How to Hire an SEO Specialist


Getting on Google is a huge step for your business’s marketing. The higher you rank on search engines, the more potential clients will see your website. This is no small feat – there’s a lot that goes into making your website Google-friendly, and not everyone can do it.

Learning how to properly optimize your website and give it an online presence will take a lot of time that you don’t have. Instead, put your trust in someone else that already has years of hands-on experience.

If your company is wanting to hire someone to help your website rank higher in organic search results, odds are you’re looking for a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist.

An SEO expert or SEO provider is someone who is experienced in optimizing website content to target specific audiences, cater to them and make your site look credible and reliable to both clients and search engines.

Finding the right person for the job is essential.

There’s a lot to consider when looking for potential hires. You need someone that knows their way around data and has experience with the software systems needed to analyze website performance. Your company will flourish with a specialist that is knowledgeable and versatile.

Here are a few steps to follow for finding an SEO specialist for your company:

Define What Kind of SEO Specialist You Need

SEO is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Cookie-cutter solutions will not make a valuable impact for your website. What you need is a professional that knows how to look at data and analyze what your website needs to rank higher, whether that’s keywords or backlinks.

Before hopping onto the job listings, make sure to research and get a grasp of the basics of SEO first, so you can understand what your company needs. Then, decide what type of qualifications your potential candidate should have in order to meet those requirements.

Common Software and IT Competencies They’ll Need For This Role

SEO specialists are exactly that – someone who is knowledgeable and has the skill set to properly optimize content for search engines. Anyone can write copy, but you need someone who knows how to do it well, in a way that’s strategized.

Your new hire should have a wide range of capabilities. They need to know how to use and work with certain types of software so they can gather data and analyze websites correctly.

Your new SEO specialist should have proficiency in:

  • Google Products (Analytics, Search Console, Google Business Profile, etc.)
  • Keyword Tracking & Backlinks: SEMRUSH, Ahrefs
  • Analyzing Website Performance: BrightLocal, Moz
  • Conducting SEO audits: Screaming Frog, SEO Powersuite, SEMRUSH, Ahrefs
  • HTML, WordPress, etc.
  • Social Media Channels

Experience in Your Industry is a Plus

Whether you’re a small business, local marketing company or a large e-commerce enterprise, it’s always beneficial to hire someone with previous experience in your field.

Knowing the ins and outs of your industry will help your new SEO specialist assimilate to the position easier and know what it takes to rank competitively.

One of the best strategies for analyzing SEO data is looking at competitor websites. Someone with prior experience in your industry will not only know what they’re looking at, they might also have fresh ideas to implement based on their experience.

SEO Consultants vs. SEO Agencies

When deciding to hire an SEO specialist, there are two routes you can take: a consultant or an agency. A consultant is basically a freelancer that you hire to take care of SEO on the side. While some companies may want to choose this route because you can field for a specific person and choose how to pay them, agencies have guaranteed professionalism.

Working with an agency can give you access to multiple specialists that have different experience levels and accreditations in SEO. They may also have other employees with different skill sets like copywriting or design to help with your strategy.

Ultimately though, your decision should come down to your company needs and if their capabilities can meet them.

An SEO Specialist With Results

Experience is extremely important, but you also need to make sure that it’s quality experience.

When going through potential candidates, see who has a portfolio of their work and can prove that they’ve gotten results. You want someone you can rely on to know what they’re doing and perform well. Someone who has a track record of producing company revenue can make a huge impact on client lead generations and ROI.

Have they actually worked on websites? Do they have case studies to prove their SEO techniques worked? How about reviews from real clients that were satisfied with what they received?

References from previous employers can help you see how they’ve performed in similar roles and positively contributed to the company.

You may want to make it a requirement on your job listing to provide examples of their work so you can see if they have results.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire an SEO Specialist?

One of the more important things to consider when hiring an SEO specialist is how much it’s going to cost you. Having someone in-house available to optimize your website and continue to add content, keyword search and make updates regularly is ideal for your ranking, but not ideal for your budget.

The national average for an entry level SEO specialist is around $54,144 a year. This doesn’t include onboarding costs, training, workspace set-up and benefits. Going for a seasoned specialist makes more sense for your needs, but can cost upwards of $84,000 a year.

If you can afford it, great! If not, you should consider contracting the work out with a freelancer or agency instead of hiring in-house.

An agency has all the benefits of a full-time employee, but taken to the next level – and will cost you much less. With SEO agencies, you only pay for the SEO work you receive, with no additional fees. By partnering with one, you’ll have access to multiple entry-level and seasoned professionals with various skills and the ability to work on your website as needed.

When looking for a specialist, keep in mind who can give you the best bang for your buck.

What are the Roles and Expectations of an SEO Specialist?

Every business is unique, which means your necessities and goals are specific to your company. Since SEO is such a broad field with many different techniques, it is important that your job posting defines what they will be doing in their specific role.

Different industries will need different deliverables. Google Business Profile management might be essential for a small business, but larger ones might benefit more from keyword research and landing pages.

Don’t know what deliverables you’ll need? That’s okay; that’s something your SEO specialist can help you figure out. Make sure it’s part of your expectations that they help you create a new marketing strategy for the website.

Another important factor you should focus on then is what success would look like in this role. Once you establish what they will be working toward and what you expect from them, it will be easier to connect with an expert that fits the bill.

Conduct a Couple of Interviews

Once you’ve narrowed down your search for an SEO specialist, it’s best to meet with potential hires and have a conversation with them, whether in person, on a call or through video conferencing.

From your basic SEO research, you should already have an idea of what qualifications a specialist should have. By talking to them, you can get a feel for their knowledge baseline and how competent they will be in the role.

More importantly, an interview will give you a feel of the person you might be working with – their personality, work habits and productivity.

This will help you get a sense of if they are the right fit or not for your company, both in a professional sense and with office culture.

Find Your Perfect Fit

After taking all of this into consideration, it’s time to find your new SEO specialist. You need a professional in the industry who is knowledgeable on all types of SEO techniques, can recognize what your company needs, build a strategy and most importantly, work seamlessly with your workplace environment.

Does hiring an SEO specialist that fits into your dynamic or new-hire budget seem too complicated and time-consuming? Consider looking at digital marketing agencies like Key Web.

Key Web is a web design company based in Richmond that specializes in initial and SEO maintenance. Unlike a full-time hire, you can get all the benefits of a proficient SEO specialist without paying a salary amount or covering training and benefits.

When you work with our team, your company will be put at the forefront. We’ll take the time to get to know you, your company needs and goals. We’ll work with you to create a personalized plan to optimize your website and follow a strategy.

As an agency, we have access to experts in several fields who have worked in a variety of industries. Our specialists will take the time needed to optimize your site, so you can get back to focusing on your company’s success.

With a multitude of SEO professionals working on your website, your company will be able to attract more potential clients and compete in the Google search results.

Set up a free consultation today and see what our SEO specialists can do for your company.

Schedule a Free Consultation

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