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Home  SEO Consultant

What is an SEO Consultant?

Know what to expect from your consultant before investing.

Last Updated: March 29, 2013

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Hiring an SEO consultant can be a daunting task, especially considering the effect this can have on both your online success and reputation. I've created this page so you can research a little deeper and know what you can expect in terms of level of service and deliverables. I've worked with several SEO companies over the years and hired consultants on behalf of clients, with mixed results.

It would seem like Ireland is awash with SEO experts, but which ones offer the best results with ethical practice that will future-proof your business? I've listed some of the more reputable SEO consultants and companies in Ireland. If you would like to see any additional information covered here, please don't hesitate to contact me.

  • SEO Consultant Profile
  • SEO Client Portfolio
  • Measurable SEO KPI's
  • SEO Consultants Ireland

  • To make sure you are spending your money on the right person, you need to do your homework. One of the first things to do is to define the type of SEO consultant you want. Defining the profile allows you to be sure that your next hire ticks all the right boxes. This is essential for any successful working relationship.

    Below I list the various skills and functions I would expect from an SEO Consultant. Hopefully this list will give you some ideas about the sort of responsibilities you can expect your consultant to look after and report on. If you think of anything else that should go into this list, please let me know.

    SEO Consultant Profile

    The Search Engine Optimization Consultant will be responsible for monitoring overall search engine performance for all online marketing campaigns. The consultant will work with the development and marketing teams to successfully implement search strategies and track the effectiveness of those campaigns.

    The consultant should show strong analytic capabilities with solid knowledge of online marketing analytics. The consultant will be expected to produce detailed reports daily, weekly and monthly (including scorecard). Investigate and report on research for new search strategies.

    SEO Functions:

    Provide support and analysis for the online marketing team including:

    • Complete full site analysis and reporting on all projects.
    • Provide hands-on support for search engine optimization recommendations.
    • Source and manage copywriters, review and optimize all copy for landing pages.
    • Perform keyword analysis on all under-performing pages and suggest improvements.
    • Review all meta tags, image tags, content tags and possibly schema markup, suggest improvements.
    • Based on on-site analysis, devise internal linking strategy.
    • Devise and execute quality link building strategy.
    • Make content change suggestions to chase long tail keyword opportunities.
    • Analyze site architecture and make suggestion for optimal performance.
    • Research and analyze competitor back links and report.

    Job Qualifications:

    • A degree in business, marketing, communications, IT or related subjects.
    • 3+ years previous SEO experience. Marketing or online marketing background a plus.
    • Enthusiastic about SEO, an eye for detail and able to prioritize daily tasks efficiently.
    • Cross-team communication skills. Show good judgment and professionalism when corresponding with partners or clients.
    • Ability to accommodate additional responsibilities and constant changes.
    • Able to analyze search data and present recommendations to supervisors.
    • Proficient with SEOMoz, MajesticSEO, Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Excel.
    • Expert in social media profiles and implementing Author Rank through Google+
    • Working knowledge of Google Local Search, Google Maps and Google Places.

    What can I expect from my first meeting?

    One of the first things I ask an SEO consultant for is a brief work history on completed projects. I would expect to receive client names and websites so I can check up on it later. Then in my own time, I would check the link profile of one of their previous clients and try to find some of the latest links built into the site. This will give me a good idea of the quality of their link building efforts.

    Make sure they tell you the various obstacles they came up against on each project and how they managed to improve the site and its rankings. Did they implement a content plan for a Panda issue? Did they clean the link profile to revoke a manual penalty? Make sure you have all your questions written down prior to meeting them.

    Hiring a consultant is an expensive venture, so it has to be the right appointment at the first time of asking. Therefore it is not unheard of giving the consultant a short brief on a sample project, to prove their ability to provide you with the service you require. Any SEO worth their salt will get through it with flying colours, so it's no big deal for them to complete a 20 minute brief to secure a new project.

    You can either create a small sample site yourself with a few errors dotted around to see what they pick up, or you can give them a small section of a site you currently own and are having some known issues with. If you find their answers are on the money, then you've just saved yourself a bucketload of the stuff.

    This short test will allow you to see how they go about analyzing a website and what tools they are proficient with. You should be able to determine the depth of their knowledge with regard to SEO and best practises. Never commit to anything after the first meeting, wait until they have completed the brief and you have had the time to check out their previous work.


    SEO Client Portfolio

    Anyone who calls themselves a consultant should have an online portfolio. There is nothing wrong with a bit of bragging when you do a good job, in fact, thats what people want to see. We want to know that the consultant is confident and assured. A lot of faith and money is being invested into this person, so it is only right that you are made aware of the stellar work they have done to date.

    Most Recent Clients

    At the very least, you should ask for refrences from their last two projects. Two successful projects in a row with happy clients is what you are looking for. This is particularly impressive in todays market with so many Google updates being dished out to hunt spam and dark hat tactics.

    The SEO consultant should be forthright in offering this to you. It's not ideal if you have to ask the consultant to offer you some references. These should be their sales tool and they should be offering it up right from the start.

    Access to Case Studies

    Case Studies! When an SEO company flaunts case studies it is because they are successful and confident of future success. Most SEO consultants will keep records of their previous projects, these should be displayed on their site (with all sensitive information removed). A good example of this can be seen here on seoinc.com' s website.

    The case study should highlight the issues they faced and the methodology they used to find and implement an effective solution. The challenge, the strategy and the result. This is the information that is vital in helping us make our decision. More often than not, you will find a case study that is similar to your own circumstances. This is an ideal situation, as you will get some insight into how they will go about completing the task before they even start.

    If they offer no case studies from previous work, then be wary before hiring. I'd recommend giving them a brief of a sample project (as mentioned above) before committing yourself into any sort of contract. Another important thing to do; is to call up any previous employers and start chasing those references!

    Testimonials and References

    Never hire an SEO consultant if they are shy about handing out testimoniial or reference information. Let's face it, there should be nothing to hide. Often the quality of their customer testimonials or, when I sometimes pick up the phone, the quality of their references, is the final reason for me hiring or not hiring an SEO consultant.

    Once I have a name of a consultant that I am considering, I always do a quick check on Google for 'mentions', be they good or bad. If someone got burned before then there is a real good chance that they complained about that person in a forum or on a blog. In the same way, if someone did a fantastic job for someone, the kudos are usually easy to find.

    Always do your homework and that means checking refrences. The best method is by phone, I personally prefer this as the answers are less thought out and therefore more honest. Written references should not be disregarded though, if someone is willing to vouch for another individual then its usually a good sign, particularly if it's a business.


    Measurable SEO KPI's

    One of the first tasks facing an SEO consultant when they come onsite is to analyse the website that is suffering. This is the first opportunity to implement a good method of measuring your SEO KPI's. Request that the consultant prepare a scorecard of the site in question, feel free to add your own kpi's to this list. I have seen many different types of scorecards, but one of the better free ones available out there is this one from Keyphraseology.

    As you can see from the image above, the SEO consultant grades the site on his first pass. This will give us something to reference once the work is complete. You will have a tool to see what areas have visibly improved and whether or not your consultant has met your expectations for the project.

    You can add whatever points you like to this scorecard and ask the consultant to add any additional points they feel should be represented. You can download this seo scorecard template here.

    What about rankings?

    You could use rankings for specific terms to gauge the success of a consultants work, but its a difficult one to truly measure. As most SEO analysts know, being number one for various phrases does not measure the success of a website. For that, you should be measuring traffic and conversions.


    SEO Consultants Ireland

    So who to choose as an SEO consultant? Who can I trust with my business? Well, luckily there are some top notch SEO consultants available in Ireland. Below I have listed some of the SEO consultants I have researched or who's work I have seen and therefore recommend:

    • Leslie Gilmour - His site ticks all the boxes. There are one or two points in his link building policies I would probably be in contention with but overall he comes across as a good SEO Consultant.
    • Simona Rusnakova - Straight away Simona says all the right things in her profile. The site in general covers ethical approaches to SEO.
    • Kieran Flanagan - Kieran runs a successful SEO blog called Searchbrat.com. He has an impressive CV and writes some great articles for various SEO sites.
    • Richard Hearne - Richard is the man behind Red Cardinal, an SEO company of some repute. His blog is kept up-to-date and I have met people I trust who speak highly of his services.


    Steven Forsyth
    SEO Product Manager
    Groupon International

    73 Balrothery Estate, Tallaght, D24, Ireland.
    (086) 122-8514 sforsyth@tinet.ie
    Steven's home page:

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