There is no governing body that accredits an SEO specialist and almost anyone can claim to be an expert. As a result it is important to do some research and learn what type of questions you should ask in order to determine if an SEO consultant knows what they are doing. This article outlines a few important questions that should be asked when hiring an SEO consultant.
The first question to ask any SEO consultant is if they have examples of work they have done and what placements they have achieved. Top placement can easily be achieved for non-competitive keywords that don’t actually drive quality traffic to your site. A common trick used by some unethical SEO experts is to optimize a site for keywords that don’t drive quality traffic. Sometimes site owners become so fixated with being on the first page of Google they forget to check if people are actually searching for the keywords. A professional SEO consultant should provide you with a thorough keyword analysis including monthly search volume, competitiveness, and a list of other top companies that are currently targeting these keywords. First page placement means nothing unless you place for quality keywords.
Another important question to ask when hiring an SEO consultant is if a monthly maintenance package is required to maintain results. Once a site is placed on the first page of search results for desired keywords little maintenance is require to keep it unless you are in a highly competitive market. If a monthly maintenance package is required be sure to ask your consultant why they feel it is necessary. Unfortunately a common practice of some unethical SEO experts is to place a customer’s site on the first page of search results and then later remove some of the acquired links causing a drop in placement. As a result the client is tricked into thinking a monthly maintenance package is required. To avoid this from happening be sure that your consultant can explain why their monthly maintenance package is required.
The last question you should ask involves ethical optimization practices. It is important to ask your consultant if they perform ethical optimization and if they have a definition of what ethical optimization is. Although there are no legal authorities that govern search engine optimization it is important that your SEO consultant practises ethical optimization. There are many hidden rules in the industry that when violated can result in penalties ranging form a loss in placement to being removed entirely form index. Some of these practices include back hate techniques such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, invisible text, reciprocal link exchanges (i.e. link farms), or buying/selling links. If your SEO consultant feels that they are smart enough to use these techniques and get away with it then find another consultant. Having your site blacklisted isn’t worth the risk.
There are many things to consider when hiring an SEO expert. Best advice is to do some research and talk to a few different consultants before making any commitment. Be sure to ask your consultant if they have samples of work they can show you including keyword search volume and competitiveness. Ask if your site will require a monthly maintenance package and why they feel it is necessary. Lastly, be sure to ask if your consultant practices ethical optimization. You will find that most professional SEO consultants will expect these questions and take no offence to you asking. If a consultant reacts badly to these questions or can’t provide a respectable answer then it is best to look for another consultant.