If you were approached by someone offering you financial advice, business advice, legal advice or even medical advice, you would expect them to be qualified. You would expect them to have studied to get where they are today, and you would probably expect to see evidence of these qualifications.
Equally, if they gave you inaccurate advice, you would expect to have some form of comeback. You should be able to appeal to a governing body, take them to court and receive some form of financial compensation if their incorrect advice has cost you dearly – which in the case of medical advice could be very dear indeed.
However, in the case of search engine optimisation this is never the case. You don’t need to have taken any courses, passed any exams or indeed have any real experience of SEO before you can dispense advice as though you were in expert. All you need to be able to do is to look as though you know what you’re talking about which, when you’re in the company of people who know nothing about SEO, is very easy.
You just need to mention different search engines, throw in a few buzz words like ‘PageRank’ and talk about ‘meta tags’ in order to have people eating out of your hand.
This is the problem with the SEO industry. Everyone thinks they know how to do it, few people actually do. There is no governing body to stop charlatans from claiming to be SEO experts, when in fact that they know nothing, and there is no way to tell whether someone is spinning you a line, or if they are, in fact, SEO professionals.
Well actually, that’s not quite true. There are some ways you can tell if someone’s SEO knowledge was garnered from a quick squint at a forum rather than from years of experience actually ‘doing’ SEO. For example, one way to tell is how they offer to sell you their services. If they offer you a single one off price to SEO your website without even looking at your website, they’re making it up as they go. How can someone gauge how much work is needed to SEO your website if they a) haven’t seen it, so don’t know the strengths and weakness of your website, and b) haven’t seen your competitors, so don’t know where your site sits in comparison to theirs within the marketplace?
It would be like a builder giving you a quote without seeing the work required, a plumber giving you a quote without looking at your pipes or a mechanic quoting to fix your car without even looking at it. You wouldn’t expect to receive quotes such as that for work, so why would you accept a quote from an ‘SEO expert’ who offers a fixed fee for optimising your website without seeing it?
Anyone who offers SEO on a fixed fee basis should be avoided.