Are "The Experts" Really Experts?

There’s been a lot of backlash lately against the terms “guru” and “expert”, especially when dealing with SEO and social media. Frankly, these terms have irked me for some time, but I’m glad to see this is finally catching on.

What makes these people experts? And why are we so quick to jump and follow everything they say?

Who are the experts?

The so-called experts I’m speaking of fall in the social media, marketing and SEO category. To me, web design and development is measurable. Anyone can clearly see the difference between a terrible designer or developer and a good one. But how do you really measure marketing?

Some of the undisputed gurus in these areas are Chris Brogan and Seth Godin. Both of these marketing gurus have written multiple books in the area. I recently picked up several of these books and have been reviewing them over the year. It’s interesting to me though, to see how many people jump on the bandwagon to follow any advice these guys give.

Of course, I believe both are great marketers and most of their advice is sound. But what about the other millions of people claiming to be an “expert” on twitter? How good is their advice?

Why do they claim to be experts?

Anyone running a business will tell you that you need to be considered an expert in your field to really excel. While true, it’s up to the community to call you an expert, not yourself.

What makes marketers like Chris Brogan and Seth Godin seem like experts? Because they don’t call themselves experts.

What do these fake experts do?

The damage from these social media/marketing/SEO experts has already been done. I’ve had hundreds of these people follow me on twitter – and I ignore every one.

I had a client once ask me for some names of a good SEO company and I couldn’t think of one. How much business do legitimate marketers lose because of this?

I’ve always felt that SEO was cheating and most companies claiming to “get you to the top” were scammers. Your site shouldn’t try to cheat the system to get to the top because that ultimately screws the community. When I search for something, I want relevant content to come up, not some junk that someone stuffed with those keywords.

Your site should naturally rank well if you have great content, clean code and a use of accessibility and semantics. Of course, using keywords in this area isn’t wrong – and it will help your ranking – but it’s really your unique content that will rank your site.

What about real experts?

It still scares me though, the almost “cult” follower of experts – and this falls into the web dev and design world as well. Just because one expert claims you should do A or B, or C is junk doesn’t mean you should listen. You’ll never get anywhere following every experts’ advice.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on these “experts”?