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The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Your First Search Engine Marketing Consultant

December 8, 2022
7 Minute Read

Whether you're a small business owner looking to get more customers or an agency looking to expand your reach, search engine marketing (SEM) is the key to unlocking new opportunities for growth. Yet many businesses don't know where to begin when it comes to hiring a search engine marketing consultant.

In this guide, we'll walk you through how to find the right person or team for your project — and everything else you need to know before bringing on consultants.

What is search engine marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a subset of online marketing that involves paid placement of ads on search engines. SEM is used to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to a website, and generate leads.

It includes both organic and paid search results, but it's important to understand that there are two separate processes involved:

  • Organic SEO - This process organically positions your site higher in search results over time through natural ranking factors like backlinks, content quality and user engagement. Your website improves its overall authority over time as you create more high-quality content that people want to share with others.
  • Paid Search Engine Marketing or Pay Per Click - This process pays for ad placement at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) whenever someone searches for specific keywords relevant to what your business offers.

Evaluate your needs

The first step in hiring a search engine marketing consultant is to evaluate the need for a consultant. What are your goals? Do you want to increase traffic to your site, or build an email list, or both? If so, how much do you expect each channel to contribute and by when? Are there any specific goals that need to be met before you can begin work on other aspects of your marketing strategy—and if so, what are they?

What problem are you trying to solve with SEO: lack of visibility, not enough qualified leads coming through organic search channels? How much of this is due specifically to poor rankings in organic SERPs versus factors like paid advertising bids or keyword research failures which could have been corrected internally rather than outsourced?

What solution do you envision these consultants providing—a particular technical implementation like XML sitemaps or improved site architecture; an ongoing service such as link acquisition campaigns; something else entirely? Additionally: who will be responsible for implementing these changes once they've been agreed upon by everyone involved (you and/or the consultants.

Where to find an SEM consultant

If you're looking for a search engine marketing (SEM) consultant, there are many ways to find the right person. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, narrowing down your options will help you find the consultant who's right for you. You can start by searching online or hiring from on demand marketing talent platforms like Traktion.ai. If social media is more your speed, check out Facebook groups or LinkedIn forums where people discuss SEM issues. Some agencies have referral programs that enable them to offer discounts on services as compensation for new clients referred from their existing customer base.

Hiring a freelance SEM consultant

  • Choose a freelancer you can trust.
  • Look for someone who has experience in your industry, and the specific keywords that drive traffic to your site.
  • Find someone who is willing to work with you hand-in-hand, not just provide a one-size fits all report or quick fix solution that will never address the root cause of your problems (or spend money on things that don't matter).
  • Ask for references and examples of their work from satisfied clients like yourself so you can see how they operate in real life situations before hiring them on your own project!
  • Once you are satisfied with their experience and expertise, go ahead and hired them.

Tips for evaluating skillset

When hiring a search engine marketing or PPC consultant, it's important to ask the right questions in order to determine if that person is the right fit for your business. The following list will help you determine whether or not a consultant has what it takes:

  • Ask about past work. What have they done? How do they feel their projects have gone? What were their biggest challenges and how did they overcome them? How much time did each project take, and what sort of ROI did they generate?
  • Ask about current work. Are there any interesting projects currently underway at this moment? If so, who are you working with and why would I want to know this information before making a decision on hiring someone new into my firm (or department)? What kind of success rate does this company have when it comes down to generating leads/leads-from-leads (i.e., turning visitors into customers)?

Reviewing profile and portfolio.

When you're reading through the resume and portfolio items that are presented to you, look for examples of work that are similar to your needs. Look for examples of work that are similar to your budget. And look for examples of work that are similar to your timeline—these three factors will have a huge impact on which consultants you choose from and how much they cost.

Questions to ask during the interview process.

Now that you’ve found a few candidates, it’s time to schedule interviews. Interviewing a search engine marketing consultant is similar to interviewing anyone else. You want to ask questions about their experience, processes and philosophy.

Here are some of the most important questions you should ask during your initial meeting with potential consultants:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • What are their top goals when it comes to SEO?
  • What kind of results do they typically see for their clients?
  • How do they approach SEO differently than other agencies or consultants?
  • Do they offer monthly reports so I can track progress over time?
  • How do they check in and provide updates to their clients?

Onboarding your consultant.

  • You're going to want to be very clear about the deliverables you want them to achieve. They should know what their responsibilities are, but also what your company expects of them as well.
  • Make sure they understand your business and goals. This is a crucial step in making sure they can help you achieve those goals. In order to work well with you, they need a clear understanding of these things.
  • Make sure that both parties are aware of what's expected from this relationship going forward—there should be nothing left unsaid or unclear about expectations for each party when working together at any given stage of the process (e.g., "We'll pay you X amount once we receive Y deliverables").


You've just provided your freelancer with a comprehensive overview of what they're getting into, which will help ensure that you have a smooth working relationship from the beginning. In addition to this, you should also be sure to provide them with any materials or documentation necessary for their work—whether it's access to a database or some other information.

Finally, be sure to set some expectations for the project's timeline. This will help ensure that everyone knows when they should expect certain milestones to occur.

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