It can take effort to find the right SEO consultant, but it is a worthwhile exercise if you value your website and want to tempt more visitors its way. Basically, the role of the consultant is to enhance search engine results by using some clever tricks of the trade. As Internet usage and traffic has increased, so too has the number of people advertising their SEO services. Naturally, not all of them will be right for your website. By knowinlg what to look for—and what to avoid—you can hire the SEO consultant that will best meet your needs.

It always helps to turn to a search engine yourself to see how well a potential SEO provider’s own website is optimised. See if they practice what they preach, so to speak! If their website only shows up in paid search results, their skills may not be so strong in the non-paid (otherwise known as “organic”) results. Ideally, you want a consultant to have expertise in producing high quality content to utilise both paid and non-paid results.

Any reputable consultant will be happy to provide you with references from previous or existing clients. Ask whether they have received awards or other accolades—not the be-all-and-end-all, but always a positive sign. However, in a fairly young industry (Google turns 13 this year), how long a firm has been established isn’t always the best measure of success. Some of the best in the industry are young, fresh and energetic, and will do a great job as your SEO consultant.

Get as much information as you can about the different SEO packages available. Flexibility is key; make sure you can add on services further down the line if you only choose a basic package to begin with. Compare rates with other companies to see how competitive they are.

Finally, trust your instincts. All successful businesspeople place great value on their gut reactions. If you like the sound of someone, and they appear to offer everything you are looking for, go for it.