Q: Should I hire a Search Engine Optimization expert?
A: Most small business owners understand the role of an SEO expert from a high level, but aren't as familiar with the full scope of what's involved or the time required. This makes it a lot harder to confidently hire the right SEO expert, and forces owners to take these professionals at their word. So, before you make a hire, make sure you have a basic understanding of what it takes to properly optimize a website.
1) Google values quality content. Expect to have discussions about writing blogs or creating new web pages for your site, and adding this content on a regular basis. If your SEO expert suggests adding pages/blogs that don't help your customers in some way, repeat content already on the site, or are written simply to jam in "keywords", you can do more harm than good to your site's ranking.
2) Expect to constantly reassess what part of the SEO strategy is proving to be the most effective. Your SEO consultant will run tests against keywords and not every aspect of the strategy will always work the first time. Optimizing your website with the right keywords, text links, headline structures and all of the other SEO elements that factor in to a high-ranking Google search result is an educated game of trial and error.
3) SEO is a long-term commitment. An expert who promises to have your website at the top of Google's rankings within a month should be a huge red flag. Effective optimization takes time and consistent effort, as Google prioritizes websites that have proven themselves valuable to web visitors over a period of time.
When you are ready to hire, referrals from your network, and other small business owners you trust, are the best way to ensure your SEO hire is the right one.