Is Your Search Engine Optimization Expert Legit?

Search engine optimization (SEO), the art of making your website more appealing to search engines, can deliver lots of free high quality traffic. So if you’ve had a website long enough, you have probably implemented a few strategies to improve your SEO. But some people who either (1) believe that their SEO tactics aren’t as successful as they could be or (2) don’t have the time to learn how to properly optimize their sites, typically hire SEO professionals to do the job for them.

Beware, hiring an expert is a great idea if you find the right one. But more often than not, the person you hire might employ ineffective or outdated strategies. And some experts might even utilize black hat SEO techniques which might do more harm than good. So, if you are looking for an SEO expert, or are trying to decide whether or not your current expert is legit, here are 5 red flags which will help you determine whether your expert knows what he is doing.

5 Indicators of a Bad SEO Expert

1. Has not evaluated your website prior to implementing or suggesting a strategy.

There are indeed some strategies that will provide results for any website, but the best strategies (or those that are delivered by an expert) should be tailored for your website. The strategies should not only attempt to get you traffic, but they should also help to get you the kind of traffic that you want, the visitors that are interested in your content, products, or services.

2.Guarantees unrealistic results.

When someone sends us a message that tells us that they can double our traffic within a week, or that they can help us to achieve #1 rankings for each of our keywords, it sounds really good. Unfortunately, it is indeed too good to be true. As all real experts know, SEO isn’t an exact science. As a result, there is no magic formula which will yield number one results for every keyword or immediate increases in traffic.

Instead, only after a careful evaluation of a website, can an expert say what improvements he can make, and what general results he can deliver. Also, there will likely be a more realistic time frame, probably 1-2 months before real and consistent results are seen.

3. Believes a string of meta keywords will do the job.

Search engine optimization includes more than just meta keywords AND there is a proper way in which they should be implemented.

It is important to know that meta keywords are generally not important. Google ignores meta keywords. Yahoo uses them sparingly. And the only search engines which typically use meta keywords are meta search engines, which have very little market share. So, if you do choose to use keywords, only use a few AND you should also have other strategies in place.

For example, some other strategies that you should consider include:

  • unique page titles
  • well-crafted meta descriptions of about 150 characters
  • on-page optimization to improve keyword density
  • sitemap submission to ensure complete indexing of website
  • link building strategies

4. Provides no method for determining success and/or analyzing results.

In order to gauge the effectiveness of an SEO campaign, you need detailed statistics which enable you to identify where your traffic is coming from and via what keywords they find you in search engines. After all, if you do not have a method for analyzing your results, how will you know whether the SEO strategies are effective?

5. Has no case studies or records of success.

Many self-proclaimed experts have no records of success. This is probably the biggest red flag. Think about it this way, Would you hire a copywriter, illustrator, or web designer that doesn’t have one entry in his portfolio? Probably not.


In addition to the 5 indicators listed above, you will also want to stay away from an expert that doesn’t tell you what strategies he is implementing, regardless of whether or not you are indeed experiencing positive results. Many SEO professionals use techniques that Google and other search engines don’t approve of. And while these techniques might work temporarily, when Google discovers what your website is doing, you might find yourself with no traffic at all!

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23 Responses to “Is Your Search Engine Optimization Expert Legit?”

  • Kim Woodbridge February 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I like the way you used the term SEO Professional – I tend to be wary of anyone who claims to be an “expert”.

  • Raju February 15, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I am completely with you. Right now on Twitter, every 3rd person who follows me is an SEO expert :|

    • Velvet Blues February 15, 2009 at 4:38 pm

      Yep. So it is super important to make sure that you do find a GOOD expert, someone who is not just out for your money.

  • Tumblemoose February 15, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Falls squarely in the category of, “If it sounds to good to be true…”

    This is a great post to remind folks to pay a little attention out there.

    I cringe when I think a person’s first venture into something like this would be a bad experience.


    • Velvet Blues February 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm

      Yeh, first timers often get exploited. And it’s a shame.

      Most of the time, they probably get taken advantage of because they don’t know the strategies. And if SEO expert A charges two times what SEO expert B charges, a newcomer might just choose expert B, without comparing their relative merits.

  • Carla February 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Definitely beware of anyone who cold calls (or email spams) you too! Raju, I noticed that with Twitter too.

    • Velvet Blues February 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm

      Yes, I am especially wary of companies that send unsolicited generic email messages. As for Twitter, it seems like it is being exploited more and more everyday by spammers and others looking for ways of promoting themselves… They are going to have to put in place some better mechanisms for maintaining quality and controlling spam.

  • Binaryday February 16, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Should we not try to develop a similar guideline for seo blogs as well. I am surprised by the number of bloggers who write about seo without any understanding of the basic. And I think these people are more responsible for increasing the obsession with outdtated concepts like meta keywords, search engine submission and to some extent even pagerank

    • Velvet Blues February 16, 2009 at 3:47 am

      Yes, we probably should also be wary of many SEO blogs. There are a lot of bloggers which suggest things that are in direct conflict with Google & Yahoo guidelines.

      However, the biggest problem with misinformation seems to be the fact that a lot of older and non-updated content still persists on the web. So when people search for search engine optimization, they often find these older well-ranked pages at the top of the SERPs.

  • Webmarketing February 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    This is a good article. Since SEO is very vital in web marketing, it is very important to be cautious in hiring an SEO expert to do the job. Website owner should consider one thing in choosing an SEO firm and that is knowing the ethical practice of a certain SEO firm. Avoid those who uses black hat SEO, they will just cause problems.

    • Velvet Blues February 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I should probably have placed that at the top of the list. Black hat techniques, while they have the lure of working (for a while) and bringing lots of traffic, they can also do more damage by getting a website indefinitely banned…

  • Nihar February 17, 2009 at 2:49 am

    The big problem is Google or any other search engine company doesn’t show how it indexes the pages and order them. This is the reason, lot of people come up with lots of ideas and few of them just guess that this or that might be the way to get to the TOP in SERP

    SEO is an ongoing process. Keep experimenting. If the results are negative stop what you did and if the results are positive. Add that step to your SEO list and do it for the next post.

    • Velvet Blues February 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

      That is a good point. If Google were more transparent, then we wouldn’t have half the problems we have now, nor would the ‘SEO experts’ get away with claiming that certain wrong or outdated techniques work.

      And yes, it is ongoing. Unfortunately, SEO isn’t a one-time-thing. :-(

  • Kurt Avish February 17, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Ho yea…. infact there are so many SEO-Magicians these days that have a huge bowl in their hand to collect our money.. so as a result I prefer to be my own seo expert lol… even if I am not very sure…its better we try our strategies ourselves rather than getting in the trap of the WEBSEOZARDS :D

    • Velvet Blues February 17, 2009 at 4:03 am

      Indeed. If you are a blogger, take advantage of the info already out there, and be your own expert. You’ll learn a lot along the way, not waste any money, and know that all strategies used on your website are Google-approved. And if you do hire an expert, you’ll know enough to weed out the good from the bad. :-)

  • Dennis Edell February 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    The contest winner for me was the SEO expert blog I ran into using the default WP permalinks…..sorry that just cracked me the hell up.

  • seochampion October 28, 2009 at 8:20 am

    The big problem is Google or any other search engine company doesn’t show how it indexes the pages and order them. This is the reason, lot of people come up with lots of ideas and few of them just guess that this or that might be the way to get to the TOP in SERP

  • Tim December 22, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    It’s an honest article about the dark side of “so called SEO experts”. I agree will all five red flags.
    Getting quality website traffic is an art and a qualified SEO should be hired to do the job.
    Questions should be asked during initial presentation by keeping these red flags in mind.

  • Kirsty March 6, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Using bad SEO is scary especially if Google will noticed what you are doing. Actually the effects of bad SEO is really good at first but it won’t last for long because a lot of search engine are looking for ways to caught those who are doing this.

  • Elite Infowolrd October 3, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Above all 5 Points are very interesting as it is informatics, its not for those who want to hire SEO experts but also for those who is engaged with SEO business. They must be careful about these 5 Points.
    And I’m really very Thankful to you for Sharing such informatics information.


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