My Seven Sins As an SEO

by rishil on December 16, 2010

We are all fallible. And I think I am more so, as I often go off on different moods as they strike me. Over the years I have allowed myself to fall victim to many of my weaknesses, and I thought maybe, just maybe, there is something others may learn by exposing them.  These are seven weaknesses that I fell victim to in my career this far:


Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as anger or “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.

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It’s easy to get angry. Angry with people that don’t seem to have a clue, and your performance depends on them. From stupid IT teams to daft clients, to ignorant bosses to annoying colleagues. Slowly you build up this feeling of resentment and annoyance, which can quickly escalade into a full blown hatred. I have been in these situations, more often than I would like to admit.

You start slacking. Stop actually listening to what the people around you are saying. All you can think of is how annoying they are. How much you would like to **LL them.

Anger can really kill your efforts, it blinds you. It blinds your logic, and it tempers your conversations with others, which may slowly or in certain situations, rapidly turn in a direction you should never venture. How the hell are you going to work,  if you are angry at all the people that need to be involved?

It took a while for me to get a handle on my anger. I just vent sometimes and let it blow over.


Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.

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For me greed was when I originally started out, I kept taking on client after client. The recommendations were rolling in. And I thought I could work on them all,. The money was OK, and I thought that I will be able to provide the same level of service to 50 clients as I would to 10.

I was wrong. Standards slipped, I kept forgetting to do stuff, and basically started annoying my clients. I could have taken on two routes  either reduce the number of people I am working with, or take on someone to help. The latter  wasn’t financially viable at the time, and the former was my only choice.

I learnt a valuable lesson – greed can really hurt your reputation.


The modern view goes further, regarding laziness and indifference as the sin at the heart of the matter.

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This is probably a more recent sin for me – I used to be quite hardworking, burning candles at both ends. But as I grew in skill, I started developing a laissez faire attitude, to the point where it again started spiraling my work life out of control.

So much more work needs to happen to make sure that a campaign is running smoothly – if you start getting lazy, you will drop your eyes off the ball, and one day have to wonder why your site suddenly dropped off the SERPs…

In fact I think to this day, this is one I am constantly battling with. Laziness is a bloody disease…


In almost every list Pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self.

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Somewhere along the line I started thinking too much of myself, and looked down on people. This does not help. Seriously. It’s one thing to take pride in your work, and another being a proud person – its only a step away from arrogance, which can actually lead to ignorance. Feeling too self important will give you myopia, as I have learnt to my detriment – in SEO you have to keep reading, keep on top of things – and just because someone is new, doesn’t mean that they are less intelligent than you.

Keep the pride in your work, lose the arrogance in your attitude. I have kind of tackled this one, however, from time to time it does slip out.


Lust or lechery (carnal “luxuria”) is usually thought of as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature

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Sexy is fun. Sexy looks good. Sexy takes a fuck load of time to deliver. I use to love make my ideas, strategies result etc look absolutely great. Loads of charts, figures, results, quotes – seriously some of that work deserved medals :P .

But once again, I was losing time to perfection. To make things look good. What’s the point of a report that will take 10 minutes to read, but 10 days to create? I am not saying don’t make your work attractive, but don’t waste too much time sexing it up. You may end up having pretty charts and figures, but results that are ugly… if you know what I mean.

Learn to present the meat in the quickest, yet most accessible manner, and try and get that done in the fastest time possible.


Like greed, Envy (Latin, invidia) may be characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, where as envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it.

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This was a short lived sin for me. There was a time in my life that I was constantly jealous of others who were doing well compared to I was. But instead of trying to learn from their success, I was too busy spiraling myself into a latent hatred for these people.

“Why were their sites ranking? They are buying links! I wish I could. But what if… maybe I should report them… maybe I should call them out… ” etc etc. These are common thoughts that I still come across by people n SEO forums and on twitter. Let it go. Just work harder.

Envy can really eat at you – and actually distract you from work – take on competition with a healthy frame of mind, admit when you are beaten, and only address jealousy by working harder – not hating harder.


Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

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I read. I read a lot. I hoard articles, ideas and concepts. But overdoing it may have a negative effect as well. There was a time I was voraciously consuming every blog post, every article on SEO with a grim determination. But this came at a cost as well. Overindulging in consuming this content can often leave you with two symptoms – lack of time to actually implement anything and confusing yourself to kingdom come.

Read, and read the right content. Learn to skim, mark and notarize. Don’t try and overdo it either.  I tend to rely on the SEO community now to throw decent content across to me. If it good, chances are it will be widely circulated. I don’t over indulge anymore, I only binge occasionally.


Its that time of the year that you have to make resolutions, mine is simple, I stay away from past mistakes – and maybe some of them ring true for you?  I will make mistakes, probably till the day I die. But, I hope I continue to keep learning from them.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to scoot over to the SEOchicks version of the 7 Deadly Sins written by Judith…

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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Nedim Sabic December 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm

One of the best articles in this year. It has so much value to full time SEOs, it’s not measurable. But I think every SEO who is successfull lives all this through you were writing about. I like the feeling “I’m not the only one!”.


Illiya Vjestica December 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Now then Rishil, wicked post I read every word with a nodding head. Spot on, lots of people in business and in life can learn from these seven deadly sins. I think they can be applicable to every job or industry depending on what you do.

I guess you can say that in our line of work the Internet can help with our understanding and keeping track of developments in new technology. Unfortunately, as we know only too well it can be a huge time suck and distraction to consume all tweets, blog posts etc. regularly.

I like you only binge on articles or listen / read people’s content worth spending the time doing so.



LeslieS December 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Fun but candid post. It might help me avoid some mistakes. Thanks!


Barnaby Perrin Aldous December 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Hi Rishi

I think this is a really great article, and I’m not just saying so either. I’ll refer to this again in the future, as I believe it will be of real help.




Gordon Campbell December 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I’ve just left a career in recruitment to do online marketing, if any job makes you greedy, its that! But it was fun too as I got to help lots of great people find amazing jobs.

Thanks for the insight and I will take note of the tips.


goodnewscowboy December 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Wow Rishi! This was a phenomenal post. I really wish it could have been submitted to YOUmoz so they could get the benefit of it there. It gives a kilo of lessons in between the lines.


Kerstin Baker-Ash December 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Really well done. Thanks for sharing – I’m going to pass this around to our juniors, it’s a helpful and an entertaining learning process for people starting out (or die-hards that won’t accept their own faults… ducks…).


Alan Bleiweiss December 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Thank Rishil!

Okay I admit that I almost didn’t want to click on your tweet link for this one. Just woke up a short while ago and didn’t necessarily want to acknowledge my own :-) . I think it’s really important for us to see these things for what they are though.

In my own life the past few years, it’s been vital to being truly happy and not losing perspective, both of which are critical for me to not have the universe rip what I am blessed to have been given, out from under me. So seeing it applied to the business is a great reminder, because this business is definitely a blessing.


Jonny Scott December 16, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Refreshing post dude.


Sean Maguire December 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Hey buddy,

Long time no talk. Loved your post. I’m guilty as charged of ALL of the above! I think having the ability to look oneself in the mirror objectively and being introspective about change is the key to maturity. I’m hoping that I’m finally starting to get it!

Happy holidays to you and your family.



Kevin chamberlin December 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm

WOW! what an eye-opening, glade to know now what and why I feel the way I do sometimes. This was a great post and one I will pass along and keep close by to remember what really matters.

thanks again.


Dr Horst Joepen December 20, 2010 at 10:57 am

Thank you for another great post, Rishil. I’d like to propose my own quick approach for coping with a few of your suggested Seven Deadly SEO Sins, if I may:

Wrath: It’s easy to get angry when people don’t seem to understand or co-operate with us. But there’s so much confusion surrounding SEO that we in the industry need to be that much more patient and persuasive to get buy in from others.

Sloth: I guess it’s all about discipline. SEO is a never-ending battle that we can never win; just try to stay ahead of our rivals. That should be inspiration enough and the rewards are plentiful

Pride: Good SEOs have every right to be proud of their work, but as with ‘Sloth’, we can never get complacent: there’s always more to learn

Lust: Indeed, no need to overplay things. SEOs should focus on what they do best – improving their results rather than dressing them up for the client

Envy: In such an intensely competitive industry as search it’s hard not to be envious of others’ success. But SEO is a great leveller. And it’s inspiring to remember that smart thinking, hard work and focus can potentially bring success to anyone in the industry


Adam January 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm

What a refeshing article , I have to say that this sooooooo reminds me of my self not to long ago and as you have pointed out its only when you get out of this “curse” or these “curses” you can truely evolve, HOWEVER im also a firm believer of learn from your mistakes and Mistakes are their to be made, In other words i wouldnt do it any other way, Experience is what makes the world go around….Don’t deny your self of it.


Aranza Mendez Design April 17, 2012 at 6:07 am

Maybe, this is just normal for us seo’s because we are into this industry so we must accept the consequences about it.


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