With the world of online marketing coming into its own in recent years, companies of all kinds are using tools like search engine optimization (SEO) to market their products – but according to one expert, they should be wary of "SEO charlatans."

Writing for Furniture World Magazine, Katherine Andes says that the popularity of search engine optimization (SEO) has led to a number of companies who make promises that they can’t deliver on.

When deciding on using a search engine optimization (SEO) company, Andes says businesses should ask the firm to explain just what SEO is – in common language. She also says that a legitimate company will create content for visitors to a site, not just the search engine spiders.

"Before you hire any search optimization specialist, see if he or she can explain to you in layman’s terms what you will be getting. Ninety per cent of SEO is easily explainable," Andes advises. "Another hint to credibility is that a good SEO will improve the site first for your customer and then the search engines."

Writing content for the people reading the site is a suggestion a growing number of industry experts have given recently. In a piece for Econsultancy earlier this year, Kevin Gibbsons wrote that someone saying the purpose of SEO is to get to the top of a SERP is "like saying the purpose of cooking is to heat meat, rather than eat it."