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 #5


One of the huge benefits we have on the web is we can measure so much about user engagement that we can make very well informed decisions about what works, and what doesn’t. But there is a risk.

If we’re not careful, we can end up measuring so many things that what we end up in is the measurement business instead of the one we started out in. Don’t do that. Remember that your purpose is to actually make money!

Eighty percent of the stuff you can measure on the web is a complete waste of time. Most measurements are from really bad data to start with and they don’t actually measure anything that’s going to affect change in your business.

So whenever you go to measure something ask yourself this: “Does this measurement really, honestly change what I do?” If it does not have the power to inform a decision, then is it really something you should be doing at all?

The closely related question is precision. Even the measurements that are important are, again, important only to the extent they support decision making and almost no decision needs “perfect” numbers. For example, are you ranking at #5 or #7 for that keyword? Just how many data centers and how many times a day should you check that?

The difference between ranking at #5 or #7 does not matter. All you need to recognize is that it is below the fold on page 1. Any more accuracy than that is simply measurement for measurement’s sake and not one that drives business results.

It is the money that counts. Everything else counts only to the extent that it makes counting the money more fun! On the other hand, don’t get too attached to that either, because counting the money does not make it grow — work is what makes it grow.

SEO Mindset Reminder #4


Don’t get wrapped up in your rankings. Rankings don’t actually matter. Making money is what maters. Focus on the rankings only to the extent that they are the right ones – the ones that make you money.

How do you tell? Analytics. If you are not driving your SEO strategy from site analytics, then you are simply not doing the right thing. If you happen to be successful that way, good for you, but it was luck…not skill.

How many times have you heard someone brag that they have five top ten rankings? That’s great, and are you making any money with that site? Everybody has five top ten rankings for some off the wall keywords. In fact, almost everyone one has a dozen number one rankings! Wohoo. But do they make any money?

One top 10 ranking that makes money is worth more than a hundred that don’t. Quit bragging about rankings. Count the money.

SEO Mindset Reminder #3


You don’t get to decide what’s right. Your job is to admit what is and accept it. The rankings define whatever the search engine considers right and it is not up to us to change it. To be successful requires that you accept it and adapt to it.

In many cases the top ranked pages are not much to look at. It’s not a beauty contest. You don’t get a vote. Your opinion doesn’t matter, and there’s no court at all, higher or otherwise, so whatever sense of “justice” you may be bringing with you … leave it at home.

Second guessing what should be so and complaining about results quality are thoughts that do not belong in your search marketing mentality. Thinking this way is an exercise in futility and keeps you from focusing on your own site and your goals.

When you look at search results, realize those results define right and they got there by simple math. If you want to replace them, one way to do it is just do what they did.

SEO Mindset Reminder #2


Ranking is just math – really simple math. What makes it amazing is that this math is run on more than 200,000 machines and produces results for millions of users in a quarter of a second. Of course, the math doesn’t always do exactly what they want, and that they have Matt. Matt is there to protect the math. It is Matt’s job to keep the crap out of the index so the math can stay pure and ivory colored. So long as you avoid Matt, all you have to deal with is simple math.

So what does this mean for you? In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, much can be observed just by looking. How many times have you heard people say, “I just gave up on search because you can’t control it”? Don’t believe it. These people have the idea that search results are magic. It’s not.

If you want to rank #1 for a specific keyword, look at the page that currently holds that position. Since ranking is math, what can you learn from your competition to make the math machine rank your page above your competition? You just have to look at it with the mindset that it’s not magic and that it can be understood. Then you’ll start seeing signs of math instead of magic.

SEO Mindset Reminder #1


Ranking is not about you. You really don’t matter at all. Ranking is entirely impersonal. If Bob can rank, so can you, and so can the other guy. No one at Google knows you, or Bob, or the other guy for that matter. If no one at Google knows you or Bob, you’re on equal footing. Yes, it may be lonely, you have no one to call and complain to, but that also means they won’t be calling you either. So remember, it’s not personal, if they can do it, so can you.