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The modern SEO faces a perception of threats around every corner. The search results are being cannibalized by ads. Everything's going social. Google has it's sights set on small businesses and competitors are just waiting to gun you down with a negative SEO attack.
Sometimes these enemies are legitimate, although they are often exaggerated by a highly vocal and embittered minority that has gone through admittedly rough times. That said, the biggest threat any SEO faces today, and possibly forever, is the expectation that they set for themselves.
This could get a little touchy-feely, but bear with me, there's a payoff.
Have you ever experienced any of these fears about your sites or your clients, later realizing they were unnecessary?
These fears are not uncommon, particularly among those who are just getting started. What is it about these fears that seems so pervasive? Why is it that attacking Google with (often legitimate) concerns about privacy and monopoly seems like such a popular pastime in the SEO community?
At the risk of coming across like a psychoanalyst, here's a possibility that's worth considering.
Hey, I warned you this could get a little touchy-feely, right?
In Empire of Conspiracy, Dr Tim Melley explores some of the reasons that conspiracy theories are so popular in America. To sum up his conclusion, people tend to believe in conspiracy theories because:
The people most likely to believe in conspiracy theories have both of these beliefs.
I'm not claiming that all (or even necessarily most) of the criticisms thrown at Google by the SEO community are illegitimate. Instead, I see parallels with conspiratorial thinking, and feelings that could be compared with paranoia.
To make it clear that I'm not judging from my soapbox, I recently complained on Google forums and various other places on the net that adding rel=“author” to my site caused it to drop out of the search results for no fair reason whatsoever. A face-palm soon followed when I discovered this was the parked domain classifier and had absolutely nothing to do with me.
Most people who get involved in SEO have an entrepreneurial spirit, so being highly individualistic is almost par for the course. This means that if you're experiencing feelings of paranoia about search engine behavior, it probably has something to do with that second point, a lack of sense of control.
Want to feel in control? It's time to stop settling. These are the kinds of behaviors that will make you feel like you aren't in control of the future of your business.
Here is the kind of behavior that will make you feel in control again.
When it comes right down to it, nothing will slow you down more than your own expectations. What's stopping you from trying to get links from Mashable, Cracked, or the New York Times? There's no harm in trying. Even if you fail, links from mid-list blogs will start to look like small fry afterward, and you'll feel very much in control of the future of your business.
How else can you improve feelings of confidence about your tactics and focus on doing, instead of worrying?
Image credit: surrealpenguin