You have decided to hire an SEO consultant to catapult your website pages to the top of the search engines. What should you look for and what should you avoid? How do you ensure you are hiring a reputable company and you are going to get your moneys worth? These are important questions that require answers before you hire anyone to represent you online as it is too important to leave to chance. Search engine optimization, (SEO), is an art and there are definite tactics that work. The secret is finding a consultant that understands how search engines work and will utilize the appropriate steps to get you results. Through a campaign of keyword rich content, link building and even paid advertising any site can see their page rank improved. There are companies out there that use cheap shortcuts and the results are never as promised. As a matter of fact, they can get your pages banned on the major search engines which can hurt your business. The most important first step is a visit to the Better Business Bureau, whether over the telephone or online. There is also an online service called http://seoconsultants.com that will provide you with information regarding reputable consultants and companies. Take the time to research your consultant before you make an agreement. It makes sense to search for an SEO consultant through the search engines. If they are as good as they say they are, their page rank should be high. This is should not be the deciding factor as to their success rate but take it into consideration. Unfortunately, there are SEO consultants who use dirty tricks that may offer short term success but the search engines are getting better and better at catching them. They can and will ban your page for life if you are caught cheating the system. Google for instance will scan your pages and they like 2% keyword saturation that makes sense on the page. If you just wrote a keyword over and over with no context, you may see a temporary rise in page rank but then before you know it you are banned. You can go to site:www.companyurl.com to search for the links the consultant has employed to link back to their sites. If they are using links that are from unrelated industries, that is yet another red flag. A comprehensive link building campaign is not effective if the links have no relevance. If you are a car salesman wanting to improve your page rank, including links on a skin care website may fool the search engines for a short time but is not a long term effective strategy. Arming yourself with all the information to make an informed decision can save you a lot of wasted time and money. Remember you should not be afraid to ask any consultant you are interviewing about the tactics they employ. You should be able to judge how they feel about the dirty trick campaigns. They are competing against these people only they are playing fair so they will know all about your concerns and empathize.