While setting this blog “no index” for Google and blocking Google technical services from managing the website activity, I was reminded of my precarious public status in SEO years ago.
As a competitive webmaster, I loathe public scrutiny of my activities. Like everyone, I have professional projects, passion-based projects and activities, and legacy projects and activities. In my career and personal life, I have come to know a good number of very successful people, many of whom achieved that success while partnered with me and others.
Shhhh…. Don’t Tell Anyone
I have ALWAYS contracted confidentiality with projects I contribute to, all the way back to the beginning. But, as a human in this very messy world, I recognize that you cannot “legislate morality”. People talk… especially if you are successful. Team members just love to brag about their successes, even if the success is supported by confidentiality! Go figure.
With humans, privacy management becomes a modus operandi, not a contracted condition.
My early career in corporate intelligence taught me a great deal… there are leaks everywhere. There are spies everywhere. Spies are like the tide. You cannot resist the tide. Your strategy must flow with the tide, or retreat from it (which seems horribly inefficient to me).
Spies are low-cost human resources, of almost infinite number. Also, employees cannot be trusted. And partners are only partners today. Know what a high-profile income opportunity was for homeless people I recently surveyed in one city? Penetration testing… I kid you not.
Additionally, in business, your successful partners are your most likely future competitors. Have you ever seen an executive steal a business development strategy after collaborating on it for over a year, with plans to deploy it separately as a competitor in the very same market? I have.
Great SEOs know How Search Impacts the World
Despite my not associating myself in public with any major projects, I have been an invited V.I.P. at seo conferences, an invited speaker on advanced SEO topics, taught courses, and have been invited to sit on company boards in the search space. I was even listed as an Honorable Mention in a respected list of the Top 10 SEO people in the world, published by a highly-respected SEO authority who has been repeatedly proven right, even when top names in SEO publicly claimed he was wrong.
Note: Shortly after that post, SEOMOZ dropped out of SEO consulting completely, and changed its name to Moz, largely because SEO consulting wasn’t a sustainable business model lol.
As a “senior” SEO and web entrepreneur, I am frequently asked to advise on many projects where I do not play a formal role. I also volunteer, which gives me broad exposure. Word of mouth is… I don’t talk about my past or current work, but I do know what I am doing with SEO, search, and the Internet. Sort of the opposite of so many high-profile SEOs who mostly do marketing, not SEO.
SEO is a Game
SEO is a game. The truth of any game is that failure to play means you lose. You default, by default. So if you play the seo game, you simply have to play ALL of the innings, if you expect to have any chance of winning.
But does the SEO game have an ending?
Surely the pinnacle of success in SEO is not owning an agency. That would suck.
How about managing a team of SEOs? Well, that could be fun if you had a great team chasing lofty goals.
It could also be fun to collaborate in a thought leadership position in an industry of less-progressive executives, representing the very concept of SEO, while also overseeing the practice.
Perhaps the pinnacle of SEO success is retiring from the game completely, with massive personal wealth? Define “massive”, lol. There’s never enough. Surely it would be a mistake to “retire” without adequate wealth… you’d live out the rest of your life proving to the world you never really did know what you were doing all those years.
The Game Never that Ends: SEOs Just Fade Away
Like golf, seo is an endless challenge. You can never be good enough!
Yesterday Tiger Woods topped the leaderboard at 16 under par… 16 shots below the typical expected performance on the course so far! For the time I watched, he played consistently at 5 under par.
Amazing play… but honestly, still far from perfect! I could never do what he does, yet…. I believe he can do even better. I have faith in Tiger, and everyone else who does the work to be their best.
I also believe any SEO of any calibre can, honestly, do better than they ever did before, if they do the work and still have the ability.
But will they? Can they? Should they? Do they even want to?