Zen of Search: The SEO Beginner’s Mind

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

We are so encouraged, personally and professionally to become an expert. We must become a “pro” a “guru” or a “master” in order to be successful. I’m not sure where that got started, but let me say it’s a bunch of bull.

When I was starting out with SEO, or specifically when I was working with the web for the sole purpose of placing well on search engines, my mind was a blank canvas. I had maybe some best practices in mind, some web navigation concepts, but my beginners mind was clear, and open.

I was free to be creative, to brainstorm, to dream.



There is a lot of talk in the Social Media space about these self proclaimed “experts” or “gurus” and often those I find I truly respect (Colleen Pence and Holly Hoffman to name a few) are the ones who own up to being a permanent student. To knowing how much there still is to learn.

Shunryu Suzuki wrote in his book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” If we spend our time pushing so hard to be an expert, we’re saying that we can define perfection, we can be the best Social Media consultants, and we can optimize the perfect web site for SEO.

That simply isn’t possible. The world is change. We need to champion the people who stand up and shout “I HAVE MORE TO LEARN” and we need to be very wary of the people who get up and say “I KNOW IT ALL!”

I’ve hired a new person recently, who you’ll learn more about soon, as we approach Season Two. What I loved about speaking with her, she and I being a lot alike, was just how much she wanted to learn.

“Show me how to do that.”

“How does this work?”

“Teach me why this is important.”

A beginners mind is a valuable thing. Of course, sometimes dreams are unrealistic and it takes experience to know when something will or won’t work, but when we decide to label ourselves as an expert, to declare our own mastery of something, we’ve decided we’ve learned all there is to learn.

There is always something new, especially with SEO, and to close ourselves off to change and to continued learning, is to fail.

Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting firm Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.