SEO Experts and Not So Experts

Often times the first question out of a client’s mouth when the topic of search engine optimization comes up is “How can I be number one in Google?” My first question back to them is “Be number one for what?” You can imagine where this is going. Everyone wants to be number one for “everything. The guys that own everything2.com are the only ones that have done that! Wikipedia.org does a good job of being number one for a whole lot of things, and one lesson to learn from wikipedia is to be the expert on a topic – and this means providing content, content and more content about that topic. When you have all the information on your site relating to a topic everyone links to you as the expert. That is the essence of SEO.

I consider search engine optimization (SEO) to be the work of an artist. Like an artist, a good SEO expert works the canvas on many different levels. Just like an artist, each final product is unique. Let me explain this a little further.

The artist determines the purpose of their new work of art. It may be an experiment of self expression. It may be very commercial for the sole purpose of selling. It may be a gift. It may be for display in a gallery or home. The final piece of art starts out figuratively as a blank canvas and when completed, will be unique based on how it will be used and what it is made of, whether it be clay, cement, bronze, paint, or anything really.

Just like the artist, the SEO consultant determines the purpose of their work. They practice their craft on a web site which at its most basic level is as simple as a blank canvas. The purpose of the SEO project may be to generate more sales for a retail web site. It may be to generate more leads for a service based business. It may be to encourage more user input in an open source project. Whatever the purpose, the SEO consultant has to apply many layers of knowledge and technique to their canvas to achieve the desired outcome. Instead of using a variety of art supplies like clay, paint, wood, their art supplies are factors that will affect the outcome of the SEO project. These factors are domain age, link popularity, site content volume, pagerank, and keyword density of the actual keywords the site will be optimized for. Just like an oil painting takes weeks to months to cure, SEO can also take weeks and months to produce the actual final outcome desired.

So web site owners beware. Anyone can claim to be an artist, but makes sure their art is something you want to own!

Look for these warning signs of an SEO not-so-expert

  • They promise you top rankings for keywords (without even knowing what the keywords are because they haven’t done the research yet)
  • They promise you top rankings for any keyword. Noone can guarantee this unless their name is Larry Page or Jerry Yang, and even that is questionable.
  • Their only strategy is to have you buy links or banner ads on their site because their site has a high page rank.
  • They want you to spend your money on pay per click only with no long term strategy to discontinue while maintaining traffic.
  • They offer to create a landing or profile page for you on their site which will link to your actual site. A landing page dilutes the value of the link.
  • They tell you to send out batch emails to get links to your site
  • They tell you to litter blog sites with your web site address in the comments area.
  • They DON’T educate you about how to ask for a link from another site with proper anchor text.
  • They DON’T encourage you to constantly add new content to your site.