As an SEO geek and data analyst, I‘m excited to provide you with a super in-depth guide on hiring the best SEO experts. I know how crucial yet confusing it can be to navigate through the myriad of options out there to find the right fit for your business.
That‘s why I‘ve compiled research, statistics, expert perspectives, and real-world examples to help you make the optimal hiring decision…
The Growing Importance of SEO
Let‘s start by looking at some compelling statistics that highlight why SEO is becoming more critical for business growth:
According to Backlinko, the number of people using search engines now exceeds 3.5 billion. That‘s massive reach and potential traffic!
Search Engine Journal found that over half of all website traffic comes from organic search. Clearly, SEO delivers results.
SEMRush discovered that the top 5 organic results get about 70% of search traffic. So you need high rankings to grab visibility.
Search Engine Watch found SEO boosts traffic by an average of 175%. More traffic equals more leads and revenue.
Moz statistics show that expert SEO implementation can lead to a ROI as high as 998%! Talk about phenomenal returns.
The data paints a very compelling picture. As an online business, investing in SEO simply makes sense for sustainable growth.
And that‘s where working with the right SEO pro can really move the needle!
Evaluating Your Business Goals and Technical Needs
I recommend starting with a clear understanding of your targets and technical requirements before you even begin searching for an SEO expert.
As a strategic digital marketer, I always advise my clients to outline 3-4 specific business objectives they want to achieve through SEO – whether it‘s increased organic traffic, boosted lead generation or greater brand awareness.
This gives us a North Star to guide the strategy and hire SEOs who can execute accordingly. I also have clients detail the scope of work needed – audits, content production, link building etc.
This helps accurately convey expectations upfront and find experts with matching technical capabilities. Don‘t worry if you aren‘t sure about the specifics though. A competent SEO will guide you to clarify the right objectives and tactical plan tailored to your business‘s unique needs.
Where to Find Experts Aligned with Your Goals
Once your SEO goals and needs are clear, where do you start searching for the right talent?
With so many options, it can get overwhelming fast. Based on my experience, I‘ve handpicked 12 of the best SEO marketplaces aligned to different business requirements:
1. Toptal – For Elite Top 3% Freelance Talent
Toptal has an extremely rigorous screening process where they reject 97% of applicants. So you‘re guaranteed to work with the absolute cream of the crop. It‘s perfect when you need very specialized, senior-level expertise.
2. SEO Clerks – For Affordable Freelancers & Agencies
With thousands of screened profiles, SEO Clerks gives you an amazing talent pool without blowing your budget. It‘s great for cost-effective outsourcing of SEO tasks.
3. Upwork – For Maximum Choice of Providers
Upwork is my go-to recommendation for clients who value abundant provider choice. You can easily find experts across various skill sets, experience levels, and billing rates.
4. YunoJuno – For Exclusive Invite-Only Access
At YunoJuno, only 5% of SEO applicants make the cut. The exclusivity ensures remarkable vetting and verification. It‘s perfect when you want truly exceptional, premium-level SEOs.
5. SolidGigs – For AI-Powered Matching
SolidGigs uses AI algorithms, skills validation, and custom tools for optimal talent matching. This data-driven approach is great if you want tech-enabled hiring.
6. LocalSEOGuide – For Location-Based SEO Specialists
As the name suggests, LocalSEOGuide has curated listings of geo-targeted SEOs. So you can easily find experts to boost local search visibility.
7. Problogger – For SEO Roles at Innovative Companies
Problogger offers one-of-a-kind SEO job opportunities you won‘t find anywhere else. It‘s ideal for those aiming to work with cutting-edge brands.
8. Business.com Experts – For Enterprise-Level SEO
The vetted SEOs here specialize in complex enterprise needs. It‘s the perfect solution for established businesses with advanced requirements.
The key is choosing a platform aligned with your specific priorities – be it budget, niche skills, hiring model, or project complexity.
My advice is to shortlist 2-3 options best suited for your needs before evaluating candidates.
How I Vet SEO Applicants Extensively
Even after you‘ve shortlisted the right marketplaces, the real work begins!
Let me walk you through my proven 8-step process for vetting SEO candidates rigorously:
Step 1: Review Portfolios and Case Studies
I dig deep into the expert‘s portfolio for examples of actual SEO work done for clients. I look for specifics like strategic recommendations, increase in rankings/traffic, lead generation and ROI delivered through their efforts.
Step 2: Verify Client Reviews and Ratings
Instead of taking testimonials at face value, I validate reviews by checking the client’s LinkedIn profile or website. This provides unbiased confirmation of the results achieved.
Step 3: Evaluate Technical Expertise through Q&A
I use targeted technical questions to gauge the applicant‘s competence across key areas like audits, link building, keyword targeting, site optimization etc. You can instantly filter non-experts this way.
Step 4: Assess Communication Skills
I schedule intro calls to evaluate communication clarity. Do they explain concepts simply? Can they provide strategic insights? Are they responsive to queries? These are telltale signs.
Step 5: Compare Pricing of Shortlisted Candidates
Now I evaluate the pricing models – hourly rates, monthly costs, project fees etc. This gives me an idea of value for money based on budgets. Avoid going for the cheapest option always.
Step 6: Check for Specialized Skills
If I need an expert with niche expertise – like eCommerce SEO – I test for proven experience in that field through case studies. Generic SEO skills won‘t cut it.
Step 7: Align Timelines
Here I evaluate their availability and capacity for dedicated hours. Do the promised timelines align with my urgency and project needs? Mismatched expectations can derail projects.
Step 8: Trust but Verify
I do a final round of due diligence to verify credentials, customers, reviews etc. Unfortunately, there are some shady applicants out there. So trust but verify applies perfectly here.
While it may seem exhaustive, this 8-step methodology has helped me zero in on genuinely gifted SEOs for clients multiple times. It‘s well worth the rigor!
How Much Does Quality SEO Work Cost?
A common question I get is – how much should you plan to spend on hiring a seasoned SEO expert?
Here are some average monthly costs according to leading industry reports:
Small Business SEM found the average monthly SEO retainer fee to be $750-$2,000 for small agencies.
Clutch stated that mid-sized digital firms charge between $3,000 to $7,000 per month for SEO retainers.
For enterprise-level SEO, PureB2B revealed average retainers ranging from $7,500 up to $30,000+ per month based on complexity and needs.
Most freelancers on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr charge $15-$70 per hour for SEO work. Their monthly costs vary based on dedicated hours.
But rather than obsessing over pricing, I always advise clients to focus on value. Hire someone who can deliver solid ROI – whether through more traffic, sales, leads or brand growth. The returns will justify the investment.
My Top Tips for Making the Optimal Match
After working with dozens of clients on SEO hiring, here are my 5 proven tips:
Tip 1: Don‘t Rely on Proposals Alone
Many applicants send generic, templatized proposals to stand out. But this tells you nothing about their actual skills. Dig deeper into their experience through case studies, client reviews, Q&A etc. as I outlined earlier.
Tip 2: Align Strengths to Your Specific Goals
Try to uncover what the SEO expert is truly best at – be it technical optimization, link building, site audits etc. And then match those strengths to your 3-4 key objectives discussed earlier.
Tip 3: Don‘t Hire Just Based on Price
A very cheap expert is likely inexperienced. But a very expensive one may not align with your budget. Try to find the optimal balance of value and ROI.
Tip 4: Ask for Niche-Specific Examples
If you operate an e-commerce business for instance, don‘t hire someone with just broad SEO experience. Look for proven expertise in managing SEO for online retailers.
Tip 5: Trust Your Gut in Interviews
Technical skills are crucial. But you‘ll be working closely with this person on long-term growth. So take feedback from your team and trust your gut instinct after talking to someone.
Getting the SEO hiring process right can be complex. But staying focused on your goals, vetting thoroughly and picking the right platform stacks the odds of success in your favor.
I hope these tips, statistics, and insights help you find the ideal SEO expert to catapult your online growth to new heights! Let me know if you need any other advice.