How to Hire an SEO Expert
Search engine optimization is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your website from search engines like Google. When potential customers are searching for services, you want to be sure that your website shows up in the search results.
For the purposes of this guide, we will be discussing Google over other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo since Google maintains over 92% of the global market share, but SEO experts can target the keywords, search engines, and target audiences to fit your company’s industry and needs.
A recent study from BrightEdge strongly affirms the continuing value of organic and paid search on Google, which drives more than 70% of trackable web traffic for B2B service providers. The study went on to outline the importance of Google performance by industry:
- Retail & eCommerce websites generated 64.6% of all website traffic via paid and organic search.
- Over half of all traffic generated in the Media & Entertainment industry is through organic search with an extra 6.2% in paid.
- Technology companies bring in 69.5% of traffic from organic and paid search.
- The Travel & Hospitality industry generates almost a quarter of trackable web traffic from paid search alone and another 41.4% from organic search.
Looking to skip the hiring guide and get straight to the experts? Check out our list of the top SEO companies in the United States.
What Should SEO Achieve for Your Business?
Ultimately, as a business owner, you know your organization’s goals best, and an implemented SEO strategy should complement those goals. It is important that you do the appropriate research to find out what SEO specialties will benefit your plans for growth, revenue, and business success.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO. While a talented expert or agency can attract people to your website, every business will have a different path to success.
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
The Value of SEO
SEO value can come in the form of optimized conversion rates on your website, busier sales pipelines, or brand awareness. The value you get from hiring an SEO expert or team of experts will be proportionally larger than the cost if managed correctly and nurture your business to scale.
Does your website show up on the first page when your potential client makes a Google search? According to research conducted by Ignite Visibility, the average click-through-rate for the first three organic results on Google is 36.86%. This number falls dramatically to 3.11% CTR by the 10th result.
How many potential customers are seeing your website when they search?
SEO experts can help with a range of visibility-increasing improvements to your website from local SEO and Google My Business listings to the use of visibility-friendly keywords.
Determined by Google’s algorithm, organic rankings consist of the non-advertisement search results. Higher ranking results generate more traffic.
UpCity Tip #1: While SEO will boost your rankings and visibility, your objectives and goals should be more specific than generalized vanity metrics. Aim for specific goals like expanding traffic from specific groups, driving revenue, or increasing sign-ups for introductory calls.
What Type of SEO Do I Need?
In general, the types of SEO work-for-hire falls under one or more of the following areas:
Usually provided by a full-service marketing agency with access to writers, editors, and SEO strategists, content marketing is a well-rounded method for creating, publishing, and distributing relevant and helpful content for a target audience.
Before searching for an SEO Expert to add to your team, you should brush up on SEO Basics in order to have a general understanding of your needs. Link building and outreach for a B2B cloud consultant will look very different from content marketing at a local law firm.
Having an awareness of SEO terms will go a long way during discovery calls with SEO experts or agencies about keyword research, search engine results, Google analytics, or internet marketing in general.
Link Building or Outreach
Link building strategies aim to increase the quantity and quality of inbound links to your site in order to increase the organic rankings. When high-quality sites link to your site, Google recognizes your industry importance.
Particularly important for businesses with a physical location, Local SEO strategies can help your business show up when potential customers search for services located nearby.
Managing an effective campaign for an eCommerce brand is more about putting emphasis into target audiences who are looking to purchase the product offered. In addition to SEO goals of visibility, eCommerce SEO focuses on the buyer’s journey.
Skilled eCommerce SEOs will have expertise in Shopify or other popular eCommerce platforms such as WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or Magento.
This method of improving organic search rankings will put a heavy emphasis on website and server optimizations that will help search engine spiders crawl and index your site more effectively.
Improved Technical SEO allows Google to easily determine whether or not you have a high value website that has been optimized for the user experience.
Strategy vs. Services
It’s important to differentiate between SEO strategy and SEO services. An SEO expert may conduct an SEO audit to make strategic recommendations, but a full-service agency can provide SEO services that address the gaps found during an SEO audit.
In-House SEO vs. Working with an Agency
Outsourced SEO is most simply the process of hiring a specialized third party to manage the growth of your web page rankings in major search engines. Your business can outsource SEO to an agency or a freelance SEO expert.
It may be more cost-effective to hire a seasoned SEO consultant to perform your audit and hire an agency to create the content around their findings.
Growing an In-House Team
Companies are increasingly valuing SEO as a business necessity and turning to in-house professionals to take care of their SEO needs. Hiring a full-time contractor or employee to take care of your SEO strategy is a great idea for those looking to have more control over their approach.
There are benefits to bringing on a full-time employee. An in-house SEO expert can easily:
- Consult with the development team to implement strategic initiatives and work with existing subject matter experts at the company
- Integrate SEO into other marketing and business initiatives at the company
- Keep their finger on the pulse of your business objectives and tailor the SEO strategy to meet those goals
- Help the company stay on top of specific Google updates and changes affecting the company’s specific market
However, while a single in-house SEO expert may be fantastic at technical SEO, do they also excel at writing, design, programming, or outreach? Outsourcing often gives your business better access to more diverse skill sets with streamlined workflows.
Working with an SEO Agency Consultant
UpCity Tip #2: Some of the best SEO firms out there generate the majority of their business from word-of-mouth and recommendations from their clients. Ironically, the best agency partners might not be ranking in the top 10 results for “SEO agency near me” on Google because they’re too busy generating traffic for their clients instead of for themselves.
Great SEO Agencies can feel difficult to find, but they do exist. We advise being wary of any SEO company that promises to deliver tremendously rapid or dramatic results. There are no shortcuts to a successful SEO effort.
Ask your professional network for a recommendation or read reviews of agencies in your area.
Most agencies will schedule a discovery session to see if your company is the right fit for their agency to ensure that they can provide high-quality results for your business and develop a mutually beneficial working relationship.
What Should I Ask During the Discovery Phase?
- Past Performance: Ask to see portfolio examples, award-winning work, testimonials from previous clients, reviews, and case studies from clients that are in a similar industry.
- References: Ask for contact information and reach out to speak with past and present clients. Have a candid conversation about what it was like to work with that agency.
- Organizational Structure: When there is a problem, who will you be speaking with on a regular basis? Will you be communicating directly with an SEO expert or working with an account manager to translate the technical jargon? Depending on your preferences, communication style is important.
- Strategic Processes: Ask about the agency’s process for conducting an initial SEO audit to diagnose any gaps you may have and how they would plan to go about solving those issues.
- Cost Structure: While the actual price will vary by contract type, you should feel certain by the end of a discovery call that an SEO agency understands your project scope and budget.
Cultivating a positive long-term relationship with an SEO firm is vital. In many cases, this agency will be acting as an extension of your company and as a trusted business partner. It’s important to interview them as you would any new addition to your organization.
UpCity Tip #3: Begin by researching SEO agencies. At UpCity, we’ve organized agencies by their recommendability, which includes past and present client reviews, trust scores, and testimonials so that you can hire confidently.
If you believe your website needs a full-service digital marketing approach, which could include content creation, social media marketing, paid advertising, or any number of other services, check out our guide to hiring a full-service digital marketing agency.
Costs Associated With SEO Experts
With quality SEO advice and strategy implementation, you get what you pay for. Optimizing site speed, adding schema markup, and responsive web design all impact your ability to generate traffic and leads.
To give a more concrete pricing example, WebFX created an excellent SEO pricing guide. Most of their SEO services fall between a range of $400 to $10,000 per month depending on needs, goals, and objectives, but it’s impossible to offer a one-size-fits-all approach to SEO.
Types of SEO Contracts
Many businesses are seeking a more concrete approach to the cost of SEO services. A fixed-price contract will usually include some combination of audits, services, and results reporting.
Consider SEO to be a long-term investment for your business. Establish a set monthly cost for a specific set of services included in the contract such as regular analytics reports, content creation, press releases, link building, keyword research, and technical optimizations.
- Rank Tracking
- SEO Reporting
- SEO Copywriting
- Other Content Creation
Fixed-Price Contract Services
These are usually services for new clients that don’t need to be completed monthly such as a one-time SEO website audit or backlink profile audit. Often, audits will be completed before a new client signs on with a monthly retainer. These services help the SEO expert to determine the company’s strengths and weaknesses to set future strategy and fill existing content gaps.
- Technical SEO Audit
- Backlink Profile Audit
- Content Gap Analysis
- Social Media Setup
To get you moving in the right direction with your search engine optimization, companies can opt into additional consulting services at an hourly rate or project-based rate. Regardless of how you decide upon price, discuss the scope and expectations to get a clear understanding of how much you will be paying for SEO services.
When to Expect Results and Traffic
Remember, good SEO is not instantly gratifying. Depending on your business needs, SEO campaigns will need to adapt and adjust. Here are some factors that can also drastically affect your scope:
- Are you trying to rank nationally or internationally for competitive search terms?
- What is the web presence of the local competition in your area?
- Do you need to advertise an e-commerce product or service using paid marketing or PPC advertisements?
- How is your current organic traffic performing?
How your business approaches search engine optimization is important, but the best method depends on your unique preferences and strengths as an organization. SEO professionals can aid you in your business goals, but an SEO specialist exists to complement your existing marketing strategy in the long-term.
If you have already made the decision to hire a SEO agency or consultant, you can expect them to gather information, identify key opportunities, and use the information collected to build out the deliverables.
After signing with a consultant or agency, you can expect:
- Conversations around business goals and objectives
- Initial work gathering information and data on your existing website and analytics
- Conducting a site audit to identify content gaps and technical opportunities
- Using this information to create content and web assets; build links and visibility
Successful campaigns usually take months, but some SEO dividends may happen years after the business sets a strong foundation for success.
Do you have any questions about hiring the best SEO team for your business goals? Let us know in the comments below or check out our picks for top SEO agencies in your area.
About the author
Emily is a SEO Content Strategist at UpCity and focuses on marketing strategy from digital marketing experts and industry leaders. Prior to UpCity, Emily gained digital agency and SEO experience in Chicago drawing upon a decade of content marketing experiences abroad.