Common Flaws in My Logic & Advice

Oct 12th

Sometimes I give quite bad advice. And the reason is that not everything applies to everyone. One of the bigger flaws in the advice that I give is that I am quite ambitious. And thus when I enter a market I try to come up with ideas that will eventually allow me to get a dominate long-term self reinforcing position. Endless Ambition:
I try to rank sites for queries like SEO, Forex, and other exceptionally competitive markets. And then I have worked with some of the largest sites on the web, which further reinforces that line of dominate big markets thinking. And as my income has increased it is also quite easy for me to have a value system which is quite inaccurate when compared with people new to the web trying to dig into a market (just like I was a couple years ago).

For example of my overly broad ambitions, a person might have a site about car engines, and on occasion I may respond with something overtly ambitious like these are the keys to dominating the automotive vertical.

Wide Audience:
The reason it is so hard to give SEO advice are:

  • the rules are ever-shifting, people read and believe old content, and many sources intentionally publish misinformation

  • many people take everything literally
  • many established authorities trade on inflated income levels based on past reputation, and some likely are not even competent in the current market
  • in an industry where most lack credibility one of the quickest and easiest ways to try to build authority is to call out an established authority as being wrong
  • controversy breeds links and authorities, even if it is created under a false pretense
  • business risk profiles, brand strength, financial and technical resources, and competition levels are vastly different from company to company and market to market

Doing Well is an Iterative Process:
Sometimes I give that dominate a broad market type of advice to other people, but many people who are new are just trying to carve out a niche, so they can quite their job and then reinvest into the web. And when you are doing many things at once you are rarely going to be able to start off with a near perfect market position. I still have my earliest websites, but relative to this one they were all failures, but eventually they led me to create this one (and other profitable sites).

Most Markets Are Easier:
I recently gave a friend some advice, and then after I did a bit of in depth market analysis, I realized that my advice was garbage, and that they did not need to do ALL (or even most) of the things I suggested. Their market is low hanging fruit. In many markets doing this or this is really all you need to do, as long as you establish a bit of trust right out of the gate. Part of the reason that seemingly expensive SEO services may be worthwhile is that you don't just get answers, but answers that are tailored to your business, website, market, brand, and resources.

Most businesses (and most markets) are not well integrated into the web. That is part of the reason someone who is actively involved in discussions about the web can easily dominate their vertical in search. If a bath tub website gets link love from popular blogs because the owner speaks at webmaster conferences then he has a distinct advantage over competing sites, especially because those links will be hard to replicate.

Instant Success, Just Add Blog!
After a person writes a blog for years it is easy to assume that blog juice is the answer to everything, but it really depends on what you are good at. Many leading blogs are only leading blogs due to market timing, and only keep their position by selling white lies.

It also didn't hurt me that blogs work well as a marketing tool for those in controversial topics which rapidly change (like SEO).

The Bias of Self Preservation:
Unless you are a whack job nobody wants to feel like they are a bad force. Any source of advice, business, or topical authority is typically going to biased toward the goal of self preservation. With that in mind, many bloggers will keep blogging long after they no longer have anything original to say, and will error on the side of making the importance of their trade (or blogging in general) far more important and complex than they are. Especially if their goal is to sell a how to information product that is sold as a way to make sense of the space.

A Lack of Traditional Business Costs:
Another error or bias in advice that I give is that I still have almost no traditional offline business experience. Being in the military does not count because it is so dysfunctional, and other than that I only had one middle level management job for about 8 months before jumping on the web. I create partnerships, but have no employees or product costs, so it does not hurt me much if I take far bigger risks than other people do because my lifestyle and business are fairly immune to huge cycles in my level of exposure or income. I have roughly the same amount of work to do with this site each day weather I sell 0 or 25 ebooks.

A Lack of Respect for Most Self-Imposed Authority:
After hating living on a submarine and then working 70 hours a week as a middle level manager I grew to hate authority and traditional jobs at a young age. Watching things like The Money Masters and Manufacturing Consent, reading authors like George Orwell, and books like A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History have made me highly suspicious of authority.

Feedback:
In some ways some of my biggest weaknesses may also be strengths, depending on your perspective. But, what other common biases / flaws / errors do you see in the advice I give or logic I use to dispense it? What do I do that you really like? What do I do that you really hate?

Published: October 12, 2006

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Comments

October 31, 2006 - 12:14am

Solid post, homeboy. I caught the mention of it on another blog, and must admit that I love your hatred of authority. It's quite endearing, actually. :)

October 12, 2006 - 12:59pm

Yes, Aaron you are its not only you who often gives bad advice there are lots of other experts too but the this is not a flaw because we never know everything and what we tell is totally based on experiments and many times is not true.

Am I right?

October 31, 2006 - 1:56am

As someone who does corporate SEO for a living the hardest thing I find is managing client expectations. As you mentioned since SEO is an ever changing enigma it's hard to be realistic.

Lately we've been using a lot of case studies from previous clients to give new prospects an idea of what we can achieve for them.

Although my motto is always under promise & over deliver, you cannot sell SEO on that basis :p

Regards
Stuart
http://www.earnersblog.com/

October 12, 2006 - 2:11pm

You can't possibly tailor your free advice in your blog to all the readers at a time. They have themselves understand how to apply your advice to their websites, so it's their concern.

What you are talking about aren't flaws but nuances people should remember when reading whatever information is available on the Web.

People have different backgrounds, experiences and can view on the same post from completely different points of view. Nothing wrong with that.

October 12, 2006 - 3:25pm

Wow Aaron, what a humbling entry. I agree whole heartedly.
This is the age of customization. The most important thing to remember is "All generalizations are false".

YoTo
October 12, 2006 - 4:32pm

Haha..."All generalizations are false"...isn't that a generalization of generalizations?

October 12, 2006 - 5:27pm

Interesting post. We have never met but I sat in your session in Boston PubCon.

As per your request, what I like about you:

1- You are brutally honest. That also got you in trouble and I hope that episode hasn't deterred you. (This appears to be a personality-focused point, but honesty affects one's writing).

2- You have a large intellectual capacity. You are not stuck only in SEO or even marketing in general.

3- You are aware of meta-thinking, that is, thinking about your own thinking, as this entry shows. As usual, I'd recommend a couple of additional books.

a- Lateral Thinking. By Edward De Bono.
b- Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. By Richards Heuer. It's free on CIA's website. You can also find a pdf version somewhere.

(Both books are the opposite poles of thinking: DeBono's work develops techniques to generate lateral, unstructured, child-like ideas, while Heuer's book is about structuring your analysis and understanding and countering your biases. I guarantee complete satisfaction from both books).

Areas for improvement:

First, there's no point in removing your bias simply because you can't. Awesome that you are aware of your own. Better, if you can create additional schemas to think from. And you - and I'm quite sure - already know about the Long Tail and Seth Godin's books. Just embrace them and you'd develop a new set of frameworks for thinking in the niche.

You can improve your writing just a tad bit. Granted, this is a blog and lends to a more rambling narrative, I have suggestions for the writing in your book.
I also have some subject-related and information-presentation suggestions. Note that I have only read one chapter, the free one, and I can't afford to buy your entire book.

Hope this was informative.

October 12, 2006 - 5:27pm

Interesting post. We have never met but I sat in your session in Boston PubCon.

As per your request, what I like about you:

1- You are brutally honest. That also got you in trouble and I hope that episode hasn't deterred you. (This appears to be a personality-focused point, but honesty affects one's writing).

2- You have a large intellectual capacity. You are not stuck only in SEO or even marketing in general.

3- You are aware of meta-thinking, that is, thinking about your own thinking, as this entry shows. As usual, I'd recommend a couple of additional books.

a- Lateral Thinking. By Edward De Bono.
b- Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. By Richards Heuer. It's free on CIA's website. You can also find a pdf version somewhere.

(Both books are the opposite poles of thinking: DeBono's work develops techniques to generate lateral, unstructured, child-like ideas, while Heuer's book is about structuring your analysis and understanding and countering your biases. I guarantee complete satisfaction from both books).

Areas for improvement:

First, there's no point in removing your bias simply because you can't. Awesome that you are aware of your own. Better, if you can create additional schemas to think from. And you - and I'm quite sure - already know about the Long Tail and Seth Godin's books. Just embrace them and you'd develop a new set of frameworks for thinking in the niche.

You can improve your writing just a tad bit. Granted, this is a blog and lends to a more rambling narrative, I have suggestions for the writing in your book.
I also have some subject-related and information-presentation suggestions. Note that I have only read one chapter, the free one, and I can't afford to buy your entire book. Email me if you'd my opinions.

Hope this was informative.

October 12, 2006 - 5:34pm

I think part of the problem is that others have a bias for wanting the easy answer to make their life easier. There isn't a magic solution for anything. The things you talk about are great, but they are biased to the projects that you work on. The customers in different areas are different which cause some things to work better than others. There is no such thing as the Silver Bullet Solution. I don't think the advice is ever bad, I think people need to work harder at interpreting solutions and morphing them into something that works for them, rather than copying exactly.

October 12, 2006 - 8:18pm

Aaron,

Like many of us you are an entrepreneur, a risk-taker, a brutally-honest voice, and a gambler, therefore, not afraid to fail or be wrong. This personality is what you’ve relied on your whole life to get you through the day, and is the reason you’re as successful as you are now. Change nothing!

However, one thing personalities like yours must learn to cope with, is that being wrong is OK. First, clear the air by admitting the mistake, then figure out why what you did/said was incorrect and move on.

Good job dude! Keep up the good work!

Eric Itzkowitz

October 12, 2006 - 8:19pm

Aaron,

Like many of us you are an entrepreneur, a risk-taker, a brutally-honest voice, and a gambler, therefore, not afraid to fail or be wrong. This personality is what you’ve relied on your whole life to get you through the day, and is the reason you’re as successful as you are now. Change nothing!

However, one thing personalities like yours must learn to cope with, is that being wrong is OK. First, clear the air by admitting the mistake, then figure out why what you did/said was incorrect and move on.

Good job dude! Keep up the good work!

Eric Itzkowitz

club
October 12, 2006 - 10:00pm

In a non competetive "niche" industry it does not make sence to go on a rampaging link building compaign. Sometimes you just have to know when to stop.

The goal is perhaps to do the least you can do to get by. Well thats the best/most economical way perhaps.

October 12, 2006 - 10:56pm

Hi Aaron,

This is the guy from last year's Chicago SES conference who ranked #2 or #3 for the most awe-struck person to have ever met you.

I have some good news in that I plan to publish a definitive article for the small business niche (the niche I have become an expert in) of SEO / SEM / Internet Marketing -- which should hopefully have some good, unique insights -- as an attempt to win the Search Engine Marketing Scholarship:

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2006/10/search-engine-marketing-scholars...

and hopefully be able to see you again in Chicago.

I'll be sure to try to let you know when the article is submitted.

Thanks!

Ben Fremer

www.fpwebsitedesign.com ( moving to www.WebAndGraphicSolutions.com )

October 12, 2006 - 11:00pm

Aaron,

Thank you for pointing out the simplicity of SEO and seperating it from the complexity that it is also about. I am in a very competitive vertical (travel) and what SEO practices that are good for other segments don't necessarily apply to my domains.

I am a proffessional, not because I am successful, rather I am successful because I do my research and don't just look for the "golden ticket." Every market is different, set your site apart from the competition, that is the point of SEO.

October 13, 2006 - 5:31pm

Honest as always Aaron. Great post.

October 15, 2006 - 6:48am

Aaron, I think your assessment of yoursefl is pretty accurate in that sometimes your greatest weakeness are your geatest strenghts. How about an example.

One weakness I see not only in this blog, but in most a-list blogs is that some of things you recommend to your readers are things your readers are not equipped to do yet. You allude to it throughout this post. There are things that you can make successful easily that I can not. You have built a larger network of people who can help you than most of us. You have a larger readership that most of us don't have yet.

If you decide tomororw to write a post you know will make for good link bait you have the resoruces to start the baiting quickly. I could write that same post tell everyone I know about it and it could still be a long time before anyone sees it. Myself and my friends don't have the power to make some things happen in the same way you and your friends do.

Again though I'll add the word yet. I might not have that authority now, but reading here and elsewhere does show me what to work for. I may not have that network in place at the moment, but I understand that I need to build it. Maybe it will be some time before someone sees my baitable article. but I still know that I need to write that article.

While some of your advice may not work for me right now it's still good and shows me how to take myself to the next level in my site and in seo.

I come here often because as others mention you're honest. I can pick up things here I can't elsewhere. I'm also here because there is a diversity of posts. Yes I will learn a lot of specific tips to help, but I will also get information about something that might be unrelated to seo. Mostly I'm here because the words you write are interesting to read. No matter what I find here I feel confident it will be interesting and I'll read to the end.

None of us are perfect. We all have biases and flaws. Not having any flaws is a flaw in itself. I think many of us are here because you allow us to see some of those flaws. That makes you more approachable and more likable. When you share something about yourself you help connect yourself to us. Some may see admitting weakeness as a flaw. I see it as a strength.

seopractices
October 16, 2006 - 4:32pm

Aaron, I'm a SEO beginner from Latin America, although I know many of the regular visitors to your blog are SEO professionals, you are also helping us newbies to grow in this field. Your blog is not just about SEO tips, is a lot more than that, you have taught us to question ourselves and not just to swallow everything without digesting it. Keep up the great work, thanks.

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