How to tell when someone knows nothing about SEO

Posted on August 11, 2010


SEO is something of an enigma; there are no formal qualifications in it, you can’t learn it in a school and you don’t need any training, or even prior knowledge of it before offering it as a service. This means, rather sadly, that there are many charlatans out there offering SEO as part of their services without even the first clue about how to do it. Even sadder is the fact that clients are often unwittingly taken in by their blarney, blissfully unaware that they’re paying money for nothing – and clicks to their website, rather than being free, will never materialise at all.

So how do you tell when someone’s spinning you a line and they, in fact, know absolutely nothing about SEO? Here are a few things that SEO charlatans will say, and a few ways you can spot their distinct lack of knowledge.

We’ll submit your site to Google

While this comment isn’t perhaps as stupid as we’re about to make it out to be, as you can still physically ‘submit’ your website to Google, there really is no need. Submitting your site to Google is sort of like the Pope telling everyone he’s Catholic – that’s kind of a done deal already. Submitting your site to Google isn’t part of any SEO strategy, and it won’t aid your rankings within Google.

We’ll make sure your Meta keywords are correct

I used to work for a design agency in Cardiff where the sales director insisted on telling clients that we would add keywords to their Meta keywords tags so they would appear in Google. No matter how many times I explained that we didn’t do that, and it wouldn’t affect anyone’s rankings even if we did, he couldn’t change the way he pitched to clients. This was because he knew nothing about SEO. That was in 2005, and now, in 2010, little has changed with regards to the Meta keywords tag. Anyone who talks to you about ‘Meta keywords’ and ‘SEO’ in the same sentence is filling your head with flannel.

They mention Lycos, Alta Vista, AOL or any search engine other than the big three as though they were in any way significant

Some people who purport to be SEO experts and mention search engines you’ve never heard of, haven’t heard of for many years or even ones that no longer exist should be avoided like the proverbial plague. These lesser search engines number in their millions, but sadly the people that will use them to find your website number in their single digits. Where you rank for your main keywords in Lycos is as important to the success of your website as what colour trousers you’re wearing – very little.

Their own website…

This is important, as it should give you an indication of whether they really know what they’re talking about or not. For example, what does the Title tag on their website say? If it says something like ‘Home’, ‘Homepage’ or even ‘Untitled Document’ you should begin laughing hysterically, before never contacting them again. This shows they don’t even have the most basic of understanding of what SEO is about – but believe or not, there are companies out there today offering SEO to clients, while their websites are in this state. People have paid them good money for SEO advice which, as far as we’re concerned, is obtaining money through false pretences.

Make sure you’re not ripped off by someone claiming to know about SEO, as they may in fact know less than you do.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.

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