The world is full of specialists. If you throw a rock up in the air, it's likely it'll land on someone who is an expert at something. This is true with many industries, and it's true with  and , too.

I've seen people portrayed as experts simply because they happen to have got up on stage and told people that they're experts. It's essentially a marketing ruse. If you shout it loud enough, people will believe you.

But there's a problem with the whole  thing. If you believe that someone is an expert in their field, and you let them loose on your website, you could end up in a bit of bother.

Let's say you're currently languishing at number 30 for the search term “plumber” and you hire a so-called expert to help you out. They do a bit of work using their top secret patented techniques, and you rise a few positions. You're now 22. However, a month later your rankings disappear, and you can't be found at all.

How do you tackle this problem? Could it be that the so-called  was using some techniques that put you in jeopardy with Google?

SEO is seen as a bit of a dark art still, and yet people are still unwilling to pay for proper advice, or indeed, a proper service. SEO isn't a dark art at all, it's actually a very transparent set of processes that will help you get more customers and in turn, get better rankings on search engines, but for that, you need to pay.

I've seen adverts for “complete SEO services” for £100.00 per month. This was a UK company, in fact, based in Birmingham. How could they possibly do it at that price?

It takes probably three hours to research and write one article. For a competitive term, you'll need to create three or four a month, but also research the keywords and competition. You'll also need to source images. On top of that, you need to create other assets such as infographics and videos.

A company based in Birmingham needs to be hiring itself out at least £50 per hour. Probably more than that if they've got city centre offices. So for £100.00, the most you can expect is an hour of consultancy.

Unless, of course, they're doing something dodgy.

Building links is cheap. It's also dangerous. There are tools out there that will build thousands of links for you on autopilot. They can result in your losing ranking or even being pushed out of Google all together. Is it worth the risk?

Of course, this isn't a rant about how you should be spending a fortune on your marketing, far from it. You can get good deals out there, but you have to weigh up the investment potential.

If you were to get to number one for a particular keyword, how much money would you make from it? If your answer is “many thousands of pounds” and the cost of this was just a few hundred, that sounds like a marvellous return on investment.

Now, turn it around. If someone said “give me £200 and I'll turn it into £5,000”, would you believe them? Probably not, and yet this is a scenario that's played out every day.

How to avoid the bad SEO Specialists

There's a simple checklist to follow, and believe me, it is this simple.

First of all, are they too cheap? Think about it, how many hours would you work for the same amount? If it sounds too cheap, then they can't be working in your best interest.

Secondly, do they have a “secret method”? Some companies have their own techniques that they keep to themselves, or maybe they advertise tactics that beat Google. That's the warning right there.

Nobody is out to beat Google. You can't beat Google, you can try, and you will lose.

Finally, are they transparent? Do they tell you exactly what they're doing, when they're doing it and where they're going to put it? If you're going to let these people create blogs on your behalf, are you sure you know what they're doing? Is their writing absolutely perfect and do they know about your product?

If you're at all unsure, you should keep asking until you get an answer and if that answer doesn't sit right, walk away.

Keep throwing stones until you find the SEO specialist that understands you, understands what you're after and most importantly, doesn't try to pick fights with Google.