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  Choosing an SEO Specialist
You know you need to have your site optimised for search engines and you know you'd like to have it done by a specialist. So how do you pick one?

When searching for a specialist you could try drawing up a shortlist by asking your friends and associates who they used, who they've heard of, who were they happy with. But don't only rely on referrals as your friends may not have searched thoroughly before they chose or they may have lower expectations than you.

In addition to referrals, see if there are any search engine optimisation firms registered with your local council, BusinessLink, small business association or Better Business Bureau. Check associations such as the UK Web Design Association or directories such as SEO Consultants.

Another place to find a specialist is through his or her own website. Or better yet, find sites that show up well and check if there is a "website design by" or "search engine optimsation by" link at the bottom of the homepage. This is often a good way of finding an SEO specialist who knows what he/she is doing.

When you have a shortlist drawn up contact each one and ask if they can give you the names and numbers of any of their clients, then phone them up and ask what their impressions are, are they happy, would they recommend that specialist.

Whilst doing all of this keep the following in mind as a criteria for judgement:

  • The length and depth of the specialists' experience. - A professional SEO specialist should have a few years' experience in optimising sites and in targeting a variety of markets. They should be able to deal with different design features and development languages.

  • Do they offer tailored search engine optimisation solutions? - Can they optimise different types of websites? Do they know how to make various types of website accessible to the engines? Have they asked you about your target market and your suggested keywords? Do they know what you are trying to accomplish with your website? It is all about your site and your potential customers, make sure that the SEO specialist understands that.

  • Do they present a professional image? - The SEO specialist is responsible for how your site is displayed on the search engines and directories which, in many cases, is the first encounter your potential customers will have with your company. Will changes they make to your site and the way they ask for links present a positive or negative impression?

  • Are they going for quick fixes or long term results? - The goal of a search engine marketing campaign should be long term, sustainable results. This means that the SEO specialist cannot use anything the engines consider to be spam.

  • Is their knowlege of SEO up to date and advanced? - Does your SEO specialist know how the most popular engines, directories and portals interact with one another and what deals they have in place? Can they point you to the latest news articles on changes in the search engine industry? Can they tell you where to find information about the legalities of search engine marketing? This industry moves at an incredible pace and if your SEO specialist is not up to date it may be your website that suffers.

  • Will they help you to learn about SEO? - You should choose a specialist that shows a willingness to impart knowledge, whether free or on a paid consultancy basis, if it will improve the site's design, traffic or rankings. At the very least you would expect the SEO specialist to keep their clients informed of new industry trends and expound on how these may affect their search engine rankings.

  • How broad is the scope of their knowledge and intersts? - Does their knowledge stop at SEO or are they also interested in and offer, or partner with those that offer, other forms of online marketing? SEO is great but you may also need PPC management, viral campaigns, email marketing, press releases, etc... The specialist should have at least an intermediate understanding and awareness of all aspects of online marketing.

  • Do they understand web design and more advanced programming as it relates to SEO? - A SEO specialist does not need to be a web designer or developer but it is absolutely essential that they have a working knowledge of various design/development methods and how they relate to search engine optimisation.
Take your time, do your research well and ask a lot of questions. There are some very good search engine marketers out there. You just have to find the one that is right for you.

This Search Engine Marketers guide is provided as advisory service to our readers. Reprints may be made providing full credit is given to Global Submit. Global Submit reserves the right to refuse reprint permission at our sole discretion.

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