A great benefit or a potential risk for traffic results: according to Google, hiring an SEO specialist to whom entrust the site optimization work can determine one scenario or the other and is therefore an option to be evaluated very carefully. We talk about it in the new episode of Search for Beginners, which provides some practical advice to avoid trouble and problems.

What is an SEO specialist useful for

The video, uploaded on the YouTube channel of Google webmasters, begins with the definition of SEO, reminding us that it indicates both the acronym Search Engine optimization (and therefore the activity of optimization for the search engines), but also Search Engine optimizer, and therefore who concretely plans and puts into practice the works on the site.

According to Google, hiring an SEO specialist “can potentially improve your site and save you time,” but there is also the risk “to damage your website and your reputation if you hire someone who gives bad advice or suggests bad practices and bad shortcuts”.

Do not look for wrong shortcuts

Therefore, Google provides a number of general recommendations to keep in mind if we want to collaborate with an SEO specialist or insert one into the company.

First of all, we need to “interview the potential SEO consultant” to evaluate their experience and understand their areas of expertise. A good SEO not only focuses on search engine rankings – that is, where the site appears on Google – “but also on how it can help your company improve the way it appears”, for example by implementing the Google My Business tab.

How to detect a good SEO specialist

According to the Google Webmasters, a good SEO consultant should inquire and ask questions about the activity for which it is engaged, such as “what makes your company, your content or your services unique, and therefore valuable to customers? What is your type of customer? How do they find your site right now? How does your company make money, and how can Search help you? What other channels are you using? Do you advertise offline? And on social networks? Who are your competitors? What do they do well online and, potentially, offline?”.

If the expert does not seem interested in learning more about your company from a holistic point of view – that is, considering all the components that contribute or can influence the performance, not only the search engines – it would be preferable to consider seeking another candidate.

The characteristics of a competent consultant

It is difficult, if not impossible, “to properly optimize a site without knowing the company’s goals, customers and other existing marketing efforts,” Mountain View explains.

Another category of specialists to look at with suspicion is those who offer “unrealistic guarantees to appear first on Google”: no one can guarantee this result (we know it and Google confirms it once more) and “often those who try to do so use practices that violate Google Webmaster’s guidelines, such as creating unnatural links and doorway sites“.

Such activities, which fall under the black hat SEO, can lead to the permanent removal of pages or the entire site from the results of Google, if there are particularly serious violations.

Other steps to hire a good SEO

The second step in hiring an SEO expert is to check his references: Google recommends talking to “previous customers for confirmation that the professional has provided useful guidance and has worked effectively with their teams”.

It is also important to ensure that the results obtained through its strategies “have been lasting and not temporary”, because a good expert helps to make SEO part of the general operations of the online business. Therefore, it should focus on long-term plans and help the overall growth of the brand.

A test to evaluate the SEO

The last step is to request an SEO audit technical test and on the performance in the Research: when we have found a trusted candidate, we can show him a narrow view (not a full access or writing access, warns the video) to our Google Search Console or Analytics data”.

Before he can actually make changes to the site, it is better to test him on the field and entrust him with a complete audit, to receive its opinion and most of all a list of priority areas on which he thinks action should be taken to improve the SEO.

Obtaining targeted advice, based on the site

In the analysis, the SEO expert should indicate the problems as a priority and indicate the suggested improvements, based on data related to our site (not therefore general advice), suitable to our online presence and without resorting to unnatural practices that may violate Google Webmaster’s guidelines.

The best suggestions focus on techniques and strategies “that target a human audience and not a search engine,” says Google, and the audit should also estimate the overall investment and potential positive impact on the company.

The time has come to choose the SEO

Once done with the interviews, checked the references and read the technical audits provided, we should be ready to evaluate our potential SEO experts: a good consultant is the one who gives “priority to ideas that will improve your business using as few resources as possible“continues the YouTube video.

It is possible that the expert may suggest improvements that may take longer to start, but that will be useful to build the growth over the long term. For this reason, a good SEO specialist is “a person with whom you can work and experiment, from whom you can learn and with whom to build a path to follow for you and your company”.

Once we hire the profile that comes closer to these characteristics, we must “work together beforehand to establish goals, metrics and how you will track results, so to know what you will achieve”.

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