SEO is all about Google. Sure, there are SEO experts who dabble in Bing or DuckDuckGo, but for the most part, search engine optimisation is about Google search and ranking as high as possible in Google’s search results.
Where do You Start?
Because of this, it is always a good idea to go to the source when thinking about doing SEO or hiring an SEO company to help your business.
The good news is that the folks who work at Google are actually very forthcoming with their comments on various SEO practices, mostly providing valuable advice for companies and individuals.
This video is the perfect example, as a seasoned veteran from Google Search Maile Ohye shares a few tips on how to choose and hire an SEO agency or expert that will actually help your company and your website achieve better results in search and more.
Last Things First
Near the very end of the video, Maile actually mentions something that is of paramount importance for companies and individuals who are planning on interviewing some SEOs and hiring someone.
Namely, she mentions that in her talks with people who work in SEO, she discovered that the most common problem is the client or decision makers not making the time or resources available to implement recommendations.
As a result, no SEO practice can really work and it ends up feeling as if the SEO people failed to do their jobs.
Therefore, before you even start interviewing or hiring, you need to make sure that your entire organisation, top to bottom, is ready to listen, learn and help your future SEO partners.
Google’s Hiring Recommendations
One of the main points Maile makes is that every recommendation that comes from the SEO experts you are interviewing or hiring has to be corroborated by one or more of Google’s staff. This can be a confirmation from a video, a blog post or even a forum post from one of Google’s employees.
She mentions this as the first line of defence against SEO practices that will have no effect on your website’s rankings or that might even hurt your company in the future.
It should be pointed out, however, that sometimes there will be tactics that can be used and that will work which might not exactly be confirmed by Google. It’s like the stock market – everyone says that only above-board tactics work, but it soon becomes obvious that people are doing all kinds of stuff and are getting away with it.
Not that you should hire someone who actively, almost monomaniacally goes against everything that Google says, but you should also never go running away if someone mentions building some links, for example.
The SEO Hiring Process
Maile then goes on to describe the most common process when hiring an SEO, including a few recommendations for every step of the way:
- Conducting a two-way interview
- Checking their references
- Ask for a technical/search audit
- Decide whether to hire
During the interview, according to Maile, it is important to identify an SEO who will be genuinely interested in how your business works, who your customers and competitors are, where the most profit comes from and how they will be able to help.
Maile puts an emphasis on a holistic approach to SEO and this is generally the best way to go, agreed. Still, there are cases in which your competitors will be fantastically aggressive with their SEO practices that you might feel the need for a less holistic and a more pugilistic approach.
Sometimes you just might need an SEO bruiser and you might find they do not really care that much about all the intricacies of your business.
Maile goes on to recommend checking the SEO’s references and actually talking to their past clients to ensure they were provided with this holistic approach to SEO. She also mentions that checking the references will hopefully unearth an SEO partner which is helpful, easy to work with and ready to try out new things.
However, many SEO experts will sometimes be prohibited from sharing references of their best work with you because their past clients may have required them to sign non-disclosure agreements.
The SEO Audits
The next step in the process will be asking for technical and search SEO audits of your website by your potential new partner. You will provide them with limited access to your Google Search Console and analytics data, they will come up with recommendations for future improvements. The best way to hire, (if you can justify the cost), is to ask a few agencies/experts to do the same work to see what each of them will come up with.
As part of the SEO audits, your potential partners will have to show that they know what they are doing and have a structured approach to handling any issues your website might have. During these audits, you should also get recommendations based on your competitors’ actions and practices, showing that your potential future partners understand the complex SEO relationships.
Look for Structure and Results
All in all, the video provides a great place to start when thinking about hiring an SEO company. Maile provides a structured way to weed out impostors and agencies that are out for a quick buck without providing any kind of meaningful service.
She emphasizes a holistic approach that can feel somewhat idealistic, but she also speaks of cold, hard numbers, the expected time after which some benefits should be seen and the importance of prioritization.
The only way this video could have done a better job of helping you hire an SEO agency is something a video coming straight from Google could never feature – an admission, (even an indirect one), that search engine rankings and the entire SEO landscape are sometimes more brutal and unsavoury and that sometimes the holistic, sanitized approach may need additional oomph.