Scenario 1: You have had a design company or marketing company for a few successful years now and you have always offered your customers SEO with all your websites. However, because SEO is changing on a daily basis you soon realise that your company does not actually know as much as you thought. You need an SEO professional fast but are not sure how to go about finding the right SEO specialist.
Scenario 2: You have been doing your own in-house marketing for months and your competitor is ranking higher than you and seems to be getting all the business. Someone told you that you need an SEO specialist… what on earth do you do know, you don’t even know what SEO stands for.
I am about to help you out a bit and walk you through a Hiring and SEO 101 crash course.
Do some research
First off, it is time to educate yourself a little more on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), find out what it is, who does it and what is usually required in an SEO specialist. If you do not understand the basics of SEO it will be impossible to identify a SEO dummy. There are many helpful tutorials and sites on SEO, some trusted sites include Moz, SEObook, SEOsmarty and SearchEngineLand. Stay clear of sites that simply offer SEO services, these sort of sites are mass produced and usually hold no valuable education tools.
Identify a Professional before the interview
There are some basic on-line tests you can do before meeting with your SEO professional. Knowing a little more about the individual before you look at hiring him will give you a small head-start into identifying the skill this person possesses.
- Does this professional have a website of a portfolio that shows off his results or skills? If not then you may want to ask him when he arrives for some proof of work done and results achieved.
- Does this pro write articles and actively talk openly about his industry and his skills? Does he offer advice or tips on SEO and marketing strategy? Does he have his own opinion and topics on the industry that shows that he knows what he is talking about? All of these are indicators that your professional is actively involved in his industry and continuing his education in the field. SEOs not offering advice may not be up-to-date in the latest trends or happenings.
- Is your pro Involved in Social Media. There is no doubt in my mind that every true SEO professional has many, many social media profiles under his belt. Most professionals have over 20 social media accounts which range from Facebook to Digg. Ask him if he is on Twitter, ask her if she has a Mixx account. If he is not into social media then there is no point in calling him in. There is no excuse, Social Media plays a huge role in optimising websites. SMO (Social Media Optimisation) is most definitely in the job description of an SEO professional.
- Is he visible in Google under his own name (or company)? A good indication that your pro is well known is finding his name splattered all over the internet. This shows that your professional is constantly involved in posting media for his clients, talking about his industry and being involved in various on-line marketing communities. Look out for other sites that are posting articles that your pro has written, this shows that the info he is writing is appreciated and past around because it hold merit. Go ahead and try my name Bryan Casson.
The SEO professional interview.
So your guy looks like he has passed all your pre-identifying tests, now it is time to call him in and ask a few more questions and hear what he was to say. Lets start with a few CRINGE words. I call them cringe words because they make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I start to make the you are crazy face every time I here a so called expert mention them.
- Submit to directories. No, No, No, submitting to hundreds of directories is a classic way to identify an SEO freak. This is no longer necessary, if your professional say he is going to help you submit then it is time to make him pay for his coffee and leave.
- Submit to Google. If he mentions that you need to submit your site to Google then he is a little behind on his game. If your site has great content and a few trusted incoming links then Google will find you soon enough. Not only that but your site will start with a little more trust from Google because you do not waive your site in its face saying I’m here, I’m here look at my poor sorry site pleeeeeese.
- Meta Keywords. Any mention on optimising your sites with meta keywords means that your expert has no clue, meta keywords have never been used by Google and can do more harm than good. All SEO professionals caught onto this years ago and have spent many hours deleting them from thousands of the older sites that insisted on using them. There are only a couple of meta-tags still used by search engines, the rest are junk and need to be deleted.
- I will get you #1. SEO is not about getting a #1 listing. Any pro that makes guarantees like this will get you and your company in big trouble with your clients. All experts know that predictions on one or two words is plain stupid. First of all you are underestimating your own potential because more often then not if your strategy is working out you will be ranked on the top page for hundreds of words and not just one or two. Secondly, SEOs are not mind-readers, the top ranking words are determined on the content of your site and Google’s algorithm at that time. No-one hits the algorithms spot on to guarantee #1 results for any keyword they want. (Although some do get quite close and will try repeat the result for as long as possible before Google goes and changes thing again)
- What is Twitter? If you don’t know your industry then don’t bother applying for the job. Your SEO guy needs to know all the trends (this is why you need to do your research to know the trends)
These are just a few ways to identify an SEO faker. If this is all still too confusing for you then please feel free to contact me using my ASK AN SEO form on the right. I will answer any questions you may have and work with you to identify and hire a true SEO professional.