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The Big, Bad List of Pre-SEO Questions You Need to Answer, Part V

We spent the first half of this series addressing questions of in-sourcing your search marketing efforts. We answered questions related to doing all the SEO yourselfSubbing out some of your SEO to a third party, hiring an in-house SEO with experience, ortraining someone to manage you SEO in-house. By running through this list and answering these questions for yourself you'll be able to make an informed decision on whether or not doing SEO in-house is the right course of action for you.
But before you go and and decide to do your SEO in-house, lets look at questions related to outsourcing your SEO campaigns. Being able to weigh the pros and cons of both paths will ensure you are seeing the bigger picture and understand the potential consequences before moving forward in either one direction or the other.

Questions I need answered if I outsource my search marketing

If you're not going to in-source then you have to outsource your campaign. This comes with it's own set of questions that must be considered before determining if this is the best choice for your company.
Question 33: Do I hire a firm or a consultant? When outsourcing your campaign this is the first big question you need to answer. Consultants and firms can act and re-act very differently, giving you more or less attention depending on the circumstances.
Question 34: Do I hire a SEM consultant? SEO/M consultants are, by and large, a one-man or -woman operation. Typically it's one person doing the job of many, or outsourcing tasks as needs arise. You typically only have to deal with one point of contact, so there is no getting lost in a maze of "who's in charge" but there is rarely every a "higher-authority" to appeal to if the contact isn't sufficiently meeting your needs.
Question 35: Can a consultant do everything I need or do I have to do it myself? More often than not, consulting means that you'll have to do most of the work yourself. The consultant is just there to, well, consult. They'll perform the necessary research in order to provide you a list of things that you need to do. You're paying them for the information they can provide you but the implementation of many of their findings will be entirely on you.
Question 36: Will a consultant have all the skills necessary to complete the job? As consultants are typically one-man operations this because a valid question. While there are many components to SEO that any one-person can become very accomplished at, there are some aspects that require more specialized education or expertise. One person can only do so much and be able to do it well.
Question 37: Will the consultant sub work out to other consultants? You need to know in advance what will happen if the SEM consultant you hired isn't particularly skilled at some areas that will be important to your success. Not all SEM consultants are experts in copywriting, PPC or link building. If you need work in one of these areas they will do one of three tings: 1) provide you with the recommendation to find an expert to manage it for you (yet another consultant to hire,) 2) they'll do the work themselves at a sub-par level, 3) they'll sub-the work out to people they trust.
Question 38: Will I be forced to pay additional fees sub-contractors? If additional sub-contractors get involved at the behest of the original contractor you hired you'll want to know who's paying their fees. Before you sign any contract find out if those fees are included in the original contracting quote or if their fees for service are an additional expense for you. This isn't somethign you want to be surprised by later.
Question 39: Will a consultant spend enough quality time on my account? Every person has their limitations. A single person can only spend so many hours a day on a single account. Most consultants manage more than one account at a time, which means they have to juggle all the work that needs to be done between them. This isn't necessarily a problem, provided the consultant knows their cap on how much work they can take on. However if they like the prospect of signing the next contract then this can lead to too much work and too little time. When that happens something has to give and you'll want to make sure it isn't you.
Question 40: Will I be able to get a hold of a consultant when I need them during business hours?Your SEO consultant should be available during business hours, but most people consult because it gives them freedoms they would not have in an office. That means that during business hours they may be homeschooling their kids, driving their kids to practice, out skiing, or sleeping because they do most of their work during the midnight hours. While most communications can be accomplished via email, it's nice to know that you can get in touch with the consultant when you need them. Make sure the consultant's hours of availability matches your communication comfort level.
The decision to hire a consultant isn't always an easy one. As we've seen, there are a lot of factors that must be considered before deciding a consultant will serve your needs better than a SEO firm would. In the next installment we'll look at the questions that pertain to hiring a firm, analyzing the pros and cons to help you get better understanding of what's in store if that's the route you choose.