A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

How to Hire an SEO

May 3rd, 2009

I’ve been doing Internet Marketing including SEO since 2003.  In doing so, I often get asked “How do I Hire an SEO?”  The question can get asked any number of ways, such as…

* How do I outsource SEO?

* Who should I hire?

* What should I ask an SEO before I hire them?

* Do you have any students I can hire?

* Can you review these proposals before I hire an SEO?

All of these are similar in that the person or business knows they need Search Engine Optimization.  Yet, they don’t want to do it themselves or don’t have the time to do it themselves.

I am glad to answer such questions, especially as it means the person asking the question realizes the value of SEO.  That’s a great first step!  However, the issue of hiring (or outsourcing) SEO is a very challenging one.

It may surprise you that you can’t just throw a job posting on any of the online job boards and hire a good SEO at a cheap price.

In fact, even outsourcing is not easy.  Typically, doing a search on Google and find a good local SEO is not the best way to find a good SEO partner.


One main reason is that the best search engine marketers don’t stay working for employers (or clients).

They do START by taking clients or working for an employer.

But we just can’t help ourselves.  We almost always start our own projects – on the side.  Eventually, one of those takes off and starts bringing in good money.  Sometimes several of them do.  That’s when we stop working for others and start working for ourselves.  It’s often much more profitable.  (Sorry.)

Alternatively, a good SEO will eventually find an employer (or client) that really appreciates them and realizes their true worth.  At that time, the existing employer (or clients) will almost always pay more than a new employer (or client) will.  And everyone knows that up-selling an existing client is exponentially easier than starting working for another new client.

See the problem?

Don’t believe me?

Marketing Sherpa released a study last month that showed the average SEO specialist gets a salary of $60K in the southeast.  They added that once a search specialist has more than three years experience and a track record of proven results, their salaries can increase dramatically.

SEMPO also reported that 26% of surveyed search marketers earned between $60K and $90K.  Another 20% more earned in the $70K to $100K range.  Some earn well over $200K per year with less than 3 years experience!

So now what?!?

Certainly there is an option that works for you.  But if you think you can hire a good, qualified SEO with years of proven experience for $40K or less, you are in for a surprise.  Similarly, you can’t expect to outsource to the cream of the crop for $1,000 or less per month.

Ok, Ok!  Enough of the bad news!  Let’s talk about what you can do.

If you insist on hiring and/or outsourcing, here are a couple tips for you.

1.  Involve a trusted SEO expert to help you in your search.  (Hire them!)

2.  Attend some industry events to understand what to ask.


1.  Develop realistic expectations and qualifications

2.  Write a very specific job posting and add “salary is dependent on experience and ability”.

3.  Look for good communication, business, and time management skills.

4.  Determine in advance technical and communication questions to ask during interviews.

An even better option…

Pardon my self-promotion here, but an even better option is to send one of your trusted, experienced employees to SEO training.  Our classes range from $299 to $399 and will serve as a great start.

Alternatively, you can hire someone that does not know SEO and get them the training they need.  You may even make such training a prerequisite that they need to have before applying for the job.

But how do you know that a newly trained employee is doing the right thing?

You have two options…

1.  Attend the training yourself so that you can manage the employee.  I know, I know, you don’t want to know it yourself, you just want to manage it.  But let’s face it, you need to have a basic idea of anything you manage, right?

2.  Hire a consultant to provide direction to the newly trained employee.  Many well-qualified SEO experts are more than happy to work a few hours here and there on a hourly basis to help businesses stay moving in the right direction.

Those are my recommendations.  I hope they help.

Perhaps some of my other colleagues may have something to add.  Please place a comment below if you do.

Here is more info about our various Internet marketing training classes.