Some industries favor individualism—renegade thinkers, standalone opinions, and isolated workers climbing up their individual ladders. SEO is not one of those industries.
The SEO community is the driving force responsible for advancing the SEO industry as a whole, and perpetuating it as the cost-effective, long-term beneficial strategy we all know it can be. It’s a thriving, continuously flowing source of knowledge, and every new professional entering the world for the first time is seen as an added resource to our collective power.
I love the SEO community, and even if you’re only dabbling in SEO right now—you should learn to love it to. The SEO community is your best friend, and here’s why:
No matter how long you’ve been doing SEO, there’s always someone in the community who’s been doing it longer than you. If you’re just getting started, there are thousands of experienced professionals willing to answer your questions. If you’ve got years of experience and you’re still facing a hard problem, there’s at least one person out there with a few years on you who will probably be willing to help you out. The number of forums out there are ridiculous, and most search marketers peruse more than one. If you ask a question, with enough details and a polite tone, it’s only a matter of time before an experienced professional comes to the rescue with an answer (or possible solution).
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the question you have can’t be answered. If this is the case, and you’ve already tried to find an answer on the web, it’s highly likely that others in the community have a similar question and would be interested in knowing the answer. For example, you might wonder whether a certain strategy could directly or indirectly increase your site’s rank. When you pose this question, you’ll activate a kind of crowdsourced research initiative. Anyone interested in the results will look to other online sources, trying to track down the answer, and some might even help you put together an experiment that puts your question to the test in a live environment.
Each of us only has access to a tiny amount of ranking data, but collectively, we can interpret and piece together that data to form meaningful conclusions. In this way, SEO is a community built from participatory findings; the more people share their experiences, the more likely we are to learn significant details as a community. Thankfully, most people are more than willing to share their experiences and strategies, in an effort to improve all of our strategies to some degree.
What’s also impressive about the SEO community is their ability to conjure up disagreements. Disagreements might seem counterproductive, but in an industry with so much conflicting information and confusing data, disagreements are the only thing that can drive us all forward. For example, if you post a revelation you’ve had about the influence of a particular strategy on your search ranks, it’s entirely possible that another SEO might jump in to disagree with you and point out peripheral factors that could have influenced the jump. This provides a learning opportunity for everyone involved, and can clarify details that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
You can also look at the SEO community as a pool of potential partners and associates. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur trying to manage the bulk of an SEO campaign all on your own, you might easily grow overwhelmed after a few months of successful scaling. You might find yourself unfamiliar with the technical side of onsite SEO, or weak when it comes to developing content. If you’ve participated in the community long enough, you probably know at least a few people who can help you fill in the gaps as freelancers or agency partners.
SEO seems to transform every day. There’s a new type of mobile device, a new tweak to a Google algorithm, or a new revelation that makes search marketers go nuts. The SEO community keeps up with all this craziness, so you can spend less time worrying about keeping up with the latest news. In addition to hearing about the latest updates, you’ll also be plugged into the chatter around them—notably, whether or not they’re worth taking action on.
Last but not least, the SEO community offers a degree of sympathy for your job as an optimizer. When you get blindsided by a drop in rank and you post about it, you’ll get more than advice on how to take corrective action—you’ll hear stories about how that happened to them once. And believe it or not, it will make you feel better.
The next time you encounter a problem or have a question, consult the SEO community. Talk to someone who’s been there and done that—they’ll either have a solution for you or they’ll be willing to share your pain. All you need to do to remain a part of that community is to give back what you can. You don’t need to come up with any startling new revelations, but you can—and should—share whatever information you can find when appropriate. The more you give, the more you get, and as long as the SEO community continues working together, we’ll continue sharing in the collective benefits.