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7 Ways NOT to Select an SEO Consultant

The importance of search engine optimization—helping websites stand out in an increasingly cluttered online world amid rapid growth in global search volume—combined with the fact that search is one of the few growing areas in an otherwise brutal economy has led to an influx of new providers in the space. Nothing wrong with that, competition is good! (Particularly for buyers.)

SEO-ConsultantThe problem is that any business area or profession that experiences unusual growth (think ad-supported "free" online services in 1999, or real estate from 2002-2008) inevitably attracts, along with some very bright people committed to their new craft, a less savory crowd of opportunistic, incompetent or even unscrupulous entrants as well.

Here are seven characteristics to help avoid hiring one of those types for your next SEO project.

Irrelevant experience. Given the still relative newness of SEO as a profession, any SEO practitioner over the age of 30 probably did something else before SEO. Most of the good ones came out of either marketing or IT. Beware of those who tout their success in some completely unrelated field (e.g., real estate, automotive, wedding photography, sports writing, air travel, nutritional supplements) as evidence of their SEO prowess.

Number of Twitter followers. I randomly checked the Twitter followers for 10 prominent SEO experts (the kind who present at the big conferences and whose writing is frequently noted in the best of SEO posts here). Of the 10, none have more than 14,000 followers; four have 3,000 followers or more; two have between 1,000 and 1,500; two have less than 600; and two aren't on Twitter at all! Bottom line? There's simply no relationship between Twitter following and SEO prowess. Someone who tries to impress you with their 20,000 or 30,000 Twitter followers is good at attracting lots of Twitter followers (likely of varying quality), but isn't necessarily any good at SEO.

Guarantees. Other than Matt Cutts (who isn't for sale)—or perhaps someone with compromising photos of Google's search engineer—no one can guarantee any specific rank for a website on any given keyword. No reputable SEO consultant or firm will even offer such guarantees.

Price. Yes, of course it's important, but as in most other areas of life—you (generally at least) get what you pay for.

Instant results. If you positively must rank highly for a specific search phrase TODAY, buy it on AdWords. SEO is a longer-term investment. The search engines simply take time to reindex your website and all of your links. Granted, a news site may get ranked very quickly for a breaking story, but for a competitive term on a commercial website, it can take weeks to move search position appreciably, and months to get it into the top five. As with guarantees, cast a wary glance at anyone who promises instant gratification from SEO.

Excessive ego. Not to suggest that self-confidence isn't a positive attractive attribute in an SEO consultant, or even that there aren't perhaps a few talented SEO practitioners with slightly overinflated egos, but if a consultant's web page or Twitter bio reads like a second-rate late night infomercial, approach with caution. Better to have someone versed in content development and link building than someone who's spent too much time at self esteem-building seminars. SEO is a complex and constantly changing field, so a certain degree of humility is in order.

Excessive automation / "turnkey" package. Of course, good SEOs use a variety of tools to automate routine, mechanical processes such as search engine position checking, keyword density, backlink checking and keyword selection. However, the overall practice of SEO is a blend of art and science, and the "art" portion—writing compelling copy, crafting effective headlines and meta tags, obtaining high-quality links—simply can't be automated. SEO in a box is like wine in a box; it's cheap and convenient, but you'll regret it in the morning.

If you're shopping for SEO services, hopefully this list will help you avoid hiring the wrong person or firm. If you're an SEO provider, feel free to comment on any other suspect factors.


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All Time Greats

Twitter Twaddle, Part 2: Best Practices, Tools and The Future of Twitter

This is the second of a two-part series. Part one covered what Twitter is and why it's cool; this post discusses Twitter etiquette, tools, and speculation about its future.

How to Twitter Properly

Like any other social setting, Twitter has its own etiquette. This can be confusing to new users. (And, as you can see by spending more than a few minutes on Twitter, it's apparently elusive to many long-time users as well.) Margaret Mason has written an outstanding primer on Twitter etiquette, offering advice such as watch your ratio ("If only a few people follow you, but you follow a thousand or more, many people will assume you’re a spammer. That’s because you probably are. Go away, spammer."); never Twitter if you're drunk or high; and most importantly, "remember that everyone can hear you."

The brilliant Mike Volpe of HubSpot takes a different approach to offering his advice in 5 Things On Twitter That Annoy the Crap Out of Me. His practices-to-avoid incl…

Twitter Twaddle, Part 1: What Twitter Is and Why It's Cool

Most Web 2.0 sites fall into one of a few increasingly well-defined categories, such as social bookmarking (Digg,, Searchles), social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook) or file sharing (YouTube, Flickr, podOmatic). Twitter, however, stands alone. (Okay, there's also Pownce, but Twitter is better.)

Self-described as simply a real-time short messaging service and often referred to a microblogging platform, to those new to it, Twitter resembles nothing so much as a giant cocktail party where everyone talks at once and hopes others listen. You can tell who's important by how many "followers" that person has, though that's no guarantee anyone is really paying attention. People (or rather, Tweeple in the Twitter lexicon) can come and go without really being noticed, just like at a real (very, very large) gathering.

Twitter can be difficult to explain to those unfamiliar with it. Jennifer Laycock writes that Twitter is like Post-It notes; lots of them and in mu…

Top Notch Digital Marketing Tip: Know Your Audience

Looking for some online marketing tips to grow your business? Well, you’ve come to the right digital marketing resource! Web Market Central has been doling out the proper digital marketing advice for years. And as you already know, marketing to customers online is 100 times easier than using dated, expensive, and traditional marketing tactics. Like seriously, who uses billboards in 2019? Online marketing is cost-effective Easier to reach your audience members and potential customers And you know exactly who you’re reaching 

You have the ability to optimize campaigns and websites if they are not performing the way you want them to. You can clearly see how many people have opened your emails and clicked a link. You can even target who you want to when you want to.

So now that you're totally convinced of what you already knew, let’s give you today's top-notch digital marketing tip!

Know your target audience and knowing how to target them

These two online marketing tips are key. If you’r…

Tips Week, Content Marketing Part 2

Continuing the mad tips!

 Go 6 months without mentioning your product There's a study that compared CMI’s informational/educational posts to posts that mentioned their products and/or services. The posts that talked about the brand received about 25 percent of the total unique visitors that a regular, educational post did. At the same time, those branding posts received virtually no additional subscribers on sales-related posts, while regular posts brought in between 35 and 75 subscribers. The point is this: The more you talk about yourself, the more you’ll negatively impact your content marketing efforts. Keep the offers outside the content, and watch your program flourish.

WMC Opens up marketing tips section.

Do you have something helpful to share with others interested in digital marketing?

If so, WebMarketCentral wants to post your piece.  Just write it up and send it with art for evaluation prior to it being approved for publishing.  As a reward for sharing your tips and advice you will receive a backlink to your website.  The current value of the link is below from

Quidelines:  Blog Post should be written to provide answers to questions that other marketers or small business have.  Blog Posts should be about 700 words or more.  The piece must be spelled checked and if reference data is provided it must be attributed and linked to the original piece.
Do not try to load the price with links to your properties.
More Details will follow shortly.
Mike Bannan

Tips Week Content Marketing Part 4

More tips, more tips, more tips!

Forget real-time marketing Some of the real-time marketing examples surrounding the tragic death of Robin Williams will make you sick to your stomach. Brands and publishers alike are tripping over themselves to leverage breaking news for business gain. The only situation in which you should be considering real-time marketing is if your content marketing strategy is near perfect. Only then will you be well prepared enough to tackle the risks of real-time (and reap the potential rewards). Focus on consistent, valuable information… become the expert… get the process in place… be patient.

Tips Week: Content Marketing Strategies and Ideas Part 1

After last week's Quote Week, we're moving onto Tips Week! And our focus is Content Marketing!

Take “best of breed” seriously Ninety-nine percent of companies don’t do this. There are at least six principles that are essential to epic content marketing. The sixth, and perhaps most important, is setting a goal/mission to be the “best of breed” informational provider for your industry niche — i.e., to truly be the leading informational resource for your industry. This is critical to making content marketing work for you. If your content marketing isn’t eagerly anticipated and truly necessary, at some point, your audience will see through the façade and ignore you. Ask yourself this: If your content marketing disappeared from the planet, would anyone miss it? If no one would miss your information, you’ve got work to do. Start by setting your goal, then set up the processes and invest in the people you need to reach that goal.