What does an SEO consultant do?

SEO consultants support companies by increasing their visibility on organic search engines. For example, if your customer is searching for a specific keyword on Google your company would appear in the top positions in the results. Having a talented SEO is crucial if you want to increase your online search engine performance.

SEO also helps your business rank higher on Google Maps. Which is another great way for businesses to increase their visibility online. 

Part of the job is also to keep you inform and help you strategies your SEO tasks. An SEO consultant that doesn’t catch up with you on a regular basis is a bad sign. Make sure you are informed and know exactly where he is spending his work hours.  

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 is also an expert content creator. Which means the content they create should attracts people to your website. Its not just about keywords and technical, its about strategy.   

The specialist should work with you collaboratively to create value for your customers. Which is done by providing high-quality content such as articles, infographs, and even videos. SEO is 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 increasing your backlinks. Backlinks are know to be a difficult element of SEO because it requires work. A great question to ask your consultant is how they will get backlinks without paying for them. Backlinks are best earned organically and not exchange for money (which is not allowed by Google). 

4 Techniques to use when hiring an SEO consultant

Evaluate your candidate’s results working for other companies

Your first task should be to check referrals and previous work the consultant completed. If he has non to show for, you might be dealing with a newbie. We recommend to look for someone with previous experience. 

Try to determine if their previous work was successful for search engine visibility by seeing results. 

Your candidate should be able to provide you data and specific results of their work with other businesses. Some consultants might have a confidentiality agreement with their clients, so just ask them to show it in a face-to-face interview online.1 

1 -Contact your SEO’s candidate references

You can validate your candidate’s skills with some of their previous clients, just ask for a reference. This validation is helpful because it shows proof of results. The more references you get the better, 2-3 should be enough. 

We recommend you to ask the references questions related to your candidate’s performance, results and communication skills.

If your candidate is working for an agency, we recommend you also check their Google My Business profile and their reviews. If the account is not great it should be a red flag. 

One of the essential tools for any SEO consultant who wants to improve their local visibility with Google is to set up their own Google My Business. So if they don’t do it for themselves why would they do it for you.

We recommend you ask your consultant to share their 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 could see one case of an SEO business where they just have 8 reviews for more than ten years in business. Does that represent coherency?

we recommend you to check their Google My Business profile and their reviews

2 – Ask your SEO candidate preselected questions

Before you decide to work with any consultant, you should ask them questions related to their experience and skills. 

Here are some questions that you could ask are: 

What type of SEO strategies do you recommend? 

Note: If you notice that the responses from your candidate are not related to providing more value for your customers or increasing your website’s performance, its not a good sign. Beware that some candidates might look for short cuts and use black hat strategies to increase your ranking fast, which are not allowed by the Webmaster Guidelines.

How could you support my business to obtain more links from other websites? (Know on the SEO sector as 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 might create unnatural paid backlinks. If Google catches websites like this it will panelise your ranking negatively impacting your SEO.

Also, ask your candidate if you might lose some links if you finish your contract with them. If they tell you that you will lose some links, don’t trust that candidate and look for another option. Some use this strategy to secure 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, please doubt them. Google has proven that no one should 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 proved that it takes between 4 months to one year to implement actions and check results. If they are selling you strategies that you will get significant results in a short amount of time, be aware that they are lying to you.

Why are you different from other SEO consultants on the market?

Note: A talented consultant will respond to you straight away. A bad candidate might avoid this question or guarantee that you will rank #1 on Google with their services. 

A talented SEO consultant will try to understand your business model and operation. Part of his answer might include that his SEO work is done with considerations 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 is 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?

3 -Learn about your candidates personality

Hiring an SEO consultant is like hiring an employee. You will be working with them on an ongoing basis, so might as well learn a bit about them. If you cant tell what they are like for the interview we recommend you to ask them to do a personality check. 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 communication.

Suppose you don’t have an HR team that could evaluate the psychological skills of your candidate.

Then we recommend you use a free tool to assess your candidate’s personality and check if they can be a fit for your business. Because personality clashes is something you would rather avoid.

Would you like someone that is more bossy and results driven or someone that is more relaxed, sympathetic and creative. If you dont mind you can skip this section.

16 Personalities is a free tool where you can test a person’s personality. This tool has been using by other companies and people more than 423.000.000 times, and reputable scientific studies have developed it.

With 16 Personalities, you will get an evaluation of your candidate’s personality. Moreover it will give you a good indication about what it will be like to work with your candidate.

4 – Test Your Consultant  

You should make sure that your candidate has the right experience and knowledge for your SEO objective.

Depending on the case and the selection process you are using, you should validate it with a test or validation process.

The first test option you could use is to ask your candidate if they are already ranking for a particular keyword (for their own business). 

The majority of your candidates might have a business, or they are working with an agency. In either case ask them to show you what they done on their own website.

If they can’t get results for themselves than why would 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 it?

What would they priorities first?

What other improvements they can do for your website?

The right consultant should be a person who wants to help you improve your customers website experience and performance, not just to offer you SEO services to increase your ranking.

They will give you an in depth answer with details of what are the issues and why. Especially if their answer considers your type of business and what would work well from an SEO perspective. 

Can I do SEO by myself ?

If you have strong writing experience, some development and web design skills you could create valuable SEO strategies for your business. These skills are not easy to gain but you can start with small actions, and with time, you will get better.

We recommend you to read complete guides and studies cases from reputable blogs like Brian Dean, Eric Enge, Moz, and courses that you could find online from reliable sources. 

How much SEO services cost in Australia?

You could find SEO services in Australia starting at around $30 to $180 per an hour. So for 20 hours a month you should expect to pay between $600 AU to 3,600 AU. Usually the difference in price depends on the consultants skills and experience. 

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