What Does it Mean to be a Professional SEO?

Thursday, May 3

What Does it Mean to be a Professional SEO?

Many people, including most of my own family, have no idea what I do or how it’s of any benefit. This is common--most people think SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is just a matter of changing some magical code on the page, and that any website can get the benefits of SEO. This general misunderstanding is also why there are so many people able to offer SEO services; the average buyer has no idea what they are buying, and they end up buying the general idea of SEO than an actual SEO product.

SEO, when done properly by professionals, is very complex and involves much more than keywords with fairy dust. I would say that most website owners are not ready for true SEO. When I ran my agency I turned away over 90% of the clients that approached me for SEO services--there is no point in taking a client’s money and giving him or her something that will never work. Yes, they might be very happy to be #1 for their company name. You might be pretty tickled to have them think you are the king of SEO. But does it really drive their business forward?

Within my industry I have held true to the idea of “do it right, do it for long term, and do it for the right reasons.” I add the last one in because I have had offers from companies that have the right process the right long term goals but the methods of monetization go against my better judgment. I am very proud to say that in 10 years I have never promoted a gambling, pornography, or pill website.

Keeping this focus has given me less market share, but I have had some of the bigger companies come knocking on my door asking for my expertise: Alibaba, Dell, eBay, Expedia, Global Sources, Microsoft, Tesco--even the almighty Google has come looking for my services. But keeping a selective nature also means I don’t make the insane amounts that the "fairy dust" SEO sellers do. It’s much more profitable and easy to have a few hundred clients that you are charging $10k a month to simply change some META data once in a while (and advise them what you read on WW the night before) than it is to manage a project that involves dozens of departments and countless employees.

Being in the industry--and working with so many companies--I have seen "fairy dust" go for as high as $150,000/month. If you look around the industry you will see a lot of the SEO world more focused on creating a blog post then doing actual SEO work. This is because skill level in this industry, for some reason, has become based on the number of blog posts you make rather then your technical expertise and experience. If I was hiring a SEO professional I’d rather hire the head of class coming out of applied mathematics of Harvard then any of the SEO bloggers.

In a lot of my public talks I relate search engine optimizers to stock brokers, and search engines to stock markets. This comparison comes from search engine optimizers having millions of people that claim they can bring in returns--like stock brokers—but a lot fail and lose clients money while others simply just live off the natural flux within the markets/search engines. There are also the day traders and the DIY SEO’ers who believe they have the system beat. Then there are the elite who can not only to guarantee returns but are already making enough money themselves that the only reason they take on a client is to be able to make even more money using their personal formula for success. The formula for success in stock markets, like search engines, fundamentally never changes; and, it’s simply based on what the client wants to invest and how much they want to get back out.

The only real difference between a stock broker and an SEO is that, unlike a stock market, a search engine is a 100% mathematical puzzle--ultimately there are no unknowns in the search engines, so a true SEO professional has no reason for failure. While I don’t claim to know everything about the ranking formulas at Google I do know that there is a set formula, and with the right set of people (note to self: hire some ex-WWII code breakers) the formula can be fully understood. But for now I just live off of 10 years experience in dealing with the formula. Although you may never see my name on the Internet if you use Google you have definitely seen my work.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for explaining the SEO as I also want to know that.

Little girl.

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