I was just on LinkedIn and read the following question in a B2B Marketing group:

“Do you think getting SEO done for your website is a good idea when its B2B market we talking about?”

Is your SEO screwing you?I started to write a response to the many answers that came down the pipe, and suddenly realized I’d written, well, a lot. See, you never know when a blog post topic is going to jump out at you! My answer started out something like this:

Definitely – SEO (when done properly) can give B2Bs a massive ROI. Search engines are trying to organize the web’s content – that’s why they keep making so many changes to their algorithms (hundreds/year). There is a lot of SEO you can do on your own, simple on-page items that tend not to change much, such as title and description tags, anchor text, user-friendly navigation, etc.

When is it time to hire a professional SEO? When you stop understanding what you’re doing. When you start to get into things like 301 redirects, canonicalization, and microformatting, it may be time to call in the cavalry.

Then as I was writing, my answer took a bit of a turn, as I also wanted to address a statement made in the B2B Marketing thread by “Marcus.”

It sounds like Marcus had a really bad experience with an SEO firm. Unfortunately, this happens far too often. The thing about SEO firms and even SEO individuals is they must be transparent. Watch out for those who are trying to sell you a whole big show of smoke and mirrors.

How can you tell if you’re about to get duped by an SEO?

When they guarantee #1 rankings in Google for ANY keyword phrase – the only guarantee in SEO is that there are no guarantees. Organic SEO is a combination of art and science. There’s no mathematical wizardry that promises #1 rankings. A “real” SEO will tell you that up front.

Have you heard this from an SEO firm? “Sure, you have 10 pages on your website, no incoming links, a ton of ads, and  a bit of content. We’ll just work our magic, add some keywords, get links, fluff up the writing, send out some tweets, and you’ll be #1 in Google for your top three keywords – business, marketing, sales –  in no time.”

HA! Seriously? Ya seriously, I’ve heard it all. Organic SEO is a long-term effort. It requires commitment, patience, and carefully planned strategies that continue to evolve with the times.

There are very specific steps you can take – with or without an SEO, depending on your level of knowledge about the industry – to improve your online presence in the search results for a variety of targeted keywords and phrases. With an experienced combination of science (knowing how the algorithms work) and art (knowing your audience and what makes them tick), you can successfully climb up in the SERPs.

Do you have an SEO horror story?
Share it with us and help others avoid similar pitfalls.