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A little SEO knowledge can be dangerous

Posted on January 22, 2010

 

Nobody likes to think of themselves as ignorant, but we’re all ignorant of some things. Perhaps it’s to do with cars, and when our cars go wrong we have no idea what the fault could be. Maybe it’s plumbing, and we would never even consider changing a washer in the kitchen tap, or perhaps it’s DIY – and we wouldn’t know the first thing about building a shelf from scratch.

We all have our expertise, where we know as much as we feel we can, and we have our ignorance, where we know nothing and are happy to rely on the expert. Where it can be dangerous however is when we know a little and start to second guess the expert based on our own limited knowledge or experience.

For example, if you know of one fault that you car often has, and how much it costs to fix it and how long it should take, would you then argue with the mechanic whenever your car needed work, insisting that it was the same fault you had before?

Would you call in a plumber to fix a leak in your home and then proceed to tell him exactly what was wrong and how he should go about fixing it, following your instructions?

Would you go further and tell an electrician the best way to wire up your house, or tell the man from Sky where he should be pointing the Sky dish in order to get the best signal? Would you walk into a hospital and begin to tell the surgeon how he should operate on you because you’ve seen a few episodes of Casualty, or possibly Scrubs?

Of course you wouldn’t, yet many people believe that they are SEO experts based on the fact that they have read a few forum posts or a few blogs. They know what keywords are and they know what links are, which is pretty much all you need to know in their opinion, and that makes them experts.

Except of course that it doesn’t.

If you hire an SEO for their expertise, you shouldn’t then proceed to tell them exactly what they should be doing to improve your website’s rankings in the SERPs (search engine results pages). You shouldn’t question the methods they’re using, asking the opinion of your web developer, web designer or the person who runs the business with you on whether you think your SEO’s work will improve your rankings – if you’ve hired an SEO, listen to them.

There’s nothing wrong with reading up on SEO so that you understand some of what is being done, and that you can ask questions about the work, but remember that reading a few articles or forum posts on SEO is no substitute for years of SEO experience.

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