Ch. 1 – Learn How to Fish – Critical Thinking

Learn How to Fish

When asked what the single most important thing for any SEO to learn is, my immediate response is: Learn what to believe, and what to label “Bullshit!”

And that lesson may be both the most difficult and the most inherently dangerous.

When I set out to learn SEO, I immediately built a list of blogs authored by well-known SEOs, and visited them regularly. Names like Cutts, Sullivan, Slawski, Fishkin, Wall… and a dozen or so more, were regular reading for me. I also signed up at a handful of internet and webmaster forums and spent a lot of time reading, asking questions and laying the foundation of my burgeoning SEO knowledge.

Only thing is, that foundation was laid in a bed of quicksand. I learned a lot of things that were flat-out wrong!

Some of the folks I followed knew what they were talking about. Others knew some things, but talked like they knew it all. And an alarmingly large percentage was pumping pure garbage.

Of course, at that point, I didn’t have much of a clue myself, so determining what was worth listening to was a crap-shoot. That’s why I’m writing this book, to help others sift through the sea of misinformation and find reliable sources.

To that end, I’ve enlisted the help of several professionals. These folks are going to share their perspective on a number of issues, which should help you on your quest for reliable information. Some of them practice SEO, some specialize in SEM. Others are CRO or ORM pros, copywriters, designers. All of them, though, have a good grasp of SEO as it pertains to their jobs, and above all, they don’t BS their clients, each other or themselves.

This book isn’t intended to give you a fish… it’s intended to teach you how to fish.

More accurately, it won’t teach you what to think… it’ll teach you how to think.

Depending upon how much knowledge you already hold, how much time you can dedicate to your education and how good you are at sniffing out BS, learning how to make a website do its job well can take anywhere from a long time to a very, very long time if you go about it the way I did.

If you’re in a hurry and lucky enough to find one, engage a worthy mentor or tutor. Hands-on is always better, and learning from one experienced person is much easier than sorting through all the voices in the crowd. If that’s not an option for you right now, then I suggest you listen to these very able folks, and learn how to fish the way they do. Read between the lines in their comments, and you may find their real wisdom. They know when, where and what the fish are biting.

Most importantly, they’ve all mastered the art of critical thinking.

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Doc Sheldon has worked in marketing since the 1980s and he's been writing professionally since the 1970s. He owned and published weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines during the ’80s, before becoming a business consultant and ultimately "retiring" in 2008. He began studying SEO in earnest in 2003, and now specializes in technical SEO. His passions are the development of the Semantic Web, trying to figure out what changes may be coming next from the search engines and eliminating misinformation.