Doing the legwork — No SEO guts, no SEO glory

SEO and continuing education

It’s easy to know SEO concepts. It’s another thing to put them into good use and do the work involved in optimizing a site.

 Yesterday, I was at a barnes and noble and saw the book SEO Bible. I flipped through the pages and I knew everything I saw. But if “Joe the SEO” reads the book, so will they. Knowing what everyone knows is not a competitive advantage.

A SEO must know more than what is printed in a year-old book. The book doesn’t talk about Google Search Wiki, or know about the new FriendConnect API, and even those technologies are yesterday’s news. Reading a book is just an introduction. SEO takes continuous training.

Low bar of entry for an intense industry

I have joined some Meetup.com web and SEO groups in Denver, but have yet to go to any of the meetings, because I wonder what I will find there. Will people at least be readers of SEOBook.com and Matt Cutts, knowing what web accessibility and SEO have in common and how to scultpt links, or will they be green, untrained, and testing the waters and looking for unreciprocated advice?

There are plenty of fly-by night SEOs in Denver. Then there are the good ones. Knox SEO is one of them. I hear good things about Copybrighter. They know how much work and obsession is required to build links, develop a site’s value and promote a website.

One question every SEO should know the answer to

When you speak to an SEO, you should ask them what their most recent “dofollow” website is. If they can’t tell you (and especially if they ask you what dofollow means!) move on.

In writing this post, I am venting some frustration with the “younguns” who want to explode on the scene without any major pain or effort. SEO is a science, an art, a competition, a puzzle, and a brutal industry. I love talking about it, because to be in this field, I think you must love it. Make sure your SEO does, too.

Author: Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the President of Katz Web Services and the developer of WordPress plugins with over 700,000 downloads. He lives in Southwest Colorado with his wife and two cats.

13 thoughts on “Doing the legwork — No SEO guts, no SEO glory”

  1. As someone doing my own SEO for my own site(s) and not as my primary business I do think you have to like it. Sometimes I think getting a term to rank is so simple and then the search engines change something and it feels I’m starting over again. Hope you don’t get stuck on jury duty for too long.

  2. I used to check rank every day for all my sites. That encouraged a mild disorder 🙂 I think being fixated on rank daily is not the key, it’s consistently building site presence so that when the search engines DO update their algo’s, your site stays healthy.

    Jury duty got out after only 2 hours — the cases had all been settled out of court!

  3. I’m actually getting a little better about not checking rank constantly – baby steps. I was talking more about bigger algo changes that haven’t been so kind. I think going forward I’m going to be better prepared for change.

    Back to your post, I do think that many people do not know the right questions to ask when looking for help to be found in the search engines. That makes it easy to hire the wrong company.

  4. @Mike – I do plan on going to the SEO meetup soon. I’m looking forward to meeting others in my field locally.

    I didn’t mean to diss the Meetup, sorry if it came out that way! I simply want to see people taking it upon themselves to learn the skills the hard way — because I believe that’s the best way to truly understand what’s going on.

  5. Thanks for the compiment Zack. I was at B&N the other day and noticed a lot of books too. They weren’t around when I got into this game.

    The young guns will be needing a real paycheck after they fail a few clients and won’t be bothering you any more.

    Personally, I’m amused when I read an seo blog that sprang up yesterday claiming their service is the best in town… ummm, “who are you?” is what I think to myself, then I sigh when I read a simple regurgitation of what was written in a forum 3 years ago.

    I know you’re good at this, and why your blog is one of only 2 around here that I’ll read past the first sentence. Actually, with yours I read all of it.

  6. Zach, I understand your frustration as we have met many other “SEO” professionals in town and to date most of them seemed to really understand CPC or PPC very well, in my book there is much more to SEM than simply PPC or obtaining a visible local listing.

    We have never atteneded a meeting here locally with other SEO’s and we are going to the next meetup here on the 15th. We are pretty excited to see what happens there. You should really come.

    We had the opportunity to meet with Mike Belasco and he really recommended that we go to some of these meeting as they have been useful to him and his group.

    I hope to meet you there!

  7. Thanks for the Twitter follow Zack. I have been involved in seo with own my own real estate websites for the last 6 years. The rules of the game have definitely made a noticeable change over that time.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog posts.

  8. @Jordan – For me, without competition there is no context to how you’re doing, especially in SEO. Since SEO is about ranking well and striving for the higher rank, I believe SEO is inherently a competition.

  9. Zach, I know where you are coming from on this. There are really no barriers to entry in this field, so it allows anyone to claim that they are an SEO professional. This makes it especially hard for good people to separate the good from the bad.
    The other tricky part is that SEO tactics that worked a few years ago won’t work now, so if you aren’t staying up on trends you will fall behind, and quickly.
    I think the “proof is in the pudding”, as those who are able to show results, and get raving recommendations from their clients obviously know what they are doing, the others will eventually fail.
    As for me, my company is new here in Denver, (although we have been freelance SEO’s for years) so until we establish ourselves we’ll be lumped in with the “younguns”, but I know that in 5 years, we’ll still be around, and the results will be there to show.
    And yes, SEO is always a competition…

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