I am going to break my normal rules of laziness and post twice in one day to get one huge sentiment off my chest: search engine optimization is now and has been since the arrival of Google, a popularity contest – you either learn to compete or fucking whine in silence. Oh, I went there.

Seriously… there have been quite a few posts over the last few days whining about how Sphinn is nothing more than a popularity contest. Well duh. (Side note to amplify interactive, changing blog urls after publishing is bad for traffic.)

Marketing a website is all about making it popular. From the origins of link popularity (hence the word popularity) a huge portion of online marketing boils down to your ability to make the site you’re focusing your marketing efforts on (say it with me) popular. Google didn’t stop there either. Pagerank actually took it further by saying being popular was no longer enough, you had to be in with the “right” people. Then came trustrank – the need to not only become popular, and with the right people, but you also had to become popular with trusted people.

And once you’ve gotten your website popular (aka made it rank) its popularity breeds even more popularity. When a reporter or researcher does an article, they’ll often cite the top sites listed in search results as examples simply because those sites rank well in the engines. Bottomline is, if you have any search engine optimization skill, you know how to even make some boring topic like misting fans popular within it’s own niche or target market.

Of course though, not every skilled search engine optimization person wants to be personally popular. They build their sites, get them popular, cash their checks and are happy to live in the shadows of this industry. But, some people want that personal popularity (obviously) and complain that “the popular people” are ruling the roost.

It might be to be able to charge higher consulting rates, to land a speaking gig to boost your resume, because you like feeling loved or because you see a chance to finally be a “cool kid” – but if your goal is to be a “popular” and “noticed” person in the SEO sphere and you think that you can’t do it because “rockstar status” is nothing but a popularity contest, I have four words for you…

I say again, duh.

And if you have any marketing skills worth being noticed for and want that personal fame, then you’ll have the ability to achieve it in spite of others already having obtained it before you. Taking yourself and becoming popular for your search engine optimization skills and insights in spite of others already being popular is no different than taking a website from conception to a top ranking property – even though there are tons of already popular sites out there.

I repeat, *IF* you have any skills worth being noticed for.

This industry isn’t old enough for anyone to have been born with a “silver spoon” in their mouth in regards to it. The social media whore started blogging less than three years ago. Stuntie started making a name for himself in 2004. Rand has only been speaking for three years and I know he didn’t start the blog until after that. The Sugarrae blog has only been in existence a little over a year (though I’ve been speaking for almost three now).

Boser and many other old schoolers may have time on their side, but they also spent the early years creating the industry so many choose to specialize in today. There was no one to learn from and they became the leaders through their own sweat and trial and error. Lisa may work for one of the oldest companies doing search engine optimization but it was her wit, writing style and increasing knowledge that made her rise to the blogging fame some of the posts above cite her for.

So, if you want that personal fame, you have two options. Do what it takes to achieve it and market yourself like you want to be glorified for marketing websites or whine about how you’ve got the deck stacked against you and all those “popular people” (who you might overlook busted their respective asses to become popular) are out there hoarding *your* limelight.

If you choose the former, good luck and rock on. If you choose the latter, please spare us from the whining. Tough – maybe. Harsh – maybe. But if one person listens to this, gets off their ass and shows us what they’re made of, maybe I’ll eventually be made aware of a new blog worth reading.

Is Pinterest part of your marketing plan?

Check out my recent case study that shows how I generated 234,000+ pins (and counting) to a site with only 45 posts. I give you all the details (with specifics) here.