Wanting to rank higher in certain search terms but have no idea who to hire. How do I find someone good? What are the signs of good (and bad) SEO professionals?
There are no good answers here to give. I say that as someone who has hired SEO agencies in the past and now has internal SEO employees. Either case it's very hard to find good resources. It's very easy to showcase case studies in the industry as to showing the improvement. But having an attribution as to that person or agency is responsible for the improvement is hard. But here are some basic rules
• ask for references within the same industry you are in(of course if it's a direct competitor they should not be pitching to you)
• ask for a detailed plan on what happens in what time frame and when the trend would be favorable to you
• ask if the agency is comfortable with an outcome based deal
• talk to the actual SEO analyst who will do the job and not the sales or bd lead of the agency
• find someone who knows the industry to be a project manager and manage the SEO work and make him/her get a performance bonus if things improve
All in all. Depending on the keyword there might be a chance you will never rank high cos you will never outspend the marketing and advertising spend of a well funded competitor. But the above are some basic rules.
Good news is there's not a lot of people here that can do what I do. In fact our best competition can't even sew on a button, and we do their "bespoke" suit alterations.
Well, to differentiate Good for Bad, You will either need one of these two
• Detailed Knowledge – If you know SEO already then there was no point of asking this, So this simply means you need to learn more before you can understand the difference between Good to Bad.
Example – I have seen agencies who use churn and burn methods to rank a site just to get the initial payment from the client, once the client sees the ranking he happily pays upfront and never hears from the agency again. I personally feel bad for both of them, the client's site becomes a zombie after this and he has no clue what to do next and for the agrency, these people only destroying our profession nothing else. The saddest thing is this is not about a country either, you will find a few agencies from all the countries around the world.
02) Instinct – Its a hit or miss for most people. Some can actually predict the time it will take to reach from 22nd position to 2nd 3rd or even 1st. So unless you have some understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or you have managed few campaigns yourself I doubt this is gonna work for you.
The Best Solution – Ask if they offer any sample work, ask about their past clients, ask those clients how it worked from them etc.
I think you have already understood my point, I wish you luck with your business, In case you need any specific help regarding SEO, I will be more than happy to help here, Thanks.
Thanks to others who have also written great answers for your question.
I appreciate it a lot. Thank you. There's one guy whom my colleague works with and says he has great results out of. I might actually try him then.
Success online can be broken down into two parts:
• Being found as easily and in as many ways as possible.
• Converting the people who find you into $$$.
The way that you determine a good or bad company is through the results of their work.
• Ask for reports that demonstrate increases in rankings over time and at what budget level and at what levels of competition.
• Ask for reports that demonstrate an increase in conversion rates over time.
Hire an SEO company that understands Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) (conversion rate optimization). Because success online is more than just getting higher rankings. And that's all SEO will do for you.
Feel free to private message me if you'd like more information.
Thank you. I'll possibly do that!
This is actually not easy to do, and I'm saying that as an SEO professional. Real talk, this industry is sketchy – especially when it comes to local SEO. For the lay person, good SEO, bad SEO, and fake SEO are all indistinguishable for the first few months. The whole process feels very inaccessible.
The one thing that can't be faked is long term success. Ask to speak to some of their other clients to see the results they've achieved for them. This should be the starting place.
A few other disqualifiers:
• They guarantee results
• They aren't transparent about the strategies they will be using
• They have never attended or participated in any conferences, major or regional.
• They are over eager to ram a new website down your throat. This is common among the web 'developers' in my area who also 'do SEO'
Some questions you can ask:
• Is their primary service SEO, or is it something they offer on the side? If the company is not staying afloat through running SEO campaigns, then they will not deliver results for you. I know a couple of web developers / designers who do good SEO. I know hundreds of web developers.
• If they use PBNs (private blog networks). I would say more than half of my competitors use these, and some are proud to. They will deliver results short term, but it's not going to last. Just recently picked up a guy who got a penalty for what his previous SEO was doing. A lot of guys will lie about using them, but if they check all the other boxes here then they're probably ok.
• Ask what tools they use and what information you'll have access to. At the very least, you should have access to Google Search Console and Google Analytics. If they don't use any paid tools, this is not a good sign.
Basically, you want a experienced, transparent, SEO focused company. It won't be cheap. But next to any other effective advertising, it's a damn bargain.
Great advice right here
Given your knowledge, should I be considering removing Google Pay Per Click (PPC) and sliding that budget towards SEO?
Depends. What's taking precedence right now for your business, short term or long? What kind of return is your PPC generating?
Whatever you do, don't dither between them. An underfunded PPC campaign's not going to deliver value and will only add time to maturing your SEO foundations (assuming you're starting from scratch here).
Definitely scratch. Do you mind if I pm you to send you my website for you to look at?
My ppc isn't turning a profit for sales, but it does work for services. However I will say that I'm not sure how to find out if PPC is turning a profit.
No problem, I can take a look.
It can be difficult to figure out return if your conversions are based on getting phone calls or walk ins – usually have to tease it out by process of elimination or straight up ask people. If conversions are through the website, it's fairly straight forward to track.
Got it. Yeah nothing is sold online.
Haha you don't need to go to a conference to be a pro
What do you use for backlinks? Local outreach?
Personal network, Whitespark, client network, a curated list of submission sites, competition audits, guest posting.
My favorite method is to build content that ranks and earns backlinks for me. This is where HTML, copywriting, keyword research, normal research, internal linking, and social media all come together in one beautiful place. It's the highest value service I do, and I love it.
Question: why is using a Private Blog Network (PBN) only short term? meaning after all the 2 biggest factors in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is content and links, and as an SEO professional you should know that,
and you should also know how hard it is to get links, simply because why would anyone link to you?
to answer the original question, in my opinion the best SEO companies are the once who will not take you! yes they will decline to take your job, and I will explain,
I do SEO for my own company and I have struggled for years hired many agencies and have found the effective once were the once that charged less then others but only took you on if you knew what to expect upfront and you knew what SEO is and then only then they took as a client, they want long relationships which brings money to their clients which in turn brings money to them,
Private Blog Networks (PBN)s are short term because there is a low ceiling on the value produced and if overused you run the risk of being penalized. I've seen it happen over and over.
2 biggest factors in SEO is content and links, and as an SEO professional you should know that,
This is a backwards mindset, but thanks for telling me about my job.
somehow it is very difficult when it comes to hire a professional SEO or consultant to manage and optimize your website for search engines.
Many business or people DIY on Google for hiring an SEO expert with their city or country names. The number-one SEO company or consultant will show up on the top, and they think they are best because they in top results, but unfortunately most of the professionals that are in high demand, they don't need top ranking because they are getting business from their referrals.
So before hire a professional SEO or consultant, I will recommend you to talk with your friends, office colleagues or social networks.
Three Main Important Questions to be ask when contacting or hiring SEO expert:
• What process are you going to use to accomplish our goals, and why do you use them?
• What will you do when things aren't working properly like drop of keywords ranking or losing website traffic?
• Ask for the pricing structure? Many SEO firms do contract on monthly basis or contract for certain length of time.
Personally I will recommend that if you have good referrals and you trust those sources, that's a good idea to go for.
Thanks a ton. It's weird being in a position of such tender nature. Not knowing the ins and outs of something that could severely affect my business is scary.
You Welcome, yes you are right. You may be need to dig more deeply to find-out what is best for your business.
The Summary of Discussion 2: Some Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s That You Should Ask Your New SEO Agency
What KPIs should I ask my new SEO agency to meet
I'm a small business owner that's taught myself way too much Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and frankly I'm at the point where it's taking too much or my brain power and my time.
I'm in the process of getting an agency to take over my SEO because honestly I just can't be f*cked doing the weekly/monthly SEO work. I've got a business to run and there's a whole lot more than just SEO I need to focus on.
I've interviewed a couple of agencies in my city and they've given me a bunch of templated fluff contracts that don't actually have anything specific.
I've been burnt by generalised contracts before so I need to set specifics.
So what should I be setting for monthly Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s?
How should I be tracking that they are actually doing work each month and not just setting and forgetting?
NB – I'm already ranking in top 5 for the majority of my big target keywords. But it's a competitive niche so I need to keep on top of it. I need consistent monthly authority building and link building mainly.
Hey, first of all, welcome to the SEO club.
Also, my sympathies for your messed up brain.
Since you said, you want to rank on the top of for your niche keywords, so here's what I personally believe will help you.
• Brand Authority – Tell your agency you want your wide brand presence for your services online (As in, if anyone looks up your services, your brand should come up on any platform, whether it's Search engine, Social media platform or even YouTube). Google values brand authority way too much and I believe Brand presence is quite a big factor for the same.
• Keyword Ranking – Ask them to share the number of keywords which rank in the top 5, 10 and top 20 positions respectively. A lot of the agencies just show the leads, visitors but those numbers can be changed by sending spam traffic and bots.
• Lead count – When they have shared the lead count with you, share the actual lead counts with them because when you're doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), spam traffic and leads will find their way in. So, your agency may claim they have got you 100 leads this month but you'll have to share the actual lead count by removing the spam leads from your end. The resultant number will be the actual lead count for the same month.
• Increase in website traffic – Like any regular metric, it's the same but as I said, make sure to filter out the spam traffic with 100% bounce rate.
• Increase in Blog traffic- Blogs do convert but in the long run, trust me they do. One metric should be to increase the blog traffic and that too of the target audience. Monitor it by checking the average time spent on the blog pages.
And I believe you already know about the regular metrics like Website Bounce Rate, Speed Load Time etc.
Hope that helped :)
I'm in a similar position as the OP. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Very helpful!
Happy to help a fellow Redditor :)
So what should I be setting for monthly Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s?
This is nearly impossible to answer half decently without knowing anything about your business.
Generally speaking, you need to define your conversions and various steps in that funnel. Depending on the type of business you have, these conversions may be much harder to track because they happen offline or have a super long sales cycle or the conversion is in-store.
You need to try to connect the funnel points to KPIs that matter (lead gen form, phone call to unique tracking phone number) and hopefully are able to be assigned to actual customer records or sales.
From there, you should be backing it out to see which sources convert at the highest profitability, not just highest quantity of sales.
I know this goes beyond just SEO, but that should be your focus as the business owner – optimize the entire process to do more of what increases your actual bottom line.
Yep exactly. I've done a stack of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and have my sales funnel working well enough. And the sources that convert best are SEO & Adwords.
Niche is house cleaning, so nailing search is key since people searching are already looking to buy.
But the info about my business is as follows.
• Niche is house cleaning.
• Location is city wide (city of 4 million)
• Budget is $1500-2000 per month
• SEO aims are to get all main keywords onto top 3 tending towards #1. Solidify my authority to make it difficult for competitors to catch up, get mobile and local keywords same ranking as desktop. Then to expand visibility by increasing number of ranking keywords.
If I'm going to spend $20k+ a year I want to make sure I'm not getting f*cked around.
Given that I'm already ranking ok what would you set as Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s for a new agency?
I think a lot depends on how you structure your deal. If I were to do this and had the freedom to explore, I'd want to understand your business model further to see what types of deals are the most lucrative (perhaps generally least drive time, larger home size, near existing clients, whatever) and try to focus on growth that makes the most sense from not only profit but efficiency.
ex: Neighborhood / part of town that already has good market saturation then I'd want to try and focus on something near it so transit time between jobs stays lower than something completely across town. Maybe that doesn't matter if you have tons of crews or matters less, but it's a question I'd want to know the answer to especially if you're in a location that has distinct area names that can be targeted.
I'd also want to know if commercial accounts are of interest as a new target market.
So my KPI would probably be something around:
• obviously improving existing positions where possible
• increasing Click Through Rate (CTR) in Search Engine Result Page (SERP) results
• increasing conversion while on site (lead relevancy, plus Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO))
• average lead value (targeting higher value prospects where possible by longer tail keywords and specific target locations)
• lead close rate improvement. this is not only in the SEO users onus but yours as well, but more leads of lesser quality is not desirable.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aims are to get all main keywords onto top 3 tending towards #1. Solidify my authority to make it difficult for competitors to catch up, get mobile and local keywords same ranking as desktop. Then to expand visibility by increasing number of ranking keywords.
There's a number of them right there revolving around Search Engine Result Page (SERP) for new & existing
Budget is $1500-2000 per month
Just remember to stay realistic with your expectations. You're talking 10-12ish man hours (+/-) for most western country agencies. Not trying to put down your budget in any way, just giving you a point of reference to consider.
That's where my near-midnight thoughts are at anyway.
The Summary of Discussion 1: Some Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s Before Hiring a Marketer or SEO-er
What questions do you ask when hiring for SEO Position?
I have been asked to interview a few SEO resources to augment our team. They will be working on our own website (not an agency)
I've created a list of general questions around their experience, what all have they accomplished in their previous assignments etc.
Are there any questions you have asked (or you've been asked) that can help me shortlist the right candidates?
Bringing in, and trying to qualify an SEO is a slippery slope. In your case you may just want to state what it is you're trying to accomplish by hiring an SEO and then architect a contract around those goals. Hiring a full time SEO can get stupid expensive.
Also, it's hard to justify bringing on an in-house SEO, unless you are a big company or one that deals with a lot of competition for your particular industry. You may be better off hiring a content writer or marketing professional that is familiar with (or has previously worked with SEO users) SEO.
EDIT: Thanks for silver!
We are in a competitive space and hovering on page-2 for almost 200 main keywords. Need someone who can dedicate unwavering attention & focus to just our work. I have worked with freelancers in the past but they work on multiple jobs concurrently and tend to just finish off their work. I mean I'm not saying they are not good with their work but they lack follow up, revise, improve etc.
That's just my experience.
Well in the U.S. having a real SEO who "can dedicate unwavering attention & focus to just our work" is going to have you starting in the $200k per year range. I've personally worked at businesses where I was the sole SEO (2005 to 2009'ish) and I can tell you that my role become much more than just the "SEO guy". The other SEO users that I know do not want to fall into the "Computer guy" role, and that tends to happen a lot when you are hired as a full-time SEO.
I guess my point here is that unless you are doing real time targeting of keywords hour after hour, then the chances of you needing a full time SEO are slim.
SEO is a rinse and repeat process.
• Make adjustments.
Although, it's rinse and repeat, it's not necessarily a daily thing. That is why I mentioned perhaps hiring a writer or general marketing professional. At least with those two roles you can have them constantly doing things that will benefit the overall goal of the company (like getting on the first page of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)). Modern professional writers and marketers are usually vaguely familiar with SEO (and can incorporate it to some extent) or are usually more versed in dealing with SEO professionals in general, then say an executive.
I do not know where you are as a company or a brand at the moment, but if you have almost 200 main keywords and you are not showing on the first page for any of them, then you are probably doing something (besides SEO) wrong.
Do you at least show up on the first page of Google for your business name?
Business name = #1
~20 keywords: #1 – #3
~50 keywords: #5 – #9
~100 Keywords: #11 – #15
~50 Keywords: #16 – #20
These are stats from 2 days ago.
We have 5 family of keywords. If the SEO professional spends 1 day per family per week, doing competitor analysis, build few backlinks, some content ideas, content optimization, review results of last weeks activities and improvise etc, then he will have his hands full.
For a seasoned SEO the 1 day per family per week workflow might been seen as inefficient (for organic SEO). It could however, be seen as efficient for paid campaigns though, maybe that's what you're looking for.
Most good SEO users are going to want to work towards SEO as a semantic whole. Whereas all keywords (or campaigns) can work together in a dynamic yet systematic way. That is how you will get the most out of all your keyword families. That requires thinking about all the keyword families all the time. Unless the families are completely different (say like eclectic products from an ecommerce store).
Hey OP, I don't want to be salesy, but happy to offer any advice for what you need/who you should be looking for. Are you looking for optimisation for you content, fixing up technical errors or for a lot of good content to be produced or all of the above? Don't pay for an audit, but if you're not sure where you are it's good to know before hiring :)
• Content Optimization
• Link Building
These are the main focus areas for me.
Do you know which areas/metrics are being optimised? (Ie, do you know you have no meta descriptions or do you think the content needs optimising because it's not performing well?) In terms of link building, if you have an idea, you probably don't want to spend $100k on an SEO position if they're just doing outreach…
• Basic on-page parameters are all 10/10.
• Content needs optimising because it's not performing well.
• You're right, Outreach is painfully slow and cannot have a $100k guy doing this. So I need someone smart, who can figure out what competition is doing, understand what we can do (SWAT) & accordingly build backlinks.
Honestly, by smartness, I mean common sense put to good use.
When we hire SEO users (agency) we give them a simple test which tells us everything we want to know:
Write a <300 word blog post on a topic of your choosing and upload to your own blog or send us the source code including images, video and any other necessary files.
The worst won't even write title/description, the best I have seen created a product review including video, structured data and even went as far as making an alternative language version with correct hreflang and what not.
The test is intentionally vague, as we don't want to hire people who can't extrapolate from incompl
This is a great tip. Thanks
That's terrible advice.
The biggest issue I see on this sub is the conflating of writing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why would I write my own content – doing so not only limits my scale but also effectively doubles/triples my content costs.
Writing is no more an seo task than dev is. Dev also requires you to have an understanding of various seo techniques but because the typical seo agency has far less dev than seo copywriters, you end up with forums like this being dominated by glorified copywriters who don't see the full picture of everything entailed in actually running an seo project.
It's simple, you ask an seo what projects they've worked on (the competitiveness of their niches is important here), what sort of strategies they implemented to beat their competitors (on page, schema, content, link building etc – all valid arguments that are valuable for SEO in the correct context and shows where their strength lies, you don't need to be a good dev if your strength is keyword research, you can still beat a lot of competitors if you have clear strengths and understand what they are). And if all that doesn't give you a good idea, ask them to take a look at a website and suggest improvements. Any decent seo is going to come up with clear strategies that will easily show you the gap in the knowledge between someone who has ranked something vs someone who hasn't
All that said posts like this, are also annoying because you need to know what you're looking for in an ""SEO"", when you put out a job spec. Not expect someone to come in and literally just full stack everything for you. Everyone that can do that should be launching their own sites and making money
All that said posts like this, are also annoying because you need to know what you're looking for in an ""SEO"", when you put out a job spec. Not expect someone to come in and literally just full stack everything for you. Everyone that can do that should be launching their own sites and making money.
You either did not read my original post in its completeness or did not understand the underlying intent or maybe your day started on a bad note. Whatever it may be, it was uncalled for.
BTW, I still thank you for your suggestions.
Yeah, sorry about that. I read your other comments. This is more a gripe that makes me annoyed by this sub some times for promoting this vision of seo rather than you in particular. I mean you clearly are actually trying to do your homework and have some clearer objectives.
I just think the whole seo is content message from this sub can be pretty harmful. Like everyone here just parrots how all you need to do is throw up a WordPress site and write content and money will roll in. It's bad for the people who believe this and waste money they don't have and for people like me who are actually trying to become professionals in the industry who have to constantly deal with executives parroting that same nonsense back at us.
Not just SEO, every industry is marred by people who play the fast-buck game, some mislead, some play dirty tricks and others simply echo the misinformation.
One guy I interviewed said he achieved #1 position for a lot of websites (keywords) within months. Initially, I was impressed, I thought this guy knew his sh*t. On doing my own investigation of his strategy, I found that he was simply building backlinks from large Private Blog Networks (PBN)s. Personally, I'm against PBNs as a long-term SEO strategy.
Even large companies like GoDaddy try to sell SSL certificate for $1100 per year on the pretext "your website will not be hacked after installing Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)" & fleece their ignorant non-tech customer,
Anyways, lets get back to some meaningful discussions :)
If you believe that content isn't SEO then you might want to rethink how you define the it..
The on-page, technical aspects of the discipline have been commoditized and are expected, just as you'd expect a car to have 4 wheels and a steering wheel. Anyone can Google and understand how to use schema, on-page, build links., etc. etc. not everyone can create high value content that clearly answers users questions, not just the initial but the two-three that might follow. It's topics, not keywords. Chess, not checkers.
Google works on aligning search intent with content, not technical optimizations with the intent.
There'd be no need for the algorithm to progress past 2012 if it was just technical, on-page stuff.
Damn agree with you I hate when people mix content writing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)