I think this will be super helpful to everyone here since most of you are local service providers and SEO is absolutely important for you.
I’m going to tell you the red flags of what to look for when hiring an SEO person.
Expectations — Setting expectations at the beginning of the relationship is key. SEO peeps should tell you what to expect going forward on progress, onboarding, etc. I’ll just tell you that if they don’t give you expectations upfront, how do you know WHAT they are suppose to be doing?
False Promises — Clients always ask how long it will take to rank #1 or for leads to come in. Let me burst your bubble. This is almost impossible to know right out the gate. Sure, some traffic numbers can be predicted based on keyword research, but not rankings or leads. SEO is a chess game where you are competing against other players. It’s impossible to know how much SEO work your competitors are doing. We just hope we’re doing more than them. So if an SEO guy promises you #1 rankings within a timeframe, run.
Keywords — Speaking of keywords, if your SEO guy doesn’t do keyword research, big no no. SEO strategy starts with keyword research. And THEY should be doing this, not you. Sometimes they ask the client what keywords they want to rank for….this is the SEO guys job.
Communication — Your SEO guy should communicate constantly. Bi-weekly at minimum IMO. I do weekly but that’s me. They should also give some sort of Layman’s terms progress report. SEO can be technical and needs to be explained in easy narrative.
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Website Access — If they don’t request access to your website, red flag. How can they optimize a website without doing SOME website work? Sure, there are some off-site things to do, but there are some essential website things to do first.
Collaborate — SEO guys need access to a website. They may need to collaborate with the website designer. Sometimes these are two different people. This is totally okay! This happens all the time. Your website person and SEO person SHOULD collaborate together. If one of them isn’t willing to play ball with the other, that’s a red flag for either of them.
Google Data — If your SEO guy doesn’t request access to your Google Analytics or Google Search Console, red flag. Reading and analyzing this data is crucial. Google Analytics is how to know how much web traffic you’re getting, their behavior, and where they come from. Google Search Console gives you the exact search queries that users type into Google to click on your site. This is important data! If you by chance don’t have these set up, this should be one of the first things they do.
Google Business Profile — This is that side listing that shows up on Google that has your phone number, address, map, office hours, etc that users see and click on. If your SEO guy doesn’t request access to this or doesn’t optimize this for you, red flag.
One-Time Service — Proper SEO strategy is a long-term game. It allows you to grow organic, evergreen search traffic. If an SEO guy tells you that they will optimize your site for a one-time fee as a “once and done” service, red flag. They are ONLY doing the essentials of SEO, which is optimizing the core pages of your site (home, about, services, contact). They are completely missing the other 90% of SEO strategy.
Short articles — If your SEO guy keeps publishing short articles on your website and says that it’s sufficient to rank, red flag IMO. I’m not saying that you cannot rank with short articles (less than 500 words), but I am saying that it’s super difficult. Google is super smart and they gauge how much time someone stays on your site. If they stay longer, the user is interested. Which means you have good content. Which makes you an authority. Which Google loves. My recommendation is 700+ words (as a baseline). Also, if the articles are NOT good, it’s really hard to pitch a backlink to other sites (see last point).
Publishing Frequency — If your SEO guy is only publishing 1-2 articles per MONTH, red flag. This is just not enough content for you to rank in a reasonable timeframe, generally speaking. I would recommend minimum one article per week. We do two articles per week because we recognize that most do one per week. Again, it’s a chess game and we want to out do the competition.
Backlinks — A good content strategy is key to lay it up for a good backlinking strategy. Backlinking is the real way to juice up your SEO rankings. If you don’t know what it is, it’s simple but quite the most difficult thing to do in SEO. Backlinking is when another high quality website features YOU on THEIR website and hyperlinks back to YOUR website. The reason this is important is because if other high quality websites are linking back to yours, it tells Google that YOUR website must be legit. Therefore, they will bump up the rankings. If your SEO guy doesn’t mention a backlink strategy, red flag.
I really hope this helps you all that are looking to bump up your SEO game.
I realize that my SEO services may be outside of your investment budget for some of you so I wanted to give you some direction if you choose to hire a different SEO person.
If you currently have a website with me, I am more than happy to collaborate with anyone I need to in order for you to help grow your business.
I am here to be a resource in the best way I can with you, whether that means hiring me, learning from me, or collaborating with me.
Okay, that’s it! If you like this post and you want more?
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