The following are five questions I believe are important for you to ask and discuss with your SEO consultant, so you may both be on the same page on what SEO can do for your firm and, thus, which goals you can set.

1. What is SEO and how does it work?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, I would say SEO is how you learn to understand the black box of Google and use it to your advantage. A big part of SEO involves marking up all your website’s many pages with specific information.

This information is important, as it communicates to Google and other search engines what you do, what you offer, where you are located and what is the main point of a given page, so they can serve it up in their search index for the most appropriate search query.

2. Why do I need SEO and what will it do for my firm?

Organic search is widely considered to be the highest converting marketing channel available to a business, with paid search coming in second. The premise of SEO is highly lucrative from an ROI point of view—once you achieve a first page ranking for a given keyword, the traffic will come into your website on an ongoing basis at no cost to your business.

Therefore, you will often hear marketers refer to SEO as the “gift that keeps on giving” as compared to a traditional paid advertising model that will permanently cost you by the click or by the views that an ad generates.

SEO is even more crucial for local businesses. Great SEO will get you onto the first page of any search engine in your local area for the search terms relevant to your business, such as “remodeler near me” or “home renovation near me.” But achieving that first-page ranking for a local market can be a tall order.

3. How long does it take to optimize a website for SEO?

There is one key question that will determine how long an SEO consultation will take: Have you ever optimized your website for your target search terms and/or Google’s algorithm before?

Scenario 1 – SEO has never been a priority, and this is your first time working with an SEO specialist.

If you are starting with SEO from the ground up, a consultation may take a good chunk of time; three to four months could be a safe estimate. The specialist will need to achieve several key things for you (and if they are not mentioning any of the below steps, that should be a big red flag):

  1. They will help you define your target keywords based on your business and the market you serve. Doing this will require the specialist to conduct “keyword research” before delivering a target keyword list that outlines the top terms your target buyer is typing into Google.
  2. They will perform some technical improvements and audit your website to make sure it is up to Google’s standards from a web development point of view.
  3. They will give you a roadmap of new content/web pages that you need to publish on your website to target those keywords.
  4. They will help you optimize that content once it is ready to be published.
  5. They will help set you up in Google Search Console (Google’s homegrown SEO platform) and make sure that your website is being found correctly by Google’s web crawlers.

Scenario 2 – You have worked with an SEO consultant in the past, but you would like to improve your current performance.

In this scenario, the consultant should be doing more of a “tune-up.” They will still likely conduct a technical audit, and they may want to review and improve on your existing keyword target list. In this scenario, the work should require a month or two.

4. What is the benefit of having an SEO consultant over tasking it in-house?

As mentioned previously, today we are at a time where standards and processes regarding the internet and technology practically change overnight. Many experts estimate that Google changes its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times in a given year. As a professional, how often do you recommend that a homeowner do the project by themselves? Your clients are looking for an expert in remodeling, and you should be looking for an expert in SEO.

5. What is the ROI on SEO?

Your ROI on SEO is so much more than dollars because if your business cannot be found, there are no dollars. SEO also saves you a lot of time and has completely changed the sales process. Before, the initial sales call was often the first interaction a client would have with your business.

Therefore, you needed to dress to impress and bring your presentations and portfolios to make that deal. Now on that initial sales call, the client has most likely already vetted you online, and you can move quickly through the initial introductions and start to discuss the details of the project. Thus, this also means that a much higher percentage of these sales calls are converting to revenue.

But if you want to know the dollar amount, take all the leads you have received from your website that are search-engine-based and find out the dollars generated by the sale of those leads in design and construction for the past year. The total dollar value of your sales is your ROI.

Final Thoughts

Search Engine Optimization is a necessity for any business. The ROI on SEO has so much more value than dollars sold because everyone needs to find you, even if it is just for your contact information. QR

Christopher K. Landis, AIA, owns Landis Construction in Washington, D.C. He brings 30 years of remodeling design, construction and management experience to this series of columns for the magazine. You can reach him at

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