Whenever I am planning my week, month or year, I always think of the 80 20 rule and how it can be completely out of whack for most SEO’s. The rule holds true in most things we do, 80% of your traffic will come from 20% of your keywords and 20% of what you know about SEO will drive 80% of your clients success. It’s the fundamental best practices that usually go a long way to succeeding online. The other 80% can be the nuggets that ensure you surpass all others, but that 80% can also be a lot of fluffy information picked up from the daily onslaught of SEO blog posts.
Finding the Balance between Learning and Doing
I may misquote Rand Fishkin here, but I recall him saying in his first year as an SEO he consumed a huge amount of content and spent a large portion of his time learning. In the proceeding years, this shifted to implementation of the things he learnt. Rand is an extremely clever guy and probably made the transition pretty easily. I have no doubt many others get caught in the “information honey trap”.
Most people’s RSS feeders have an incredible amount of fresh content available each day. Working in SEO can be a complex area in terms of maintaing a steady work ethic throughout the day. No other industry produces so much quality content that is relevant to your role or makes you feel like you are missing out on something that could have a huge impact on your end results. Some of the guides produced on sites like SEOMoz are like mini ebooks. They are excellent, informative and for someone who loves SEO, can often lead to more research immediately after reading – “I need to find out more about this subject”.
How Much Do We Implement
Getting back to the 80 20 rule, the smartest people in online marketing are not those who can implement the full 100% of everything that can be done to make cash online. They are those who can follow a routine and continually implement 20%, which makes them successful, over and over again. This may be slightly adjusted to allow for changes in technology or user behavior, but the strategy rarely shifts that much. The unsuccessful people are those who try to read every new post on the latest strategy and get little time to implement something. These are the people who line up to buy the next get rich quick product but fall at the first hurdle – IMPLEMENT IT.
SEO is no different, you could hold a conversation with someone who doesn’t know much about the latest strategies and come away thinking he isn’t all that, but in the SERP’s he is probably kicking your ass. He has perfected his 20% and until it not longer works, keep’s churning out the same process for his clients/websites.
How Much do We Retain
Here is the killer part:
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss with others
80% of what we personally experience
95% or what we teach others
– Edgar Dale
I recently got asked via email for advice on how to succeed in this space, the best piece of advice I could give was to try and only read what you can implement. If you are about to implement a test site, read all about keyword research, site structure – infographics and linkbait are exciting, but can be distracting.
I recently read an excellent post from Roy Hudgens that got me thinking about this post: How to Motivate an SEO. In it Ross touched on a couple of critical points (I think so). If you want to be a top SEO, you need to really work your ass off. It’s an ultra competitive field and packed full of distractions. There are times when the fruits of your labour are not visible and at times you are at the mercy of the algorithms. Work a month of lates evenings and weekends, by the end you can feel totally spent, especially if you are also trying to consume every piece of content available to you.
When setting goals keep the 80 20 rule in mind. The more you can implement, the more knowledge you will retain. Look for tasks that will enhance both your knowledge and pockets (hey, we don’t do it *just* for the love). Try to organise your blog posts into those that can be applied now and those which may be helpful later. Only read those relevant to your current work.
The End Game
The more success you have online, the more difficult it gets to manage the doing and learning, this is something I guarantee. If you truly love online marketing, every piece of content will look tantalizing, something you need to know, but having the confidence in your own knowledge and abilities (the stuff you already know) is what will make you successful.
If we keep 70% of what we discuss with others, then maybe this was a good post for me and hopefully you take something useful from it 🙂