Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My name is George and I do Search Engine Optimization. I am a member of a huge community of individuals and businesses that strives for helping random websites get a prominent position on Google or Bing, as a preceding step to getting visitors (a.k.a. traffic) and fulfilling a goal (usually sales, but could be any other).

The world of SEO is extremely competitive and strange, but be sure of something: it is not new. SEO started back in the 1990s when the Internet became a worldwide phenomenon, when the kings were Altavista and Yahoo!, and Google did not exist. Today things just evolved and are different. Almost twenty years later, however, one of the most notorious things about Search Engine Optimization is that it lacks formal education options.

Why does this happen? There are two reasons, in my opinion: the first one is that SEO is a changing matter, mutant knowledge, a constant hide and seek game with search engine algorithms; providing formal education under such complicated circumstances would be definitely risky. The second reason is that almost everything we know about search engine optimization comes to us as a consequence of trial and error tests with quite erratic conclusions. The lack of verifiable scientific method for SEO also makes this business somewhat esoteric.

To that I must add that search engines spokespeople have only admitted a few things which are helpful to rankings: that the speed of loading a webpage counts as a ranking factor (Matt Cutts, Google), that they ignore the meta keywords tag (Matt Cutts, Google; Duane Forrester, Bing), and that they obey or not the rel=nofollow attribute of certain links (Google and Bing do but Ask does not), or that they count who you are giving links to (Duane Forrester, Bing), among a few others. The rest, like it or not, is just a matter of analysis, testing, and trial and error.

With this in mind, any person who works with SEO should be cautious on the paths (s)he takes. Someone who is about to hire a search engine optimization specialist should be cautious too, as to who (s)he calls for the job. Search engine optimization requires someone to be analytic and social, simple and straightforward but also astute and daring. I thought that gathering a few guideline points could help us all provide and get a better service.

What qualities search engine optimization specialist should have?

In short...

 * (S)he needs to "get it"
Search engine optimization is not just a matter of building links and getting a decent ranking. More often than not it involves changing a site in whole or some parts, and (s)he should not be scared of doing it, or speaking with the designers or the programmers about it.

 * (S)he needs to go beyond the obvious
If the client says he wants to rank for "buy alligators online" (just an example) but you see he can perform a lot better when someone searches for "buy living alligators online" (again, just an example), then (s)he should go for it.

 * (S)he is not mean
To be maybe more honest than I should... Do you have any idea of how many times I have heard "The client wants to rank for 'pretty cat videos' and I will get him that ranking. If the site sells or not, is not of my business"? If you are going to hire someone for SEO make sure he is not going to 'just do the job' in the mean sense of the word. Your SEO specialist should be an ally for your business, not just another employee.

 * (S)he needs to know...
...How to write, as the Internet is mainly a written means of communication; to edit images, as it is required often; to write code for the web, HTML and CSS at the very least; ...and how to negotiate, analyze and follow up for results, as it will be just that what their clients will ask for.

In my humble opinion, if your potential Search Engine Optimization provider is not going to help you achieve what YOU want (it is always about you, after all), don't hire them.

About the author: George Aguayo is the person in charge of the Search Engine Optimization work at InTechCenter, a company which besides SEO offers software development, web design and multimedia services to its clients. In his free time, George loves writing, reading, and cycling.

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