Awhile back, I ran across this article on how to start an SEO business in three steps. Now, obviously, the author is making fun of the original eHow article (which I’m not going to link to because I don’t want to give it any more of a boost than it might already have).
In a nutshell, here are the steps:
- Create a website.
- Include services and pricing page.
Yep, that’s all it takes to be a successful SEO. Uhm… well, not really. There’s much more involved than just calling yourself an SEO. You need knowledge, hard work, and skill to get real results.
And that’s what this website is all about. I can’t do the hard work for you, and skill only comes with practice — but I can try to give you the knowledge to get you started on the path toward the other two.
I think if you can swing it, optimizing your own site is the way to go for most. You know more about your business than anyone else. You (should) know more about your customers than anyone else. And nobody is going to be as dedicated to the success of your business as you are.
I understand, though, not all business owners have the time or interest to optimize their sites for themselves. That’s where SEO firms come in. Sadly, if you’ve had the experience of trying to hire an SEO firm, you likely have run across people whose experience with site optimization is not much more useful than what the article outlines.
Why? Why? Why?
I’m convinced most useless SEOs didn’t set out to be that way. They probably don’t even realize how useless they are even now.
No, the problem is they simply believe (almost) everything they read. They find an article written in 1999 that says keyword-rich domain names are the cat’s pajamas and the next thing you know they’re setting all their clients up with a whole wardrobe of keyword-stuffed, redirected domains. Or they’re charging an arm and a leg to create “optimized” keyword META tags.
Here’s the basic problem: they don’t test. They simply accept.
If someone who sounds authoritative writes it in an article, they accept it on faith alone. And probably write their own authoritative-sounding article that will mislead a whole new crop of faith-based SEOs.
If you prefer results instead of empty promises…
The best defense against useless SEO is education. You don’t have to turn yourself into an SEO guru (otherwise, you could just optimize your site yourself), but you do owe it to your business to learn the basics. You don’t have to turn yourself into a mechanic, but you should at least know how to drive before you buy a car.
Learn at least enough so you can tell a truly skilled site optimizer from a useless SEO.
Here are a few resources you may find useful:
- Google’s SEO Starter Guide
- High Rankings Forum Newbie’s Guide
- Improving Online Conversions for Dummies (online book)
Happy reading, and good luck!