One of the Great Myths of SEO is not that “there are no secrets”, but that “there are no secrets” articles are hogwash. Anyone in search marketing who says “there are no secrets” either has not been in search marketing for very long, or has an alternative agenda for that propaganda. I’ve been in SEO for a long time. I discover new “secrets” every day, and sadly, I routinely learn of secrets my colleagues have been using well after they started using them. More often than I care to stomach, newly discovered “secrets” cause me to revamp SEO strategies in a hurry. I’m not the most connected SEO in the world, so I don’t know all the secrets, but of course I know there are secrets!
SEO is about competitive advantage, not process. Those agency-types who would like you to believe that a fat agency fee will keep you competitive have a conflict of interest. They need SEO to have a sustainable business model in order for them to build an agency. They need to be able to plan in advance. They need to be able to accurately predict revenue, so they can use other people’s money to fund tomorrow’s profits. And so they need YOU to believe that “there are no secrets”. They need you to fund TheProgram according to a predetermined plan, because they need to use your funds to pay for the prospective they have to do as the seek more clients. Every time you get pitched by the whiz SEO guru from TheAgency, do you have any doubt your account will end up with a green newbie marketer as soon as you sign the yearly contract? Of course it will. That SEO guru is booked solid on the meeting circuit hooking new clients. He won’t have time for your account. Even if he did, how could they afford to pay him worthy rates as an SEO for your work?
It is actually worse, though. Not only are there plenty of secrets, which are GREAT to have, but there are exploits which are even better. For every secret, there can be a whole collection of exploits, which make use of that secret to win in the SERPs. In fact, exploits are where the fun is: the exploits are what get optimized. If not for the diversity of exploits in SEO, we would probably never share our secrets because the playing field would be too even. Let out a secret that doesn’t need an exploit, and even the agency people will be able to compete. But without a working exploit, your typical SEO secret is of little value.
I have to wonder, if a search marketer publicly states that there are no SEO secrets, what does that say about the search marketer? Does she have no friends?
A secret is something no one else knows. An exploit is a way of using that secret knowledge to win in the SERPs. That “secret” might be market knowledge, consumer trend data, or anything else that gives an edge. Those of you reading this and thinking “on page technical SEO factors” are blinded by your bias. SEO is and always has been about gaining referrals from search engines, whatever that means. It’s all the marketers now coming after search engine referrals that are the clueless newbies of SEM, not the old skool SEOs.
Sometimes people claim to want to “legitimize” SEO and they proclaim that SEO is not cloak and dagger stuff but good solid hard work. Those same people LOVE pay per click. PPC represents the stable, client supported model. I think it should be called PPP instead of PPC, to represent “pay pay pay”. Pay on a regular basis so everybody can plan how they will be spending your money.
Let’s set the record straight. Competitive SEO is about exploitation of “secrets”. You look at the target search results page, examine who ranks and figure out why they do, and take a look at the web materials you have to work with yourself. What secrets do you know, that the current ranking web sites don’t seem to know? What exploits can you execute, that will overtake those players at the top of the SERP? If you come up dry on any of that due diligence, which I don’t expect from any competent SEO today in all but the most competitive SERPs, then you re-think your content strategy. It’s search marketing, optimized. And to those who suggest that SEO types want to keep things “edgy” and don’t want to “get along” you’re just crayoning over the problem. That “edgy” SEO you don’t enjoy on your marketing team reflects your inability to manage the team.
There are no secrets? When i see that, I look for the “Certified AdWords Professional logo” because I translate that to mean “let’s set up a nice big fat Pay Per Click account”. Of course there are secrets. This is business.
The serious issue is really that problem about planning and sustainable business practices. We all need to be able to predict, or perhaps estimate revenues. But the problem is not SEO. The problem is Google, which finds itself in a tough situation as both buyer and seller of advertising and advertising supported traffic. I would like to suggest that all the talking heads out there proclaiming “there are no secrets” and referring to SEOs as pimply-headed geeks reconsider their approach to the problem. instead of bashing SEO, why not work on helping to make organic search traffic procurement sustainable? Why not develop ways to predict market share from available data? Why not lobby Google to put more Ph.D. brain cells onto the problem of webmaster communication and problem resolution? I’d support that effort.