December 7, 2013
I’ve been doing SEO professionally for 11 years. I never write about it. I went to one conference in 2005 (didn’t learn shit). I’m really good at it, so good in fact within seconds I can decipher the top keywords the website should target along with a long term strategy (don’t worry I’ll give more examples of why I’m the shit). This post is years in making. Why might you ask, because my strategies are always custom and frankly I don’t feel as though if you’re an SEO you should ever tell anyone your strategies. This post isn’t going to be a strategic post but one geared for the mindset of an SEO and how you can future proof your career from disaster.
SEO came into my life early in 1996. I built a simple crappy bright red background 5 pager website for 5 grand. A week later the client called and said that the website was broken because they didn’t receive one call. A few tweaks to the keyword tag and some spammy text later and tada the client started getting calls. It was easy money. I was 16 and didn’t give it a shot as a career until I was 23. The funny part is that my first gig wasn’t supposed to be as an SEO but merely a customer service rep for a Real Estate hosting company that offered Online Marketing. I was smoking a cigarette before the interview to calm my nerves (because smelling like cigarettes is a great way of getting a job) and I was ease dropping on a conversation a few people had about SEO and that the page rank bar was shit yada yada. Funny thing was I copied almost word for word what was said (to the same person that made those statements when I was smoking) and got the job as “Online Marketing Specialist”.
This place I worked at was the perfect place for building marketing talent. You had 100 or more websites. 8-9 people who you worked with that loved the shit and one of the spamiest industries at the time. Real Estate. I spent 3 years there and moved on. But those were my golden years of SEO. SEO was more technical back then.
Then came the stupid ass different color hats era that tainted the good times and turned SEO into a time of fighting with crappy SEO telemarketing companies harassing clients and promising results. I hated those times. I hated SEO’s that mix ethics and turned SEO from this very technical fun career into regurgitation of the same old shit of “write quality content”, “write quality content”, “I’m a sissy lala white hat SEO”. I’m sorry but back in the day if you only did what you read and claimed white hat that told me right off the bat you didn’t know what you were talking about and your sites didn’t rank for shit. Real SEO’s back then wore gray and tested boundaries and never took risks on their money sites.
Being an SEO has it’s problems. I learned early in my career that everybody and their mom can give themselves that title. The salary sucks too and there’s too many variables out of your control that can make you look like a failure. So there’s a few rules that I live by that have gotten me through the ups and downs of doing SEO.
This is my number one rule. Never get into a spammy niche if your doing SEO as your 9-5. I learned this while working briefly for an online university. Within a few days of taking the job blindly because of the money I realized it would cost hundreds of thousands to catch up to the competition not to mention the manpower needed to compete in that field. Those were the days of creating personal link farms. I got really good at building a shit ton of websites really fast, with content and all.
This is a lesson that I learned and can mean the difference between employed and well not employed. No matter how much traffic that you bring in if the service sucks and the prices are high you’ll loose. I’d like to provide an example of this one but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And frankly it’s just rude.
I’m not going to call anyone out but some of the worst SEO’s I’ve ever met have never built a website. This is just plain stupid. How can you optimize something you don’t understand fully?
If you want to be an SEO and only an SEO you’re going to be in a world of hurt. I’ll get into this a little bit later because I need to explain some concepts first and why you cannot only be an SEO.
Get them. Good ones. Build your own or not. The hardest thing throughout my whole career and the big black box of SEO is links. Identifying. Building and keeping. That is where it’s all about your toolset. When it comes to links my competition is my framework. From links you can see your competitors strategies.
Funny thing is a ton of link farms are getting banned in Google nowadays. The sad thing is I’ve never used or heard of any of them. Why. Well buddy because I can tell when a link works or not. It took me a very long time to figure this out, but the gist is that you will never have as much link data as Google. Use tools. Not one but as many as you can afford or get your hands on. Build slow. Mix it up and never do what you read. That last statement will become easier to understand later.
Your boss doesn’t give a shit about traffic, links or how great his f*ing content is if you don’t make them money. The goal or your strategy must be based upon that simple but yet true concept. This one concept is why you should never only use SEO. SEO is part of the marketing umbrella. Your boss wants money. Make it for them. Do more than just SEO.
Without going into specifics because I don’t talk strategy. I come up with unique strategies every time. I have a great imagination and come up with unique and long lasting ways of implementing SEO. The common sense part is a given but an example is keyword targeting or what I like to call content focus. Knowing someone at your job that speaks with clients is crucial to SEO. You’re kinda a shrink and common sense website optimizer at the same time. Understand the clientele and get the right users to the site. If you sell to a bunch of idiots don’t write content geared towards scientists. If you sell something make it easy to buy and research.
I hate giving money away. Your results speak for themselves. You don’t have to write about your shit. If you’re a journalist of SEO then yeah it’s your job but I wouldn’t trust your articles anyway because you’re not in the trenches doing it you’re only talking about it.
As long as Search Engines are called Search Engines there will be SEO. For the last two or three years since the founders of Google took the company back shit has changed. It’s like Google grew up. Why I don’t know but SEO’s (pretty big name ones) have been quitting publicly. Once again, I won’t say any names but a person lately quit because they felt as though Google finally listened to them and they don’t need to write articles about how you should write quality content. I nearly puked in my mouth when I heard that shit. This person was an SEO for nearly 20 years and they got out of the game because SEO has somehow been cleansed. Bullshit. So back to the main point there will always be a way to optimize for a search engine as long as that’s what they’re called. If they called them Content Stealers I guess we would call it Content Stealing Optimization. Tactics change but the main and the bottom line won’t. We make money off search engines. We’re not white knights or fucking genies that grant your wishes.
I have a love, hate and utter fascination relationship with SEO. I’m addicted. I get a rush when I see traffic rise or when more money comes in because of me. But I never write about it, because as I wrote before I don’t give away free money. Out of everything that I wrote about I hope you the reader gets something out of this post. If you’re just starting out my advice is to not put your eggs into one basket. Be an SEO that does web design. Be an SEO that does email marketing. Be an SEO that does PPC. Be an SEO that does Social Media Marketing. But for the love of God don’t just be an SEO.
© 2017 Bryan Siegel