Find A Mentor (Or Some Mentos)

Along with the list of skills that you need to possess in order to be a good SEO, I’d like to add the following:

Knows how to find a good mentor.

I’ve been in the industry for enough years that I do think that, for the most part, I know what I’m doing. I know what’s going on, I can adapt to industry changes very quickly, and I feel confident that the advice that I give is valid and worthwhile. However, I’m not stupid enough to believe that I can’t be wrong, which is why I am so fond of having mentors. No matter how much experience you have, someone else has more of it, and someone else has better quality. Also, if you think this is an arse-kissing post…you’re damn right it is. I owe a lot to these people.

Mentors Who Are Fun To Socialize With

I have many mentors that are my contemporaries in some ways (although usually much better at everything) and they’re the ones that I value the most. Lisa Myers and Anita Chaperon, with whom I started this blog, are the people who first encouraged me to write about what I do. Before that, I didn’t trust myself enough to do anything publicly. Since then, I’ve realized how important it is to be able to back up anything that I say, and to admit when I’m wrong. Just putting myself out there and open to criticism has been the best learning experience of my career. I can also say with 100% certainty that every single one of the SEO Chicks is just stupidly fun to go out with, if you ever have the chance.

Legends in the Industry

Since then, all of us at SEO Chicks had Dazzlin Donna as our mentor. She was like our mama chick, keeping us all in check and, because she was writing for us and therefore giving us a vote of confidence, it made me triple check every single thing that I said. No one was willing to let her down, and even though she never scrutinized us, she did offer enough guidance to keep us on the straight and narrow, even when I was fighting about how cloaking and paid links were peachy keen.

When I was asked to write for Search Engine Land, Debra Mastaler immediately reached out to me as her fellow columnist and Southern link builder. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to have someone so revered in the industry act as if I was on her level. Liana Evans asked me to write for Search Marketing Gurus and was the first person to ask to interview me. I was so nervous that for days I could barely think of anything else…and then we had an amazing chat and I realized why everyone likes her so much.

People Whom You Trust 100%

Now, lest you think that because this is a female-written site I only have female mentors, there’s my current favorite SEO on earth…Paul Madden. I love knowing people who are much, much smarter than most of us but they don’t act like assholes. Even though he tries his best to get me to say something mean to him, he’s an amazing man who knows just about everything about SEO. He’s the one I want to bounce all my ideas off, because he will see the holes in my logic, and he’ll point them out without being a jerk. He also has a fluffy bunny that he loves.

Prolific Writers Who Rock

I read absolutely everything that Ann Smarty writes. I am totally in awe of her constantly useful posts and the fact that she never seems to sleep. She has definitely inspired me to try and write about ideas that are actually useful. That may sound silly, but I do have a fondness for the non-useful writing.

Common Sense

Jill Whalen is probably the most logical person in this industry. Whether you agree or disagree with her, her opinions don’t ever seem to be fueled by ego or rage. I’m not saying that she doesn’t care about the industry, certainly. I just love the fact that she seems to speak her mind without getting into a tizzy about things. You don’t usually see her ranting and raving. I admire that. It’s taught me to stop taking things so damned personally. Now, if she’d just turn blackhat…

The Model of Class

Christine Churchill. I don’t think I really need to say much more than that. I’d really like a WWCD bracelet (What Would Christine Do?) I was lucky enough to be able to interview her once, and she thanked ME.

Blackhat Scum

It’s no secret that I like the black hat boys and girls. I’ve learned more about SEO from chats with them than I ever have with strictly by-the-book whitehat types. I love that they have crazy and clever ideas that are just absurd enough to work. I love their passion for constantly figuring out something new to try, and I love that they’re the ones testing tactics that I might be able to use successfully. I won’t mention any names here lest people start making hateful comments, of course. They know who they are.

Your Own Little Flock

I particularly like to think about all of these mentors and what they’ve done for me when I deal with my own staff. I love nothing more than for one of them to ask me a question that I can’t immediately answer. I love it when they think outside the box and can trip me up. I love seeing them grow and become really, really good link builders who also happen to know more about SEO than they think they do. I love that they feel comfortable asking me questions, even if they preface them with “I know this is crazy/silly/stupid but…” and I love that THEY make me think. They make me think A LOT, even my newbies. It’s tough to explain SEO to people outside the industry. It’s tough to start someone out in the field, who has no knowledge of it, but it definitely is a truly worthwhile thing to do.