When to Hire and What to Expect

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Written by Ankit Vora –

An SEO consultant helps your business improve search engine rankings. Through services like keyword research, site audits, and on-page SEO. Which can drive organic traffic and generate leads.

They have a good understanding of how search engine algorithms work. And can assist both individuals and businesses with any SEO-related issues they face, answer their questions, and provide guidance on how to improve their search engine rankings.

You can even hire them to take a hands-on approach in managing your SEO efforts.

Some SEO consultants work across multiple industries. While others specialize in specific industries. Like hospitality, healthcare, or B2B SaaS.

SEO consultants come in different forms—they might be freelancers, part of a marketing agency, or full-time professionals who offer consulting services on the side.

Let’s explore how SEO consultants can help your business thrive online.

What Does an SEO Consultant Do?

SEO Strategy

SEO consultants play a pivotal role in crafting and refining your SEO strategy.

They can:

  • Review and analyze your current strategy: An SEO consultant will examine your existing SEO efforts to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement
  • Suggest actionable fixes: Consultants provide specific, practical recommendations to enhance your SEO. Including technical optimizations, on-page improvements, and content enhancements.
  • Build a comprehensive SEO strategy from scratch: If you don’t already have one, a consultant can develop a customized SEO plan tailored to your business goals, target market, competition, and budget.
  • Continuous monitoring: Consultants will regularly track performance and adjust your strategy as needed to help you stay ahead of algorithm changes. And maintain your competitive edge.

Keyword Research

An SEO consultant will perform keyword research to identify the most promising and relevant keywords for your business.

This involves researching the words or phrases potential customers enter into search engines to find information related to your industry, products, and services.

Google Search – Best affordable athleisure brands

Using SEO tools, consultants can perform the following tasks:

  • Analyze keywords: SEO consultants will evaluate keyword difficulty for relevant terms. Determining the ones that offer the best opportunities for ranking highly in search engine results.
  • Assess search intent: They can help you find keywords that align with your marketing and business goals. For instance, if generating leads is a priority, an SEO consultant can research keywords with high purchase intent. Leading to more targeted and effective content.
  • Implement keyword strategy: Consultants can help you incorporate keywords naturally into content. And other on-page elements like meta descriptions, title tags, and H1 tags.
  • Perform keyword gap analysis: An SEO consultant can identify gaps in your SEO strategy. By researching keywords that your competitors are targeting but you aren’t.
  • Avoid keyword overlap: Different pages competing for the same keywords can negatively impact your SEO efforts. SEO consultants will ensure your site doesn’t face this problem.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on improving your site’s overall performance to make it easier for search engines to find, crawl, and index your webpages. And deliver a great user experience.

SEO consultants can perform various technical SEO tasks.

Including:

  • Improving page speed
  • Review page indexing
  • Optimizing your site for mobile devices

For example, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, it can significantly impact your search engine rankings. Because Google uses mobile-first indexing.

This means it prioritizes the mobile version of your website’s content for indexing and ranking.

An SEO consultant will use various SEO tools to assess your site’s speed and performance. Such as Google Search Console, Core Web Vitals, and Semrush’s Site Audit.

Site Audit – Issues tab

And offer ongoing suggestions to ensure your website is optimized for technical SEO.

For instance, if you plan to expand globally, they might suggest implementing a content delivery network (CDN) to decrease load times for visitors from various locations.

On-Page SEO

An SEO consultant can help you identify on-page SEO issues that may be impacting your website’s search engine rankings. And provide actionable recommendations on how to fix them.

This involves optimizing your webpages and content for users and search engines.

Including:

  • Title tags
  • H1 tags
  • URL slugs
  • Meta descriptions
  • Alt text
  • Internal links
Post title and Meta description

Analyzing your site’s internal linking structure is a crucial part of an SEO consultant’s job. Effective internal linking can help search engines better understand your site’s structure and the relevance of pages in relation to one another.

This skill can result in improved search engine rankings.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO involves strategies implemented outside of your website to improve its search engine rankings.

Backlink Building

Backlinks are links from one site that point to another. Search engines like Google consider backlinks an important ranking signal.

An SEO consultant can analyze your existing profile to determine its strength, identify new opportunities, and help you create content that attracts more backlinks.

What are backlinks

For instance, consultants can tap into their network to help you land guest posting opportunities. Helping you build high-quality backlinks for your website.

Brand Mentions and Citations

Increasing your brand’s mentions across different media outlets, influential blogs, and news sites can help improve your authority and online reputation.

SEO consultants can find mentions of your brand online that don’t include a link and contact the sites. This can help you build more backlinks.

They can also monitor the web for brand mentions to understand brand perception and capitalize on linking opportunities. And build relationships with journalists and media outlets to secure coverage.

Social Media Marketing

An SEO consultant will ensure your social media profiles are optimized and include a link to your website. This can help you build a professional online presence. And attract more visitors to your website.

They can assess your social media strategy and suggest ways to optimize it for SEO. Like capitalizing on trending topics. And using keywords and hashtags in captions and descriptions.

Local SEO

SEO consultants may offer local SEO services. Which is the process of improving your local business’s search engine visibility.

Google Business Profile

An SEO consultant can help you set up and optimize your Google Business Profile. Which can help you attract more local customers.

Google pulls information directly from Google Business profile for local search results. So, it’s important your profile is professional, complete, and features a number of positive reviews.

Google SERP – Listing details

Local Keywords

An SEO consultant can also help you optimize your website for local keywords related to your business. For instance, if you serve multiple locations, they can create location-specific pages for each location.

Like Thrive, a digital marketing agency. Its website features multiple location pages.

Multiple location pages

Each page focuses on local keywords. Like “Dallas digital marketing agency.” And city-specific content to help the agency rank in these locations.

Including references like “Our Dallas digital marketing clients get results” to attract local customers.

Thriveagency – Local reference

Customer Review Sites

An SEO consultant can create and manage your company’s listings across customer review sites. Like Tripadvisor, Yelp, Facebook, and more.

This ensures your information is accurate across the web. And helps you create a credible, professional online presence.

Yelp – Add business

When to Hire an SEO Consultant

You Don’t Have the Budget for a Full-Time SEO Professional

Hiring a full-time employee is a commitment. Especially for small- and medium-sized businesses.

According to our SEO Jobs Report, the mean annual salary for a full-time, U.S.-based SEO professional is $60,548.

If you don’t have the budget for a full-time salary, you can hire an SEO consultant on a freelance basis. For a fixed number of hours per week or month.

This helps you:

  • Stay within budget constraints
  • Avoid expenses associated with full-time employment. Such as health benefits, payroll taxes, and other employee-related costs.
  • Work with SEO consultants from anywhere in the world
  • Avoid long-term commitment. Scale your efforts up or down based on your needs and budget.
  • Avoid training costs by partnering with professionals who already possess the necessary skills and knowledge

You’re Looking for Quick Guidance

Some SEO consultants offer project-based services. It’s ideal if you need short-term help and don’t want to commit to long-term support.

For example, a consultant can provide guidance on a specific task. Like structuring your website for better indexing.

Your In-House Team Lacks Specialized SEO Knowledge

SEO can be complex.

Certain tasks may require more specialized knowledge than your team currently has. Like link building, technical SEO audits, and content optimization.

Or maybe your team is overwhelmed with their current workload. In such cases, it might make sense to outsource SEO tasks to a consultant.

You Received a Google Penalty

If your website doesn’t adhere to Google Search Essentials guidelines, you can get a penalty. Which can result in a significant drop in rankings and traffic.

It’s possible to recover from a penalty by identifying the root cause, addressing it, and resubmitting your site to Google.

An SEO consultant can help you with this. They’ll research what happened and suggest and implement fixes to help get the penalty removed.

Your Organic Search Traffic Has Dropped Drastically

Search engines like Google roll out regular updates to their algorithms. Which can significantly impact your website’s search engine rankings. And your business’s revenue.

An SEO consultant can help you figure out why your rankings and traffic dropped. And come up with a strategy to recover them.

Your Growth Has Plateaued

Even if your team has already achieved outstanding SEO results, there may come a point where your growth plateaus.

Traffic plateau

Hiring an SEO consultant can help you identify new opportunities and areas where you can outperform your competitors.

They can also provide guidance on how to tap into new markets. And explore additional customer segments from an SEO standpoint.

Lastly, an SEO consultant can provide recommendations or work side-by-side with your team to implement advanced SEO techniques like:

  • Improving your existing content’s time-to-value (TTV): How much time it takes your visitors to get value from your webpages. The lower the TTV, the better.
  • Content refreshes: Refresh existing content can help you improve your search engine rankings and increase conversions
  • Remove dead weight pages: Dead weight pages are webpages that offer no real value to your readers. And/or comprise outdated, low-value content. Such pages can hurt your search engine rankings. So, it’s best to delete them.

What to Look for in an SEO Consultant

Proven Track Record

Choose an SEO consultant who has achieved outstanding results for their past clients.

Their portfolio should include examples of websites they’ve improved, accompanied by specific metrics. Such as increases in traffic, leads generated, or revenue driven.

For example, Dan Taylor, an enterprise SEO and growth consultant, features case studies on his website. To show how he’s helped different companies improve search rankings and meet business goals.

SEO Consultant – Case study

When evaluating an SEO consultants’ work, look beyond basic vanity metrics. Like organic search traffic, page views, impressions, or clicks.

Work with someone who can tie their SEO results to revenue metrics, such as the number of leads generated.

They should also be able to provide proof that they have genuinely helped their clients achieve these results. Like testimonials or references.

Another option is hiring a freelance SEO consultant on a marketplace like Upwork and Fiverr. The advantage of a marketplace is that you can see the results more transparently.

For example, Jon L. is a Top Rated Plus consultant and has earned over $1 million on Upwork.

Upwork – Profile

This shows that Jon has a lot of experience.

You can also read his reviews to see how he’s helped his clients get tangible business results.

Upwork – Review

Experience

Leigh McKenzie, head of SEO at Backlinko, says that while multiple years of experience is helpful, quality matters more than quantity:

Look at the consultants’ past clients and websites to assess quality. In addition to their years of experience.

Transparency and Communication

Choose an SEO consultant who is open about the tactics and strategies they intend to use. And who can clearly explain the “why” behind them.

For instance, if an SEO consultant provides you with a list of dead weight pages to delete, they should also clearly explain why removing these pages is beneficial for your SEO efforts.

Also, it’s important that they have a plan to keep you updated on your site’s progress and performance. Ask how often they’ll update you and how—whether it’s phone calls, emails, or video meetings.

Niche Expertise

Look for an SEO consultant with direct experience working in your industry.

For example, Georgi Todorov, an SEO expert and founder of Create & Grow, specializes in B2B, tech, and marketing.

Which he clearly highlights on his website for potential clients.

Niche expertise

Georgi explains why niche expertise is essential:

This specialized knowledge can make a significant difference.

An industry-specific SEO consultant will have a deeper understanding of your market. Including customer behavior and the competitive landscape.

They might also have connections they can reach out to for collaborations. And link-building opportunities.

5 Red Flags to Avoid When Hiring an SEO Strategist

1. Guaranteed Results

Stay away from SEO consultants who guarantee results. Like top search engine rankings or a substantial increase in organic search traffic within a short time frame.

SEO Services – Guarantee results

Many factors go into a site’s ranking. Like search engine algorithms, industry competition, budget, your site’s authority, and more. Making it impossible to guarantee specific results.

Google warns against this practice as well, stating that if someone guarantees their work will land you the first spot on Google, look elsewhere.

2. Unproven Results

Some SEO consultants share screenshots of Google Search Console dashboards with dramatic increases in a website’s organic search traffic.

Like this:

Search Console – Traffic spike

They may do this without revealing the client’s name or URL because of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

While NDAs are common in the industry, consultants should ideally have some projects they can share.

Here’s how consultants can verify their claims:

  • Connect you with previous clients (at least one) who can verify their results
  • Share detailed case studies that explore the specific challenges faced by their clients, the strategies implemented, and the outcomes achieved, without disclosing the client’s identity
  • Share video testimonials from any of their past clients

3. Cheap Pricing

Steer clear of SEO consultants who offer services at suspiciously low prices. Like $10 per hour. Or $50 per project.

Low-priced SEO services can be a red flag for ineffective or unethical practices. It also indicates that the consultant may lack the experience or expertise required to effectively address your problems.

SEO consultants typically charge between $50 and $150 an hour. Some charge more. So, if you’re seeing rock-bottom pricing, it could be due to the quality and reliability of the consultant’s services.

4. Shady SEO Tactics

Some SEO consultants may offer unethical SEO tactics.

Like:

  • Cloaking: Displaying webpages differently to users and search engines
  • Private blog networks (PBN): Using a network of websites to generate backlinks

Such tactics can lead to penalties from search engines. Including being removed from search results entirely.

Here are a few signs that an SEO consultant might be using shady tactics:

  • Promises of quick fixes or overnight success
  • The use of undisclosed or confusing strategies when explaining their approach
  • Claims of having a special relationship with Google or other major search engines to influence rankings directly

Look for consultants who are transparent about their methods. And who base their strategies on sound SEO principles. Like improving user experience, creating high-quality content, and building backlinks from authoritative websites.

Work with consultants who focus on long-term, sustainable growth over overnight success.

5. Predefined Packages (Orange Flag)

SEO packages might seem like a good idea at first glance. For example, a package that includes five backlinks, four blog post refreshes, and 20 keywords for a flat fee.

Plan packages

But packages often fail to deliver the desired results. Because SEO requires a custom approach.

A good SEO consultant listens to your problems, identifies your challenges, and suggests a tailored strategy.

This isn’t to say that packages can’t be helpful. SEO budgets can blow out with a bespoke approach—creating ambiguity. Packages can give you peace of mind.

They’re especially useful if you know SEO. You can bring on a consultant on a package to ensure you get the deliverables you don’t have the time to do yourself.

So, this is more of a yellow or orange flag.

What to Ask SEO Consultants: Key Questions to Ask Before Hiring

  • Pricing: How do you structure your pricing? Is it hourly, a monthly retainer, or project-based? What is included in your fee, and are there any additional costs we should anticipate?
  • Strategy: What is your overall SEO philosophy and approach? What specific steps will you take to improve our search engine rankings?
  • Industry experience: Can you provide case studies or examples of past successes, particularly in my industry?
  • Compliance: What is your approach to ensuring compliance with search engine guidelines? Have you ever faced penalties or issues with search engines due to your SEO practices?
  • Results: Can you share the results you’ve achieved for your past clients? Also, can you verify these results with in-depth case studies or references?
  • Industry updates: How do you keep up with changes in SEO best practices and search engine algorithms?
  • Communication: How will we communicate? How often can we expect updates and meetings?
  • Client collaboration: What will you need from our end to achieve success?
  • Client references: Can you provide references or testimonials from past clients?
  • Measurement: What metrics do you track to measure SEO success? And can I see a sample SEO report for a past client?

Find the Right SEO Consultant for Your Business

Hiring a reliable SEO consultant can help you rank for the keywords that matter the most to your business. And attract more organic traffic, leads, and sales.

If you’re ready to hire a consultant, LinkedIn is a great place to start. Conduct a search for SEO consultants in your niche and view their past job history and recommendations. So, you can vet their experience before reaching out.

To help you budget appropriately, learn more about how much SEO services cost in our SEO pricing guide.



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