NOTE: For those poor unfortunates that follow me on twitter, you ought to know by now that I recently visited Kenya August 2009. I wrote the post below on the plane on my journey there and partly at Doha International Airport where I had a two hour stopover. I forgot about it until I realised in was officially recognised one of the contributors to SEOmoz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors survey. : NOTE END
So I am 33000 feet up in the air, travelling at a speed of 790 km/hr and about 8 hours from my first stop, which thankfully is a short one. I have watched a film, a pretty good one, which unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of, (*edit it’s called The Rocker – googled it) but it was about this has-been “rock star” that used to be with a band “Vesuvius” and three teens who formed a band to include him in it 20 years after his fall from grace. As feel good movies go, this is pretty standard, in that it delivers the promised happy ending along with the usual sub plot melodrama that makes it interesting light hearted entertainment.
What does that have to do with SEO?
I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
There are those of us who are always high flying, living the good life, playing the SERPs at every shot, the SEO rock stars. Recognised everywhere the word SEO means Search Engine Optimisation, hated, adored and envied in varying proportions throughout the world.
Then there are those of us, who life passed by, but we are still trying, still “rocking on” still wanting to be the “in” crowd. We used to do something or the other until we got into “internet marketing” and eventually into SEO. Those of us in that category aren’t failures, but just haven’t discovered our strengths.
Then there are those of us who are new, young, fresh, with some seriously mad ideas, rising stars and recognised as such by the Rock Stars and the rest of the community.
And then we have melodrama. Boy we have melodrama. But then, that’s a whole story in its own right and not one I dare venture tell. I have friends and people I respect on most sides of the arguments.
What I would like to offer to you today, in return for you taking a few precious minutes out to read this, is some simple advice. But fist allow me tell you a little about me.
I moved to London 8 years ago from East Africa. I chose my university by picking the furthest distance from London so I wouldn’t have to stay with family. I had a computer back home, it was an Amstrad which I used to load games on from radio cassettes. That was the limit to my exposure to computers. When I submitted my first ever university assignment, I received a £20 bill from the administration office. I had delivered the assignment handwritten and they had to pay someone to type it up.
For the first 2 years I paid people to word process my assignments. You know when I regularly started using computers? When I found out there are websites where I could read free science fiction online. That’s where my flirtation with the internet began. Trying to find stupid geeky shit that I loved to read but couldn’t get most of the times.
In the interim I have done a lot to earn a living, DJ’ed, ran a club, promoted events, marketed a hospital, and marketed doctors. But you know what? Nothing EVER gave me the satisfaction that working with SEO does. Nothing.
But I am not the world’s greatest SEO. I am not even a mediocre link builder. I do not understand web servers or how certain analytics work. I hate spreadsheets and do not like making charts. I do not understand PHP, ASP, or any other programming language for building websites, except for HTML and CSS, which I have a rudimentary knowledge of. Self taught. Thanks to Open Source Design networks.
You know what I am good at? Strategy, creativity and assimilation. Most of all assimilation, as this leads to successes in the former two. I read information. I absorb it. I process it, and I come up with solutions, or potential solutions. And I do that pretty well. And I am good at teaching people. Making them understand what I mean without getting too technical. And I am pretty OK with relationships, which really helps.
Why am I telling you this? Because I am making a point. I am not a rock star. But I know that I am pretty good in a couple of areas. That’s where I excel, and that’s where I stick. For everything else regarding SEO, I know where to find people to help. And as much as I hate the word synergy, it’s the word most apt when two SEOs or a team of SEOs meet who all have complementary skills. Case and point? The guys at SEOmoz. The amazing Distilled team. And all the other successful agencies that have teams for SEO’s in different fields.
My point is, find what you are good at. Stop reading 100 posts on link building in the hope of becoming a link ninja. Don’t try and become an affiliate guru if you don’t really understand the intricacies of affiliate marketing. Dont try and be an SEO writer if your normal writing skills are below par. Know your strength and specialise in it. Practise it even more. SEO is still an infant industry. There are sub disciplines in it, even though the boundaries are murky. SEO is not just onsite vs offsite SEO. It has plenty to offer people specialising in micro parts of it. Find your skill, hone it and work it. Help those who are weak with that skill.
Everybody can’t be a rock star. But everybody can be special.
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile