By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Sometimes you’ve just got to evangelize for others, and get the message out for all those people who may be thinking negatively about an industry. SEOs, bear with me.

If you’re a small-business owner, chances are you already know people calling themselves SEOs (short for Search Engine Optimizers) and SEMs (Search Engine Marketers). They cold call you while you’re having lunch, with guarantees of page one results on Google and other search engines, they fax you daily with promises of untold business riches when incorporating their $49 a month secret search engine strategies, they fill your e-mail inbox with competitor bashing offers that appear just too good to refuse, they are even increasingly showing up with magical SEO presentation sales booths, at your niche industry conferences.

I too know these charlatans, thieves, scam artists, low down dirty no good for nothing bottom dwellers, and just basically scum of the digital earth. Problem is, they may be everything I just stated, but they’re not SEOs, or at least not the people I’d recommend you do business with.

The people I know as SEOs are absolutely passionate about what they do. Beyond what most people would possibly imagine, they are hard-working, generous, caring, social, and community driven. They are intelligent thought leaders of a new and much-needed industry, and they do help an untold number of small business owners, individuals, and even corporate enterprises, connect better with their audiences.

Earlier today, Carsten Cumbrowski authored an article that appeared on Search Engine Journal, titled the SEO Reputation Problem. I came across the story during my early morning visit to Sphinn, a fairly new web site that offers an organized collection of some of the most popular current topics related to the search engine industry.

Carstens article linked to and reminded me of a post on the same SEO Reputation topic, authored by Lisa Barone of Bruce Clay Inc. Lisa had summarized a discussion featuring several leaders in the industry, that took place at an August search engine conference, known as SES.

If you take the time to read Lisa’s article, you may realize that these people not only care greatly about what they do, they care enough to gather together and have discussions about how they can better serve their clients, and even how they can better help those who may not be clients, avoid the pitfalls and perils that can be encountered when seeking advice and services in the growing industry of Search.

In Lisa’s article, Kristopher Jones, CEO of Pepperjam, states “the most important conversation you have to have with a client as an SEO is one about expectations. If that discussion doesn’t take place, the client will come in with expectations that are unreasonable and that just propagates the idea that SEOs are unreasonable.” I believe, if that discussion does not take place, a lose-lose situation develops.

On his blog earlier this month, Lee Odden shared what I’d consider a valuable resource, and a fitting example of how some leaders share with others in the industry. Evaluating Client Search Marketing Readiness is a post that can help to assist SEOs in developing that all important conversation with potential clients. The same article can help business owners better understand what it is they should be prepared for when seeking a successful SEO relationship.

The SEO industry can learn from the industry of Chiropractic. Before you decide I’m making a shameless plug, consider this… Not having that conversation about expectations results in societal thinking that a solution to a long-term problem can and should be resolved in a single Band-Aid event, and for under $49. While it’s the method that proves most successful, those that suggest a long-term balanced approach with a focus on optimal results for their clients, risk developing a public perception that they are greedy and/or practicing outside the norm of the industry.

Unfortunately, as Jennifer Laycock pointed out in the above-mentioned Lisa authored SEO discussion, this sets up the opportunity for a competitor to call out an honest, well-intentioned individual as a scammer, simply because of the public perception that surrounds the industry.

Specialists in the field of Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, can continue to work together and provide a more united front, separating themselves from those that are preying upon newcomers seeking assistance.

Those of us that have reaped the benefits of late-night hours of research and dedicated hard work of search industry professionals, can volunteer our time by giving back with articles like this one, offering the general public a testimonial of sorts, as to the ethical and effective approaches taken by those, that continue to provide their clients with great success.