I have been involved in search engine optimization since 1997 - back when the major search engines consisted of WebCrawler, Hotbot, Infoseek, AltaVista, and a few others. They were all fighting for attention, trying to improve how they offered search results and even came up with some interesting ways to determine what websites should rank the highest for a given search term.
Today, their are really only ways that most people conduct searches, and that is with Google, Bing and Yahoo. Google of course is still considered the King of search engines and although many of my sites rank quite high on Bing for relevant search terms, Microsoft's search engine really does not send me that much traffic.
With an emphasis on getting as much traffic as possible to their websites, many businesses are realizing the importance of good search engine optimization in both organic search results and local search. This has spawned a huge growth in the SEO industry with many businesses springing up and making promises that they have no business making.
Some of the tactics they use to get clients are simply immoral as well as using sales email letters that are pathetic. Today, I received one such email in which a so-called SEO expert advised me that my website was not ranking very well on the search engines for relevant search terms. The problem is the email contained a website which has nothing to do with me, and for which I have never had any interest in whatsoever. I do not own, did not work on it, and there is no contact information on the website that was referred to in the email.
I do however have a competing website in the same niche. And it gets very good results in both Google and Bing.
Some time ago, I wrote about another person who noted that my fly fishing site did not rank very well for the most ridiculous of terms and she promised she could have me on the first page of Google for the term. I managed to get do that myself in 24 hours just by writing about her email. But it's a pretty useless term for me to rank well for as no one would be searching on it. You can read more about that in this article on SEO companies.
Over the years, I have seen so much garbage spewed about in regard to search engine optimization that I wonder how some of these so called specialists stay in business. It is almost as if many of them want to come up with a theory that sounds good (the more complicated the theory, it seems the more likely others will accept the author of the theory as an "expert"), but has no basis in reality.
I've even come across individuals who have taken a short course on SEO and with little experience behind them, call themselves an "SEO expert."
If you own a business, it's likely that you could use some degree of search engine optimization along with maintenance. Be sure you find out exactly what the SEO company that is offering to help you has done in the past and ask for referrals.