How to Hire an SEO Agency – Google’s Official Guidance

How to hire an SEO

On 14th February 2017, Google published a video to the Google Webmasters YouTube channel entitled “How to hire an SEO”. Google have uploaded this video to complement their very informative “Do you need an SEO?” page. We’ve embedded the video below for your viewing pleasure:

The video manages expectations, and what you should realistically expect from an SEO Agency or Consultant, and backs up the following claim:

In most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and see the potential benefit.

Other Key Points Google Wants You To Understand About SEO

While the video goes into detail about what you should expect, here are the key take-aways:

  • If you are looking for long-term success, there aren’t any quick “magical tricks” that an SEO Agency or Consultant can provide.
  • The potential of the SEO work is only as high as the quality of your website.
  • A successful SEO Agency or Consultant will look to improve the performance of the entire website, not just certain pages or keywords.
  • In the majority of cases, doing what’s good for SEO is all about doing what’s good for your online customers.
  • If your website is already established, it’s likely that some of the SEO work will involve “paying off some of your website’s technical debt”. Or in short, fixing technical issues that will let your website perform more efficiently in the long run.

The SEO Hiring Process

Following setting expectations, the video goes on to detail how you should hire an SEO Agency or Consultant:

  • Conduct a two-way interview with an SEO company, and find one that has a genuine interest in your business.
  • Check references.
  • Ask for a technical SEO audit – which you will likely have to pay for.

Good Questions to Ask When Choosing an SEO

In addition to the video, here are some great questions to ask when looking for an SEO Agency or Consultant:

  • “How will you improve my search engine visibility?” – Any Agency or Consultant should be able to take you through their processes.
  • “Can you guarantee #1 rankings?” – If the answer is yes, they are lying. Nobody can guarantee rankings.
  • “How do we measure SEO success?” – Agencies and Consultants should have some form of reporting structure in place, so you know exactly what you’re spending your money on.
  • “What happens if/when we part ways?” – Protect yourself and find out where you stand if and when you part ways with a Consultant or Agency. Check to see if they will not change or remove any content or work they have delivered on your website.
  • “Are you up-to-date with the latest Search Engine changes?” – Reacting to Google’s latest changes is important. Anyone involved in SEO should be in touch with the latest updates. You can do some research yourself using Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History tracker, and even quiz the SEO Consultant or Agency on the updates.

Red Flags

If an SEO Consultant mentions any of the below, you should question further, or consider using a different Consultant or Agency:

  • Guaranteed rankings: no-one can guarantee search engine rankings.
  • Any mention of Black Hat Techniques: while it’s certainly not a bad thing to study and understand black hat techniques, they are not a long-term solution for website rankings and will often get your website penalised.
  • Free SEO Audits: Any free SEO Audits are usually generated by automated software, to capture or nurture leads.

Is Your Business Ready to Hire An SEO?

The video signs off in a very interesting way, and makes probably the most important point of the entire recording:

If you’re not ready to commit to making SEO improvements, while getting an SEO audit may be helpful, make sure that your entire organisation is on board, else your SEO improvements may be non-existent, regardless of who you hire.

It’s fantastic that Google is taking this stance and supporting SEO Agencies with what they have been portraying to prospective clients. It is also great advice for you, if you are looking to expand your SEO efforts and hire some help.