First thing before hiring an SEO (Search Engine Optimizer): do your research. Here comes what I consider to be the golden rule, are you ready?…
If they offer you guarantees: DO NOT HIRE THEM! — There are no guarantees in SEO. Learn this now. See what Google themselves have to say about the subject.
That’s not to say that they shouldn’t work out a plan with you and talk about goals, predictions, and expectations, but if their bottom line is something along the lines of:
“For $5,000, we guarantee you page one on Google.”
In my experience, I would say that the majority of SEOs out there may do more harm than good for you and your website.
- They’re scamming you; taking the money and running.
- They don’t really know what they’re doing, but claim to be experts.
- They’re black-hat SEOs — meaning they do shady things that might give you short term results, but ultimately are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can get you penalized.
- They might somewhat know what they’re doing, but over-charge for what they offer by building it up to sound more technical than it really is. In other words, make sure they aren’t charging you $1,000 for something you could probably do yourself.
- Make sure they can write quality code as well. A well-coded, validly-coded website is important for good onsite SEO.
If you’re on a budget I recommend taking a minute to learn about SEO yourself, not just hiring someone. Google’s even released their own SEO PDF guide.
What I Do When Providing SEO
When I begin consulting for an SEO project, first thing’s first: I review the website, top to bottom, on the front-end and back-end (meta and code). I see what needs to be fixed and added immediately. I create a list explaining each point in laymen terms and provide a quote for said work. That’s phase one.
Phase two is marketing. Now that the website itself is SEO-friendly, what can we do organically to drive quality traffic? That usually involves content-building and creating a social media presence.