Whether it be hiring writers, agencies, or industry experts, it seems that more and more companies are beginning to hire for SEO. In the past company owners could keep up with SEO on their own, but the never-ending Google Panda and Penguin Updates are making it difficult to keep up. The growing popularity and sheer number of social networking sites has also made its way into the SEO realm, so it is no question why help is needed. However, hiring for SEO isn’t quite as easy as it looks.
Unfortunately, there are many scams out there when it comes to SEO assistance and more and more companies are falling into the trap. As the need for help becomes more apparent, the want to help becomes overwhelming. Companies and “experts” are popping up everywhere to try and help you, many of which are nothing but scams. This then begs the inevitable question: Where do I start?
SEO Hiring Guide
There are really three different ways that you can go about getting help for your company’s SEO efforts: hiring writers, hiring an agency, or hiring a team of experts. The choice that is right for you will depend upon the amount of experience your company has in SEO as well as the time that your company wants to dedicate to SEO. After all, not all companies want to hand over all of the reigns. This is where deciding between hiring in-house or outsourcing the work will come into play.
It is also important to consider some of the SEO agency scams so that you do not fall into the trap. Below breaks down these three different options and some of the things to look for before you make your hiring decision.
SEO Copywriting: What to Avoid in a Candidate
In general, very small companies are able to get away with hiring an SEO copywriter or team of SEO writers. This is ideal if your company wants to continue to be actively involved in social media and has the time needed to dedicate to optimizing content and pages.
Hiring an SEO copywriter is different than hiring your traditional writer. An SEO writer needs to understand how to talk with editors, evaluate different websites, and of course use keywords and create great blog style content.
Because hiring SEO writers to guest post and create content for a website is becoming so popular, many people try to cheat the system. The vast majority of companies hire writers to work from home, but there are a few things that could go wrong:
- Double Outsource – There are plenty of “writers” out there that will actually allow you to hire them, but then will outsource the writing for a lower cost and claim it as their own.
- Plagiarism – For some reason, people think that working from home makes it easier to plagiarize. Google will penalize your website if you are publishing duplicate content, so you must be careful when hiring writers.
- Improper English – There are many SEO writers out there that speak English as a second language. This can sometimes be hard to gauge if you’re hiring someone you found online because these non-native speakers do have a lot of experience, but it’s important you don’t fall into this situation.
The most important thing that you can do if you’re going to hire a writer is to not only ask them for a writing sample, but to actually have them write something for you specifically. Ideally you would ask the writer to come into your office and do this writing so that you can have a proper interview. Although many writers write from home, this position is extremely important. Your SEO writers will be representing your brand all of the Internet to your target audience.
Outsourced SEO Agencies: Scams to Look For
Many larger companies hire an SEO agency to help with SEO efforts. An SEO agency is something that you will outsource, so your workers will not be in your office. An agency generally has several different clients and is responsible for hiring great writers and tracking progress. This is a great option for the company ready and willing to give up the majority of SEO responsibilities.
However, hiring an SEO agency can also be risky. There are many scams out there that companies fall for:
- Guaranteed Results – If an agency guarantees a specific SEO result (ex: first page of Google by the end of the month), it is probably a scam. It is possible to manipulate SEO to get onto the first page of Google by using black hat tactics. In the end, these tactics will get you in trouble with Google and force you to spend years doing cleanup work before you will even rank.
- Hundreds of Links – Getting hundreds or thousands of links to your site is actually not a good thing if it didn’t happen over the course of ten years. A huge number of links usually means that these links are placed on spammy websites, which makes your website look bad.
Hiring an outside agency usually works if you really take the time to find the right one. Ask the agency to talk with their other clients and see what they are saying. Ask to have a trial period first and be sure to ask basic questions about SEO. For example, ask them if they can guarantee results after a short period of time. The answer should always be “no.”
In-House SEO Experts: Questions to Ask
Hiring an in-house SEO team means that your experts will come to your office everyday and work alongside your other staff. You will be the only priority if you hire an expert to work in-house, so this works well for a company that still wants a good amount of control over SEO but needs the help of an expert. In general, startups hire an expert in-house.
This is probably the safest option when it comes to scams, but there are still things that can go wrong if you don’t know what types of questions to ask. Below is a list of a few must-have questions during your interview:
- How would you recover from a Google Panda or Penguin Update?
- What scheduling tools and techniques do you use to make sure social media is effective?
- How will you make sure that we get backlinks? What types of sites would you like to see these backlinks?
Asking the right questions is crucial no matter what option you opt for when hiring. Hiring for SEO is a bit tricky, so it’s important to be prepared with the potential scams that are slowly breaking their way into businesses.
Have you ever been the victim of an SEO scam while you were trying to hire help? What did you do to fix the problem? Let us know in the comments!