8 Questions to Ask Yourself While Hiring an SEO Expert
Is it time to hire an SEO expert? Whether you work for a company large or small, brick-and-mortar or ecommerce, you probably rely on search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to your website, and sales for your business. In 2018 alone, it’s projected that brands and agencies in the U.S. will spend over $72 billion on SEO. That makes SEO a competitive yet necessary marketing method. And, that means you must hire an SEO expert who really does know their field and how to maximize results for your business.
It might seem like a straightforward hire. Look for someone with experience who can talk about keywords, meta tags, and algorithms and you’re good, right? Not quite. Successful SEO requires much more, like analytical skills and enthusiasm, but even more still. In addition to looking for someone personable with strong research, analytical and communication skills, you also want to make sure the SEO expert you hire will be a good fit with your organization and goals for a long time to come.
With that in mind, we offer eight questions you might not have considered when you set out to hire an SEO expert. These aren’t interview questions per se, but questions for you to use when reflecting on the candidates you hire. Use these questions to round out your review process, and you’re more than likely to hire an SEO specialist you’ll be happy with for the long haul.
1. What Is Their SEO Training?
Many professionals working in SEO got on-the-job training. In fact, this propensity to learn on the job rather than through a formal education or certification program is far too common among digital marketing professionals: Research shows that 82 percent learn on the job. This might sound okay to you, but it’s risky and you’d likely be better off hiring an SEO professional with proven training and even a certification.
2. What Is Their Actual SEO Experience?
Sadly, anyone can claim to be an SEO expert. Unlike a doctor or teacher who must show credentials to get hired, an SEO “expert” can simply claim to be such. Don’t be duped. Take a good hard look at your job candidate’s experience. Just like Google looks for PageRank to make sure a page is credible, so too should you look for SEO authority by checking job references and asking detailed questions about their previous roles. What kinds of results did they accomplish at a previous job? What sorts of improvements can they point to? SEO is measurable. Ask for hard data to prove their claims of experience.
3. Are They a Team Player?
When you want to hire an SEO expert, remember that this person rarely works in a silo. Your SEO person should be experienced in working with other digital marketing professionals who make up the team, including those in PPC, content creation, and web development.
4. Do They Take a Holistic View?
You want an SEO expert with a holistic view because SEO consists of many parts, even beyond the on-page and off-page SEO you’ll hear people talk about. For example, you want to hire an SEO expert who realizes that his or her job goes beyond simply ranking well to include click throughs on the search results page (SERP), and a good user experience once a searcher does click through. It does you no good at all to have someone click through to your website then click the back button a second later because they don’t like what they see! Your SEO expert does not have to own that website or landing page, but they should be cognizant that it is the next step in the process, the hand off if you will, from SEO to the conversion team, and they should have a vested interest in how that hand off works.
5. Is That SEO Expert Business Savvy?
A good SEO expert realizes that their ultimate job is not to win searches but to help build brand and boost the bottom line. They have a good understanding of business objectives, and how their efforts as an SEO specialist support and even advance business goals. There are different ways to measure SEO and digital marketing success, and you want to hire someone who understands this, rather than someone with a narrow view.
6. Is That SEO Specialist Marketing Savvy?
The so-called expert who is overly focused on keywords and Google rankings might not have the broader marketing perspective you need. A short-sighted SEO person might use keywords that trick someone into clicking on a link, be fine with poor quality content that’s keyword-loaded, or not notice that the time spent on critical pages is far lower than it should be. The SEO expert who will benefit your business for the long term will have a solid understanding of marketing concepts.
7. Are They Current With the Latest Changes?
As the one doing the hiring, you might not know enough about SEO to know that Google makes changes to its algorithm on a daily basis (and you don’t need to know that; that’s why you’re going to hire an SEO expert!). But you want to hire an SEO specialist who keeps up with the changes just as frequently as Google makes them (figuratively if not literally). Since you’re not an SEO expert, you can find this out by asking about the latest SEO information they learned and how they applied it to a specific situation with what result.
8. Do They Ask a Lot of Questions?
During your interviews with your potential SEO experts, you probably ask a lot of questions. That’s to be expected. But, when you want to hire an SEO expert, you want to find someone who asks a lot of questions of you as well. This shows that they are interested, that they care about your business and how you’re already doing SEO. If they don’t ask questions, that could be due to nerves, but it also could be that they have a set way of doing SEO and that they plan to adopt that cookie cutter approach with your organization. Be mindful of the questions they ask, both how many and what type. (Because we don’t mean questions about salary and benefits!)
Although SEO has been around for many years now, it’s far from becoming obsolete like some other forms of marketing. With the predominance of Google and a worldwide audience intent on using the Internet to find information, restaurants, gadgets and more, SEO will continue to play a critical role in the digital marketing strategy of almost every business, big and small. Make sure the SEO efforts on behalf of your business are the best they can be by seeking out the well-rounded candidate who can serve your business well for a long time to come when you hire an SEO expert.
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