In my 10th year of performing SEO I’ve noticed that the hardest part of SEO is not actually knowing, learning, or understanding SEO. The hardest part is the mental side of performing SEO. Most people in the industry constantly discuss SEO tactics, tricks, and case studies, including me. Well, today I’m going to discuss what it takes mentally to perform SEO. Not only will this post help you perform SEO better, it will also help you hire better SEO people.
1. Killer Instinct
In my opinion, this is the most important mental part of SEO. Maybe you’re not familiar with the killer instinct, but I know you’ve seen it. Most people with killer instinct are born with it, and very few people can develop it over time. Occasionally you’re born with it, but don’t know you have it, and one day it just comes out. Still don’t understand? Think about Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison. They would stop at nothing, make zero excuses, and do anything it took to accomplish their goals. That my friends is killer instinct.
Now, can you perform SEO without that killer instinct? Sure. But, I’ll take the person with the killer instinct any day of the week. Read this quote. It may seem unethical, but in the SEO world it’s very fitting. Oh, and it happens to be a favorite quote of Oracle Founder, Larry Ellison.
POP QUIZ: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
If you answered this question in anyway other than, “Check my rankings!”, then you fail.
OK, that’s extreme, but you get the point. When I’m performing SEO for a client I am constantly checking my rankings. Before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning. I am obsessed. You should be too.
Obsession isn’t only a key to success in SEO. Obsession is key to many industries. In fact, just this morning I heard late night talk show host Andy Cohen say that he is obsessed with his ratings. He checks them everyday at 4pm as they get released. Andy has one of the top rated talk shows. Andy is obsessed with being #1 in the ratings, and you should be obsessed with being #1 in the rankings.
3. Visually Stimulated
You ever heard that cheesy line, “if I see it, I can achieve it”. It turns out, that is actually true. A goal should be hanging over your head at all times like a carrot and you should be motivated by just seeing it. It should constantly remind you what your goals are. Have you ever been to a fundraiser and seen that giant test tube looking thing on the wall filling up as more money is donated. It’s there as a constant visual reminder of the main objective and goal, because most people have a better chance of achieving their goals if they see them in front of them.
My team at Ocean puts their goals on whiteboards. That way people like Scott on our SEO team can be reminded every day and all day of what his goals are. Scott keeps his board updated daily with his clients rankings so he and the entire team can see his progress and how close our team is to reaching our goals.
4. Ethical Fortitude
You can’t be slick for too long in this industry because it will catch up with you. Think you’re going to out-smart Google? Think again. Panda and Penguin are two examples of how Google is working meticulously to weed out unethical SEO practices.
I never hire anyone who brags about unethical SEO techniques. It’s not impressive. It’s stupid. Especially for owners who will be stuck refunding thousands to their clients. SEO is serious, and can be very risky for some companies.
5. The Ability to Withstand Pressure
If you can’t take the heat, get the hell out of the SEO industry. Being an SEO specialist requires the ability to withstand and consistently shoot down pressure. The pressure comes from all directions including your boss and especially your clients. For some odd and strange reason most SEO clients think they’re going to make millions buy hiring an SEO company.
That’s why it’s important that you do these two things:
1. Properly set your clients’ expectations. SEO sales people are notorious for setting false expectations. Make sure they don’t oversell your clients. Tell them the real deal and they’ll respect you more for it.
2. Find value everywhere. Don’t just show your clients your rankings. Show them how you decreased bounce rate, increased length of time on site, increased conversions, generated more sales and much more. Find and show value.
My Final Thoughts
You can teach the tactical side SEO, but you can’t teach the mental side of SEO. Think about that when you’re hiring your next SEO rockstar to join your band of SEO nerds 🙂 Don’t rely onexperience only. Look at the person. Does he or she have that killer instinct? Will they be ethical? Can they stay focused? Will they be able to withstand the pressure?