5 essential qualities to look for when hiring an SEO coach

Follow along with our free guide

Thinking about working with an SEO coach? There are a few things to know before hiring one if you want to avoid making a costly mistake.

Let’s face it: SEO is extremely broad and there is a sliding scale in quality. As they say, you get what you pay for.

Sure, every consultant’s website makes bold claims as to the results they can provide and may even have a few customer quotes to boot - but how do you make sure you’re hiring the right SEO coach for your business?

If you’ve been burned by SEO before, it can be especially difficult, which is why we’re answering this question and more with our top 5 things to look for when hiring an SEO coach.

What is an SEO coach?

You may have heard, or even have worked with, an SEO freelancer/consultant, but what is an SEO coach? And what does a coach provide that freelancers and agencies don’t?

Here’s a definition I use with Centori:

An SEO coach works with business owners to understand their goals, values, and customers and then guides them to build and implement strategy that meets their goals as efficiently as possible.

To put in “marketing terms” we view our coaches as a sort of guide, helping marketers and business owners understand SEO and build a successful strategy.
In other words, rather than do everything for you in a black box, an SEO coach works with you to build an SEO strategy and teach you along the way.

Rather than muck around trying to wade through the world of SEO, an SEO coach helps you build a plan suited perfectly for your goals and guides you along the way to ensure you stay on track.

SEO is a collaborative effort. As a result, our coaches walk through the fundamentals of SEO with you, and explore advanced SEO topics together with your team.
Now that you know what an SEO coach is, how do you know you’re hiring the right one for your business? We’ll walk you through 5 qualities to look for when hiring an SEO coach to ensure you’re making the right decision for your business.

5 qualities to look for in an SEO coach

Remember that sliding scale of quality, no two coaches are the same so it’s important to evaluate a coach before hiring them. Anyone can write up a website page saying how great they are, but they can’t fake the following qualities.

Here are 5 qualities that we recommend looking for when choosing an SEO coach for your business.

1) A good SEO coach has experience

A good SEO coach absolutely must be experienced.

These days, anyone can read a few blog posts and start consulting by giving out that same generic advice they read online. Sure, they might not charge much but they also do not have hands-on experience and won’t be able to effectively help you navigate the murky waters of SEO.

A good SEO coach has seen a thing or two. They’re able to be your expert guide through the highs and lows of SEO because they’ve gone down that road many times themselves.

At Centori, we know a thing or two about SEO because we have the hands-on experience. Personally, I’ve been doing SEO for 10+ years and have coached dozens of businesses who came to Centori to learn SEO and build a unique and effective SEO strategy. You can rest assured you’re not getting advice because a blog post told us what to do, you’re getting advice because we know it will work for your business.

That knowledge can only come with experience though, so make sure you’re hiring a coach who has been around the block a few times!

2) A good SEO coach understands where SEO fits into your business

A good SEO coach understands that SEO is one piece of a robust marketing strategy and that it must move your business forward towards your goals.

Look, I’m an SEO geek.

I read textbooks about SEO, build websites in my spare time, and scour the internet for new trends and tactics to experiment with. But even I realize that SEO is only one piece of the puzzle.

As I always tell our clients, SEO gets people through the door to your website but then you need to get them to buy from you. A good SEO coach can speak to more than just SEO, but where SEO fits into the overall marketing funnel for your business.

At the end of the day SEO is only as useful as the new business it generates you. That’s why we work with every single client to understand their business, their goals, and what it will take to make SEO work for their business as a revenue generating machine.

3) A good SEO coach can think strategically and get into the nitty-gritty

The SEO game has changed, it’s going to take a lot more than a weekly blog to rank nowadays.

I’ve seen reports and audits from many SEO consultants and they are all the same: a generic audit and list of keywords from SEMRush that took 10 minutes to prepare yet costs the client thousands of dollars.

That’s not strategy. To be honest, I consider it mailing it in.

A good SEO coach will think strategically about your business, the competitive landscape on Google, and work with you to come up with a creative content strategy that gets you noticed by your customers. Again, it’s about building a larger marketing funnel that puts SEO to work for your business and generates revenue and not just traffic.

While an SEO consultant might gleefully point out the keywords that your website ranks for, a good SEO coach will work with you to establish where these activities support your business goals and your marketing funnel.

A good SEO coach does more than just tell you to blog more. They will work with you to generate the right kind of traffic, and help your business grow.

4) A good SEO coach communicates honestly

I’m cheating a bit by including two in one, but these are essential qualities in a good SEO coach.

Due to the collaborative and instructive nature of coaching, communication is critical. If you can’t communicate, you can’t coach - it’s as simple as that.

Working as a coach requires many forms of communication, from the group sessions I lead to one:one calls and personalized progress reports for each client, that’s a lot of communicating across mediums and circumstances.

A good coach will be able to communicate clearly, explaining complicated topics succinctly and working with you to ensure you understand and are making progress towards your goals.

A good coach definitely has to be honest as well.

Too many people in SEO sugarcoat or obfuscate things (in my opinion), which leads to distrust. After all, I’ve met vey few (lucky) people who absolutely gush over the SEO freelancer they hired.

SEO is an iterative process, we learn by experimenting so if something does not work out the way we had hoped, we do a disservice by putting rose colored glasses on it.

With everything we do, we communicate it clearly and honestly with our clients. It’s the only way we can help you grow your business, and we think it’s served our clients pretty darn well.

5) A good SEO coach is up-to-date on current best practices

SEO is constantly changing.

Google makes minor updates daily and major updates throughout the year. There are few certainties in life after all, death and Google completely changing the SEO game on a recurring basis.

As a result, SEO best practices are constantly changing, too. What worked 5 years ago may not work today, and often it doesn’t!

A good SEO coach keeps up to date on the latest trends in search, and is constantly studying and experimenting on their own websites to see what works and what doesn’t . This ensures that you can get the best and most current advice.

That’s what we preach, anyway. It’s why we’re running a series on ‘doing SEO from scratch’ documenting everything we do while building out a new website to ensure we’re up tp date on the SEO landscape and be as transparent as possible in our approach to SEO.

It goes without saying, a good SEO coach is serious about white hat SEO - if anyone offers black hat services, run in the opposite direction!

Are you ready to work with an SEO coach?

By now, you should be armed with everything you need to ensure you are picking the right SEO coach for your business.

Good news! You already have a major head start on your competitors, who are still chasing SEO tactics from 2003.

Choosing an SEO coach is not always easy, after all your ability to rank on Google is a critical piece of your business’ online growth. We understand that there’s a lot to figure out whether working with an SEO coach is the right more for your business, which is why we offer a free SEO consultation.

On the call, we’ll get to know you and your business and walk you through our proven framework for building an SEO strategy that gets results. It’s the same framework we’ve taken dozens of businesses through with great success and we want to share it with yours.

You can book a free consultation by filling out the form here, we hope to chat with you and help get you in front of your customers on Google!

Join hundreds of marketers to get exclusive SEO tips, guides, and resources in your inbox

We’re always sharing insights, findings, and case studies with our subscribers. Sign up to get our best SEO tips and advice in your inbox.