Everything You Need To Know About Hiring A Marketing Consultant
Marketing Consultant is not an easy job, but in the digital age, it feels like there is so much to keep track of. Metrics, trends, and analytics data are more accessible than ever, but at the same time, it takes such a great effort cognitive- and time-wise to truly make use of them all.
This exasperation with the complexity of marketing is the decision point at which you may find yourself thinking about hiring a marketing consultant for your business. In digital marketing, you might find that it’s especially important to do this with SEO, which requires a large time and effort investment to get right and implement.
Hiring an SEO marketing consultant isn’t any more or less involved than hiring any other kind of consultant, but it comes with its own unique challenges. Here’s what you need to know.
Freelancer Or Agency?
In hiring your consultant, the first question you’ll have to answer is that of the budget, and that directly leads to a freelancer vs agency dilemma.
Freelancers are cheaper than agencies, and it’s typically faster to get the ball rolling with them since you’re only dealing with one person rather than a team. However, freelancers don’t have the benefit of the combined expertise of a dedicated SEO marketing team, and on top of that, they may well be juggling several projects at once, which can cause them to prioritize another client if they become overloaded at any time. It’s an unpredictable prospect.
On top of that, if your needs have a somewhat large scope, you might end up having to hire several freelancers at once, which requires micromanagement on an unwieldy scale because you’re going to have to align your objectives with each individual freelancer at once. And of course, if any single freelancer leaves the team, you’re going to have to go through a lengthy turnover process.
A better bet, even if it’s a more expensive one, is to hire a dedicated SEO marketing agency. Yes, it’s more expensive, but you’ll also get the benefits of having a team work on your project for you, with dedicated account managers and specialists taking care of alignment, reports, implementation, and team management. All you’ll have to worry about is the fulfillment of your SEO needs, not how it’s done behind the scenes.
And of course, working with an agency means building a long-term partner with whom you develop a relationship, who would eventually share your vision with you and understand your needs better than anyone else.
How To Choose A Consultant
As with any kind of consultant, choosing your SEO marketing consultant requires you to ask a few questions about their background and how they can help you.
1. How successful is your work with your other clients?
A successful SEO marketing consultant’s work should be plainly obvious – their clients should be highly-ranked in their niche on search engine results pages! Answering this question should involve determining whether their clients’ websites experienced improvements in their rankings on SERPs, and whether the consultant’s work is directly involved in these improvements.
Another quick way to determine if their work is good is to check their own website’s performance in their marketing niche. Many consultants market themselves within their region, so you can look up something like “SEO marketing agency [city/region/province/state]” and look for their ranking.
Finally, if they have any case studies to offer, that would be an extremely useful way of determining their success. Not only will you see how effective their work was, but you’ll also get a glimpse of their practices.
2. What are your methods in implementing SEO practices?
Asking this question and getting a meaningful answer involves researching about SEO on your own. Learn about best practices and deprecated techniques. See what makes good SEO keyword research tick. And of course, look for red flags like the use of Private Blog Networks or article spinning. Compare all that you find out, against the practices that your consultant candidate intends to use.
3. What are your KPIs and reporting methods?
Every business will have different ways of determining their success, and a good SEO marketing consultant will know how to isolate these key performance indicators and report them. Elucidating these reports and indicators to you will show how well they can demonstrate the success of their efforts – and thus your return on investment with them. It’s also important for them to report to you frequently and effectively, while not needing to be micromanaged.
Don’t Cheap Out
Good SEO is expensive, let’s get that out of the way. And it has to be because cheap SEO won’t just be ineffective, but it may even damage your SEO ratings! Cheaper SEO consultants and agencies often use shady or outdated tactics to improve your search engine rankings.
For example, we mentioned Private Blog Networks, which are sites that you can pay to have links to your site included in their posts. Google and other search engines are constantly cracking down on PBNs, and punishing sites that make use of them. If your potential consultant says that they make use of “link schemes” that don’t involve organic traffic, turn around and walk away!
They may also use keyword stuffing, an old holdover from the early days of search engines, which is another SEO “technique” that will end up getting your site treated as spam and sent into search engine oblivion, never to be found.
Finally, they may also output low-quality content. After all, good content needs not only the expertise of the marketing consultant, but also an editor, a manager, research skills, and all these other man-hours that you simply can’t cheap out on.
The minute your digital marketing presence is created, it should be optimized to improve its rankings in your niche as much as possible. Starting early with reach and engagement is key in order to capture as many potential customers as possible.
SEO is a long and involved process that will build up steam and grow an audience over time, and you need a marketing consultant who will be with you every step of the way, building a relationship with you and your needs. That means you should make sure you hire someone you trust, and who you believe aligns with what you want to happen. Do your homework, don’t scrimp on this, and you’ll achieve success.