REAL Professional SEO Specialists Don’t Have a Bad Name!

Just about any industry has an element within it that gives the others a bad name – doctors, auto mechanics, contractors, policemen… don’t even get me started about politicians and lawyers! The difference is usually just in the percentage of the total that fall shy of the mark.

wikipedia-expertI’m sorry to say that SEOs are no different – we have our bottom-feeders, too. I suppose that’s not surprising, since the barrier to entry is almost non-existent. All someone has to do is learn a few buzzwords and they can claim to be an SEO consultant.

Of course, claiming and surviving are two different things. Most of the people that pretend to be SEOs, without really having any understanding of what it means, don’t last long. That’s a good thing. The sad part is, that they often do severe, sometimes irreparable, damage to the unfortunate website owners who fall for their pitch.

Who’s to Blame?

I’ve participated in a lot of discussions with my colleagues about the question of who’s to blame when a so-called SEO tanks someone’s livelihood… the consultant or the pigeon that hired him. I think the consensus is that they’re both to blame.

The really crappy consultant (even calling these craphats “consultants” makes me want to throw up a little) usually knows that he’s pitching a line of bull. He just wants the customer’s money. The fact that he doesn’t have a clue about how to do what’s necessary isn’t lost on him – he just doesn’t care.

Of course, there may be a few that honestly believe they’re knowledgeable enough to do the client some good, even though six months ago, they had never even heard the term SEO. I suspect there aren’t many in that category though. I mean, you have to be pretty dense to be around for six months and not realize how much there is to learn before you can consider yourself competent.

two-faced-expertMost of our discussions focus on how to overcome the bad reputation that’s caused by the disasters caused by these errant SEOs. Opinions range between:

  • “just do your job well”
  • “educate the public”
  • “out ‘em whenever you can”
  • “hunt ‘em down and feed ‘em to the wolves”
    (okay, that last one’s mine).

Realistically, though, I don’t think there’s much we can do about them directly. I think a little of each of the first three is probably the only way to combat it.

Let’s be honest, the craphats deserve anything that happens to them, but what about the site owners? Do they get a pass for entrusting their business to a stranger without checking them out first? Sorry, but I can’t buy that. They deserve some of the blame, too.

So how does a site owner that has little to no knowledge of what an SEO does go about choosing a provider that’s not going to do more harm than good? Granted, it’s a challenge, but it’s not as bad as you might think.

Finding a Reputable SEO Specialist

There are many things to consider when choosing your SEO specialist, so I’m not going to go into great detail here. However, I do want to mention one thing that I feel is particularly important.

charlatanThe best indication of any service provider’s worth will normally be the results they’ve delivered in the past, with the best source of that information being site owners for whom they’ve worked. SEOs usually work under an NDA, which prohibits them from disclosing any information about their client, but in my experience, the majority of satisfied clients are willing to respond to a query about their SEO’s results when asked to.

Personally, if a provider either can’t or won’t approach past clients to get clearance for you to speak with them, I’d keep looking. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll usually have a number of clients eager to sing their praises. I’d suggest speaking to at least three, and have some probing questions prepared before you contact them.

Take the time to select carefully. Inform yourself as much as you can, so that you have realistic expectations and can judge your SEO’s performance fairly. We’re not all charlatans, but we’re not all experts, either. Sadly, just like with any other profession, it’s a mix.

Don’t lock yourself into a year-long commitment until you’ve had an opportunity to see if your SEO can deliver what he or she promises. But understand, too, that you’re unlikely to see any results in less than three months, regardless of your niche. If you play in an especially competitive arena, it may take much longer to see any significant improvement.

Your business type will also have a bearing on how long it will take to see the needle move. Small business SEO services and enterprise SEO services, aside from demanding different skill-sets, can also have different timelines.

The Bottom Line

The responsibility for website owners to receive quality service doesn’t rest on just one set of shoulders.

  • Site owners need to protect themselves by making intelligent, informed decisions;
  • SEOs that don’t possess the necessary skills need to stop trying to fleece customers or learn at their expense;
  • SEOs that see others acting in a way that gives the profession a bad name need to call them on it, while helping to both educate site owners and help new SEOs that want to learn how to do the job right.

Are you ready to do your part?

About Sheldon Campbell

Doc Sheldon is co-founder of Top Shelf Copy – a content strategy and SEO services firm with offices in San Diego, California, and Albany, New York – where he specializes in technical SEO and Content Strategy. Doc has over 30 years experience in marketing and professional journalism bolstering his 9 years online marketing background. In addition to his primary interest – the Semantic Web and the technologies to achieve that end – Doc also performs organic search optimization services for Top Shelf’s clients worldwide, specializing in content strategy services.

Comments

  1. It is same scenario when it comes to development of a website or management of a website. You are right that every one nowadays just wants to learn a few basic punch lines for that industry and self proclaims themselves as the experts in that field.

  2. Hi doc
    Do you think that some of the good guys got caught up in the so called now black hat tactics a while a go and now have got caught out as much as the fly by night characters who were trying to fleece people’s pockets. Because some of the tactics were then thought acceptable and the way to go. Or should they of known then that these tactica were not going to last.????

    Thanks lee

  3. Thanks for the great tips there. I am running my own blog. Your tips will be handy for me. :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Just about any industry has an element within it that gives the others a bad name – doctors, auto mechanics, contractors, policemen… don't even get me started about politicians and lawyers! The d…  [...]

  2. [...] REAL Professional SEO Specialists Don’t Have a Bad Name! [...]

  3. [...] Just about any industry has an element within it that gives the others a bad name – doctors, auto mechanics, contractors, policemen… don't even get me started about politicians and lawyers! The d…  [...]

  4. [...] Doc Sheldon discusses why “REAL Professional SEO Specialists Don’t Have a Bad Name!” at Level 343. [...]

  5. [...] Doc Sheldon discusses why “REAL Professional SEO Specialists Don’t Have a Bad Name!” at Level 343. [...]

  6. [...] Just about any industry has an element within it that gives the others a bad name – doctors, auto mechanics, contractors, policemen… don't even get me started about politicians and lawyers! The d…  [...]

  7. [...] Just about any industry has an element within it that gives the others a bad name – doctors, auto mechanics, contractors, policemen… don't even get me started about politicians and lawyers! The d…  [...]

Speak Your Mind

*