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5 Times You Absolutely Must Hire An SEO Pro

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5 Times You Absolutely Must Hire An SEO Pro

There are plenty of business owners and digital marketing generalists who can handle the everyday management of their own SEO.

Even at the enterprise level, you may have web developers, content creators, and others taking care of tasks that support your SEO program.

However, there are some situations that absolutely require an experienced SEO professional to resolve.

Trying to tackle major issues on your own can result in an inordinate amount of frustration and lost revenue.

So how do you know when the situation calls for the intervention of a seasoned pro?

Here are five times when you should absolutely hire an SEO.

1. Google Search Isn’t Indexing Your Website Or Pages

Troubleshooting why your website is missing from Google search results is best handled by a professional.

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An experienced SEO will not waste any time and will know what to look for.

It could be a simple oversight that is not allowing Google to crawl your website or a more complex issue with the structure of your website or URL parameters.

It’s possible that your content is plagiarized or that Google thinks it’s too similar to another page on your site.

There are many different reasons, and an SEO professional can help solve the problem and get your website indexed and visible on Google.

2. During A Site Migration Or Redesign

Any time there are major changes to a website’s domain, CMS platform, design layout, navigation, URL structure, etc., there are risks involved.

Blindly putting your website in the hands of a great web designer is not a good idea.

As the business owner, you should understand how the changes made to your website may affect your organic search traffic.

You’ll want to consult with an SEO expert who handles site migrations to get a full breakdown of the different needs and technical demands.

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An SEO can help you create a plan to reduce risks, assist in managing the migration, and watch for traffic anomalies post-migration.

3. When Organic Traffic Drops

If you notice that your Google Search traffic is decreasing, would you know what to do?

Site traffic drops can happen for a lot of reasons and most of them can be reversed.

How to fix it isn’t always straightforward, which is why hiring an SEO consultant is a good idea.

It could be a reporting glitch or seasonality trends, an algorithmic change affecting the site at a page level, or a technical issue like a manual action affecting the site.

A professional SEO will be able to review your search traffic trends and detect what the most likely cause for your traffic loss is and provide a clear path to correcting the drop.

4. To Reverse A Manual Action

If you suspect organic traffic drops are due to manual action, the first step will be detecting what type of manual action took place and which pages are affected.

You need to fix all of the issues on all of the affected pages before submitting for a reconsideration review.

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A reconsideration review will explain the exact quality issues on your site, the efforts and steps you’ve taken to fix them, and document the outcome of your efforts.

It needs to provide Google with good-faith assurance that it won’t happen again, you’ve turned the corner and won’t continue to spam the internet.

All of which need to be handled with care and by someone with experience navigating manual actions.

5. Not Getting Results From SEO Strategy

Maybe you’ve been working with a junior SEO or a well-known SEO agency and are not seeing the results you expected or need from your organic channel marketing efforts.

Maybe your SEO strategy worked really well and you’ve been too busy to devote the time needed to keep the lead machine operating smoothly.

Maybe you have been DIY-ing SEO and no longer enjoy it.

Whatever the reason, if you are unhappy with your current organic strategy, then it is time to hire an SEO.

Listen to your intuition, free up the mental space, and continue to tackle other aspects of your business that spark joy.

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Choosing An SEO

I’ve worked in search marketing for well over a decade, and during this time, I’ve seen long-term marketers share bad advice and newcomers share really good advice.

I’ve seen people gain popularity quickly and know a few that prefer to fly under the radar.

So, this list is not going to include years of practice or contain any reference to popularity metrics.

These six tips, however, are going to help you choose an SEO that best aligns with your business goals.

1. Clear Communication 

Communication is number one. You need to understand what your SEO is recommending, how it will be implemented, and how results will be tracked.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear.

Ultimately, it’s your business that is on the line so it is in your best interest to know exactly how a marketer plans to help you.

Google warns that deceptive or misleading tactics, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, could result in your website being removed from Google’s index.

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There is a level of comfort and ease that is felt when you know someone has your best interest in mind.

Red flags will arise when you feel like “just a number” and quickly move along without any explanation.

2. Strategy Aligns With Your Business Goals

Be prepared to pay upfront for an SEO audit so the strategy can be tailored to fit your business goals.

Before you sign a contract or agree to work with someone, you need to make sure that their idea is in line with your own idea for your business.

While it is true that marketers can not promise or otherwise guarantee results, they can align their strategy and goals with what you define as a win.

For example, let’s say you’re hiring an SEO because the leads your website is currently generating are not any good.

If the SEO you chat with reviews Google Search Console clicks and says, “Hey, you can increase traffic by 300% by bumping this keyword from position seven to position three!” – that’s not a good match.

You don’t want to increase traffic to pages that are generating poor-quality leads.

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If the SEO you chat with plans on starting with speaking to your sales team to define a good keyword strategy, now you have someone who is listening to your business’s needs and working to help you meet goals.

3. Knowledge Of SEO

There are many different specialties within the blanket term of search engine optimization.

For example, if you’re going through a site migration then you’re going to look for an SEO with a technical skillset.

Whereas, if you were ranking well and have sense loss traffic, you’ll want someone who has a good understanding of organic content strategy to regain your keyword rankings.

Maybe your website is technically sound and you have content that converts well, and now you’re looking for someone with PR chops to win more backlinks.

Just like when you build an app, the developer needs to be able to code in that language. The SEO you hire needs to have knowledge of the type of SEO that your website needs.

4. Cost Of Service

Before you start looking, it’s important to determine a marketing budget where you can reasonably not expect results for the next six to 12 months.

The cost of SEO services varies a lot depending on the type of service, the provider, and the plan.

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In 2022, SEO packages are not as common as a monthly retainer.

For local SEO, the price range is between $300 and $1,500 per month, while national or international retainers fall between $5,000 and $10,000 per month.

Hourly rates for SEO consultants fall between $75 and $1,500 per hour.

5. Expectations 

When hiring an SEO, be sure to have your expectations in check.

A study from 2017 tracked keyword positioning on 2 million pages over the course of one year.

After one year, only 5.7% of all studied pages ranked in the top 10 search results for at least one keyword.

Proving that SEO is a long-haul game.

It took between two and six months for the “lucky pages” to make it to the first page.

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Actually, I shouldn’t call these pages “lucky” because there was likely an SEO behind the scenes putting in work.

6. Ask For References

Even if an SEO shares amazing results on social media, or is referred by a friend, or has great case studies – ask for references.

Just as you would when hiring an employee.

When checking references, ask questions to find out if the SEO’s guidance was helpful and sustainable.

The mark of a good SEO is their ability to integrate the optimization processes into the general business operations.

You’ll want to make sure that the SEO practitioner focuses on long-term wins and not just quick fixes.

Questions To Ask When Hiring An SEO

When hiring an SEO questions like, “How will you improve my website?” are not helpful because they may have a different idea of what “improve” means than you do.

Try to phrase your questions in a way that provides a better idea of whether their processes align with your business objectives.

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Here are seven questions to ask when hiring an SEO:

  1. Can you share a success story where you’ve solved a problem similar to mine?
  2. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaign?
  3. How often will I receive campaign updates and analytics?
  4. What are the most important SEO techniques?
  5. What areas (if any) do you outsource?
  6. What are your fees and payment terms?
  7. What happens when we part ways?

Final Thoughts

A lot of SEO best practices can be handled in-house, once you have basic SEO skills and processes in place.

There are, however, situations where you are better off hiring a professional SEO – like a site migration or reversing a drop in organic traffic.

During the hiring process, be sure to ask questions that will help you find an SEO that aligns with your marketing goals.

More Resources:


Featured Image: insta_photos/Shutterstock

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

Creating and selling educational courses can be a lucrative business. But if you already have a product to sell, you can actually use courses as a marketing tool.

Back in 2017, about two years after joining Ahrefs, I decided to create a course on content marketing.

I had a very clear understanding of how an educational course would help me promote Ahrefs.

  • People like courses – Folks like Brian Dean and Glen Allsopp were selling theirs for $500 to $2,000 a pop (and rather successfully). So a free course of comparable quality was sure to get attention.
  • Courses allow for a deeper connection – You would basically be spending a few hours one on one with your students. And if you managed to win their trust, you’d get an opportunity to promote your product to them.

That was my raw thought process going into this venture.

And I absolutely didn’t expect that the lifespan of my course would be as interesting and nuanced as it turned out to be.

The lessons of my course have generated over 500K+ in total views, brought in mid-five-figures in revenue (without even trying), and turned out to be a very helpful resource for our various marketing purposes.

So here goes the story of my “Blogging for Business” course.

1. The creation

I won’t give you any tips on how to create a successful course (well, maybe just one). There are plenty of resources (courses?) on that topic already.

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All I want to say is that my own experience was quite grueling.

The 10 lessons of my course span some 40K words. I have never attempted the feat of writing a book, but I imagine creating such a lengthy course is as close as it gets.

Scripts of the course in Google Docs.

I spent a tremendous amount of time polishing each lesson. The course was going to be free, so it was critical that my content was riveting. If not, people would just bounce from it.

Paid courses are quite different in that sense. You pay money to watch them. So even if the content is boring at times, you’ll persevere anyway to ensure a return on your investment.

When I showed the draft version of the course to my friend, Ali Mese, he gave me a simple yet invaluable tip: “Break your lessons into smaller ones. Make each just three to four minutes long.”

How did I not think of this myself? 

Short, “snackable” lessons provide a better sense of completion and progress. You’re also more likely to finish a short lesson without getting distracted by something. 

I’m pretty sure that it is because of this simple tip that my course landed this Netflix comparison (i.e., best compliment ever):

2. The strategy

With the prices of similar courses ranging from $500 to $2,000, it was really tempting to make some profit with ours.

I think we had around 15,000 paying customers at Ahrefs at that time (and many more on the free plan). So if just 1% of them bought that course for $1K, that would be an easy $150K to pocket. And then we could keep upselling it to our future customers.

Alternatively, we thought about giving access to the course to our paying customers only. 

This might have boosted our sales, since the course was a cool addition to the Ahrefs subscription. 

And it could also improve user retention. The course was a great training resource for new employees, which our customers would lose access to if they canceled their Ahrefs subscription.

And yet, releasing it for free as a lead acquisition and lead nurturing play seemed to make a lot more sense than the other two options. So we stuck to that.

3. The waitlist

Teasing something to people before you let them get it seems like one of the fundamental rules of marketing.

  • Apple announces new products way before they’re available in stores. 
  • Movie studios publish trailers of upcoming movies months (sometimes years) before they hit the theaters. 
  • When you have a surprise for your significant other (or your kids), you can’t help but give them some hints before the reveal.

There’s something about “the wait” and the anticipation that we humans just love to experience.

So while I was toiling away and putting lessons of my course together, we launched a landing page to announce it and collect people’s emails.

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The landing page of the course.

In case someone hesitated to leave their email, we had two cool bonuses to nudge them:

  1. Access to the private Slack community
  2. Free two-week trial of Ahrefs

The latter appealed to freebie lovers so much that it soon “leaked” to Reddit and BlackHatWorld. In hindsight, this leak was actually a nice (unplanned) promo for the course.

4. The promotion

I don’t remember our exact promotion strategy. But I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

I also added a little “sharing loop” to the welcome email. I asked people to tell their friends about the course, justifying it with the fact that taking the course with others was more fun than doing it alone.

Welcome email with a "sharing loop."

I have no idea how effective that “growth hack” was, but there was no reason not to encourage sharing.

In total, we managed to get some 16,000 people on our waitlist by the day of the course launch.

5. The launch

On a set date, the following email went out to our waitlist:

Course launch email.

Did you notice the “note” saying that the videos were only available for free for 30 days? We did that to nudge people to watch them as soon as possible and not save them to the “Watch later” folder.

In retrospect, I wish we had used this angle from the very beginning: “FREE for 30 days. Then $799.”

This would’ve killed two birds with one stone: 

  1. Added an urgency to complete the course as soon as possible
  2. Made the course more desirable by assigning a specific (and rather high) monetary value to it

(If only we could be as smart about predicting the future as we are about reflecting on the past.) 

Once it was live, the course started to promote itself. I was seeing many super flattering tweets:

We then took the most prominent of those tweets and featured them on the course landing page for some social proof. (They’re still there, by the way.)

6. The paywall

Once the 30 days of free access ran out, we added a $799 paywall. And it didn’t take long for the first sale to arrive:

This early luck didn’t push us to focus on selling this course, though. We didn’t invest any effort into promoting it. It was just sitting passively in our Academy with a $799 price tag, and that was it.

And yet, despite the lack of promotion, that course was generating 8-10 sales every month—which were mostly coming from word of mouth.

A comment in TrafficThinkTank.
Eric Siu giving a shout-out about my course in TTT Slack.

Thanks to its hefty price, my course soon appeared on some popular websites with pirated courses. And we were actually glad that it did. Because that meant more people would learn about our content and product.

Then some people who were “late to the party” started asking me if I was ever going to reopen the course for free again. This actually seemed like a perfectly reasonable strategy at the time:

7. The giveaways

That $799 price tag also turned my free course into a pretty useful marketing tool. It was a perfect gift for all sorts of giveaways on Twitter, on podcasts, during live talks, and so on.

Giving away the course during a live talk.
Me giving away the course during a live talk.

And whenever we partnered with someone, they were super happy to get a few licenses of the course, which they could give out to their audience.

8. The relaunch

Despite my original plan to update and relaunch this course once a year, I got buried under other work and didn’t manage to find time for it.

And then the pandemic hit. 

That’s when we noticed a cool trend. Many companies were providing free access to their premium educational materials. This was done to support the “stay at home” narrative and help people learn new skills.

I think it was SQ who suggested that we should jump on that train with my “Blogging for Business” course. And so we did:

We couldn’t have hoped for a better timing for that relaunch. The buzz was absolutely insane. The announcement tweet alone has generated a staggering 278K+ impressions (not without some paid boosts, of course).

The statistics of the course announcement tweet.

We also went ahead and reposted that course on ProductHunt once again (because why not?).

All in all, that relaunch turned out to be even more successful than the original launch itself. 

In the course of their lifespan on Wistia, the 40 video lessons of my course generated a total of 372K plays.

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Play count from Wistia.

And this isn’t even the end of it.

9. The launch on YouTube

Because the course was now free, it no longer made sense to host it at Wistia. So we uploaded all lessons to YouTube and made them public.

To date, the 41 videos of my course have generated about 187K views on YouTube.

"Blogging for Business" course playlist.

It’s fair to mention that we had around 200,000 subscribers on our channel at the time of publishing my course there. A brand-new channel with no existing subscribers will likely generate fewer views.

10. The relaunch on YouTube [coming soon]

Here’s an interesting observation that both Sam and I made at around the same time. 

Many people were publishing their courses on YouTube as a single video spanning a few hours rather than cutting them into individual lessons like we did. And those long videos were generating millions of views!

Like these two, ranking at the top for “learn Python course,” which have 33M and 27M views, respectively:

"Learn python course" search on YouTube.

So we decided to run a test with Sam’s “SEO for Beginners” course. It was originally published on YouTube as 14 standalone video lessons and generated a total of 140K views.

Well, the “single video” version of that same course has blown it out of the water with over 1M views as of today.

I’m sure you can already tell where I’m going with this.

We’re soon going to republish my “Blogging for Business” course on YouTube as a single video. And hopefully, it will perform just as well.

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The end

So that’s the story of my “Blogging for Business” course. From the very beginning, it was planned as a promotional tool for Ahrefs. And judging by its performance, I guess it fulfilled its purpose rather successfully.

A screenshot of a Slack message.

Don’t get me wrong, though. 

The fact that my course was conceived as a promotional tool doesn’t mean that I didn’t pour my heart and soul into it. It was a perfectly genuine and honest attempt to create a super useful educational resource for content marketing newbies.

And I’m still hoping to work on the 2.0 version of it someday. In the past four years, I have accrued quite a bit more content marketing knowledge that I’m keen to share with everyone. So follow me on Twitter, and stay tuned.



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