Are SEO consultants worth the money?

I came across a blog article today and was going to write a short reply to it.  It turned into a bit of an essay.  My biggest problem is explaining the big picture concisely enough to capture all the facts and not myself look like an idiot… easily done.

The post I commented on was here:

Are SEO consultants worth the money?

My reply is posted but I have included it below for reference.

Hi kmknight.

I do SEO myself and web design and anything else web related that comes along I suppose. I agree about the rates on SEO being surprisingly high and understand exactly what you are saying about doing it yourself to save money but I will raise a few points for you to consider and maybe this will go towards understanding why the rates can be like this.

1. Target keyword competition
2. changes in requirements
3. Linking quantity of quality
4. Navigation and usability
5. Social networking

1. Getting to the top of the listings for a specific targeted keyword is not easy if the competition is high. The standard method is the long haul of building good quality content over the long term and aiming towards a specific keyword by the end to generate more traffic, visits and return. Its all market dependant and if you check the PCC rates some high target keywords can be as much as 12 dollars A CLICK.

2. Google likes to change and adapt. If your running a business then you wont have the time to stay on top, so a dedicated “SEO specialist” should be on their game and aware of these upcoming changes and be ready to adapt to them. One prominent change coming is the localisation Google is implementing and this will affect many sites and their rankings (again). Business owners will always be looking for reliable people to outsource specific works hence the reaon for the existance of marketing companies, PR firms, designers, developers, builders, suppliers etc. Its all about the service.

3. Getting loads of links may be good. But it might be bad. SEO specialists should be able to find and obtain quality links rather than bulk loads of junk. One decent quality link may take 6 months to obtain but could be worth 1000 junk links. Would a business owner have the time or know how in acquiring this? No. The SEO Specialist should though.

4.SEO is on-site and off-site. Like you mentioned its ok getting 10,000 visits at the end of the day but if they are not buying then the site has something fundamentally wrong. SEO specialists should be able to manipulate the functionality and presentation of the site to ensure that those visits are being maximised to the greatest degree. I have always said I would prefer 100 visits and 90 purchases to 10,000 visits and 90 purchases. It all eats away at the ROI of the business in unseen costs such as bandwidth etc.

5. Blogging and branding are the way forward it seems in the social networking world and carefully structuring a brand around a product takes time and patience. Bad SEO practitioners will use every trick in the book to make a fast buck and eventually be removed or detested because of this. Building a respectable name and reputation is never easy.

For example, on your blog are you using the No follow attribute? Is this comment going to benefit me in any way because it is benefiting you. No follow is one small example of a bad idea that is automatically implemented and has to be removed by the user. Based on the theory that it would deter spam it hasn’t actually worked out like that and actually discourages people from interacting in the web 2.0 environment. I believe that a “real” comment should receive some benefit. It will encourage me to come back and read more on your blog and you gain a loyal visitor who will help grow your blog via interaction. Why shouldn’t the commenter be receiving some “link juice” as repayment for the time they are putting in?

Add all this together and you have a serious amount of variables to consider to adapt to, analyse and develop and while every man and his dog claims to be an SEO expert it is only the very few who have the ability to implement and apply all the required aspects of a Search Engine Optimisation specialist. How much would you value that person if they where helping you to make a serious income?

The biggest problem is the idiots out there who take people for money and deliver nothing or very little in return. (of course some clients expectations are totally unreasonable as well but that’s a different story for a different day).