Honestly, I don't like using the word "Expert" at all. I never use that word in meetings or in response to anyone that ask what I do. It's just awkward. "Expert", aside from the arrogance of the word, sounds like this person has reached the pinicle and has stopped learning, which couldn't be further from the truth. But as I talk to people about what I do, I find that all those years has given me a legit claim of some kind of expertise within Google and internet marketing. More importantly, I need to say "expert" and variations of that word on this website to get ranked for "SEO Expert..." type keyword searches. That's how it works. That's how you find the audience that is seeking an "SEO Expert", you have to say it. The same goes for clients. They may never "say" the words they want to get ranked for and wonder why they're no where to be found in Google for those searches.
Step one. You have to say what you want to get ranked for in Google.
Experience separates an SEO Specialist from someone that "knows SEO"
Everybody and their cousin's cat will tell you they know how search engine optimization works. This knowledge is largely derived from what they've heard or read online. And legitimately, I've become and overnight "Expert" in several fields via YouTube and a crazy Russian tutorial too, lol. But that doesn't mean I can actually make a living at whatever instant skill I just learned. There's a world of knowledge and experience missing with that kind of shotgun education. And that's what's missing with most people I see claiming to "know SEO". They know the theory and catch phrases but they couldn't make a living at it, much less compete for top Google rankings in a competitive niche.
Claims of SEO Expertise aren't limited to instant amateurs either.
I personally know SEO Consultants at Internet Ad Agencies that have made a lot of money talking about SEO services on a very high level, who have never done a single implementation. You know, the work that actually moves a keyword ranking. Point being, they don't really know how Google finds your website. Someone else does the actual SEO optimizations, a specialist somewhere in their organization does the heavy lifting. That's the person that knows how Google gets there and why. I know this because that was my role in a few SEO Companies and Internet Marketing Ad Agencies....and you'd be surprised how many of those big ad agencies with big fees are really outsourcing their SEO work overseas and have no idea what is being done with your account. True life.
Talk To The Right People
Anyway, this isn't anything new or earth shattering, most businesses are structured the same way. People that "know SEO" are like talking to the salesman as opposed to the "SEO Specialist" or mechanic that actually fixes your website. A specialist is the SEO guru geek guy (that's so me!) with the expertise to make judgement about what should be done and how to execute those changes effectively and why they work with the rest of the marketing strategy. A truly experienced SEO Specialist can SHOW YOU top rankings and be able to explain why they've been successful over the years.