By King Douche | October 27, 2011
So, expert SEO, you’ve done it.
You’ve done the research. You’ve found the niche. You’re pretty much first on the scene.
You’ve built the site, the content. You’ve got the inbound links. You’ve crushed everyone and are the dominant website result domain for nearly all related keywords in that niche. You’re at the top for your niche and it’s making fat bank. You’ve started saving, paying off bills, student loans. You’re going on vacations. You work from home. You’ve got your girlfriend/boyfriend, wife/husband helping you and they’ve quit their regular day jobs and now assist you in your efforts.
You’re on top of the world. You’re on top of the SERPS. Your site rocks. Your content rocks. It converts awesome. It’s a great user experience. You SHOULD be at the top. We’re not talking fucked-up pharma-spamming, we’re talking quality content, UI, and a great user experience that any FOUR PERSON QUALITY TEAM FROM MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA would be proud to serve to their users if they ever had to look at it.
Now comes the late-players. They see you. They see your site. They want in, too. They don’t know what they’re doing but they mimic your strategy. They’ve got the freshness boost, no scars on their record. There are so many. The SERPS are in major flux all around you.
Then the worry sets in.
You’ve scratched and clawed to get where you’re at. You rode the grey. I’ll leave the term GREY to your imagination and interpretation since that term varies with whomever you ask.
Now, the worry of losing it all is not only a possible reality, but the penalties are now huge. Then it hits you: YOU’RE AT THE MERCY OF A FUCKING BOT AND FOUR DUDES AT THE GOOGLEPLEX continually working on automated methods to destroy you. They control your life. Your marriage bliss. Your happiness. Your retirement. The worry is killing you now. You can’t even enjoy your time anymore because you don’t want to get too used to your new lifestyle.
You see people going to their day jobs in the morning, going to their car with their coffee in their hand. You’re just going to bed because you’ve played Battlefield 3 all fucking night.
So, you come up with a solution. Go white hat? Yeah, right. Enjoy Page 3, dude. Well, maybe you can pull it off by weaning your site from grey? You come up with a weaning plan that will take 3 months. You’re going to slowly remove the grey from your SEO campaign.
MISTAKE #1: YOU TRY AND SWITCH YOUR GREY HAT SITE TO WHITE HAT
So, going grey has turned you grey. Yeah, it’s a pun. Fuck off.
Like a house built on a foundation, your inbound links, however they were acquired, are part of an interwoven chaos of query result relevance. If you try and wean yourself off of grey hat strategies, you’ll likely find yourself in a precarious situation. Not only will your core site drop, but all pages that the root domain was feeding will suffer as well. Google, it seems, is somewhat unforgiving when it comes to SERP drops. Once you’ve experienced a SERP drop due to lost links, getting those SERPS back isn’t as easy as just waiting it out. The inbound links that you had removed were aged, long standing links. You’ve just kicked out one of the support beams for your house. Don’t think there won’t be penalties.
Sure, your content is strong, your page architecture excellent. But the playing field is set so only the risk takers win. If you try and go white hat out of the gate, you’ll never get anywhere. You try and switch to white hat after-the-fact, you risk losing it all. SO YOU’RE FUCKING FORCED TO LIVE WITH THE ANXIETY.
Very few of us have mentors in the SEO-as-a-business world. I’m talking about someone who has lived your life, experienced what you experience. You’ve most likely only got one person to turn to in times of crucial decision-making. THAT’S YOU. However, if you did have a mentor, someone whom you respected, they’d likely tell you this: “NUT UP. QUIT WHINING. This is how the game is played. That’s why it’s not easy. That’s why not everyone can do it.”
I will tell you that it’s very easy to start getting down on yourself.
Criticizing yourself for playing hard and riding the grey? Don’t. This is how the game is played. This is the life you chose. This is SEO. It has benefits. Money. It has risks. Loss of money and lifestyle. The only thing worse than losing it is having it in the first place then losing it. If you never had it, you didn’t even know what you were missing. Yeah, I’m getting all philosophical and shit.
Fucking save your cash. Live like a pauper as comfortably as you can. If you start to spend your cash with the rationale that “you’ll make more next month,” you’re playing on dangerous ground. When you check SERPS 2-4 times PER DAY, you’re just WAITING for the blood-warming drop day. You’re sure it’s going to come. Right? You’re already prepping yourself mentally for it. But when it comes, you can’t fully prepare for it, mentally. It will always hit you hard. Your only solace is the fact that you banked as much as you could and didn’t squander it when you had it.
If you started out grey, you’ve got to ride it out. Which would be worse to you? Having top serps, making money, then losing it because you couldn’t take the heat of running a grey campaign? Or getting nailed by an algorithm adjustment and getting your ass handed to you? I’ll take the latter.
Know that any great idea you come up with in terms of wordage, UI, design, or on-page strategies will be copied by every one of your competitors: You can rest assured that any ideas you deploy will be copied. Think that the search engines will rank your content first because you fucking wrote it? Not always. Fucking BingHoo is dumb as shit. BingHoo allows competitors to outrank my site often, with my content, that they copied and pasted. DMCA them? Perhaps. Don’t take it personal. Well, try not to anyway.
Don’t make any major changes near the holidays: If your niche is dependent on sales of products, the time for experimentation is SPRING, not FUCKING NOVEMBER or DECEMBER. Got a great idea that you’re sure will convert well? Great, save it for SPRING and try it out then.
Try to realize that your life is short on this planet. You make money, you live, then you die. It’s that simple: If you do have a bad-SEO-day, and shit hits the fan, and it looks like it’s game over, your only hope to get yourself out of your funk is to get back to basics. Could you have done it differently? Sure. Could you have played it safer? Sure. Would you have had the same awesome results? No. This is how this shit works: Grey hats at the top. White hats in the middle. Black hats near top briefly, then nuked forever.
This is the gift and the curse of top rankings.