In today’s article, I wanted to talk really briefly about what is an SEO consultant and how to choose the right SEO consultant or SEO agency, how to choose somebody to actually make your site rank.
The reason why I’m writing this article is when I talk to a lot of business owners, they really don’t understand how SEO works. Search engine optimization to them, it’s almost like black magic. It’s not something that they understand, and to add to that, there’s a lot of people that sell SEO that is basically snake oil salesmen and they sell you a bunch of work that’s either not going to make you rank long term or it could get you penalized by Google. Here are just a few things that I would ask anybody that you’re considering to be your SEO agency.
What exactly does an SEO company do for you?
If you could boil it down into one sentence, I would say SEO company exists to get you more qualified traffic through organic search. And what that means is people who are interested in your service or product, reaching them through search engines, primarily through making you rank higher to where your results come up higher. There’s a lot of different terms for this as well, in-bound traffic is one, kind of synonymous with content marketing. There’s a lot of different things that SEO companies do in order to get those results. First off it starts with diagnosing where you’re at and then prescribing a course of action and then executing on that strategy. And then evaluating the results, measuring what’s happening, and then readjusting. There’s a lot of different forms that that action can take. Usually, it comes down to certain things involving a combination of any of these: keyword research, content strategy, content planning, creating new content, building links from relevant sites that are closely relating to yours, promoting you in different ways to build your brand and make your brand more prominent, making adjustments on your site, making it more user friendly. And again an SEO company is going to pull a bunch of levers to try and drive qualified traffic to your site, and that means people who are interested in your product or service. And a lot of that’s going to be done by taking action both on your website and off your website to make that happen.
Is it okay to ask an SEO agency about their past work?
Number one seems really simple but, “Show me somebody that you’ve made rank, show me what keywords you were trying to make them rank for, where they were before and where they ended up.” It’s really important to understand that not all keywords are created equally. Some drive more traffic than others. Some people search for certain phrases more than they do others.
That leads me into number two, “Can you show me the actual search traffic that came from Google organic search which is the engine? What kind of increase did you make in their search traffic?” This is dead simple to do, in Google Analytics they can take a screenshot of it. You can go into Google Analytics, you can go into a site and you can isolate just the Google organic traffic, so just the search traffic, not the Adwords traffic, and then you can select a period of time and then compare it to the period of time before that. If they wanted to say like the last six months compared to the six months before, you can get a really clear idea of how much traffic that they actually affected with their SEO campaigns, and you can see what kind of difference it made. Ultimately, the whole idea of investing in your SEO is to drive more targeted traffic to your site, and not just any old traffic, but qualified traffic of people who are interested in either learning about your products or buying your products or services. Have them show you an actual graph of where their client was before, and where they were after they started their SEO campaign.
Is it important for an SEO agency to specialize in an industry?
The third thing that I would say is important is, do they specialize in your industry vertical? What that means is, there are a lot of people that specialize in certain things, let’s say like SEO for lawyers, SEO for e-commerce, SEO for real estate. What we do is SEO for manufacturing and industrial firms. We understand that particular niche, and we know what it takes to make those companies rank because that is the main people that we deal with as clients. While it’s true that the principles of SEO are basically the same for 85% of the different verticals out there, it’s always best to deal with somebody who has experience in your particular field.
Can an SEO agency guarantee rank number one?
The fourth thing that I would say is, I would ask them, “Do you guarantee rankings? Can you guarantee that you’re going to have me rank number one in Google?” Now, the answer that you should be looking for, and this might surprise some you is, if they say that they can guarantee that you’re going to rank number one, I would run away from them, because the fact of the matter is, Google and the rest of these search engines, they change their ranking algorithm up to about 500 times a year. If somebody guarantees that they can rank you number one, that’s a bad sign, because nobody can really predict it. Obviously, that’s always the goal. There might be cases where getting you to number one is going to take a lot, a lot of effort. In some cases, it might be really easy, but it should never be something that somebody guarantees you. read about how much SEO takes time in our other blog.
What To Do If You Can’t Afford an SEO Agency?
If you don’t have enough money to do an SEO contract, like a six-month contract — you don’t have enough money to hire an SEO agency or an SEO consultant — should you go out and get an SEO tool like Ahrefs, SEM Rush, or Moz?” I’ve heard a lot of SEO consultants say that’s what you should do! I don’t like that advice. I think that’s incomplete advice. It’s not the best advice, and I will tell you why. Many times, I’ve seen people do that (get a subscription to an SEO tool) because they are on a budget. Which is fine. They’ll use an SEO tool — and one, in particular, is really bad about this — I’ve seen a lot of people take this particular SEO tool’s advice, and jack their site up. I’ve seen people implementing Google AMP to make it faster because this tool told them to do so. Or disavowing links because this tool suggested they should. Doing a bunch of other things that basically made their SEO go farther down, instead of going up. So I really don’t like relying on an SEO tool to tell me what to do. Those tools are okay for certain things. Like, if you’re trying to figure out “Should I put my keyword in my title tag?” Things like that are fine. Or if it’s telling you, “Hey, your competitors have links from these sites, and you don’t”, that’s fine. But I don’t like relying on a tool, because I’ve seen too many people do damage to their websites, and their SEO, by following those automated suggestions. Now, my suggestion is, if you don’t have enough money to hire an SEO agency or consultant for a long longer-term engagement, and you want to do it yourself, you want to DIY, what I’m going to say to you is — find an SEO consultant that you trust. Pay them to sit with you for an hour, go over some stuff for an hour or two. Another thing you could do is, get a professional SEO audit. And I don’t mean an automated SEO audit. I mean a real audit, like the ones we do. There are other SEO consultants that I could point you toward that do these as well. But a lengthy, thick audit of your site, giving you a battle plan of what to do. Then if you want to go and do it yourself, great. But if you can’t afford a multi-month contract with SEO, you should probably still talk to a person. Relying on tools alone is not advisable. I say this only because I’ve seen too many people blindly follow that advice. Then, they’re like, “Why am I not ranking? Why are my rankings flatlined? Or they’re going down? The rankings are doing worse?” It’s important to note not everything a tool will tell you is what you need to do. Sometimes, there are things outside of what the tools say to do that you need to implement. I should say, oftentimes, most of the time, there are things that the tools do not and cannot easily measure. They’re not tapped into to all the different places that you should be looking for actionable SEO advice, especially when it comes to off-page and on-page, telling you analysis of what’s actually ranking. “Why is that thing ranking?” SEO tools are very good at analyzing backlinks and saying, “Hey, this site has backlinks from these high Domain Authority sites, and maybe that’s why they’re ranking high?” But not always. Because I’ve seen sites that don’t have a lot of links, that rank high in the SERPs. So there’s more to it obviously. I hope that answers this question. Talk to a human being. Don’t rely only on an SEO tool. That’s not the best advice. But if you don’t have a lot of money, either get a human-curated SEO audit or talk to a professional and pay for a couple of hours of their time. Have them look at your site, and then that way, at least you have a second opinion, besides just an SEO tool. I hope that makes sense.
Who should you entrust your SEO campaign?
The fifth thing that I would say is, “Who’s going to be actually working on my SEO campaign?” It’s always good to know who’s going to actually be handling the day-to-day of your SEO. Is it going to be an intern? Is it going to be somebody who’s got experience in that? It’s just good to know.
The final thing that I would say is, when you’re choosing an SEO agency or an SEO consultant, sit down with them. Do they give you good vibes? Do they seem like somebody that you can trust what they’re saying? Basically, just trust your gut. If something in your gut just says like, they’re probably a bad fit for you, then they’re probably a bad fit. If you sit down and talk to them, and it feels like you guys can do good work together, if it feels like they’re not going to steer you in the wrong direction, then that agency should probably be on your shortlist of ones to consider. Hopefully, this has given you some insight on what is an SEO consultant and how to choose an SEO agency or an SEO consultant to help you actually rank. If you have more questions, you can always put your comment below and we will answer them for you.