Things to look for in an SEO specialist

Understanding SEO

Time to complete:

7 minutes

In other lessons, we’ve explored how Google Search works and learned about the basics of SEO. If you’re ready to dive in and begin work to optimize your website, the links below are a great starting point.

If you’d like some extra help navigating these SEO tips or if you don’t have time to devote to improving your website’s SEO, another option is to hire an SEO specialist. If you find the right person, they can become a long term partner as you improve your website and business.

In this lesson, we’ll provide general guidelines for things to look for when hiring an SEO specialist.

Tips for hiring an SEO specialist

In this video, we go over the minimal recommended qualifications you should look for in a potential SEO consultant.

If you think hiring an SEO specialist might be for you, here are some steps and guidelines to help you find a promising candidate:

1. Conduct an interview

During the interview, pay attention to the types of questions the candidate asks. A good SEO specialist will be interested in understanding your business holistically and will focus not just on where your website appears in the search results but how it appears. They will tend to ask questions like:

  • What makes your business, content, or service unique and therefore valuable to customers?
  • What does your common customer look like? How do they currently find your website?
  • How does your business make money? And how can Search help with that?
  • How do you promote your business? Do you use offline advertising? How about social networks?
  • Who are your competitors? What do they do well online and potentially offline?

If someone promises that they’ll make your website rank first on Google, watch out. These types of unrealistic promises are a signal that the person probably isn’t the right choice for you.

2. Check references

Next, ask the candidate to provide references of clients they have worked with in the past. You can ask these references questions like:

  • Did the SEO specialist provide useful guidance?
  • Did the SEO specialist work effectively with their team?
  • Were the results the SEO specialist drove sustained or were they only temporary?

Understanding the experience other business owners like you have had with the SEO specialist will help you confirm their credibility.

3. Request an audit of your site

Before they actually modify anything on your website, have them conduct an audit to give you a prioritized list of what they think should be improved for SEO. Things to look for in the audit include:

  • Did the specialist create a prioritized list of proposed changes, including their expected impact and difficulty? In general, the easiest tasks that have the biggest impact should be prioritized first.
  • Did the specialist take the time to explain the reasoning behind their suggested changes to you?
  • Did the specialist consider how real people would read and understand your website’s listings in the search results? You want to craft your listings to be appealing for people, and not just for the search engines.
  • Does the specialist feel like someone you could work with and learn from?

This audit will give you a taste of how the candidate thinks and what working with them would be like.

Once you’ve completed these three steps, you should be well-informed and ready to select an SEO specialist who can help your business. Once hired, work with your selected candidate to agree on goals, metrics and how to track results.


Tips for hiring an SEO specialist

An SEO specialist can become a long term partner helping you to improve your website and business over time.

  • Conduct an interview and pay attention to the types of questions the candidate asks about your website

  • Check references to understand how effective the candidate was for other clients

  • Request an audit of your site to understand what items they would prioritize to improve your site