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8 tips to avoid getting ripped off by your SEO Consultant

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

In one sentence, SEO is a strategy that ensures when someone Googles your product or service category, they find your website.

If you can get your company onto Page 1 of Google for the right keywords, you will generate significantly more relevant leads.

On one hand, we highly recommend engaging an SEO expert because it’s a full time job that requires ongoing attention. On the other hand, we’ve had our share of bad experiences with SEO experts that just create confusion with jargon and ultimately don’t get results, i.e. your website ranked on page 1 of Google. With this in mind, here’s our 8 tips to avoid getting ripped off by your SEO Consultant:

1. Get access to your own, independent SEO audit tools

An SEO audit checks the performance of your website, its highly recommended before making any major changes or commencing a focused SEO strategy. It will tell you how well its optimized to drive traffic to your site and identify how you can improve performance.

You may not have the capacity or the the right skill-sets to implement an SEO strategy, but by completing this audit yourself, you will have an insight to check how well any potential SEO suppliers stack up to your expectations.

A website audit will also identify gaps in your websites lead generation capability, highlighting opportunities that you could exploit to increase the number of website visitors that convert to leads.

Bonus tip – Here’s a great tool from Hubspot to start testing how strong your website is.

2. Start tracking the key metrics that will tell you if your SEO strategy is working

When you are selecting an SEO expert, you will find yourself feeling far more confident if you have visibility of a set of metrics that you are already tracking. As you engage your SEO Consultant, you will also have a robust and reliable data source so you can feel confident that you are getting a return on your investment, and ask questions when you feel like you are not getting the results you had expected.

3. Invest time in identifying the keywords that people are using to find you

You might already be investing in paid Google ads or other paid social media campaigns or bidding on keywords that relate to your industry. This is a good place to start, but if you don’t have a list of keywords that your customers use, invest time to find out. A great place to start is by asking your existing customers, what would they search for?

Bonus tip – for a added depth, find out what questions your potential customers are asking online. If you can tap into these search phrases or sentences that people are typing into Google or asking Alexa and Siri, it enables you to include content in your SEO strategy later than answers those questions, positioning your company as a thought leader and authority on the topic.

4. Ask them for references from customers who they have worked with in the past

Great SEO Consultants get great results and have happy customers who are benefiting from a successful SEO strategy. Ask any consultant you are considering working with for their client references, preferably someone you can speak with directly and ask for feedback.

When you have these references, make sure you follow up, a 5 minute call will quickly validate if the SEO Consultant in question is worth considering for your company.

5. Ask them to specify how much time they expect your team to commit to implementing their SEO strategy recommendations

When you engage with an SEO Consultant, whilst they can do a lot of the work for you, its more likely that you will have internal team members implementing some of their recommendations and perhaps writing content to support your SEO strategy. If this is the case, ask your SEO Consultant to give you an estimation of the time your team will need to commit and what skill-set they should have.

Recommendations are only useful if you have the resources to implement them and you cant hold your SEO supplier accountable for work your team haven’t done!

6. Be wary of anyone promising you results that seem too good to be true

Having run marketing teams for many years, I came across my fair share of SEO Consultants who promised me the world… guaranteed page 1 rankings in record time, it sounded amazing and too good to be true! It was.

I mitigated this issue later on by following the steps above, getting visibility of how my site was performing, tracking the metrics in-house and learning how to spot these fraudsters.

7. Do your research on what it takes to implement a successful SEO strategy and realistic time frames to see results

Take the time to meet 3-4 SEO Consultants, listen to the questions they ask, speak with their existing clients and get online and research the topic yourself. You don’t need to become an expert, but you will avoid investing a lot of time and money and lost revenue over the length of the contract you have with a bad SEO Consultant.

8. Set up your own dashboard and check it regularly

Great SEO Consultants will track and provide you with the data you need to see how your SEO strategy is performing, so anyone that doesn’t give you regular access to this data should be avoided. I recommend going one step further and ensuring you are not reliant on their data. There’s loads of info out there on the tools you can use, this is a great article to find what you are looking for.

You can manage SEO yourself with a keyword research tool, but be prepared to invest a significant proportion of your in house marketing teams time in making the most of it. SEO can cost anywhere between $75 and $1200 per month if you do it yourself with a keyword research tool (at the top end of that budget you’re delving into the relm of artificial intelligence – if you can afford it, it’s a game changer.

An external Consultant will cost between $70 and $170 per hour and up to $8,000 per month if you hire a full-service marketing agency. Small and medium sized companies usually spend proportionally less on SEO than big brands, but don’t underestimate how powerful it can be.

Done well, SEO ensures you are answering the questions your audience is asking.


One Zebra helps companies build marketing strategies and write powerful content. We use artificial intelligence to ensure you're answering the questions your customers are asking. If you’d like to learn more, e-mail for more info or click here to schedule a discovery call at your convenience.

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