So you’re hiring an SEO/PPC expert. Congrats! Just make sure you don’t hire a two-bit hack. Some experts can increase your Google ranking in a short period of time, only to harm your company’s reputation because filters wiped your company off the SERP, or pushed it into the depths of page 300-something. Others may have limited experience and may not deliver on the quality front, leaving you with no results despite offering bargain bin rates. Literally, the future of your company may depend on the expert you hire. So why not to hire the best within your budget?
Here are 10 questions you must ask any SEO or PPC expert you’re considering:
1. Are you up to date with Google’s latest algorithms and updates?
SEO and PPC experts must be well-versed in recent Google algorithms and updates. They should be able to, in a nutshell, explain why and how these changes affect your ranking. They should be able to tell apart the myths from the facts. If the expert fails to identify the penalties associated with Google’s latest algorithm or update, stay far, far away. They may do more harm to your website rep than good.
2. How involved will I be in the project?
The expert is master of a range of technical fields, many of which may go way above your head. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be involved in the project.
Communication is important in and of itself. Explaining to the expert what you want and providing constructive feedback no matter what your technical know-how will make the expert’s life easier. The expert should be open to your continued involvement. Avoid solo flyers at all costs.
3. How would you describe your approach to SEO/PPC?
Experienced SEOs and PPCers should have no problem explaining you their goals for your SEO and PPC campaigns, once they get a good sense of your business. Don’t assume they have a plan. The last thing you want is an inexperienced marketer to wing the whole campaign. Experts have done enough campaigns in their lifetime to be able to draw up a rough map of what should be done.
4. Does my website need redesigning or is my site good enough to rank/sell well?
The expert should understand whether your website will repel the traffic they bring to it. They may find problems with your current design and advise you on what to change. If your potential expert doesn’t deal with the psychology behind website UI/UX, you may want to start looking for a new hire. It’s part of their job to understand all aspects of the SEO/PPC processes.
5. How will you report your progress?
You should get regular reports of your marketing campaign to know how well your money is being utilized. Ask if the expert provides monthly or weekly report. The reports should be transparent, and should be able to tell you what is producing results and what needs work.
6. What are you charging me and why?
Each expert has a different system for calculating expenses. Some projects require extra tools and resources, or the hire of extra staff such as a freelance writer or web designer. There may be consulting fees, or overtime charges. To have a clear understanding of what you’re actually paying for, grill your expert about what they’re charging you for and why.
7. Who will be managing my campaign?
You might assume that all the work will be done by the expert. That’s not always true. Some will only make recommendations and leave you to implement the changes they suggest. Others will undertake your entire website redesign in addition to the marketing campaign.
If you are hiring a PPC expert, you should be informed of who will be managing your Google Adwords accounts. Always ask the expert who will be making technical changes to your website, and who will be managing the website. Also be informed who will be developing content for your website, whether it’s an in-house writer or a freelancer.
The more you understand who does what, the easier it will be to communicate with the right people when you have a specific question about the campaign.
8. What tools will you be using and will they require extra charges?
Most experts have their set of favorite tools for researching, monitoring, reporting, and conducting their activities. You should have a clear understanding of what tools will be used and if extra charges will apply. For SEO experts, make sure you know exactly what they’re using to build links for your website, and whether it presents a hazard for your company’s position in search engines.
9. When should I expect to see results and what if you fail to deliver them in the estimated time?
PPC may need a few hours to set up. But an SEO campaign takes months. You should be informed on how long the expert will need to set up the marketing campaign and start producing results. Always get a rough timetable - any expert worth his rep will have figured out the average time it takes to set everything up and start seeing results. SEO’s and PPC experts aren’t fortune tellers, so failure is an option. Some experts offer a refund or compensation if they fail to provide results. Find out beforehand if there is some kind of guarantee in the case of an unforeseen event such as your website getting penalized due to any action on the expert’s part.
10. Have you worked for similar businesses before?
An expert can work with both big enterprises and small business. Different companies have different agendas and it’s best if the expert has worked with companies that are similar to your business. The expert should be able to point out their previous clients and the work they’ve done for them. It also won’t hurt to talk to some of these clients and find out their experience with the expert. Find out how long the SEO or PPC expert has been working and what their reputation is in the online world. Testimonials, reviews, referrals and your gut instinct are all factors to consider when hiring. Act quickly.