Hire An SEO Professional: Why it’s important and how to tell the pros from the snakes

Today, it seems like everybody and their grandma claims that they can rank you high in Google searches. Their calls and emails are annoying, their promises confusing. You may have even reached the point where you decide to do nothing, rather than make the wrong choice and submit to the promises of a person who is – for lack of a better term – just another snake oil salesman.

So should you even hire an SEO? Absolutely.


SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the process of engineering a website so that it ranks well in the search engines for a user’s query. Most of us lack the specific skills required for this type of work.

If you have a physical ailment, you might do some research, but you hire a specialist to treat you. If you drive a luxury car, you may know how to change the oil, but if something complex goes wrong in the engine, you’re not going to grab a wrench and start tinkering around under the hood. You hire a certified mechanic. See where I’m going with this?

You need a pro, who lives and breathes SEO. Expert SEO professionals know advanced techniques that will help your strategy and overall search engine visibility. They understand the trends and can spot things that may help or hinder your success.

So how do you tell a good SEO from a snake oil salesman?

How to spot an SEO snake oil salesman:
They emphasize rankings over metrics.
Rankings are important, but they are influenced by a variety of factors and settings. Balance is key here. You want to drive quality traffic to your site and you want to know where it comes from. A good SEO will focus more on metrics, analytics and your ROI, NOT rankings.

They don’t focus on technical, content and links.
Remember, balance is key. You won’t rank well if:
> no one links to you.
> your content doesn’t reflect the keywords you wish to rank for.
> the search engines can’t read your site because of technical errors.

They lack transparency.
A good SEO professional has nothing to hide. They should give you access to your site, your analytics account, your AdWords account, etc.

They guarantee rankings.
We can’t control the search engines, and we can’t control the competition, so how could we guarantee rankings? It’s not possible and it’s not ethical.

They don’t follow the code.
Most quality SEOs abide by a code of ethics, pioneered by Bruce Clay Inc., a leader in the SEO industry. We recommend that you read the code of ethics before making your decision.

Quick tip: Go to Google and search for “how to find a quality SEO”. You’ll quickly find a theme among them.

Hiring an SEO pro is vital to your website’s success. Follow these tips to find the right pro for the job. But remember how to spot the snakes when they come hunting for your money.


  1. Allison’s post is spot on. Great assessment of good vs. “snake oil”…and personally I never found any uses for “snake oil”…so I’m always looking for the good. One thing I might add is that you get what you pay for. If someone offers to SEO a website for $100 a month on a contract and they are working from their bedroom in college, it’s a good sign of who NOT to go with. If they have a professional company that checks out and over the metrics and reports freely and want to help educate you and strategize at the same time…you are on a much better path to success with your SEO needs. Cheers, Chris