The gift and the curse of SEO is its low bar­rier to entry.

On one hand, it encour­ages peo­ple with a diverse range of back­grounds into the pro­fes­sion, which con­tributes to a lot of the cre­ative thought in the industry.

On the other, it paves the road for both advanced begin­ners and char­la­tans who can lib­er­ally apply them­selves with the label of ‘expert’ and  exploit peo­ple who are cer­tain they ‘need’ an SEO service.

Aside from the hypocricy that swirls around a lot of what Google says and does,  in gen­eral, any of the changes that it makes that increase the dif­fi­culty to game the algo­rithms should be embraced.

For there to be value in any indus­try there needs to be skill and exper­tise required for what­ever task needs com­plet­ing. (As well as demand for this knowledge.)

To get to this stan­dard, you need to toil through what Seth Godin calls ‘the Dip’. The dip is the part where you are learn­ing a skill where it feels like you’re get­ting nowhere fast.

In the words of Seth Godin:

The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accom­plish­ment. The Dip is the set of arti­fi­cial screens set up to keep peo­ple like you out.”

It’s a place all have to get through to become accom­plished in any skill. It’s the place where most peo­ple quit.



As search engines become harder to game, the dip you need to toil through to excel online widens. The screen­ing process becomes more intense, the wheat is sorted from the chaff.

This can only be a good thing for those who are seri­ous about online mar­ket­ing. The Dip cre­ates scarcity and scarcity cre­ates value. 

The more refined the spe­cial­ism of SEO is, the more demand there will be for those who per­form it.

The thing with arti­cle mar­ket­ing is, it’s easy. It’s easy to mea­sure, it’s easy to churn out con­tent. It used to be easy to make it work.

The same with link net­works. They’re not that dif­fi­cult to find and they’re not that dif­fi­cult to join.

It’s prob­a­ble that a lot of SEO com­pa­nies will soon be stood at the cusp of the dip. It stands to rea­son that they won’t all toil through it.

This is why we should rel­ish the updates that are going to make life trickier.

There is going to be a huge demand for SEOs who can thrive at grow­ing busi­nesses online in the new cli­mate and a short­age of what can be supplied.

If you can thrive and know how to help oth­ers thrive, your knowl­edge becomes a lot more valuable.



How you decide to manip­u­late the rank­ings is irrel­e­vant, be it what is labelled ‘black’ or ‘white’.

The point is that the scarcer the skill needed, the richer the pick­ings for those tal­ented and hard work­ing enough to pos­sess it.

So the bar­rier to entry won’t change in the sense that any­one can call them­selves an SEO and do business.

How­ever, in the sense that the skill level needed to grow web­sites online is going to be higher than ever, the bar­rier to thriv­ing as an SEO agency or con­sul­tant will be even harder to get past.

Do I fall into the cat­e­gory of  those who pos­sess the skill required to excel in a cli­mate that needs more advanced skills? Prob­a­bly not, but I’m going to work through the dip to get there.

Post By Michael Smith (31 Posts)

Michael works at 9xb Dig­i­tal Agency in Har­ro­gate, Mon­day to Fri­day. Click here to fol­low him on Twit­ter or have a look a his Google+ pro­file.

Web­site: →


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3 Responses to Thoughts on Raising the Barrier to Thrive in SEO

  1. Julie Joyce says:

    Nicely said. If you can already real­ize that there’s more to this game than just pre­tend­ing to know what you’re talk­ing about, I’m sure you’ll weather the storm and still be there in the end.


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