Living in Flow and Non-Immediate Feedback in the SEO World

GarrettGraff

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I first learned about the concept of Flow about a decade ago when I was playing poker for a living. For those of you that have never heard the term, "flow" thrown around, check it out here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

Essentially, experiencing flow happens when we are completely immersed in an activity that both challenges us slightly out of our comfort zone (otherwise, we'd have a little bit too much control, and the task may seem too remedial or slightly boring) and said activity utilizes all of the skills we know to apply towards the task (and then a tiny bit more).

The reason I wished to discuss this is because of the non-immediate feedback that we receive in marketing, and more specifically (now more-so than ever) in the SEO world.

For example: I'd imagine most of the on-site work most of us do is rather remedial, and let's assume we're almost perfect at it to keep us in flow, BUT, to remain in flow we are always looking for ways for on-site optimization to challenge us outside of our skill set and at the same time to experience some near-instant feedback telling us what we need to do to move forward.

It may take days, weeks, months even, to see the feedback we're looking for - it may be a ranking increase or decrease, maybe (hopefully not) having a page de-indexed, maybe meta info changes, whatever it may be this feedback is not available to us in the mere moments we may be used to in more traditional life tasks. Thus, its much more difficult to remain in flow because we're never sure if what we're doing is right or wrong!

I personally find myself bouncing out of the zone / flow / whatever you want to call it because of how long it takes to see feedback on some actions I make while "optimizations" to our web properties. It isn't a matter of if what I'm doing is right or wrong, its that lack of near-instantaneous feedback that brings me into positions where I have too much control (not in flow), am bored (not in flow), or anxious (not in flow).

So, I guess what I'm asking you all is this: What do you to combat the non-immediate feedback we experience in our line of work?
 

Andrey

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Focus on things that need to be done regardless what feedback you get.

Maybe could try to build more sites, pages, links, etc. while you are waiting for feedback.

I do have this problem myself sometimes.
 

Ryuzaki

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This is definitely Google's goal, to restrict any sort of immediate feedback so it becomes impossible to isolate variables and reverse engineer their algorithm.

I try to keep in mind that whatever seed I plant now will sprout in 3 months (sometimes immediately) and will grow into a strong tree within 6-12 months. The point being that if I have any lag time now, i'll see a gap in growth later and there will be nobody to blame but me.

It definitely sucks and is a good reason to have more than one thing to mess with, like Andrey said. Maybe have another site to cycle through, have a service you offer, etc.

Another thing is, once you're earning, just treat it like a day job and your monthly checks from the affiliate programs as a paycheck. And have something else in the forefront of your mind as the main emphasis, like any other project. Or even some sub-aspect of the main project.

There's a lot you can do that's not SEO for your project that can earn you immediate feedback, like traditional marketing and traffic leaking. For me, I always like the idea of having some daily schedule like "publish X articles and acquire X links" then use the rest of the time to do normal marketing. But it rarely works out for me. I always get side tracked.
 

stackcash

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Simple: Always be building.

There's an endless number of tasks that can be done regardless of whether or not we have the feedback from any one particular task.

Done with on-site SEO? Go build links to it. Go share it in online communities. Go drop it on Quora. (you could probably do offsite for the page endlessly until you got your onsite feedback...or until you went crazy).

Done with offsite? Go work on technical.

Done with technical? Go create your operations guides?

Done with all your SOPS? Go do some accounting and see if you have money to hire someone to carry out the SOPs.

Have the money? Go hire someone. Create your lists of traits that you want in an employee. Determine how you're going to keep them engaged. Post the job ad. Interview. Re-interview. Test. Hire.

Don't have the money? Why? Overspending somewhere? Analyze your finances. Find ways to cut unnecessary spending.

etc etc etc

There's always something IN the business that can keep you in the zone. If you're bored, you're overlooking something.
 

Calamari

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Simple: Always be building.
Exactly. I'm in a constant cycle of either adding content or getting links to content. Every link or content piece is a seed that needs time to grow so I just keep planting seeds.

Once they've grown a bit I go back into the data to see what type of tree or weed had sprouted and then I add a specific fertilizer. But it takes months before you get that type of feedback so just keep planting seeds.