If your website is not on the first page of search engines like Google, you have a very little or no chance that your potential audience would find you. A good (Very good!) visibility on search engines is very critical if you market your business online. Good rankings can boost your traffic, can get you great quality leads and of course, as a result, boost your sales.

Now the hard part, getting good rankings on search engines needs quality. Not just a quality product or service you might be offering, but a quality website as well. The website needs to be optimised internally and externally so that search engines can find you and if you have done the job well (very well!), rank you higher as well.

What if you lack the skills and technical expertise to do all that yourself? That’s where you think of hiring an external SEO consultant to do the job for you. But the industry is marred by so called professionals who promise magical results, which all unfortunately add up to no real value. To stay clear from wasting your time and money, here are 5 essential questions you might consider asking before hiring a consultant.

1. How are you going to improve my rankings?
Rand Friskin, founder of Moz cautions to stay away from bogus SEO consultants who are unwilling to clearly and freely discuss their SEO strategies and methods they use to improve your search rankings. The consultants should tell you, clearly, how exactly are they going to optimise your website and how long would it take to realistically see an improvement in your online rankings.

2. Can you guarantee Number 1 Ranking for my website?
If they answer “Yes”, “Turn and run in the other direction as fast as you can.” Warns Vanessa Fox, founder of SEO software provider Nine By Blue. SEO is all about being realistic. It takes years of hard work and a careful executed strategy to achieve good if not top rankings on major search engines across the vast arena of the Internet. If someone promises something, which is too good to be true, they are probably not. Even worse, just disappear from the scene if the consultant even mentions to have an insider relationship with Google.

3. How are you going to measure the results?
In order to the understand the value SEO is getting you, you have to know exactly how and how much returns it is getting you in terms of organic traffic from search engines. To be able to get hold of measuring those results, the consultant should be more than familiar with Google Analytics to track your inbound traffic, links to your website, the search queries people use to find your website, user’s flow on your website and so on. The consultant should be able to setup all that on your website without hesitation.

4. How are you going to communicate and how often?
SEO consultant use different communication methods and patterns. But you might look at someone whose communication style closely matches yours. It takes the hassle out of the whole process. Business strategies might change and it helps a lot to be able to communicate that to your SEO consultant and make him understand what implications that’s going to have on your online marketing.

And now a very important question!

5. What are your fees?
SEO can be money hungry sometimes if not planned properly. The consultant’s fees can range from a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands. All depending on how extensive and complex your SEO campaign is. Make sure you can commit to the fess for a long period because SEO campaigns can’t bring you overnight results. You have to remember, once again, SEO is a very carefully planned process with a masterpiece execution for each campaign to be successful.

These are just some of the questions you should consider asking. There is plenty more to ask however, depending on your projects’ unique requirements. For example, for some small businesses, local search optimisation is paramount, so sorting out that part first should be on top of the list of questions to ask.

As long as you are clear about your online goals, creating a successful SEO campaign should be straight forward by utilising the expertise of a skilled SEO consultant.

If you are looking for a qualified and skilled SEO consultant for your online business. I am here to help. Request a free SEO Consultation here.

Have something to add? Please let me know in comments. Thank you.