Search Engine Optimization has become not one of, but THE most important thing any brand or small business can invest in when it comes to online marketing.

Consumers prefer non-human forms of communication to get the answers they need about a business or the services that they want to provide. Sad? Yes. But also a very hard truth that we all must accept and fix.

If you own a business or have a social profile, I can guarantee you’ve been private messaged, or emailed, or called about ‘fixing your website’ or the classic ‘I provide software/marketing services’.

With so much personal information public across the internet these days, your information is available to almost anyone.

How do you navigate this whirlwind of people claiming to be professionals to help you with your online marketing, and more specifically your SEO?

From someone who does both marketing consulting and understands internet marketing extensively, let me give you some key things to look out for.


1. Go Local

Yes. You can find a person that can build your website or ‘manage’ your SEO for pennies on the dollar overseas. You can use sites like UpWork and Freelancer to find people like this.

And I’ll be honest I have used theses services for small projects. But when it comes to the well-being of your business, ALWAYS use someone that you can easily hold accountable.

And I don’t mean this in an aggressive creepy way. I’m talking about it from an efficiency perspective. This person will always be tied to you once you work together (hopefully in a positive way). Building a relationship with someone that you trust and does good work is immeasurable.

Find a partner you can trust, find a partner that can buy into your brand, and most importantly find someone you can collaborate with without barriers.


2. Ask what their overall approach and strategy are

A partner is someone that can disclose anything and everything to you. If they can’t they are either inexperienced or techniques are composed of blackhat methods. Something we stay away from if possible in the whitehat SEO community.

So what should an SEO (and really an online marketing) strategy include?

One sentence answer: A roadmap to bringing you more business and an execution plan to get there. The long answer…

Your strategy should consist of a balance of technical SEO, a quality backlink strategy, and content. All of these are ongoing strategies that need to be managed every month in order to increase and maintain your first-page ranking. Getting there can often time be the easy part, staying there is the hard part.

In summary, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good partner or agency will be able to show you their strategy both visually and by the results, they’ve gotten themselves and other businesses.


3. Check out the tools

Again, don’t be afraid to take a peek behind the scenes. Finding a good marketer isn’t a commodity, it’s a specialty service. Someone that is passionate about what they are doing would be happy to take you some of their methods of madness.
Some SEO marketers don’t even work with clients anymore, they just make their money off teaching people 75% of the equation and letting them figure it out the rest.

Make sure they are using premium tools: Moz, ahrefs, Majestic, etc. The free versions of these tools are what you can use to monitor their progress.

Just ask them to take you through some of their processes.


4. References

This is a forgotten science when it comes to evaluation. ALWAYS check references of the people you are going to do business with. If they are legit, providing this should be welcomed.

If they are starting out, they should at least be able to show you their own website and what they did to get there.

It takes two seconds to call or email a reference and most will respond if you keep it short and sweet. Be patient in this process. Find the right person.

I love questions and conversation, feel free to get in touch with me directly or just simply write a comment below. I try to check and contribute as much as possible. Or you can visit my agency website here – The After Hours Agency