What is an SEO Professional?

Many people, including most of my own family, have no idea what I do or how it’s of any benefit. This is common as most people think an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is just a matter of changing some magical code on the page, and that any website can get the benefits of SEO. This general misunderstanding is also why there are so many people able to offer SEO services; the average buyer has no idea what they are buying, and they end up buying the general idea of SEO than an actual SEO service.

SEO, when done properly by professionals, is very complex and involves much more than keywords with fairy dust. I would say that most website owners are not ready for true SEO. When I ran my agency I turned away over 90% of the clients that approached me for SEO services, there is no point in taking a client’s money and giving him or her something that will never work. Yes, they might be very happy to be #1 for their company name and they might even see an increase of traffic, as the Internet does grow by over 1 million people a month. But, in the end did your SEO work really drive their business forward?

Within my industry I have held true to the idea of do it right, do it for long term, and do it for the right reasons. I add “do it for the right reasons” because I have had offers from companies that have the right process the right long term goals but the methods of monetization go against my better judgment. I am very proud to say that in over 10 years I have never promoted a gambling, pornography, or pill website.

Keeping this focus has given me less market share, but I have had some of the bigger companies come knocking on my door asking for my expertise: Alibaba, Dell, eBay, Expedia, Global Sources, Microsoft, Tesco–even the almighty Google has come looking for my services. But keeping a selective nature also means I don’t make the insane amounts that the “fairy dust” SEO sellers do. It’s much more profitable and easy to have several clients that you are charging $10k a month to simply change some META data and once in a while advise them what you read on someone else’s blog the night before.

Being in the industry for over 10 years and working with so many companies I have seen “fairy dust” go for as high as $150,000/month. If you look around the industry you will see a lot of the SEO world more focused on creating a blog post then doing actual SEO work. This is because skill level in this industry, for some reason, has become based on the number of blog posts you make rather then your technical expertise and experience. If I was hiring an SEO professional I’d rather hire the head of class coming out of applied mathematics of Harvard then any of the SEO bloggers.

In a lot of my talks at industry events I relate search engine optimizers to stock brokers, and search engines to stock markets. This comparison comes from search engine optimizers having millions of people that claim they can bring in returns, like stock brokers. But many fail and lose clients money while others simply just live off the natural flux within the stock markets/search engines. There are also the day traders and the DIY SEO’ers who believe they have the system beat. Then there are the elite who can not only to guarantee returns but are already making enough money themselves that the only reason they take on a client is to be able to make even more money using their formula for success.

The only real difference between a stock broker and an search engine optimizer is that, unlike a stock market, a search engine follows a mathematical formula. Ultimately there are no unknowns in the search engines, so a true SEO professional has no reason for failure. While I don’t claim to know everything about the ranking formulas at Google I do know that there is a set formula, and with the right set of people (note to self: hire some ex-WWII code breakers) the formula can be understood.

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