It’s been a year since I became an SEO. I was a molecular biologist before (or at least this is what was written in my masters degree) and so I can tell you I was completely new to the world of search engine optimization.
I have to confess that when I was first contacted for the job, immediately after the call, I went to wikipedia (I know, lame) to read something about SEO, so that I could at least understand what this acronym meant.
These days I receive a lot of requests from people who read some interviews I did for Italian sites (I’m Italian, don’t you see the style in the photo?), asking me how I became an SEO manager, since my background was totally different.
Once again, I’m using a Nine Inch Nails’ album “The Fragile” (my favorite) to explain a bit what I learned in this year. After this, I will be writing some stuff (some rants or funny stuff) and carry on the amazing “Meet your SEO” interview series. I started to do some guest posting, and I wanna say thank to everyone who asked me (you know who you are, even because you are 3 people) but I’m gonna stop because there is already too much saturation on the SEO world and I realize I’m not adding anything new or groundbreaking to the SEO community. So, it’s better for me to shut the fuck up and do something.
New SEOs: this is for you.
Disclaimer 1: this is gonna be quite long. And maybe many great SEOs are gonna laugh about this. You know what? I’m really happy, because I like happy people. I really hope to have some rants too in reaction to this post, because I love rants. I would like to thank Don Rhoades, Joel Klettke, Peter Handley , Julie Joyce and Sean Revell for reviewing this article. I tried to submit this to some “big” sites, but to me something is wrong when as feedback you receive: “…I ask these questions for giving you the opportunity to defend your post”. Defend my post? hell no. It’s my post. Or you like, or you don’t. I don’t have to prove anything to you.
Disclaimer 2 (I could be the first one of having two disclaimers in a post): there is gonna be some profanity, so don’t be offended by this. Take it easy, and relax.
OK. Let’s the journey begin!
So impressed with all you do, tried so hard to be like you
When I started I was scared and impressed. There is a huge SEO community that I didn’t know about. So first thing was to follow good SEO’s and in a very immature way I said “I wanna be like these guys”. WRONG. Be yourself, and you are gonna have the most satisfactions ever. Don’t be afraid of saying something wrong, don’t be afraid if you think in a different way. Be yourself, you’re gonna be a great SEO.
I’d listen to the words he’d say but in his voice I heard decay
Following a lot of SEOs on twitter and blogs, sometimes I have the impression they no longer have the passion for what they’re doing. That’s really bad for newbie like me, because you can feel it and the SEO magic disappears immediately. I wanna talk to the great SEOs out there: you are a sort of example for us, so please you have like a responsibility to let us feel the magic of SEO. I know Google and Co. piss us off sometimes, but still…it’s always a new challenge. So, come on. No decay, I wanna hear innovation.
But it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to , it didn’t turn out quite the way that you wanted it
Always in SEO, always. You try different techniques and half of them are a complete failure for your strategy. You think you have the magic link building tactics in your hand, you try it, but it doesn’t work. The best advice here is to keep reading but to keep experimenting as well. Shit happens, but you don’t have to let it go. It’s a challenge, and new challenges are always exciting.
Well they’ve got to kill what we found, Well they’ve got to hate what they fear, Well they’ve got to make it go away, Well they’ve got to make it disappear
In other words, ENVY. When you do a better project than your colleagues, they tend to minimize your success. When you tell your story (in my case from biologist to SEO), they tend to doubt you knew someone important in the company you are in. When you have different visions, they tend to label you as “you don’t know what you’re talking about”. When you look at the future in a smarter way, when you try to put some more light in the project, they tend to darken you. Don’t be afraid of your light. Never.
I won’t let you fall apart
This could sound exaggerated, but I keep thinking about this when I reach out to people for link building opportunities. I know many of you are laughing in this moment, but to me, no matter what the technique is, the best thing to do is to care about people. I totally feel when a blogger is anxious because he does not understand a word I’m saying about some technical stuff. Even if you don’t talk geeky, the blogger or the webmaster might not be as expert as you are. The best relationships I created in my work are the ones in which I really took care of the whole situation, and first of all I took care of the person, before the link , before what the SEOmoz bar was saying about that site. You have to feel it somehow, but when you care, everything is a lot easier.
I’m okay, I’m on track, on my way and I can’t turn back
Always be on track. Sometimes the work environment you are in is not THAT up to date with SEO news. Of course it’s totally OK to not be updated about ANYthing in the search engine optimization field, but the best thing to do is to read a lot, during your spare time and during work time. Your boss should understand you need time to read, and if he doesn’t, do it anyway (in a smart way) because it’s the only way for you to have a voice during meetings. Otherwise what? Are you gonna accept things they said to you passively? Don’t be passive, be active. Keep your mind active.
I’m not a big fan of conferences. And actually I’ve been only to an Italian one. During SEO conferences you can learn a lot, even if I have to say you can easily find all the information online after few hours or in twitter in real time. The real value of a conference is to meet other SEOs. In the conference I went to, I had the pleasure to meet Gianluca Fiorelli, David Sottimano, Hannah Smith and Giorgio Taverniti. Big guys uh? Yeah, I know, and that’s the real value of going to a conference: meeting “for real” some of the people you follow and admire only virtually.
You think you have everything but no, you don’t
Never be sure. Never say “well, now I know how to do SEO, so I don’t need to experiment anymore”. Really, my dear new SEO’s, read and try. A lot of people are saying to me: “don’t do this, because it’s not working”. So I say : “oh yeah? Could you please show me your data on this?” “I don’t have it, I never tried, but I know”. No, you don’t know shit at this point. So get out of my way and let me try.
All of this for you
Content is king. Right? Or only Mike is King? Ahahah! I know that many SEO’s get pissed off about this. To be honest I don’t know if content is king or queen, or drag queen or whatever, what I do know is to always write something cool for the user. Why? Because I don’t wanna be responsible for something crappy. That’s it. I believe that many SEO’s focus too much on how to build the perfect content for the search engine, but the user is there and doesn’t know a damn thing about our SEO geeky thoughts. All right? So forget all the crap, and write something you are gonna be the first to be proud of.
All I’ve undergone, I will keep on
Google is your new friend. Google changes the rule, whenever it wants, without worry too much about you. Let’s face it: there are SEO’s complaining about every single move Google is making. I mean, it’s good to debate, but really to cry as babies do not make you a good SEO. You have suffered penalties? Or you feel a victim of Google’s sadism? Keep on doing good stuff (or for most of you, start doing something cool stuff for the first time). Stop crying, do something.
Nothing ever grows and the sun doesn’t shine all day
Damn right! The sun doesn’t shine all day. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have to try hard to make it shine. What I hate about SEO community is when it becomes too negative. You should take everything more as a challenge rather than a problem, and everything is going be all right! Too naïve, you think? Well, try it and then we can talk. You know my twitter, and you can yell at me if it doesn’t work.
Well, okay, enough, you’ve had your fun but come on there has got to be someone that hasn’t yet become so numb and succumb
I’m thinking of twitter. I follow and respect a lot of SEO’s there. But sometimes I have the impression they’re retweeting things just for the fuck of it, just to be noticed. Really, when you are new in the SEO ecosystem, it’s really simple to erase your thoughts and agree with “big” SEO’s just to be noticed. It’s damn wrong. Best things happened to me when I started to say what I was thinking, even saying a lot of stupid and wrong things about SEO. So don’t become numb and succumb. Be yourself.
The world is over and I realized it was all in my head
What if tomorrow links don’t matter anymore? What if all your SEO techniques don’t work anymore? I like to think this because it keeps me alive. It keeps my mind open to everything, to learn new things, to talk with new people, to collaborate with social media, to discuss with my PR, to give some design inputs for the creation of new pages… don’t focus 100% only on SEO as you read in beginner’s guides, but be ready and adapt yourself to a world that changes really fast.
I sold my soul but don’t you dare call me a whore
Link building, my dear link building. There are many techniques; there are many ways of creating links. Black hat, white hat, grey hat, red hat, multicolored hat. I don’t like when someone who is considered the best SEO in the world is saying something and all people follow blindly what he is saying. When the same thing is said by a not so expert SEO, then everyone attacks him, arguing that this or that way of doing link building is black hat or it’s unethical. What I’m saying here is that there are SEO’s who are “untouchable”. And I don’t like that. My advice is always the same: think with your mind, debate, discuss, but don’t be a “Starfucker”.
The smell of sunshine I remember sometimes
I’m seeing a lot of anger among SEO’s these days. Why, I mean, really….why? We are on the same ship. I don’t want to be like a priest here, but damn…it’s so sad to see SEO’s attacking each other just to gain attention or because they are jealous of what the other is doing. Even if there is an intense debate, there are better ways to get a point across than bitch-slapping each other in public. No wonder television shows portray SEO as bullshit. The public opinion won’t change until we come together and stop the polarization. There are 3 crowds; those on one side, those on the other side, and those who chose to stay out of it. Calm down, do your shit, and in case you want to attack someone just for the sake of it, tweet to your uncle.
The big come down isn’t that what you wanted?
Isn’t it? When you’re doing something wrong, like spamming everywhere your links, then don’t cry like a kid when Google is going to penalize your site. Or when you have a bad site structure, bad content, ads everywhere… don’t blame Google! It’s the user that is suffering because of your way of doing SEO, and all the other SEO’s as well. Think from a user point of view, considering Google in the middle as well. Because if your spam worked, I’m cool with it, but have you ever thought of the user? I’m finding a link of an e-commerce selling TVs in a wine forum… isn’t that bad for the user? Moreover, isn’t that totally stupid? Users don’t know anything about your techniques, about rankings, about SEO…but what the users DO know is that your ecommerce site is spamming their favorite forum with no sense, and they’re getting pissed off at this.
Well, I’m done. Thanks a lot for reading this post till the end. Please tweet at me and we can discuss over there. I’m quite new in the SEO world, so it could be that I said some imprecise things. But you know what? I don’t care, because this is what I think and I feel, so there it is.
I just wanna say to the new SEO’s out there: don’t whine, read and learn stuff, experiment, and the most important thing is: BE YOURSELF.
I smashed myself to pieces
I’m gonna fuck myself up
I’m sifting through the ashes
Of what I have become
I gave myself away
Now I’m nothing
I let it slip away
Now I’m nothing
All that I can do
Is break myself in two
I fucked it all away
Now I’m nothing
credit: all images except the first one taken from the nin_ghosts_I-IV.pdf ; first image courtesy of nin.com