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A Disillusioned SEO: A More Mature Marketer

Everyone becomes disillusioned at some point in their life. The instances and examples are too numerous to detail here, and in some cases, far too personal to detail here. Suffice to say, when it happens, it’s as if the air has been sucked out the room. The real sense of collapse. It happens to SEOs too. There isn’t a single professional SEO I know who hasn’t felt this way at some point in their career. Disillusion has connotations of the socio-political in the modern era, that is to lose enchantment with something. So I think it’s important to define ‘disillusion’ in the singular way I mean it:

“to free from illusion; to cause to lose naive faith and trust”

The key word from that definition is “naive”. A simplistic faith and trust in your craft, and the belief that it can cure all online marketing ailments.

A Disillusioned SEO

Why SEOs Become Disillusioned

Being disillusioned with a craft or career isn’t uncommon. It happens to everyone (for the most). SEOs aren’t unique in this respect, but we are unique in that disillusionment (and burnout) occurs more quickly. Even though our field went “mainstream” several years ago, for the most part our job is thankless, still the serfs of online marketing. What do isn’t flashy, sexy, or full of pizazz; it’s simply strategy, research, grinding, and back to strategy.

I’m willing to bet that the latest algorithmic changes by Google [a.k.a. Scraper and Panda] has caused quite a few SEOs to become disillusioned, as the same old SEO isn’t working like it used to. Things aren’t returning back to pre-Panda glory. Or perhaps, it has nothing do with the techniques, and everything to do with the clique-ish culture of SEO. Or perhaps it revolves around how clients view the services (i.e. dispensable, non-essential, or cheap because they can get it anywhere). Whatever the case may be, it happens.


And, when it does happen, every one of us is faced with a career choice:

  1. Move on to next online marketing niche. Remain jaded and distrusting of SEO.
  2. Step back. Take some time to evaluate the market place. Re-engage SEO with new perspectives

Becoming A More Mature Marketer Through Disillusion

“Wisdom comes by disillusionment.” – George Santayana

Becoming a more mature marketerNo matter which road you choose, no matter what path(s) you take, we will all converge back at the same point: a more mature marketer. Not being able to reconcile with SEO is understandable; after all, there are other disciplines in online and search marketing that might fill the void(s) that SEO couldn’t fill.

We gain maturity when we become disillusioned. We become better marketers too. Not simply because we are wiser, because we are examining all the angles and more discerning, but because we understand that we need a better repertoire of marketing tools. As a marketer, you’ll always have your master-craft, but you know it isn’t the end all be all. It isn’t the singular solution. There are combination marketing tactics that can augment your master-craft to make a stronger overall strategy.

Broadening Your Horizons

I’m a subscriber to the fact that SEO, in today’s market place, means you are an SEO expert and a jack-of-all-trades in all other search and online marketing disciplines, as they all intertwine with SEO. While you won’t be an expert in every one of them, not having knowledge of them is detrimental to how you perform and function as a marketer. You become a one-dimensional person in a multi-dimensional world.

In the end analysis, it is being one-dimensional that caused the disillusion. If you’re going to take advantage of that disillusion, it means being a more experienced and mature marketer by broadening your knowledge, by continually beefing up your expertise in SEO, and by understanding how other disciplines can augment your strategies to make you a better marketer.



  1. Doc April 28, 2011

    Can’t think of any better response than, “WORD!” (my baggy-pants-fallin’-off-his-butt nephew taught me that)

    Great post, Tony. As you say, we don’t need (or even hope) to be experts in all facets of on-line marketing, but we don’t do our clients proper service if we’re not at least partially familiar with the big picture.

    “In the end analysis, it is being one-dimensional that caused the disillusion.” That sums it up very well.

  2. Kieran Flanagan May 5, 2011

    Great post and timely for me as I wrestle with a couple of personal projects that have fried my brain. I really agree with the SEO cliques, same old faces at the same old conferences. Dominated by the same agencies churning out the same info (some of it great, some of it repetitive). Also price is massive. Clients used to seeing 100 links for $50, repeat this mantra before being having such a terrible experience, they decide SEO is rubbish.
    From a personal perspective, although i work in search, in my own projects I do all aspects of online to build a site from scratch. In general, I am focused on being a great inbound marketer.
    Great post …

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