This is a continuing series of questions that you need to ask and answer for yourself before you start your much needed SEO campaign. In Part I we started off with questions about in-sourceing your SEO campaigns, specifically addressing questions about doing it yourself. We continued to discuss in-sourcing in Part II, asking and answering questions about doing it yourself with the help of another individual. In Part III we answered questions regarding hiring an inexperienced person to manage your SEO campaign in-house.

In this installment we'll look deeper at the concept of hiring someone to manage your campaign in-house, specifically answering questions about what it takes to hire someone who already has experience.

Question 25: Do I hire someone with experience? In Part III we answered questions related to hiring someone without experience in order to give you an idea of some of the struggles and pitfalls that you'll find yourself in. The other option is to look for someone that already has significant SEO experience. Such a person can hit the ground running and you have to worry less about initial on-the-job training and out of pocket expenses as they get up to speed.

Question 26: How much is that going to cost me? Without a doubt, anybody with even a basic knowledge of SEO is going to come with a higher salary price-tag than someone who does not. And the more experience they have, the more money they'll want. That's not to say they will always be priced out of your range, only that you'll need to weight carefully the payroll costs of hiring someone with experience verses the training costs of someone without. The upside is the more knowledge you hire the more effective they'll be on the onset of the campaign.

Question 27: How do I know they can do what they claim? This is a tricky one because many people who claim to have SEO knowledge may not know as much as they may claim. Or even as much as they think they know. In order to get an understanding of their knowledge level you'll need to ask them some very pointed questions in the interview process. You'll need to judge their knowledge, assess their strategies and verify their accomplishments. But no matter how much you try to get an understanding before hand, inevitably it'll come down to whether they can make results happen for you, and that will only be verifiable once they've been on the job for a few months.

Question 28: Will they have all the skills necessary? SEO isn't just about throwing keywords on a page and monitoring the search engines. A good SEO needs to be able to be a decent copywriter, excellent keyword researcher, decent link builder and have a basic grasp of social media marketing and usability. While each of these areas requires a very specific skill set a decent SEO should be well versed enough to be passable in most of the areas necessary to succeed. If more expertise is needed then you'll have to answer the next question.

Question 29: Will I have to pay additional dollars as they sub-contract out specialty work? Rarely will you find one person who is excellent in all of the areas that fall under an SEO campaign. Unless you're willing to hire a full team, you'll simply have to find someone who you are confident can accomplish what needs to be done and can either make due with the other areas or sub work out as appropriate. You'll want to figure this out in your budget. If you hire someone with less experience you may have to sub-contract out more areas of your campaign. However, the more skilled of a person you find the less sub-contracting out you'll have to do.

Question 30: How much will I have to pay to keep their knowledge current? Even experienced SEOs still need to be kept abreast of the latest trends. Be prepared to allow your in-house SEO time for reading blogs, contributing to forums, engaging in social media like twitter and reading books. Since your SEO is in-house these are activities that you need to allow them to do "on the clock." The more knowledgeable your SEO is the better results they should be able to achieve for you.

Question 31: Will they expect to attend all the major SEO trade shows? Along with the daily educational activities your SEO needs to partake in, they will likely want to attend some of the major SEO conferences. This can be a significant expense once you add up airfare, hotel and conference registration. You'll want to plan and budget wisely for this. While the big conferences are always fun, sometimes your SEO (and your budget) will be better served by sending them to smaller training seminars on a specific topic.

Question 32: What if the SEO engages in "black hat" activities that screw up my site or get me thrown out of the search engines? You may want to get a sense of your SEO's overall philosophy regarding what tactics they employ and where they think the line is in crossing over from white hat to black hat activities. While you may not want to discount anybody who engages in "black hat SEO" you will want to make it clear that anything that jeopardizes your long-term success is unacceptable.

There is great benefit to hiring an experienced SEO for in-house campaign management. The learning curve is far less, but that doesn't eliminate the risk all together. Finding the right person isn't as easy as hiring the first person you find that has "experience." You want to check them out and verify before you commit to a certain salary.

The first four parts of this series have covered all the questions you need to know when choosing to manage your SEO campaign in-house. With the next installment we'll start a whole new line of questioning regarding outsourcing your SEO campaign entirely to an off-site consultant or a SEO firm.

See Questions 1-11
See Questions 12-17
See Questions 18-24
See Questions 33-40
See Questions 41-47
See Questions 48-54
See Questions 55-61

March 12, 2009

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Stoney must say I’m impressed with your productivity … you are posting almost each day .. and great stuff too.

Well just a comment on the conference part. I think it’s very important for all marketers to attend conferences. It’s crucial to get inspiration, and especially in the SEO field the conferences give vital information about how the market is changing.

I normally attend at least two larger conferences each year, the regular being Omma Global in New York, and Search Engine Strategies in London. This keeps me up to date and inspired.

I appreciate the time you've put into this. I would have expected a big bad list with 5-10 bullet points. Thanks (in advance) for leaving no stone unturned.

I think it's good that you point out the sub contracting stuff. If you want SEO work, work with the SEOs, if you want a site built, go straight to a programmer instead of the price being marked up.

If a experienced SEO fails to update latest trends on search marketing then its no use to hire.Thanks for great FAQ s

@listorbit - I think you missed the point. In this case it will be up to the employer to pay for the SEO's continued training and that can be quite an expense.

I came across article lV and must say it's very informative. I thought I personally knew about a lot SEO until I got into network marketing. Talk about having to know your stuff. I can say that being with the group of people I'm, I have learned a ton more.
One point that you hit on the head is that it's difficult to master every area. Myself I am learning to master PPC. My teammate is a master in link building and have another teammate that is a master in social media. We all put are knowledge together to work on a single campaign.
So for an employer to find someone with all these talents wrapped into one person, they will have to pay a pretty good salary.
Down side of that, can you imagine the amount of work you would have to do to be able to tackle every area?
Thanks for the post, I'll be sure to read the others
Success University

Getting the right person in-house sounds much like the search for an outsourcing company. Both take a lot of time and research to find the right fit.

Even for experienced SEO, they still need to subcontract routine work like social bookmarking, submission to directories and RSS aggregators.

The above activities can be learned by a newbie SEO that paying for them expensively for a very experienced one is not really that practical.

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Very impressive work Stoney, very well observed and stated. Now I can see that I have still a lot to learn from SEO work. Looking forward to learn more from your upcoming installments!

I agree wholeheartedly with you Steen. Conferences are such valuable opportunities to strengthen one's intellect. This may only take up a couple of hours, yet the knowledge that could be gain from these is priceless. Now isn't that worthy of our precious time?

But of course, we should keep in mind that the information acquired from conferences isn't knowledge unless applied. So it's still up to us to be able to put some use for it.

"You may want to get a sense of your SEO's overall philosophy regarding what tactics they employ and where they think the line is in crossing over from white hat to black hat activities"...But so many SEO don't tell you the truth. They say one thing to you just to get the business and go ahead to do something different.

Its really tricky when it comes in searching for SEO firms, most of them will tell you that they had lots of experience while other promise a lot but after looking their websites you saw that they only have a page rank of 1..

This is a really good post and very informative. I only know the basics of SEO, adding keywords to sites and a few other standards that our company has in place to ensure that each site performs well when it is live. Our SEO department does the rest of the work such as copywriting, writing articles and link building to get each site higher up in google for better performance. I would like to learn more about SEO and how it exactly works when I have more spare time and I've found this forum to be very informative and helpful. Thanks for another great post. Keep up the good work.

Hello everyone! :D
Im new to
Hope I can be a regular here!

Great work. I have noticed that some of the steps doesn't make much sense, without the prior step being taken first.
For instance, hiring an "SEO expert" is problematic - at best - if you have no clue what they are doing, or don't have the basic understanding yourself.
I was burnt 3 times before I finally found someone who was understandable, AND delivered. the 3 first ones gave me nothing but a hole in my pocket.
So my suggestion is for you to do some personal research before investing in SEO.

I am the head Seo for Brokers Online and in my experiance the best SEO's ar ealways the orginaly innovators of a website.

Many times I have tried to bring people in to take over all or part of my workload and i every circumstance I ended up having to do the work myself.

I have 8 years experiance in Financial Services Seo in the Uk and whilst I won't claim to know it all I do know my fair share.

If I can't find a suitable replacement / lackey for me what hope does your average company have with little or no market experiance.

Go figure

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > The Big, Bad List of Pre-SEO Questions You Need to Answer, Part IV