It's funny that we use terms like "expert" to describe an SEO. When looking for someone to help us get us top search engine rankings, we often look to see who the experts are. Last time I checked, we don't look for "expert lawyers" or "expert doctors" or "expert plumbers". No, we look for professionals.

However, we do often look for experts at certain subsets. Such as lawyers that are divorce experts, doctors that are cancer experts, plumbers that are... um, clog experts, and so on. So why do we look for SEO experts? Can anyone truly be an expert in all things related to SEO?

Perhaps. Just like doctors can be experts in multiple areas, lawyers can be experts in multiple fields of law, and plumbers can be experts in multiple types of... um, clogs, SEOs can be experts in several areas as well. But an expert in all of them? Hmmmm, not likely.

So when you're looking for an SEO expert, what do you expect to find? Someone who is an expert at on-page optimization? Someone skilled at link building? Someone who knows usability, analytics, and testing? Do you want a social media guru or a copy writing artist? There is a lot to know about SEO and none of that knowledge comes easy.

The really good SEOs are extraordinarily knowledgeable about a lot of stuff, but their expertise is in only a few. They know enough to guide others through the processes and strategies of about almost anything SEO related, but they are not necessarily the ones that you would turn to to do it themselves.

A good example is copywriting. I KNOW SEO copywriting, but I'm not an SEO copywriter. Could I do it? Yes. But not as well as someone who lives and breathes copywriting. With a copywriter, I can teach them, train them, edit them, and improve them in the realm of SEO... but I don't want to do it unless I have to.

That's because it's not my strength. There are a lot of aspects of SEO and online marketing that are not my strength. That's why I employ a team of people. They have strengths where I don't.

So, that begs the question, what do you expect your SEO expert to be an expert in?

The answer to that should depend on what exactly you need. If you are looking for a full-scale optimization package, you need more than a single SEO. You need an SEO team. But, if you're looking for some overall SEO consulting, a single, highly knowledgeable SEO should do the trick.

However, if you are looking for specific consulting, copywriting, analytics, etc., you need to find someone who knows that skill in great detail. That can be an SEO, but it may not always be.

I think businesses get into trouble when they expect their SEOs to have all the solutions. They look at the SEO as the magical ranking provider. They want better rankings, more traffic, increased conversions, and expect an SEO to be able to provide it all... within a few hours of paid time.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Again, just like any other field, you get what you pay for. You find the cheaper expert you'll get cheaper results. You find a plumber that charges less per hour he'll likely take twice as long as the guy who charges a few dollars more per hour. You hire the cheaper lawyer, you may not like the results. Just sayin'.

When you're looking for your "SEO expert" you gotta know what you want and what you expect. Don't expect real magic on a clown budget. If you know what you want, then you can select the person, firm or group that will best be able to give you what you expect.

October 22, 2010

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Really great article stoney, i think there is a lot of SEO agencies out there that all promise the same results so it is tough to choose. Personally i would go with someone local who has proven results and price range should be in the middle, not to cheap but not to pricey either. I would also say that they have to provide monthly reports of how they have optimised your website showing statistics of rank, traffic increase etc.

Personally I think a good SEO consultant can work with the copy provided, and if absolutely essential should consult the writer regarding minor changes, all the people I deal with are happy to do this as long as its not a complete rewrite. SEO for me can often mean working with what you have and enhancing without to many visible changes, other than image additions of course.

I agree with you 100% on this, that's why I have hired separate people to help me out on the SEO part of my website. No one can do all these things. For example, checking the ROI of your SEO can take a lot of time and if you're hiring someone to fo the analytics, write for you, and build links -- you're in for a huge trouble. I'd say when doing a marketing campaign, you need 4 people: Marketing Manager, Content Writer, Optimizer, and Social Media Assistants. That's all.

Ok! i come across your blog after a long time and this article was awesome and i think thought this way the expert and professional. I think like doctors, lawyers and plumbers :) there must be the defined areas of expertise in SEO as well. This will allow the work to be more comprehensive and will generate better results.


SEO is a comprehensive subject and I believe that being an expert in each and every part of it is close to impossible. Having basic knowledge on a subject is one thing and having enough knowledge to call yourself an expert is something totally different. On the other hand expecting to get a huge boost in the SERPs on a limited budget is a big mistake and you will probably just waste your time.

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