While I was scrolling through some of the questions on Quora the other day, one question stood out to me amongst the rest, “What should I look for in an SEO consultant?” Personally, I have several years of experience as an SEO specialist. I’ve met SEO consultants and specialists of all walks of life. Some are great and love what they do while other SEO consultants should be avoided at all costs.

My biggest pet peeve is when an SEO consultant makes guarantees. The only guarantee I ever made to a client was “I guarantee you I won’t use the word guarantee because I can’t guarantee you anything.” The only two things guaranteed in life are death and taxes! I may sound incompetent, but in reality any honest SEO consultant would agree. In every SEO campaign you are competing with thousands or millions of other websites who are dedicated to acquiring the number one position on Google. Every client has a different industry, web site, keywords, and competition making it impossible to determine when, where, and what strategies need to be used to make that website rank for a given keyword. It could take only day to achieve a number one position; in contrast, it could take two or more years. With some hard work, dedication, time, and the right people anything is possible.

An SEO consultant must have hands on experience to be deemed trustworthy. I had a friend a few years ago who created his own SEO company. As excited as I was for him, I felt horrible for his clients because I knew he only had experience selling SEO and not actually implementing SEO. He outsourced his clients’ work out of the country to save money and time. What a mistake. He had irrelevant keywords, misspellings, bad grammar, and poor quality work. It was awful. His clients thought they were buying a professional service when in reality they were getting a middle man who sold them out.

If you’re dealing with an agency, it is important to receive an invitation to their office. If an agency does not invite you to their office, there’s a good chance they’re hiding something. Miserable workers, outdated equipment, lack of care, who knows. Go to their office, meet people working on your account, and make sure the agency has nothing to hide.

All credible SEO strategists know that SEO is an ongoing process and not a quick one-time $300 job. It takes time and work to achieve good rankings. Search results change every day and search engine algorithms change often. Naturally, someone needs to monitor and adjust your website to the changing times.

You want an SEO strategist who has the answers to all your questions in a technical language you don’t really understand. Why is this important? Just because your SEO consultant can explain SEO, doesn’t mean he knows SEO. In my experience most SEO technical talk comes from playing the game and lamens terms comes from sitting on the sidelines. An SEO consultant who does not understand the lingo has little hands on experience.

Too much bragging can also be bad. If you’re looking to hire an SEO consultant, you want to know what he can do for you and how he intends to do it. It can be fun to brag about your achievements, however, just because something worked well for him in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to work for him again. Bragging can also lead to unrealistic expectations that are not obtainable. Too much bragging can deceptively influence you to work with that SEO consultant. The last thing you want is an SEO consultant who is all talk. In addition, if your SEO consultant is afraid to tell you the negative aspects, then your SEO consultant is not being honest with you. In this case, you should find a new SEO consultant immediately! Personally I feel more comfortable telling a client this did not work, this is why, and this is my new strategy. Opposed to hoping they will never find out. No dirty little secrets!

Any type of talk regarding template sites and adlib content should put up a red flag. Now templates regarding design is different and is your designer’s responsibility. When I say template sites I’m referring to sites that are duplicates of each other with adlib content. Adlib content is considered duplicate content, which can have a negative effect on your rankings, or get you banned from Google. A great way to ensure adlib content will not be used is to ask “Who will be responsible for developing new content for my site?” Your SEO consultant should be a copywriter or have a copywriter. Copywriting is a process of developing original, highly optimized content. Developing good copy may take time and cost money, but it delivers results.

Well, I’ve discussed my main pet peeves in SEO consulting. Feel free to leave comments about what your SEO consultant did to aggravate you or ask questions regarding whether or not your SEO consultant is trustworthy.