Training in Winter
Some of you may remember that I have started training parkour some time ago. It made me not only 200% healthier over the recent years (I feel 10 years younger by now) it also inspired me in other areas of life.
I've already coined a new term for a positive SEO technique that I call "Google Parkour" which basically means helping your "competitors" by linking out to them and ultimately getting traffic from them. It doesn't work completely as imagined but it works to some extent. It works in a different manner than I actually expected or planned. Today I don't want to talk about Google Parkour and positive SEO techniques though. Today I want to use Parkour for another allegory.
Yes, I can use metaphors for headlines here on my blog because I don't optimize it for Google anymore.
Yeah, that's freedom. So I don't care whether the headline is off topic for Google. For me it's very relevant. We have winter here in Germany for a few months now, in case you're in Australia or South Africa remember that it's cold here. In recent weeks and months it was OK though. It wasn't often colder than around -5° Celsius which is perfect for a winter. We had often some snow and it was a perfectly average winter like I remember it from my childhood in Poland.
In Berlin where I live now it's was colder than average but the last two winters were even tougher than that with -10 to -20 degrees so this year was pretty moderate. I don't want you to bore with our weather though. As you might imagine parkour is best when trained outside. People jog a lot around here in my area but besides me almost nobody does parkour. Running in winter on snow, ice or sludge is not easy, you can slip easily. Parkour is not only running, it's also
Google is like a gym.
- You have to change your clothes, wear special shoes and everybody looks at you.
- The trainers watch your moves and tell you when you do something wrong so that you don't hurt yourself.
- The other guys in the gym who like Schwarzenegger in his youth look down upon you while pushing incredible weights.
- The well-trained girls and women flaunt their sexy bodies around in lycra so you get distracted.
- The windows are closed, it's stuffy and it smells of sweat so that you don't get enough oxygen while you are trying hard to move these weird machines or you run on a treadmill without moving forward.
The same applies to SEO.
It's not another "what x taught me about SEO" post. This is a post about letting go of the Google shackles again.
Do you remember the days before Google? When nobody used to tell you how your website has to be built? When nobody "penalized" you because you put up a link or paid for an ad? Btw. don't you wonder why Google doesn't use the word penalty anymore? I guess it's because the word sounds like "penis". Google f*cks webmasters over. Now they prefer to say "manual action" in some cases, in other cases they don't even call it a "hand job" anymore.
I have been training in gyms for quite a while when I was younger.
Summed up it was probably the same amount of time that I do parkour now, rough 1 and 2/3 of year. Before that I sucked at sports for years. A a teen I got sicks for several weeks and was pretty wasted afterwards after taking antibiotics and lying around in bed for so long. I lost like half of my weight. Before I was slightly obese as far as I remember but afterwards I was so thin that I still looked sick after fully recovering. Finally years later training at the gym made look normal again. I wasn't able to build more body mass an muscle beyond the "normal" though. I got disillusioned my training in gyms for many of the reasons listed above but also for the lack of visible progress.
The main problem about training in a gym is that it's not fun.
In a gym you train
- to get fit
- to lose weight
- to gain muscle
- to look better
- to show off
your physique. Well, there is nothing wrong to train for all thee reasons. On the other hand they are just goals not reasons. They do not motivate you intrinsically. They just make you train with a promise of a better future. The work out itself is not making you happy. Maybe you feel happy when you're tired after a long session or maybe when you sense some progress, for instance you added additional weights for the first time and managed to lift them. There is no sheer joy of movement though.
What makes you happy?
Some people say that jogging makes you happy. You run, you forget about the world around you, you "just move".
I was always a bad runner. I struggled to run the 2000, the 3000m, and at the end the 5000m we had to run in school. I fought myself and my body to make it and all I could accomplish was to be among the last at the finish line. In most cases I was glad I made it to the finish line at all. My grades were bad and I wasn't really popular with the girls for being a slow runner either. the teachers, in most cases having large stomachs and barely managing to move didn't respect me either for trying hard.
Sometimes they didn't even wait for me and went inside while I still had to run the last round left alone or with another unlucky guy.
Still running was OK. I was mostly alone and nobody was looking at my misery. In contrast I really hated gymnastics class. Despite that I even managed to do a flip a few times. I don't do flips these days though. Maybe I try when I turn 40 LOL. The worst thing for me was jumping above obstacles or training on bars. I was really scared. I was afraid that I might hurt myself or even worse, to stultify myself ion front of the other kids and especially the girls. So I moved over the obstacles awkwardly and hesitatingly but managed not to make a too big fool of myself by falling on my face or shouting out of pain.
Recently I had to think about my high school etchers again. Maybe it was Anthony of Content Muse who reminded me of them again.
(This guy's just keeps on inspiring me. It's enough that he's around and says just anything.)
I thought: where are you now? I'm probably as old now as you've been then but I move like young God now! I jump above and move around obstacles without any mats all. I don't injure myself. When I hurt myself it's nothing more than a bump. I'm not scared anymore most of the time. I'm just cautious. I don't jump between roofs like you see it some Parkour "porn" videos. I don't flip because it's not really part of parkour either but who knows maybe I do a flip soon after more than twenty years.
This post is not about parkour really, believe me. It's about how working in SEO for Google reminds me of my high school teachers again.
Doing SEO for Google is not even like working out in a badly ventilated gym with lots of arrogant people around.
Google SEO is like high school all over again.
The obese teacher tells you to jump and you jump. The ugly guy tells you to run and you run. The guy tells you to run another circle despite you being completely wasted. You vaulted the wrong way? You will get a penalty: you have to move another round. You still haven't done it right. Move again you lazy good-for-nothing!
Then they will tell everybody else to watch how you get the penalty a jump through hoops.
All the other kids watch. Some laugh, others ridicule you. The teacher just lets you jump again and again. I still work for clients. I have been submitting reinclusion requests to Google on one's behalf several times in a row to no avail. I have spend hours and hours sweating and checking every single link I could get hold of with the most advanced tools.
I'm already getting paranoid. Does Google single me out?
Why did I have to add my name to the reinclusion. Nah, they know anyways who I am as I submit through Google Webmaster Tools. My own blog here has been penalized for no apparent reason. Another blog I've been working for 5 years now and that was profitable got pandalized simply because it was on a subdomain and the client's main domain get caught up in Panda as well (as they compete directly with Google as a shopping search engine). This is the third penalty I'm dealing with in a year. This is much, as I have usually no more than 3 to 5 long term clients a year.
Remember that I'm known for practicing 200% white hat ethical SEO.
I'm not ashamed though these days. I won't jump through hoops for my SEO 2.0 blog here. I have to for my clients. Still I'm older and wiser now. Neither am I limited to a gym nor do I have to submit to a tyrannical teacher.
You know parkour is not only cool all the time. You don't jump all day like you're spiderman. You need a long warm up and then you need to build up muscle, train for agility and condition yourself. I sucked at all three of them. By now I even do some yoga exercises while people watch and I don't care. I stand on my hands like some Indian sadhu.
Yes, I can use metaphors as headlines now again. I can stretch in front of pedestrians or or move above and below bars while drug dealers or police officers are standing nearby. I am free to do whatever I like. Google wants to limit myself, but ultimately I can do whatever I want despite them. I write for you not Google. I don't create content for the engine or machine. I'm training in winter too.
It's much harder to get visitors without Google. It's much harder to train in winter when snow, ice or mud is in your way.
I balance or climb up wet handrails now. Maybe next winter I will manage to do it on snow or ice-covered ones. When I started parkour I wasn't even able to stand for a second there. When the snow and the ice melt and it's not wet anymore you see why it's great to train in winter. It' so much harder that once it gets easier again you can do everything with ease. The same walls and obstacles you see every day have actually shrunken over night. They look tiny. You jump above them effortlessly. It's amazing. Just this one realization overflows you with happiness. It happened last Monday to me. It's the same with Google.
When you can survive and thrive without Google you become stronger and better. You improve yourself, you adapt beyond obeying Google's orders.
You have to embrace the freedom
Nobody will give it you. It's out there. Break out of the Google box. Don't let a hypocritical corporation dictate you how to write, design, and interact with your fans. They have to fix their gym or algorithm. They have to run and jump to get that fat off their belly. You are lean enough already.
Most of the Google Panda update victims are out of business, changed their business model or at least their name or are simply "still losing".
Most lucrative niches have been overtaken by the search monopolist, whether it's travel, ecommerce or video, you are at the mercy of Google, while their results show up above yours by manual action. They can buy advertorials and do not have to make the links nofollow but they can f*ck webmasters like you and me for them.
Start training in winter, venture outside. You can make it. Even an almost 40 year old man like myself who never was good in sports can do parkour. So you can get business without Google as well. Prepare for it now as long as it's summer. The next winter will come for sure. Maybe it will be harder than you think.
Even the climate changes. In ten years Google will probably go the way of AltaVista or Yahoo. I will be still around.
I will optimize for people for more than a decade by then. Will you still do SEO for Google by then or will you optimize for yourself and your audience? Think about it before it's too late. Don't wait with the training until you're 70. It will be much harder to start parkour at that age.
Sorry for writing another essay-like allegory of epic proportions again. Anthony! Stop inspiring me. I guess the fresh air I breathe when training in winter in the morning makes inspires me too. It''s just the sheer joy of movement whether moving outside or inside my head.
* Creative Commons image by Esther Williams