How to Hire the Best SEO Consultant

In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to market oneself as an “SEO consultant.” With tools like ChatGPT, automated SEO reporting, and free courses, almost anyone can claim expertise in this field. But as the demand for SEO services grows, so does the number of unqualified consultants. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you hire the best SEO consultant for your needs.

The Appeal of Becoming an SEO Consultant

The allure of becoming an SEO consultant is strong. According to, the average salary for an SEO specialist is over $56,000 as of June 2023. Additionally, the SEO market was valued at $77.6 billion by the end of 2023, offering ample opportunity. However, with minimal barriers to entry, there’s a higher risk of encountering unqualified consultants.

The Lack of Standardization in SEO

SEO is unique because it lacks:

  • A governing body.
  • An accepted set of industry standards.
  • A built-in mechanism to distinguish good consultants from bad.

So, how can you determine if an SEO consultant is competent, ethical, and has your best interests at heart? Look out for these nine warning signs.

Warning Sign 1: Lack of Transparency in Methods

SEO should not be a mystery. A competent consultant will clearly explain their strategies and approaches. If they are secretive or vague about their methods, consider it a red flag.

Tip: A good SEO consultant should be able to outline a clear, understandable approach to your site and goals.

Warning Sign 2: Unrealistic Promises or Expectations

SEO is a long-term investment, not a quick fix. Be wary of consultants who promise first-page rankings in a short period. SEO requires patience, trial and error, and ongoing optimization.

Tip: Ensure the consultant has a clear, realistic plan with timelines and deliverables.

Warning Sign 3: Inability to Provide References or Updated Case Studies

Social proof, such as reviews and case studies, is crucial. A reputable SEO consultant should provide references from current and past clients.

Tip: Search for the consultant’s name and company online. Look for citations from other SEOs, interviews, and news mentions.

Warning Sign 4: Failure to Request Site or Analytics Access

A competent SEO consultant will need access to various accounts to conduct a proper campaign, including Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and admin access to your site. They should also perform a detailed onboarding process.

Tip: Ensure the consultant asks for any past audits or work products to understand previous efforts.

Warning Sign 5: Lack of Up-to-Date Knowledge on SEO Best Practices

SEO is ever-changing, requiring continuous education. Your consultant should stay informed about recent Google updates, best practices, and industry trends.

Tip: Quiz your SEO on recent developments, such as the adoption of GA4 or the state of the Search Generative Experience (SGE).

Warning Sign 6: Not Taking a Holistic Approach

SEO encompasses content, backlinks, technical SEO, UX, page speed, and more. A good consultant should address all these areas, not just focus on one aspect.

Tip: Ask your consultant how they plan to improve your site holistically, considering content, UX, technical issues, and more.

Warning Sign 7: Claiming to Have ‘Inside’ Information on Google Algorithms

No one has inside information on Google’s algorithms. SEOs can make educated guesses based on data, but beware of anyone claiming to have special knowledge.

Tip: Be cautious of SEOs who advertise as Google Partners solely related to PPC, as it has nothing to do with general SEO.

Warning Sign 8: Poor Communication and Lack of Regular Updates

Consistent communication and regular updates are essential. If your consultant is hard to reach or doesn’t provide frequent updates, it’s a problem.

Tip: Ensure the consultant provides regular reporting and is responsive to your inquiries.

Warning Sign 9: Treating You as a Vendor, Not a Partner

Your SEO consultant should view your relationship as a partnership, where your success is their success. They should be invested in your business goals and willing to celebrate wins and share responsibility for losses.

Tip: Regularly discuss your business goals with your consultant. If the conversations don’t feel productive, consider finding a new consultant.

Hiring the Right SEO Consultant Can Make or Break Your Business

SEO consulting is a lucrative field with few entry barriers and no required certifications, leading to varying levels of competency among practitioners. Not every SEO consultant will be a winner. Ensure you invest resources in the right partner by reviewing the detailed warning signs above and adjusting course where needed. The business you save may be your own.

Partner with Us for Proven SEO Results

Don’t leave your SEO success to chance. Partner with our experienced team of SEO consultants who are committed to transparency, realistic results, and your business’s success. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve your SEO goals and grow your online presence.

SEO Consulting Experts

I’m Chris Hicks, SEO consultant, and a seasoned veteran in the world of search engine optimization, content marketing, paid search advertising, and SEO-friendly website development.