The difference between being on top of and ahead of your (SEO) game

Warning, this is more of a philosophical post then it is a “technical” one as you’re used to of me. It’s also late here, so my english might not be up to par either, but this post needed to be written now. So here we go.

One of the things that keeps amazing me when I look at the SEO community, is how the people who seem to be the brightest of all, and the people bringing in real *-loads of money, are not the same people.

My colleague and pal Roy Huiskes, (who recently started blogging in English) writes about Reactionary vs. Visionary SEO, and sees a difference between reactionary SEO’s and visionary SEO’s, and though I get what he talks about, I think he’s wrong. You should probably read hist post first (and while you’re at it you might as well subscribe to his blog, he’s a darn good SEO).

If you have the time and resources to do an awful lot of testing, you’ll see what’s changing in the algorithm pretty soon. If you start to think ahead, and feel that you “know” what’s coming, you might be right. But are you serving yourself or your customers well by using that knowledge already?

If you test well enough, you know what works now, and that’s what that group of money making people is using. The group of people that probably are the brightest, also fall into this big trap of trying to be too far ahead of the game…

People who stopped buying links two years ago, weren’t doing their clients a favor. People who stopped doing that recently, like somewhere in the last 5-6 months, do a better job IMHO: they cut the risk when they need to.

If you become one of those SEO’s who dive into search patents and act immediately on those, instead of thinking: “OK, so in two months/years/whatever, I need to make sure that…” etc. Are you doing your clients a favor by acting on those immediately? Of course, you have a defensible story, but really, are you doing your clients a favor? I don’t think so.

Knowing what’s coming at you in the coming years is very important. As is staying “on top of your game”, as it allows you to do the kind of SEO that is currently needed to rank well. But please, please, do not make the mistake, of mistaking the first for the latter…

So, if you think you’re a good SEO, and know what to do, but aren’t getting the rankings you think you should be getting, it might be wise to turn the clock back a few years in your head: what would I have done a year ago. Try that, and see if your rankings go up! If they do, you owe me a beer.

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22 Responses

  1. content writing adviceBy content writing advice on 9 May, 2008

    I’ll see if I owe you a cold one –
    Then again, it’s often hard enough keeping up with now, let alone looking too far ahead.

  2. TheMadHatBy TheMadHat on 9 May, 2008

    Very well said. Your paid link example was dead on. Timing is everything when it comes to that stuff. Keep doing it too long though and you’ll pay the price, but there is no reason to forget things that work now and will continue to work for some time.

  3. RoyBy Roy on 9 May, 2008

    Thank you, for your fast reply. I completely agree with the testing you must do and serving the clients with the best service that you can possibly provide.

    By having the vision about what’s coming you must never forget how you got there in the first place.

    The problem with lots of clients is that, if we think fast, the must act on it. All SEO consultants working for big corporations know that some of the big corporations take up to 3 years to completely roll out the advised project. It’s a pity then if your strategy completely relied on cheap link building, sub-domains and some content. Instead of creating real value on your domain.

    Not all customers are as fast as we’d like them to be.

  4. Dave ShapiroBy Dave Shapiro on 9 May, 2008

    Couldn’t agree more, Joost. Although hypothesizing about SE algos and what will work for rankings is something I immensely enjoy, it’s nowhere near as effective as Test -> See what works -> Execute. If I did more of the latter I’d be a far better SEO.

  5. NavinBy Navin on 10 May, 2008

    I probably owe you more beers than you think ;)

  6. Dennis BeekmanBy Dennis Beekman on 10 May, 2008

    Hi Joost, where can you find new search patents Google bought? Do they publicate it somewhere?

  7. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 10 May, 2008

    @Dave: well go and do it then! :)

    @Navin: I’ll get you the chance to buy me those once ;)

    @Dennis: Reading Bill Slawski’s awesome blog SEO by the SEA is a good start.

  8. JamesBy James on 12 May, 2008

    SEO requires creativity. The guys that are “seo experts” tend to do the same thing that everyone else does, and thus, not make any money

  9. Glen AllsoppBy Glen Allsopp on 12 May, 2008

    I like your thinking Joost, your paid linking example is right on the money. I think I fell into the trap of thinking it was far too risky.

  10. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 12 May, 2008

    @James: well they’re creative enough :) It’s just that some of them don’t like taking any risks, and because of too much knowledge, that stops them from doing quite a lot of things…

    @Glen: yep, loads of SEO’s seemed to think that.

  11. Dev BasuBy Dev Basu on 12 May, 2008

    You’re right on the money Joost! There’s this big group think phenomenon that happens to a lot of SEO’s. One person presents their like or dislike of a particular SEO tactic, and others follow suit, aiding in spreading such speculation. In a sense, it’s a lot like trading, you can go with the market sentiment, but you’ll suffer if you pull out of your position too quick!

  12. gadgetBy gadget on 13 May, 2008

    Just when I think I’m beginning to understand SEO a little, you clever bods go and mess with my brain! Fundamentally I actually understand and agree with what you’re saying but as a jack-of-all-trades webmaster, I’m often lost in what to do next to get my sites ahead of the rest. Thanks for the post though – it all goes in, somehow, somewhere!
    Ps. Any new plugins planned?

  13. Santi Modesta PurnamasariBy Santi Modesta Purnamasari on 21 May, 2008

    Dear Mr.Joost,
    Regards from Island of Paradise ?
    Need your kind help,as I need to search a friend of mine,namely: Rene Glasbeek
    Koek Koek straat, Netherland
    Please advise me any website to search people in Netherland?

    Age 41-43
    Last contact: 1989 – 1990
    I am still in Bali – Indonesia , rite now
    email: aprila_patricia@yahoo.com
    hp +628113804455

    Thanks a lot Joost

    btw: what is the meaning of SEO ?

  14. Dixon JonesBy Dixon Jones on 21 May, 2008

    I started commenting Joost… and by the time I started trying to insert Youtube videos to support my perhaps flimsy retort, I decided I had better do a post of my own :)

  15. MonikaBy Monika on 27 October, 2008

    Joost I’ve read between the lines -> because I read always between -> because I am a woman. ;)

    Google is a woman too. The rich aunt- unfortunately mostly bitchy and moody.

    Do you know how it is to live with a woman who has their period? If and if you can live with her without any stress – this is the best training to be a seo. ;)

    You know what you would like to have, but you have to go two steps back and one step forward to get what you want.;)

    To be a seo means often think crazy and act logical.

    So I agree with you and this is miraculously,because I am a woman

    kindly regards
    Monika

  16. Laura GodfreyBy Laura Godfrey on 26 March, 2009

    Planning ahead is essential. Who knows what will happen next month/year in terms of SEO. I completely agree with Dev Basu’s comment –

    One person presents their like or dislike of a particular SEO tactic, and others follow suit, aiding in spreading such speculation.

    This is true. Why must we follow others? – Should we not experiment and test new techniques; so we don’t all wind up with the same results?

    SEO is pot luck quite frankly. There are hundreds of different ways to implement SEO into your website. You just need to understand how to use keywords effectively and what works at that specific moment in time.

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