Choosing an SEO Expert – Musing on an Attempt to Trademark “SEO”

There’s been a story brewing for quite some time about the attempt by Jason Gambert to trademark the term “SEO”.

Gambert claims that the words “search engine optimization” have no real linguistic English value beyond being a process;. So, he’s trying to trademark “SEO” as a service, basically claiming that “SEO” itself is Net lingo and has no “Official English linguistic value.”

In his blog, Gambert claims that “I am helping the search engine marketing community establish an approved SEO process, which can be sold as an ‘SEO service.'” He goes on to explain that other industries have standards and guidelines and, as these industries are recognised as services, it means that there is a way for consumers to identify practitioners with credible offerings Black hat forum.

Now, although we can jump on the “fry Gambert” bandwagon and I think that his idea is nothing more than a revenue/copyright ploy, I’m going to leave that to the rest of cyberspace. Instead, Gambert’s comments do raise an age old question that I would like to discuss: Do we need SEO standards?

It’s true that other areas of web development have standards: HTML has validation; w3c produces reams of standards on CSS and XHTML; there are standards for ECMAScript (most commonly JavaScript); but do these really create security amongst web designers and developers?

The SEO industry really does have its share of cheats and con artists. We’ve all heard stories of small business owners getting hoodwinked by SEO scams. Shouldn’t we, as responsible professionals, do something to remove the black-hatters from our field?

Perhaps we should, but is a body of standards the best way to go about it? I’m not convinced that standards will separate the expert from the swindler. Indeed, SEO was effectively started by scam artists – how else would you describe someone distributing spam to a forum in order to increase their own SERP?

Whom would the community trust as members of a body that certifies a person or company is following SEO standards? Never mind that, who would we trust to create those standards in the first place?

Yes, there are respected SEO professionals, but as a whole the industry is young enough to still be a little rough around the edges. Some might argue that this is exactly why we need standards – but consider what would happen if someone tried to create them and enforce them. You’d more than likely get a mess that’s even worse than what Gambert is trying to pull.

Would a body of standards prevent people who don’t do due diligence from getting scammed? No. Will it prevent those who carry the SEO trademark from scamming others? No. Gambert’s trademark claim should be invalidated as the cheap swindle it is and the industry should promote the ideals of SEO experts and educate consumers on what to look for in them; something that I will cover now.

What to Look for in an SEO Expert

Here’s the paradox: Bad SEO works, and works quickly, but will ultimately get you banned from the search engines. So, from a consumer’s point of view, poor (or black hat) SEO appears to give them results that they need. They pay. Then the expert is gone, just in time for the customer’s rankings to start falling like a blind roofer.

Like all things in life, nothing worth having ever comes easy; and quality SEO is no different. When looking for an SEO expert, this is rule number one:

Always ensure that the expert is prepared to offer a medium-to-long term relationship.

SEO is not a one-stop shop. It is not an overnight fix. It requires time to follow your keywords; to establish links and drive traffic from forums, blogs and article sites; to manage on-the-page metatags, titles and internal links; and manage off-the-page anchor text optimisation. 
All of this requires the expert to be on hand to compete and monitor the optimisation process. If they are unwilling to offer this, they may be a fly-by-night “expert”.

Does the expert know what they are doing?

This may seem like a very vague and expansive question, especially as consumers may not know what they are expecting of their expert. However, it is a pertinent question nonetheless. You and your SEO expert should look for three things before even attempting to optimise your site:

Are your customers searching for your products and/or services online?

This should be very easy for your expert to determine by putting the appropriate keywords in Wordtracker. It’s not just about whether people are searching for your kind of offerings online, though; it’s also about how many people are searching. If too few people are looking for you online, SEO on this area would be a waste of money – and your expert should advise you of this.

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