Little did I know when I quit my job waiting tables, I’d find myself waiting on Google to give my websites the search engine rankings boost I so badly desired.
I spent many a night hammering away quietly at my keyboard praying I’d get rich.
That was 2011, and over a year and a half later I found myself enjoying the spoils of earning a full-time affiliate income.
I was earning nearly six figures a year with an affiliate website, and over time slowly learned web development through tinkering with my own affiliate sites (that’s a story for another day).
This affiliate website I will neglect to reveal because it’s still earning me anywhere from $1,000 – $2,000 dollars a month. A far cry from it’s prime, but still a sizable chunk of change. I’d rather not be the target of any negative SEO practitioners for what I’m about to say.
These days I do much more web development and design. I often explain to folks how I am a web developer/designer and reformed SEO.
The truth is I have never hung up my SEO hat, but I’ve learned some important lessons from my SEO prime that has lead me to deliver a higher quality product to my clients.
1. SEO Should Never Be Your Sole Marketing Strategy
Google is fickle, and they don’t give a crap about you or your business (unless you’re a robotics start-up or the like).
Counting on Google traffic as your sole source of business is a serious error.
There are hundreds of Google updates every year eager to rank or tank or site.
Unless you are Wikipedia, or Amazon the odds that sooner than later you will be dethroned from your mighty position in the top 10 for your money making keywords.
If you happen to be ranking well enjoy it while it lasts.
The next Penguin, Panda, Pigeon, Panther, or Polar Bear update is headed down the pipeline and you’ll go up and you’ll go down.
As a long-term strategy SEO alone is not a very reliable way to bring constant business.
Do you have any idea how much Google has changed in the past 5 years? Google has brought more change on its search results than Obama has brought to America.
SEO works best as part of an overall marketing strategy that includes word of mouth business, paid advertising, and good content marketing strategy.
The truth is I put all my best SEO efforts behind a business I didn’t truly believe in, behind a product I didn’t have complete faith in.
I built myself a great ranking in the search engine, and lots of income, but what I didn’t build was a true business.
2. Black Hat SEO Is Just As Time Consuming As White Hat SEO
There’s this innate human desire to cheat the system, to “stick it to the man” and laugh all the way to the bank.
The cold brutal unfiltered honest truth is the amount of time I spent learning different Black Hat tricks and tactics would have been a hundred times more fruitful had I spend that time actually building relationships with people and offering value.
A primary complaint of many aspiring SEOs is that White Hat SEO just takes a ton of time. Let’s talk about White Hat strategy. Tactics such as true outreach, building relationships, cold e-mailing, actually providing value all of those things are the complete antithesis to the “push a button get rich” mentality that I had so voraciously defended.
In the time it took me to learn how to use Scrapebox (yes I know it can be used for White Hat), Ultimate Demon, GSA SER, how to find valuable domains to build your PBN, how to accomplish sneaky redirects, or automate social signals I could have actually driven just as much traffic by writing something worth sharing.
What about the well-known Black Hat bloggers they are doing Black Hat SEO and still producing great quality content?
That’s not to say that Black Hat’s don’t have a lot of value to contribute. I learned a heck of a lot about SEO and had the money in the bank to prove it, you just can’t build a sustainable long-term business on Black Hat.
3. Your SEO Guru Is A Complete Tool
There are a lot of “gurus” out there spouting complete nonsense, or claiming that through their “tests” they’ve managed to extrapolate enough information about how Google’s search algorithms work that they are now qualified to sell you their secrets.
I remember my days slogging around the Warrior Forum as I’d come across e-book after e-book priced only at $9.77 promising to reveal the latest get rich quick in Google scheme. Hurry there ares only 10 copies left!
They are just as clueless as the rest of us. The difference is good and honest SEO’s are willing to admit that they haven’t cracked Google’s code.
Good and honest SEO’s rank sites often times in spite of themselves without pretending to understand all the factors behind it.
SEO is more art than science.
The second you think you’ve nabbed Google on XYZ ranking factor it will change. The search algorithms are designed by people a lot smarter than you to deceive you and prevent you from ever figuring out exactly how it works.
If you’ve got a guru dump them. If you want to become a guru I’ll be happy to sell you my “Become A Guru In Just A Week Course” for you guessed it $9.77.
The truth is most people selling you a product to teach you how to make money online – make money online by selling other people products telling them how to make money online. Say that five times fast. I dare you.
The few (and I mean less than 1% of those claiming to be SEOs) truly raking it in with their SEO results aren’t selling their secrets in an e-book for $9.77, they’ve already learned the next lesson I’m about to introduce.
If you really want the cheap e-book about the latest and greatest SEO tactics and how to succeed here it is. It’s actually a single sentence and that’ll cost you every penny you invest in it if you don’t follow the advice….
4. SEO Is Really Freaking Hard Work
There I said it.
SEO is hard, hard, hard, work. It’s grueling. It’s time-consuming. Sure link building automation and sticking it to big G all have their sex appeal, but at the end of the day real SEO is well sort of mundane.
Between canonicalization, 301 redirects, 404s, site speed optimization, robots directives, there’s a lot of technical lessons to be learned along with the CRO and marketing lessons you will learn.
It takes a lot of time, patience, and persistence to run a successful SEO campaign.
The biggest asset you have in any SEO campaign is time. If you can invest a year or two of your time, then eventually you will succeed.
In most niches worth ranking for that’s roughly how long it will take you to find your way to the top.
I don’t care how great your backlinks are. I don’t care how great your content is. You will never see the immediate result of your work and believe me you WILL work for that one valuable backlink.
SEO is a patient man’s (or woman’s) game, and there’s bills to be paid.
Good SEO Is Good Marketing
SEO is not a magician’s trick. SEO doesn’t exist in a bubble. Good SEO is good marketing, and good marketing is good SEO. Say that fifty thousand times fast.
If you sponsor events, are active in your local community, actually produce content worth sharing, deliver an amazingly stellar product of service people will talk about you. They will talk about you online, and Google will notice and you will rank.
Want to know the quickest way to get the highest quality backlinks? Do something remarkable in your community.
Sure local business citations are extremely powerful and can help you rank well in many industries, a backlink from Huffington Post or a local university is going to be that extra push that helps cream rise to the top of the SERPs.
The best SEOs are people who know how to promote their business offline, while maintaining an online presence. The best SEOs don’t even know they are SEOs.