How to Hire an SEO Agency, Company or Consultant Explained by Digital NRG
Maile Ohye works for Google Search. She provides great advice to help you hire a useful SEO and prevent hiring a bad SEO one who you might pay a lot of money without positive results or even worse one who implements shady practises on your website that result in a reduction in search rankings.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation – some SEO seems like black magic, having worked with Google search for over a decade, she has learned that first, it’s not black magic and second if you want long-term success here aren’t any quick magical tricks that an SEO will provide so that your site ranks number one.
It’s important to note that an SEO potential is only as high as the quality of your business or website, so successful SEO helps your website put your best foot forward so that it ranks appropriately in the spot where an unbiased potential customer would expect your site to be seen.
A successful SEO also looks to improve the entire searcher experience from search results by clicking on your website and potentially converting a customer. A good SEO will recommend best practices for a search-friendly site from basic things like descriptive page titles for a blog or small business to more complex things like language markup for a multilingual global site. To ensure that you’re serving your online customers a good experience, especially for those coming from a search engine, and that your site is helpful whether they’re using a desktop computer or mobile phone.
In most cases, the SEO will need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see the potential benefit.
Her strongest advice when working with an SEO is to request if they corroborate their recommendation with a documented statement from Google either in a Help Center article video or Google a response in a forum that supports both one the SEO description of the issue that needs to be improved to help with ranking and to the approach they prescribed to accomplish this tasks. Requesting these two bits of information will help prevent hiring a poor SEO who might otherwise convince you to do useless things like add more words to the keyword meta tag or buy links.
If you search for google advice on this topic you’d see blog posts and videos from Google that clearly explain that adding keywords to the meta tag wouldn’t help. Furthermore, while Google uses links for page rank, our documentation highlights that we strongly advise against the approach of buying links for the purpose of increasing page rank.
One basic rule is that in a majority of cases doing what’s good for SEO is also doing what’s good for your online customers’ things like having a mobile-friendly website good navigation and building a great brand. Additionally, if you’re a more established brand with complicated legacy systems then good search friendly best practices likely involved paying-off some of your site’s technical debt such as updating your infrastructure so that your website is agile and able to implement features faster in the long-term.
If you own a small local business you can probably do the initial work yourself check Google’s 30-minute video series on how to build an online presence for your local business.
How to Hire an SEO – the Process
Now if you still believe you want to hire an SEO here’s a general process.
- Conduct an Interview
Conduct a two-way interview with your potential SEO. Check that they seem generally interested in you and your business.
Conduct a two-way interview in the interview here are some things to look for a good SEO doesn’t focus only on search engine ranking but how they can help your business. So, they should ask questions like what makes your business content and/or service unique and therefore valuable to customers. They want to know this information to make sure it’s highlighted on your website for your current and potential new audience
What does your common customer look like and how do they currently find your website.
How does your business make money and how can search help for what other channels are you using offline advertising social networks.
Who are your competitors? What do they do well online and potentially offline? If the SEO doesn’t seem interested in learning about your business from a holistic standpoint look elsewhere. It’s difficult to do good SEO without knowing about a business’s goals, their customers and other existing marketing efforts.
SEO should complement your existing work.
- Check their References
Check their references or ask for evidence that they have worked on websites in the same or similar industries or websites with the same technical issues.
You want to hear from past clients that the SEO was able to provide useful guidance and worked effectively with their developers Designers, UX researchers and your marketers.
A good SEO should feel like someone you can work with, learn from, experiment with and who generally cares about you and your business, not just getting your site the highest rank
Ultimately those techniques rarely last long, if they work at all, they’ll want to educate you and your staff on how search engines work so that SEO becomes part of your general business operations.
- Get an Audit of your Website
You’ll probably have to pay for a technical and search audit, however, this will document the issues on the website and provide a list of the actions that will need to be addressed to improve the website and customer experience.
Request a technical and search audit. If you trust your SEO candidate give them restricted view not full or edit right access to your Google search console data and even your analytics data.
Before they actually modify anything on your website have them conduct a technical and search audit to give you a prioritized list of what they think should be improved for SEO.
If you’re a larger business you can hire multiple SEO to run audits and prioritize improvements. See what each has to say and then determine who you could work with the best.
In the audit, the SEO should prioritise improvements with a structure. One, the issue. Two, the suggested improvements and three an estimate on the overall investment. In other words the time energy or money it would take for your developers to implement the improvement and for Google search as well as searchers and customers to recognise the improvement.
The SEO will need to talk with your developers to better understand what technical constraints may exist for the estimated positive business impact. The impact might be a ranking improvement that will lead to more visitors and conversions or perhaps the positive impact comes from a back-end change that cleans up your site and helps your brand be agiler in the future.
Five, a plan of how to iterate and improve on the implementation or perhaps how to experiment and fail fast, should the results not meet expectations.
In the technical audit, your SEO should be able to review your site for issues related to internal linking crawl ability URL parameters server connectivity and response codes to name a few.
If they mention that your site has duplicate content problems that need to be corrected make sure they show you the specific URLs that are competing for the same query or that they explained it should be cleaned up for long-term site health, not initial growth.
If lots of duplicate content exists on websites, and often it’s not a pressing problem in this search audit, your potential SEO will likely breakdown your search queries into categories like branded and unbranded terms.
Branded terms are those with your business or website’s name like a search for “Gmail” is a branded term while the search for “email” is an unbranded or general keyword.
An SEO should make sure that for branded queries your website is providing a great experience that allows customers who know your brand or website to easily find exactly what they need and potentially convert.
They might recommend improvements that help the entire searcher experience from what the searcher sees in search results to when they click on a result and use your website for unbranded queries. An SEO can help you make sense of the online competitive landscape they can tell you things like here are the types of queries it would make sense for your business to rank. What your competition is done and why they think they rank where they do. For instance, perhaps your competition has great reviews, really shareable content or they run a highly reputable site.
An SEO will provide recommendations on how to improve rankings for these queries and the entire searcher experience they’ll introduce ideas like update obsolete content they might say your site is suffering because some of your well-ranking content is obsolete has poor navigation, a useless page title or isn’t mobile-friendly. They may say, “let’s improve these pages and see if more website visitors convert and purchase”. Or if they can micro convert meaning that perhaps they subscribe or share content improve internal linking. Your SEO might say your site is suffering because some of your best articles are too far from the homepage and users would have a hard time finding it. We can better internally link to your content to feature it more prominently generate a buzz.
The SEO might say you have great content but not enough people know. We can try to get more user interaction and generate buzz perhaps through social media or business relationships this will help us attract more potential customers and perhaps garner natural links to your site.
Learn from the competition – your SEO might explain here’s what your competitors do well. Can you reach parity with this and potentially surpass them in utilities or can you better show customers your business’s unique values? Again, a good SEO will try to prioritise what ideas can bring your business the most improvement for the least investment and what improvements may take more time but help growth in the long term.
Once they talk with you and other members of your team such as developers or marketers they’ll help your business forge a path ahead.
The last thing is that when she talks with SEO’s, one of the biggest holdups to improving a site isn’t their recommendation, but it’s the business making time to implement their ideas. If you’re not ready to commit to making SEO improvements, getting an SEO audit may be helpful. Make sure that your entire organisation is on board, else your SEO improvements may be non-existent regardless of who you hire.
How to Hire an SEO – Hire Us!
Digital NRG works with small local businesses, national companies and international organisations in the UK, USA and UAE. We follow the advice given in this video and SEO best practices.
Martyn Lenthall is the Managing Director at Digital NRG.
In 2012, from his back bedroom, he launched his first SEO company (SEO Company Bristol). A rapidly expanding client base of small businesses, national companies and international organisations, as well as adding more diverse digital marketing products to the portfolio meant a new, more internationally recognised and all-encompassing brand was required, and so Digital NRG was born.
Martyn is considered one of the UK’s leading experts on search engine optimisation.
He has 17 books published on website optimisation and lead generation for business websites.
Website and SEO consultant to multi-national brands.
Public speaker on subjects of SEO, digital marketing and lead generation.