Do you want to be a successful SEO? Who doesn’t, right?
After being in the SEO space for over 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting thousands of SEOs. And just like in any industry, only a small percentage of them are actually successful.
So, it hit me. Why are some of these SEOs good at what they do, while others aren’t? After thinking about it for a while, I realized that it came down to these 7 habits.
1. Effective SEOs practice it
It’s not hard to become an SEO. You can read about it online; you can buy a few books; and within weeks, you’ll have the lingo down. At that point, you can probably approach a few sites and tell them what they are doing wrong. But at the end of the day, does that mean you’re a good SEO?
If you want to get good at SEO, you have to practice it, and not just on client sites. Create your own sites, build your own links and track your rankings. As you learn what works for your website, you’ll get better at helping other people with their SEO.
The search world is constantly changing, and it’s impossible to stay up-to-date by just reading industry news. You have no choice but to practice it as that will give you a better understanding of how you need to adjust your approach to rank higher.
2. Effective SEOs take risks
You have to push the envelope! If you knew how many times I’ve got banned from or penalized by Google and Yahoo for pushing the envelope, you’d be shocked.
By no means am I saying that you should do anything unethical or break Google’s policies, but what I am saying is that you have to learn to be aggressive.
If you’re aggressive with your sites, you’ll quickly learn what helps boost rankings and what doesn’t. For example, you already know that white hat link building increases rankings. But did you know that if you build links at a slow and steady pace, you can outrank someone who builds the same type of links fast?
If I weren’t aggressive with my link building, I would have never learned that. So, don’t be afraid to push the envelope.
3. Effective SEOs build relationships
People knew me in the SEO space for leveraging social media sites to build links. I was the first SEO to really leverage sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious. I was so good at it that at one point I had a 75% success rate of getting on the Digg’s homepage. To top it off, I was a top 100 user.
How did I do this? Well, it wasn’t because I knew these social sites better than anyone else; instead, I just networked my way to the top.
By building relationships with other users on these sites, I was able to learn the ins and outs. That’s what helped me succeed.
Whether you are trying to get better at an on-page SEO or link building, you should never stop networking. The more relationships you build, the better off you are. For example, I built a relationship with a blogger two years ago, who now guest-writes on over forty popular blogs. Because of our relationship, he links to me from these blogs when appropriate, and I don’t even have to pay him a penny to do this. He just does it because we are friends now.
4. Effective SEOs are creative
SEO isn’t new. Everyone does it, and there isn’t much that’s a secret these days. But the people who do really well tend to be the ones who are creative as it gives them a huge advantage.
Do you remember Mingle 2? The dating site that got bought out by Just Say Hi?
The SEO guy behind it, Matt Inman, was able to get Mingle 2 to become a popular dating site because he leveraged quizzes. Users loved these quizzes so much that after taking them, they would embed their score onto the site’s blog.
Matt is also the guy behind The Oatmeal. That site has a ton of SEO juice because Matt is creative when it comes to link building. Whether it’s quizzes, comics or anything else he can think of, Matt prefers to do SEO using creativity.
If you are creative, leverage it. It gives you a head start, but you have to move fast as competitors will catch onto your creative tactics sooner or later.
5. Effective SEOs are analytical
Being able to rank keywords is one thing, but knowing what to rank for is quite another. If you don’t know what to rank for, you’re out of luck. The last thing you want to do is spend your efforts on getting rankings for a keyword that doesn’t increase your revenue.
From being good at keyword research to tracking conversions and even optimizing landing pages, good SEOs know it’s not all about traffic. It’s all about increasing revenue.
Don’t focus 100% of your time on just building traffic. Learn about web analytics and focus on maximizing revenue. And stop there: track everything you can possibly track. From your competitors’ rankings to what they are doing, the more data you have, the better you will be at making decisions.
6. Effective SEOs use multiple tactics
SEOs have a tendency to find one thing that helps boost rankings, and that’s all they leverage. Whether it’s an on-site SEO change that really helps or one link building method, don’t get caught up with one tactic even if it works.
When I first started, I got caught up with the tactic of reciprocal linking. My rankings skyrocketed, and after a year of me doing it, search engines caught onto it, and my rankings plummeted. After that, I focused my efforts on building all page links from high Google PageRank sites. This worked well. My PageRank went up to an 8, and my rankings went up, but search engines also caught onto this.
The point I am trying to make is that you can’t rely on one tactic to achieve high rankings. You have to diversify because SEO is a constant game of cat and mouse even if you are using ethical tactics.
7. Effective SEOs never rely on SEO
I know this may sound weird, but an effective SEO knows that you can’t just rely on SEO. For example, the Panda update hit some sites even though they had good content. A lot of these sites repaired Panda-inflicted damage, but it shows that you can’t rely just on SEO.
If you are trying to increase your traffic, you should consider trying banner advertising, email marketing, pay-per-click ads, and anything else you can think of. This will help you diversify the channels that are driving you income, so if something happens to your organic search traffic, you’ll still be able to survive.
SEO is great, but you need to learn other marketing skills. I myself started as an SEO, but these days I get most of my traffic through business development deals.
If you already follow the 7 habits I mentioned above, great: you’re an effective SEO.
But if not, don’t worry as it’s not too late to start. Just don’t focus on all of those habits at once as it will be tough to conquer them all. Instead, knock them out one by one until you get through the whole list.
Do you know of any other habits that make effective SEOs?