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Run far, far away. Very fast.

A week ago I wrote an article which suggested that many “search engine optimisation” (SEO) consultants out there were little more than charlatans, and I’d like to thank the many of you who emailed me with sympathetic messages based on your own experiences. There are some great ones out there, although they rightly expect decent fees, and I do understand that it’s often a sign of the immaturity of the customers that forces even good SEO consultants to resort to claiming they’ll “get you to number one on Google”, because that’s what the customers want.
For what it’s worth, the “SEO industry” is wrestling with its conscience: I’m sure many of us will, at one point in our careers, have been the “good guys” in a market where the snake oil salesmen have moved in, and it’s an infuriating situation. There was a time in the nineties, when I was a trade magazine editor, which saw the market swamped by the “colour separations” cowboys, many of whom were peddling entries in magazines which weren’t even going to be published. I thought the only way to let everyone know that my own magazine, Industrial Technology, wasn’t in that market, was to shout from the rooftops that “colour separations” was a meaningless term being used to avoid the term “paid-for editorial”, and fortunately our advertisers got the message. I believe the magazine remains an example of honest practice to this day.
If you want to see a highly-regarded SEO consultant discuss the problems in his own industry, read Guaranteed Search Engine Ranking – Guaranteed Search Engine Optimization by Michael Martinez on the SEO Theory and Analysis blog. Often a contrarian in his industry, this time the author thoroughly agrees with the conventional SEO wisdom that if anyone offers you “guaranteed search engine ranking” or “guaranteed search engine optimization”, run far, far away. Very fast.
For my part, I think the best approach is to learn what this is all about yourself and to manage your website’s SEO optimisation yourself. Getting the basics right really isn’t that difficult, as the best SEO consultants would agree.

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