So you want to game Google for a living. Welcome to the team :) This post is one that I think will benefit any SEO no matter what level you are at. After doing this for 10 years, I have learned through many, many failures, and this the code that I live by.
Be Aware of the Risks
Don’t listen to people saying this isn’t a profession, and you cannot have a business that relies only on traffic from Google. You absolutely can, you just need to be aware of the risks of the industry, and you have to approach the business in the right way. It is a High Risk, High Reward business, much like playing the stock market or being a professional poker player.
Rankings are Transient
This is the #1 thing to be aware of. Ranking are transient. You can be hit by Google at any time, no matter what color hat you wear. With micro niche sites there is at minimum a 3 month ramp up time to get you from 0 to 4 figures a month, no matter what your skill level. Even if you have scaled a system, that ramp up time doesn’t change much (but you may be able to get from 0 to 5 figures in 3 months).
Always have a 3-6 month float
Since you’re aware that rankings are transient, you should always have a 3-6 month float. This is standard business practice – liquidity is the key to long-term success in any business – but for some reason people seem to think online business is different. It isn’t. Before you go out and quit your day job, or invest heavily in developing software or hiring a bunch of staffers to scale up, make sure you have at least a 3 month float. That means you have enough money to feed your family, pay your mortgage, and pay any staff that you have for 3 months, without stressing out. Then, when you get hit by Google – which you likely will at some point – you won’t get depressed, and you won’t make dumb business decisions based on an immediate need for money.
Keep your Chin up
When I first started doing Micro Niche Adsense sites, I got to $100/day and was pretty happy with myself. Then Google killed me. I adjusted my strategy and I came back to $200/day with my next batch of sites… and Google killed me again. I figured out why they hated those sites and got another batch up to $500/day until… Google killed me. Three times dead. No problem! I got to $700/day, and then Penguins ate my brains. Now I’m at $1000/day… the ball is in your court, Google. Bring it on.
Always be Producing – with Slight Iterations
When you’re doing well, do not rest on your laurels! Always be producing, and make sure your V2, or your V3 or V54 is slightly different than what you’ve produced before. Maybe you’re link building differently, or trying a different keyword research strategy, or developing different amounts of content. This can drastically reduce ramp up time, as G changing something will likely not cripple your entire portfolio. It also makes dissecting those changes a lot easier.
Be Cautiously Optimistic (and Stop Worrying about Big Brother)
This is no industry for a pessimist or paranoid person. The key to the game is to always be moving, and don’t stifle yourself because MAYBE Google is recording your IP, or maybe Google can do this or that. I’m not saying ignore this, not at all, but following the rule above you can try a version that hosts on different Ips or that interlinks your sites or that hosts on multiple Adsense accounts. Don’t not do something because of speculation, learn from your own experiences/
Don’t be a Hermit (and Don’t be an Asshole either)
Reach out to your peers. Be social, and help people out, they will reciprocate in whatever way they can. Don’t keep things to yourself and worry that others will steal your techniques. This is not poker, this is not about perception or scarcity. Unfortunately a lot of the SEO and IM industry does operate as if the success of others will inhibit their own success, but they are dead wrong. The SEO world is abundant and there’s plenty of link juice for everyone.
Don’t do it for the Money
Don’t do anything for money. Don’t fall for the illusions that snake oil vendors try to sell you, don’t chase after the benefits of a potential lifestyle. Do it because you are passionate about the process. I firmly believe that you achieve long-term success only when you love what you do (which is different from doing what you love, I love soccer but I’m no Messi). To me, this is all about figuring out how Google works – it’s a fun game, and money is just a point system. I love games, and I love growing and scaling things, so for me it is a perfect fit.
Agree? Disagree? Don’t be a hermit – leave a comment!
40 thoughts on “The Successful SEO Mindset”
Great post Hayden. I’m being realistic in my very short career.
Hi…$1000 a day? dats awesome…I think this post is the best i have read in a very long time…
I had plans to quit my Job but i’ll take ur advise and save up more b4 doing that. although my job leaves me very little time to do my own thing…will keep learning from you until I believe am ready to take the leap.
Very good work and much success to you sir.
Do you happen to be an engineer by training?
Your systematic way of thinking handling things is just like an engineer:
1. Address problems
2. Coming up with solutions
3. Implement the system
4. Review and improve
And I like what you mentioned, in the micro niche business, it is always a 3 month battle. And after that, it will be another 3 months of battle.
Hope to see more post from you dude!
Thanks Rendell. Nope not an engineer by training, though my father is an engineer so maybe something got passed on…
When I check the first 10 results of competition in google, seoquake shows backlinks for both link domains and semrush links. Which one should I pay more attention to? Or should I be checking both? It seems like alot of sites have thousands of link domains but little to none of semrush links or vice versa.
I like what you have to say here. I’d like to network more. But whats the basis of the exchange? How does one connect up in a meaning full way? as you ahead of the game?
Hey Tom, good question. I have a bit of an idea to get people to hook up with each other that I will test next week. Stay tuned.
Hayden, not only did you turn my world upside down with the expired domains trick, but you’re going absolutely philosophical about the business of SEO, which I love.
I moved into IM and SEO three months ago after two years of daily grind as a writer in a badly managed SEO agency while trying to leave behind my previous career as an English as a second language teacher.
With this kind of background, the change in attitude and methods is overwhelming and exhilarating. I find your last two principles incredibly inspiring. And challenging.
Especially for somebody who – transitioning from a completely different career – is desperate to confirm his life choices. I’m lucky to be in no rush when it comes to sustaining cash flow and financing my current lifestyle, so I don’t have to cut corners and take unnecessary risk just to earn a couple of bucks more.
To finish, let me challenge you with a hypothetical question. Speaking of gaming Google, what would you do if they hit you not just with its search algo update but with the Adsense account termination? With your current business model, how quickly would you be able to pick up the pieces and move on?
Thanks for sharing your background, I’m glad you liked those last 2 principles, as I think they are the most important :)
Let me answer your question by saying I would not have more than 200 sites or $200/day on a single Adsense account…
When you mention getting to $100/day and getting killed, then change strategy and come back to $200/day, etc… Did you reuse the same domain names, keywords, hosting, adsense account, etc? Or do everything all over from scratch?
I re-use the keywords and content and hosting (unless the entire IP get’s deindexed which has only happened to me once). Assuming the Adsense account didn’t get banned, I’d have no problem using that either. So basically just the domain get’s the boot. It generally means I’m 60 days away from getting the same income again.
Fred Owusu says:
Good to know Hayden. I thought you started from scratch completely. So I guess I better keep building and like you said, scale up.
Now Google killed me for the first time, too :) Your words are really motivating in this situation.
Just wanted to ask if you are rewriting the old content or if you are using the exact same stuff after the domains are deindexed?
I rewrite content but have been meaning to re-use content from de-indexed domains. Could be a very interesting project to do this at scale….
I would like to thank you for the videos you made for us, by the way.
So far I haven’t found any domain as strong as the one in your first video, except for one that I can’t register, a .ca, which has a page and domain authority of 42 and 33, respectively. It has 11 PR5 backlinks (maybe more) and 2 pr4’s all dofollow.
I’m trying to think of ways I can register it as I am not from Canada and I think there are rules.
Send me an email and I’ll register it for you and we can split some links :) Or if you like do a search for Canadian domain trustee service.
You are so unbelievably generous and brilliant and this post is what I’ve been needing to hear from someone who is killing it.
I’ve been making niche sites for several years and I’ve also been decimated by Goo multiple times. Once I had 50 sites de-indexed and I’ve had 2 adsense accounts closed. Every time I would go into a depression, wringing my hands, and moaning about the end of niche sites as a viable business model.
But somehow, I would get straightened out (mostly by reading about what other people were doing to recover) and I’d get back on the horse. Now I know that next time what I’ll do is come here and read your brilliant post!
I’m also looking for an accountability buddy, so if someone out there has the same kind of Goo experiences as I’ve had I’m hoping they’ll connect with me through the system you’re setting up (I’m guessing that’s what you’ve been hinting at in your posts).
I truly can’t thank you enough for this blog and the high-level info and advice that you’re willing to give away to us. Like you, I also believe in abundance and that having it in our lives is really just a matter of not cutting it off from ourselves.
You rock! I’m so glad Spencer introduced us (thank you Spencer)!
Dustin Bess says:
Hayden it’s almost 5 am and I have been up all morning listening to your podcasts with Spencer and my mind is going crazy with the thought of this new world I have just uncovered the last few weeks.
Thank you so much for sharing this awesome information and for your abundance mentality!
Quitting doing SEO work because I’m clearly doing it for the money. Thanks a lot for this post. (no sarcasm)
nam do says:
You really inspired me, I love most the quote: “Don’t chase after the benefits of a potential lifestyle. Do it because you are passionate about the process.”
I am loving my work now
Good post. I am guilty of just observing so now it’s time to change. Thanks for the inspiration! :D
Great info Hayden, I just listened to your interview on Spencer’s Niche pursuits podcast. I am ready to start doping some ilk building business. thanks for the info. Ted
I truly admire of your work. I am a newbie and your podcasts, webinars and this course really help me to learn the basics, in fact now I am thinking that may be I know few advance things as well.
As you may already aware that the Google bans adsense account straightaway in many Asian countries. Is there any other option available than Adsense to generate revenue?
Getting ready to dive into your website.
I heard about you from a forum I belong to and from Spencer.
I enjoyed your interviews so here I am.
I’m interested in your domain finding methods.
Thanks for the info!
i am so glad i came to this site. and i am learning so much i havnt learnt for years. i heard your podcast with spencer. believe me i have it on my samsung phone. and have been listening to it everyday. it like a journey when ever i listen to it. thanks very much. am preparing my self now to really working with you. joining your internship and whatever you offer. by the way . i quit my job before reading this. so am all out into this. see ya.
Adam Finan says:
You are the first SEO/IM guy I have ever referred to making money online as a game apart from myself.. It is a game. You win, you lose, play again.. Life is a game!
Only found you today via the Niche Pursuits Podcast but look forward to getting into your site..
David @ Authority Rep says:
Ran across your site 6 to 9 months ago and bookmarked it as one to come back to. 200 bookmarks later here I am. I listened to the podcast with Spenser and was like I remember that site. Sorry I left but back to learn more. Thanks for always giving.
Josh Kelly says:
You’re sight is a godsend Hayden. I’ve just started working on scaling some of the small success I’ve had with affiliate sites. The stuff you’re putting out on this site is incredible. I really like what you’re saying in this post about not doing it for the money and about gaming google being high-risk, high-reward. It was certainly a mindset shift for me to stop chasing the money and start building sites just cause the process is cool!
For sure. In my experience everything I’ve done just for money has not gone as well as the things I do just to enjoy the process. Love what you do.
Man, what a great site learned a lot the past few days. Keep it up guys.
”For sure. In my experience everything I’ve done just for money has not gone as well as the things I do just to enjoy the process. Love what you do.”PERIOD
that is the key to success. I quit my day job just to do what I love. Man, I’m desperately in need of quick cash, but I don’t care. Because I do what I love to do now.
Hmmmmm… I’ve been screwed up my butt for so long by the shiny object people for quite some time now… And getting no-where. Being slapped around by Google would be a welcomed change…lol Thank you for this inspiration and new guidance. So glad I found your spot.
Thanks for your honesty about getting hit by Google. It is clear from your increasing returns that every time you adapted you learnt something new. I can draw inspiration from that.
I am so pumped I found your website through the the niche pursuits podcast. I am fairly new to niche sites but I love devouring all the great content you and Spencer offer. I have even applied to your intern program. I hope I get the chance to work with you. Thank you so much!!
As you said, “Don’t do it for the Money”, Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game with passion. But when you have kids, money matters. I am fresh cut to Web World, Anyways I am going to join you in August PTC and become a part of NoHatSeo. Till then please advise me what homework, I should do, to get ready for PTC. eg. link of your blog & videos for fresher.
Nothing for you to do at this stage Chetan! The fun starts day 1 of your course!
Anthony Hendriks says:
I especially like the last point about doing it for the passion. Thanks for the tips.
Shubham Anand says:
Nice post buddy , Appreciate your efforts , & hope to walk on similar lines someday :)
Epic post! Clear, honest and pragmatic. Congratulations Hayden!