Just about everyone knows something about SEO, but how do you know you’re getting an expert and not a con-man? Most small business owners report having such bad experiences with search engine optimization they often are tempted to ignore SEO altogether.
Don’t cut your nose to spite your face. It’s a no win situation.
So how do you stay ahead of the competition and employ the right people and practices?
Having the right type of search engine optimization means your website is:
- Easily accessible to Google, and
- Engages your target customers
That is why it’s so important to get the right person who understands the delicate balance of creative and technical skills while attending to your needs and every relevant aspect of SEO.
So how do you spot the right people to help you implement the best SEO strategy? It may be easiest to help you avoid the people you should not work with. Does any of this sound familiar?
As you begin looking for an SEO professional, keep a look out for, and avoid at all costs, these shady characters.
The SEO Illusionist
These “experts” read one article on a search engine optimization blog like Moz or KISSmetrics and believe they are capable of implementing a complete SEO strategy for any business.
Warning signs to look out for:
- Promises the world: “I can get you to the top of the Google search in a week.” This is often a grandiose gesture made by amateurs who don’t understand the process on top of the strategy.
- Talks in generalities: “Your ranking is dependent upon the way that site crawlers view your content.” When people use jargon you don’t fully understand and skip over detailed explanations, it’s usually because they don’t fully understand it themselves.
- Offers quick fixes. Don’t let these smooth talkers trick you into quick and easy backlinks which are hyperlink from one web page to another website. These are often flagged by Google as not natural and will actually hurt your long-term SEO ranking.
These conmen will spew well-written jargon they copied word-for-word from the Internet. They are often peddling knowledge and know-how they do not effectively possess.
Fast Talking Expert
These “techsperts” provide you with a generic and confusing strategy for SEO so they can take your money and get out quick. A lot of time these people know exactly what they are talking about and bank on you knowing very little.
They use your naivety to trick you into paying for information without implementation.
To be clear, they often know how to speak about the technical side of SEO quite well, but because they are scheming with no intention of helping you do the actual work, they often escape without making any actual improvements.
Catch them in their own trap by:
- Listening for general yet impressive words. They will throw out phrases like “content optimization,” “crawler bots,” and “link building” without offering any follow up explanation or process for taking action. The generic strategies they employ usually just turn into talking and getting out of dodge before it is time to follow through with implementation.
- Looking for empty personal portfolios. “Techsperts” will often cite general industry statistics and anything else that makes them look good without actually having any personal track record of results. They offer menial thoughts but no real foundation for business results.
They have a lot of knowledge but not a lot of know-how. They aren’t interested in the outcomes or in the process. They’ll make sure they get paid before you realize they’re only selling hopes and dreams.
The Friendzoned SEO Strategist
There are often SEO professionals that mean well, and truly believe their limited experience with SEO is good enough.
- You probably trust them because you have some connection to them already. They’re a family member or a friend of a friend. They really want to help.
- However, these experts are usually quite one-dimensional; their lack of foresight often sets them on the path of solving the wrong problems. Unless yours is the one path they are skilled in, you won’t be seeing more website visitors anytime soon.
Friendzoned SEO strategists tend to focus on what SEO is intended for and how it helps businesses but nothing specific to your unique problem or situation. They think there is one answer to one problem and never account for any differences.
Watch out for these sneaky indicators:
- They do SEO for a single company as their day job: Chances are they’re not responsible for most of the results they’re creating. If they have a team of content writers helping them in their day job, they might expect the same assistance from you.
- They have helped people in the past and have a lot of experience, but it is not broad and has no diversity: These “strategists” might recommend an e-commerce SEO strategy to an accounting firm.
- They’ll be doing your work on nights and weekends: The best SEO professionals have figured out how to make a full time business out of their abilities. Everyone else hasn’t, and there’s probably a reason for that.
The Friendzoned strategist will usually come with good recommendations in a single industry or situation. Maybe they only work with large businesses, or maybe only one type of business. Make sure you fit their profile for success before you open your checkbook.
To help you avoid these shady characters, we’ve prepared a short checklist of questions you can take to your first meeting, before you make any promises.
When meeting a new SEO professional for the first time, be prepared to find common ground so you know you’re compatible mates.
➢ What have been your greatest SEO successes and failures? What did you learn from the failures?
- You ask this question in order to vet their experience. Any great professional knows that you get to be great at what you do by making mistakes and learning from them. When they answer, observe if they stumble around and avoid the question or inevitably say they have “never made a mistake” (run – it’s a trap!)
➢ Why did those failures occur and were you able to fix the problem?
- You ask this to make sure they aren’t still struggling with these questions. If they give an answer in a generality such as “well, you never really fix them you just avoid them” or a vague answer, it’s a sign they still don’t know how to fix them.
➢ What SEO tools do you use?
➢ How will you connect with new online marketing partners?
- Most SEO professionals will recommend engaging new online partners either to build backlinks or to syndicate your content around the web.
➢ What will I need to do to make you successful as our SEO professional?
- This is often where the rubber hits the road. You may learn that you are expected to actually do everything yourself, they are just there to give advice. Or you may learn that you’ll need to start writing a new blog post every day, and you haven’t got that kind of time.
➢ What business have you done SEO for that is most similar to mine? Can I speak with them about the results you generated for them?
- Avoid hiring a general expert, or an expert in something that looks nothing like your business. And if you ask to speak with the reference before they tell you about the results, you’ll usually get better information the first time around.
There is no reason to get caught with the SEO nightmares if you understand how to spot these losers. While you look for the right person to match your company’s needs, capabilities, and marketing team, make sure you are aware of those who misrepresent themselves and their skills. You need to dig deep and find out if the person you’re considering is the perfect match for YOUR business. The “SEO Illusionist” will never have your company take precedent over his or her own ego and interest. The “Fast Talking Expert” will wine you and dine you then get out when the going gets tough. The “Friendzoned SEO Strategist” might be an easy choice but not always the right choice. It’s okay to want to expose these people because if you don’t, they will just go around making other businesses miserable. There is no magical and quick formula for the perfect SEO. Your strategy doesn’t have to be right for everyone, just you.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community