I started hanging out on an IT forum back in 2003. Initially, I was looking for a solution to a software problem I had, and the assistance I needed was immediately offered. I found the folks there to be generous with their knowledge, so I stuck around to learn more. That’s where I first heard about this thing called SEO.
The notion of being able to enhance my site’s visibility to the search engines intrigued me, so I started hanging around a couple of SEO and Webmaster forums as well. There, I soon built a list of blogs that I should follow… whenever a name came up more than two or three times, I added them to my reading list. Before long, I was reading posts by Aaron Wall, Danny Sullivan, Matt Cutts, Dave Harry, Bruce Clay, Rand Fishkin… and many others.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that what I knew about SEO wouldn’t fill a thimble. To make matters worse, there didn’t seem to be a consensus on many things. So I couldn’t just research a question and find the answer. I had to research the question, find two or three answers and then keep researching ‘til I could determine which answer had the best odds of being correct.
The jury’s still out on a couple of those, by the way.
Nearly five years ago, I decided that SEO was something that was interesting, challenging and had a future, so I started studying it in depth. When I retired, a little over two years ago, I began studying full-time, anything and everything that had to do with optimization. SEO, SEM, SMM, CRO, copywriting, web development… anything that had any effect on the ability of a webpage to compete for the attention of the search engines and the users.
I expanded my routine reading list, and was probably visiting over a hundred blogs a week (we retirees have plenty of time to burn, ya know!). Slowly but surely, I began to get a handle on general SEO, and started really digging into the specialty areas that interested me.
Did I become an expert? Of course not! In fact, in a couple of areas, I’ve only learned enough to know how little I know. I did manage to become fairly competent in a couple of areas, though. And in the process, I’ve also managed to learn a lot about the SEO community in which I work. It’s an interesting (never boring) melting pot. I interact daily with some highly respected members of the industry, in many countries, on several continents. And in the process, I’ve found that I can learn something from everyone, if I’m just willing to listen.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about the SEO community, in general:
- I’ve found most of the SEOs I know to be very protective of their clients and their clients’ privacy, but very open about their own business;
- I’ve found that most are very willing to freely share their knowledge to answer a question or solve a problem of another;
- I’ve found that they’re quick to jump to the defense of any of their number that’s under attack from outside the circle;
- I’ve found that most are very willing to admit their own weaknesses and failures, but like most of us, they don’t appreciate having them pointed out by others;
- I’ve found that most SEOs are hard-core workaholics. I mean HARD-CORE!
Like any other group, whether professional, religious, ethnic or national, we have our sweethearts and our jerks. There are prima donnas and Mother Teresas, Einsteins and Epsteins, and pretty much everything in between. SEO is no different than any other industry, in that regard.
And just like any other group, the cream will eventually rise to the surface, while the folks that shouldn’t be there… well, they just fade away. They eventually make some foolish, nonsensical statement in the wrong company, and any vestige of credibility they still had suddenly evaporates.
By the same token, now and then a relative unknown will utter some nugget of wisdom that will make folks pause and comment amongst themselves, “She’s a sharp lass… good head on her shoulders.”
This is an industry made up of entrepreneurs. Even if they’re still working for someone else, they have that entrepreneurial drive to “do their own thing”. They take responsibility for their own actions and inactions, and learn from not only their own mistakes but those of others. In fact, the really sharp ones make it a point to always learn from the mistakes of others, whenever possible. It’s more fun that way.
All in all, I’m not the least bit sorry to have chosen SEO as a new career. I like the challenge, I like the community and I like the opportunities. I’ve made some good e-friends in the process, and learned a lot from a good many people.
So for me, 2011 looks to be one hell of a good year. I hope the same is true for every one of you, as well.
Oh, I nearly forgot…. Merry Christmas!
Graphic Credits: renjith krishnan via FreeDigitalPhotos.net