How to hire the right SEO expert for your small business

For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of running educational webinars that help companies to transform their business with inbound marketing. And long before that, I was practicing it, as I still am.

However, beyond hosting webinars – I also frequently have conversations with companies who have been doing inbound marketing for a while and are looking to refine their efforts.

While both parts of my job are equally satisfying – the conversations I’ve had with customers lately regarding SEO have been incredibly interesting.  It’s no secret that the world of SEO is forever changing, however, it appears that an insurgence of “SEO Experts” have recently emerged.  More than ever, customers are asking whether they should hire this “SEO Expert” that has recently reached out to them.

Whenever I hear somebody is going to hire an “SEO Expert” I immediately cringe. I cringe for two reasons:

  1. I know that 90% of the time, this “expert” is not really an expert at all. 
  2. The “expert” will most likely engage in techniques that will only favor the business short-term – and can potentially damage the business’ online presence long-term.
  3. And some people think an “SEO Expert” will immediately be able to fix their traffic problems.

I’ve seen the damaging affects that the wrong SEO hire can result with because of the customers I’ve engaged with. And it can come in a few forms:

  1. The SEO guru will claim to optimize the page title which will result in higher ranking, but usually these page titles are not true to their content – or what’s on the page – causing confusion not only with Google, but also with searchers.
  2. And they often promise to provide inbound links to the website – which is good for off-page SEO, but these links often come at the risk of them employing black hat techniques.

Well, I’ve seen enough. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and show you some of the emails I’ve received to my blog ( from people who claim to be SEO experts. Yes, I get this spam too. Lucky for me, I understand the intricacies of inbound marketing, and I’m able to spot a fake from far, far away.

The following are three emails I’ve received from SEO experts who can help me “improve my rankings.”

Side note – these are the traps that most small businesses tend to fall in to. Afterward, I’ll explain how you can see their deceit right from within the emails.

“It’s a fact: more people find out about your business on Facebook or Twitter than on search engines. Making these sites work maybe tricky for you, but it’s business as usual for us. Let us improve your visibility and enhance your image. It’s part of our complete Internet Marketing package. We’ll be more than your friends — we’ll be your partners. ”

We offer quality Search Engine Optimization / SEO Services and Internet Marketing Solutions. Our dedicated team of SEO Professionals ensures Top 10 search engine rankings. Our SEO Processes are designed in view of the SEO guidelines, and white hat SEO techniques are strictly followed to ensure that our clients from world over get the best SEO services. Please reply to this email so we can send you more details. “
“We can increase rankings of your website in search engines. Please reply back for more details.”
Now there are plenty of problems with the messages above that I received through my sites “Contact Us” form – and they are as follows:
  • First indicator of unreliable experts are the email addresses.

All three are not professional and neither came from a hosted domain – but rather a free email hosting site. Now this doesn’t always indicate foul play, but would you want to put your business in the hands of stellafair217, ballardivan9 or donnagabriel18? I hope not.

  • The first “company” says it’s a fact that more people find sites from Facebook or Twitter than search engines.

    That is actually not a fact. Where people find your website depends on who your buyer persona is and where they go for information. Yes, in some cases they may use Twitter or Facebook more, but that is mostly unusual. And as a marketer who had complete insight into my own websites marketing metrics, I know that most people actually find my site from Google. So nice try StellaFair.

  • The second company ensures “top 10 search engine rankings”

    And as any inbound marketer knows, there is no way to guarantee or ensure rankings. And if you do, we can usually assume there are some less than honest marketing tactics they’re using.

  • The third company barely provides any detail.

    This one is simply a joke. They have made zero effort to help me – and it is evident.

  • All three messages are obviously a canned message.

    If they were serious about trying to help, you think they’d put some effort into it by customizing it in some way. All of these are message that could be sent to anybody as there is no personalization resulting in that spammy feel.

  • They’re both lacking a good quality bottom of the buying process offer.

    As any marketer knows, a strong call to action at the end of the message is incredibly important. Both should have included a form or an opportunity for their potential new business to get a free consultation or free SEO assessment. We use these offers to entice people to see what we have to offer and prove our industry prowess by investing just the right amount of time. In the message from ballardivan9 – the “please reply to this email so we can send you more details” is incredibly passive and unprofessional.

  • It’s all about them.

    Any good inbound marketing knows that the buyer is now in control. And we’re not here to just close a deal, we’re here to build relationships, prove our expertise from our helpful information and tips – versus simply closing somebody.  And we do this because it’s not just about closing a customer, but also delighting them into a promoter or a raving fan.  This is almost impossible to do if you’re simply out for yourself.


If you’re planning to hire an outside company to help you with your inbound marketing, seo or any online marketing, be sure to do your research first. Look for references, legitimacy, thoughtfulness in their message, proof of results and even Google search their names or business to see what you can find. Otherwise, not only can it result in loss of money, but it can also result in being penalized in search engines like Google or Bing.

Google has a super helpful article on how to hire the right SEO company that I recommend checking out.

And lastly, if you feel you’ve been deceived by an “SEO Expert” don’t hesitate to file a complaint with the FTC.  To file a complaint, visit their website ( and click on “File a Complaint Online” – or call 1 (877) FTC-HELP. If your complaint is against a company outside of the US, file it at

Have you experienced deceit or spammy messages from self-proclaimed experts of SEO? What stood out to you as a immediate indicator of illegitimacy? Feel free to leave comments below.

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