Recently, I’ve seen a lot of verbage online by other “Social Media Experts” and “Marketing Gurus” or even Web Developers offer SEO services. The ones I’ve bothered to talk to for the most part do not do most of their SEO work because frankly, they:
a) don’t like to do SEO
b) don’t understand how to do SEO
I respect these folks for admitting they don’t know how to do it or don’t want to do it because they realize how much time is involved in truly maximizing the benefits of SEO with a website. These are the people I will probably call later to ask for their expertise in Social Media or Web Development.
However, I’ve seen and even talked to a few who act as if SEO is easy. They also tell me “Yah, I’ve SEO’d plenty of clients websites to get them page 1 rankings.” Yes, I know you have gotten them page one rankings for phrases NObody searches on. My 64 Korean mother’s who’s second language is English and has never conducted a search on Google could probably do it after I taught her. It’s not hard to compete with a few kids in a sand box. However, if you want to compete with the” big boys” in the most competitive SERPs (search engine results pages), you better know your SEO. This is where you finally are able to tell if someone knows their SEO.
In a matter of 3 months, I was able to get to page 1 for a phrase on Google that frankly is competing against “other SEO’s” in my local area (“Seattle SEO“). Some of the most respected SEO’s I know aren’t in that SERP and don’t bother to get into it. At the same time, I had something to prove (to myself). I did not even want to talk to anyone confidently until I got there. Of course, I still had to put food on the table, and did believe in what I did, but after I made it happen in the 1/3 of the time I expected to make it happen literally with a new website, I proved to myself despite 5 years of helping other websites with search engine optimization and applying a strategy that’s helped approximately 40+ different small business websites garner 1st page rankings in Google for strong phrases in their industries with decent monthly inventory in estimated searches (using the “exact” searches parameter within the Adwords keyword tool).
However, I’ll still tell you I don’t know every single one of the supposed 200+ factors that google judges a website on in order to rank it within their serps. (I do know a lot of them though) Moreover, I can tell you that nobody except Larry Page and Sergey Brin know it perfectly and frankly, I’d argue that Page and Brin probably don’t know it as well as they used to given that many engineers have worked on the code since their original idea for the perfect Search Engine back in the late 1990′s. I think there are some folks out there who do know it better than most like Rand Fishkin, Aaron Wall or Bill Slawski. However, even these guys will probably tell you they lack in some category in SEO or a particular facet of SEO and are simply just realistic.
Rather, I mean, I understand enough of it to help websites to rank and I also take it from an approach where I use “common sense” and “business sense” to make it even more effective.
On top of that, I believe in the value of researching, reading and testing constantly to keep my skills up to date. I will tell you that I don’t feel comfortable enough to say I’m an expert on Local SEO yet, but I do have a website that ranks in the top 3 of my target phrases for google places. I can tell you that great people like incredibly resourceful people like Mike Blumenthal or David Mihm are people you should be reading regularly if you want to understand this topic. I’ll tell you that I’m not a Website optimization expert and I’d probably refer you to an EXPERT (and I mean a true expert) in Website Usability, Jay Eskenazi. He also knows quite a bit about Twitter and you can see from his Twitter account, he’s an expert in twitter. Yes, the man has 23,000+ followers and he’s not Charlie Sheen (well, maybe he’s the Charlie Sheen in Web Usability or User Testing though). I will tell though if you that if you build your website in an “F” pattern, you will do yourself wonders and if you use Google’s “In Page Analytics” tool, you’ll learn a lot as well. And I do have a website that does seem to be quite popular … giving it a ranking of #123,558th most trafficked website in the United States among millions, if not billions (unfortunately, this doesn’t relate to usability 100%, but let’s just say I get a number of calls and forms filled out which is what usability ultimately is for). And in terms of Social Media and Mobile Marketing, I know some very strong people in these areas I would be happy to refer you to that I respect and will tell you they are better at helping you at this point.
Frankly, in order to be a great SEO and one who knows more than others, but is very realistic and will more likely than not help your website become more popular and generate you more business, they must:
- constantly be in touch with trends by reading, testing and networking with other SEO’s (thus, my co-chairing of a great local SEO group in the Seattle area)
- have proven SEO track record or be using other incredible SEO strategies that have helped websites rank in the top pages
- conduct their business with stronger business principles such as integrity and communication (feel free to ask my clients and check out my google places page which shows how I take care of people)
and admit when you don’t know. I do know a lot of things that will lead you to success, but I can tell you there’s a lot I still don’t know about in this world. That’s why I love life: you can constantly learn something new everyday.
So, be careful when someone says they are an expert in social media (frankly, the business has been around for literally about a few years at a maximum frankly in it’s current state regardless of the history of Facebook and Twitter. People didn’t take them seriously until last year or maybe the year before in larger numbers) or both or even SEO. Feel free to challenge me anytime. I think it’s important to be able to answers clearly and also truthfully.