How To Choose An SEO

The following articles will assist consumers that aren’t knowledgeable of what a search engine optimization consultant or marketer does or what to expect from an SEO/webmaster or website promotion service. The original articles were written between 2000 and 2003. The guide has been updated 3 times since the original posts were written with the previous update to the guide in October 2010/11 and the current guide in 2020.

Although SEO and to a lesser extent Social Media are constantly changing, understand that this guide is written knowing that search algorithms change frequently. However, because this guide is written to reflect major shifts like on-page to off page analysis i.e. link analysis at the time of writing in 2003, Universal Search in 2007 and a shift to “seemingly” measuring “buzz” and activity on the many social network sites in 2010/11 which missed the Panda update (first of the Google quality updates) by months.

The current update of this guide addresses quality updates like Panda, Penguin and the change to Entity Based Search by Google and the role of structured data and natural language processing with the additions of the knowledgegraph and rich snippets appearing in the SERP, Hummingbird and RankBrain and finally in 2019 the mobile index replacing the desktop as the main index.

Important changes to the guide will be in blockquotes and italicized font anything not in blockquote but in italics is an edit of the original doc that Terry believed is useful to the reader in the hiring decision.

It’s our hope that by using this FAQ, we can illustrate the success of our member standards. To date only 6 members have been removed, 2 for “questionable business practices”; 3 for plagiarism resulting in the decision to exclude India from the directory and lastly TrafficPower who are mentioned in some docs.

How content is discovered is changing and will only increase the need for webmasters and digital marketers to change the way websites are promoted. Facebook has emerged as a major force; YouTube is the second most popular search site; blogging, including micro blogging (Twitter and similar Social Networks), have all changed the way content is published and shared/distributed.

All Below Written by Terry Van Horne, AKA Webmaster T, a founding member of

Search Engine Optimization required skills: outlines the skills required by a search engine optimization consultant. Useful in judging their suitability for a project. Since the last update to the guide the complexity of SERPs has accelerated the need for SEO’s to possess more technical/specialized skills.
What you should expect from your search engine marketer: it is a given that top positions are expected. This guide informs you of what you should really expect in addition to top positions from a search engine marketer and why. The update of this page provides information on what to expect based on budget and costs of different services/skills. 
Search engine optimization and Submission services to avoid: There are many services to avoid. We explain these services and why they are best avoided. This update reflects the affects of Penguin and the many quality updates.
Find a Search Engine Optimization Consultant: outlines using search engines and other resources to find an SEO Consultant and perform due diligence. The update looks at some tools that are much easier to use to do your due diligence.
Why shouldn’t I just do this myself?: Good question! Many do try, few succeed. We explain why and how in the long run, this could be more costly than hiring a professional search engine optimization company. This update further addresses this topic with some suggestions for who might be better off doing at least part of the SEO themselves.

Related Resources

Google’s How to Choose an SEO Page: Google’s take on SEO services to avoid and how to choose an SEO! Some of the questions they suggest in the interview are hard for many SEO’s to meet due to non-disclosure with clients or a **reasonable** reluctance to share info that exposes proprietary techniques or knowledge.
Seo Pros Resource Page: Alan Perkins has published a number of papers on spam and ‘Best Practices’ which should be a “must read” for professionals and people looking to use SEO services. In addition to Alan’s reference there are links to many Forums, search engine and organizations a consumer can use to perform their due diligence.

About the Author and these Articles & FAQ’s

Written by Terry Van Horne, AKA Webmaster T, a founding member of the organization. T has been an active member of the SEO community since 1995, writing optimization and submission articles on TsWorldofdesign and advocating “best practices”.

Terry co-founded the SEO Training Dojo with David Harry and more recently is managing a site where Terry archived some 300 podcasts and interviews with the brightest minds in Search. In 2019 Terry is returning to SEO Pros and is no longer servicing digital marketing clients. Once again Terry is in the unique position of having no vested interest in the information provided and updated in 2020.

His intention for the articles is to provide information that consumers of search engine optimization and marketing services could use to understand:

  • what should be done
  • how it should be done
  • what they should realistically expect and why