Before you all go and unsubscribe let me explain what I mean..
We are fortunate to work in an industry where sharing information is commonplace. Research is shared, Ideas are shared and even Finacials are shared. If you have a question, there is probably someone out there who has already blogged about the answer.
I, like many others can attribute a large chunk of what I know to the various blogs and forums I have read over the last 4 or 5 years. My first foray into SEO came via the Cre8asite Forums where I used to hang around reading all I could. I remember reading that Ammon Johns used to do a days work researching and testing and then he would start his day job.
> Research is something that takes time. In my first few years I spent upto 8 hours a day just on researching stuff. Ammon Johns - Cre8asite
Now, I've done and continue to do research. I read (a lot), I have websites that only exist to test a hypothesis, but I'd love to be able to do more. Its not that I don't trust the answers that are out there, its just that you learn so much more when you do the research yourself.
##Research is key
Second hand research is (often) better than no research, but there are times when the research is just plain wrong, or taken out of context. I could point you to this article, as proof that you should always use "click here" as your anchor text.
If you aren't constantly researching what works and doesn't work then you are always relying on second hand knowledge. I'm not saying that you shouldn't listen to what people are saying and shouldn't take on board a lot of excellent advice but you do need to take everything with a pinch of salt.
To (semi) prove my point let me ask you this. If you came across the big secret - a magic bullet that enabled you to constantly gain top rankings would you tell anyone? I'm not sure I would, that big secret would be gold dust, up until I told everyone, at which point it would be worth diddly squat.
People are discovering, using and then blogging about these magic bullets all the time - but by the time you hear about them it's always a bit too late. In order to capitalise on them you should be trying to discover your own secret bullet. You'll never do that unless you experiment
##Paralyzed with fear
I'm sure everyone reading this post can point to numerous sources telling me the power of directory links isn't what it used to be, reciprocal links are worse than useless and that paid links are bad. Recently even the 'saviour of SEO' link bait has been questioned by a couple of sources, saying it won't be as effective as it used to be, and that such a massive spike of traffic and links won't count for much.
Taken in isolation each post you read may stop you and make you think. 10 minutes later you continue along your link buying, directory stuffing, reciprocal linking way.
Just like chinese water torture will drive you insane, however the constant posts bashing everything you currently do may eventually stop you doing what you have always done. You change your tried and tested methods. Things stop working and you're not sure why, you've stopped getting reciprocal links (well they are worthless anyway), you haven't submitted to a directory in years (not what they used to be you know) and you would certainly never even dream of paying for a link (spawn of the devil).
I love this industry, but the echo chamber can be a deafening place to be. Sometimes you need to chillax, plug yourself in and ignore what is happening around you and find out for yourselves.
I can promise you this, I will still continue to read the industry blogs I subscribe to (what else would I do in the evening when Suzi is watching corrie?), and I will continue to trust most of what they say. However I know that if I only listen to what they have to say I can only ever be second best, and that isn't quite good enough.