How can you tell if an SEO is authentic?

Oct 10, 2005 at 6:34 PM
My father and I are search marketers. We're experts, and we actually care about what we do and how well we do it. Our little company has been around, thriving in the competitive market of search optimization since 1996. Basically, since search marketing started this company has been around, doing the same thing, and doing it ethically.

Countless hours of study, elbow grease and hard work have gone into the technical knowledge we've gathered on our SEO site. There is tons more that we just don't have the time to gather into the site because we're too busy with client work. One of our mantras is that there should be no SEO secrets. Anything we have learned the hard way, we try to take the time to explain it on our site.

This morning, I went to copyscape to check for plagiarism, and I found people who had copied entire sections of our site onto their own sites, as if it were their work.

For a second, I was flattered. Then it hit me: thousands of hours of work we've done to develop that knowledge -- simply lifted like a subway token from my pocket. We have books lining the walls that this guy has never read. Tons of head scratching and problem-solving behind us that this guy just skipped.

After showing our great content, they offer their own unworkable lies -- "submit to thousands of search engines at once!" being my personal favorite.

Show me a list of thousands of search engines in the first place. Who has the time to use a thousand search engines? I use as many as five search engines, and mostly because I'm in SEO. Most people stick with their one or two favorites. There just aren't that many... But I digress.]

These sites were using our ethically gathered SEO truths to pawn some SEO snake oil, eggregious shystering. Our content makes them LOOK like experts, and that's all they want it for. The sites lifting our content were obviously completely pretending to be SEO experts, and it finally kicked in for me the truth of what I've been hearing from others but never quite believed:

A large, unknowable number of search marketers out there are frauds, no more able to help you get better placement than the con artist is to get blue-hairs onto the promised cruise to Bermuda.

Now I finally believe it. The nay-sayers finally got me to listen.

What to do about it?

Same thing we've been doing all along; arming you the consumer.

So, when you're considering an seo "expert" or "guru" for your next SEO project, consider the possibility that they are smoke and mirrors, stolen truth and wrong solutions wrapped up in a pretty package.

  1. Call them and TALK to them in person. Get references. Call and talk to at least three other real website owners who've gotten results from that exact SEO provider. If they can't give you at least three real references, don't use them.

  2. Check their site in the name spinner at WhoIs, like so:

    If the contact information at WhoIs doesn't match up to who you're talking to, they're bogus.
    And look at the domain start date. Did they open up shop within the last ten minutes? Go elsewhere.

  3. If you can't find a reputable firm, check the forums. Call the person at the top of the heap for a competitive keyword of your choice and ask who they used. Ask around. Get real people to tell you who they recommend.

There is nothing wrong with a small SEO firm. I work for one, and we do a great job at SEO.

There is something wrong with a fly-by-night SEO firm. And the difference can be undetectable from a distance.