Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Business Philosophy’ Category


2010: The Year of New Beginnings

Personal Lessons From 2010 to Take Into 2011Like Monica Wright, I started off this post with the intention of reviewing some the largest changes in search this year. The deeper I got into it, the more I realized the following: is there anything really meaningful in this? Isn’t this the same information that’s been reiterated several times already (i.e. Google Caffeine, SERP Changes, the MASSIVE local updates, etc.)? That post? That post is to remain forever in Drafts Purgatory, never to see the light of day.

And, so, because we’re all on the cusp of a new year, why should I feel bound to the same old-same old? Why continue to plod along the same worn out path when a new trail is just begging to be worn in? Just as the personal is political, so to the personal is business. A lot has happened this year; some of it great, some of it left scars, and some of it teachable moments.

Learning To Be Political

It’s not really a secret. I’m an opinionated person. I have strong views to match a strong intestinal fortitude. And, this year taught me how to lessen the juggernaut in me and learn to meet people halfway. (Well, about as halfway as I can stomach :-) ) But, don’t mistake this for a personality alteration. It’s not. It’s simply a matter of stepping outside the situation, outside of yourself, for a few moments getting the landscape.

It’s been the hardest thing to discover and adopt this year. But, in the end, it’s served me well. It’s helped with personal relationships and business relationships alike. It’s helped right the path of conversations and situations before they dove into an uncontrollable tailspin.

Doing What You Love is Still Work

You’ve heard it before, “When you’re doing something you love, it’s never work.” That’s nonsense. It’s work even if you love it. We just tolerate it more because we love it. When you really decided to get moving in a direction (i.e. start a business or get a business rolling) it takes a level of sweat equity that most people can’t even fathom.

You’ll work from sun-up to sun-down. It’ll cause new tensions and conflicts in your family that never existed before. There will be many moments when you think none of this is worth it. And, that’s where LOVE comes in; both from the personal and the work. When you love it, you bear it, because you couldn’t imagine doing anything else, nor would you want to. And, when the people around you love you, they understand and make allowances for work-a-holic behavior. And, when you love them, you know when you need to ease of the throttle and just be a Dad, a husband, a friend.

Making Connections and Being Social

Right. That sounds odd even to me, but it’s a kind of social that exists outside Facebook and Twitter. It’s a social that never came easy to me. And still doesn’t. Actually networking, actually talking to another human being. I can say that push, and my continual pushing, to break my “comfort zone” has made me a better person. It helps in making and creating new business opportunities.

It was really something to take these Twitter relationships and have a few of them turn into friendships and opportunities.

Learning to Take Care of Me

For those that know me, they know I’ll contort myself into a pretzel to help someone. No matter the situation, no matter the cost. This year I learned to take care of me. I learned how to say, “No”. It’s saved me insanity and hurt feelings. It’s one of those life lessons that was hard to learn but necessary to learn. It doesn’t mean I was a curmudgeon or a scrooge, it just means being judicious and not allowing others to monopolize or take advantage or me. I’d urge everyone to learn this one thing going into 2011.

On a personal note, I just want to thank everyone in search marketing community for a wonderful 2010. Without question this year is has been one hell of a roller coaster ride and I expect that it will be only that much more fun in coming year. Everyone have a safe, fun-filled, wine/beer-soaked New Year! See you in 2011!


Type A SEOs: Lapdog Heroes

Type A SEOsThe reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself; therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

- George Bernard Shaw

It’s a rarity that I lead anything off with a quote; it’s cliche and uninspired most times. But today is the exception because that quote address the situation perfectly. We know that SEOs come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. But, today, I’m going to focus on one particular brand of SEO: The Lapdog Hero.

What’s The SEO Lapdog Hero?

It’s a special breed of Type A SEO. First let’s look at some of the common Type A personality traits:

  • Competitive (more toward the hyper-competitive end of things)
  • Strong Achievement-Orientation
  • Blunt (i.e. pulls no punches)
  • Aggressive and impatient
  • Rude or sarcastic
  • Likely to be a “Work-a-holic”
  • Perfectionist
  • Realist (usually cast as pessimistic attitudes)

Are You a Tremendous Asset or PITA?

The Lapdog Hero is at once the most tremendous asset a company has, and is also the biggest pain in the ass a company can have. I know because I am one. And, without a doubt, I align with a majority of the characteristics in the trait list above. Chances are pretty good that if you’re an SEO, you’re Type A personality. Because, let’s be honest, we live in an industry that never sleeps. And, if you aren’t a Type A, it’s a difficult task to do what we do and be great at it.

Clearly, to suggest that extraneous social factors or specific nurture factors don’t play a role in shaping the adjacent traits would be short-sighted. It does. Many times our adjacent traits, at least in my case, are leaned on more heavily in a work environment in order to be tolerated by others. But it’s akin to a coping mechanism; they don’t last and cracks in your armor come through.

Why I am Telling You All This?

Certainly, it’s less for us (we know who we are and have accepted that about ourselves), but those around us. Most SEOs are I know are brilliant, generous, Salt-of-the-Earth types, but competitive, driven machines. Nothing is ever tackled in a half-assed, half-measured way. Ever. You get 100% of us: bullshit and brilliance together. The hard-charging, driven machine that has a very sharp “my way or the highway” mentality.

It is the Type A personality traits that corporations/bosses love. We are the ultimate soldiers of fortune. Ask yourself this question: when something has to get done, has to get done to perfection, and has to get done quickly, who do they call on? Yep, you guessed it. You. Because they know you’ll eat whatever they’ve given you alive, and ask for seconds. Because you are clutch; because, like it or not, you are the Alpha. Things gets done, and done well. You are the Lapdog Hero. Called upon when needed to fill a massive void and winning out.

There is a reason only a few industries are jam-packed with Alphas (i.e. search marketing, medical doctors, lawyers, etc), because that’s what it takes to be successful. Anything cut of another cloth withers and dies.

Hiding Your PersonalityWhen the Job is Done?

This is where the PITA part comes into play. You are not supposed to be you all the time, just one of those unwritten codes in the corporate play book that most of learn the hard way. You are supposed to revert your entire being to something other than the Alpha you are. The bottom-line: go back to be being a submissive until your are called upon again.

Then the trouble starts. Mediocrity exists everywhere and Alphas/Type A’s love nothing more than to fix, correct, and abolish mediocrity. If it doesn’t work right now, then there’s no reason, in our minds, that it can’t work right. Then moment you get feisty and/or refuse to accept the status quo, is the moment everyone that’s not like you tells you to sit down, shut up, and do as you are told. Don’t rock the boat and just deal with it.

Therein lies the problem. We can’t just shut it off. We can’t just sit by, be lackadaisical, settle for half-assed, and be content puppies. We are the harbingers of change, and change is always a violent endeavor. That’s where we thrive: high stress, high pressure, constraints. When it seems insurmountable, that’s where we shine. And that’s we are tolerated in the workplace; we do what no one else will do or touch. And, we kick its ass. Hence the phrase: Lapdog Hero.

A Dying Breed and Dealing With Us

We’re still around, we “unreasonable” people as Shaw calls us. But we’re far an few between. I don’t want to say that people enjoy being mushy, gooey, and are just satisfied with “good enough”, but the older I get the more prevalent it becomes. It only serves to make me more unreasonable.

Dealing with us isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to admit that. And, we do try hard to keep our most intolerable, ferocious instincts at bay in order to “play nice” in the corporate sandbox. But, the rest of the world has to give us a break and cut us some slack. We’re honest with everyone because we know there’s enough greasiness in world. It’s refreshing. We drive hard in everything we do because we only have two gears: 100 MPH and Off. We want to be the best at everything we do because not being the best is just a waste of time (that doesn’t mean we don’t fail. We do A LOT of that. We just drive harder the next time.)

So the next time you’re annoyed with us, just come back to this post. Take a deep breath and cut us a break on our “over-bearing” attitudes, our outlandish snark, our brutal honesty, our what-have-you.

In Memory of Steven William Verre. I love you. I miss you.


The SEO Dream is Dead. Or is It?

Is an SEO Company a Valid Idea Anymore Lisa Barone has done it to me again. Her latest post on Outspoken Media’s Blog, “Why Bloggers Should Put Up, Shut Up & Pay Their Tax“, created another fever-pitch of comments. I’m not going to craft a reply post because, frankly, the comments on that post are all the discussion and reply anyone will ever need. But there was a very striking comment made by Alan Bleiweiss that resonated deeply with me: creating and building something out of the ashes.

There were a lot comments that suggested investing money into a business, putting your life-force into it, and grinding the pavement to dust were the true testaments to ensuring your business survived.

It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, having started a business last year. You can’t fight the entrepreneurial spirit, but there is always a time when you question the decision. Did I make the right choice? Can this business live, breathe, and succeed? After thinking about it, my honest, gut answer, is that the SEO entrepreneur is a lot like a restaurant owner; over 50% are going to fail within the first three years [1].

That SEO Dream is Dead, Kid.

Like it or not, it’s a reality. And, please don’t misunderstand, I’m am not saying SEO is dead. SEO is alive and well. I really do believe that the idea of an pure SEO shop is dead. Just look at the search marketing landscape a moment.

1) The Exponential Growth of SEO as an Industry

In the last three years, everyone is trying to capitalize on the SEO game. The market has exploded into stratosphere. So when I hear comments, that it’s all about passion, talent, and sweat-equity that will all but guarantee success, I have to shake my head a bit. Look, there’s is absolutely no substitute for those qualities. If you aren’t mentally prepared to dive in head-first, then turn around now. But the landscape is drastically different from where it was ten years ago. Hell, even five years ago, when SEO was just this thing “geeks” did.

Now a company is facing everyone and anyone who’s ever read a blog about SEO. Now a company is facing overseas outsourcing at a fraction of the cost. Now a company is facing traditional agencies building out “digital” arms of their business in order to cash in and feign relevance.

Don't Get Your Heart Broken by SEO Dreams

2) SEO Isn’t Enough Anymore

Another sad, but true, fact. Personally I think SEO is a lot more than just keywords and links, and that it is the core to building a great website that produces great content and converts. Something I’ve said for a long time now, an SEO must be capable and fluent in everything search marketing. Specialties are dead for the consuming public. They want one-stop-shops that can combine SEO, paid search, social media, and conversion optimization to create aggressive strategies. Whether they listen or not is a question unto itself.

Ten years to fifteen years ago, SEO lone gun men/women (Aaron Wall, Rae Hoffman, David Harry, Greg Boser, Meg Geddes (a.k.a. Netmeg), etc.) were the standard. Small, niche groups of people who studied and experimented to hone their craft. And, really, it’s all you needed. With the web making breakthrough after breakthrough, crushing barriers at the speed of sound, even the lone gun men/women adopted and incorporated the other search marketing channels.

3) Super-Groups: The New SEM Assassin

If you were lucky enough to get in on the first few floors of this SEM industry, then creating and securing a reputation was easier. I didn’t say it wasn’t ball-busting, grinding work. It’s hard work to convince people that you can help build them a better website that ranks better in search engines. Especially with something so foreign.

It was simply easier. Less competition. Less people competing for the bullhorn. A more connected community; warriors of the same ilk. It existed and so did they; an easy match. Fast-forward ten years, and everyone is a SEO/SEM expert. Shouting to be heard. Elbowing their way to the fifteen second spotlight, only to fade to oblivion moments later. Because of the proliferation of our service, our knowledge, profit-centers splinter thousands of ways now, instead of hundreds. No one can make any money.

Of course there are those that all the stars lined up and they caught lightning in a bottle. But that’s the absolute exception, not the rule. Much like that sweet American Dream: the true Horatio Alger legend; rags to riches. Instead of settling for a quarter of the business, why not get fifty percent or more by creating a super-group?

Expect to start seeing the most talented SEMs/SEOs in the game congealing to form a powerhouse SEM group. It’s already happening (i.e. Blueglass Inc. and Outspoken Media). These super-groups offer the best talent, a wide variety of specialties, and have an existing client base to ward off the new company doldrums. I have the utmost respect for those two companies and the people associated with them, but I have no illusions that I could compete with them. Economies of scale. More manpower to throw at something within days than I could muster in months.

It’s the next phase of the SEM industry.

Or Maybe It Isn’t Dead?

Maybe there is still hope for the small SEO company? People working out of one room buildings and in-home offices building respectable client lists and knocking out dynamite work? Maybe we all catch lightning in a bottle a few times in this lifetime and it up to us to know what to do with it?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,932 other followers

%d bloggers like this: