When you’re looking to go with an outside firm or freelancer to handle your SEO, there are things you have to consider in order to—basically—vet that company or person. Just like with other contract work (or work, in general) in and around the office, you want to make sure that that specified expert is worth their salt. Here are the top five things to consider when looking to hire a SEO company or other outsourced help.
#1: How They Measure SEO Success
The next consideration to have for an outside SEO company or specialist is how they go about measuring success. The metrics they put forth need to be actionable and measurable—not purely “pie in the sky.”
This isn’t to say that measuring success wouldn’t differ between campaigns or even clients. It definitely can—and is highly dependent on your own goals. But it does need to be more than just “rank higher on Google.” That’s not something specific enough to measure, and hardly enough to go about accomplishing. You might even find “SEO success” as too vague a phrasing. A better way to put it might go something like this: “What specific metrics inform how they [the SEO company] gauge a successful campaign?” Again, this answer might vary depending on the goals you outline to them, which (if it does) is actually good news for you. It means they’re actively noting, and building a plan upon, what you’re after business-wise.
#2: How They Develop a SEO Strategy
This consideration leans heavily on the aforementioned measuring SEO success. Developing a SEO strategy requires input on your part (through your end goals), a specific plan of action by your selected partner(s), and technical follow-up to ensure that the strategy has legs.
As this suggests, the SEO help in question will need a variety of soft and technical skills. They’ll need to be able to effectively communicate with you, manage their time well, keep track of algorithm updates, perform site audits, leverage SEO-specific tools to your advantage, read and understand GA, and more.
All this said, SEO strategy encompasses a staggering amount of skills to be truly effective. The “strategy” part you’re likely accustomed to is just the start. For your part, you’ll want to know exactly what they mean by strategy. Ask them about specific steps they’ll take to create and maintain a strategy, and the plan they’ll have in place to implement it successfully.
#3: How They Know How to SEO for Your Business
This consideration is a twist on the age-old inquiry into background experience. SEO in particular, and even digital marketing to a degree, is still a rare find on college campuses: Many classrooms don’t teach it as core curriculum (or don’t do it enough justice), even in marketing programs. This makes understanding your outside hires’ (company or person) background with SEO even more important to know. How did they learn SEO? What is the architecture of their experience?
While seemingly cliché, SEO is often a “hard knocks” kind of industry. People learn on the job—pooling knowledge from a bunch of different places: experience with past clients, agency internships, courses in web and front-end development, GA certification, and more. Before hiring, consider how they learned to do SEO—and how they can apply that experience specifically to your business. That can clue you into their actual qualifications, whether that’s fluent in SEO or just jargon.
#4: How They Track Algorithm Changes & Industry Updates
SEO is an industry always in flux: Google and other search engines are constantly rolling out new algorithm updates, be it small or large. Knowing how your prospective SEO company or freelancer keeps track of these changes will offer you insight into not only their expertise but organizational skills as well.
Part of being a fine-tuned SEO professional is keeping a read on past, existing, and incoming algorithm updates and relevant industry news. It just comes with the territory. For this reason, this kind of hire
(company or person) has to be organized, proactive, and always up to date. A SEO company or expert worth their salt will constantly check up on industry news feeds and Google updates, adjusting accordingly—as they simultaneously pore through page reports on your behalf. For a SEO expert, there has to be a mix of industry experience and ongoing organizational know-how.
#5: What Makes Them Stand Out as a SEO Company
The final, top consideration you should have going into a partnership with a SEO company or freelancer is an all-too-important one: what makes them different? And this can apply to both a company or person. For a person, it could be what skills they bring to the table on a one-to-one basis. However, full disclosure here: one person trying to fulfill your SEO is no small task—depending on your volume, it’s probably near impossible.
But let’s say you decide to go with a company. What makes them stand out from other, similar firms? Again, this could come down to personal preference. The differentiator you’re looking for might be years of experience, organizational fit, or plain price. But, whatever that differentiator is, it should be top of mind during business discussions.
Uptick Marketing is more than a SEO agency: We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Birmingham, AL—with a growing and capable SEO arm. Connect with us to learn how we can partner with you toward your optimization goals!