So, expert SEO, youíve done it.
Youíve done the research. *You found the niche. *Youíre pretty much first on the scene.
Youíve built the site, the content. *Youíve got the inbound links. *You crushed everyone and are the dominant website result domain for nearly all related keywords in that niche. *Youíre at the top for your niche and itís making fat bank. *Youíve started saving, paying off bills, student loans. *Youíre going on vacations. *You work from home. *Youíve got your girlfriend/boyfriend, wife/husband helping you and they quit their regular day jobs and now assist you in your efforts.
Youíre on top of the world. *Youíre on top of the SERPS. *Your site rocks. *Your content rocks. *It converts awesome. *Itís a great user experience. *You SHOULD be at the top. *Weíre not talking ****ed-up pharma-spamming, weíre 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 donít know what theyíre doing but they mimic your strategy. *Theyíve 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 scratched and clawed to get where youíre at. *You rode the grey. *Iíll 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. *YOUíRE AT THE MERCY OF A ****ING 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 canít even enjoy your time anymore because you donít 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. * *Youíre just going to bed because youíve played Battlefield 3 all ****ing 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. *Youíre 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, itís a pun. ***** 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, youíll 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 youíve experienced a SERP drop due to lost links, getting those SERPS back isnít as easy as just waiting it out. * *The inbound links that you had removed were aged, long standing links. *Youíve just kicked out one of the support beams for your house. *Donít think there wonít 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, youíll never get anywhere. *You try and switch to white hat after-the-fact, you risk losing it all. *SO YOUíRE ****ING FORCED TO LIVE WITH THE ANXIETY.
Very few of us have mentors in the SEO-as-a-business world. *Iím talking about someone who has lived your life, experienced what you experience. *Youíve most likely only got one person to turn to in times of crucial decision-making. *THATíS YOU. *However, if you did have a mentor, someone whom you respected, theyíd likely tell you this: *ďNUT UP. *QUIT WHINING. *This is how the game is played. *Thatís why itís not easy. *Thatís why not everyone can do it.Ē *
I will tell you that itís very easy to start getting down on yourself.
Criticizing yourself for playing hard and riding the grey? *Donít. * *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 that losing it is having it in the first place then losing it. *If you never had it, you didnít even know what you were missing. *Yeah, Iím getting all philosophical and shit.
****ing save your cash. *Live like a pauper as comfortably as you can. *If you start to spend your cash with the rationale that ďyouíll make more next month,Ē youíre playing on dangerous ground. * *When you check SERPS 2-4 times PER DAY, youíre just WAITING for the blood-warming drop day. * Youíre sure itís going to come. * Right? *Youíre already prepping yourself mentally for it. *But when it comes, you canít 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 didnít squander it when you had it.
If you started out grey, youíve got to ride it out. *Which would be worse to you? *Having top serps, making money, then losing it because you couldnít take the heat of running a grey campaign? *Or getting nailed by an algorithm adjustment and getting your ass handed to you? * Iíll 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 ****ing wrote it? *Not always. *****ing BingHoo is dumb as shit. * BingHoo allows competitors to outrank my site often, with my content, that they copied and pasted. *DMCA them? *Perhaps. * Donít take it personal. *Well, try not to anyway.
Donít make any major changes near the holidays: * If your niche is dependent on sales of products, the time for experimentation is SPRING, not ****ING NOVEMBER or DECEMBER. * Got a great idea that youíre 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. *Itís that simple: * If you do have a bad-SEO-day, and shit hits the fan, and it looks like itís 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.