Using search engines has become an indispensable component of both our everyday and business lives. In order to squeeze every last drop of performance from them, we are on the constant lookout for the professionals that can handle search engine optimization (SEO) in order to improve the overall standing of our websites, their targeted traffic, keywords, meta-tags etc. Finally, not all aspects of SEO business are related to mere technicalities, as its performance can also significantly impact the process of drafting content generation strategy for a specific website. Therefore, the process of picking a quality SEO consultant partner involves making them answer a number of key questions that will help you hire an expert with the level of skill and professionalism that your website rightfully deserves.
Ask Questions in an Absence of a Crystal Ball
In the world of ever-changing online advertising trends, the competitors make each other come up with the most efficient SEO strategies that will earn their website a stellar Google ranking. As this effort requires timely utilization of both funds and personnel, you surely want to have only the best allies by your side. Help yourself by posing these questions to a prospective SEO consultant and try to read carefully into each answer, as they are the only thing allowing you to peek into your site’s future, in an absence of a functional crystal ball.
1. How do you plan on improving my site’s search engine rankings?
First things first, SEO consultants should be honest about giving you insight into their professional techniques, as transparency can be an excellent first step in establishing quality cooperation. Therefore, the consultant should be able to give you a summarized yet substantial account of his/her SEO strategy for your website.
No matter what strategy is presented in terms of keyword identification or link building, the answer you want to hear is that the consultant understands that having a quality SEO is a process which has to start with the initial SEO review of your website. This approach will allow for identification of areas that can be fixed for immediate results, or in order to tackle any issue that currently plagues your website’s rankings. This can, for example include taking care of pages containing errors or dysfunctional links. Once these initial steps have been taken care of, you can proceed with improving URLs, page headings, tags and link setups. Speaking of links, make sure to ask a separate question about them.
2. What’s your strategy for handling links?
Search engines feature algorithms that love to target backlinks. In that context, SEO consultants will have to explain how they plan to handle the link building process for your website in an attempt to give it the rankings it deserves. This strategy will have to start from a premise that the quality of backlinks is a highly variable category, not unlike what we experience with roads and motorways on a daily basis. Having a single quality backlink can pay off more than having a myriad of lower quality ones.
3. What is your record in terms of working on off-page SEO with other stakeholders?
As the SEO efforts can also include off-page work, the SEO strategy offered by your consultant needs to feature a component dealing with the promotion of your content on other sites. This is achieved by working with social media, engaging in blog posting or preparing PR documents. Modern day SEO strategy should attempt to cover all bases in terms of establishing holistic cooperation with various stakeholders.
First of all, your SEO strategist needs to demonstrate an understanding of the need to work closely with social media marketing specialists as well as content generators. Social media serve as natural platforms for providing backlinks to your site via sharing and they are an important indicator of the effectiveness of your content delivery strategy.
Speaking of content, checking that your consultant understands its importance in the overall SEO strategy is a no-brainer, since it is another component that needs to be seamlessly integrated with an overarching business goal in mind. Finally, the consultant’s SEO strategy needs to include close collaboration with PR and branding professionals as well as be aligned with the overall efforts aimed at increasing your site’s/brand’s online visibility.
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4. Do you have experience with improving local SEO?
Think globally, act locally, may be a slightly overused saying, but it has a rightful place in any SEO strategy. This is particularly important for those wanting to increase their site’s visibility in the searches related to the local area, particularly if the site is engaged in any type of commercial activity. Having a consultant with sufficient experience in dealing with localized SEO can be an indicator of their overall competence. This person should be able to take care of providing your site with tags and meta descriptions that will allow it to become a part of search engines’ local listings that function as business directories for particular geographical areas.
5. Which tools do you use?
Contemporary SEO tools are numerous, with the only caveat being related to their varied quality. Some are free, while others need to be paid for. They cover various segments of the SEO business, ranging from tools dedicated to customized reports and analytics of related metrics, to the tools used for link building and keyword research. In any case, your consultants will have to convince you that they are proficient with the tools that get the job done, unless you have a personal preferences and experience with specific software that you deem best for your website. This brings us to the crowning question to sum up the interview with your SEO consultant.
6. How will you measure the success of your SEO strategy?
Yes, talking the talk is fine at this stage, but testing your consultant’s mettle in the field will require him/her being able to show you that the implemented SEO strategy can actually deliver the goods. For example, the consultants will need to prove that their efforts undoubtedly brought about improvements in your traffic performance, both in terms of its amount and quality. Tools such as Google Analytics need to be used to keep an eye on the progress made in terms of your website’s search engine rankings, or the amount of links that drive the traffic to it. The same goes for keywords that visitors use in order to land on your website. In any case, have your consultants clearly present you their approach to the continuous tracking of your website’s SEO performance and propose the timeframe in which you will go over the data regularly, and identify all the strengths and weaknesses of the used SEO strategy.
Working with SEO strategy can be seen as akin to dabbling in magic, but it is actually very pragmatic strategy-based work with precise performance indicators that can easily prove its efficiency or failure. Hiring an SEO consultant needs to take both of these aspects into consideration, which is reflected in the smart choice of questions to be asked of a prospective candidate. They should be based on transparency, fact-checking and inquiry into professional competences. Just remember that asking the right questions can be as important as being given the correct answers.