Whenever you learn an SEO Secret or discover a new competitors link strategy should you use it to your own advantage or blow it out the water?
Much to my embarrassment I learnt the answer to this lesson the hard way. Whilst the SEO industry is a very open and giving one, there are occasions where you should quite simply shut up, sit back and learn.
In 2010 I received some critical feedback and comments for exposing certain tactics & exploits including a way to get a link from JamieOliver.com and how to hijack your competitors Google Analytics account amongst others. At first I thought that this was weird and wondered why the hostility towards these posts, then I was taken to the side and told that I had effectively “outed” a tactic that was under the radar and instead of claiming the glory by exposing it, I had wasted an opportunity to sit back, shut up and watch if it worked or not thus missing a golden opportunity to add it to my own SEO arsenal.
As harsh as it sounded, it made perfect sense. I also came to the conclusion that this was the same as most things in life – if you can’t keep a secret, you’ll never be trusted with the good stuff!
There will no doubt have been many occasions where you spot a competitor doing something that makes you think “what the hell!?”. It’s at this point that you need to choose whether to live by the no outing rule or not.
If you expose the tactic, you run the risk of taking the tactic away from yourself ultimately making it harder for you. Just don’t be hypocritical about it by outing it and then adopting the same practise (e.g. buying links).
If people can trust you on a personal level, then they will be more inclined to help you out. If they give away their big juicy secret and you go and blog about it, then they won’t be inclined to tell you about the next juicy trick they heard about and they most certainly won’t be willing to help you out should you need it.
This may come across as elitist (and I am far from being “a somebody” in the industry to be elitist), but you do have to have a degree of trust with other SEO’s about tactics you are using, testing and trying. You don’t want them scuppered by a blogpost which attracts attention to your tests etc.
Whilst some may say that this is against everything the SEO industry is about, I tend to disagree; People will blog, post and offer helpful tips and tricks, but they are never the big mind-blowing juicy tips that people are looking for otherwise people wouldn’t attend conferences, subscribe to private forums etc if that was the case. It’s to be able to discuss and evaluate the latest tips in tricks in an environment where you can get some honest and solid feedback about a new thought, exploit or brainwave you may have without everyone jumping on the band wagon.
We are SEO’s and we are competitive by nature.
No matter what industry you are in, there are people always willing to go that extra mile to help out and that is no different to the SEO industry. There are people continually joining the industry and need help with the basics, the intermediate and the expert; Hell, the majority of us learn something new on a daily basis.
The elusive “quick-win” tactics that everyone is after simply don’t exist. Every now and then something comes along that has a fantastic impact on a search engine ranking and makes you think “ahhh, of course!” – by all means share it, just keep it under the radar until you have beaten your competitors with it 😀
We can only learn by new tips and tricks, by the generosity of other people, but there will come a time where you will want to keep your cards close to your chest – especially when operating in super-competitive niches.
Seriously, I may be coming across as a massive dick by writing this post – but sticking to this rule has helped me learn a hell of a lot more than just reading regurgitated blogposts by “internet marketers” who make money online by blogging. It’s allowed me to talk to some of the nicest people in the industry in a frank and honest way privately and allowed me to learn so much more without fear of me giving away their closely guarded tips and tricks.