Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing game and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with the trends.
But your business site can’t afford to lag behind, so you may have to hire an SEO consultant or agency or even a company.
That’s the easy part because there are tons of consultants out there, the difficulty lies in getting credible SEOs to work on your site.
It’s very easy to avoid a search engine penalty but you don’t want to go through the troubles of trying to recover from one.
Here are a few questions that’ll help you weed out the cookie cutter SEOs.
There are different parts to SEO and getting to know what aspects would be covered on your site is a nice start.
There’s on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
On-page SEO involves working on things like title tags, internal links, images and site speed.
Off-page SEO involves link building.
Technical SEO is an advanced aspect of on-page SEO, it involves things like Schema markup that makes your content clearer to the search engines.
Except you’re working on a new site, it’s possible your on-page SEO is okay and links need to be built to your inner pages.
A good SEO consultant should be able to tell you what part of your site needs fixing.
SEOs have different payment plans.
Some charge by the hour, some charge a monthly fee and others have a fee for the entire project.
You should go for the project plan if it’s available so you only pay once for a particular set of results.
Optimizing for search is all about producing results.
Except there are major issues that will require communication, monthly reports from your SEO consultant are normal.
In these reports, you should expect to see positive changes in keyword rankings and improved metrics for your bounce rate and time on site if they’re working on your pages.
So ask if they provide these reports.
Link building is a key aspect of any off-page SEO plan.
The type of links an SEO agency would build for you can determine if your rankings would improve or not.
Many agencies run Private Blog Networks (PBNs) which they use to rank pages for their clients.
Google has frowned on this practice and warned webmasters to stay away from such networks.
You should know if the links coming to your site will be clean links that can pass a manual review.
If you’re in a tough industry so can’t help but use the PBN links, you should also ask the consultant about the risks involved.
If you get a yes to this question, know you’re with the wrong consultant.
And just to be clear, I’m not talking about the first page on the search results as that’s something that can be done depending on the quality of pages ranking for that keyword.
I’m talking about a consultant promising position 1 for a particular keyword.
Google doesn’t run any SEO agency so if someone’s promising that kind of result, you should know they don’t know what they’re talking about.
True SEOs are always testing so they should have a few sites or case studies to show as proof they’re actually “doing” this stuff.
So ask for samples and insist on industry-specific samples if possible.
A penalized site is buried in the result pages. If it’s a manual penalty, Google would send you guidelines on how you can get your site back up.
But if it’s an algorithmic penalty, there’s no information so only a professional SEO can detect that your site is suffering from a penalty.
You should also ask for case studies here.
Someone who claims to be able to recover a penalized site should have actually done it before.
You may not require weekly calls, but you will want to work with someone who is available at a moments notice via email, messenger or Slack
A redirect function may be faulty or you may mistakenly block your site from being indexed by the search engines.
So you want an agency that can provide an immediate response to these issues, and that’s why you need to know how to contact them.
There are general and industry-specific SEO consultants.
If you get an industry-specific consultant, make sure he isn’t currently working with any of your direct competitors, you don’t want divided attention.
You’re going to convert readers to buyers with content so if it’s not engaging enough, you should know how your consultant would help.
Improvements would be made to your content and this may affect the total project cost if you’d be using the content team of your agency.
The only way to measure success on your site is by tracking a lot of metrics.
I’m talking metrics like keyword position numbers, total number of links and number of referring domains.
There’s really no manual way to get this done, so most SEOs invest in some tools.
All tools aren’t created equal so you should know the tool your agency is using and why.
A tool for link building will be considered an okay tool based on the number and how fast it can crawl the number of links pointing to a page.
A good SEO consultant should have clients they won’t want to work with.
This should be asked to ensure you’re on the same page and also to gauge their expectations.
Do they expect some data from you, will they work with your development or design team?
It doesn’t make sense to expect the unexpected when you can know their expectations so do that instead.
Also published on Medium.