It can be tough to know when it's the right time to start looking for an SEO consultant. Search campaigns can be expensive, and whilst the return on a successful one is substantial, it can also take a little while before you see results.
This makes the decision hard because if you're investing a significant amount of your marketing budget, you want to ensure that you get a great return on your investment.
So, should I hire an SEO consultant?
Yes, in most cases, you should hire an SEO consultant. The organic channel is the largest for driving traffic, and investment in it means you will continuously receive traffic even after you stop spending. SEO is also well-aligned to providing value to your customers, so the benefit of investing is wider-reaching than how well you rank.
SEO consultants are a great choice if you're want a strategy that is going to deliver long-term value
However, there are scenarios where maybe it isn't the right time to invest in SEO. To further help with your decision-making process, I've pulled together a list of 11 things to consider that should help you decide whether it is the right time for your business to start investing in SEO and hiring a search consultant.
1. Hire an SEO consultant if organic is going to provide growth
Before hiring a consultant, you want to make sure there is an opportunity to increase your traffic and revenue via SEO.
I do this with opportunity sizing and market analysis.
I have purpose-built tools that give me a lot of detail about your market and how much you could increase the traffic to your site.
You could, however, also do a lightweight version of this yourself by using tools such as:
I'd recommend putting some of your competitor's domains in to see how much traffic they get, then compare it to your domain.
Do they get more than you? Then it may be worth investing in SEO!
2. Make sure you've got enough budget for it to be worthwhile and not put your business at risk
There are a few points around budget and how this should impact your decision making.
First, SEO isn't cheap and if you're looking to do it cheaply, there is a risk you'll hire someone inexperienced who could put your business at risk.
In a world of manual actions where you can lose most of your organic traffic overnight, it simply isn't worth doing SEO on the cheap.
Secondly, make sure you do have enough budget for a successful campaign. Most good consultants charge hourly, and the rate tends to be around £100 - £200/h. If you're looking at spending £300 a month, you're simply not getting enough time spent on your site.
Thirdly, don't put so much budget into SEO if it's putting your business at risk. No matter what you may get promised, there are no guarantees in the world of SEO, even though the rewards can be high.
3. Hire an SEO consultant if you can dedicate internal resource
Ensure you've got some internal resources to manage the implementation of what a consultant recommends. Your SEO campaign will stumble at the first hurdle if you don't.
In most cases, consultants do not manage the implementation of technical things that they recommend. Most technical work gets delivered in the format of spreadsheets with supporting documents.
If you don't have the internal resource, make sure that the consultant is aware that they may also have to manage the implementation of the recommendations that they send over.
This will, of course, mean you'll need a higher budget for your consultant, so it may be more cost-efficient to first look at hiring someone to manage this in-house.
4. Don't hire an SEO consultant if you have limited dev resource
Before hiring a search consultant, also make sure that you've got a developer ready to implement suggested changes.
You'll need to make sure you've got a budget assigned for development, or you may find yourself in a situation where you have a long list of SEO fixes but can't get them implemented.
Many consultants can offer dev support, including me, so make this part of your brief if required.
5. Don't hire a consultant if you aren't sure of your own goals
If you're not sure what objective you are trying to achieve yet, it is probably too early to start looking into hiring a consultant. Consider what your business goals are for the next year, and then start thinking about how you're going to achieve them.
Hiring a consultant when you don't have clear business goals increases the likelihood of a relationship turning sour when expectations that weren't set aren't met.
6. Don't hire an SEO consultant if they aren't focusing on your business goals
When considering an SEO expert, make sure they care about what is essential for your business, which in most cases is making money.
If all they can talk about is getting you to rank for specific keywords but never discuss revenue and how you'll make a profit out of hiring them, maybe they aren't the right one for you.
You want to avoid a situation where a search campaign ends and goals have been met, but you aren't making a profit from their work.
You should tie SEO targets and metrics back to revenue.
7. Don't hire a consultant if they can't provide scenarios for ROI
The whole point of spending on marketing is that you get more back than you spend. If a consultant can't provide a scenario for what good look likes for you, then maybe they aren't quite right the right one.
SEO is an unpredictable channel, so projections and forecasting will always be heavily caveated. But estimates based upon market analysis and opportunity sizing is doable in most cases, so an SEO should provide them.
8. Hire a consultant if you can find one that is flexible to what you need
Avoid hiring a consultant if you can't find one that is flexible to what is best for your business.
Yes, the ideal scenario for a consultant is 12-month retainers where they can execute a complete plan. But maybe to start with, you need an audit, help with a site migration or some content assets creating.
A good consultant will realise this and create a plan that best suits your business.
9. Don't hire an SEO consultant if your a new business and want a quick-win
Unless you're a well-established business that hasn't been focusing on SEO, a search strategy is rarely a quick win.
If you're a startup and want instant traffic, there is a good chance you'll be waiting 9-12 months to get real traction in organic.
A good search expert will realise this and create a strategy that recognises paid traffic is needed to drive traffic and revenue in the short-term with SEO going on in the background. Over time this will slowly transition to a more organic strategy.
10. Hire a consultant if you want to engage your audience
As time has gone on, SEO has become very content-led, which means the focus has become more about engaging your audience.
Good search consultants have the tools and data at their disposable to give you a lot of insights into your audience to answer questions like:
- When throughout the year do they start searching for your different services?
- What types of content do they engage well with?
- What do they search at each stage of the purchase funnel?
- What social channels do they use?
- What related topics can you talk about that will resonate well with your audience?
- What is the split between their clicks on paid vs organic search result listings?
11. Hire a search consultant if you want a mixture of tactics used
What is considered under the remit of a search consultant is broadening due to Google algorithms considering more things.
For example, there are many examples of Google utilising more UX related signals in their algorithms, such as page speed and page layout. There are also some significant cross-overs between SEO and UX, like site structure and internal linking.
SEO also involves content creation and the promotion of that content. Content promotion could be anything from reaching out to the press, utilising paid channels, or email marketing. Content creation could be a micro-site, blog content, commercial content and more.
As you can see, both content creation and promotion are comprehensive services in their own right that nowadays should be covered within a search strategy. If you pick a good search consultant, you will also access a broad range of services that only increase your chance of success.
12. Hire a consultant if you want some fresh ideas
Good consultants don't just follow a brief. They come to you with fresh ideas for increasing the revenue you receive from organic, whether that idea is a large-scale content and lead-nurture campaign or how you could improve your site's UX and conversion rate.
One of the most significant benefits of hiring a consultant is they have the experience to spot these types of things and deliver value above and beyond what you have briefed them on.
13. Hire an SEO consultant if you rely too much on paid traffic
If you're relying heavily on paid traffic, it may be a good idea to look into investing in some SEO consultancy. Whilst paid traffic is excellent for instant results, the organic channel delivers long-term value at a much lower cost.
Hopefully, this guide should help you decide if it is the right time to hire a consultant. The next thing to consider is whether the consultants you talk to are a great fit that will add value and increase your revenue.
Keep an eye out as we'll be writing more on questions to ask your search consultant another time!