Some time ago, there was a lot of buzz on why SEOs are not to be trusted, their job is worthless and they shouldn't be paid or something. As the matter is still important, most probably you'll find the post, clarifying the nuances of why the image of SEO is blurred, interesting.
What is SEO?
The most important moment to think about before calling someone out is to think what SEO really is:
- Is it just optimizing the meta tags?
- Is it about researching your customers?
- Is it about creating content?
- Or is it about spamming someone with emails, blog comments, forum posts or something?
- Who do you call a SEO?
As I said earlier, back in the days, SEO was about optimizing for the search engines. Now it is about providing ROI to the customers by means of researching the target market, creating valuable content for the website, promoting it and profiting in the process. And even then, it never stops with website usability, accessibility, copywriting and even web design. Now, every SEO at least knows how to do his .htaccess 301 redirect, I suspect - and that is something not everyone learns at school.
Sure, suppose, for a moment, that it is clear what a SEO does. But what is not SEO:
- e-mail, forum, blog, etc spamming
- promising heavens (guaranteed), getting paid and then not delivering (fraud)
- keyword stuffing, doorway pages or any other tactics, illegal with the search engines
So, even if you are spammed or deceived, that is not a SEO. Some spammy Indian company, promising you to increase your sales for $20, may call themselves a SEO company, but I seriously doubt they'll be able to develop and deliver a sound SEO strategy that'll last long enough to bring you profit.
Not everyone who claims to be a SEO is one
Though everyone can name him or herself a SEO, it doesn't make them such. Just optimizing meta tags and submitting to the seach engines, though once the SEO activity, now is the snow flake on the tip of the SEO iceberg (considering search engine submission is useless and may even be harmful - yes, harmful).
Alternatively, anyone who promises you give you a 1000% increase in sales in a month for $12.07 is more likely a scammer or a naive person at best, who only submits your site to the search engines or a couple of free directories to get your site indexed. As site indexing is only the minimum of the service, it isn't really a full blown SEO service.
If a SEO openly has a testament, a promise to his clients to deliver, it might be a sound chance that the SEO is an honest one. It doesn't say much about his capabilities, however, but at least you won't be lied to or mistreated (normally, SEOs shouldn't take the job they can't handle, too).
How do I identify a true SEO?
There are plenty of reasons to use ethical website promotion, but if you can't identify the one that can deliver results, you are out of luck. For example, a nice SEO:
- will not claim 100% guaranteed results, unless on a huge budget and you'll only pay for other paid services, not SEO
- will warn you of slow, even sluggish (if on a new site) results
- will focus on sales increase, not visitors, pageviews or even search engine hits (a very useless metric, indeed, as it includes search engine crawlers)
- can also recommend something on web design and development, copywriting, usability, accessibility and the overall marketing strategy
- will always view the project as a whole and will identify the starting point
- will not start working on a useless project or follow non-customer centric directions
- can and tries to explain everything in simple terms - sometimes too simple and generic, though
- if not hired, will recommend a number of other trusted SEOs
- will rarely take on new projects - unless on very beneficial conditions and a great relationship with the customer
- will always oversee the overall marketing strategy and integrate other marketing efforts into SEO and visa versa
A long proven record of successful clients is, probably, the best proof that your SEO is good enough. In fact, if your SEO can deliver long-term success to your business and make your customers happy, it doesn't matter how it is called.
Of course, there are other things to remember, when hiring a SEO, but, hopefully, you get the overall idea. The real SEO is focused on providing the most value to the customer. If the customer, the product or anything else stands in the way, he'll find another one. A true SEO is not so much interested in you forking out the cash, but in using his knowledge and skills to make a difference to the world.
If in doubt, a good way to check, whether the SEO is good, is to see his attitude to the job. What are his reasons to SEO? Seasoned SEOs usually have intangible values, while novices and less knowledgeable ones are usually interested with making a quick buck and learning in the process. Even more so, if you can feel they enjoy their work.
Yes, it can be a hard task for someone, who doesn't know SEO to hire a good SEO, because you need to know the basics of SEO to understand that. For this reason, you'd rather try to get referrals from other happy clients and SEOs you can trust to find the one you would like to work with.
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