Don’t take shortcuts; they take too long.
I first wrote that advice in a post about site quality as an SEO strategy for content marketers.
It sprang back to mind when we lost the incomparable Yogi Berra last week. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do Yet Another Blog Post with Yogi Quotes (this is a good collection, if you’re looking for one).
But there’s something about that “so wrong, it’s right” Yogi logic that seems to be a constant in business and in life, and I thought I’d write about it.
So what does that initial advice mean, anyway?
Don’t take shortcuts; they take too long
In the world of SEO, it’s fairly straightforward.
First, let me make it very clear: There are some great SEOs out there. They’re smart, skillful professionals who will come to you with an intelligent strategy that works for the long haul — combined, possibly, with some technical fixes if your site code is horrible or if your last SEO firm took shortcuts that are now getting you penalized.
And those “shortcuts” are what I was getting at.
Buying links from crappy sites, vomiting out volumes of weak content, doing weird fake things like inserting “SEO text” in white on a white background.
Silly bullshit, in other words.
Almost anything that can be described as “SEOing your content” is something you should take a hard look at.
Now, if “SEOing your content” means “making it exceptionally valuable, shareable, and relevant, and including a fantastic headline and a compelling image,” go forth and do your thing.
If “SEOing your content” means deforming the language so it’s hard for humans to read, or trying to trick people into clicking your link, or other practices that defy common sense, you want to slow down and think through why you’re doing this.
Rather than thinking about “SEOing” as some kind of layer you put over your content, work on creating content that fits into a smart, cohesive strategy that works for your audience, prospects, customers … and lastly, for search engines.
Other business shortcuts
But SEO isn’t the only realm where we can do foolish things with our businesses.
Business frameworks can be extremely helpful. But “just add water, makes its own sauce” over-simplified formulas usually don’t work — except for the person who sold them to you.
Smart outsourcing can revolutionize your business. Thinking that you can run a complex business off of twelve-cent-an-hour overseas freelancers is delusional.
Working intelligently and focusing on the right things is a good idea. Trying to carve your business down to “the four-second work week” is fantasyland.
No, this is not a knock on Tim Ferriss, whom I have no problem with. It is a knock on some of the extreme claims made by dudes who have read his books but whose businesses seem to operate mostly in their imaginations.
Also, if you read his stuff, you’ve probably noticed that Tim doesn’t seem to have a four-hour work week, at least not most weeks of the year. And that’s totally fine.
However, the hair shirt is optional
One of the quite nifty things about online business is that a lot of the blood, sweat, and tears of traditional business are considerably diminished.
In particular, the blood, sweat, and tears produced by trying to pay for a physical location and full-time employees to make your business run.
Online businesses lend themselves to experimentation, to playing around with Minimum Viable Products until you find one that resonates, and to scaling nicely once you start to attract a larger audience.
It’s still business. You have to take it seriously.
But it’s a lot easier to get an online business off the ground and a lot easier to get started without monster risks.
Finding the balance
The more I write and podcast, the more I realize that almost everything in business is about finding the right balance.
- You need to balance the work you put in against time to take care of yourself.
- You need to balance overdelivering value for your audience against fair and reasonable compensation for what you do.
- You don’t want to sell like a used car salesman in foreclosure, and you also don’t want to sell like a wimp who doesn’t believe in what you’re selling.
That’s why we don’t give you straight-up formulas or paint-by-number solutions at Copyblogger. We offer frameworks, best practices, rules of thumb, and starting points.
The precise balance point you find will always be individual.
A place for people like you
Our Authority community is a group of intelligent, thoughtful people who are, like you, looking for their balance point in business and marketing.
Their looking for the right way to attract the best audience, the right way to engage and connect with them, and the right way to sell.
If you like how we do things at Copyblogger, Authority is where you learn to “level up” and start taking our advice to a more advanced level.
You can find out all about it here. If it’s a good fit for you, we’d love to see you there!