Hiring an SEO consultant is tricky business. On the one hand, getting ranked well in the search engines is one of the highest ROI investments you could possibly make. On the other hand, the halls of business are littered with people who’ve paid thousands to SEO consultants with nothing to show for it.
So how do you pick an SEO consultant? How do you make sure that every penny you spend results in more traffic and more sales? Here are a few of the most important things to consider.
==> What Results Have They Gotten in the Past?
This is perhaps the most important gauge. Ask for several examples of past clients. Ask to see screenshots of where they first started out and where they ended up by the time they finished their work with the client.
Ask if you can contact their clients for referrals. You don’t actually have to call them up, just gauge what kind of reaction you get when you ask for the referral.
Try to get a sense for what kind of real experience the consultant has.
==> Where Does Their Personal or Company Site Rank?
If you’re hiring someone to help you with your rankings, you probably want to make sure that their own rankings are in order.
Ask them what kind of keyword(s) they’re trying to rank for. Then do a Google search and see where they come up. Are they up to par?
Note that while this factor can help a determination, it shouldn’t be your only or your main factor. Many great SEO consultants just don’t spend that much time on their site because they’re so busy working with clients.
==> What Kind of Tactics Do They Use?
How do they achieve the rankings they promise? Try to get them to walk you through as much detail as possible.
The most important thing here is to determine whether or not they’re using black-hat tactics.
Black-hat tactics are shortcuts to gain backlinks that could end up undermining your website in the future.
Try to work only with companies that use white-hat, above board tactics. That’ll set your website up with solid fundamentals from the ground up.
==> Pricing Structure
If at all possible, try to work with an SEO consultant whose results are somehow tied to their performance.
Usually this is done with a part up-front payment, with the majority of the payment due upon delivery of the results. For example, for a low to moderate competition keyword, you might pay $1,000 up front and pay an additional $10,000 if you got #1, $6,000 if you got #2 and so on.
This puts the onus to deliver squarely on the SEO consultant, instead of you having to bear the brunt of the risk by paying up front.
Some SEO consultants won’t work with this kind of pricing scheme, but many of the best do.
If you find an SEO consultant who has a strong portfolio, who’s ranked well himself, who uses legitimate tactics and who charges a competitive contingency-based rate, then there’s a good chance that you’ve found a great consultant to work with.