Don’t be Evil? BULL S**T!

Everyone in SEO BrainTrust has already heard me rant about the duplicity and lies from Google (nofollowed as all untrusted links should be!) in regards the so-called “secure search” initiative but this is just too horrible for me to keep bottled up any longer. Hence, this public rant.

This supposed public service initiative is nothing more-nor-less than the arrogance of absolute power and is the most damaging thing to hit webmasters in the history of webmastering. Somehow it is ok for Google to know every last detail of a user’s search behavior – which is unavoidable without proxies and constant cookie dumps – but the inconsequential percentage of that traffic that hits any one website is somehow a huge security problem that searcher’s, if only they knew, would simply freak out about. BULL SHIT!

But why should webmasters care? Here’s an example.


This is a snapshot from a private client’s GA account (revealing nothing sensitive). For the period covered, this is 10% of total organic traffic and the bounce rate at 80% is fully 20% higher than the terms we actually get reported. So here’s the dilemma: How the F**K do I fix this?

For 10% of search traffic I can not begin to diagnose and decrease bounce rate because I have no clue what the visitor was even searching for. Thanks a lot Google – that’s a big help improving the search experience. Clearly it does my client/partner no good to rank where only 2 in 10 visitors stick around and that would pretty much define “poor search experience” too but despite Google’s stated mission to be “all about the searcher” they have intentionally removed – using a complete and outright lie – the one thing that we can use to improve both the search experience and the visitor experience to our site.

Organic search has always been, and will always be, a symbiosis where Google gets OUR!! content for free so they can run a paid traffic division while providing us “free clicks” in exchange. They have continued to “change the deal” over time with more and more non-organic results reducing the value to us while increasing their revenues. OK, so maybe all’s fair in love and war (and business but that’s just another war!) but if deceit and misdirection at our expense is not “doing evil” than I am at a complete loss for what would qualify.

Add the completely ridiculous BS around G+ … a topic for another day … and I’m seeing FTC in big red letters on the horizon.

Dear Google: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. With your 80% market share (like who the hell is in the 20%?) you have now reached a level of arrogance that is life threatening – to you!

What tools do you use to spy on your competitors?

My good friend, nearly unknown business success and wildly cool Internet marketer (no pressure) Kenny Goodman posted this to FaceBook earlier today:

“What tools do you use to spy on your competitors (apart from Market Samurai of course)?”

Here’s my reply – shared here for the 7 people world-wide that are not yet on FaceBook (hurry up already?!).

“Who cares? Organize right and do the right things and success is guaranteed in time. Measuring the competition is only about gauging how long it will take. Plan for the long term and competition doesn’t matter. Moreover, your competition is likely lame anyway, so setting them as your measure of success if in most cases aiming low.

Google is not your competition. Your competition is not your competition. Your only competition is that part of you, your life and your business that results in less of the right effort than is required to get the results you want.

Search is math, but success at search is personal.”

To put an even finer point on it …

  • what Google does is known enough and stable enough that you should rarely be thinking about it (more on this in a later post)
  • you should *assume* that what your competition is doing is “best practice” – even when it is not – because someone out there is, and they will come our of nowhere to beat you
  • so the only thing left is what you do – which is cool, since it is also the only thing you control!

Work on yourself and your business and external factors cease to matter that much.  That’s why so much of what Dan Thies and I teach in both The SEO BrainTrust and Link Liberation 2 is about (a) mindset and (b) business process.

But don’t we teach how search engines work?  Sure, and better than anyone else. :-)  But knowing is not doing, so our real focus and the reason our customers, clients and partners have been, and continue to be, so successful is that we “get real” about the repetitive actions that are the real cause of success.

Success in anything is a process and success in SEO is no different.

What would Matt do with £10? Wrong answer – read within

Matt Cutts was asked how to start a web business with just £10.  What would you do?  Take a listent to Matt and then read my answer.

Matt suggests buying a domain name and hosting which he figures the cash will last a month and then promote affiliate offers to make money.  Wrong.  Sorry Matt – hope Google works out for you.  Here’s my recommendation from actually making money online for more than a decade.

Don’t spend any money at all.  Ten is too small to matter anyway.  Instead, use free hosting on Blogspot, WordPress, Hubpages, Squidoo, Facebook and Twitter to pump out content around a niche, create a following, and monitize your traffic with affiliate offers.

More-or-less what we teach in Link Liberation 2.0 :-)

Visit Dan and me (and Andrea too) at The SEO BrainTrust for more information.

Business. Is it mental or is it (somewhat) physical?

Just ran across this on Tim Ferris’ blog :

The Billionaire Productivity Secret and the Experimental Lifestyle

“How do you become more productive?”

Richard Branson leaned back and thought for a second. The tropical sounds of his private oasis, Necker Island, murmured in the background. Twenty people sat around him at rapt attention, wondering what a billionaire’s answer would be to one of the big questions—perhaps the biggest question—of business. The group had been assembled by marketing impresario Joe Polish to brainstorm growth options for Richard’s philanthropic Virgin Unite. It was one of his many new ambitious projects. Virgin Group already had more than 300 companies, more than 50,000 employees, and $25 billion per year in revenue. In other words, Branson had personally built an empire larger than the GDP of some developing countries.

Then he broke the silence:

“Work out.”

He was serious and elaborated: working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.

All of us that are driven to achieve ultimately arrive at the notion of “focus” and how best to optimize our time. Clearly laundry, cleaning, dishes and shopping of (way!) off the list, but what is the trade off between being in front of the computer – on the ever expanding behind! – instead of sweating for an hour?

Until I have done what Richard has done, can honestly argue with his answer?

Too little Content? There’s no excuse. Here’s why

You think writing articles is hard?  How about 50,000 words in just 30 days?  That’s what a punch of folks do every year durning November.  Even Matt Cutts is giving it a shot.  Content really is not that hard, you just have to decide to do it and get it done!

“For November, I’ll be participating in National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo.” The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Does it sound like too much to do? Well, ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen? The worst is that you write a little bit and then don’t finish. That’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s better than not writing anything.”

Read Matt’s full post at:

Mindset Reminder #10


Think in terms of laser beams instead of flashlights. Instead of lighting up all of Page 1 with a whole bunch of rankings, think about one key phrase at a time because No. 1 is so much more important than anything else.

The focus of a laser beam is what creates power, right? A laser beam actually puts out far less wattage than a flashlight, and yet it can burn through a wall. You can always outshine your competition with greater focus. All you have to do is get one No. 1 term (one search term that matters, of course) and you’re probably making more money than they are if they’re not at No. 1.

Ten top 10 rankings is a flashlight. One No. 1 ranking is a laser. Sequence what you do in your SEO so that you go after one No. 1 ranking and you beat it to death. When it’s No. 1, you then go onto the next search term, protecting what’s already at No. 1 as you go.

Always focus on beating No. 1. Don’t stop at No. 2 or No. 3. If you stop at No. 2 or 3, and say “good enough”, you’re giving up just before the finish line. Don’t stop till you’re No. 1.

So here are your ten mindset reminders all in one spot where you can refer to them if you find yourself slipping back into your old ways:

1. It’s Not About You
2. It’s Not Magic
3. Rankings Define Right
4. Rankings Don’t Matter
5. No Money In Measuring
6. Mr. Busy Wins
7. Knowing is Not Doing
8. Too Hard is Just Right
9. Twice 70% Beats Perfect
10. Laser Focus

Don’t memorize these. Instead inculcate them. Change your wiring so you don’t have to think about it, so that it becomes habit.

SEO Mindset Reminder #9

2 x 70% > 1 x 100%

I have to admit, this is my favorite mindset reminder. It involves both math and humor, two of my favorite things — the others are, um, well, nevermind.

About 70% of what it takes to rank is easy. It’s just three factors: title tag, link text and PageRank. The rest of those (supposedly) 200 factors account for the minority of ranking impact, not the majority. If you get really good at the three factors that make the most difference, you can ignore the multitude of factors that contribute much less.

Hence the reminder: twice as good at 70% beats 100%.

We know the three biggest factors do work. Work these as smart and as hard as you can, and you will outwork the parts that we don’t know and matter much less.

That’s one of the reasons “the algorithm” no longer matters as much as it once did. Rather than being highly skilled in the nuance of ranking, top positioning today is more about how hard you work. It’s Mr. Busy that wins, not Mr. Smarty.

Which leads to a corollary for our rule: twice as good at 30% is less than 70%.

This is another reason Mr Smarty loses. There is no money in studying SEO to the point you can figure out what all 200 factors are (if there actually are that many) because no matter how precisely you can measure and control that 30%, you still have to work the 70% that matters most.

Work the parts you know and work them harder than your competition. That’s the secret of ranking. It’s dead simple. It’s just hard work.

SEO Mindset Reminder #8


If it were easy, you would have even more competition. How would you like to have twice as many people competing for your keywords? Even if they aren’t any good at it, some of them are bound to get lucky and still others are likely to get good. Making SEO “easy” is bad for you, so don’t ever complain about how hard it is. Give thanks that it does take some skill and hard work, because the alternative is far worse.

Worse still, reflect for a moment on your alternatives to running a web business. Can’t quite make that picture? Go watch the movie Office Space. Or how ’bout this: watch all your neighbors drive to work one morning and then notice what time they get back home. Does that look fun? Now how do you feel about SEO?

And seriously, just how hard is SEO really? It is far more tedious than it is hard and most of that can be solved by being organized enough to use employees and outsourcers, so when you find yourself (as we all do!) complaining about not getting ranked where you want — just time your morning commute!

SEO Mindset Reminder #7


We are emotional creatures first, and intellectuals second. That’s why our decisions are ultimately emotional. Sales and marketing folks know this. Sure, you do have to provide the knowledge that justifies the feeling, but if you can not get the prospect to believe their decision is right, you will lose the sale, no matter what the facts.

Our own behavior is no different. Moment by moment, we “sell ourselves” on what we should do, and while we will always know the reasons why, it is not the reasons that make us do it. Our beliefs is what drives our behavior, our reasons just allow us to accept it.

That is why knowing what to do is so very different from actually doing it. To be successful, in anything, not just SEO, it is not enough to know what to do. You must also believe in the things that will cause you to take the right action to create success from what you know.

Don’t get me wrong: knowledge is important too. In particular, to be really good at SEO requires knowing a bunch of pretty esoteric stuff. But to get yourself to consistently put your knowledge to use, you have to have an empowering view of SEO — not just an understanding of the technology.

These 10 Mindset Reminders are what I think are the attitudes that are most critical to creating and sustaining correct action. Notice that none of them is about what causes good ranking. That’s not their purpose. These rule are about you, your beliefs about search and your beliefs about your ability to achieve top rankings.

Right Knowledge + Right Mindset ==> Right Action

SEO Mindset Reminder #6


A poor job now beats a perfect one later. Quantity generally beats quality, so get busy. But wait a minute! Busy at what? Busy at the right stuff. No good change occurs until you take action. Bad change, well that occurs all on it’s own. It’s called entropy. If you just sit still, things will go bad really quickly.

Wrong action therefore is usually better than no action at all, assuming that it doesn’t involve drugs or flammable substances. So get busy. Be ugly. Get rich and then clean it up. But start with busy.

Busy doing what? Well this one is one of the biggest questions we hear in the guru business on the Internet marketing circuit and I’m willing to bet your friends are asking the same question as well. The answer is two fold.

First off, knowing is not part of doing. To know is not an active verb. Study is not work. Yes, you need to study and know enough to get started, but don’t get so wrapped up in studying and learning that you never get around to the business you are studying for. By all means get busy studying at first, but once you’ve studied enough that you can get to work, then stop studying and get to work! You can come back to studying once you are making some money and need to take your business to the next level.

Secondly, the web is made of pages and links. There is nothing else, so whatever your study leads you to get busy doing, if it doesn’t result in creating more or better pages or more or better links, then it really has not much to do with SEO.

Don’t over complicate this. Look at the people beating you in rankings. I bet they have more pages, more links or more of both. SEO success is not a case of “working smarter instead of harder”. What’s required is to find the smart ways that enable you to work harder.