I just finished reading an article titled Breaking SEO Myths Part One: The SEO Expert by Daniel Dessinger, a Dallas-based copywriter. In his article, he thoroughly trounces on the SEO industry, but he makes some valid points. To be honest, I really didn't find myself disagreeing with him very much. Let me quote a few passages from the article. He says:

Could there be another industry more inflated by ego, misinformation, and repetition than search engine optimization?

and

No SEO “expert?? or firm knows all of the search engines’ secrets. So how do they write so many articles, blogs, and forums with such authority? And why are the ones pinky swearing that they’re honest only telling you enough to maintain enough mystery to keep you relying upon their expertise and yet still wondering what the heck they are doing behind those closed doors?

and

Am I saying that they’re all scam artists? No. Many of them aren’t. But even the ones who are legit are still count on an air of mystery and difficulty to keep the client from demanding too many specific answers. Why? Because if these search engine specialists revealed all that they know to a client, they know that an intelligent client would be unimpressed. The truth is that most companies could perform their own SEO and be quite successful.

and

If you don't believe me, subscribe to a few SEO newsletters and catch up on your SEO articles. See for yourself if you don't read the same thing over and over, only presented in a different order or from a different angle. Study which groups or individuals support and compliment each other in SEO articles, forums, and blogs. Notice how they build a castle of thoughts out of thin air. In this industry, some will corroborate each other if it means reinforcing the fuzzy logic that has benefited their own business. The lack of fresh information is fairly convincing evidence that search engine optimization and keyword research are not all that complicated. If they were, the experts wouldn't have to recycle to put out new articles and blogs.

He does mention that some highly competitive industries usually require someone with expertise, and he recognizes that some businesses would simply prefer to outsource this work for various legitimate reasons. He also gives some sound advice on how clients should carefully evaluate any prospective SEO that they are considering hiring.

Despite the fact that I feel like I "should" be upset with this article, I'm not. Frankly, he's pretty much right on with his analysis. If I didn't believe that SEO could be learned by just about anyone with a modicum of intelligence, I wouldn't bother to give SEO tips on my blog. In fact, the basics can be learned fairly quickly. However, an experienced SEO has so much under his/her belt that he or she is unlikely to make any disastrous mistakes. Newbies make huge mistakes all the time, and those mistakes can often be difficult to undo. SEO is no different than any other specialized field. Of course, the information can be learned by anyone willing to do so. However, mastering the nuances only comes from testing, trial and error, and experience. Those clients who are willing to do the kind of testing needed to learn the subtle nuances of optimization must also be willing to put their sites' rankings at risk.

So, while I believe most businesses benefit from hiring a good SEO, Mr. Dessinger really does have a decent understanding of the industry as a whole. I would like to point out to Mr. Dessinger, however, that many SEOs freely share information via forums and blogs, and while they may not give up all their knowledge for competitive reasons, that doesn't make them any different than any other business who is unwilliing to share corporate secrets. Business is business, and I'm sure clients understand that as well.