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When to Hire an SEO Expert (7 Top Questions to Ask)

Looking to hire an SEO expert or agency? You’re in the right place. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • When to hire an SEO expert
  • How an SEO expert can help you 
  • The best questions to ask before hiring an SEO agency or expert
  • How to hire an SEO
  • How much it costs to hire an SEO

…And much more. 

Read on to learn more.

Quick takeaways: 

  • Hire SEO support when you want to build SEO as a traffic channel and have the budget to do so 
  • SEO services cost anywhere between $1,000-$10,000+/month
  • Results will come after 3-12 months depending on your business and budget 

What can an SEO expert help you with? 

An SEO expert takes care of your SEO marketing for you by creating an SEO strategy that improves your search engine rankings, drives traffic, and helps you get more clients.

And SEO is worth investing in. 60% of marketers say that SEO is their best marketing channel for high-quality leads.

I should know…A few years back, my business relied on paid advertising. 

The problem? Ad costs kept going up, my profit margins were inconsistent, and I had to constantly come up with new ad creatives (despite working with an ads manager). 

At the same time, the reason I started my business was to have as much freedom and flexibility as possible. 

So I knew I wanted to find a more sustainable way to scale my business – and that was SEO. 

And within two years of investing in SEO, search traffic had grown to a multiple six-figure channel. Today, it’s the biggest growth driver for my business and by far the most scalable one. 

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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Should you hire an SEO expert? 

When I rolled out my SEO strategy, it was just the right timing. I had a scalable system and the money to invest in a new channel. 

So, if you’re thinking of hiring an SEO agency or expert, ask yourself where you are in your journey.

You’re ready to hire an SEO expert when…

  • You want to scale: SEO is one of the most scalable and profitable traffic sources because it’s about growing your organic traffic. That is traffic you don’t need to pay for (as you do with paid advertising).
  • You have a marketing budget: Good SEO takes work. All of the audits, content creation, link building, technical SEO, and so on, take resources and manpower. If you’re ready to invest in SEO, an expert or agency is a great first call.
  • You have alternative sales channels: SEO takes time to work. For new businesses, it can take four months to one year to see results. So if you’re just starting out, focus on building faster marketing channels to sustain your business before investing in SEO.

Other reasons why you might need an SEO agency or expert include that you… 

  • Have tried SEO and your rankings aren’t growing
  • Don’t have SEO knowledge
  • Want faster growth than DYI-ing your SEO strategy
  • Don’t have a team to implement SEO work
  • Don’t have time to keep up with algorithm changes and other SEO updates 

But what does an SEO agency do for you? 

SEO agencies can help you with: 

  • Website audits
  • Keyword research
  • Competitor analysis
  • SEO monitoring
  • SEO strategy and strategy implementation
  • Content creation
  • Link building
  • On-page optimization
  • Technical SEO work
  • SEO consulting

If you’re wondering what even goes into building a site’s SEO, take a look at this short video:

However, you don’t hire an SEO to help you implement things – you hire them to get results.

And that’s what we’ll talk about next. 

Benefits of hiring an SEO expert 

The benefits of hiring an SEO expert are:

  • Growing your business
  • Being supported by specialized consultants 
  • Getting a higher ROI 
  • Saving time and resources 

Let’s talk about each of these.

You invest in your business growth

When done right, SEO is scalable and highly profitable. 

For example, if you have a 4% lead conversion rate and you get 5,000 more sessions every month than you do currently, that’s 200 more leads a month. 

What’s more, businesses with organic traffic sources tend to be valued higher than businesses without them. 

So investing in SEO doesn’t just increase sales; you also improve how your business is valued. 

You tap into broader expertise 

SEO experts and agencies work with a lot of clients, so they can experiment with the best SEO strategies over multiple different websites and sectors. 

Contrast this with an in-house SEO manager. 

Your SEO manager can only work on one business (yours) so they won’t have the same leverage as an agency. 

SEO agencies can be more cost-effective than an in-house team 

An SEO agency will likely cost more per year than an in-house SEO manager.

The average SEO manager earns $69,740 per year

SEO agencies can charge anywhere from low five figures to six figures and beyond. 

However, SEO agencies can have a far better return on investment. 

That’s because SEO agencies have a full team of expert SEO specialists and writers, so they can typically get far more done in less time. 

You save time and resources

More than anything, hiring an SEO agency saves you time. 

Instead of trying to figure out the latest Google algorithm and how technical SEO works, you get to focus on the things you do best. 

Next up: What to ask when you’re ready to hire an SEO agency.

7 questions to ask before hiring an SEO agency 

Ready to hire an SEO expert or agency? These are the questions you should ask to see if they are right for you.

Why are you different from other SEO agencies? 

Every SEO agency will have a different way of working, so you need to find out if their approach works for you. 

How do they help you get the fastest results in the best way?

How do they work with you as a client? 

Do they have a unique insight into your industry?

Those are some of the questions to understand if they’ll be a good fit.

What metrics do you track?

SEO is all about rankings and getting more traffic, right?

No – the real metric an agency should be measuring is sales.

Yes, increased traffic is important to track. But at the end of the day, you’re increasing your traffic to make more sales. 

If your SEO strategy is successful, you should be seeing more leads and sales. That’s what makes the most difference.

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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What would you do if my traffic stalls or if I have a lower sales month?

SEO can plateau from time to time, leading to lower sales months or slower growth. 

A good SEO expert or agency will work through the plateaus, testing out different strategies to see what works best for your business.

And that’s the type of answer to look for – an agency that understands plateaus are normal but also knows how to troubleshoot them. 

Can you tell me what results you’ve gotten for other businesses like mine?

Experience is incredibly important for SEO agencies. 

They don’t have to have experience with your industry specifically to be effective. 

But you want an agency that has worked with the same type of business as yours. For example, ecommerce SEO is different from SEO for a service business. 

How long will it take to see results while working with you?

It typically takes 4-12 months for SEO to work

If an SEO agency overpromises and says they can help your website rank within one or two months, beware.

SEO takes time. 

Ultra-fast SEO results usually come from “black hat” strategies. These are shady strategies that are not approved by search engines (like spam links or backlink rings). And they most likely will hurt your SEO in the long run.

What types of SEO strategies do you use?

The best SEO strategies aren’t just about traffic. 

A good agency should take a more holistic approach, including: 

  • Increasing your conversions from content
  • Creating content that builds your brand
  • Building high-quality backlinks with reputable websites
  • Technical SEO work (but not just relying on that)

How much do your services cost?

You’re looking for SEO services that are within your budget. 

At the same time, an SEO agency shouldn’t be too cheap. If the cost is low, you probably won’t get the results you’re looking for. We’ll look more at the average costs below. 

How do you hire an SEO agency?

Once you have a shortlist of SEO agencies, here’s how you start working with them:

Set realistic goals and a budget 

Most business owners misunderstand SEO. 

No wonder – there’s a lot of conflicting advice online. 

But when you start working with an SEO agency, you need to stay realistic with what’s possible. And your agency should help you identify reasonable goals.

It takes approximately 3-6 months to get results depending on your budget. 

So you need to set your budget to match your goals. 

For example, $500 a month won’t get you anywhere. Good SEO work costs five to six figures per month. 

However, an SEO agency that delivers results will help you get a good return on your investment.

But how much should you expect in return?

A good ROI on an SEO agency is 4X your investment.

That’s the number the growth agency I co-founded, Zalstrom, focuses on. We do need a few months to grow your traffic (how many depend on your industry, business, and so on) but our goal is to get to that 4X mark as soon as possible. 

Look for the right agency 

So how do you find an SEO agency that will get you a good ROI? 

First, search on Google. 

Not only should good SEO agencies be able to make their websites rank, but they’ll also be creating informative content on SEO for businesses like yours. 

It helps if you narrow down your search. For example, instead of searching for “SEO agencies”, try “SEO agency for xx” – “SEO agency for coaches,” “SEO agency for ecommerce businesses,” and so on. 

That way, you get more targeted results. 

You can also reach out to your network for referrals. 

Lastly, look at the reviews for the agency. There might be Google reviews or you can ask the agency for references. What are the results they’ve achieved for other businesses?

Now it’s time to have a consultation.

Hop on a call 

Your relationship with an SEO agency is for the long haul. 

A consultation call helps you understand if they are the right fit for you and your business.

My advice? Come with questions prepared. 

You can use the questions we talked about in the previous section to see if their SEO strategy aligns with your goals. 

But also ask them about how they work. 

For example, do they do check-in calls, or is all communication over email?

How do they report on your SEO progress and how often?

Will you work with writers directly or will you have an account manager that takes care of everything for you?

Work together with them 

Your SEO agency is your partner. 

Like any good partnership, you need to be able to communicate regularly and work toward a measurable goal.

Work with them to improve your business by understanding how you can use your traffic to improve sales. 

Spend time reading their progress reports thoroughly and asking questions. 

And listen to the agency’s suggestions to improve conversions and reach. 

Ultimately, the more open you are to the process, the better your SEO results will be.

How much does it cost to hire an SEO expert or agency? 

SEO expert and agency pricing can range from $500-$10,000+/month. 

That sounds like a huge range but let’s break it down:

$500-$1,500 per month: You probably won’t get a lot for this. You’ll mostly get monitoring and maybe a bit of content. But don’t expect significant results.

$2,000-$5,000 per month: You’ll get better results at this price point but this budget is still too low to get any scalable results. These SEO agencies might help you add on five or six figures per year and will focus on content, monitoring, and maybe some technical SEO. 

$5,000-$9,000 per month: At this price point, you’ll get good results. These SEO agencies might help you add on six or multiple six figures per year. You will most likely get faster results than $2,000-$5,000 agencies because they have a bigger budget to work with. 

$10,000+ per month: For businesses that want to scale – these SEO agencies have strong results. They’ll help you add on seven to eight figures through SEO.

So that’s what you get depending on how much you spend. 

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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What’s next?

So that’s everything you need to know about hiring an SEO expert or agency. 

Hiring one can make a huge difference for your business – like it did to me. But you need to have the right expectations and budget to successfully use SEO to help your clients find you.

Want to hire an agency that does everything for you? The marketing agency I co-own, Zalstrom, helps you do just that. 

And if you want to get started on your own, join my free masterclass where I share how you can attract clients to your business…every day. 

Join here!

Read more:

Top Reasons Why You Should Invest in SEO

How to Increase Organic Traffic

What is Organic Traffic?

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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