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7 Warning Signs You Might Not Be Dealing With An "SEO Expert"

7 Warning Signs You Might Not Be Dealing With An "SEO Expert"

By | 04.13.12
7 Warning Signs You Might Not Be Dealing With An "SEO Expert"
Picture of an SEO Expert

With so many today claiming to be “SEO experts”, I thought I’d put together a list of things to watch out for. While true experts are few and far between, many people try to sound smarter than they actually are.

This is problematic for industry veterans like myself, because it hurts the credibility of the entire industry.

Here’s 7 Signs you might not be dealing with an “SEO Expert”…

1. They guarantee #1 rankings

I’ll be honest with you, nobody can guarantee rankings, outside of people who work for Google of course. You should be dealing with someone who measures success in terms of ROI, traffic growth, conversions, and leads.

The job of an SEO consultant is to advise you of best practices, which over time will improve your rankings.

These improvements can be big or small, but nothing is guaranteed in a world where Google changes their ranking formulas daily.

2. They use scare tactics

Sure there are high stakes when it comes to SEO, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid. Some “experts” tell you that if you don’t work with them you risk being “banned” or “penalized”, in order to seal the deal.

The bottom line is fear shouldn’t play a role in your decision. Picking the most qualified and experienced individual should be the goal.

3. You can’t understand them

A good SEO should be a good communicator, because let’s face it there is plenty of room for confusion. If you can’t understand anything an “SEO expert” is saying, maybe they don’t even understand it themselves.

At its core, search engines want to find the best content out there on the web. It’s not rocket science, although the wrong person can certainly make it seem like it if you aren’t careful.

4. They try to impress you

Beware of those who boast and brag instead of having a conversation with you. Often times the noise you are hearing isn’t confidence, it’s insecurity.

An experienced and veteran SEO isn’t concerned with your opinion of them, they are fully confident in their skills and technical understanding of search engines. It’s normal to show case studies and client examples of their work.

Just keeps things in perspective. Those examples should be stories of how they helped others businesses, not ego-centric monuments to their greatness.

5. They talk in generalities

It’s really easy to fake it as an “SEO expert”, just make a lot of general statements using words like “Google”, “Keywords”, and “Backlinks”. The person you are hiring to do SEO should be able to give you very specific examples of how they improved revenue, visitors, and return on investment.

The great thing about SEO is even a high priced consultant will still provide an extremely high ROI. More often than not a few changes to your site structure and meta data can double revenue inside of 12 months.

6. No examples of their work

If all they can tell you is their previous client was “#1 for all their keywords”, maybe you should ask more direct questions. Search engine optimization is a process of research, implementation, and analytics. Guess what? After that process is done you just keep going, adding more targets, more niche markets, and more keywords.

A good SEO is detail oriented, keeping records of changes, and how those changes affected the bottom line. Otherwise you’ll just end up throwing darts at a board, wondering what worked and what didn’t.

7. They don’t practice what they preach

So they claim they can get you first for your keywords, are they #1 for their keywords? I know SEO is probably the one of the more competitive keyword strings around, but they should at least be trying to rank well for something right? The same goes for link building, if they promise they can build thousands of links for you, ask them how they managed to do that for their own websites?

Before I recommend anything, I always test it first on a sample website. There’s no way I can, in good faith, recommend something I haven’t first tried myself.

In my opinion, the reason why there are so many myths going around in the SEO industry, is you have too much talk and not enough experimentation. A trusted advisor has their fair share of mess ups and slips along the way. They made the mistakes so you don’t have to.


To wrap it all up, SEO is just like any other emerging field. There are some good, a few bad, and lots of average players competing for customers. Educating yourself is the first step in selecting the right partner for your business.

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