People often call me on the phone and inquire about my skills as an SEO expert. I love to joke around, and so I will often ask them, how did you find me? And they will usually say something like I Googled “SEO expert San Francisco,” or I searched on Bing for SEO consultants in the San Francisco Bay Area. And then I will say, “Well, who was at the top of that search?” And then they will usually say, “Well, you were.:
So then I say to them does that imply to you that I might be an expert when I’m near the top of the page, or at the top of the page for search engine optimization in what is arguably the most technologically sophisticated region in the world – the San Francisco Bay Area? I don’t want to sound arrogant, but that usually explains to them that I must know something, and can probably help them.
So the average small business owner or marketer who calls me is actually easy to persuade that I actually know what I’m doing. Moreover, if we actually engage on an SEO consulting project, I try my best to provide detailed reporting, and that reporting usually shows an improvement in their rank on Google or Bing, as well as an improvement in their web traffic and even their sales. In fact, if we don’t improve, then I would expect them to fire me. They can go hire someone else and see if someone else is better. That’s okay by me because I’m not a genius just an expert.
Technical SEO vs. Content / Social SEO
However, in other venues, it is not quite so easy to be seen as an expert in SEO. My beloved SEO industry is plagued by extremely arrogant, technical people. These people come historically out of the original wave of technical SEO and they believe that if you do not know how to code in Java or C, if you did not get a degree in computer science from Yale University, or if you’ve never configured a Novell network, you cannot possibly be someone who is an expert in SEO.
I, however, am not a believer in technical SCO. At least not anymore. So we don’t really get along – this technical SEO camp and the camp I live in, which I would call the content / social camp of SEO.
The reason for this is that more and more, good content is important for Google, and social authority is increasingly important as well. Links remain the most dominant factor that helps someone in their Google rank, and after the Penguin update, it is increasingly difficult to game the system. SEO is increasingly becoming a game of content and social authority. This does not play well into the technical camp, and like so many unhappy campers in history before them, they become increasingly angry, frustrated, and pseudo-arrogant as the curtain closes on their particular skill set. As it stands, it’s best to specialize in a specific industry and do it really well. This means you won’t spread yourself too thin trying to understand the industry your client is in, which is important for good SEO. For example, a roofing SEO company would be able to bring better business to roofers and be able to bring lots of positive change to their online presence.
Another area that frustrates me about being a true expert in search engine optimization is book sales. I self published my SEO Fitness Workbook on Amazon, and am usually in at least the top 10 bestsellers for search engine optimization, if not one of the top two or three in the category. Am I published by some prestigious New York City publisher? No. But does that matter in today’s book selling market? No. What matters is book sales, and what matters is honest reviews by real readers that tell a legitimate tale of a book that actually helped them.
So am I an SEO expert in the eyes of many of the technical smarty-pants of the search engine optimization industry? Probably not. Am I considered an expert by the New York City publishing community? Probably not
But am I an expert where it counts? Yes. I am generally at the top of Google for Bay Area searches for SEO expert or SEO consultant, I generally help my clients to dominate the search engines and provide metrics that substantiate that achievement, and my books not only sell well on Amazon but also receive very good reviews.
An Expert Where it Really Matters: Results
To be an expert where it counts is what matters to me.