Most SEO experts are still afraid to publish their success stories, with a few notable exceptions.
Many are simply unable to share their work even when it’s successful. How can SEOs stop practicing “ghost optimization”?
Before we dive into this question, let’s look at the reasons for the ongoing secrecy and still prevailing negativity among SEO practitioners.
SEO horror stories, anyone?
One of the most popular SEO hashtags within the industry over recent years has been #seohorrorstories.
Why are SEO experts much more likely to share the horrible failures of the industry and their colleagues than their own success stories?
Is this the overall prevailing negativity of society as a whole? Or do we have an internal problem aggravating the situation?
I think it’s probably both.
First off, the recent years have led to a never-ending, downward spiral of public debate. Diplomacy has made way for trolling.
When even presidents provoke people online to get attention, how is everybody else meant to stay civil in day-to-day conversations?
Also, social media like Facebook and Twitter have been capitalizing on fear and anger.
Such “bad news” goes straight to our lizard brain and elicits fearful and angry reactions without consulting the parts of the brain responsible for logical thinking.
No wonder that even within the relatively professional SEO industry, the discourse has degenerated into the realm of “OMG! Look at that nonsense! How stupid!”
I’m exaggerating a bit, but that’s the essence of most shares where #seohorrorstories are involved.
These are more than cautionary tales. It’s also a way of ridiculing those reckless enough to get caught red-handed while employing outdated SEO tactics.
Perhaps the thought process is that when one can’t shed light on their actual successes, then highlight others’ failures. This way, they indirectly stand in a better light by sheer comparison.
Of course, this is merely guesswork. The motivation behind the many horror stories may vary. It won’t simply gloat or malice, in most cases.
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‘Look at this random graph, please – the growth is stellar!’
There is also a compromise, anonymized “success” stories – where the alleged success can’t be fully reviewed by peers.
Such stories seem to be the middle ground between failure and success stories. So what is the logic behind them, then?
You will find lots of social media posts shared of random graphs without any URL connected to them.
It’s usually an analytics screenshot clumsily anonymized before publication. Ultimately, the stellar growth they exhibit lacks any credibility.
I’m usually acquainted with those who share such success stories, so I know they won’t lie.
In most cases, they also add as much context as possible without giving away any meaningful detail so that you cannot track down the website they’re talking about.
What about industry outsiders and potential clients?
They have no idea who the people sharing the graphs are and how trustworthy the information is.
What is the purpose of sharing graphs without any context?