Editor’s Note – We all know how people append their names with the word ‘SEO’ thinking it will make them a SEO expert. In fact, a ‘SEO expert’ crops out from everywhere. So when Henry contacted me to write a guest post for this blog, I checked out his background and knew he would be an authority person to deal with our topic – ‘fake SEO’ vs ‘real SEO’ expert. Keep reading.
We’ve all been there (including myself). We are looking for a vendor to help out with our internet marketing but don’t know how to sift through the garbage and find a diamond we can work with comfortably. We are scared to throw hard-earned money in the gutter, but want to invest our monies with the right person or company.
SEO is by far a clean and reputable industry. Since the beginning, SEO has been full of ‘fly by night’ SEO’ers, scam artists, get rich quick schemes, and hundreds of e-book’s selling SEO success.
Today we are going to read about how to distinguish between fake and real SEO Experts, what to look for, how to question them, and what to ask. There are some of you who will not like what you read because it involves a little bit of work on your part. Unless you have a strong referral from a close friend, you must take into consideration the following 4 points noted below. These are up to date and printed as of March 2013.
1. Educate Yourself on SEO
For starters, you’ll want a solid foundation on SEO. A good place to start is to read up on Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. It’s a great PDF and your starting place for sifting through quality SEO experts vs. the fakes.
Here are a few SEO Basics to Use for Hiring:
- Create unique and accurate page titles
- Use the description meta tag
- Ensure your website is easy to navigate
- Offer quality content that will educate your users
- Use headings and sub-headings
- Optimize your images and media
- Create a robots.txt file
- Create and notify Google of a mobile site
- Use GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) according to Google
You can translate the above into questions to validate your expert SEO’s experience to determine whether or not he/she is a fake. Alternatively (and what I would personally do) copy and paste the above ‘SEO Basics’ into an email, let them know you got the above guidelines from Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, and ask them what are they going to do about it.
To get a broad understanding of how Google works you can watch this great video by Matt Cutts explaining “How Search Works”:
2. Beware of SEO Scams
Scams are usually due to a knowledge gap either between the client and the “SEO Expert” or vice versa. If you are reading this article, there should be no knowledge gap between YOU and the “SEO Expert” as you should have a solid foundation after reading Google’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.
8 Time Tested SEO Scams That Will Never Die:
- Guaranteed rankings
- Submitting websites to thousands of search engines
- 1,000 directory links for $99.99
- Promises of 1st page rankings in Google within Hours
- They “know” someone at Google
- Methods that are “secrets”
- They have essentially “cracked” Google’s algorithm
- Installing any scripting software on your web server (i.e. link directories)
Why are the above listed as scams? Guaranteed rankings do not exist, if you can crack Google’s algorithm you’d be working for Google. Google is more worried about quality than quantity. Nobody who is anybody would claim to have an inside “man” with Google, their security is almost as tight as the FBI. If a company is not willing to be transparent with you then run far away.
3. Ask For References – and Contact them
I would highly suggest requesting a few references you can contact and get more information on the SEO Expert you are thinking of hiring. If the SEO expert is a veteran in the industry but a ‘green ear’ when it comes to the Freelance or B2B world then you can always have them do the work for free in exchange for a reference, testimonial, or video testimonial.
Consider asking references the following questions:
- How did you hear about the said SEO Expert?
- How would you rate the communication and keeping up to date with campaign changes?
- How long until you saw results?
- How do you rate your success with the said SEO Expert? How is it tracked? (rankings, traffic, conversions, etc.)
- Would you recommend them to a non-competing B2B company such as myself?
- If you can request 1 change with the said SEO Expert, what would it be?
- What are you most satisfied with working with the said SEO Expert?
Social Media & SEO Parallax
SEO is currently taking a hybrid channel focus between Social and SEO. Yes, it is now a standard practice to integrate some sort of Social Media campaign into your SEO efforts. At the very minimum you are going to HAVE to create social profiles, link both to a from them on your home page, and update your blog regularly. When updating your blog, your social profiles should automatically be updated as well. This is standard SEO practice and should not be left out of any SEO campaign from 2013 on.
To conclude, we agreed that we must first educate ourselves with the SEO basics from Google themselves with their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, watch for the time-tested scams offered from SEO’s since its inception, ask for references, and lastly ensure that you always get a custom-made SEO campaign, inclusive of a multi-channel focus with Social Media.