Selecting a SEO Consultant: 5 Questions to Ask

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5 Questions to Ask a Potential SEO Consultant

In this Video SEO Tutorial, Do you want to improve your website’s visibility in the organic search results and are in the market for a reputable SEO consultant? The SEO tutorial video below touches on five questions that you’ll want to ask a consultant before choosing them for your SEO project.

Video Transcription

Hello! I am Chris Everett. I am an SEO consultant here in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m also the Principal and Founder of Captivate Search Marketing, an Internet marketing firm catering to small and medium-sized businesses here in Atlanta.

Here in the first edition of SEO Educators, I really want to cover a subject, you know, I have been on many sales calls with people who are interested in getting SEO services to build rankings for their website, and I’m always interested to see what questions the customers ask. It kind of gives you an idea of how much research they’ve done about SEO and what it takes to get your website ranked.

And, you know, I thought I would start with five simple questions that I would suggest any small business owner or marketing person might want to ask their consultant before they choose which one they want to work with.

And I’ll just start real quick here here at the top, you know, the first question that I would suggest you might ask is “How do you build rankings for your clients?” This seems like a pretty straight forward question, you know, it may be foreign to most people especially, you know, business owners who just know that they need a website and they want to drive business to through the website but they don’t really know how.

From an SEO perspective, especially from an organic or local SEO perspective, there’s really two parts to optimizing your website for organic search. Number one is on-site optimization. On-site optimization being optimizing your website for the proper keywords, you know, your SEO consultant will conduct a variety of keyword research techniques so that they can identify, based on your core products and services, what exactly people are searching for. What’s going to drive more traffic, more business to your website.

So, starting with the on-site optimization, process, you know, your SEO consultant is going to identify those keywords and then they’re going to optimize your meta description and your meta title tags so that you have the proper keyword inclusion. They’re also going to optimize the content on your page for optimum keyword inclusion. Also some linking opportunities to other pages on your site that are not only beneficial for site visitors so they find the content easily that they’re looking for or could be related or to help them make a decision as to why they want to buy from you, but also for the search engine spiders, you know, the Googlebot, to be able to find content and spider your site very easily. So, the first portion with building rankings starts with on-site optimization.

From there, the second portion is off-site optimization, which is about, to put a percentage on it, it’s a bulk of the work. It’s about 70-75 percent of what SEO truly is in this generation of SEO. This comes from building credibility for your website, with building authority for your website with Google and Bing and Yahoo that you are a credible source for the information that this person is searching for. It’s also a trust factor that you are an expert in your field and you are the type of business that this particular person would want to do business with. And there are so many factors that come into play with off-site optimization from social media, social media signals, you know, how the more likes or tweets or shares that a piece of content might get the better off it might rank organically. That factors into the search engine algorithm.

Also, content marketing. Building high-quality, relevant links back to your website through a variety of channels whether that be video marketing, or blogging, guest blogging opportunities is something that has really taken off here of late where you’re able to do some outreach and post blogs in exchange for a link back to your website to help build keyword relevancy, so long as the website that you’re trying to build the guest blog link from is contextually relevant, like an industry relevant to you so if you’re a car dealer you might want to get a link back from a repair shop.

So, content marketing is a huge, huge factor in developing brand visibility as well as that credibility and trust that you’ll need in order to build those rankings.

From that question, we’re going to go the next one, and you know I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question… they ask “Do you guarantee that I’m going to be number one?” and the simple answer to that is in SEO you can not make any guarantees. If you come across an SEO consultant that says “I guarantee, you’re going to be number one” I’m not going to say that they’re lying to you but I definitely wouldn’t trust their credibility. The fact of the matter is, SEO consultants don’t actually own the search engines. Google and Microsoft those people, those companies, those big companies own the search engines.

You know, there’s over 200 factors in the search algorithm for Google and any of those can change at any given time. So unless you have that insider knowledge or you own the search engine there’s absolutely no positive way that an SEO consultant can guarantee you that you’re going to be number one.

Which kind of dovetails on question number three, which is “Can you provide samples of your work?” If you want to know how good your SEO consultant is, ask them can they show you the work that they’ve done. You know, in some cases they may be bound to confidentiality agreements that they might not be able to tell you what the name of the company is that they work for, but by and large there is probably at least a handful of websites that they’ve worked on that they don’t have those sorts of confidentiality agreements with and they’ll be able to point and say “yeah, here’s one of our clients, this is one of the keywords that they’re really targeting and this is where they’re at right now.”

If they’re generally in the top three on page one, that’s definitely something that you might want to consider. But, if they’re going to go back and say “I guarantee that you’re going to be number one,” I would definitely question their credibility. And to follow up on question number three “Can you provide samples?” If they don’t have any samples or they can’t really point you to anything that would qualify them as competent, I would probably continue to search around. Barring that whatever keyword that you searched for online if you’re going to Google to find your SEO consultant, you know, if they’re number one or number two or number three for the keyword that you picked or that you’re searching for, that may be an indication that they could, based on whatever keyword that you searched for, have some competency in organic SEO.

Question number four, “How long does SEO take?” This is a really good question, you know, organic SEO is a process. It’s a time-consuming process but it’s a process that is well worth your investment. And that’s really what SEO is, it’s an investment, it’s not an expenditure, it’s something that you’re going to be investing in with the mindset that you’re going to get something in return. You’re going to get a nice return on your investment – a profit from those top rankings that that SEO company is going to be building for you over time.

But to answer the question, “How long does SEO really take?” the answer is that really depends on a lot of factors, you know, if you’re starting from scratch with a brand new website and you’re in a really competitive field like moving companies or junk cars or, you know, any of these really highly competitive industries, you know, you have a lot of work to do because you’re starting from the ground up.

If you’re a more established website, you’ve been around for several years, you have a good brand visibility, you know you’re not really ranking, you might be on page four or five, you know, you might be able to see some results fairly quickly in maybe two to three months. But, if you’re a brand new website and you’re wanting to invest in SEO and you want to know how long it takes, I know personally I don’t lock my clients into any sort of long-term contract, but I’m very frank with them at the very beginning. If you aren’t ready to commit to at least six months of on-going off-site and on-site work, you know, you’re wasting your money. If you can’t commit yourself to at least six months to get over the hump, to get well-established, to optimize your site, to start building your site’s credibility and authority all around the Internet as a trusted source for the keywords that you’re targeting, there’s no reason why you should spend a dime on SEO. You have to be committed, and again, this is an investment that you’re making and not an expenditure, you’re going to get something back from this if it’s done properly and you select the right SEO consultant.

The final question I’m going to touch on today is reporting, you know, I’ve worked for several firms and reporting has always been one of those things where depending on the client, we’re going to provide this reporting or that reporting or if we’re not doing that hot of a job we’re going to do a little less reporting. Reporting is very, very critical, you know you need to get, you need to have all of the information in front of you so that you can track your progress, and that starts with once you’ve selected you’re going to want a benchmark report, you know.

You’re going to want a keyword analysis for what keywords should we be targeting, where are we ranking right now before we’ve started our program, you know, so you’ve got that benchmark of this is where we started, and then this is where we’re going. This is how we’ve built rankings for your website. And generally, depending on what that report is, you can get traffic reports that you can get on a weekly, bi-weekly basis. You can get keyword ranking reports, which, you know, rankings they can fluctuate on a daily basis so if you’re getting a ranking report, you know, maybe once every two weeks, once a month, it’s really important for you to have all of the information in front of you so you can track your progress.

Other reports that you might get are articles that were written, and where they were distributed, what sort of links were built to your site, how many, if they’re managing your social media channels for you, how many likes, how many shares, how many Plus Ones did you get this month or this week. All these factors come into play because you can, once you analyze the data that your SEO consultant is providing you, you can really figure out, you know, this guy’s legit, this guy’s doing a really good job for me, you know, we’re seeing an uptick in our rankings, our traffic is up, the phone is starting to ring more, you know, all these signals can really show you whether or not you have selected the right SEO consultant.

You know, and if they don’t have a good answer for this – what sort of reporting are you going to get from when you do business with me, you know, I would try to find somebody that has a really good answer for that, is going to be, show you all the cards so that you’re well informed and so, you know, you can track how well your organic SEO strategy is working.

So, you know, I just wanted to go through these five questions I thought that these are good qualifying questions if you’re looking for an SEO consultant that you might want to ask them just to gauge their competency, gauge their past work, and you know whether or not they’re going to be the right fit for you.

So, you know, that concludes the first edition of SEO educators if you’d like any more information, feel free to visit my blog at or you can visit my company’s website at Thank you very much for watching!

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