What Questions to Ask an SEO Consultant?

Questions to Ask an SEO Consultant

Top 10 Questions to Ask an SEO Consultant to Help You Rank on Page One of Google

As a small to large business in the English speaking world, especially in the United States of America, there is no doubt that you need to rank your website on page one of Google, Bing, and Yahoo, in order to see massive growth in your business.

When people who search for specific problems and issues about ranking on the search engines, using relevant keywords, they are looking for an SEO agency or company that can increase the amount of visitors to their website.

We all know that the average and even above average business owner has no idea how to improve their search engine rankings. Otherwise there would be no SEO consultants and agencies.

Here are 10 essential questions to ask when considering prospective SEO consultants from Entrepreneur.com.

The complete Entrepreneur article by Kim Lachance Shandrow can be reached by clicking here.

  1. May I have a list of current and past clients?

A reputable SEO consultant should be open to sharing a brief list of current and former clients and his or her contact information, says Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google (Wiley, 2012) and founder of Nine By Blue, a Seattle-based SEO software provider.

These references can help you gauge how effective the candidate is, as well as verify that the person did indeed work on specific SEO campaigns.

Clients may not provide specific analytics, Fox says, but they should be able to at least tell you if they saw a positive impact on their search ranking, especially in conversions and in gaining an audience, as a direct result of the consultant’s efforts.

Check out the Youtube video Entrepreneur.com did about Practical Tips for Hiring an SEO Consultant.

  1. How will you improve my search engine rankings?

Steer clear of SEO consultants who won’t freely discuss their methods in detail, cautions Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, a Seattle-based internet marketing software company and co-author of The Art of SEO (O’Reilly, 2012).

They should explain the strategies they would use to drive up your website’s search engine ranking, as well as estimate how long it could realistically take to achieve the SEO campaign goals you agree on.

Make sure the candidate’s proposal includes an initial technical review of your website to weed out any problems that could lower your search engine ranking, including broken links and error pages.

Consultants also should provide “on page” optimization, a process to make your website as search engine friendly as possible.

It involves improving your website’s URL and internal linking structure, along with developing web page titles, headings and tags.

Also, ask consultants if they provide “off page” SEO strategies to raise awareness of your content on other websites, often via blogs, social media platforms and press releases.

  1. Do you adhere to search engines’ webmaster guidelines?

You want a consultant who strictly abides by Google’s publicly posted webmaster best practices, which specifically prohibit 12 common SEO tricks, including automatically generating spammy content and adding bogus hidden text and links.

If a candidate doesn’t follow those guidelines, your website could be relegated to a dismally low search results ranking. Or, worse yet, Google could ban it from search results altogether.

Bing and Yahoo also post webmaster best practices that consultants should confirm they follow.

  1. Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo?

If the candidate answers yes, Fox warns, “Turn and run in the other direction as fast as you can.” Although it’s impossible to guarantee a number-one ranking on any search engine, she says, some unethical SEO consultants do make such bogus guarantees.

Consider it a red flag if the candidate claims to have an insider relationship with Google or any other search engine that will get you priority search results rankings. Only Google, Bing and Yahoo can control how high or low websites appear in their search results.

  1. Are you experienced at improving local search results?

Appearing in the top local search engine results is especially important to small brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract nearby customers, Rand says. You’ll want a consultant who has expertise in local SEO techniques.

If your website is optimized for what’s known as “local SEO,” it should appear when someone nearby is searching for keywords that are relevant to your business.

To achieve that, a consultant should add your business’s city and state to your website’s title tags and meta descriptions, and get your site listed on Bing, Google and Yahoo’s local listings, which are online directories of businesses that cater to a specific geographical area.

  1. Will you share with me all changes you make to my site?

Search engine optimization will most likely require a number of changes to your existing web page coding. It’s important to know exactly what adjustments the consultant plans to make and on how many web pages.

If you would like the candidate to get your permission before accessing and altering your website code, be sure to say so.

For example, will consultants add new title tags to your existing HTML code or modify the existing ones?

Will they provide additional copy writing content highlighting your products and services to beef up the number of visible, on-page keywords relevant to your potential customers?

And do they plan to redesign all or some of your website navigation or add new pages to your site?

  1. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?

To gauge the success of SEO efforts, you must track exactly how much traffic is being sent to your website and where it is coming from.

Consultants should be experienced in using Google Analytics to track improvement in your site’s search engine rankings, the number of links from other websites driving traffic to yours, the kinds of keywords searchers use to find your site, and much more.

Be sure to ask how often they plan to share these important analytics with you and how they would use the data to continually improve your search engine rankings and website traffic.

  1. How will we communicate and how often?

SEO consultants’ communication styles and customer service standards vary. You need to find someone whose approach best fits your needs.

Ask if the candidate prefers to talk in person or via phone, Skype, texting or email. And find out how often will he or she reach out to you with status updates.

  1. What are your fees and payment terms?

You need to know how much you’ll be charged, of course, and also whether the consultant gets paid hourly, by retainer or by project.

Project-based payments are the most common in the SEO consulting industry, and they can vary widely, depending on a project’s size and complexity.

Most contract projects ranged between $1,000 and $7,500, according to Moz’s 2011 pricing survey of more than 600 SEO firms.

Other important payment-related questions: How often are invoice payments due — every 30, 60 or 90 days? Is there an interest charge for late payments?

  1. What happens when we part ways?

When your contract expires or if you terminate it early, you should still maintain ownership of all of the optimized web content you paid the consultant to provide, Fox says.

You can also read Tina Clark’s questions that she came up with for her business.

However, you can find the specific SEO questions on Instantly Rank, which is my SEO agency, to understand how we do things and get your site ranked on page one of Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

There is no doubt that as a potential client, you need to know what are the best questions to ask your SEO consultant, that’s why we compiled this list for you to ask these types of questions.

If you want to rank on page one of Google, Bing, and Yahoo, then you need to hire the right consulting marketing agency that handles SEO as their major focus – which what we do here at Instantly Rank.

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