There are thousands of self-identified “Toronto SEO experts” online. Unfortunately, within this pool of candidates, there are many people who do not know enough about SEO to build an effective SEO strategy, especially one that will grow your business over the long term. Even worse, there are many people who pose as SEO Company while their real mission is to charge heftily for doing very little to nothing. These are the people who care a lot more about taking your money than about actually generating positive results for your business. Luckily, however, there are also some honest, hard working, and very knowledgeable SEO experts within this pool of candidates. The following information will help you distinguish between the good, bad, and the ugly!
When you are interviewing a potential SEO Company, it is important to distinguish between what they propose to do for your “on page SEO” and your “off page SEO.” Thus, you will want to specifically ask them:
What on page SEO will you employ for my specific business?
What off page SEO will you employ for my specific business?
Let’s take these one at a time.
When discussing your on page SEO, if the potential Toronto SEO consultant only talks about things like meta tags, page titles, headers, and directory names, ask them if they have any other on page SEO techniques they can use on your website. If they can’t come up with much more, they probably do not know enough to make a big difference in your overall and long-term search engine rankings. Avoid hiring them. If, on the other hand, they can talk intelligently about on page SEO techniques like changing your internal linking structure, significantly improving the page load time, and redesigning your website to make it responsive so the page looks good on any size screen, including small portable devices, then this is a candidate you’ll want to probe deeper. Ask them specifically how they can improve your internal linking structure. Ask them to specifically point out what they can do to make your webpages load faster. Finally, ask them about their actual experience with responsive web design and/or about the experience of whomever they have in mind to do the work. Ask to see actual examples of websites where they have made these changes and pull these websites up on your smart phone to see how the load. Gage the load time and take a close look at the internal linking structure. If you like what you see, verify that they actually worked on these sites.
Probably the most important question you can ask a potential SEO Company about off page SEO is, “What strategies will you be utilizing to generate external links for my website?” Keep the question this general at first and don’t show that you have any knowledge in this area at all. Just let them talk and only interrupt to ask if there is anything else they might do until they run out of ideas. This will show you whether or not you are dealing with a legitimate SEO consultant who will not get your website penalized for spam or a “black hat” SEO consultant who could really damage your business! However, to use this barometer, you’ll need to educate yourself a bit:
Before you interview your potential SEO consultants, you should carefully read through Google’s webmaster guidelines at the link below and also read the pages that are linked off this page: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
You do not need to become an expert but you do need enough knowledge to make sure your potential SEO Company is indeed an expert! Take very special note of the items listed under “Avoid the following techniques:” on the page linked above and follow the links in this section one by one so you know exactly what Google is referring to. If a potential SEO consultant mentions any of these strategies in their link building proposal, do NOT hire them. They can, and most likely will, get your business penalized by the search engines, if not at first, then eventually.
Keep in mind that you can potentially hire two separate Toronto SEO Companies, one for on page SEO and another for off page SEO. Most individuals will be better at one than the other, so you can potentially hire the best one you find for each type of SEO. To use a football metaphor, on page SEO is like the defense team and off page SEO is like the offense team. Most professional players are better suited for one than the other and most coaches would never think of having a single player play both types of positions.
You may also want to hire one individual or our SEO firm for both on page SEO and off page SEO but find someone else to do the work on one or a few specific areas where you think they may show a weakness. For example, if you do not feel they have a thorough grasp of how to use social media and/or online reviews to improve your search engines, tell your primary SEO Company that you want to hire someone else or assign an employee for these specific tasks. Likewise, your SEO consultant may not have the writing skills necessary to produce top of the line sales copy or informational content. In this case, you may have another writer you prefer to work with.
Finally, and this is key, you can tell a lot about a potential SEO Company by how much interest they take in your business.
Do they try to really understand who your potential customers are?
Do they try to understand the full array of your products and/or services?
Do they seem to want to know what products and/or services you want to sell the most and potentially what future plans you have for your business?
Do they take an interest in understanding how your business got started and why it continues?
Do they want to know what makes your business unique and stand out from your competitors?
Do they want to know what you hope to accomplish with your website if you are primarily an offline business?
Learning about these sorts of issues make a tremendous difference when developing a custom SEO strategy that is really going to deliver a valuable benefit to your business.