Are you looking for search engine optimization specialists to help you gain exposure online? If so, then you should know how to find the team that’s best suited for your brand.
The good news is that digital marketing is a crowded field. You’ll have no trouble finding plenty of companies online that are willing to help you out.
The bad news is that many of those companies are ineffective or unscrupulous. They’ll lead you down a wrong path and set your marketing efforts back months or years.
In some cases, the wrong team can even ruin your business.
You don’t want that. That’s why you need to know how to find the right partners.
In this article, we’ll go over what to look for in search engine optimization specialists.
Your Search Engine Optimization Specialist Should Have A Proven Track Record
What’s the best advertisement for just about any business? A satisfied customer.
Before you even think about hiring an SEO team, find out who their clients are. Then contact those companies to find out if they’re satisfied with the level of service they’ve received.
Keep in mind, though, you shouldn’t just ask about the quality of customer care the SEO professionals provide. You should also ask about results.
Ask the following questions:
- Did the search engine optimization specialists rank the company website in the top 10 for specific keywords?
- Did organic reach improve because of their efforts?
- Where in the search engine results pages (SERPs) was the company website before and after hiring the specialists?
Then, ask how long it took before the company noticed an improvement. Don’t be discouraged if the answer is “months.” That’s typically how long SEO takes.
The proof is in the pudding. If the SEO team is delivering results, then that team can likely help your website rank as well.
There’s another aspect to this “proven track record” criteria, though. The company should do an outstanding job of marketing its own business online.
Browse through the company blog. Take a look at some of the articles. Pay particular attention to the keywords that are prominent in those articles.
Then, Google those keywords. Do the company’s blog posts appear near the top of the results list?
If so, then you’re likely looking at a winning team.
If not, then maybe the company still needs to learn a thing or two about onsite and offsite optimization strategies.
Also, check the company website overall. Does it take a long time to load? If so, then that could be a red flag. That’s because site speed is a ranking factor.
Keep in mind, though: if the site loads slowly because you have a sluggish network connection, that’s not the company’s fault. Be careful about eliminating a great team because you’re working with limited bandwidth.
Another thing to check: the overall look and feel of the website. Does it have a professional design? Is it a website that you’d be proud to own?
Finally, check the website on a smartphone. If it’s difficult to navigate, then that team doesn’t know about the importance of optimizing a site for a mobile audience.
The bottom line is this: if an SEO company can’t market itself online, then how can you expect it to successfully market your business online?
A Search Engine Optimization Specialist Should Be Asking the Right Questions
A good interview involves asking all the right questions. In this case, though, we’re talking about their questions.
Yes, of course, you should ask lots of great questions when you’re interviewing search engine optimization specialists. But they should ask plenty of great questions as well.
If they’re not asking you questions, then they won’t effectively market your brand.
You should hear questions like:
- What’s your business model?
- What is your unique selling proposition?
- What is the goal of your website? To generate leads, sell products, set up an appointment, etc.?
- How much of your revenue do you get from online marketing right now?
- What SEO strategies are you currently using?
- Who is your typical customer?
- How much does it currently cost to acquire one customer?
- What offline strategies are you using?
- Do you have a blog? How often do you update it?
- What keywords do you think are relevant to your brand?
- What tools are you using?
And there should be plenty more.
Find search engine optimization specialists who are genuinely curious about your business and you’re likely to find a team that will put your site at the top of the SERPs.
Does the Search Engine Optimization Specialist Continue to Educate Themselves?
If you’ve found a team of people who each have the equivalent of a Ph.D. in SEO, then you might think that they’ve learned all that there is to know about the subject. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that SEO is an evolving discipline. Some of the strategies that worked just a few years ago won’t work today.
That’s why you need to hire search engine optimization specialists who are always learning.
During the interview process, ask candidates about their ongoing training efforts. Specifically, ask them about maintaining certification, attending seminars, and how often they take new courses.
Anybody who has stopped learning in this business is destined to fail.
What Tools Does The Search Engine Optimization Specialist Use? Are they the latest?
While you’re interviewing candidates, you should also gauge their knowledge by asking about the latest technologies related to SEO.
Just make sure you have an idea about some of those latest bells and whistles yourself. You can get a quick understanding of that by looking at recent articles on Search Engine Land or Search Engine Roundtable.
Asking about the latest technologies is important because it’s one of the ways that you can be sure that the team keeps up with the latest trends in SEO.
As of this writing, one of the hottest technologies is Accelerated Mobile Pages. That’s a way to improve page load speed for mobile users.
By the time you read this, though, the latest “thing” could be something completely different.
During the interview process, ask candidates what they think it is.
What is Your Search Engine Optimization Specialist’s Backlink Strategy?
You should also ask candidates about their backlink strategy.
If you’re unfamiliar with that term, a backlink strategy is an effort to build links to your site from other websites. That’s important because, as of now, backlinks are a ranking factor.
If your SEO team doesn’t have a plan to get you backlinks, then it’s not likely that team will help your website rank.
Keep in mind, though, that there are white hat and black hat ways of getting backlinks. SEOs who practice white hat strategies play by Google’s rules. Those who use black hat strategies break the rules to game the system.
You want a team that will follow white hat strategies.
If you decide to venture into the dark side of website optimization, you could end up spending a lot of money for little to no effect. That’s because Google is always on the lookout for people who are violating its rules.
Even worse: you could end up in the Google penalty box. If that happens, then nobody is going to find your website in the search results. Obviously, that will be a devastating (and possibly fatal) blow to your marketing efforts.
Do yourself a favor: go with a white hat strategy for getting backlinks.
One of the best white hat strategies that you can follow is to guest-post on a non-competing blog. You’ll provide free content to the blog and get a backlink in exchange for your service.
A good SEO team will work with you to get legitimate, white hat links on great websites throughout cyberspace. That will help you improve your rank.
Your Search Engine Optimization Specialist Should Have OnsiteSEO Strategies
A backlink strategy is part of offsite SEO. It’s called that because it’s what you do off of your website.
There’s also onsite SEO. That’s a means of optimizing your site so that its content is likely to rank well with the search engines.
When you’re interviewing search engine optimization specialists, ask them about their onsite SEO strategies.
In response, you should hear a litany of ideas about H1 and H2 tags, meta tags, schema markup, sitemaps, site speed, internal linking, and breadcrumbs. Those are ways that SEO professionals help your site move to the top of the SERPs.
Perhaps the best onsite SEO, though, is content marketing.
Does the Search Engine Optimization Specialist Have a Content Marketing Strategy?
Unless you have a very narrowly defined business model with little to no competition, you’ll likely need to do some content marketing to gain exposure online.
What is content marketing? It’s a digital strategy that involves blogging to find people in your target market.
You produce articles that will likely rank well when people search for keywords related to your niche. Then, they see a link to your article in the results list, click on it, and visit your website.
At that point, you’ve got a potential customer on your site. The next step is to close the sale.
Any great SEO team will talk to you about content marketing. They’ll likely recommend someone who can produce original, relevant, shareable content on your blog so that you can gain more business.
Obviously, you’ll need to pay for that service, but it’s the cost of doing business online these days.
Qualified Search Engine Optimization Specialists will Begin with Keyword Research
A team of qualified search engine optimization specialists will know that just about all excellent content marketing begins with keyword research. Ask them about it.
Specifically, ask them how they’ll find keywords related to your brand. Leave it as an open-ended question and let them answer.
That answer will speak volumes.
There are other tools as well. If you hear them name a lot of tools, that’s great.
This is an industry where more is merrier when it comes to tools.
Also, the folks you’re interviewing should talk about uncovering the keywords that your competitors are using. That’s an essential part of keyword research.
Why? For a couple of reasons.
First, it helps you find popular keywords in your industry that you might not have uncovered yourself. Then, you can produce content for those keywords and attract more customers.
Second, it also helps you take market share away from competitors. That’s especially likely to happen if your content ranks higher than their content.
You should also hear the word “longtail” when you’re talking to SEO specialists about keyword research. Longtail keywords are unusually long search terms that can put lots of cash in your pocket.
That’s because other businesses often overlook longtail keywords. So, there’s little to no competition.
However, they’re often used by people who type whole sentences or several words into a search engine. Some of those people will be in your target market.
SEO is marketing.
The people that you choose to partner with shouldn’t just understand the technical aspects of SEO, but should also know how to market a brand. They should fully understand what the people in your target market are looking for.
During the interview process, describe your business model and typical customer. Then, ask the team how they would approach marketing under those circumstances.
Again, let the question hang. Don’t give them an opportunity for an easy “out.”
Listen to their response carefully. Does it seem like an excellent strategy for reaching potential customers? Does it sound like it’s rooted in principles of great marketing?
If so, then you could be talking to a winning team.
Wrapping Up: How to Hire a Search Engine Optimization Specialist
If you want to succeed online, then you’re almost certainly going to need the assistance of search engine optimization specialists. Find some great candidates by checking out their websites online, then whittle them down to a few candidates during a thorough interview process. Finally, pick the team that will most likely help you boost your bottom line.