Don't Do It Yourself

4 Questions to Ask an SEO Specialist

When you have a business online, you want people to be able to find you. Whether they come to your blog first, or come straight to your web site, it's important for your business to be visible in the search engines.

In order to increase your visibility, your business blog needs to be optimized for search. This means that search engines can easily identify your site — and see whether or not it fits the needs of particular searchers. When your blog and your site are both properly optimized, customers are likely to find you, and accomplish exactly what they are hoping for.

However, not all of us are SEO experts. There are times when it makes sense to hire an SEO specialist to help you optimize your site, and even to help you get a little help from links. Before you hire just anyone, though, you should ask potential candidates the following questions:

1. What Tactics Will You Use?

Find out what tactics the SEO specialist will use to boost your visibility in the search engines. If the specialist tries to put you off with technobabble, or if there is something that doesn't seem right, be very worried. If the specialist can't explain to you what is going on, that is a red flag.

Also, be wary of so-called black hat tactics that include items such as paying for links (which Google looks down on), using the desired keyword over and over again (even when it might not make sense), or other items that seem suspect and unnatural.

Tactics like building natural links, cleaning up your link profile, adding meta descriptions and tags, and boosting the amount of quality content on your blog are all much better approaches.

2. How Much Time Will It Take?

If an SEO specialist promises that you'll see great results in a very short period of time, be skeptical. Solid SEO improvement is the work of months. It will take time to improve your rankings noticeable. If someone is promising that you'll see results in almost no time, you could be dealing with black hat. Good SEO takes time to work.

3. How Will I Know that You're Effective?

It can be hard to gauge SEO effectiveness. However, there are some ways that specialists can provide you with insight. Some of the ways that an SEO expert can use to measure effectiveness include higher rankings for preferred terms over time, increased traffic (particularly if it's quality), and even increased emails and phone calls.

While you're at it, you can ask about what systems the SEO specialist has in place to let you know what actions have been taken, and when they have been taken.

4. Who Keeps the Work If You Leave?

Find out what happens to the links when you leave. In some cases, they disappear, and the results of other work done might be taken as well. This is one way that some SEO experts try to retain your services. Find out, up front, what will happen. Look for someone who will let you keep the results of the work you have paid for.

Also, make sure that you have admin access to social media accounts set up for your business, and used on your behalf. Be clear that you own your Google Places Page and other social media accounts, and that you can change the password when you part ways.

What other questions would you ask an SEO specialist?