INTRODUCTION

Do you have plans to enhance your business or update your business’ existing website to make it more appealing to consumers? Do you want to make it easier for your targeted audience to find key products and services that you are offering? If so, you should work with a consultant that specializes in Search Engine Optimization, also known as “SEO”.

An effective SEO strategy ensures that keywords and phrases that potential buyers are searching for are found within your product descriptions, and other content found throughout your website. This can be a tremendous help in completing your task. However, it is imperative that your consultant is knowledgeable and will work diligently to achieve your goals.

To be sure you are hiring a professional with the utmost integrity, watch out for these red flags and suspicious behaviors.

PROMISES, PROMISES

When searching for a consultant who can assist you with your business’ online SEO; be sure to consider all the things he or she says that his or her work will achieve for your business. Promises of instant changes in success and immediate results are more often than not way too good to be true.

It is impossible to guarantee that your company will be a number one search on the internet or that simply changing a few lines of text will bring customers by the truckloads to your business’ website. It is important that your business goals are realistic and that the expert you are hiring to help achieve those goals is on the same page as you.

Both parties must be willing to acknowledge that a simple band-aid will not be sufficient, and a quick fix is inappropriate and will not be tolerated.

CAN YOU SEE CLEARLY

Transparency is of the utmost importance when it comes to hiring anyone. This is a particularly crucial point when hiring any consultant for your business. It is important to ask your perspective consultant if he or she is willing to share any and all opportunities that may be available to you to leverage your website to its optimal output capabilities.

Be sure to ask if he or she has any suggestions or improvements they may be able to offer in addition to their SEO services. Perhaps, whether or not, they are aware of additional SEO type marketing strategies that may be able to drive additional traffic to your website and increase your overall business potential. In addition, require that each consultant provide a proposal that clearly outlines each service that will be provided upon hiring.

This effort ahead of time will help to keep both you and the consultant on the same page and ensure that you are getting the exact value of service that you are paying for. Transparency will help you feel comfortable that your business is getting exactly what it needs while also allowing the consultant to be protected against any harmful or inappropriate business practices.

CHECK THE REFERENCE SECTION

A true professional of any trade will always have a set of references on hand to present to a new or potential client. References represent work that has been previously done and can be a window into the perspective consultant’s work ethic and practices. These references should include past clients that the consultant has worked with.

The proposed SEO expert should provide you with a list of names of individuals or companies they have previously worked with. This list should also include phone numbers, email addresses or any other ways of communication to get in touch with these clients.

The names included should be specific individuals with whom you can discuss the work the consultant has done for that person or company. It is your responsibility to check in with each of these references and really listen to what the former customer has to say. If a conversation with a former client makes you uneasy, it is a red flag that this consultant may not be the best fit for your business needs.

TRANSPARENCY IS KEY

Always ask for a proposal of what services the SEO consultant will provide and at what price. The step is vital and should be examined prior to any work being completed of the particular project. A professional will have specific ideas on how to assist you with your project.

A consultant that fails to ask you about your business, or is unwilling to submit a scope of work for approval prior to work being done is usually untrustworthy and caution should be taken if proceeding with this consultant.

Finally, if the potential consultant is not willing to provide you with a list of services and details about what each task or service will cost should also not be trusted. It is a red flag if anyone tries to be secretive about their fees and/or services with regards to SEO practices.

GOOGLING IT IS NOT NECESSARILY THE ANSWER

Many companies who offer top notch services are NOT ranked at the top of the list on the Google search engine. Quite often, these businesses are already feeling a high flow of clientele due to referrals and repeat customers. Their satisfaction rating is high and they are able to retain clients consistently.

Therefore, the best consultant to assist you with SEO of your business may not be in the top Google search results. Rather, it would be best to consult colleagues or additional personal contacts that have contracted similar services and can provide a trustworthy consultant for your business needs.

PLANS B, C AND D

When interviewing SEO consultants, it is not enough to simply ask what their plan of action will be. You need to inquire and discuss alternate plans if it happens that the services they are intending to perform are not working or ineffective. Ask whether or not they have back up plans available, and what each of those would entail.

Further, inquire about whether your contractual agreement will cover a certain period of time after the services are conducted. Will he or she be available for troubleshooting 30 days after payment is received, for example? Or would it be possible to reach out to him or her with any questions you happen to come up with next week?

Professionals will always be available for a certain amount of follow up after a service is rendered; as this extra step by consultants typically ensures impeccable customer service reviews and usually leads to referrals or repeat business from their clients.

GET IT IN WRITING

No matter which consultant you choose, all agreements should be finalized in written form. Whether or not a formal written proposal was initially offered, be sure to get a contract in place prior to the start of any SEO work by your consultant.

The contract should contain an outline of each task the consultant is planning to perform as well as any special accesses, procedures or other circumstances that may be necessary are included. In addition, any contract must also include the terms of service. This will be any time frame a consultant needs to perform his or her duties, special equipment, as well as any and all fees associated with all services proposed.

Consider including a clause that outlines the specifics if the job is not completed within the agreed time frame and possibly one that explains how the consultant will protect any proprietary or confidential information he or she encounters during the scope of work.

Once all specifics of the contract are agreed upon by you and your consultant, it should be signed and dated by each party to acknowledge the agreement of terms and conditions. Once both signatures are in place, you may choose to have a third party or notary witness the document to ensure further security. However, this step is optional and not necessary.

A copy of the final document including all signatures should be provided to your consultant and a copy should be kept with your business files. This will allow the document to be referred to by either party in the future if an incident arises that causes you or the consultant to question the terms of the agreement. Remember that both parties are bound by the agreement and any wrongdoing or impropriety should be dealt with immediately and accordingly.

CONCLUSION

It is always best to consider all aspects of a person’s work when considering a new hire. SEO consultants can be a huge asset to a business and add a tremendous amount of leverage and traffic to any company website. However, careful attention should be paid to what a potential consultant is willing and not willing to do for its clients.

If an expectation of clarity and commitment to quality work are not being met, these are red flags gives you a clear insight that the potential consultant you are considering is not the best fit for you and your firm. Any suspicions that arise prior to it, or even during your interaction with a consultant should be investigated and confidently put to rest in order to ensure you are making the best decisions for you and your company.

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