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Did you know that there were close to 2 billion websites on the internet by the end of August 2022? Further, almost 56.5 billion web pages are now live. Considering that users are likely to click on only the first couple of search results Google displays, competition is through the roof.

The success of any contemporary business relies entirely on the traffic its website generates. That’s because any person looking for a specific product or service will likely visit the company website to check its features. 

With the ultimate survival of your company on the line, you absolutely need to hire the ideal Search Engine Optimization consultants out there. How would you go about finding and hiring the right agency? Read ahead to learn more.

Search vector illustration.

1. Check Professional Platforms for Options

Before looking for a boutique SEO company, you might want to work out your advertising budget. If you’re a startup with a limited budget, you’ll consider hiring freelance SEO experts. Check around the top professional sites like Upwork, Freelancer, Indeed, LinkedIn, and CraigsList. Make sure to read up the reviews and ratings provided by people who have hired them in the past. Of course, you also have the option to create and post a job description and have professionals contact you with proposals. 

Other channels where you can find great agencies include social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Checking around with other companies in your network or doing research on Google could connect you with a bunch of options to consider.

Don’t restrict your search to specific geolocations. You might just find excellent candidates from different corners of the globe. 

2. Invite the Professionals for an Interview

Once you’ve shortlisted a few potential candidates based on their reviews and qualifications, you’re ready to schedule an interview–onsite or virtual. You’ll have a fair overview if the candidate is a good fit for you by evaluating the questions they ask. An experienced SEO consultant will want detailed information about your company, its niche products and services, and its target audience. 

Expect to answer questions pertaining to your company’s USP and what sets you apart from the competition; they may also want to know about your existing presence on social media and the ongoing marketing programs you’re running.

Most importantly, who is your competition, and what are the advertising strategies keeping them ahead in the game? At the same time, be wary of agencies promising to deliver results within a month or two. SEO is a long-term process, and getting substantial traffic in a short time frame is just not possible. 

3. Ask for a Sitewide Audit

Before you hire the right search engine optimization consultants, ask for a sitewide audit. Allow them to evaluate your website for potential improvements and errors. You can make your choice after going through the list they provide. Here’s what to look for:

  • The proposed list of changes organized by priority, starting with the issues that need to be addressed asap, to the issues that can be tackled as you go along.
  • Detailed information about the impact of each issue on website traffic and performance. 
  • Information about the estimated timeline before you’ll see results from the changes.
  • Explanation of why the changes need to be executed and how the consultant will schedule them.
  • Presentation of suggestions in easy-to-understand layperson terms without technical jargon
  • Estimates of the costs for implementing the changes.
  • The candidate’s demeanor and if they come across as someone who can assimilate into your team and company culture.

4. Check References and Portfolio of Successful Projects

Look for search engine optimization consultants that have a track record of working in your industry. Check for their experience with your product niche by asking for portfolios of projects they have successfully completed.

Visit the agency’s website to look around and contact other companies with whom they currently work or have worked formerly. Ask about their experiences with this particular agency and if they are happy with its performance. Above all, check if the agency is equipped to evolve with new technological innovations and how they’ll integrate them with your website.

5. Start with a Test Project

If your search has been going well so far, you’re likely ready to offer the consultant a contract and hire them. But before you do that, you might want to do a small test run.

Pick out one of the issues from the list the consultant provided and have them work on it. You could offer a small charge as a gesture of goodwill. This strategy will give an understanding of their working styles and ethics.

You’ll assess their skills and if they deliver on their promises and within deadlines. Most importantly, you’ll check if they can play well with the other people in your company. 

6. Freelancers or Agencies–The Better Choice

Search Engine Optimization involves a broad range of aspects, such as content creation, content posting, social media marketing, website optimization of search engine bots, and much more. Given the cutthroat competition, you’ll need a whole team of professionals, each specializing in the aspects. Of course, many professionals have diverse skill sets and can assist you with multiple services. 

At the same time, you might want to hire an agency that can offer you end-to-end site optimization with accountability and reliability under one roof. You can assign all your needs to a single entity without investing time and funding to juggle and coordinate different in-house professionals with staggered deliverables. 

7. Confirm Pricing, Reporting Schedules, and Liaisons

At this point, you’re probably down to two or three viable candidates as search engine optimization consultants. While pricing is, undoubtedly, high on your list of priorities, you’ll want to create the ideal balance of quality versus quantity.

Make sure the agency can deliver on your needs; the best way to do that is to require reporting. Outline the schedules for regular reports, such as weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. You could also request that the agency assign a liaison you can contact in case any issues need resolving. 

Looking for and hiring the right SEO consultant needs to be a meticulous process. Do the necessary due diligence before entrusting your digital storefront to the right agency.