SEO and PPC are hardly glamorous careers. In fact, outside of the white hat SEO community, it’s quite lonely. Few people understand what you do, many have been taken advantage of snake oil salesmen selling services pretending it is SEO or PPC, or just plain jane taken you and your money for a ride. Talking to friends and family about it is hardly an option since it is highly technical, and so dynamic that there is always something new to talk about, but no one to share it with. Luckily, the SEO community is one of the most amazing and supportive communities online that more than compensates for it. In fact, quite frankly, the SEO WORLD is Awesome, full of awesome people and I couldn’t be prouder to be a member.
The truth is, few decisions in my life weren’t deliberate. Chasing a career in SEO was not just deliberate, but involved a significant sacrifice and effort just to get my foot in the door. I guess when I want something, I make sure to get it. Kinda like Napolean Hill saying that a Burning Desire is the key to success. If There is a will, there is a way doesn’t mean there just is a way, but it means that you will find a way to make it happen, because that is your desire. It goes both ways. If you found a way, you started with the will for it.
So, how did I get such a burning desire to pursue a career in search marketing? Well, the short version is… I went to the ends of the Earth trying to figure out the absolute best way to make money in this world, the most direct route to success in business and becoming a wealthy person, and all my research led me right to the door of SEO. However, that door was closed, and I had to search far and wide for the key….I thank my lucky stars everyday that I found it pretty quickly.
Here’s the story. I was always dabbling in one business or another since I was 5 years old, and if selling pickles in grade school didn’t cut it, and selling Dr. Seuss books, or Worlds Finest Chocolate wasn’t enough, I chased one shiny object after another. I may only be 30 years old, but I have 25 years of sales, marketing, and business experience.
Like Malcolm Gladwell discusses in Outliers, much of Bill Gates and other extremely wealthy peoples success comes from being at the right place at the right time. Which typically manifests itself when you are right out of college or in your young 20’s ready and eager to chase your dreams. For me, at that time, nothing was hotter than Commercial Real Estate Mortgages. I mean, 3% interest rates, the lowest in 15 years, a hot economy, and 95% financing easy to come by. So, I pursued a career selling commercial real estate mortgages, I moved on to trying to syndicate a few deals and trying to buy an apartment building or two. Each time I thought I found a good deal, it wasn’t, and than I found a shinier object, like 1031 exchanges, and recognizing that NNN retail was where it was at. I mean, you can hardly go wrong with a shopping center anchored by a Grocery Store, or a Walmart… So, I found a job working for a shopping center owner leasing space to national retailers. I learned all sorts of things about tenant mixes, and why certain tenants choose different locations.
For Example, Did you Every Wonder Why The Food Court in a Mall is away from the department stores? Because studies show that women won’t buy stuff when they smell food (except food 🙂 .
Did you know in open air shopping centers the Restaurants are usually on the far sides, so you have to walk by the other stores to get to them.
Since I discovered that shopping centers were considered some of the safest real estate to invest in, I decided I wanted a career in developing shopping centers. I was learning the industry and loving it.
The thing I loved about shopping centers was that national retailers like Starbucks knew their business so well that They could open a new store with minimal data. All they needed to know was that 35,000 lived within a 5 mile radius earning over $45,000 a year, there was ample parking, easy access to the store, and good lighting. Perhaps off a major intersection with over 10,000 cars a day driving by it and they knew they could open a store. The truth is, this math, while it is an example is really not all that surprising. After all, Starbucks wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t create value, value that people were willing to exchange money for, so really their only challenge is communicating that value to customers, and making it easy for them to buy.
This knowledge is what drove me to pursue a career in search engine marketing. I unfortunately was not that great of a shopping center leasing salesman, and I lost my $36k a year job 4 months later. I immediately had two other jobs I was interested in Pursuing. One was as a Commercial Real Estate Broker in Manhattan, and the Other was a Madison Avenue advertising agency looking to hire an experiences SEO expert. I loved the idea of working for a Madison Ave ad agency, but I knew nothing about SEO. So, I called the owner of the company and said I am eager and a quick learner. He said no thank you. I said give me two weeks to master the industry. He laughed, but said ok, call me in two weeks.
I started Reading Aaron Wall’s book SEOBook.com and within a page I was in love. He clearly explained what Search Engines Are looking for… Relevant and Credible content, and than went on to explain how google uses algorithms to measure who to trust, and what is relevant to a specific search keyword. This was cool, but my mind wasn’t blown until I discovered Keyword Research. It’s like Jerry Seinfeld describing his first Halloween, “Whose giving out free candy? EVERYONE WE KNOW?! Sure, I’ll wear that :)”
When I discovered The Overture Keyword Tool and Learned That A) You can Find Out How Many People Search Online For a Product or Service or Information…and more importantly, If You Know How To Do SEO, or even PPC, You Can Get Google TO SHOW YOUR WEBSITE TO PEOPLE SEARCHING FOR WHATEVER YOU ARE TARGETING… ”
A Massive Lightbulb went off. If Starbucks just needs to be around a certain amount of people and at an easy location to get to to actually open a physical store, actually pay for all expenses, and more importantly, that piece of real estate is considered the most valuable real estate in the country, safe enough to defer capital gains tax with a 1031 exchange… Than…
Imagine How Valuable It Could Be If I can FIND JUST COFFEE DRINKERS AND BRING THEM TO STARBUCKS WEBSITE?
My experience in retail real estate made me realize just how valuable traffic is, especially search traffic where the customer tells you exactly what he wants to know or find. This is clearly a layer on the world with the potential to build much more valuable shopping centers than you can on the ground. The fact that it was less tangible to others made it more appealing to me, much less competition.
So, I knew I found my gold rush, and spent the next two weeks reading everything I could trust and find on SEOBook.com, SEOmoz.org, and SERoundtable.com and just followed the breadcrumbs… Something I didn’t understand at the time, but now I do is that the internet is connected by links, and search engines use editorial links to measure credibility and relevancy, so SEO experts are the most likely to create great content and link to great content, forming what is probably the most transparent and open community online. After all, a loophole to rank for six months is much less valuable to an SEO site than publishing a case study and getting dozens of links from strong, credible SEO sites… So, I followed the link trail, learned everything I could, and called the CEO back two weeks later.
He was so impressed with my level of knowledge in only two weeks that he immediately called me down for an interview, and I got the job.
So, I chose SEO to become Rich, not to make friends, but it turns out… Some of my best friends are top SEO’s and I LOVE THE SEO COMMUNITY SO MUCH… It gave me a rich career, great friends, and challenges me daily… which I can hardly say for other industries.