Q: Our web development and web marketing consultant thinks that SEO, and all authors, seminar-givers, etc., are scammers. I’m concerned with that assessment, as I have found the contents of your book to be very rational, applicable, and relevant. Don’t know if they work or not – yet, but I believe what you’re suggesting is far better than the “let’s wait and see” plan that he proposes.
I’ve gone so far as to outline the hour-a-day plan you suggested, and for him to follow it, and provide reports, or start looking for other employment. Do you think that’s too harsh?
A: While we get a lot of questions about how to identify good vs. bad SEO strategies, I can honestly say you’re the first person who has threatened to fire his consultant if they didn’t follow our strategy! Is it too harsh? I can’t really answer that, but I can give you some pointers on dealing with your consultant.
First of all, no surprise here, but we don’t agree that all SEOs are scammers! To be sure, there are some slimy SEOs out there, but the industry itself is well established and generally well respected. We talk about how to spot the snake oil peddlers in our book, but in a nutshell: mass autosubmittals, guaranteed high rankings, or guaranteed quick results are signs that an SEO is not reputable. Why, there are even so-called SEOs who send letters to Google engineers, suggesting that they need help getting into Google. Duh!
Having said that, we are happy to admit that SEO is not brain surgery. It involves lot of common sense, concern for your site visitors’ experience, and a good deal of research and documenting. But it doesn’t take an expert, or a degree in anything in particular, to do good SEO. Perhaps that’s what your consultant is trying to express? I suggest pressing him on this point, and really trying to get his reasoning behind saying that Google is impossible to optimize for.
A good reason might be: Your site is in far too competitive a space, and standard SEO tactics like content building, site optimization, and link building will really not get you anywhere. This might be true if your site sells, say, printer toner or something with a similarly high level of search competition.
A bad reason might be: SEO doesn’t work because it’s all a scam. Good SEO does work, and what’s more important is that it ultimately benefits your site’s users!
Regarding the SEO Plan in our book, we wrote it to be as helpful as possible to as many different kinds of sites as possible. So yes, it’s probably a good plan for your site, and your web consultant would probably do well to follow it. But following it to a “T” isn’t necessary if you want good SEO results. It’s important that your consultant make significant efforts in keyword research, site optimization, link building, and making sure that your site structure isn’t somehow preventing the search engines from indexing you.
It’s really important that you get regular reports from your consultant, especially if you’re not sure that he’s bought in to the SEO process. His reports really don’t need to follow our exact format from the book, but you clearly need him to tell you what he’s doing for your site, why he’s doing it, and what results he’s getting. And this kind of feedback needs to come to you on a regular basis, at least monthly, but maybe more frequently if the guy is on shaky ground with you.
The bottom line is, most sites will benefit from SEO. It’s your site! If you want SEO and this person is unwilling to do it, he’s not the guy for you.