By Jill Whalen
Yep, you read that right. I, my friends, am moving on from SEO.
If you read my last newsletter you may recall that I mentioned that I had decided to take a break from SEO and would no longer be taking on new clients. I also told you that I’d continue to write this newsletter to keep you up with the latest on SEO. And honestly, when I wrote that, I did mean it. My identity and sense of self have been so wrapped up in SEO, and in this newsletter in particular, that at the time I couldn’t imagine ever giving it up.
Until last week.
When it came time to actually write the newsletter, I kept putting it off. While that’s not too unusual for a procrastinator like me, this time it was different. Every time I thought about sitting down and working on it, I felt a sense of dread. So I procrastinated some more, went to yoga, came back, made a healthy lunch, and mindlessly surfed Facebook, where I serendipitously ran across a post by Dr. Wayne Dyer titled “Looking for a Change?” While the entire post was interesting, the part that really resonated with me was at the end:
#4: It Must Be Aligned With the Callings of Your Soul
How do you determine that you’re aligned with your soul’s purpose? You know by the way the rational reason speaks directly to you in that personal place within. The thoughts and feelings that surface tend to go like this: This is truly who I am. By making these changes and eradicating these habits, I will be living my life on purpose, fulfilling a destiny I came here to accomplish.
That’s when I realized clear as day that I simply couldn’t write the newsletter that day. I immediately emailed my proofreader, Kate, and let her know the situation. I told her that I might write the next week, but I just wasn’t sure where I stood.
With the decision made, I felt that proverbial weight lifted off my shoulders. At some point during the rest of the week, I knew I was done with the newsletters altogether. But then I realized I had unfinished business with all of you, my loyal subscribers. I didn’t want to leave you hanging. Plus, I wanted to make my decision official and final in order to move on in a new direction, whatever that might be.
In other words, this is literally my final Advisor Wrap-up.
I realize that this probably sounds pretty crazy. SEO has been my passion for nearly 20 years, and business has never been better. I have lived, breathed, eaten and slept SEO since my kids were little! Never in a million years would I have imagined that changing. SEO was who I was. “Jill Whalen, the Queen of SEO.” That was my internal and external identity, and all was well.
So what changed?
A few things. The most obvious is that I changed, but I’ll get to that in a moment. When I made my decision wholeheartedly, it occurred to me that the reason it was so easy to make was that my SEO voice was no longer necessary.
Let me explain.
When I first started writing and speaking about SEO back in the 20th century(!), there was no voice of reason in the industry. Everything written about SEO was based on the latest techniques for tricking the search engines into ranking your site above your competitors’. Yet I knew from experience that the real secret to SEO was not about tricks but about making your site the best it could be for your users while keeping the search engines in mind. It was true when I started doing SEO and it’s true now. Doing that always, always, always works to bring more targeted search engine traffic to your website. But, sadly, the tricks that the other SEO people were doing and writing about also worked, albeit temporarily.
Finally, however, Google put their money where their mouth was with their Panda and Penguin updates. At last the only real way to do SEO was what I had been espousing all along. And it’s a beautiful thing! Today’s SEO blogs and conferences are bursting with SEO consultants talking about how, when you create amazing websites and content for your users, the search engines will follow.
Which means, my friends, that my work here is done. There’s no need for another voice saying the same thing everyone else is saying. While Google is making new changes every day that certainly keep SEOs and website owners on their toes, they’re generally technical things that you need to implement in order to keep up. (Think microformatting, site speed issues, mobile-friendliness, and the like.) You certainly don’t need me to explain those to you. Just read Google’s own blogs for the latest information on all the newfangled website thingies you probably should implement when you have a chance.
But back to how I’ve changed.
Aside from having utterly and completely lost interest in SEO, as most of you know, since the beginning of May this year, I’ve been losing weight, eating healthy,
drinking less alcohol, and exercising. I’ve been walking for miles, getting attuned with nature, and as of this past week, meditating every morning. I’ve been posting a bit of this stuff on Facebook, and I’ve heard from some of my followers that they’ve been inspired by my posts, which is awesome. Others, I’m sure, are sick of the photos of my oh-so-beautiful lunches, and have unfriended me. That’s okay because I probably would have unfriended me too not that long ago!
But it’s these changes in me that have inspired me to make the greater change of being done with SEO altogether. While I don’t have an exact plan for the future, I have every confidence that there’s a whole lot in store for me. The only thing I need to do right now is let it unfold as it’s intended to. Without having the SEO stuff hanging over my head anymore, I am free to do just that.
For those who are be thinking, “Wow, she’s lucky to be able to just give up everything and see where life takes her,” you are most certainly correct! I am the luckiest person in the world and I’m extremely grateful to have this opportunity. While I am able to do nothing for a while and not be concerned with money, SEO was never about the money for me. It was my passion and something that I absolutely had to do. And because of that, the money came. I believe the same thing can be true for anyone who finds their passion and uses it to help others. So while I won’t be making any money at the moment, I am confident that I will continue to live a life that enables me to be “rich” beyond my wildest dreams.
But wait, don’t say your goodbyes just yet!
For those of you who want to keep up with me (you know who you are: the ones who skip the SEO stuff and head straight to my Wrap-ups each week — hi, mom!), I’m planning on starting a blog called “What Did You Do With Jill.” (Which is what everyone I know says to me when they see me now.) I just created the site yesterday, so it’s not quite ready for prime time yet. But I’ll be blogging on topics such as healthy foods and cooking, walking, hiking, and running, spirituality and meditation, and who knows what other strange things I’ll get myself into along the way.
To be sure you don’t miss anything and keep in touch with me, please subscribe to that newsletter here.
Oh yeah, and I ran that 5K this past weekend. I ran the whole way and ended up with my best time ever with a 9:42 average pace for the entire race! PLUS, I beat both my husband and my daughter, Jamie!
That’s all for today!
Catch you in the *new* newsletter! — Jill
P.S. The photo at the top of this post is not Photoshopped, and is literally “Love from Above.” (Presumably you see the cupid’s heart like I do.) I was taking a walk one day on some new trails in town and had my phone out to photograph a few of the signs which described the history of the area. Without me realizing it, at some point my camera decided to take photos on its own of the sky. I found them later and just as I was about to delete them as mistakes, I noticed there was an actual cupid’s heart in the photos! Whenever I look at it, I’m in complete awe. Coincidentally(?) I had just finished reading the book “Breakfast with Buddha“ which concluded with the idea that love is what powers the universe.