If your website doesn’t show up on the first page of search results on Google, your potential customers might not even know you exist. Better search engine visibility can be critical to boosting visits to your website, which can lead to increased brand awareness and higher sales and profits. But what if you lack the time and technical expertise to improve your site’s search engine ranking? It might make sense to hire an experienced, reliable SEO Consultant.
Here are 5 essential questions to ask when considering prospective SEO consultants:
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. 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 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.
2. How will you improve my search engine rankings?
Steer clear of SEO consultants who won’t freely discuss their methods in detail. 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.
3. 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.
4. Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google?
If the candidate answers yes, 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, 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 can control how high or low websites appear in their search results.
5. 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. 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 Google’s local listings, which are online directories of businesses that cater to a specific geographical area.