How to Be a Level 99 SEO Wizard and Crush All Your Enemies
SEO is magic.
If you went back in time and told someone there was a way to have information beamed directly into people’s brains they wouldn’t believe you.
But that is exactly what SEO is.
By leveraging one of the most sophisticated software systems ever built you are doing just that.
You’re able to send message and ideas straight into people’s minds.
From literally any place in the entire world people can connect with your message.
And this is all for free.
Let that sink in for a second.
It blows my mind every time. 🤯
There has never been a more effective medium in which to promote your ideas, products or business.
And the returns are not linear, they are exponential.
Wielding such power takes a high level wizard. It requires a lot of experience but the rewards are yugeeee.
With the right tools you can shape the ideas, thoughts and desires of millions of people.
Sounds Machiavellian? A bit.
Google understands deeply how powerful these high level wizards can be and does their best to protect against them.
The path to such wizardry isn’t easy.
It requires a gamers mindset.
One that can stay engaged for hours just trying to figure out how to beat the game.
It also requires endless battles against your own bad ideas, competitors, spammers, hackers, other SEOs, Google itself, algo updates, changing consumer sentiment and about 20 other things.
The journey is difficult and challenging. You’ll face many obstacles along the way.
As you progress through the game, your character level increases as does your ability to rank new sites and keywords.
- Bosses are competitors you’re trying to outrank. ✔️
- Points are ranking increases. ✔️
- Armour and weapon upgrades are newly acquired links. ✔️
You get better at the game as you stop making nOOb mistakes.
You start looking back at what you we’re doing a few years previous and realise how far you’ve come.
But the process is frustrating, long and full of costly mistakes.
I know because I’ve been playing this game for the last 6 years as a full time obsession.
I might not be a level 99 mage but I’m somewhere up there.
In the past 6 years, I’ve:
- Failed about 25 times (not small failures either)
- Had sites penalised, had legal issues, hired and fired countless agencies, designers, writers and link builders
- Been scammed, worked too many hours and had about 1000 SEO related dreams
It’s been a hell of a journey, but I’ve had some successes too with 4 exits, 10+ active profitable businesses, a low 8 fig portfolio, about 15 angel investments.
I’ve also advised multiple startups on organic and met some of my best friends doing SEO.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the SEO meta verse
No cheat codes, no game genie or secret cow level to rush my character (Diablo 2 reference 😈)
It was a lot of grind, a lot of mistakes and a ton of reflecting and luck…
But through all of this I realised the real reason I was able to succeed at SEO came down to several principles.
These principles that allowed me to stay the course, make better decisions and hit my goals.
I’m confident that these same principles can be used to dominate any field in business.
I’ve seen them play out over and over in nearly every vertical.
Don’t worry I’m not gonna get preachy on you.
Before we get started let’s kick off this post with a shameless plug to join my email list I just launched where I’ll sporadically send out emails about SEO, startups and whatever else.
The Core Foundation 🏗️
I’m gonna break this up in three sections each one of them reflect a part of this framework.
In each section I’ll give actionable tips on what these actual look like in practice.
If you have a comment or question please hit me up at sia at siamohajer.com
Acquire Leverage ⚖️
People won’t like this one, especially scrappy boots trappers.
Sorry guys. 🤷♂️
The barriers to entry with SEO are higher than they have ever been.
- Most niches are saturated by other aggressive SEOs
- Big brands have moved into the SEO space. (Even CNN is reviewing blenders)
- The link graph is crowded – the amount of links required to rank increases exponentially with time
- Google’s algo is smarter than ever
- Low cost email marketing solutions make aggressive link building campaigns too commonplace = lower probability to land editorial links
If you’re a bootstrapper or brand new startup trying to rank your own content with no budget, not much experience…..good luck.
You’re going against huge behemoths of affiliates that spend 20k/month just on links.
This brings me to the first principle – acquire leverage.
Without it you are dead in the water. Your growth is so slow it’s basically meaningless.
It can be really depressing to see super slow growth that may make you want to give up on SEO – big mistake.
It’s not that you aren’t able to compete for organic market share, it’s that you’re operating with a tiny amount of leverage compared to competitors.
What do I mean by leverage? Let’s define it.
3 Kinds of Leverage:
- Financial – > more money equals more content, links and team hours. If you’re just starting out with no budget, consider getting a loan or an investment.
- Existing Link Networks – > Having access to a huge writer network, being an influencer or just being famous can allow you to operate with a shitload of leverage
- Team Leverage – > Building a good SEO team is HARD. Once you have one, you can operate with a ton of operational leverage
- Intellectual Leverage – This one is a bit more abstract but knowing what will work or won’t is vital. If you don’t have that consider partnering up with someone who can leverage their knowledge to help you.
Why is leverage so important?
Leverage allows you to grow, keep up with competition, have a margin of safety and also explore new ideas.
It’s your currency in the SEO world. The more you have of it the faster you can move.
Without it you’re chances for success are extremely low.
This is the first foundational rule of succeeding.
Acquire leverage. 💯
What does this actually look like?
Here are a few examples.
- Bootstrap growth with service offering – > While building our first portfolio biz we bootstrapped growth with two 10k/month clients helping manage their sites. It was an absolute grind but the capital allowed us to operate with leverage.
- Build a contractor army – > Forget full time staff, we stick to contractors who can flex up and down to meet demand. Some of these guys are experts at one tiny thing and we can add them to our workload seamlessly. Specialised > General
- Invest in training – > I can’t stress this enough hire the best and fire the rest. You should only strive to work with top people.
If this is all a little too abstract let me summarise it.
Acquire leverage and then acquire judgement.
Leverage is a force multiplier for effective judgement.
A 5% increase in judgement with a ton of leverage can create an exponentially large return.
Now let’s discuss judgement.
Effective Judgement 🤔
Judgement is a product of experience.
Gaining more experience is a grind but there are effective ways to do it.
But first a story….
One of my first big sites I built was a review everything baby affiliate site. I had bought a premium domain, had about 6 writers and spent almost $70,000 on this thing. I grinded day and night to help mothers around the world purchase the best products through my handy Amazon links.
The entire thing was an epic failure. I couldn’t rank it.
Looking back, I had no fuckin clue what I was doing. My systems sucked, my links sucked even more and the space was uber competitive.
With more experience and judgement I could NOW look at this biz idea and immediately spot where it would fail.
But I didn’t have that when I started and wasted a ton of time and capital.
I was stuck in my little frame of reference and lacked the data to challenge my assumptions.
I genuinely thought I would succeed.
Acquiring judgement is all about challenging yourself. It’s about looking at what you think you know for certain and doubting it … and testing it.
Sorta like this…
It also require a generous margin of error as well (leverage helps here).
So let’s talk about how to improve judgement.
The first part of doing this effectively is realising who your opponent is.
A black box algo that is functioning like a nascent AI.
This algo is not neutral. It has built in algorithmic prejudices and biases amplified out throughout the entire system.
It leaves trails of how it works and what it wants.
You can observe these and learn from them. The best way to do this is gathering data – LOTS OF IT.
You won’t get this from reading Moz blogs or listening to you local SEO “expert” brag about his success while peddling his/her SEO course slash mastermind.
You can only get this from grinding.
I bet some of you reading this we’re thinking I was gonna reveal some secret trick to levelling up here.
(For those that were thinking that, follow this handy link and buy my limited time course for $399)
Back to where we were, SEO grind.
So how can you you make better decisions?
I’m gonna break this down into 5 methods.
- Get More Data ✅
Data is king. The best data of all is conversion data… 🤤
I could look at it all day.
Forget PornHub give me P/Ls… 🤤X100
Coming back to my idea, SEO is a black box. The more concrete data you have the more empowered you are.
Otherwise you are just guessing and guessing in SEO is a great way to waste a lot of time and money.
Cough cough… baby site.
I’ve seen Ahref’s traffic value sites <$200 make 7 figures + a year and also the opposite – huge traffic sites that won’t covert.
Get all the data you can.
Here is an unsorted (and incomplete) list of how I get some of my data.
Brokers – > I spend 5-6 hours a week just looking at broker listings. I’ve learned more looking at P/Ls of those listings than I have with a lot of other things.
Pure gold. 🥇
Do Tests – > Experiments are the gold standard. This can be hard as there are a lot of confounding variables but operating on a hypothesis testing framework is a great way to approach this.
Team Up With Others – > I’m in several groups where people share data and information about unique things they are doing.
Follow The Big Boys – I have a list of about 40+ sites that I love watching. Some of them are content geniuses, others are linkbuilding monsters and some are just design fanatics. I track them, monitor their rankings and see what is working and what isn’t.
Domain Testing – > This is one I particularly like. Over the last few years I’ve spent many a night on Namejet bidding up domains. Learning how domains can be used to skyrocket DR with redirects or how they can totally destroy a site is more of an art than a science.
Fail a Lot – > The one tried and true method of data gathering. You just can’t beat the emotional lesson of getting your own ass handed to you by Google.
So judgement just comes down to experience and the only way you are gonna get there is to get the hours in.
No shortcuts, no one hit wonders.
⭐ Anything that comes with luck has an inverse relationship to fragility. ⭐
Be Paranoid, Diversify and Relentlessly Improve 😨
Now that you understand the leverage/judgement formula you’re ready to level up.
This is where you go from being a decent L40 SEO wizard to high level mage with a badass glowing cloak and staff.
But it’s gonna require putting your ego in check.
All the most succesful SEOs I know have a deep seated respect for the magic of SEO…. and the risk involved.
The dark side is where you can lose a million dollar business overnight, your rankings can mysteriously disappear and everything can go from 100 to 0 real quick.
And a lot of times there isn’t much you can do about it other than bitch to other SEOs on a Facebook group.
This last section is gonna be the most abstract of all but I think it’s the most important area to understand deeply.
Let’s examine them 1 by 1.
“On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”Originally from Chuck Palahniuk
I can’t stress this one enough.
If you look at most SEO centric content sites over a long enough timeline MOST of them will suffer 30-40% traffic/revenue drops.
This is best exemplified by the Red Queen Hypothesis in biology, where adaptive evolution is required for survival. An organism or business’s survival rate is proportionally tied into their ability to adapt and improve.
SEO is no different. Competitors are coming after you and so is Google.
It’s war and the complacent always lose.
Those that got lucky and are operating without leverage are in an even more tenuous position.
Being paranoid in SEO means staying committed to the best quality of everything – design, content, links, site performance and above all else – product.
Without that you will absolutely lose once your luck runs out.
Remember, things that come with luck have an inverse relationship to fragility.
One of the ways I do this is by visualising what failure would feel like. When you’re high and mighty it’s easy to forget how bad losing all your income might feel like, so I often put myself in that headspace.
Another way is feedback loops. ♻️
This are important for avoiding those “oh shit” moments when you realized you need to disavow a ton of links or your content sounds like it was written by a grade 5 student.
I can’t tell you what to do here for your business but each process needs a KPI, an owner of that KPI and weekly “thinking time“.
We use custom tracking solutions that notifies me when our KPIs aren’t hit for content or links and we make sure we don’t lag behind.
Next let’s discuss diversification.
Exploitative vs Exploratory Approaches
This is more commonly known as the strategy of doubling down on what’s working. Focusing efforts on your Pareto winners and maximizing profits or repeating the same business model in an adjacent vertical.
It’s a great strategy, why diviate from what is working financially?
Hollywood has definitely capitalized on this pumping out one superhero movie after another. Now that they have figured the most profitable formula they are going to exploit it forever.
But what about exploration?
What about trying different ideas or strategies?
Often times asymmetrical opportunities present themselves in the form of new strategies.
Huge payoffs in either links, traffic generaing content or new keywords. But this isn’t all guaranteed.
If you try 10 things, 9 of them will probably fail but that one winner may create a gigantic windfall.
The business that captures a big keyword first usually wins the lions share of link mentions, brand awareness and cements himself in both Google’s eyes as well as readers as the go to choice.
This is the moat in and of itself and it can be hard to beat.
It’s worth budgeting a part of your time and budget to explore these.
If you remember point number 1 – acquiring leverage. Being explotory is a lot easier once you have lervarge.
The margin of safety allows you to experiment, fail and iterate on those results.
You can consider this the barbell approach for SEO investing.
What does this look like in practice? 👇
Try New Verticals – > One tried and true method is throwing up a nice lander and running or sending traffic to it. Setup a store, and notify users product is out of stock upon sale completion. This is a pretty good way to validate conversion data.
Spend Time On Discovery Networks – > I spend the first 20 mins of my day snooping around product forms like ProductHunt. I love seeing new ideas and what people are working on.
Geo Arbitration – > Take what is crushing in one geo and convert it into another language and launch. Highly effective and massively underused. Bonus points for not needing as much leverage.
The next one I guess ties in pretty well with the first one.
Now is the part where I’m gonna get a bit preachy on you.
The best product designers are perfectionists.
This doesn’t mean they don’t love what they built, but that they love it so much that they constantly want it to be better.
They view their work as art and they take great pride in their accomplishments.
To be succesful long term in SEO you need to think along these lines.
You should be looking at your online business when you’re bored like you’d look at a delicious grass fed steak before eating it (sorry vegans).
Insert steak picture – > 🥩🥩
It requires an open minded approach to success. One where you realise that you aren’t perfect, neither are your SEO skills, or your strategies.
Assuming where you have gotten to thus far is a product of luck, good timing and some operational wisdom is a good modus operandati.
You’ve never “done” with SEO. There is always a .1% improvement you can make on your business or skills.
Most of my time is spent chasing those 0.1% improvements for both my businesses as well as my clients.
.1% doesn’t seem like much but it adds up.
Give it a few months or a year and we start operating at an exponential level that is hard to beat.
That’s it everyone. Those are my principles.
SEO is like a video game.
To win requires first acquiring leverage and improving judgement.
To maintain your advantage you need to be paranoid, diversify and relentlessly improve.
Thanks for reading. If you haven’t yet please sign up for my email list or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.