8 Tips for Avoiding an SEO Fraudster
Yesterday, I sat in a meeting with an SEO consultant for about six hours listening to him discuss his philosophy of search engine optimization. Since we started in 1999, we have relied heavily on SEO, but in the last few years, really have struggled. Here are some random things I have learned over this time.
1. The SEO industry is full of consultants that are either incompetent or crooked. How many? I would guess well over 90%. As a result, there is an unbelievable amount of noise in the industry that makes it almost impossible to actually get to the truth. If you want to hire an SEO consultant or contract out your SEO, I feel for you. We as a rule do not do that, so I really cannot make any good recommendations. We have hired for short periods of time some of the top names in the industry, but have in general, been disappointed.
2. It goes without saying that some of the most visible people in the SEO industry are not visible because they really understand SEO but because they are good at marketing themselves. Be wary of any information you read.
3. There ARE real SEO experts out there. However, as a rule, they are not sharing their secrets because they are applying them to their own sites and making enormous amounts of money doing it.
4. An SEO expert in 2001 is not necessarily an expert in 2007. In the early years, there were very simple formulas that would practically guarantee top rankings. Many SEO “experts” came out of that era and have no clue how to generate rankings in today’s world. When interviewing SEO consultants, make sure and ask for their current success stories.
5. When you talk to an SEO consultant and he/she seems focused on specific little things on your site such as keyword density, meta tags, etc., move on. If he/she seems overly focused on inbound links, move on. If he/she is focused on implementing a strategy that makes people want to come to your site and stay there, you may have found one of the few SEO experts that know what they are talking about.
6. A good SEO strategy predicts where the search engines are going and moves a web site in that direction. It is obvious that search engines are getting smarter and will continue to do so. At some point, search results are going to be very relevant. That means that you need to make your site as relevant as possible if you want consistent rankings in the future.
7. Gimmicks, shady manipulation, and tricks may work in the short term but are not a legitimate strategy for sites that you really care about. Also, be careful of over-optimization. Analyzing your top ranked competitors and trying to imitate their keyword density, weighting, etc. is a waste of time.
8. SEO is going to continue to require more and more resources to do well. Small SEO budgets are just not going to cut it in competititive industries in the near future. In spite of that fact, for the present at least, SEO is still a far better investment than CPC for most industries.