What is a “core competency”?
Simply put, it is the kind of work that you do best. We all wear multiple hats at our jobs. If you’re a journalist, you’re not only a writer but you’re also a reporter, a networker, a self promoter, and in some senses a psychologist (especially to your interview subjects) all rolled into one job description.
Most of us define ourselves professionally in one word — or in a handful of words — e.g. professor, physician, SEO guy, etc. But in reality, no only do we all wear lots of hats, but we also change hats at different times throughout the day and throughout our careers.
Your core competency is the hat that you wear best — the hat that makes you look dashing and daring and that fits you better than all the other hats. For instance, in our example with the journalist, maybe her best hat is her ability to extract confessional statements from her interview subjects.
Some of us already know what our core competencies are. Others have no clue. Still others have some kind of vague understanding.
The better you specify this key component, the easier it can be to accelerate your SEO career. Why? Because you only have so many resources and so much time and energy to work your SEO. Focus your energies towards improving the narrow competency that you excel at most, and you’ll grow even more in that arena and soon become one of the foremost experts in your field. (Of course, in order to monetize your core competency, you must make sure it’s monetizable in the first place! You may become the best pan-flutist-disco-dancer on the planet, but few people are going to pay you for that service, unless they are looking for some kind of freak to put on a YouTube video.)
Think about Olympic athletes. Apolo Ohno, for instance, is an awesome speed skater. Can he do figure skating? Who knows. He concentrates almost all of his training on becoming the best speed skater he can be. Everything else is secondary. And guess what? Thanks to that intense focus and discipline and practice, he’s won a fantastic bounty of medals — including several at the 2010 Olympics.
All this is to say that take some time to plan out what your SEO core competency is now, and don’t be one of the myriad “jacks of all trade” that populate the web. Specialize, become awesome at what you do, make sure that what you do is monetizable, and success and glory should inevitably follow.