This is a guest post from Rebecca Kelley, formally of SEOmoz and now director of social media marketing at 10e20.
Nowadays it seems like everyone's an expert, especially when it comes to the vast wasteland known as the Internetz. People are popping up like whack-a-moles and advertising their expertise as Internet marketers and SEO/social media experts, and oftentimes it's difficult to distinguish the experts from the fakers. Thankfully, there are a few obvious signs that identify you as either a noob, a hack, a fake, or all of the above, and I thought I'd highlight some of them in this post.
1. You have music on your site. Nothing like some auto-loaded windchime sounds to get you in the mood to hire an Internet marketer!
The same goes for videos that automatically start as soon as you land on the page. You're not trying to sell me a used car, for crying out loud – enough with the hokey in-your-face sales pitches and tactics.
2. You use some stupid, unreadable font on your site and in your emails. Your website and email correspondence shouldn't look like they were designed by my 58 year old aunt. Stick with a default, professional looking font and avoid anything that's cursivey, flowing, or just plain hard on the eyes. Nothing says “I shouldn't be taken seriously” like an email composed in a size 16 Vivaldi font.
3. Your content is chock full of typos. Some people can get away with typo-laden blog posts, but if you're trying to market yourself as a professional who's selling consulting, first impressions are key, and if the first thing I see when I come to your site is “Unparalelled SEO Serivces” and you talk about how “We guarantee you're sites sucess in the SERPs,” I'll be hitting the “Back” button before checking to see how often you screw up “to,” “two” and “too.” Speaking of guarantee…
4. You “guarantee” #1 positions for keywords. If you have this claim on your site, it means that you'll either get top positions for bullshit long-tail search terms (“Good news! You now rank #1 for “monkey penis tears-free shampoo!”) or you'll do something seriously shady to get those top rankings and a penalty is right around the corner. Real SEO professionals don't “guarantee” #1 rankings because they don't want to promise something that might not happen, despite their best efforts (Wikipedia, anyone?). In the words of Tommy Boy, “Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.”
5. One(ish) word: Flash-tastic. I actually once came across an SEO's website that was entirely in Flash. That's kind of the ultimate “Do as I say, not as I do.” I know a lot of SEOs with less than stellar optimized websites, but if you're rocking the Flash like it's 1999, that's kind of ridiculous.
6. You advertise that you can optimize a site for “hundreds of major search engines.” Oh really? All hundred of them? Wowser, so you must know of the other 996 top secret search engines that nobody else is optimizing for! Yeah, yeah, I know there are some local directories and vertical search engines that are important, but if you're trying to claim that there are hundreds and hundreds of search engines that you need to optimize your site for, you're just blowing steam up your client's ass and trying to seem like more of an expert than you actually are.
7. You have a “Links” page on your site. Oh sheesh. If you're rocking the “Links” page as well as providing thorough instructions on how to engage in a link exchange and what anchor text to use when pointing to your site, I'm guessing you're a ticking time bomb of fail. You might as well greet Google with giant blinking text on your home page that says “I'm shady and ignorant! Please penalize me!”
8. You hire someone to do your own site's SEO. A colleague of mine was checking out some SEO freelance forums and actually came across a posting from a guy who wanted to hire someone to rank his site for “SEO services,” “search engine optimization services” and similar keyphrases. Uh, dude, if you're a supposed SEO/Internet marketing expert and you need to hire someone to rank your site for the search engine optimization services you offer and supposedly excel at, something is seriously wrong.