Hiring an SEO consultant is the final step of the selection process. Once you have identified an SEO consultant that you would like to work with, determine the following:
Do you want an initial audit/strategy or are you looking for an ongoing relationship? Determining this will set the stage for your initial relationship. Sometimes you may want to ease into the relationship, so it may be best to get an initial SEO audit conducted (and ideally an accompanying SEO strategy). Other times, you may need a monthly ongoing arrangement in order to conduct an audit, have a strategy created, prepare your staff, and implement the initial recommendations. An ongoing consulting relationship is recommended in this case.
What is the term length for an ongoing relationship? A six-month initial engagement is common for starting a new ongoing relationship with an SEO consultant, however, many consultants offer month-to-month consulting. It will take a while to see that your organic search traffic and leads/revenue are really growing, but six months should provide enough time for you to gauge how well things are working.
What is the cancellation policy? It’s important to have an exit strategy in case the SEO consulting relationship doesn’t work out. Even if the SEO consultant is doing a good job, your business may experience financial setbacks that force you to cut your budget. While I believe that an SEO consultant should be one of the last resources to let go of in these situations (since Google is often one of the top traffic sources for websites), your financial predicament may force your hand.
What are the payment terms? Ensure that you and your potential SEO consultant can agree on payment terms that work for both of you. Some consultants require upfront payment, and some are okay with Net 15 and Net 30 payment terms. Don’t expect payment terms beyond Net 30, however, as it’s too difficult for the consultant to manage his or her own finances with such a lengthy payment term.
I personally request upfront payment since I know that my service quality can back it up and I need to focus on my client’s SEO campaigns rather than chasing down payments. Also discuss how payments will be made (i..e – via check, direct deposit, credit card, etc.).
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