How To Hire An SEO In 2013

We’re getting close to the beginning of 2013 and I know there are people reading these words that are saying to themselves,

My 2013 New Year’s Resolution is to hire an SEO to help me grow my business.

I commend you for your good judgment.

Now, you may be the sort of person who has a brain wired in such a way that trying to understand SEO Processes and Procedures is a lost cause. However, it’s still possible to do due diligence and make the right SEO choice. Here are a few tips and tricks to follow:

The Google Search: Since I’m writing on Scott’s blog, I feel comfortable making an example out of him (in a positive way). When I Google “Scott Krager SEO”, I see a series of results that shows me that Scott is an active member of the SEO Community. I can also read blog posts that Scott wrote and even if I didn’t really get what he was trying to communicate, I can tell that they have the appearance of authoritativeness. When I go to Scott’s LinkedIn Profile, I can see that not only that he’s a member of many SEO-themed LinkedIn Groups but when I look at his list of connections, many of them are in SEO or similar industries. He talks about SEO in Social Media and has spoken at SEO events. In the eyes of Google, Scott is definitely an SEO and while that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good at it, he definitely survives the first cut :.)

The Conversation: Pre-SEO, I had an old boss who taught me a very important rule that I follow to this day:

Never pay for anything that you don’t understand.

Now, I think that the inability to understand SEO has kept many away from investing in the process and that’s unfortunate. However, even if you don’t understand how SEO works, anyone can understand many of the processes used by an SEO. Don’t commit to somebody who won’t spend the time explaining their methodologies to you until you’re absolutely comfortable with them. If somebody tells you that their methods are secret and proprietary, do not work with that person. After all, you wouldn’t accept your accountant or attorney keeping information from you…why would your SEO be any different?

Also, make sure that anybody you engage with speaks about business metrics (Revenue, Cost, ROI). The last time I checked, creditors don’t accept search engine rankings to satisfy financial obligations…just money. If the SEO isn’t able to link his/her efforts to revenues, don’t work with them. Also, realize that SEO doesn’t work in the vacuum…other complimentary Internet Professionals have important complimentary roles to play in an optimal SEO engagement.

The References: Do not engage an SEO without checking references of current / former clients that are similarly situated to you. Now, it’s true that a fair number of clients in competitive industries are skittish about letting anyone know about SEO activities. However, if you’re reading this basic SEO article, you’re probably not in one of those industries :.) The great majority of “conventional” clients will have no problem giving feedback on their SEO as they would with any other business professional. The reference might not understand the techniques used on the site but they should be able to point to tangible outcomes from the engagement because in order to justify their fees, an SEO is incentivized to demonstrate real results to their clients from their work.

The Cost: Never, ever, ever engage with an SEO based upon cost. It’s true that there are consultants that will be out of your price range. However, SEO isn’t a fixed commodity…it’s a process and you’re not buying a “good”…you’re buying a service. People who try to sell you SEO based upon price are generally going to be offering you less services for the money (and are generally not as experienced). Also, realize that bad SEO can end up damaging your site in such a way that could be very expensive (or even impossible to fix).

To conclude, if you look at a prospective SEO vendor in the same manner that you would another professional services vendor, you should be able to successfully pick a consultant that will meet the unique needs of your business.