10 Critical Things To Do Before You Hire An SEO Consultant (Plus a Pro Tip!)
SEO is one of the most important considerations when managing your small business, especially if you’re in a competitive city like Toronto.
Toronto, the GTA, and other cities like Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary are becoming more and more competitive for small business owners, and much of the new-found competition is due to the importance of SEO.
Why? First, do an experiment and Google search for a product you sell or a service you provide and the city your business is based in. For example, if you sell hot dogs in Toronto, open a new tab and search for ‘Hot dogs for sale in Toronto.’ Come on back here when you’re done.
Go ahead. We’ll wait.
All set? What did you learn?
One of two things happened:
- Your business showed up on the first page of the results.
- Your business didn’t show up on the first page, or worse, isn’t in the results pages anywhere at all.
If you’re on the first page of Google results, it’s likely you don’t need to finish reading this article. Your SEO consultant is doing a great job!
But if you’re in the latter group and you didn’t see your biz on the first page, you absolutely must reconsider your strategy.
Let’s consider a very important statistic.
According to backlinko.com, only 0.78% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page. Yes, you read that correctly. Less than 1% of people click on a link they found on the second page of Google search results.
Don’t believe us? When is the last time YOU clicked on a second-page link?
That’s what we thought! It’s probably been a while. Or maybe, you never have.
And that’s the rub when it comes to SEO. You don’t want to have to think about it, but you NEED to think about it, because if you don’t, most of your potential customers will never know you exist.
What Is SEO?
Definition: SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of optimizing your company’s online assets so they are more easily found by search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. When your company’s assets are deemed high-quality by search engines, you’re more likely to rank higher in your potential customers’ search results and you’ll attain a higher amount of free traffic to your website and social media pages, as well as online news stories and publications about your company.
SEO sounds simple, but in fact, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve. As more people use the internet to find small businesses and more companies built websites and online shops, search engines need a more scrutinizing approach to categorizing business.
From a user perspective, we should actually find ourselves happy that the process of ranking #1 on Google is daunting. That’s because we want the top results to truly be the best companies.
No one wants the actual very best hot dog restaurant in Toronto to be listed on page 2 or 3 or 10 of the SERP (search engine results pages), right? However, if the actual ‘very best hot dog restaurant in Toronto’s’ website is crummy, that might be exactly where you find it.
What Factors Contribute to ‘Good SEO’?
Right now, Google is making a fuss about a few website details. In the last two years, Google has implemented some strict guidelines, promising your website’s Quality Score (the score assigned to your online presence dependent on what Google’s bots find when they are crawling your website) will be harshly impacted should you refuse to comply.
Some of the most important SEO considerations in 2022:
- Keywords are KING. If you aren’t using them effectively across your website, blog, and landing pages, it will be difficult to rank.
- Write strong meta descriptions and use descriptions for your images and videos as well.
- Write smart headlines and use your theme’s style labels to designate them.
- Optimize your images. Resize, compress, and make sure they’re high-quality.
- Make your website design user-friendly, and prioritize designing your mobile site with a quick load time.
- Write a strong, keyword-rich blog.
- Include internal links (links that send people to other places on your website), and high-quality external links (links that send people to other reputable websites).
- Write high-quality, engaging, and useful articles for your blog.
And even if you had the time, knowledge, or patience to do all of this yourself, unfortunately, Google changes its mind about what ‘Good SEO’ is from time-to-time.
That’s where having an SEO consultant gives you the edge of your competition.
How Do I Hire an SEO Consultant
If by now you’ve established you need an SEO consultant in Toronto or anywhere else, you’re probably panicking, and desperately crying out, “I NEED HELP WITH MY SEO!”
But how do you begin to find one?
We’re sharing with you the ten critical things you need to do if you’re planning to hire an SEO consultant.
Ten Critical Things To Do Before Hiring An SEO Consultant
- Know your goals.
Your SEO Consultant should be GREAT at SEO. But you can’t expect them to know your business, or to set your goals. That’s completely up to you. In fact, if you’re interviewing an SEO consultant who starts trying to be the captain of your company’s ship, it might be time to throw them overboard! YOU and you alone need to understand where you want your company to go, how you want it to grow, and how long you want to take to get there.
- Make sure they do their research.
If your consultant starts giving you their plan on your first phone call, you might want to hang up. No two companies are alike, and no SEO consultant can truly make you a plan without investigating and auditing: your website, your social media, your online presence, your competition, and your industry. These things take time to research, and what they find will ultimately determine their recommended plan of attack, length of implementation, and cost. Give the consultant at least 2-3 days after your initial meeting to create an SEO plan specifically for your small business.
- Do your own research.
Who are your biggest competitors? Why are they killing it? What are they doing that you aren’t executing well? Knowing these things for yourself will help you understand the plan your SEO consultant recommends to you.
- Read case studies.
Before hiring any SEO company based on their success, get some proof in the form of case studies. Great consultants are going to be able to show you results, not just tell you about them.
- Get at least three opinions.
At 2Marketing, we’re great at what we do. But we know the best practice is to get more than one opinion when making a major decision that affects your business. We aren’t bothered by competition! You need your business to succeed, so make sure you hear more than one plan, and choose the company you best feel you can trust with your small business.
- Get the plan on paper.
Your consultant should present to you a written plan of action. It should clearly explain the steps they plan to take to improve your SEO, the timeframe of the project, their expected ROI, and possible next steps. They should give you a copy to keep for yourself, and the pricing should be easy to understand.
- Ask what issues they see with your website, and make sure they can give you specific examples.
It’s important they can identify clear problems and explain them to you. If they can’t, they haven’t researched your company thoroughly enough.
- Ask the question, “Are you experienced at improving local SEO?” Small businesses often need a specific local SEO strategy, as this is how you’ll be found by people in your community, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront. Ever search for a service and notice how you get results from shops in your community? That’s local SEO at work.
- Find out how they measure their results. How will they prove they’ve made a difference in your SEO? How do they present their results? At what point will you see their data? Every month? Every quarter? Make sure they have a plan, and make sure you’re comfortable with it. But please do keep in mind: It takes time to see results.
- Find out what happens if you no longer want to work with them. Be sure you maintain ownership of all your assets, including everything they have designed, built, written, or optimized for you. Make sure you’re able to terminate the contract if you feel they aren’t keeping up their end of the bargain.
PRO TIP: Ask a trick question. Here’s a great one: “Can you guarantee my business will show up on Google’s first page of results?” If they tell you YES they can, run for the hills!
Consider this a huge red flag. Unfortunately, the truth is that top results on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine are impossible to guarantee. They aren’t impossible to achieve, but guaranteeing it is unethical, and shouldn’t be done.
Search engine results are controlled by highly sophisticated algorithms that can’t be bought. Your success is highly determined by your competition, your niche, your motivation, and many other factors. Never allow anyone to emotionally manipulate you into unrealistic guarantees. Instead, let their successes (or failures) of the past speak for them.
2Marketing is one of Toronto’s longest-running and most successful SEO firms. We have years of experience helping small businesses accomplish and surpass their goals – in less time than you might think!
We have expertly designed systems for businesses like yours to improve their SEO using a custom SEO strategy that includes Google rankings improvement, keyword research, Google Maps optimization, marketing strategy, relevant, high-quality backlinks, Google Analytics reporting, and so much more, to help you climb up the SERP across all major search engines.
Our SEO specialists and SEO consultants are ready to show you exactly how we can dramatically improve your SEO and local SEO. If you’d like to get started and make 2022 the year you finally reach those goals you’ve had for your small business, 2Marketing would be thrilled to hear from you.
Contact us for your free, no-obligation, no-pressure consultation.
Let’s grow together this year!