We live in an amazing time. Every one of us has access to billions of pages of information in seconds. We’re just a couple of clicks away from any answer to any question we care to ask…and more.
I’m the last person to knock information sharing and learning. The challenge is that there are now legions of pseudo-experts in SEO and other industries who share their opinions on subjects they don’t fully understand. These people have taken information solely from reading “top ten” blog posts… even from other so-called experts.
Pseudo-experts can be hard to spot; they often look and act just like the real thing. But there can be consequences if you hire one to build your website or run your marketing campaign. With no past success and very little real-world experience, a pseudo-expert can waste your time and money. They can even do lasting damage to your business.
It’s important to discover if you’re working with a pseudo-expert as soon as possible. But how do you tell?
5 Traits of Pseudo Experts
1. They Can’t Provide Measurable Proof
Always look for data-based evidence that supports the claims your “expert” is making.
If they say they’re search engine experts, ask them to provide proof of traffic increases from past projects they have worked on. Do their websites actually rank on Google? Are they actually taking the time to do what they say they do?
If they claim to be lead generation experts, ask them about their sales funnel and how they get new prospects. Ask them what metrics they use. Do they have examples, or do they conveniently dodge the question? Watch out for answers like “I signed an NDA and can’t share any of that information.”
2. They Can’t Provide References
Ask for the contact information for at least 3 people from real organizations, and then do the due diligence. Real experts will get results that benefit real people.
3. They Don’t Have Clear Answers To Reasonable Questions
A pseudo-expert doesn’t truly understand their field – they’ve just memorized a few high-level facts. Dig a little deeper. Ask how they know what they say they know. A real expert will take the time to explain – they’ll give you as much detail as you have time for.
4. They’re An Expert in Everything
There’s a certain type of know-it-all that just has to have their say on whatever happens to be the topic at hand. If the discussion turns to cars, they know which one you should buy. They also know exactly what you should do when it comes to investments, parenting, fitness, your computer…it’s almost funny to watch them refuse to admit they don’t know something.
5. They Paint a Picture of a Perfect World
I’d love to live in the world that some of these people talk about. It’s all easy – there’s no risks, no downsides, and nothing to lose. Except the money in your wallet, that is!
The Confidence Game
Don’t be fooled by confidence! Some pseudo-experts are great actors who have mastered their body language and tone of voice.
Others may have no idea how little they know. Some people are in the grip of an illusion known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which the victim is too ignorant to recognize their lack of expertise. The opposite effect can make bona fide experts unsure of themselves. It stems from being so deeply immersed in their field they may not realize that not everybody knows what they do!
The Real Deal
A real expert has overcome challenges. They’ve seen sites get hacked and know how the problem was resolved. They’ve watched their clients’ sites drop in the search engine rankings and know what it took to get them back on track. A true expert can provide a realistic answer on how long things will take to get fixed if they go wrong, or how long it really takes to start getting more leads.
A real expert understands the big picture and can draw on their past experience to find solutions to new problems. A real expert doesn’t just have an opinion – they can actually back it up. Reading and learning new things is great, and true experts do that too, but nothing can replace actually being in the trenches and learning from working with clients and new situations.
In the end, it all comes down to 2 things: experience and evidence.