When you are new to the field of SEO there is a certain excitement in starting a site from scratch and growing it out into a flourishing enterprise. You ask someone to link to you and when they do you get excited. When you get cited without asking for it you get excited. And when the rankings start to show up you get excited. At some point you may even develop an irrational emotional attachment to some of your websites. I know I have.
Fair is Fair
Search engines teach you that there are equitable rules to follow. The rules keep shifting in accordance with the search engine's business models, but somehow they are always fair. You see other people doing things that are "spammy," but refuse to. When you submit your site to 100 directories, donate money for links, attend every conference that will link at you, or when you syndicate your content to dozens of websites it is not spam. Your content is quality, you follow the rules, and one day you will be rewarded for it. One day...
Who Starts From Scratch?
But do you have to start from scratch to be doing SEO?
In Cosmos Carl Sagan said that "to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." I tend to think the same way about SEO.
- Some people who jumped on the web and were immediately successful started when the marketplace was much less competitive.
- Some companies like Amazon.com lost millions or billions of dollars building their brands.
- Others carried offline success and relationships online.
- Some people have jobs or schools that offer them the opportunity to publish content on a trusted domain.
- Some companies can do whatever they want because they have a big brand and/or a large ad budget.
- Some people who are better salesmen than you may borrow your ideas, re-package them, and then talk trash about how ignorant you are.
- And yet another group of people have a large following because they are highly biased and/or lie (ie: Fox News).
What is Fair?
Are any of the above categories unfair? Or is the concept of fair nothing more than bogus self-posturing by profit hungry corporations? Many companies who helped fund the large networks (affiliates, for example) later saw their sites classified as spam or priced out of the same markets they built by quality scores which said their sites are no good as the network got more competitive. Mind you many of these changes were not algorithm related, but were driven by direct human intervention.
The rules keep driving value (and profit) to the networks. They appear fair so long as your interests are aligned with those of the network. But behind the public rules, they fund theft of copyright work hoping it leads to the original publisher giving in and partnering with them to wrap their ads around the content. In other cases, if you get too successful human intervention within the network votes against you while leaving your competition unscathed. Why did Text Link Ads get penalized while Text Link Brokers still ranks?
Leverage Your Assets
Not every strategy works for every person, but if you are starting from scratch thinking that you are following the rules, you are missing out on some fundamental truths of the marketplace. If you are not leveraging and building upon your knowledge, passions, curiosity, and social relationships every day you are losing money (likely to an inferior and/or less honest competitor).
Take the Red Pill
Some of the most effective SEOs buy and sell links, buy and sell websites, buy and sell companies, rent personalities to promote their sites, openly engage is link schemes, use successful positions to promote other similar positions, expand out to other high profit market positions, and do whatever they see fit to profit. It is not our job to create the algorithms, we just satisfy the criteria to rank.
Take the Blue Pill
Others start every project from scratch, hoping that one day the market will be fair and shine a light on them. One day...
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