Great Gonzos,Volume 1.
“Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
This is where you can find some examples of posts to help you obtain the mindset you need to grow as a search marketing professional. Some of my success can be attributed to these articles, the rest is from sheer elbow grease and determination. I give a bit of commentary on why each one of these is important to me and shaping my mind for success in the search marketing industry.
A quick story about the fellowship I’ve found in this industry includes the originator of the term Gonzo SEO, Taylor Pratt.
I was thinking of branding myself as an objective action man in this industry and reporting my findings on here. I’m a huge fan of American non-fiction literature, specifically the works of the Dr. of Journalism. Naturally, I chose the name The Gonzo SEO and found it was an available domain so I went right to work building a site and developing my persona. Here’s where I miserably failed at search marketing and branding myself. Gonzo SEO was a term already coined by a search marketing badass. A wave of panic struck me like a bucket of cold water to the face because I realized I encroached on someone else’s incredible idea I thought to be my own original. I emailed Taylor and apologized for being a dunce and I decided to take my site down immediately. Just before I pulled the plug on my ambitious project of becoming a real specialist in this field, Taylor returned my email with a humorous challenge to be ripped to shreds. He offered to let me buy his domains and all their link equity at a very reasonable offer, which quickly claimed as an epic win for me. I have yet to thank Taylor and his fostering along a great attitude in me about the choices I’ve made in my career. One of those choices is my plan to meet this steward of superb professionalism and thank him personally, face to face. I’ll make it to one conference this coming year and make it so, it has been written, and so shall it be.
I still considered myself to be a novice in search when John Andrew’s wrote You’re Free To Go Home. This post motivated me to start looking for ways to win against any opponent. Not just in SEO, but in winning hearts and minds of employers and stakeholders. It forced me to look for ways to exploit the game to win without cheating or playing straight up. It also spoke to my attitude towards people that wanted to bitch about how they couldn’t beat the ‘unethical’ SEO’s. Like the old Boserism goes; SPAM = Sites Positioned Above Mine. Play to win, people – I am.
But don’t just play to win, play to build a dynasty like Mike Krzyzewski has at Duke University. I hate the Blue Devils, but there is no denying that Coach K has built a sustainable product of his men’s basketball program. Having seen him coach in person a few times, I would submit that he is likely the best motivator on the sidelines living today. Ross Hudgens made me take a look at my then current in-house position with How To Motivate An SEO and it stunned me to realize that I could never be a linchpin where I was. I decided to move on from there because despite the management’s claims of loving Coach K’s method of allowing a player to give all they have and strive for more, their bureaucratic structure would not allow it.
Another instance where we should all collectively learn is when we all took the bait. When I first read White Hat SEO Is A Joke I felt like someone was actually taking a public stance for what many call Gray Hat Techniques. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized Kris Roadruck pulled off one of the greatest mind heists I’d ever encountered. I don’t get hustled. Ever. I can usually spot the facade of most things and how they are presented because I’m a marketer and was probably a city murder police in a former life. But this time was different, this time I thought this post was about getting the discussion going about the whole ethical hat horseshit. In reality it was a piece of great content that exemplified how a hardline ‘ethical’ practice can and DOES work. One of the commonly used ‘white hat techniques’ of creating flamebait was used to gain 60 links to that page, and we all should’ve seen that, very few of us did.
Anytime I read something that I can identify as my own mindset, it’s like a validation of me being a search marketer. It was as if Joe Hall’s How I Became A Postmodern SEO was written by me. Now that’s not to say I write as well as Joe, but it contains an almost identical attitude to the one I possess towards SEO. I can’t stress enough how important it is to identify with others in this industry, especially for me. I don’t really belong or feel welcome in most SEO communities because I don’t just trust motives and I don’t trust what most everyone else believes just because a big-name so-and-so SEO said it was gospel. I test it out for myself, and maybe I burn down the house trying to mix up the perfect compound in the lab, but I now know where the threshold is and where to dig next time so I don’t hit the gas lines. I also know what doesn’t work and what works ‘too well’. Heisenberg Uber Alles!
Speaking of testing and labs, Branko Rihtman is the original White Coat SEO. Aaron Wall gives us a true piece of modern journalism when he picks Branko’s brain in An Interview With SEO Scientist. I read this as if Hunter Thompson actually got around to interviewing Muhammad Ali for the Rumble in the Jungle. This was gold. Finally, someone with some sense was being heard by the masses of drones in the media that only sought to demonize SEO and all the goddamn’ idiots in search marketing circles that blindly regurgitate the nonsense that they read in the search marketing tabloids. Some excellent thought leadership on the part of both Branko and Aaron for putting this out at a time when the industry needed it most.
I have always been inspired by Alan Bleiweiss. He has been very open about his recovery and how resilient humans can be. Sure, he ruffles people’s feathers and I certainly don’t always agree with all of his opinions, but Alan is if nothing else one of the most principled and clever people in search marketing. One of my favorite things about SEO is how it can make me feel like a genius for solving complex problems and yet also like a dunce for not figuring them out sooner. Sometimes you get the opportunity to cut the Gordian Knot with Occam’s Razor and that’s kinda what Alan does in sharing his experiences in SEO Forensic Investigation Division. His soft eyes approach to looking into a link profile helped him uncover criminal activity during an SEO audit. Read that and tell me you didn’t come away from it with a few ideas on how to be a search marketing detective and I’d tell you to find a different career path.
These authors may vary in opinion and might not be revered by you as iconoclasts of popular thoughts like I do, but they all share a commonality in their ability to tell a story that made me think pragmatically about my career. They say in film writing circles, there no new ideas just ones that have yet to be discovered or modernized, I tend to disagree. These are some examples of why.
Until I get enough time to visit this series again, wise up or be your own kind of fool…. no one can do it for you. — Gonzo