SEO is a very technical field. Considering that Google changes their algorithm almost daily, it is also very dynamic. There have been books, papers and web pages published ad nauseum spelling out the ABC’s of search engine optimization. Much information about SEO is freely available on the internet. Back in 2002 when the concept of SEO was still very young, I recall reading everything available on the topic: information from sources as reliable as:
- Matt Cutts,the head of Web SPAM Engineering at Google and owner of MattCutts.com
- Rand Fishkin, another well-known SEO specialist
- Danny Sullivan, another industry expert, reporter and owner of SearchEngineLand.com.,
- Aaron Wall author, SEO speaker and owner of SEOBook.com.
- Bruce Clay of BruceClay.com. All are among the most respected in the SEO industry.
After months of study, in addition to the basics of SEO, what I learned was that SEO is a bit of a black art. Each one of these well- respected authors writes from his own personal perspective and experiences, and at times their points of view are in conflict. I felt as though I had studied my way into a labyrinth. Who was right? Who was wrong?
The search engines don’t publish the ins and outs of their algorithms; they can’t. Even with the security of their closed doors, they’re still constantly running, trying to stay one step ahead of the Black Hat SEO specialists and SPAMMER’s. They leave the details of how they really index and rank websites up to testing, trials and speculation of every SEO specialist in the world, many of whom are more than happy to offer their opinion as if they were the prophet Moses.
The fact is once you know the basics of SEO the only way to understand and practice all of the nuances correctly are from years of experience and constant attention to the ever- changing search engine algorithms.
Today colleges even teach courses and offer degrees on the topic of SEO and Internet Marketing, yet by the time the information is condensed and offered to students, Google et al have moved years away from what is being taught.
When you’re interviewing prospective SEO specialists there are few key questions you need to ask:
- How long have you been working at SEO?
- How long have you worked continuously for your oldest clients?
- Do you have experience with local and/or national SEO campaigns?
Experience is irreplaceable. You wouldn’t allow a young new hire to make critical decisions that could affect the financial future of your business. You shouldn’t consider hiring an SEO company that will allow inexperienced SEO techs to perform the work on your website. While age is not an absolute indicator of experience, have a look at the staff photos of the company you’re considering hiring for your SEO work, if they all look like recent graduates you have good reason to be concerned. You should insist that only techs with five or more years of hands-on experience be allowed access to your asset: your website!
Consider that the internet is only not much more than 16 years old, that Google didn’t launch as a company until late 1998, and much of what is today the SEO profession is even younger. Therefore it’s understandable why experienced SEO specialists can command labor rates approaching close to those of attorneys, and head hunters wait in line to find any experienced SEO specialist available.