Are you preparing to hire a new SEO contractor but aren’t sure what to look for? This short guide will equip you with a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization and a series of questions to use during the interview process.
When interviewing for an SEO consultant, it is important to remember a few stages of the SEO process. Although there are many complex layers to such a service, it can essentially be broken down into four steps:
- Initial Research & Onboarding
- On-Site SEO
- Off-Site SEO
Initial Research & Onboarding
All in all, there are two halves to the SEO process. First, there are a variety of important tasks that must be done on your website itself. Secondarily, there is work to be done to build links back to your website from others. On-Site SEO includes things like optimizing metadata, adding fresh content in the form of new pages or blogs, and improving the existing content to support your goals. For the most part, new pieces of content need to be about 750 words (500-1,000) for Google to take notice. For most companies, adding fresh content on a weekly or monthly basis is a vital part of improving rankings in search results.
Many companies do not provide off-site services, and as a result, website rankings struggle to improve. In brief, off-site services include the building of links on third-party websites that signal to Google and other search engines that your website is an authoritative source. Some of these backlinks are very easy to set up, such as the links in your Facebook and your Google My Business profile. Services such as Yext help to streamline the building of many other directory or citation profiles. While these links are important, it is often ongoing linking from niche-specific websites that have a bigger effect on rankings. An SEO company may pay to have a link placed on a website, or they may simply swap links with the other site, among other strategies
SEO is a service that requires several months before seeing significant changes. That said, it is vital to establish on the front-end what “change” looks like, in addition to scheduling a monthly review of the progress. Occasionally, SEO can turn into a service that companies pay for month over month but never really know what they got for their money. For this reason, establishing a firm set of expectations regarding reporting and key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential.
Interview QuestionsNow that you have a basic understanding of how this sort of service works, these interview questions can be used to help you uncover the strategies and abilities (or lack thereof!) of the SEO firms you are considering.
Initial Research & Onboarding
- Please tell me about your initial research and onboarding process. What types of things do you do before starting a new SEO campaign?
- What sort of research will you be doing as you prepare to begin providing new services?
- Are there any on-site optimization services provided during the setup process?
- Will you set up all of the appropriate goals in Google Analytics to track organic calls, forms, and any other conversion points?
- Will you be showing me the keywords you intend to target and the number of estimated monthly local searches of those keywords before starting?
- Please tell me your firm’s views on copywriting or content creation as it relates to SEO.
- How much content is included in the plan you are recommending? Please explain what type of content you recommend and the word count of each piece.
- Please tell me about your firm’s views on off-site SEO and link building in general.
- What method do you use for link building?
- How many backlinks are included on a monthly basis?
- Is there a minimum Domain Authority (DA) you consider when building backlinks?
- What are the Key Performance Indicators you will be using to measure your progress?
- Is there a specific number of keywords you’ll be focusing on at one time?
- How are ranking improvements reported for those keywords?
- What sort of reporting do you provide for backlinks each month? Do you report the Domain Authority and URL of all links built?
- When you report on traffic, will you exclude all non-local traffic from the numbers so that we can see the true organic traffic from our target market?
- What or how many geographical areas are you targeting?
- How often are reports sent?
- Will I be able to have a live meeting with an account manager to review our monthly results?