Join Brad Batesole for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing to hire a professional, part of Online Marketing Foundations.
- As you evaluate the SEO landscape, you might decide it's in your best interest to hire a professional. You can hire a resource to provide you with a list of recommendations, or an entire team capable of executing on the strategy they develop. Search Engine Optimization has the potential to bring incredible amounts of traffic to your website. Because of this, it's quite possible that you'll see a return on investment if you hire the right professional, and provide them with enough time to demonstrate success. There are hundreds of factors which determine how websites rank, and there isn't one flip a switch type answer.
Because of this, SEO requires a lot of effort and a lot of experience to drive meaningful results. This comes at a significant cost, so before you move towards hiring a professional, consider your budget. A typical Search Engine Optimizer, and I'll use the acronym SEO to refer to them, will charge to audit your site, to build the strategy, and possibly a monthly retainer to track your performance. For a medium sized business, expect between $3,000 and $9.000 each for the audit and the strategy development. The implementation costs will be dependent on how much work is needed to achieve your desired result, but expect at least $1,000 a month for an ongoing retainer.
The earlier you introduce your SEO to the project, the better. If you're about to redesign your website, implement a new technical feature, or add a product to your lineup, bring them on board so they can provide you with a strategy early on. It's never too late, but undoing bad SEO can add to the cost. I'm going to give you some questions to ask as you evaluate a consultant, but before that, let's talk about some major red flags that should always be avoided. First, true SEO professionals will not provide you with any guarantees. There's more to SEO than earning a number one slot.
Firms that promote themselves by guaranteeing a number one slot for a certain amount of keywords are highly suspect. It's impossible to make that guarantee unless you're using some shady tricks which will only make things worse in the long run. Your SEO should provide you with an honest overview of the type of improvements you're likely to see, and these improvements can take several months to really kick into gear. Secondly, your SEO should not encourage you to participate in a link exchange, or use pages of your site to include links to other sites under the premise it'll increase your rank.
All this does is build a link farm, and further dilutes the authority of your site. Third, there is no such thing as instant results. It's alluring to see a $700 SEO special with an instant result guarantee, but real SEO takes a lot of work, and that expertise will come at a premium. If you can't afford a high-quality SEO, you'll find more success in self-studying SEO here on lynda.com than paying for a quick fix SEO agency. And finally, avoid anyone who claims to have a special relationship with Google or premium directory services.
Google doesn't accept payment or provide anyone with a fast lane to SEO success. Now, some SEOs might have relationships or resources in Google, or be affiliated in one way or another, and that isn't a bad thing, just know there isn't any special treatment or special inside knowledge. Now those are the major red flags, and fortunately, there are still a lot of very qualified and talented SEOs out there, ready to take your business to a new level. You can start your search on LinkedIn or Twitter by asking your network for any recommendations. Talk with your colleagues in similar industries to see if they've had success with an SEO.
Some of the best referrals come from people who have had positive experiences with their consultant. You can look at people contributing to SEO blogs, or writing articles on your topic. Quora.com has a lot of conversations on the topic worth exploring. From there, you can research the individual providing the answers and see if they fit your criteria. Take a look at conferences and who's presenting. If the conference is notable, the speakers are likely vetted and a good starting point. Even if they're out of your price range, they might recommend you to someone that they like. You can reach out via email or Twitter to engage an initial conversation.
As you build your short list, and you should be getting quotes from a few parties to compare, take the following into consideration. Does the SEO have any relevant examples related to your industry? Has the SEO been in business for a while? How many years of experience do they have? Ask what tools and resources they use. They shouldn't have any problems being transparent with you, and should at least suggest using Google webmaster tools. From there, dig deeper into the qualities of the person or the agency. Get a sense of any reviews on the web, if they're contributing to SEO education, and look at their LinkedIn profile.
You're looking for people who have been in the related industry for a while. Now, a lot of SEO firms will staff quote unquote consultants who are really just fresh marketing graduates. Now that's not always a bad thing. SEO research is fairly cut and dry, so as long as the strategist seems qualified, they'll likely employ a qualified team as well. But it's worth knowing all the people who will be interacting with your project. If you don't align with a particular person on the team, it'll impact your overall outcome. Finally, evaluate a person or team on their entire offering.
Don't focus only on price, or exclusively on experience. There are a lot of expensive agencies that do terrible work, and there are plenty of well-studied beginners who can bring a lot of value to your process. Hiring an SEO is a big decision. The wrong SEO might make things worse, so do your due diligence, and be thorough in your research.
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Gain the skills you need to become an AMA Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) in Digital Marketing by using the industry-leading courses and resources in the Learning Path. Take the AMA certification exam to show that you have what it takes to lead the digital transformation.
- What is online marketing?
- What makes a website effective?
- Working with a designer or developer
- Creating engaging web copy
- Understanding online analytics
- Using goal and event tracking
- Exploring the conversion funnel
- Defining key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Understanding SEO techniques
- Conducting keyword research
- Creating a content strategy
- Leveraging local SEO
- Understanding who's on social media
- Marketing with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
- Creating compelling video marketing campaigns
- Building an email marketing plan
- Measuring the success of your marketing efforts
- Setting up a blog
- Running A/B marketing tests
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 03/08/2016. What changed?
A: We updated six movies to keep current with the latest interfaces in Google Tag Manager, Google Keyword Planner, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Brad also added one new tutorial on setting up a blog.
Q. This course was updated 03/21/2017. What changed?
A. The following topics were updated: installing Google Tag Manager, using goal tracking, looking at a conversion funnel, looking at attribution models, leveraging local SEO, introduction to search and display, launching display search ads, and deciding to use remarketing.