Remember the early 2000s? Those years way before the pandemic struck seem so far away now, and yet the picture of it all is still so familiar to us: chunky flip-phones, questionable fashion trends, good music – and, of course, the continuous rise of the internet. Back then, we’d wait minutes for the screeching sound of our computers attempting to form some semblance of a connection to the available Wi-fi. If that were to happen today, everybody would complain bitterly.
Then again, the internet in our modern setting has gone leaps and bounds to evolve into an almost untamable creature of its own, breathing and morphing into so many shapes and sizes that it’s hard to keep track sometimes. A good distinction between the face of the internet only 20 years ago and today can be represented in every website’s current, heavy reliance on search engine optimization.
SEO wasn’t popular back then. There were hardly any college courses on it. If one wished to learn about SEO online, they would have to really scour the internet for scraps of information on the subject matter.
Today, SEO is a key mechanism which turns the gears that drive any online platform’s success. As it is when objects closer to us appear larger, SEO enables more related web pages to be put in the spotlight according to their ranking in the search engine’s algorithm. From this concept alone, it’s a no-brainer that in recent years, the SEO niche has become a cornerstone in the tech industry.
Ironically, it is because of SEO’s popularity that the quest for quality SEO services often results in a person going down an endless rabbit hole.
For instance, it’s extremely difficult to educate oneself so thoroughly in the subject matter. If someone were to attempt to write a book on SEO, and if they were determined to ensure that every piece of information in this book remains up to date for a long time, this would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Publishing takes a while. And in that period between the writing and the book’s subsequent publishing, Google, for example, would have updated its algorithm very quickly and frequently. Once the book has been released to the public, it’s likely some or most of the information in that book would be rendered obsolete. The fact that search engines update their algorithms to match current trends makes it ridiculously impossible for one to have a solid, time-tested blueprint on SEO.
This leads to the situation where the quantity of SEO specialists greatly overwhelms the quality of existing services. Everyone can pick up a book, sure. But does everyone have the passion, the dedication, the drive to keep up with the ever-mutating trends on something as volatile as search engine optimization?
It should, therefore, come to no surprise that there are plenty of people who claim to be experts on SEO but in fact have no idea what they’re doing.
Jason Hennessey, the current owner of Hennessey Digital, a digital marketing agency currently worth over 10 million dollars in revenue, recounted a story which led to the formation of his third business. After dabbling in the entertainment industry and subsequently going on to develop his business in the wedding niche by building websites, Hennessey found his passion in SEO. He was then invited to give a talk at a lawyer’s house in Atlanta, Georgia. Standing amidst a group of fifty prominent lawyers, Hennessey, a novice in the legal industry, shed invaluable light unto them that day. He had nothing else to offer them but his secrets on how to market their law firms through search engine optimization. Applying the knowledge and experience obtained when he was growing his wedding-related websites, he spoke to them about the strategies he personally used to raise the rankings of his wedding websites in the eyes of the search engine algorithm.
After the talk, some from the audience spoke to him about their troubles. One of them told him, “I’m paying an SEO company 7,000 dollars a month, and they’re not doing any of this stuff.”
This was when Hennessey was offered the opportunity to gain some bucks growing their law firms’ websites, which then enabled him to go on and build another agency which he sold later on, EverSpark Interactive.
It’s a strange and admittedly scary reality: some people in the SEO business don’t actually know what they’re doing. Or, rather, they don’t know everything about the very subject in which they should be specialists.
So, what separates people like Hennessey and the other self-proclaimed ‘specialists’ in the SEO industry?
Hennessey went down the rabbit hole, but he never got lost. Instead, he found something in there.
See, the thing about tackling a behemoth that can grow to the size of what SEO is now (and will be in the future) is that one must be constantly learning. In Hennessey’s case, he learned about SEO during its unpopular days in 2001. All he had to start with was Aaron Wall’s ‘SEO Book’, which he read from cover to cover twice before he started to practice tinkering with websites on his own. It was a trial-and-error situation for him, where he had to constantly troubleshoot his own mistakes in order to fix them.
“When a student is ready to learn, a teacher will appear,” Hennessey said.
But knowledge so vast cannot be obtained from a single book. People like Hennessey go down the endless path of scouring for knowledge: they read everything on SEO, whether the content is online or forever imprinted upon the pages of a book or magazine. SEO is everywhere – and especially now, there are ample opportunities to learn all this information on one’s own. However, one must proceed with caution. Filter out the useful from the bad. Follow trends. Spend any available time possible on keeping up with the rapid changes in this genre.
Another notable thing Hennessey did was that he built relationships with others passionate about SEO. In his SEO-related educational website, iloveseo.com, there is not only endless information provided – it also sells SEO-inspired T-shirts and so on. Sure, it’s a great marketing tactic, but it’s also useful for connecting with other people around the world, and this allows people to share their information and passion for SEO.
In essence, growth isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing when it comes to education. Sure, getting a degree and specializing in SEO is wonderful. But the learning doesn’t stop there. Hennessey’s skills in SEO can only be credited to his endless efforts to teach himself more and more things about the subject.
So, indeed, getting a grip on modern-day SEO isn’t easy. But it is possible, if only one were willing to venture deeper down the rabbit hole.