A professional is required to possess a large knowledge derived from extensive academic and practical training. Typically a professional provides a service in exchange for payment in accordance with established protocols for licensing, ethics, procedures, standards of service and training/certification.
A search engine optimization professional focuses on optimizing website to attract the attention of search engines and improve rankings. Their specialty areas are "organic" search engine listings - i.e. free. Decision related to the hiring of a SEOP is the most risky one. There are many who can guarantee a top 10 search engine ranking. Believe it or not securing a top 10 ranking is easy but getting viable quantities of targeted traffic is something different.
Following points should be considered while working with a SEOP:
A Search Engine Optimization Professional should be informed about the company/product market and previous marketing attempts. A good SEOP will ask a lot of questions before signing the dotted line, to know the terms they should be focusing on and the marketing challenge that awaits them.
Search engine professionals prepare and submit listing request to the major web directories as well as industry-specific portals. This is an important service - a well written description as well as a carefully chosen directory category can hike chances of getting listed quickly and accurately. Directory listings are valuable links that add to your link popularity and can send traffic in their own right. Many web directories are still free but several have paid options that can speed your review.
Directories such as Yahoo! and Business.com are paid listings only. Directory submission specialists can let you know what options and fees are available. One should be alert of a SEOP offering site submission to 128,564 search engines and directories - many of these directories will be FFA sites, not a good thing.
Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to search engines such as Google. Google constantly refine their ranking algorithm, otherwise the only sites to rank at the top will be the ones that can afford the services of an optimization professional.
A good SEOP can achieve great things for the site whereas a bad one may cause you to be banned from some engines through spamming or other unethical "quick fix" strategies. Some of these unethical strategies include: Keeping hidden text or hidden links; creating pages with irrelevant words; creating multiple pages, domains and sub domains with identical content as well as making doorway pages specifically designed for search engines i.e. the user never sees them. Once a firm is banned it is too difficult to crawl back to the top.
Being banned or penalized from a search engine happens to most webmasters at some stage of their career. If it's a mistake on the search engine's part, it will *usually* be rectified the next time their spider crawls your pages. An intentional ban is a completely different story.
The bottom line is that a SEOP should be selected, so that the results are obtained ethically. Though it takes time to go by ethical means, it gives long term results.