Every website owner wants his brainchild to be visible in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. Website visibility is equal to more organic traffic, more sales, more income. How can you improve your website visibility if you’re lack of time and what’s more important - don’t know how to do this properly. 

The best option is to hire an SEO specialist. Another issue arises at this point: how to choose the most reliable, trustworthy person and how to hire an SEO specialist that will not ruin your website. 

In this guide, we are going to cover the most important criteria great SEO freelancers should have. 

1. Ask questions about the workflow

Even if you don’t know a lot about SEO, you can always check SEO basics and get a kind of general idea of what techniques will be applied to your website. An SEO specialist can use white/grey or even black hat techniques to achieve the results. The last one can lead to your website ban, so always ask in advance how SEO specialist you’re going to hire is planning to reach the goal. If a freelancer refuses to explain his strategy and doesn’t clearly answer your questions, it’s a sign to look for another candidate. A good SEO expert will provide an initial website audit, highlighting current issues (friendly speaking it’s not so difficult and doesn’t take a lot of time).   

2. Ask for references 

Reviews from previous clients mean a lot to the new potential ones. They speak louder than a huge batch of promises SEO consultants can give you. Don’t hesitate to ask for references, contact previous clients, and ask if they noticed positive changes after SEO optimization was completed. It’s easier to make a choice if you hire an SEO specialist via freelance platforms, like People per Hour or Upwork. 

3. Ask for guarantees 

Everyone wants to be number one. But, let’s be realistic, it’s not always possible even if the best SEO techniques were applied. So, if a potential candidate tries to ensure that within X amount of time you will be number 1 - it means some illegal practice will be applied. You can ask here: “How I have to evaluate an SEO job then?” Be number 1 should not always be your priority. Read our guide, how to check if the SEO project was completed successfully for more information. 

4. Ask to share all applied changes 

Being the website owner means that you have to dive into the digital marketing world, discover technical stuff and etc, otherwise you can become a victim of an unscrupulous SEO specialist. As a result, time and money are lost. To avoid this, ask SEO expert to show before/after results. What we usually do for each client: create Google Doc, upload there all information gathered during the initial audit. We keep there all changes applied to meta tags, this way client can track the progress, and it’s easier for us to demonstrate what was done. 

5. Set up goals to measure SEO campaign success 

Each work type should be evaluated, right? If you sell goods, offer services - clients feedback usually is a great source of evaluation. How to deal with SEO? Discuss with the SEO expert you’re going to hire, what will be the criteria to measure the success of SEO services you paid for. Use Google Analytics to set up the goal, check main traffic sources, keywords that bring people to the website and etc. See, how the graphs are changing and if you’re satisfied with intermediate results. 

6. Trust but verify

Prepare in advance some SEO questions you would like to ask. You can dive into the topic and have an approximate picture of what relevant answers should include. It doesn't mean that you have to look for some super difficult technical questions that will be hard to understand, but some points that are more than basics. You can check Moz or Ahrefs blogs for more ideas. It takes a certain time, but it will definitely help to avoid possible collaboration with SEO specialists who provide low-quality services. 

7. All-in-One skill set or a dedicated specialist

As a freelancer, I was always wondering when I saw some job posts where the company wanted to hire SEO specialist and Copywriter and Social Media Manager and Email Campaign Specialist and etc. All these skills should be mastered by one person. Hmmm, might be the case actually. BUT if all mentioned are related to digital marketing it doesn't mean that I have to offer all these services OR I can agree, but I don’t have enough experience, well at least can Google and find some guides, but the results of my work will not be so impressive. Before looking for something similar ask yourself: if you’re a business owner, does it mean that you know how to manage payroll properly, or deal with logistics on a high level, or do some administrative tasks? Its always better to concentrate on one specific topic. Even within SEO, some freelancers may offer only On-Page SEO, while others specialize in Off-Page. 

8. Fix price or hourly rate?

Normally, you can agree on a price per project or hourly rate type of contract. From my personal experience, I’d prefer the second option. First of all, I usually try to calculate the approximate amount of work in advance, (here I would like to highlight “approximate”), so the project cost is also approximate. If we agree on a fixed price project both underestimation and project overestimation cost can happen. But as clients mostly prefer to do fixed price projects, it took me a lot of time to find the best calculating formula, because every project is unique and time spend on the same task for two different websites may vary greatly. At the same time, I can understand clients’ positions, how you can be sure that at the end you will pay exactly for the number of hours worked. 

9. SEO freelancer vs SEO agency

Which option is better for your business? I think that it depends on the budget you’re ready to spend on an SEO campaign. I worked both as an individual SEO specialist and was a part of SEO agency. Prior to this experience, I was thinking that agencies do some sort of real magic, that’s why their rates are enormously high. In reality, the basics stay the same. The only difference is that several people work on your project at the same time: do on-page, off-page, can create content (as an option), update some technical things. This is, of course, a huge bonus. But if you’re on a budget you can find freelancers to complete each of these tasks and you will definitely spend less. 

10. Communication means a lot

Poor communication sometimes can become a real obstacle for clients and SEO specialists, the results of work, and general personal impressions. It can be said not only about the freelancer who agreed to assist your business but to clients as well. Discussing the availability could really help. Choose the best platform to communicate, you can easily do it via Skype or Slack. Try to minimize response time, as it can influence the progress a lot. Provide all necessary details to your SEO consultant and ask to share what was done on a daily or weekly basis.  

I hope these questions will help you to make the right choice and hire an SEO specialist that will move your business and website to the next level.

If you’re looking for SEO help, just drop us a message.

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