Search Engine Optimization refers to any activity that is intended to improve a website’s ranking in search results. Websites that rank higher in search results are perceived to be more credible, and websites that rank on the second page are often perceived to be less reliable.
This perceived level of reliability often translates into traffic. Websites that enjoy a high level of exposure are greatly valued, as it becomes a great platform to market your brand, products, and services.
SEO has been recognized as one of the most useful, if not the most useful, tools in any website owner’s arsenal. Every internet-savvy user is aware of this and as a result, SEO consulting has become one of the most lucrative fields to pursue.
But, in the same manner that page 2 search results are perceived to be less credible, there will always be people who claim to be professional SEO consultants who aren’t truly qualified.
These “SEO consultants” will often employ black hat SEO techniques that could land your website in lower rankings, or worse, in search result limbo (where your website doesn’t even get indexed at all).
How to hire a freelance SEO consultant
So, how do you weed out the bad from the legitimate? Simple. Ask your candidates the right questions:
“Can you guarantee that my website will rank #1?”
This trick question should always be the first you ask because this helps weed out scammers.
A scammer would always make things sound too good to be true — a guaranteed top search result ranking is a red flag and you should end the interview there and then.
This is because nobody but Google, Yahoo!, and Bing have control over website rankings, even if the candidate claims that he/she has inside connections with these companies.
“How do you plan on improving my search engine ranking?”
The answer to this question will often give you an insight on a particular candidate’s mastery of SEO and whether or not a candidate adheres to search engine ranking guidelines. Remember that black hat SEO practices will get your website in trouble.
“May I have a list of clients you’ve worked for before?”
This is a must if you want to be able to perform a thorough background check. While this information will often be standard recruitment practice, it would be good to see if the candidate is being truthful with his resume without having to email a bunch of websites in order to get confirmation.
Apart from that, you can also gauge the effectiveness of the candidate’s optimization by checking the sites that he’s worked on. You can see if his optimizations are a good investment in the long run. Some SEO consultants may get you good results for a few months and then your website plummets after that honeymoon phase.
You’re going to want to make good investments, and SEO is one of them.
Now, if you’re dealing with an SEO company, apart from asking these questions, you can also gauge them by looking them up on BestSEOCompanies.com. This should give you insight on how well the company actually performs versus what they claim.
SEO is a serious investment of time, money, and energy. It is imperative that you make your investment count. Take the time to screen every candidate and remember to always be on the lookout for red flags.