The Essential Guide To Hiring the Super SEO: Twitter Chat #13

Elena Terenteva

Feb 02, 201510 min read
The Essential Guide To Hiring the Super SEO

First of all, we want to thank all of our Semrush Twitter Chat participants for such detailed, insightful advice! And of course we want to thank our guest experts — the team at Bruce Clay, Inc., the award-winning Internet marketing optimization company (Twitter/Google+).

Twitter Chat #13 was devoted to tips for hiring great SEOs. If you are an SEO specialist, it might be obvious to you that SEO is an essential part of any business; but there are a lot of people out of the industry who don't share that vision. So don't forget to share this essential guide to hiring a super SEO!

Q 1. Does every company need an SEO? Why or why not?

This question received a lot of funny answers. There is nothing surprising about the fact that professional SEOs know that search optimization is a must for any company, no matter what type of business it is. But if you still have some doubts about hiring an SEO, our participants have some arguments that may change your mind.

With this joke, Kristi Kellogg highlighted the main point of hiring an SEO — if you are doing business online, then you should do it right; otherwise, why bother?

SEO is such an essential part of marketing these days that it should influence companies’ hiring decisions. And for those companies that aren’t thinking about bringing an SEO onboard immediately, they “need to be integrating SEO into their overall marketing strategy regularly.” — Brian Honigman ‏@BrianHonigman.

Small companies might think having an SEO is a privilege only for enterprise businesses, “until they begin losing their market share, revenue and profit to the smart CEO competitors who embrace it.” — Tony Dimmock

Going online always means going further, because your competition is going to be much more than just the shops next door. So, companies with great plans for the future should start thinking about SEO right now and consider it part of the business process. 

Q 2. In-house, agency or freelance: How can a company decide which is better for them?

For this question we received some very controversial answers. In-house, agency or freelance — we’ve got pros and cons for every one.

And it’s not because one of them is better or worse. “They all have benefits and setbacks. Which one a company needs will depend on its individual SEO goals.” — Bruce Clay, Inc. ‏@BruceClayInc.

So, let’s take a look.

The biggest plus of an in-house SEO specialist is that his or her job can be deeply integrated into all your business and marketing processes — “SEOs should be coupled together with marketing and content, therefore in-house seems more effective.” — Mention ‏@Mention.

If you think it’s your cup of tea, look for: “experience, conversational knowledge of algorithm updates, and a love of problem solving.” — Bruce Clay, Inc. ‏@BruceClayInc.

What about working with an agency? If you are dealing with a good agency, your partnership will definitely be beneficial.

A quality SEO firm can provide expertise, insight into the latest trends, lots of experience and data. However, there are two shortcomings that can stop from signing an agreement. The first one? The firm will not be focused just on your project. The second one…

So, it can be expensive.

But how do you find a happy medium? Here’s some advice you might like.

If you need to cover just the SEO basics (which you will actually be able to do with a small budget), there is no need to hire someone for that purpose. But if you are ready to spend all kinds of resources for an in-house team and a plethora of tools, you’ll want get an agency-level SEO with a higher level of immersion.

Also, an in-between solution might be a freelance SEO.

The subject of freelance SEOs led to a lot of tweets with all kinds of warnings. First of all, there is no guarantee that you’ll get the proper result — “Hiring a freelancer can be a lottery, so it's 50/50. You always take a risk.” — Mike Blazer ‏@MikeBlazerX.

Second, a freelancer may lack knowledge. “With an agency you get industry-wide knowledge and collective expertise. With a freelancer, their knowledge may be limited.” — Steve Masters ‏@masterstips.

Well, freelance work of any kind can lead to disappointment, but it also gives you the chance to find a great individual. Plus a freelancer is the cheapest option.

Want to learn more? Check out these two articles: — How to Make the SEO Services Agency–Client Relationship a Success — Agency vs In-House vs Freelance SEO: The Endless Debate (starring Mr. Men).

Q 3. What qualities should a company look for in an SEO?

No matter what your choice is — in-house, agency or freelance SEO specialist — you can avoid making bad decisions by keeping the following points in mind.

When working with an SEO agency, you can have high expectations and demand excellent service from highly qualified specialists. Just be sure your agency doesn’t have a history of using black hat techniques and unethical practices. A good agency will never do this, because it’s a question of reputation. “An SEO firm that engages in unethical practices puts your business at risk of a burned website and irreparable damage.” Bruce Clay, Inc. ‏@BruceClayInc

Now let’s move on to freelance and in-house SEOs.

We received a lot of tweets stating that the perfect SEO specialist is a little bit more than just an SEO. As we’ve already said, SEO is an essential part of business and marketing, so expect to see other professional capabilities. “An understanding of the business’ model, goals and objectives without knowing the "why" always equals failure.” — Tony Dimmock ‏@Tony_DWM.

And of course, don’t forget that SEO is an unpredictable field. Without the ability to face challenges and passion there is nothing you can do.

Q 4. How can you tell if an SEO “walks the walk”? What questions should you ask during the interview?

As usual, there are always questions that receive dozens of responses. Well, this was one of those questions. We collected all the answers and created a list of questions to ask an SEO during a job interview. Don’t forget to save it!

SEO Job Interview

Special thanks to:

@AutoBacklinks @betweenstations @bradshorr @BruceClayInc @DevDawg @DOZCOM @EdLeake @equilateralseo @JesseStoler @JRBrinksmanship @Koozai_Emma @laurens430 @learninbound @LJordanOnline @manishw2gi @MikeBlazerX @paulaspeak @Sam_Osborne @Sams_Antics @samueljscott @searchrook @SEO @SEOcopy @sergio_redondo @SocialCopy @timwhand @tonyxrandall.

Q 5. What mistakes should a company avoid when hiring an SEO?

A5: Don't be an uninformed consumer. Vet the firm. Run in the other direction if an SEO offers a guarantee of organic traffic. #SemrushChat

Now let’s talk about how to avoid costly mistakes when hiring an SEO.

First of all, make a list of expectations and keep them realistic; this will ensure you are not disappointed.

And if someone is promising you more than any other specialist — beware; you might be dealing with an amateur (or maybe the greatest SEO you’ve ever met). Don’t fall for empty promises!

Unfortunately, when it comes to SEO and marketing, many businesses are not willing to spend a lot of money. Well, if you want to save money by hiring someone for their price tag, rather than their experience, be ready to face some unpleasant surprises. I’m not trying to prove the point that the highest price always guarantees the best result, just that you shouldn’t allow money to be the deciding factor.

And finally, one of the biggest mistakes you can make — and a lot of our participants agreed with this one — allow management to make hiring decisions, rather than SEO or marketing.

Q 6. What is the minimum budget for a good SEO Toolkit, one even a small business can afford?

As Bruce Clay mentioned, “there are solutions for every budget. Find a tool that delivers data YOU need, pair it with wisdom and you'll win.” Confirming these words, our participants gave examples of different tool kits available on a budget from 0 to “whatever-you-can-spend.” Take a look!

There are certain reasons that our participants have such different views. First of all, budget. Second — the amount of data you want to get. For a huge ecommerce project, there is no way to run a successful campaign with data limited to 100 lines within a certain report. And a lot of tools, like Semrush, provide different amounts of data for different prices.

And of course, keep in mind that it’s not the tool that makes an SEO specialist great! So don’t go for the most expensive tool right away. “Without testing free tools, you won't notice the value that paid ones bring.” — Mike Blazer ‏@MikeBlazerX.

Hope you enjoyed this recap! We'll see you next time!

Join us this Wednesday at 11 a.m. (EST). Use #semrushchat and follow along!

Author Photo
Elena TerentevaElena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at Semrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies. Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.
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