March 24, 2022 in Tips by

Search engine optimization is a critical part of the marketing strategy for any business. When it’s done right, your customers will find your business when they search for your services. If you aren’t an SEO expert yourself, you need to find a reputable, experienced expert to optimize your site for SEO.

To do that, you need to know what to look for and how to go about it.  

5 Qualities of a Great SEO Expert

SEO often makes the difference for getting traffic, selling a product or service, or reaching your perfect customer. So, finding the right SEO expert is important for the success of your business. Here are some positive qualities to look for in a skilled SEO expert.

1. Marketing Knowledge

An SEO expert must have marketing skills. They are essential because once the technical part of SEO tasks is finished, the rest of the website has to appeal to viewers to result in sales. If your content is boring or your site is unattractive, what’s to stop viewers who were drawn in by SEO from clicking off your site? That’s where marketing skills come in. Your SEO experts should be concerned about the whole of your site, working with your developer when needed to ensure that your SEO-driven traffic is fruitful.

2. Analytical Ability

Working with SEO requires working with a lot of data and analytics and then making plans based on data analysis. Your SEO specialist has to understand the data entirely to apply them to SEO strategy and make your website better and more effective.  

An effective SEO strategy will encompass your business goals and how SEO can play a part in them. Business aspects like target audience, company reputation, growth, and competition should all be important to the SEO expert you hire. An effective SEO expert will always keep these goals in mind and consider them along with traffic and sales goals, to create an SEO strategy that is tailored to your business.

3. Good Communicator

No matter how effective someone is at the technical aspects of SEO, they also have to have good communication skills. They have to be able to not only tell you what needs to be changed or updated on your website, but why those changes are important to your business, or things could potentially get unpleasant between you at best and contentious at worst.

As you are interacting with potential candidates to be your SEO expert, you should be able to gauge whether or not they will be a good fit.

4. Interested in User Experience

The goal of the SEO expert can’t end when searchers reach your website. It has to be more than just striving for the #1 spot on Google search. The expert you hire needs to know user experience (UX) and create an SEO strategy with it in mind. That knowledge can directly impact your site’s ratings and rank. An engaging and helpful website that is easy to navigate means that visitors will spend more time on the site, visit more pages, and read more content. And that is what will generate leads and conversions for your business.

The SEO you hire should have strategies that target humans, not search engines.

5. Is Reputable

Just as you will find “experts” in other industries who cut corners or engage in unethical practices to achieve success, there are SEOs out there that do the same. One of the tenets of sketchy SEOs is that SEO is about tricking Google in order to move your website higher in ranking. They may use methods like keyword, stuffing, blog spamming, hidden text, and link farming to rank higher. Good SEOs know that successful SEO is about partnering with Google to give users the best search results. That means having a long-term SEO strategy that is audience-focused, providing quality content, and using short and long-tail keywords to make that content easy to find.

Listen to your gut when it comes to hiring an SEO expert and be aware of signs that they may not operate using SEO practices that are acceptable to Google.

Steps for Hiring an SEO Expert

Now that you have some criteria for what makes a good SEO expert, it’s time to meet some and decide on the one you want to work with. Four key steps will help you make the right choice.

Conduct an Interview

You will want to conduct an interview, face-to-face is always preferred, but in this day and age, it may be an online interview. Stay away from conducting a phone interview. It’s hard to get a feel for the person when you can’t see them. Your discussion should really be a two-way interview. The questions your candidate asks you are every bit as important as the answers to the ones you ask. This is your opportunity to make sure that you are going to work with an SEO expert who has the qualities mentioned above and any others that are important to you.

Some questions you should ask during the interview include:

The SEO should have just as many questions to ask you. They should be interested in your business goals, your customers, and your other marketing strategies. Here are some of the questions they should ask you:

Both the candidate’s answers to your questions and the questions they have for you should reflect a focus on improving your business by optimizing how you appear to searchers, not just a focus on website rank. At the end of the interview, you should have a good idea of what working with the candidate would look like.

Check References

Next, reach out to some of the SEO expert’s past clients to see if they feel this expert provided them with useful services. Did they have positive, sustained long-term results? Was the SEO expert easy to work with? Would they recommend this expert to other businesses?

Ask for a Technical and Search Audit

If you’ve decided to keep moving with an SEO expert, now is the time to see what they would do with your business. Ask them to do a technical and search audit of your website. Be prepared to pay for this audit. You can give the SEO restricted access to your site on Search Console and Google Analytics, don’t give them full or write access. Your candidate should be able to provide you with a data-based, prioritized list of what improvements they would make, why they would perform those tasks, and the expected outcome.

Make Your Decision

Armed with the knowledge you’ve collected, you have to decide whether or not to hire your SEO candidate. First and foremost, if they guarantee you that their plan will get you to the #1 rank in search results, thank them, send them on their way, and find a better candidate. No one can guarantee that, nor should that be their sole focus.

If the candidate is interested in getting to know your business, customers, and marketing goals to help improve the search experience for visitors to your website, you are on the right track. As you consider your decision, keep in mind that what it all comes down to is that what is good for SEO should always be aligned with what is good for your customers.

Final Thoughts

Take your time when you’re looking to hire an SEO expert. Finding the right SEO expert for you and your business shouldn’t be done hastily, without careful consideration. Choosing the wrong candidate can actually set you back and end up being counterproductive. Knowing the qualities to look for, the questions to ask and answer, and checking references will help ensure that you make the best choice for yourself and your business.   

Harvard Business Club of Charlotte MDP

David Zimmerman participated in the Management Development Program by the Harvard Business Club of Charlotte in 2018.

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