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Many people make mistakes in hiring the right person or company to outsource their SEO, so I’ve put together a guide to help you choose better resources.

There are different activities that you can outsource like content creation, SEO, graphic design, web development, etc. Since I am a SEO person, I’d like to demonstrate the whole procedure from the SEO perspective.

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The whole process can be divided into 3 major parts. They are:

1. Preparation

– Know Your goals

– Know Your competition

– Establish proper on-page setup

– Read up on SEO and link-building

2. The Hiring Process

– Who to hire? Individual or Company?

– Determining characteristics of the right individual

– Determining characteristics of the right company

– Job posting tips

3. Team Setup and Monitoring

– Develop customized report per your frequency

– Check ranking and traffic baselines

– Arrange weekly meetings

 

Preparation

So, the actual hiring process starts even before you start looking to hire someone.

There is a preparatory phase that you need to go through that will make the hiring process much easier. I am going to walk you through those steps first.

1. Know your goals.

You must know exactly what you want to accomplish through your SEO campaign. One common goal is higher SERPs, which will drive more traffic to the site and lead to more sales, ad clicks, opt-ins, etc.

Having a clear idea about your goals will help you to pick the right person to reach them.

2. Know your competition.

You should know exactly with whom you are competing. This can be easily judged by doing competitor analysis. The strength of your competition should help you set goals. For instance, if you are in a highly competitive market, you should never expect to surge in the SERPs within a week.

Many of the people I have seen are very impatient about this and want their SEO to rank them ASAP. Rather than expect instant ranking results, you should use the first few weeks to determine whether your resource is moving you in the right direction.

3. Proper on-page setup

If you are going to hire someone to do link-building activities for your site, you should make sure that the pages are perfectly optimized for that target keyword. You can check out this post for an on-page lesson.

Many of the SEOs you’ll be hiring will just overlook this and start building links right away without even checking the on-page SEO quality, but this is faulty. Both on- and off-page SEO are equally important for better results.

Note: if you’re not sure how to establish on-page setup, that’s the first thing you should ask your resource to do.

4. Get some idea about link building

This is essential because you should be able to assess what your outsourcing person or company is doing for you. If you have no idea about link building and SEO techniques, you can be easily fooled.

You don’t have to be a SEO pro, but you must have some sort of basic knowledge to differentiate between good and bad links. Visit SEO blogs like MOZ, Search Engine Journal, etc., and keep up on the latest so you can assess your resource.

The Hiring Process

So, when you are done with the above steps, you are ready to hire someone. I’d recommend trying sites like oDesk, Elance, etc.

5. Deciding who to hire? Individual or Company?

The preparatory phase mentioned above will tell you who to hire, but here are more tips: If you want to accomplish multiple tasks that require different skills, you should hire a company. For the tasks that doesn’t require a wide range of experience, an individual is usually cheaper and more flexible.

6. Checklist for Selecting the Right Individual to Hire

a) Should have a rich profile

The person you’ll be hiring should have a clean profile with lot of positive feedback. You should check the earlier comments of the employers for whom they have worked. This will give you a preliminary idea about any contractor.

b) In-depth knowledge about the industry

A true SEO should know the latest happenings in the SEO world. If you do not know anything about SEO or link-building then you’ll not be able to assess your contractor’s ability.

You should be able to ask following questions to your potential contractor:

  1. i) Name some of the latest SEO strategies and your thoughts on them
  2. ii) Which SEO blogs or forums do you visit often?

iii) What are biggest ranking factors in 2014?

c) What He/she can do specifically for your business?

An SEO can be knowledgeable about the industry, but that doesn’t necessarily make that SEO a good fit for your niche/ business.

What you can do is assign a test to all the shortlisted candidates. For example, you can ask for a custom audit or one or two sample links that they think are of high quality.

Trust me; this check will filter out lot of candidates who may look like a good fit. Because most people don’t really try to take that extra step upfront to win the job.

Note: If someone is promising you to rank within x,y days, that’s a big red flag.

d) Is he/she well versed in English?

Your SEO resource should have an acceptable level of command over English to understand your instructions clearly, to communicate with you properly, and to be able to gauge on-site content for clarity and relevance.

7. Checklist for Selecting the Right Company to Hire

In addition to the characteristics of an individual, an ideal company should have additional qualifications.

a)    Should have people of varying skills

You want to hire a company or team with the hope to keep all of your projects under one roof.

An ideal SEO team should have a programmer, a designer, one or two copywriters, and some SEO people.

b) Access to premium SEO tools

The team should have access to premium SEO tools to perform different activities like keyword research, competitor analysis, link prospect analysis, etc. Needless to say, they should be proficient in using all the tools.

But that’s not all. You should make sure your campaigns are running smoothly.

You can’t just hand them over to someone and expect them to do magic tricks. Rather, you should establish some control that will help you to run the project smoothly.

8. Job posting tips

Freelancing sites are now loaded with tons of contractors, so it’s hard to find real SEOs who actually know what they are talking about. There are a few ways you can weed out the junk.

a) Include a keyword in your job description

Always include a hidden word in your job description. This will help you to spot spammers right away. Do not look anything else in their cover letter if your code word is not present in the specified location.

If they’re missing the code, it is a clear sign of spamming and proves that they actually didn’t pay any attention to your job posting.

 

b) Ask questions that require descriptive answers

Often, even though people include the keyword you ask for, they just copy and paste the rest of the cover letter. So it’s wise to throw some questions that require descriptive answers.

This will really help you to find people who have actually taken time to read your job description. It will also give you an idea about their English skill.

9. Avoid these people

The followings are the list of people whom you should avoid off the bat:

  1. i) People who promises to rank in x,y days
  2. ii) People who don’t have a portfolio or earlier work history

iii) People who have little or poor command over English

  1. iv) People who still practice old-school SEO tricks like web2.0, bookmarks etc.
  2. v) People who don’t address your questions in the job posting

Team Setup and Monitoring

10. How to set control over your team?

a) Ask for reports – but not daily

A good SEO should send you work reports on a timely basis. You don’t have to be too harsh – a weekly or bi-weekly report is fine. You should understand that these people are not working for you alone.

Just make sure they are sending the reports on time. Don’t forget to review the report to make sure they are doing the right thing.

b) Check the ranking and traffic

This should be the job of your SEO person or team. It will tell you if their works are producing any positive changes or not. Don’t be impassionate.

For some industries, it takes time to see rank movement. If you are seeing positive movement in the ranking, you are on the right track. You can use tools like Serpfox, Rank Tracker, etc., to check ranking. These tools save ranking history so you can compare your status over time.

C) Arrange Meetings

Try to arrange weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with your SEO. This will help you to understand their activity more clearly. If they are doing a good job, appreciate them, pay bonuses, etc. If you feel that they are not doing as they promised, then warn them and provide necessary guidelines.

Hope you’ll find these tips useful. Good luck in finding your next SEO team!