What Is an SEO Consultant? Should You Hire One?

An SEO consultant analyzing Google Pagespeed Insights results with the text overlay SEO Consultants: What Do They Actually Do?

If you want to be successful online, search engine optimisation (SEO) is (or should be) a critical part of your marketing strategy. Businesses of all sizes need to ensure they have a strong online presence. And this means appearing in search results for terms your customers are using.

That’s where SEO consultants come into play.

The best SEO consultants help businesses improve their online visibility, with the primary goals of increasing organic traffic, conversion rates, and revenue for the business. SEO consultants achieve these goals by helping website owners with aspects like on-page SEO, technical SEO, and content strategy.

Below, I’ll go into more detail about the role of an SEO consultant (and what each of the terms above actually mean). I’ll explain why they can be the perfect fit for your business—and discuss cases where they might not.

Note: That last bit is important. I’m not trying to sell you a dream of hiring an SEO consultant and achieving all of your goals in very little time. That’s not how SEO works.

And it’s not how many businesses need to go about it. Some businesses (like large and complex ones) will be better off working with an agency. While many website owners can probably handle a lot of their SEO needs on their own.

But below, I’ll hopefully help you understand whether an SEO consultant is what you need.

What Do SEO Consultants Do?

SEO consultants (or SEO specialists) are experts at optimising websites to improve their visibility on search engines like Google. Their primary goal is to increase organic (non-paid) traffic to a website by improving its rankings in search results. This is usually tied to a wider goal of increasing conversions and growing the business’ revenue.

SEO consultants generally want to help you generate traffic/click trends like this:

Let’s walk through some of the key roles of an SEO consultant.

Note that not all consultants offer all of the same services. Some specialise in one area (like technical SEO), while others might specialise in a broader range of services, like content strategy.

Keyword Research & Analysis

One of the foundational tasks of an SEO consultant is keyword research. SEO specialists can identify the words and phrases that potential customers are using to search for products or services related to your business. Through extensive research and analysis, SEO consultants pinpoint the most relevant and high-impact keywords for your business.

They’ll find keywords worth targeting based on your website’s authority, your business’s goals, and the resources you have to devote to targeting them. They may use tools to do this, but the best SEOs can identify the key threads of a winning keyword strategy simply by assessing your business, your competitors, and the search results. They can then enhance things from there with hard data using some top SEO tools.

Terminology: Search results are often called SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages

On-Page Optimisation

Once your SEO consultant identifies the right keywords (or if you’ve already done that before hiring them), they might then work on optimising your website’s on-page elements. This includes optimising aspects like:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headers (H1, H2, H3 etc.)
  • Keyword optimisation
  • Internal linking

These are vital factors not just for ranking in search results. But also for providing value to your users. The best SEOs do both of these things well—not just the search engine part!

On-page SEO is one of the key areas website owners not well-versed in SEO get wrong, and a consultant will quickly be able to find issues with your on-page SEO. It’s also a common area covered by SEO audits. You can learn more about the SEO audit process in my video below:

Off-Page Optimisation

Unlike on-page SEO, off-page optimisations involve things that—you guessed it—are not on your website’s pages. The primary off-page element is backlinks, which are links from other websites to your content.

SEO consultants can employ various strategies to acquire high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. These backlinks can not only boost your site’s authority and lead to referral traffic, but they can also contribute to higher search engine rankings.

Note: Backlink building is its own industry, and you’ll find consultants that specialise in this alone. But that’s a conversation for another day!

Off-page efforts may also involve improving your wider online presence on other platforms (like social media), and getting citations (which are particularly important for local businesses). Because off-page SEO is such a vast arena on its own, it’s something many SEO consultants might not put much of their focus on.

Nailing backlink outreach and managing social media campaigns and getting citations for local businesses are all complex and resource-intensive tasks. While your SEO consultant may be able to audit these aspects of your business or provide high-level guidance, the actual implementation of off-page SEO strategies may require working with other people (or sinking a lot of time into it yourself).

Content Strategy

SEO consultants may also devise content strategies that focus on creating valuable, informative, and engaging content for your target audience. This content not only attracts visitors, but it can also help with natural link-building and improving your site’s overall search rankings.

This is because high-quality (“helpful”) content can help you build “authority” in your niche or industry. There is a lot to this though. It’s definitely not a case of more is always better.

Here’s what Google’s own documentation says about creating helpful content:

“Google’s automated ranking systems are designed to present helpful, reliable information that’s primarily created to benefit people, not to gain search engine rankings, in the top Search results.”

Say what you want about what Google says they reward compared to what they actually reward. But there are obviously other tangible benefits (aside from rankings) tied to creating content that provides value to your readers (i.e., your potential customers).

Some SEO consultants specialise in content strategy services. These might involve comprehensive audits of your existing content and that of your competitors. This analysis can help provide you with a roadmap of the kind of content you should produce if you want to improve rankings, drive traffic, and generate more sales.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is all about ensuring that your website operates smoothly and efficiently. Technical SEO consultants address issues such as site speed, mobile-friendliness, and crawlability to enhance user experience and make it easier for search engines to find your content. It also covers things like HTTP status codes, redirects, and other aspects that can be incredibly confusing for beginners.

Notice I said “technical SEO consultants“. While many SEO specialists will provide services on the technical side, there are dedicated technical SEO experts out there whose job it is to solely work with technical issues with websites. It (like link building) is its own industry.

If you have serious technical SEO issues with your site, a standard SEO audit might find them. But you may want to consider hiring a proper technical SEO to fix them.

Analytics & Reporting

Finally, SEO consultants may use various analytics tools to monitor the performance of your website. They might track keyword rankings, traffic trends, and user behavior to make data-driven decisions. Regular reporting helps you understand the impact of their (and your) efforts and lets you adjust strategies as needed, based on real data.

You’ll often hear the following tools being mentioned by SEO consultants, as they’re invaluable for various different things:

  • Google Analytics: For getting traffic data, broken down by sources, pages, and more
  • Google Search Console: This shows you information about your organic search performance
  • Semrush: Covers a huge range of aspects of SEO, from keyword research to listing management for local businesses
  • Screaming Frog: Great for auditing sites at scale and getting lots of useful data very quickly
  • Pagespeed Insights: A tool for finding out how fast your site loads (among many other finer details!)

SEO consultants can cover all of these areas or one in particular. Some may even specialise in even more nuanced areas.

But how do you know if you should hire one?

Do You Need to Hire an SEO Consultant?

Determining whether you should hire an SEO consultant isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision. There are many factors to consider, each playing a crucial role in evaluating whether the services of an SEO consultant align with your business needs. Let’s consider each factor in turn:

1. Your Business Goals

Consider what you aim to achieve with your online presence.

Are you looking to increase brand visibility, drive more organic traffic, generate leads, or boost online sales? SEO can contribute to all of these objectives, but the extent to which you need it may vary.

If your primary goal is to establish brand authority and visibility in a competitive market, investing in SEO is likely a good idea


If you have the budget and your primary goal is sustained sales with immediate effect, running paid advertising campaigns might be a more suitable option

Which brings us on to…

2. Budget Constraints

SEO consulting services can vary widely in cost (more on that later), depending on the complexity of your website, your industry, and the scope of work required. It’s important to assess your budget and determine whether you can allocate resources for ongoing SEO efforts.

If you have the budget, investing in SEO can yield great returns in the long-term, through sustainable traffic growth and high-quality content that drives conversions


It takes time to see results with SEO, and those with the budget that are in need of fast returns may want to consider other routes instead (such as paid ads)

If your budget is limited, you may consider starting with a smaller-scale SEO campaign and gradually scaling up as your business grows

“Limited” for some businesses could mean £100 a month or it could mean £5,000. The nature of the game is that for some sites, investing £500 per month in SEO could completely turn things around in the long-run. An optimised blog post could start ranking for high-value keywords, or a mini audit could highlight 3 or 4 critical issues that were preventing content from being crawled correctly (or indexed altogether!).

But for highly competitive industries, you might not see any meaningful gains without hiring a team of writers, editors, and an SEO agency for thousands of pounds a month.

3. Revenue Sources

Where your revenue comes from plays a significant role in your decision-making process. If a substantial portion of your revenue is generated online, such as through ecommerce sales or lead generation, then SEO becomes even more critical.

But even if you own a physical store, an SEO consultant can boost your physical sales by implementing proper local SEO tactics as well.

For businesses heavily reliant on online revenue streams, hiring an SEO consultant can be a sound investment


Businesses that make most or all of their money on other platforms, like Amazon or social media, might not need an SEO consultant

But adding Google as a potential revenue source may still be worth considering. And likewise, if you’re primarily focused on SEO and traffic from Google, you shouldn’t rule out investing in other sources if and when resources allow.

4. Competition in Your Industry

If you operate in a highly competitive market where many businesses are vying for the same audience, great SEO is probably a must if you want to rank for any valuable keywords. SEO consultants can help you stand out and gain an edge over your competitors.

In competitive industries, SEO is often a necessity to avoid being buried under the competition


This also means it may be time to invest in other channels, negating the need for an SEO consultant specifically (but you may need to hire social media managers or ecommerce experts instead)

5. In-House Expertise

Before thinking about hiring an SEO consultant, consider the expertise available within your organisation. Do you have in-house team members who are knowledgeable about SEO? If not, hiring an SEO consultant can provide you with the expertise needed to navigate the complex world of search engine optimisation.

Filling the knowledge gap is one of the main advantages of hiring a consultant. You don’t need to hire someone for a full-time position, and you get the benefits of their expertise on an ongoing basis.

If you lack internal SEO expertise, outsourcing to a consultant can be a strategic move to avoid common pitfalls (it can also save time and money spent training your existing staff)


If you or others in your team have the time to learn the basics yourself (and more advanced stuff later down the line), you might be able to tick all the important boxes without hiring someone else

6. Time and Commitment

SEO is an ongoing process that requires time and commitment. It’s not a quick fix but a long-term strategy. Assess whether you and your team can dedicate the necessary time and effort to implement and monitor SEO strategies effectively. If not, outsourcing it to a consultant can be a cost-effective way to improve your online presence without taking your focus away from other core business tasks.

If you have limited time and resources to manage SEO on your own, a consultant can handle the heavy lifting


It can still take time to implement their guidance and fix issues that arise, or to implement strategies they provide

7. Measurable Results

Consider your ability to measure the results of your SEO efforts. Are you equipped with the tools and knowledge to track keyword rankings, website traffic, and conversions? SEO consultants can provide valuable insights through analytics and reporting, often using tools that might not be worth shelling out for yourself.

If you want data-driven results and the ability to track ROI, an SEO consultant can provide the necessary tools and reports


You can get a lot of this data yourself, either for free (with tools like Google Analytics) or with varying levels of investment (like Screaming Frog or Semrush)

Now an important question:

Do you hire a consultant or an agency?

SEO Consultant vs SEO Agency

SEO consultants are better suited to some businesses, while others will see the best results from an agency. If I had to sum it up in a (long) sentence:

Small sites and new businesses might prefer working with a consultant for the hands-on, personal approach, while the complex needs of a big business or enterprise might need the wider resources and expertise offered by many agencies.

Let’s compare the two in more detail:

AspectSEO ConsultantSEO Agency
Expertise and FocusSpecialised in SEO with a deep understanding of the field. Often have specific niches of expertise.Typically offer a range of digital marketing services, including SEO, and may have a broader skill set to tap into.
Personalised AttentionTypically provide more personalised and one-on-one attention to your business.May work with many clients simultaneously, and you may be working with various people at different times.
CostCosts can vary but may be more flexible and customisable based on your budget and needs.May have more structured pricing models and potentially higher upfront costs. But this definitely isn’t always the case.
Flexibility and AgilityCan quickly adapt to changes and adjust strategies based on your specific requirements.May have more structured processes and timelines, which can limit flexibility. But again, not always the case.
CommunicationDirect and regular communication with the SEO consultant, fostering a close working relationship.Communication may go through account managers or project coordinators, leading to less direct contact with the SEO team.
ScalabilityMay be better suited for smaller to mid-sized businesses with specific SEO needs.Often equipped to handle larger, ongoing projects and serve a broader range of clients.
Access to ResourcesLimited to the consultant’s expertise, tools, and network of contacts.Access to a wider pool of talent, tools, and resources within the agency.

Note that the table above is just a general guide. You’ll find agencies out there that are incredibly specialised and provide a highly personalised service, just like you’ll find consultants that work exclusively with massive brands.

If you’re unsure which is right for you, I’d be happy to help you decide! You can visit my contact page to find out more.

Next up, let’s discuss the big question of cost.

How Much Does SEO Consultancy Cost?

The cost of SEO consultancy can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the scope of work, the expertise of the consultant, and the competitiveness of your industry. SEO consultancy services are also offered through various pricing models. Here’s an overview of common pricing structures for SEO consultancy:

Hourly Rate

Many SEO consultants charge an hourly rate for their services. Hourly rates can range from £/$30 to £/$200 or more per hour, depending on the consultant’s experience and expertise.

This pricing model is suitable for businesses with specific, one-time SEO needs or those looking for occasional guidance.

Monthly Retainer

SEO consultants often work on a monthly retainer basis, where you pay a fixed amount each month for ongoing services.

These fees can vary a lot, ranging from a few hundred dollars to £/$5,000 or more per month, depending on the consultant’s skill level and the scope of work. And of course the size of the business.

This model is ideal for businesses seeking continuous SEO support and strategy development. And for those that value the working relationship they can foster with a consultant by working together over the long-term.

Project-Based Pricing

Some SEO consultants offer project-based pricing, where they provide a specific set of services for a predefined fee. This is typical for things like audits and other project-style bits of work.

Project-based pricing can range from a few hundred pounds/dollars for small projects like website audits to several thousand for comprehensive SEO campaigns.

This approach suits businesses with well-defined SEO projects or goals.

Performance-Based Pricing

In some cases, SEO consultants may offer performance-based pricing, where their fees are tied to the results they achieve, such as improved rankings or increased organic traffic.

This model can involve a base fee plus performance-based bonuses when specific milestones are reached.

Beware: Performance-based SEO can be a risky endeavor. Less reputable consultants and agencies that offer this may purposefully select lower-value goals to make it easier for them to get paid. They may also use techniques that go against Google’s guidelines in order to achieve these goals.

How to Choose an SEO Consultant

Choosing the right SEO consultant is a critical decision for your business, as their expertise can significantly impact your online visibility and success. To make an informed choice, here’s a quick-fire guide to selecting an SEO consultant:

  1. Define your goals: This will help you understand if you need a consultant, an agency, or someone else entirely
  2. Assess your budget: This can limit your access to specific expertise, with top consultants coming in at top prices
  3. Seek recommendations: We don’t all know other people that have hired SEO consultants, so you can turn to social media and forums too
  4. Evaluate their experience and expertise: Run a quick search on Google and see what comes up, and decide if it seems they know what they’re doing
  5. Request evidence of success: Not all can or will share details of past clients, but they should be able to point to evidence of why you should hire them
  6. Shop around: Don’t just go for the first one you see, and get quotes from multiple consultants if you can to understand what you can get for your money
  7. Start with a smaller project: Consider starting with a smaller-scale job before you drop £/$3,000 on an audit with someone you don’t know!

Why You Should Hire Chris Hanna as Your SEO Consultant

I offer SEO consultancy services through this website with the goal of providing a highly personalised package for individuals and businesses of all shapes and sizes. I’ve been working in the SEO industry since 2019, and I’ve learned what does and doesn’t work (often the hard way). I’ve also learned to quickly analyse websites for opportunities.

I immerse myself in SEO and content production every day, and this has helped me lock down the essential skills and knowledge to help others grow their online presence.

I offer a range of services, from SEO audits to ongoing consultancy. I can tailor packages and pricing to your needs and budget, so if you need SEO assistance, get in touch with me today!