De quoi s’agit-il?

At the Edinburgh SEO Class, I was asked “what makes you a successful seo black hat?”

I responded something like:

“There was this passage in the Guns of August about a French General’s famous aphorism ‘What is the essence of the Problem?’ I think that quote applies to winning both on the battlefield and online.

The one thing that you need to be able to do as a black hat is break things down to their simplest forms; to find the essence of the problem. For example, ask questions like ‘how exactly did the sites that now rank get to #1?’ and ‘if links make you rank, what can could I do to automate the process of getting millions of links?’ or maybe even ‘How can I go from making one site that makes $100 a month to automating the process of making hundreds or thousands of similar sites?’

Exactly what needs to be done to accomplish my goals? What is the essence of the problem?

That’s why today black hats are looking at how to abuse things like ‘bounce rate’ or ‘feed subscription data’ to beef up factors that may already be used to rank pages and sites. Are the things that are used for quality score being used to rank sites? It looks like it – so what can we do to game those factors in our favor?

It’s that problem solving nature that keeps us excited, keeps the game evolving, and keeps the winners at the top.”

Going back to the recalled passage, I noticed that 2 other critical elements to battlefield success translate almost 100 years later to online success. Here’s Passage from the The Guns of August (emphasis mine):

“General Ferdinand Foch was the molder of French military the­ory of his time. Foch’s mind, like a heart, contained two valves: one pumped spirit into strategy; the other circulated common sense. On the one hand Foch preached a mystique of will expressed in his famous aphorisms, “The will to conquer is the first condition of victory,” or more succinctly, “Victoire c’est la volonte,” and, “A battle won is a battle in which one will not confess oneself beaten.”

In practice this was to become the famous order at the Marne to attack when the situation called for retreat. His officers of those days remember him bellowing, “Attack! Attack!” with furious, sweeping gestures while he dashed about in short rushes as if charged by an electric battery. Why, he was later asked, did he advance at the Marne when he was technically beaten? “Why? I don’t know. Because of my men, because I had a will. And then—God was there.”

Though a profound student of Clausewitz, Foch did not, like Clause-witz’s German successors, believe in a foolproof schedule of battle worked out in advance. Rather he taught the necessity of perpetual adaptability and improvisation to fit circumstances. “Regulations,” he would say, “are all very well for drill but in the hour of danger they are no more use…. You have to learn to think.” To think meant to give room for freedom of initiative, for the imponderable to win over the material, for will to demon­strate its power over circumstance.

But the idea that morale alone could conquer, Foch warned, was an “infantile notion.” From his flights of metaphysics he would descend at once, in his lectures and his prewar books Les Principes de la Guerre and La Conduite de la Guerre, to the earth of tactics, the placing of advance guards, the necessity of surete, or protection, the elements of firepower, the need for obedience and discipline. The realistic half of his teaching was summed up in another aphorism he made familiar during the war, “De quoi s’agit-il?” (What is the essence of the problem?)

The main takeaway are – to win in battle and online:

1. You need the will to conquer. Without that underlying will to succeed, you’re going to lose to those of greater will.

2. You have to learn to think.

3. You need to define “What is the essence of the problem”. Then, of course, you just solve the problem.

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2 Responses to “De quoi s’agit-il?”

  1. indigoweb says:

    Hey Quads

    Very interesting and thought provoking post. Thanks Man.

    Mark

  2. [...] In my opinion, these terms are useless and are simply used in an attempt to explain the world of SEO to outsiders or newbies.  Unfortunately, instead of informing these parties, they simply add to the confusion.  Because of the strong associations that the colors carry, when someone hears the term Black Hat SEO, their mind immediately jumps to an evil pharmacy spammer that uses a script to spam blog comments.  While there are people that engage in these types of activities, true “Black Hat SEOs” are usually individuals with a strong analytical sense and higher technical abilities than the average SEO.  When asked “what makes you a successful SEO Black Hat,” Quadszilla responded: The one thing that you need to be able to do as a black hat is break things down to their simplest forms; to find the essence of the problem. For example, ask questions like ‘how exactly did the sites that now rank get to #1?’ and ‘if links make you rank, what can could I do to automate the process of getting millions of links?’ or maybe even ‘How can I go from making one site that makes $100 a month to automating the process of making hundreds or thousands of similar sites?’ [...]