For a long time, I’ve run my business doing pretty much everything myself. Rather than finding an accountant to do my accounts, I consulted my business textbooks from University and spent days figuring it out myself. I found it scary to hire experts.
Because whenever you hire an expert, you rely on their expertise. The only sure way to know they are telling the truth is to become an expert yourself. That’s how I initially got into SEO. Just learning the trade myself because I was afraid an hiring an SEO expert would cost me lots of $ and bring no tangible results. But no one can become an expert in everything.
Over time, I’ve learned to become a better judge of people, and to tell from people’s behaviour whether they really possess expert knowledge and skills. This article in Forbes sums it up nicely although it’s rather lengthy. I’ll summarize the 7 signs of expertise to look for, and add some SEO and internet marketing specific points to it. With these, you should be able to get form an impression looking at the “expert’s” website or LinkedIn Profile.
1. Real SEO experts care about YOU, not themselves
When you interview an SEO consultant, what kind of stories do they tell you? Are they trying to understand your specific situation and sharing relevant stories of how SEO has benefited similar companies in Singapore? That’s a good sign. Fakes tend to talk a lot more about themselves, whereas true experts are passionate about what they do and want to show how their SEO expertise can be of help in your particular situation.
2. Real experts have no trouble saying “I don’t know”
It’s impossible to know everything in the world, and a true expert knows the boundaries of their expertise. They rely on their knowledge and experience, and when a question goes beyond that, they do not want to mislead you. If an expert is truly excellent, they may be able to point you to someone who does have an answer for you.
3. Intellectual honesty
The world changes every day, and what worked for search engine optimization in Singapore last year, may not work any more today. When challenged by anyone, a true expert in SEO will honestly examine whether there is some truth to the objection. They don’t shut their ears for bad news but welcome it as a chance to learn. How to test this? See how the “expert” you’re interviewing reacts if you challenge them.
Fake experts have some knowledge or skills, which they try to rent out over and over again. True experts care about the field beyond wanting to make a living out of it day-by-day, and want to keep up with the latest cutting edge of developments. If during a working relationship, your SEO consultant proposes new strategies which he may not have used or tested before, that’s actually a great sign. The consultant is trying to stretch his expertise further. While results will not be as certain, you’ll get a chance to get cutting edge work done.
5. Not afraid to share
Fake experts may hold on tight to their knowledge and not give much away for free. They’re too afraid that after they’ve given away something there’s nothing left to charge for. True experts see the value of sharing their knowledge as a way to gain confidence. They know that their deeper expertise will shine through.
6. Experts can improvise
A fake expert can do some tricks by following some sort of standard procedure or rulebook. They can likely handle whatever falls in this category pretty well. But when the standard situation doesn’t apply or things break down, they are lost. A true expert’s knowledge, skills and experience is so deep that they have no trouble throwing away the rulebook and the scripts. Whatever happens, they instinctively know what to do next. When you last called a helpdesk or customer service line, was the person an expert, or following a script? You’ll probably find it easy to tell.
7. Real experts want to teach
Teaching is a skill in itself, and not one that all experts have mastered. But real experts have an instinct to teach. They simply cannot help but to share about their field and how it can be helpful in your life.
When you consider someone to take care of your online marketing efforts, are you hiring a true SEO Expert? Most commonly salespeople answer the phone or approach you. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself – who is the expert that’s going to be responsible for the work?