With hundreds of voices clamoring to be heard, most professing to be God’s gift to SEO, it can seem impossible to figure out who to listen to. The fact that there is so much disagreement in what they all have to say makes it even tougher.
So how do you pick the right voice to heed?
There’s no universal formula for separating the wisdom from the BS. What works for you might not work for anyone else. But here are a few things you might want to consider when you’re trying to figure out whether someone’s opinion is worth considering.
- Do they offer any real evidence for their claims?
- Do they make it clear when they’re stating an opinion, that it’s only that?
- Do they listen to differing points of view?
- Are they objective, admitting that they may not know all the facts?
- Do they cite “tests” or “experiments” that exhibit no more scientific approach than a coin toss?
- Do they try to bolster their own position by belittling that of others?
The first 4 points are positives… if the candidate exhibits those characteristics, it’s a plus in their favor. To me, these traits indicate a desire to present an even-handed argument, without misleading, while ensuring they’ve considered all reasonable possibilities.
The last two, at least for me, are show-stoppers. #5 is likely to show you correlation, while claiming it “proves” something. #6 should be a red flag… if that’s the best argument they can present, then they have no argument.
Gauging the value of their arguments
You won’t come across a single blog post or discussion thread by which you can bracket any individual as credible or not. It’s much more likely to be a trend that appears over a period of time and a variety of topics. When you’re spending a lot of time looking for opinions, you’ll find no shortage of them. Odds are that after you’ve seen a dozen or so such instances from an individual, you’ll get a pretty good feel for how reliable a source they may be.
A few “rules” that might be helpful, to help offset the more judgmental points above:
- Years of experience count… but alone, it’s not enough to establish credibility. Young newcomers can sometimes bring a lot to the table. Conversely, old-timers can occasionally be total idiots.
- A lack of visibility doesn’t equate to a lack of expertise. Just because someone rarely offers their opinion doesn’t mean they don’t have one. It also doesn’t mean they’re not brilliantly qualified… maybe they’re just shy. Or busy. Or not interested in sharing.
- Just because everyone seems to disagree with them doesn’t mean they’re wrong. History abounds with innovators that swam against the current and were later proven to be right.
- Just because everyone seems to agree with them doesn’t mean they’re right, either. The more notoriety one has, the fewer people are inclined to publicly disagree with them.
- Someone can be the best there is at one part of SEO and totally worthless at another.
- Nobody’s good at everything, so be fair when assessing someone’s capabilities
Often, recommendations from others that have used someone’s services or worked with them will be valuable. Still, we each have to sort through the noise and try to find the signal, and nothing can tell us with certainty how it’ll work out until we’ve actually tried their recommendations for ourselves.
Of course, if you still can’t decide who to listen to, you could just decide to take a radical approach and test your own theories. That way, if something doesn’t work out well, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself.
The key is to apply critical thinking skills to your analysis. If you don’t possess those skills already, you’d better find a way to get them… without a doubt, they’re the most powerful tool in your kit.
Latest posts by Doc Sheldon (see all)
- Just Another Pothole in an SEO Client Relationship - September 8, 2015
- Are You Your Own Worst Enemy With Marketing? - June 17, 2015
- Dear SEO Industry: Haters Don’t HAVE to Hate - March 31, 2015
- Separating the SEO Signal from the Noise - February 19, 2015
- Is SSL a Blackhole? Or is it the Event Horizon? - January 6, 2015