One of the more interesting aspects of my work is competitive intelligence. Who is competing in the market, using what tactics, and with what success? When limited to online activities, CI shows you what they *have been* doing, not what they may be doing now. However, as I learned quite well during my 10 years working with neuropsychologists, past behavior is indicative of future performance when it comes to humans. People will do what they’ve done before.
So when I see an SEO in his late forties with a new yacht, I am desperate to examine his web properties and PR image. Where did he find his success, yes, but more importantly is his success built upon a foundation of outdated websites and a circa 2001 online business model? or even better, *one* outdated website in one vertical?
What are the odds that a comfortable #1 spot holder with a family of teenagers and a world-capable yacht will rise to a modern day SEO challenge to his top spots?
One argument is he has the funds to kick into gear and hire the best staff to retain that top spot in the face of a threat. True. But that human behavior thing suggests that he did not hire the best and brightest on the way up. In fact, it appears he kept things very close to his chest (including profits). Odds are very strng that he would do as he has done before, having been reinforced for the behavior with a yacht.
Another argument is that he will sell his holdings rather than fight, even if he doesn’t act until he is #3 and #4 in the SERPs having lost the top placement to my challenge. I accept that possibility, but it has nothing to do with me as competing SEO. All that does is further distract him from meeting the competitive challenge, or further underline this as an opportunity for me. A perfectly ripe pear hanging from a tree branch must be picked or it will rot. Someone has to eat it.
Modern day SEO can overcome many current top placeholders in the SERPs. I have had clients approach me after they watched their business lose the top spots to a newcomer over more than a year’s time. What were they doing for that year? You got it: watching their properties drop from the #1 spots, and watching the new guy get energized with his success as he rose to the top. What they see now is a new guy at the top, but they don’t see what he is doing now. What he did before is indicative of what he will continue to do - challenge the incumbants, compete, and dominate. What will they do now, after watching themselves get overrun for a year?
It’s not a pretty picture. I encourage them to hire some quality SEO talent and get out of the way as much as possible.
I wrote this post because I have always viewed SEO as a form of competitive webmastering, while many webmasters consider SEO as a set of tricks to rank in search engines. Webmasters don’t need to hire SEOs. Business owners should hire SEOs to out perform other webmasters.