How to Hire an Ecommerce SEO Consultant

How to Hire an Ecommerce SEO Consultant – 7 Key Questions to Ask

Table of Contents

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, is the meticulous process of optimising your web store content so that search engines can find it easily.

Search engine visibility is a high-stakes game. It’s vital for bringing shoppers to your ecommerce store.

This could quickly result in increased brand awareness as well as higher business income. So hiring the right ecommerce SEO Consultant can easily be a make-or-break decision for your store.

If you make a hiring mistake, however, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money with hardly any positive results. In some cases, things can get even worse due to the lost opportunity cost.

Your business website could be penalised by the search engines because an unscrupulous SEO Consultant implemented shady/dubious practices on your online store. And your search rankings could drop drastically.

To start with, a successful SEO consultant should help your ecommerce store put the best foot forward. Your store should rank appropriately at the spot where an unbiased potential shopper would expect it to be seen.

A competent ecommerce SEO consultant will first of all look to deliver a better searcher experience. This would be right from higher search results to clicking on your ecommerce store and potentially converting. One of their first suggestions would be descriptive page titles for your web pages. If your store is multilingual, they would recommend complex changes like language mark-up.

Another basic attribute of a competent SEO ecommerce consultant is they’ll ensure your store is serving shoppers with a great user experience, especially to the ones who come via a search engine.

They’ll also ensure that your store is helpful to the shopper regardless of the device they are using – desktop, laptop or mobile.

Before you hire an SEO consultant, remember their potential is directly proportional to the quality of your ecommerce store.

The general process of hiring an ecommerce SEO consultant is broken down into the following 4 steps:

  1. Conduct a 2-way interview.
  2. Check whether the consultant is genuinely interested in your business. Check the consultant’s client references.
  3. Ask for (and be prepared to pay) for an initial technical and search audit of your ecommerce store.
  4. Make your hiring decision based on what you’ve learnt so far.

The Key Questions to Ask an Ecommerce SEO Consultant in the 2-Way Interview

Listen to the Consultant’s descriptions of the SEO issues on your store that need to be improved in order to help with ranking higher. Also, listen carefully to the approach they prescribe to accomplish the tasks.

Start by asking them them the following questions:

Q1. How long will it take for you to first implement the improvements you suggest for my store to see potential benefits?

On average, an SEO consultant will need four to twelve months to help your ecommerce store implement improvements.

It’s true that some improvements like optimising title tags and header tags can be done in a few days.

Optimising product images can also be done relatively fast. But seeing the potential benefits of making these changes could take several weeks.

Warning: It’s a huge red flag if the consultant promises to deliver unrealistic results in a few weeks.

Digital Chakra Recommendations: A good majority of ecommerce SEO Consultants bank on their clients’ lack of knowledge of SEO.

Let me explain.

Fly-by-night or low-cost operators will be able to deliver tangible, short-term results on a few not-so-profitable long-tail keywords. But they won’t be able to deliver long-term, sustainable results.

Here comes the tricky part. How do you differentiate between a fly-by-night operator and a genuine SEO consultant? Let’s move on to the next question.

Q2. Can you validate your recommendations with documented evidence from a Google Help Centre article or video or even a response in an online forum?

This is the most crucial question you need to ask. This question can easily prevent you from hiring an incompetent SEO Consultant who might otherwise persuade you to do needless things.

These could typically be adding more words to your keyword meta tag, buying links or suggesting something that goes against Google guidelines.

The point is there’s no SEO benefit of adding keywords to your meta tags. And the consequences of buying low-quality links for getting ranked higher can be serious.

Digital Chakra Recommendations: Google will penalise your store for buying links from Sites that are exclusively set up for this purpose, and severly impact your search visibility in the Results.

So, buying links for increasing page rank is the wrong way of doing SEO. It’s unethical too.

The basic rule is anything that’s good for SEO is also good for the shoppers on your store. Building a great brand is an SEO essential.

Likewise, having easy navigation and mobile-friendly website design are essentials, as well.

Q3. Check if the SEO consultant is keen on helping your business from a Holistic Standpoint

You might be wondering what helping your Business from a holistic standpoint even means?

In the interview, the SEO Consultant will ask you questions, too.

A good SEO consultant doesn’t focus on search engine ranking alone. They will be interested in helping your business in other ways, as well. Ideally, they should ask you questions along the lines outlined below:

  1. What makes your ecommerce store unique and therefore valuable to shoppers?
    (The ecommerce SEO Expert wants this piece of information so that they can ensure it’s emphasised on your business website for your present and future new audience.)
  2. What does your average customer persona look like? How do they find your store?
  3. How does your store generate profits, and how can search help?
  4. Are you using other channels such as social networks and offline advertising?
  5. Who are your top competitors? What do they do best online and perhaps offline?
  6. What are your Business Goals from SEO?

If the SEO Consultant doesn’t seem keen on learning about your store in a comprehensive manner, you’ll need to look elsewhere. It’s as simple as that.

For instance, the consultant might not talk about your store. They might straightaway ask you for an upfront payment. They might state their terms and conditions and ask you to sign a an upfront contract of say 12 months.

If the consultant is reluctant to even discuss the intricacies of your business during the interview, they might not be the right fit for you.

You can assume the consultant is too busy with other projects or they’re only looking to get paid first. Either way, you’re better off not hiring them.

Should You Sign An Upfront Contract With An Experienced SEO Consultant?

Good SEO takes time, effort and expertise. 

SEO Experts are experienced and learned. They have gained valuable insights from their successes – and failures – after years of implementing the strategies they’ve learnt. Most often, they have also reviewed studies and gained insights from industry experts.

That said, there’s nothing wrong in signing an upfront contract.

For you, it is a way to offload one important area of your Digital Marketing while achieving some peace of mind. For the SEO Consultant, it is a way to secure their financial position while ensuring they have sufficient time to make changes that impact your Search visibility.

It’s a WIN-WIN for the right partners!

A good option is to opt for shorter contracts of 3 to 6 months, allowing sufficient time for some tangible results while also allowing both parties to establish trust.

Q4. Do you have any client references? Can I contact them?

This is yet another crucial question that will help you make your hiring decision.

I’m sure you don’t want to hire an inexperienced consultant who’ll learn the ropes at your expense. If your potential SEO consultant provides a list of their prior clients, make certain you check their references.

In particular, check if the consultant was able to provide meaningful guidance and work effectively with their marketers, designers and UX researchers. The consultant you hire should be friendly yet professional.

They should be someone you are comfortable working with, learning from and experimenting with.

Importantly, as I already mentioned, the ecommerce SEO consultant should care about you and your business. If their focus is mainly on getting your website the highest rank with certain keywords, I assure you it will not work long term. Even if this technique does work, it will rarely last long.

A good SEO consultant will want to educate you as well as your staff on how search engines work.

They’ll ensure that SEO gets ingrained in your day-to-day business operations.

Q5. Can you provide us with a technical and search audit of our ecommerce store?

You can also ask the SEO Consultant to provide 3 prior SEO case studies. Ask them for a list of the URLs of the websites they have optimised and the tasks they have completed. Ask them how long it took and what the results were.

To determine if the SEO Consultant is truly competent, request them to take a look at your store and tell you three onsite optimisation tactics you could implement to improve it. Ask them which keywords should you target and the reason for it.

Ask the consultant that if you hire them as the SEO specialist, what you could expect to achieve at the end of the first 3 months and 6 months, respectively. Also, ask them how they stay on top of SEO trends.

Give the SEO consultant a restricted view of your store’s Google Analytics data and even the Google Search Console data. But before they modify anything, ask them to complete a Technical and Search Audit of your website. Be prepared to pay for a good SEO Audit.

Request a prioritised list of items that can be improved in the context of SEO. If you own a large ecommerce store, you can hire multiple SEO consultants to run website audits and prioritise improvements.

Scrutinise what each consultant has to say. After careful consideration, determine who would be the best fit.

In the SEO Audit, the Consultant should prioritise improvements in a structured framework detailed as follows:

  1. The SEO issue
  2. The improvement suggested by the SEO Consultant
  3. Estimated Costs and Timeframe to resolve the Issues
  4. Anticipated Positive Business Impact (They may be able to provide you a rough analysis but it’s not possible to predict anything with 100% accuracy)
  5. A plan for restating and implementing low-priority/ Low-hanging changes.

Q6. Can you help me understand the audits one by one?

In the technical SEO audit, the consultant should be able to review your business website for issues such as internal linking, URL parameters, crawl-ability, server connectivity, response codes, etc.

If the consultant simply says that your website has duplicate content issues that need to be fixed, ask them to give you a list of specific URLs that are currently competing for the same query.

Plenty of duplicate content typically exists on most ecommerce stores. But fixing it isn’t a pressing problem as it’s made out to be.

However, the consultant might say your web store is suffering because some of your top product pages are too far from your homepage and shoppers would have difficulty in finding them.

This is a serious issue. They might come up with suggestions to improve internal linking.

The SEO Consultant might also suggest getting more user interaction and generating buzz through business relationships or social media. This is certainly a valid method of getting natural links to your website and attracting more shoppers.

Q7. Would you be able to spot the weaknesses of our top competitors? (Or would you be able to replicate the success of our top competitors?)

A thorough competitor analysis is simply indispensable. But many ecommerce SEO consultants fall short in this area. They don’t consider how competitive your prime keywords are. They are not adept at growing the traffic of your store using only the resources at your disposal.

But you’d be better off hiring an SEO consultant who can find keywords with high search volume that your competitors haven’t targeted.

The SEO Consultant you hire should be also be able to find the keywords that are giving your competitors the highest ROI. And they should be confident enough to go after highly competitive keywords and win.

Finally, the ecommerce SEO consultant you hire should possess an innate ability to learn from your top competitors. They should quickly understand what your competitors are doing well. They should be able to suggest business improvements that involve minimal investment but deliver long-term growth.

Are you looking for an ecommerce seo consultant?

I have worked with dozens of SME eCommerce Businesses over the years. One of the biggest holdups I have noticed is the unwillingness of business owners to take the time to implement the ideas suggested or sometimes to even under-play the importance of SEO and it’s potential for their Business.

Maybe they have too many things on their minds. So, I suggest that you get your entire team on board first.

If you or anyone in your team is not prepared to commit to making the SEO improvements suggested in an audit, it doesn’t matter who you hire. I don’t want to discourage you. But to be frank, if the Business does not make changes suggested by their SEO Consultant, seeing positive results is going to be a tall order.

If you find the article useful, please consider sharing it with your team so they may be able to make an informed decision when hiring an SEO Consultant.

If you’re looking to hire an eCommerce SEO Consultant, please feel free to get in touch with me for a FREE 30-minute initial Consultation. 

Medha Dixit
[email protected]

Hi, my name is Medha Dixit. I'm an eCommerce SEO Consultant and Founder of Digital Chakra, a UK based Digital Marketing Agency, focused on helping small & mid-sized eCommerce Businesses with SEO and Conversion Optimisation. I'm a Computer Engineer and have an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, India's Top Business School. Solving problems related to SEO & Conversion Optimisation excites me and I hope to make a positive Business Impact through my work. I take pride in what I do and consider myself to be a sponge, absorbing knowledge whilst also constantly striving to build & improve. I have helped UK eCommerce Businesses generate millions in revenue through SEO and Conversion Optimisation. Say hello on LinkedIn or feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]

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