How to Hire an SEO Expert – Common Questions to Ask

SEO experts are high in demand as companies realize the importance of strategic SEO for their business. However, the fast changing nature of SEO today makes it almost impossible to find an expert that can fit the role perfectly.

An ideal SEO expert is one who not only knows what is happening in the SEO field right now, but who is also apt at keeping pace with the changes.

So, if you want to select the right SEO expert for your company, here are some essential questions you should ask your candidates:

Q: How Will You Work on Improving My Business’s Search Engine Rankings?

An expert SEO professional would have no qualms about discussing their strategy with you. There really is no secret, unless they were doing something shady which would then hurt your site.

While the more customized strategies will come later, they’d surely have some basic strategies planned for your site already which they’d be happy to discuss with you. Make sure that the candidates provide a promising SEO proposal when they come for an interview that is based on realistic timelines.

Q: When Will I Start Ranking on Search Engines?

This is honestly a tricky question to answer but the honest truth is that no SEO expert knows. If they tell you, it is a flat out lie or they have inside information from Google which is most likely not the case.

That being said, your SEO expert should provide you at least a rough timeline, based on past experiences and realistic timelines. If the terms you are trying to rank high for are tough and many companies competing for it, the harder it will be to rank. Which means more months. I typically say on average what you do today will help you a year from now in SEO. It takes a lot of time to build links, sometimes Google does an algorithm update and it puts a wrench in your plans. Other times the update works in your favour (by pushing down competing sites that are trying to compete against you)

Q: Are You Aware of the Guidelines Provided by Search Engines?

Search engines have strict webmaster best practices guidelines that tell you about actions that are allowed and prohibited in terms of SEO content.

When hiring an SEO expert, you should ensure that the person is aware of these guidelines and adhere by them, which any professional expert would surely do. Content that does not follow these guidelines can get banned by the search engines which can’t be good for your business.

If your SEO expert ignores your ‘On-Page’ SEO or doesn’t provide you any recommendations on your website. It is a bit of a red flag. On-Page SEO does play a factor in your overall SEO strategy (yes, link building is critical but we can never forget about On-Page)

Q: Can You Guarantee The Site Will Get Number One Ranking on All Search Engines?

If the candidate says “yes” to this question, it is a clear indication for you to send them on their way and look for someone else. Offering such promises is unprofessional because number one ranking on search engines is something extremely difficult for businesses that are just starting with their SEO campaigns to achieve. This is a major red flag that you should be aware of. Even a well established SEO campaign might not be able to crack the #1 position, it’s much more likely but for an SEO expert to state they will be able to do it is usually a major red flag.

Q: What type of SEO strategy do you use, Black Hat or White Hat?

This is an awesome question to ask, first off it shows the SEO expert that you actually know SEO lingo:

• Black Hat:
Shady/nasty/very bad/end of the world SEO tactics. They get you ranking quickly but the tactics they use are typically banned by Google and your website in turn when Google finds out will be banned. It isn’t a matter of ‘if I get caught’ it will be when. Your website is garbage after this.

• White Hat:
The most labour intensive version of SEO, it’s the proper way to do SEO (we do it here) and it has stood the test of time for 15 years (as long as Google has been around). White Hat is labour intensive because Google wants credible links pointing to you. In turn, an SEO expert will need to go to credible websites and get them to link to your site. Contact 100 sites might only get you 2 links, maybe 1. This is what makes it labour intensive.

If at all you hear your SEO hinting they do black hat tactics, send them out the door. Also, if you hear that the SEO expert will submit your site to Thousands of sites and Thousands of Article Directories. Send them out the door also. Google is looking for high quality links over ‘farm’ or low quality links that can easily be obtained.

Sites that focused on getting thousands of links instead of quality links were demoted (lost a lot of traffic and ranking) in the Panda update.

About the Author

Matthew Goulart

Matthew Goulart is the founder of Ignite Digital, a Canadian digital marketing agency. Through Ignite Digital, Goulart works with Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies from around the world and has helped launch profitable and highly successful digital marketing initiatives for his clients.