Tag Archive | "Ignore"

In a World, Where Your Marketing Is Too Intelligent to Ignore …

You have the opportunity to help your ideal prospects with the problems they struggle with or the desires they’d like…

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10 Link Building Lies You Must Ignore

Posted by David_Farkas

Even though link building has been a trade for more than a decade, it’s clear that there is still an enormous amount of confusion around it.

Every so often, there is a large kerfuffle. Some of these controversies and arguments arise simply from a necessity to fill a content void, but some of them arise from genuine concern and confusion:

“Don’t ask for links!”

“Stick a fork in it, guest posting is done!”

“Try to avoid link building!”

SEO is an everchanging industry; what worked yesterday might not work today. Google’s personnel doesn’t always help the cause. In fact, they often add fuel to the fire. That’s why I want to play the role of “link building myth-buster” today. I’ve spent over ten years in link building, and I’ve seen it all.

I was around for Penguin, and every iteration since. I was around for the launch of Hummingbird. And I was even around for the Matt Cutts videos.

So, if you’re still confused about link building, read through to have ten of the biggest myths in the business dispelled.

1. If you build it, they will come

There is a notion among many digital marketers and SEOs that if you simply create great content and valuable resources, the users will come to you. If you’re already a widely-recognized brand/website, this can be a true statement. If, however, you are like the vast majority of websites — on the outside looking in — this could be a fatal mindset.

In order to get people to find you, you have to build the roads that will lead them to where you want. This is where link building comes in.

A majority of people searching Google end up clicking on organic results. In fact, for every click on a paid result in Google, there are 11.6 clicks to organic results!

And in order to build your rankings in search engines, you need links.

Which brings me to our second myth around links.

2. You don’t need links to rank

I can’t believe that there are still people who think this in 2019, but there are. That’s why I recently published a case study regarding a project I was working on.

To sum it up briefly, the more authoritative, relevant backlinks I was able to build, the higher the site ranked for its target keywords. This isn’t to say that links are the only factor in Google’s algorithm that matters, but there’s no doubt that a robust and relevant backlink profile goes a long way.

3. Only links with high domain authority matter

As a link builder, you should definitely seek target sites with high metrics. However, they aren’t the only prospects that should matter to you.

Sometimes a low domain authority (DA) might just be an indication that it is a new site. But forget about the metrics for one moment. Along with authority, relevancy matters. If a link prospect is perfectly relevant to your website, but it has a low DA, you should still target it. In fact, most sites that will be so relevant to yours will likely not have the most eye-popping metrics, and that is precisely because they are so niche. But more often than not, relevancy is more important than DA.

When you focus solely on metrics, you will lose out on highly relevant opportunities. A link that sends trust signals is more valuable than a link that has been deemed important by metrics devised by entities other than Google.

Another reason why is because Google’s algorithm looks for diversity in your backlink profile. You might think that a profile with over 100 links, all of which have a 90+ DA would be the aspiration. In fact, Google will look at it as suspect. So while you should absolutely target high DA sites, don’t neglect the “little guys.”

4. You need to build links to your money pages

When I say “money pages,” I mean the pages where you are specifically looking to convert, whether its users into leads or leads into sales.

You would think that if you’re going to put in the effort to build the digital highways that will lead traffic to your website, you would want all of that traffic to find these money pages, right?

In reality, though, you should take the exact opposite approach. First off, approaching sites that are in your niche and asking them to link to your money pages will come off as really spammy/aggressive. You’re shooting yourself in the foot.

But most importantly, these money pages are usually not pages that have the most valuable information. Webmasters are much more likely to link to a page with resourceful information or exquisitely created content, not a page displaying your products or services.

Building links to your linkable assets (more on that in a second) will increase your chances of success and will ultimately raise the profile of your money pages in the long run as well.

5. You have to create the best, most informative linkable asset

If you’re unfamiliar with what a linkable asset is exactly, it’s a page on your website designed specifically to attract links/social shares. Assets can come in many forms: resource pages, funny videos, games, etc.

Of course, linkable assets don’t grow on trees, and the process of coming up with an idea for a valuable linkable asset won’t be easy. This is why some people rely on “the skyscraper technique.” This is when you look at the linkable assets your competitors have created, you choose one, and you simply try to outdo it with something bigger and better.

This isn’t a completely ineffective technique, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to do this.

Linkable assets don’t need to be word-heavy “ultimate guides” or heavily-researched reports. Instead of building something that really only beats your competitor’s word count, do your own research and focus on building an authoritative resource that people in your niche will be interested in.

The value of a linkable asset has much more to do with finding the right angle and the accuracy of the information you’re providing than the amount.

6. The more emails you send, the more links you will get

I know several SEOs who like to cast a wide net — they send out emails to anyone and every one that even has the tiniest bit of relevancy of authority within their niche. It’s an old sales principle: The idea that more conversations will lead to more purchases/conversions. And indeed in sales, this is usually going to be the case. 

In link building? Not so much.

This is because, in link building, your chances of getting someone to link to you are increased when the outreach you send is more thoughtful/personalized. Webmasters pore over emails on top of emails on top of emails, so much so that it’s easy to pass over the generic ones.

They need to be effectively persuaded as to the value of linking to your site. If you choose to send emails to any site with a pulse, you won’t have time to create specific outreach for each valuable target site.

7. The only benefit of link building is algorithmic

As I mentioned earlier, links are fundamental to Google’s algorithm. The more quality backlinks you build, the more likely you are to rank for your target keywords in Google.

This is the modus operandi for link building. But it is not the only reason to build links. In fact, there are several non-algorithmic benefits which link building can provide.

First off, there’s brand visibility. Link building will make you visible not only to Google in the long term but to users in the immediate term. When a user comes upon a resource list with your link, they aren’t thinking about how it benefits your ranking in Google; they just might click your link right then and there.

Link building can also lead to relationship building. Because of link building’s very nature, you will end up conversing with many potential influencers and authority figures within your niche. These conversations don’t have to end as soon as they place your link.

In fact, if the conversations do end there every time, you’re doing marketing wrong. Take advantage of the fact that you have their attention and see what else you can do for each other.

8. You should only pursue exact match anchors

Not all myths are born out of complete and utter fiction. Some myths persist because they have an element of truth to them or they used to be true. The use of exact match anchor text is such a myth.

In the old days of SEO/link building, one of the best ways to get ahead was to use your target keywords/brand name as the anchor text for your backlinks. Keyword stuffing and cloaking were particularly effective as well.

But times have changed in SEO, and I would argue mostly for the better. When Google sees a backlink profile that uses only a couple of variations of anchor text, you are now open to a penalty. It’s now considered spammy. To Google, it does not look like a natural backlink profile.

As such, it’s important to note now that the quality of the link itself is far more important than the anchor text that comes with it.

It really should be out of your hands anyway. When you’re link building the right way, you are working in conjunction with the webmasters who are publishing your link. You do not have 100 percent control of the situation, and the webmaster will frequently end up using the anchor text of their choice.

So sure, you should optimize your internal links with optimized anchor text when possible, but keep in mind that it is best to have diverse anchor text distribution.

9. Link building requires technical abilities

Along with being a link builder, I am also an employer. When hiring other link builders, one skepticism I frequently come across relates to technical skills. Many people who are unfamiliar with link building think that it requires coding or web development ability.

While having such abilities certainly won’t hurt you in your link building endeavors, I’m here to tell you that they aren’t at all necessary. Link building is more about creativity, communication, and strategy than it is knowing how to write a for loop in javascript.

If you have the ability to effectively persuade, create valuable content, or identify trends, you can build links.

10. All follow links provide equal value

Not all links are created equally, and I’m not even talking about the difference between follow links and no-follow links. Indeed, there are distinctions to be made among just follow links.

Let’s take .edu links, for example. These links are some of the most sought after for link builders, as they are thought to carry inordinate power. Let’s say you have two links from the same .edu website. They are both on the same domain, same authority, but they are on different pages. One is on the scholarship page, the other is on a professor’s resource page which has been carefully curated.

They are both do-follow links, so naturally, they should both carry the same weight, right?

Fail. Search engines are smart enough to know the difference between a hard-earned link and a link that just about anyone can submit to.

Along with this, the placement of a link on a page matters. Even if two links are on the exact same page (not just the same domain) a link that is above-the-fold (a link you can see without scrolling) will carry more weight.

Conclusion

Link building and SEO are not rocket science. There’s a lot of confusion out there, thanks mainly to the fact that Google’s standards change rapidly and old habits die hard, and the answers and strategies you seek aren’t always obvious.

That said, the above points are some of the biggest and most pervasive myths in the industry. Hopefully, I was able to clear them up for you.

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The 5 Golden Rules Of Expectation Management And Why You Can’t Ignore Them

If you have a good memory, you may recall a few weeks just before Steve Jobs passed on, Apple stock dropped a good few percentage points. It wasn’t because of Steve’s death that brought the valuation down, because that was factored into the stock market years ago when he first began to get sick, it […]

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5 SEO Trends Digital Marketers Should Not Ignore in 2017

Anyone who has worked in the SEO field for a while would surely know that there is no fixed rule in the game. To consistently outperform your rival, it is necessary to master the trends as they come or be swept away into oblivion.

For 2017, here are the top 5 trends in SEO that will give your brand more visibility online:

Smarter AIs Could Change Algorithms

One of the major factors that could affect SEO in 2017 is, of course, the latest advancements in artificial intelligence technology. Everyone should expect the way search engines work to change as smarter AIs join the game.

Google users should expect changes on how the popular search engine does the work for them. In late 2016, Google RankBrain was unleashed, paving the way for the search engine to learn how people use the facility.

The latest Hummingbird extension boasts of an algorithmic machine learning technology with the end goal of improving the search experience for users. According to Forbes, RankBrain enabled Google to learn how people use phrases in their queries and, with the information, update the search engine’s algorithm accordingly. Of course, this means that content providers must relearn things if necessary and adapt to the changing search landscape. The previous update left many webmasters grumbling when they found out that their articles hardly make it to the coveted “Top Stories” section anymore.

The rising popularity of digital assistants, such as Siri and Cortana, is also changing the way people make searches online. This means that with the increasing use of these intelligent digital assistants, advanced forms of conversational queries will increase, opening up another segment that companies could target.

AMP Gets Amped

While desktop computing won’t exactly disappear, search engine use is projected to see the most growth in the mobile segment. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project protocol anticipates this trend and is in place to make content optimized for mobile browsing.

Pages running on AMP get loaded on mobiles devices four times faster than regular ones. In fact, Google favors AMP content. Since last February, Google has been marking AMP sites with a lightning bolt icon and featuring them more prominently in search results.

Going AMP would also benefit users in the long run. Pages load faster because it uses 8 times less data compared to a regular page. And of course, everyone knows that loading speed is a big factor in viewer retention.

Branding Goes Personal

Some industry watchers predict that personal branding is the way to go to be successful with your online campaign. Of course, that is not saying that you should do away with the corporate brand, but there are advantages when people within an organization tell their own stories. Think of personal branding as a way to complement a company’s SEO efforts and how it reaches out to its online customers.

Nowadays, corporations have to deal with being perceived by consumers as manipulative and greedy. Therefore, engaging consumers on a personal level is seen as the solution to diffuse this consumer wariness. By providing a personal identity that corporations naturally lack, personal branding makes it easier for consumers to trust the brand.

In addition, posting on a personal level amplifies the reach of a company. For instance, if a CEO of a company has three personal accounts on social media for this purpose, he is multiplying his corporate exposure as all of these accounts can grow their own follower base independently. In addition, these separate accounts can be used to target different segments of the market, which could result in a more customized posting that could potentially increase engagement.

UEO Meets SEO

Another important trend to watch out for is the rising importance of UEO in SEO. In fact, there are indications that user experience optimization (UEO) is going to become more important in SEO rankings.

Google is now giving hints that it may give more weight to user experience in its search result. One such hint is that the search engine giant seems to favor pages that load quickly with its preference for AMP content.

If the trend continues, the next step would be for Google to favor pages that offer a more enjoyable user experience. One metric that could come into play is the length of time a visitor stays on a page– staying a long time usually means that the visitor enjoys the content. While user experience has been an important metric in ranking pages for some time now, it looks like it’s going to become even more important in future versions of the search algorithm. The bottom line is that webmasters should post quality content in well-designed sites that most people will enjoy.

Content Gets Denser

Speaking of content, there is another trend that experts are predicting– the rise of denser content. According to Smart Insights, there was a time when tons of brief but “fluffy” content-wise posts sufficed, which was eventually replaced by lengthy, seemingly complicated content to rank in SEO. However, those two extremes are now being replaced by what is referred to as Dense Content.

Simply put, Dense Content is when one offers tons of information using the smallest space possible. Of course, this presents an entirely new challenge which would definitely involve some spark of creativity and the flair for creating stunning visuals. But of course, the challenge is what makes SEO very interesting.

[Featured Image by Pixabay]

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Google to further dilute exact match in AdWords; will ignore word order & function words

Not just for plurals anymore, close variants will extend to include word ordering and function words in inexact match keywords.

The post Google to further dilute exact match in AdWords; will ignore word order & function words appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Weird, Crazy Myths About Link Building in SEO You Should Probably Ignore – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The rules of link building aren’t always black and white, and getting it wrong can sometimes result in frustrating consequences. But where’s the benefit in following rules that don’t actually exist? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand addresses eight of the big link building myths making their rounds across the web.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about some of the weird and crazy myths that have popped up around link building. We’ve actually been seeing them in the comments of some of our blog posts and Whiteboard Fridays and Q&A. So I figured, hey, let’s try and set the record straight here.

1. Never get links from sites with a lower domain authority than your own

What? No, that is a terrible idea. Domain authority, just to be totally clear, it’s a machine learning system that we built here at Moz. It takes and looks at all the metrics. It builds the best correlation it can against Google’s rankings across a broad set of keywords, similar to the MozCast 10K. Then it’s trying to represent, all other things being equal and just based on raw link authority, how well would this site perform against other sites in Google’s rankings for a random keyword? That does not in any way suggest whether it is a quality website that gives good editorial links, that Google is likely to count, that are going to give you great ranking ability, that are going to send good traffic to you. None of those things are taken into account with domain authority.

So when you’re doing link building, I think DA can be a decent sorting function, just like Spam Score can. But those two metrics don’t mean that something is necessarily a terrible place or a great place to get a link from. Yes, it tends to be the case that links from 80- or 90-plus DA sites tend to be very good, because those sites tend to give a lot of authority. It tends to be the case that links from sub-10 or 20 tend to not add that much value and maybe fail to have a high Spam Score. You might want to look more closely at them before deciding whether you should get a link.

But new websites that have just popped up or sites that have very few links or local links, that is just fine. If they are high-quality sites that give out links editorially and they link to other good places, you shouldn’t fret or worry that just because their DA is low, they’re going to provide no value or low value or hurt you. None of those things are the case.

2. Never get links from any directories

I know where this one comes from. We have talked a bunch about how low-quality directories, SEO-focused directories, paid link directories tend to be very bad places to get links from. Google has penalized not just a lot of those directories, but many of the sites whose link profiles come heavily from those types of domains.

However, lots and lots of resource lists, link lists, and directories are also of great quality. For example, I searched for a list of Portland bars — Portland, Oregon, of course known for their amazing watering holes. I found PDX Monthly’s list of Portland’s best bars and taverns. What do you know? It’s a directory. It’s a total directory of bars and taverns in Portland. Would you not want to be on there if you were a bar in Portland? Of course, you would want to be on there. You definitely want those. There’s no question. Give me that link, man. That is a great freaking link. I totally want it.

This is really about using your good judgment and about saying there’s a difference between SEO and paid link directories and a directory that lists good, authentic sites because it’s a resource. You should definitely get links from the latter, not so much from the former.

3. Don’t get links too fast or you’ll get penalized

Let’s try and think about this. Like Google has some sort of penalty line where they look at, “Oh, well, look at that. We see in August, Rand got 17 links. He was under at 15 in July, but then he got 17 links in August. That is too fast. We’re going to penalize him.”

No, this is definitely not the case. I think what is the case, and Google has filed some patent applications around this in the past with spam, is that a pattern of low-quality links or spammy-looking links that are coming at a certain pace may trigger Google to take a more close look at a site’s link profile or at their link practices and could trigger a penalty.

Yes. If you are doing sketchy, grey hat/black hat link building with your private networks, your link buys, and your swapping schemes, and all these kinds of things, yeah, it’s probably the case that if you get them too fast, you’ll trip over some sort of filter that Google has got. But if you’re doing the kind of link building that we generally recommend here on Whiteboard Friday and at Moz more broadly, you don’t have risk here. I would not stress about this at all. So long as your links are coming from good places, don’t worry about the pace of them. There’s no such thing as too fast.

4. Don’t link out to other sites, or you’ll leak link equity, or link juice, or PageRank

…or whatever it is. I really like this illustration of the guys who are like, “My link juice. No!” This is just crap.

All right, again, it’s a myth rooted in some fact. Historically, a long time ago, PageRank used to flow in a certain way, and it was the case that if a page had lots of links pointing out from it, that if I had four links, that a quarter each of the PageRank that this page could pass would go to each of them. So if I added one more, oh, now that’s one-fifth, then that becomes one-fifth, and that becomes one-fifth. This is old, old, old-school SEO. This is not the way things are anymore.

PageRank is not the only piece of ranking algorithmic goodness that Google is using in their systems. You should not be afraid of linking out. You should not be afraid of linking out without a “nofollow” link. You, in fact, should link out. Linking out is not only correlated with higher rankings. There have also been a bunch of studies and research suggesting that there’s something causal going on, because when followed links were added to pages, those pages actually outranked their non-link-carrying brethren in a bunch of tests. I’ll try and link to that test in the Whiteboard Friday. But regardless to say, don’t stress about this.

5. Variations in anchor text should be kept to precise proportions

So this idea that essentially there’s some magic formula for how many of your keyword anchor text, anchor phrases should be branded, partially branded, keyword match links that are carrying anchor text that’s specifically for the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and random assorted anchor texts and that you need some numbers like these, also a crazy idea.

Again, rooted in some fact, the fact being if you are doing sketchy forms of link building of any kind, it’s probably the case that Google will take a look at the anchor text. If they see that lots of things are kind of keyword-matchy and very few things contain your brand, that might be a trigger for them to look more closely. Or it might be a trigger for them to say, “Hey, there’s some kind of problem. We need to do a manual review on this site.”

So yes, if you are in the grey/black hat world of link acquisition, sure, maybe you should pay some attention to how the anchor text looks. But again, if you’re following the advice that you get here on Whiteboard Friday and at Moz, this is not a concern.

6. Never ask for a link directly or you risk penalties

This one I understand, because there have been a bunch of cases where folks or organizations have sent out emails, for example, to their customers saying, “Hey, if you link to us from your website, we’ll give you a discount,” or, “Hey, we’d like you to link to this resource, and in exchange this thing will happen,” something or other. I get that those penalties and that press around those types of activities has made certain people sketched out. I also get that a lot of folks use it as kind of blackmail against someone. That sucks.

Google may take action against people who engage in manipulative link practices. But for example, let’s say the press writes about you, but they don’t link to you. Is asking for a link from that piece a bad practice? Absolutely not. Let’s say there’s a directory like the PDX Monthly, and they have a list of bars and you’ve just opened a new one. Is asking them for a link directly against the rules? No, certainly not. So there are a lot of good ways that you can directly ask for links and it is just fine. When it’s appropriate and when you think there’s a match, and when there’s no sort of bribery or paid involvement, you’re good. You’re fine. Don’t stress about it.

7. More than one link from the same website is useless

This one is rooted in the idea that, essentially, diversity of linking domains is an important metric. It tends to be the case that sites that have more unique domains linking to them tend to outrank their peers who have only a few sites linking to them, even if lots of pages on those individual sites are providing those links.

But again, I’m delighted with my animation here of the guys like, “No, don’t link to me a second time. Oh, my god, Smashing Magazine.” If Smashing Magazine is going to link to you from 10 pages or 50 pages or 100 pages, you should be thrilled about that. Moz has several links from Smashing Magazine, because folks have written nice articles there and pointed to our tools and resources. That is great. I love it, and I also want more of those.

You should definitely not be saying “no.” You shouldn’t be stopping your link efforts around a site, especially if it’s providing great traffic and high-quality visits from those links pointing to you. It’s not just the case that links are there for SEO. They’re also there for the direct traffic that they pass, and so you should definitely be investing in those.

8. Links from non-relevant sites or sites or pages or content that’s outside your niche won’t help you rank better

This one, I think, is rooted in that idea that Google is essentially looking and saying like, “Hey, we want to see that there’s relevance and a real reason for Site A to link to Site B.” But if a link is editorial, if it’s coming from a high-quality place, if there’s a reason for it to exist beyond just, “Hey, this looks like some sort of sketchy SEO ploy to boost rankings,” Googlebot is probably going to count that link and count it well.

I would not be worried about the fact that if I’m coffeekin.com and I’m selling coffee online or have a bunch of coffee resources and corvettecollectors.com wants to link to me or they happen to link to me, I’m not going to be scared about that. In fact, I would say that, the vast majority of the time, off-topic links from places that have nothing to do with your website are actually very, very helpful. They tend to be hard for your competitors to get. They’re almost always editorially given, especially when they’re earned links rather than sort of cajoled or bought links or manipulative links. So I like them a lot, and I would not urge you to avoid those.

So with that in mind, if you have other link ideas, link myths, or link facts that you think you’ve heard and you want to verify them, please, I invite you to leave them in the comments below. I’ll jump in there, a bunch of our associates will jump in there, folks from the community will jump in, and we’ll try and sort out what’s myth versus reality in the link building world.

Take care. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Everyone recommends that you set up custom 404/410 pages, so that if someone lands on the page…


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Why You Must Not Ignore The Call to Adventure

closeup of hands holding a map

The following is an excerpt from Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life.

In ancient myths, most quests were ones of discovery or confrontation.

A kingdom was under siege, so it required defending. A minotaur in a faraway land guarded a magic chalice, and only the hero could wrest it back.

Happily, real-world quests offer more possibilities than storming castles and rescuing princesses, and with some exceptions modern-day quests can be placed into a few broad categories.

Travel is an obvious starting point.

As I searched for stories and recruited submissions from readers, I learned of many people who set out to circumnavigate the globe in different fashions or be the first to accomplish a challenging goal far from home.

Branching out beyond travel, the categories of learning, documenting, and athleticism were also fairly self-explanatory.

The happiness of pursuit

When an independent learner from Canada decided to tackle the four-year M.I.T. Computer Science curriculum in just one year, publishing his test scores along the way, this was clearly a quest oriented around learning and achievement.

When a young woman who competed in international competitions decided to adopt and train an especially difficult horse — eventually placing near the top in an important European championship — this was clearly an athletic pursuit.

Perhaps more interesting than topical categories is the broader question of why people pursue quests and adventures.

The answers can fit into categories too, albeit ones that are not as tightly boxed.

A taxonomy of adventure

As I traveled the world and traversed my inbox, a few themes kept coming up:

Self-Discovery

Just as heroes of old set off on a horse to chase their dreams into an enchanted forest, many people still follow a path to “find” themselves.

Nate Damm, who walked across America, and Tom Allen, who set out to cycle the planet from his town in England, originally left home merely because they could.

They wanted to challenge themselves by learning more about the world. Some of their friends and family understood their desire to set out on a big journey — both gave up jobs to do so — but others didn’t get it.

“This is just something I need to do,” Nate said. “It’s about letting a little risk into your life,” Tom explained.

Reclaiming

In days of old, reclaiming was about taking back the land.

Recall Mel Gibson in his classic Braveheart performance standing on a hill and shouting “Freeeee-dooom!” in defense of Scotland against the tyrant Englishmen from the south.

Many people still pursue quests of reclaiming, though not usually with swords and shields.

Sasha Martin, a woman raising a family in Oklahoma, had grown up living abroad and wanted to introduce her household to an awareness of different cultures. She couldn’t travel to foreign lands, at least not at the time, so she decided to make a meal from every country, complete with an entire menu and mini-celebration.

From the frontiers of Alaska, Howard Weaver led a scrappy team that took on an establishment newspaper. In an epic battle that stretched for years, Howard and his staff fought to present a “voice of the people” against a better-funded, big-business paper.

Response to external events

Sandi Wheaton, a career employee for General Motors, was laid off at the height of the auto industry’s downturn in 2009.

Instead of choosing the usual strategy (panic, then do everything you can to get another job), she took off for an extended trip, taking photos and documenting the journey as she went along.

My own quest to visit every country initially came from a post 9/11 experience, after which I wanted to find a way to meaningfully contribute. My soul-searching led to four years on a hospital ship in West Africa, which sparked everything that would come later.

Desire for ownership and empowerment

Julie Johnson, a blind woman who trained her own guide dog, said that she was motivated at least partly by the pressure put on her not to do it her own way.

“Probably the biggest reason is that it felt right,” she told me. “I needed to do this Big Thing. I didn’t know then that it was a Big Thing. I just knew it was something that I needed to do for myself. If I didn’t, I’d always wonder about what could have been.”

This perspective — “If I didn’t try, I’d always wonder what might have happened” — showed up again and again in the stories I came across.

Taking a stand for something.

Some people I met were essentially missionaries or crusaders for their cause, sharing their story with anyone who’d listen and building alliances along the way.

Miranda Gibson, for example, spent more than a year living in a tree in Tasmania, protesting illegal logging.

Others devoted their lives toward something they believed in, sacrificing income and time (and sometimes more) to give all that they could.

There’s an adventure waiting for you, too

In The Happiness of Pursuit, you’ll encounter dozens of incredible stories. You’ll meet the people I’ve mentioned thus far and many more.

And, fortunately, you’ll realize that the vast majority of these stories are about normal people doing remarkable things.

Real-life adventure isn’t only about traveling the world (although many of this book’s stories do involve travel) nor is a quest always about leaving home (although it often involves breaking out of a comfort zone).

Sure, there are exceptions: the story of John “Maddog” Wallace comes to mind.

Wallace pulled off the feat of running 250 marathons in a single year, ignoring a legion of sports doctors and athletes who all said such a thing was impossible.

You may be interested in why he did it, or even how he did it — but it’s not likely you’ll try the same thing.

That’s okay, though.

As I’ve said, most of this book’s “cast of characters” are ordinary, in the sense that they don’t have special powers or abilities.

Their quests — and in many cases, their accomplishments — were extraordinary, but for the most part these individuals were successful not because of innate talent, but because of choices and dedication.

Much of the time, the goal grew in proportion with time and experience.

Those I interviewed often spoke of their perceived feebleness, or of their belief that “anyone” could do what they did — but as you’ll see, few would have the resolve to persist as they did.

Attempt something remarkable

In addition to satisfying my own curiosity, I wrote this book to inspire you to attempt something remarkable of your own. Look closely here and you’ll see a path you can follow, no matter your goal.

Everyone who pursues a quest learns many lessons along the way. Some relate to accomplishment, disillusionment, joy, and sacrifice — others to the specific project at hand.

But what if you could learn these lessons earlier? What if you could study with others who’ve invested years — sometimes decades — in the relentless pursuit of a dream?

That learning opportunity is what this book is about. You’ll sit with people who have pursued big adventures and crafted lives of purpose around something they found deeply meaningful. You’ll hear their stories and lessons.

You’ll learn what happened along the way, but more important, you’ll learn why it happened and why it matters.

Your next step

It’s my job as the author to provide a framework and issue a challenge. It’s yours to decide the next steps.

Perhaps, instead of just reading about other people’s stories, you’ll think about your own life.

What excites you? What bothers you?

If you could do anything at all without regard to time or money, what would it be?

As you progress through this book, you’ll see that it advances a clear argument: quests bring meaning and fulfillment to our lives.

If you’ve ever wondered if there’s more to life, you might discover a world of opportunity and challenge waiting for you.

You could think of your first quest as reading this book.

Make sure to pick up your copy of The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life.

Image by Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash.

About the Author: Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $ 100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

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