Panda Problems? Penguin Problems? You’re Probably an Idiot!

I’ve heard a lot of complaining from SEOs who have sites that have plummeted over the past few months.  Some shaking their fists and blaming Google, some a little more realistic.  All complaining nonetheless.  And the one thing they had in common as SEOs, is they relied on some type of SEO crutch.  Within minutes each one told me exactly why they have disappeared, or they lost spots for their clients.  Always obvious.

And that’s the problem.  You’re too obvious.

I didn’t lose any spots anywhere, despite being known as pretty aggressive.  And it’s not because I had some super serious spygames moves.  It’s because I didn’t get too hyperfocused on specific things.  I just went out and got links, and got social mentions.  I tried when it made sense to use anchor text.  I didn’t bother scraping and harvesting links to my important sites (don’t get me wrong, for my crappy sites, I will try anything to see what happens).  I didn’t buy links from link networks.  I didn’t obsess over the PR or backlink portfolio of each potential link.  I just got them.  A lot of nofollows. Lots of branded links.  Lots of domain links.  Whatever.  I figured if I was able to look at a link portfolio and within seconds spot anchor text jamming, the multi-hundredaire engineers at Google could probably do the same.

So to avoid getting wiped out in the next Google update, I suggest you stop being a friggin idiot and trying to outsmart Google.  Know where the line is, but more importantly, know where the line COULD be.  And work within those guidelines but do so in an very aggressive manner, and eventually, you’ll have update proof rankings.  And you’ll see sites rise instead of fall when the next panda or penguin comes and wipes out all your less intelligent competition.

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Guess who’s baaaaaack!

It’s been, I don’t know, since 2009 since I last blogged. Spent a few years living the affiliate dream, and stepping up and staying low key until I was finally an advertiser. I learned a lot during that time, and the biggest thing I learned is: money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, I was ballin’ hard for a while, but I was a slave to it, and my personal life suffered. And being an affiliate is also risky. I would create campaign after campaign, most of them losing money and getting turned off, others showing promise and getting optimized to profitability, and a few looking good from launch and getting most of the attention. The wins far outweighed the losses.

But it wasn’t fun. Sure, being able to buy anything you want is a hoot, but it’s less fulfilling than one might think. And the risk has you worried all the time. Plus, the big losses were scary. My latest venture, being an advertiser of my own HCG product, was banned after spending a ton of money on it. It was at that point I decided, I am no longer happy living like this, and I wanted to find a good job doing what I do best.

Enter Instant Checkmate. I know the owner well, he’s a good friend and somebody I respect. He also has mutual respect for my skills based on my previous successes both as an affiliate and as a corporate SEO guy. So now, despite at one point claiming “I will never work for another man again,” I’m now consulting for them in a full time gig. Can you believe it?  And it’s a good company, as evidenced by their top rating at the Better Business Bureau.

My responsibilities currently are more simple.  Launch an Instant Checkmate Facebook Page, launch an Instant Checkmate Google + Profile, Create an Instant Checkmate Twitter Account, launch an Instant Checkmate MySpace Page (yes, people do still use it), beef up the  Instant Checkmate LinkedIn page etc.  But that’s just the get your feet wet grunt work.  The big picture, is big.  Most of it I cannot talk about, but what we will be rolling out in the next few months is nothing short of awesome.

So far, I’m loving it. Excited to make things happen, and excited that there are fewer roadblocks to becoming successful than you would see in the more conservative and typical corporate situation. They’re flexible, so I can continue spending lots of time with my family.

But most importantly, I’m loving the stability of having a full time job as opposed to being a “live by the sword, die by the sword” entrepreneur.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still entrepreneurial by nature, but there’s something to be said about a respectable job and knowing what’s coming next.  Money isn’t everything. It came to a point in my life, I needed to grow up and focus on the more important things. Family, home, friends, and more family. There will be plenty of room for professional growth in my new job, but for now, I am just happy to be more settled and stable.

Pubcon is Coming!

Are you ready for this?  Pubcon 2009 in Sunny Las Vegas is almost here.  And for the first time ever, I’m taking the podium.  Runnin’ with the big dawgs.  It’s in a few weeks and I still have yet to complete my presentation.

I’m screwed.

But at least my session is the first one, on the first day, so the chances of me nursing a killer hangover and possibly missing my speaking gig will be reduced by AT LEAST 15% – give or take.

If you know me, you know I’ve been a pretty hardcore SEO for about a decade.  And if you know me well, you know that I’ve pretty much transitioned myself into full bore affiliate marketer recently.  I still have a couple cool clients, but it’s no longer my core focus.  At the time when I put in my request to speak at Pubcon,  I was still seeking clients aggressively.  And my strength to date has been corporate SEO.  And that’s what I’ll be speaking about.  How to build and in-house SEO team.

For my ex-competitors, you’ll get the sauce.  Might be worth a look eh?

The rest of the week, I’ll be chasing Lisa Barone around in hopes of getting a kiss on the cheek… or something.  I’ll hopefully be the proud winner of a personal assistant (brought to you by the same guys who inspired and caused DRINKBAIT) to help me build beer bongs and make people take shots.  And I will be buying shots for SURE for those people who supported my efforts in the Anthem Relay for Life.  Some awesome peeps like Jon Kelly, the bad asses saving the world through bioresins and what not over at ThomasNet, and one inspirational Raleigh SEO named Casey Yandle.

So get ready people.  This is gonna be the best year EVER  for PUBCON VEGAS!!

Style Over Substance – Your BS is Working

I’ve been noticing a disturbing phenomenon in client SEO land.  Now, I’m not going to call out any Phoenix SEO companies specifically, but if you’re reading this, you probably know who you are.

Some of the people in the industry that I pegged as pure BS artists are landing clients faster than those with the skills that SHOULD pay the bills.  And it is not by virtue of their ability to rank a site or run an advertising campaign, it’s their ability to BS clients that’s getting them the work.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect your hustle Mr. Snake Oil.  You make more calls, kiss more ass, go to more “networking” events, and hand out more business cards.  You work for yours.  But where are your clients’ sites when you’re done with them?

I’ve been on the frontlines recently.  Pushing out proposals like a madman, researching people’s sites, and checking out the work left behind by previous SEO firms.  What I see, quite frankly, embarasses me.  Mostly because I am getting lumped in with these guys.  Then I get the client’s sob story about their previous experience.  It usually sounds something like this:

They were great.  We had bi-weekly phone meetings, we used this neat little tool to track our progress, I got reports with graphs in them, and I even rank number one for “Arizona Mortgage Refinancing Specialist Ahwatukee AZ”.  But I just can’t afford the 8k a month retainer anymore“.

Or worse, this:

They were terrible.  I had a really bad experience with [insert well known company] who promised me rankings.  They charged my 8k a month, and even had the gall to send more invoices when I asked for even the smallest changes“.

My interpretation of both scenarios leads to the same conclusion.

Scenario 1 – You’re a  good bullshitter.  You made your client believe they were getting a value from your shoddy service, overcharged, and dried up the well.

Scenario 2 – You’re a good bullshitter. You made your client believe they were going to get a value for your shoddy service, overcharged, and scared a client from using a better company’s web marketing services down the road.

You’re Doing It Wrong

Either way, I am seeing shoddy work from previous firms and agencies. They’re leaving huge holes in their campaigns.  I’m proposing lower prices than companies were used to paying their old crappy vendors.  I’m seeing low hanging fruit and easy wins for my potential clients.  And I am still having to hustle way more than I ever thought I would have to, just to save a potential client back to the good side of the force.  The fish that normally would be jumping in the boat, are still on the edge.

In cases like these, where clients have been burned, it doesn’t matter that I have rankings and case studies to prove my ability.  It doesn’t matter that I have ringing endorsements from referrals.  It doesn’t matter that I have no problem contracting out clauses or adding performance clauses to mitigate cost risk.  People just have a harder time trusting SEO companies in general, because of the BS artists who left trash in their wake.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em?

Part of me wishes I had a better line of BS. Maybe I should have gone to more events to glad hand realtors, lawyers, and loan sharks.  Or maybe worked on my fake smiles a little more.  Tried to kiss more ass…

But that part of me IS BS.  I’m actually happy with the being a “no bullshit” kind of guy, even if I am not getting as many clients as more polished sales persons with less skill.  It’s just a shame that the pool of potential clients out there has been tarnished by slicksters who are all style, and little substance.

Running a Mini-Call Center From My Living Room

This is intense.  The feel of a new start up is exciting.  A good friend of mine is taking calls, literally from my living room. I’m  spending quite a bit of my own money to advertise a new product.  I’m rolling the dice.

Wish me luck, I am glued to analytics and my heart is pumping.  I hope this works!

It has to.  Failure is not an option.

My Phoenix SEO Company Gets a Facelift

I’ve owned this Phoenix SEO company since 2001, but let it go stale because I spent years as a corporate SEO.  Well, I’m no longer somebody else’s executive.  I’m my own boss now.  So it makes sense that I knock the dust off of my old site and start taking clients again!

So far so good. Even with the old haggard design, I’ve been able to score a couple pretty cool clients.  But I could always use more!  No more flying solo and getting clients only by reputation.  I’m gonna work that old site and see what we can do!  It already ranks well, and it’s and older site, so a little link building will go a long way.

Truth be told, I’m looking forward to competing again with some awesome companies out here and getting back into the mix.

Until recently, I forgot how fun it is to help *other* people make money on the web.  As a self proclaimed “advanced web marketing” guy, it’s exciting when I first get my hands on a new site or marketing campaign.  There are always tweaks that are high impact and easy that make an immediate impact. Low hanging fruit all over the place.

So look out Arizona, I’ve flexed my muscles out in the big corporate world and I’m coming back to my roots.  My first successful business on the web.  MCP Media!

And BTW- it has a blog now. The Phoenix SEO Blog. So feel free to head over and give that mofo a little love eh?

Ask an SEO – Wasting Pagerank on Noindex Pages

Here’s a great question for the Ask an SEO series by Matt Inertia.  Matt writes:


“Hi Chris,

I have a question for you which I’ve been trying to figure out for a few months.

If I disallow a page in robots.txt that I don’t want (or need) in the index (terms and conditions, privacy statements, logins etc) those pages are eventually removed from the Google index and their PageRank toolbar turns gray. This would indicate that those pages are not crawled or indexed and therefore do not build a PageRank.

But, is this really the case? If I am removing pages from the index using robots.txt am I inadvertently wasting PageRank by linking to those pages? Is the only way to effectively remove pages from the index and stop them building PageRank by adding nofollows to all the disallowed pages incoming links as well? I know that pages are given a gray tool bar when disallowed in robots.txt but is this a lie?!

This leads me on to the next question! Do nofollow attributes accurately cause the pages PageRank do be redistributed to the remaining followed links on that page?

Any thoughts would be appreciated!”


Thanks Matt,

The gray in your toolbar is not a lie.  Google will not serve those pages in search results if you properly noindex them in your robots.txt.  I’ve personally found Google to be quite obedient of the robots.txt files.  But other bots might not be as polite :-)

It is best practice to nofollow links to your privacy policy and other non-relevant pages to pass PageRank only to the more important pages.  The practice is known as PageRank Sculpting, or PageRank Siloing.  I would definitely add the nofollow attribute to the links to those pages if you are looking to silo your PageRank to the most important pages.  It does work.

Cover both bases to be safe, but don’t bother adding nofollow to the meta tags of those pages you are looking to keep out of the index.  If for some crazy reason they get an IBL (inbound link) from an external site, you still want to pass that pop on to the rest of your site.

Don’t forget guys and gals, if you need some FREE SEO ADVICE then drop me a line.  It’s FREEEEEEEEE!

Getting Links for Easy Keyphrases, Average Keyphrases, and Difficult Keyphrases- Ask an SEO

My first question posted in the “Ask an SEO” series here at ThinkBait comes from Joe Whyte.  Joe is a well known SEO, with plenty of friends in the industry.  His question was just a poll he was sending around to numerous SEO people on his IM list.  Since I spent about 20 minutes working up this response, I figured I would post it here to get at least a little value out of it.


Do you use SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool? (not really) What different methods do you use to get links for Easy Keywords, Medium Keywords, and Difficult Keywords?


I don’t really use that tool.  It’s not a bad tool, I just don’t use it much.

As for methods… As usual, it depends on many factors.  Some keyphrases are so easy, all it takes it writing a single blog post about it and you’ll rank at the top spot easily.  Some are still extremely easy, but need a little extra to push it over the top.  In a scenario like this, an exact match domain with a few blog posts on (so it isn’t too thin) should do the trick.  If the exact match domain is not available, one could easily post a blog then fortify it with a few clean anchor links.  If the phrase you’re trying to rank for is very easy, and also has very little inherent value, here is a cheap and easy way to get a page to rank.

  • Post a blog or publish a web page with the exact keyphrase you are trying to rank for as the title (in the tag like this: <title>Keyphrase</title> – if you’re trying to get an already established page to rank, skip this step)
  • Create a few simple free blogs on hosted blog sites with the title as the name of the blog., Blogger, Vox, etc.
  • Write a short simple blog on each hosted blog you create, with the keyphrase in the title.  Make sure within the content of that blog post the keyphrase is used at least once, and that the keyphrase is a clean anchor text link to the site or page you are trying to rank.  If you are using the visual editor when posting your blog, the link should look like this: keyphrase.  If you are using the code editor, it should look like this <a href=””>keyphrase</a>.
  • Wait for Google to put your site to the top

If the keyphrase you are trying to rank for is very competitive, the course of action depends on you or your client’s risk tolerance versus the potential reward.  Everybody wants fast rankings, but some of the methods it takes to get those rankings may get your site banned or penalized.

It also depends on the potential profitability of those rankings.  If you are directly hooked into a highly monetizable engine, you earn a lot more from those rankings than you would if you were an affiliate for the same company. That means those rankings are far more valuable.  There is no middle man taking a cut. You can probably afford to spend more to achieve long term gains.  In this case, the first thing I would spend it on is TALENT.  Build an in house link building team for that engine, train them to be link ninjas, and work through them to grow your rankings.

If it is a highly profitable operation, then don’t stop at doing just enough to get that top spot on Google.  Build an impenetrable fortress of linkitude that no competitor could even touch.  Once you’re on top, you keep building those clean links.  Do everything in your power to insure that the shifts in link power on next Google update are already covered on your link portfolio to prevent any droppage.

If you are an affiliate marketer, or you are using indirect monetization methods, or your business model is not yielding high margin returns, your strategy probably switches to a more down and dirty approach.  You have less to lose than an already established and highly monetized operation.  Intelligent link purchases, content distribution, social media manipulation, and other aggressive tactics will probably gain you impressive tanking results.  But you increase your risk tremendously.

If your keyphrases are somewhere in the middle of the difficulty range, you will be spending a lot of time analyzing the link portfolios for your competitors that already rank for the keyphrase you are gunning for, and emulating those results.  Just try to do what they do PLUS ONE.  If  they have 100 links from similar quality sites with the same anchor text, get at least 101 of those AND make sure you also get that low hanging fruit on top of that.  Use the same risk / reward mentality, and make sure you know how much your average search engine referral is worth to your site so you know how much you can afford to spend on getting those rankings.

If you have an SEO question, and want some FREE SEO ADVICE, feel free to contact me with your question.  I can’t guarantee all SEO questions will be answered right away, but hey it’s FREE SEO advice!

The Art of Stroking the SEO Ego

Social media, SEO, and the ego of a marketing / sales person.  All three of those things are gigantic, and all continue to grow out of control.  But even the juggernaut universe of the social web is dwarfed by the sheer size of some SEOs’ egos.

As marketers, we should be keen on spotting imbalances in markets.  Trained ninjas sizing up the competition, and spotting opportunity.  Low hanging fruit is what we live off of.   Well, the imbalance of the size of peoples’ egos versus perception creates the perfect formula for that low hanging fruit.

Ask yourself; why is it so many web marketers are such easy prey when it comes to ego stroking?  It’s simple.  The power of YOU.  “YOU” is the most powerful word in marketing.  “YOU” is the new “FREE.” “YOU” are susceptible, and even “YOU” can’t hide from the essential human need to be recognized.

Perception is reality, and if the person stroking “YOU” is somebody who has you believing they are larger than life, or at least larger than you, “YOU” will always notice if they notice “YOU.”

Lists of people you consider to be “aspirational” (somebody who’s position you are striving to be in) are an effective way to make them to notice “YOU.”  Everybody recognizes recognition.  Link to some of your favorite bloggers or industry experts, especially if their following is similar size or maybe just a little bigger.   With some ego stroking, they will notice.  Heck, they might even link back.  And you’re putting karma points on the board.  People like people who like them.

But if you want to make an even bigger dent, link to somebody who is HUNGRY.  Somebody on the front lines, right now, trying to get where “YOU” are at.  Somebody who finds “YOU” aspirational.  There’s a lot more bang for your buck in making a big impression on the next big thing, instead of getting in line to impress the current big thing.

So re-assess your next ego bait piece for a minute.  What’s going to get your more milleage, a lot of a little that is growing, or a little of a lot that is not?  Think about it. And take time to notice the new kid on the block.  That kid might just be the next big thing.

[edit – karma points on the board for Jason from ThinkBasis for the link hookup- Thanks man!]

Is the Affiliate Marketplace Counter-Cyclical?

As more and more Americans lose their jobs, many will turn to the web to try and generate income. Using the web as a revenue stream to many of us may seem like a mature marketplace, and maybe in some ways it is, but the fact remains that the web as a whole is still pretty new. We just don’t have that much trend data mapping online commerce to financial cycles. So with this post, I’m shooting from the hip. I’m going to use mostly logic, guestimates, and assumptions. Hopefully my logic is challenged and my point of view is broadened.  So please participate if you can open me up a little. :-)

Unemployment rates in America are steadily increasing.  Over 6.5% of America is unemployed.  Logic dictates that as people lose their jobs, job marketplace websites should see increased interest.  But what I am seeing, is a decline in interest for job marketplace websites.  Seasonality aside (the Holiday season is a down market for most sectors outside of retail) the decline in traffic seen for Career Builder and looks pretty dramatic.

Part of this could be because ad budgets are slowing down.  Many of those sites were fueled by advertising revenue from financial products like credit cards, mortgages, insurance, and student loans.  And we all know what happened to American finance.  Finance tanked.  (I know this first hand, because I specialized in marketing financial products for the past 6 years… and the once stable company I worked for is now all-but-out-of-business.)  But even if the advertising engines for the job marketplace sites are slowing, both Monster and CareerBuilder have reached critical mass. Most people already know where to go when searching for jobs online.  And people are not searching for jobs as much.

So what are Americans doing to feed their families?  Searches on affiliate marketing are getting hotter. The amount of people looking to make money online has skyrocketed in the last quarter of this year.  A friend from CJ says their publisher side is booming and the advertiser side is slowing to a crawl.

Money being spent by advertisers online is decreasing.  Online advertising is following the expected path, and is currently off cycle.  But the amount of people looking to get a piece of that pie is increasing fast.  So the moral of the story is, there is less money being spent by advertisers during the recession, and we’re looking at a potential flood of new affiliates who will further dilute the potential profitability for this type of marketing.

So hold on folks.  2009 might be even harder at the bread line as the “new recruits” of recently unemployed affiliate marketers flood the web.

For those more opportunistics types, it might be a good time to launch another affiliate marketplace if you have the money to squat on it for a while.  There will certainly be a lot of CJ rejects looking for a channel.  Growing your publisher base will probably be easier than normal during this time.  But don’t expect the advertisers to bite right away.  If you have the patience to wait through this down cycle in our economy, having a big publisher base ready for the next financial cycle will be key.

Working for “the Man?” I AM the Man Now.

Working for the man has it’s advantages. There’s usually more structure. You usually have health insurance, maybe a 401k or even your own little office. Sometimes you work with some really cool people- maybe at times mentally underdeveloped, but still rather pleasant people. It’s usually scheduled the same- day in and day out. You develop a routine. You become part of somebody else’s machine. You probably wake up, do your morning routine, grab your coffee, walk in and say hi to people, sit down and check your email, and start the grind.

But working for somebody else can also have a dark side. You are subject to the whims of whomever controls the company. In some situations, this can be downright dangerous- especially if “the Man” you work for is corrupt, immoral, unethical, unintelligent, moody, foolish, shady, dishonest, and any other host of adjectives that could be used to explain a bad leader. You will probably never be compensated what you are really worth. You’ll never truly know 100% what your future is, because you are not the one actually making those decisions. You are forfeiting your right to call your shots. And if you decide to do that, you had better trust the one who is calling the shots for you. Otherwise, you’ll never truly be happy. And somebody else’s lack of judgment will likely end up *your* problem to deal with in one way or another.

Since stepping out on my own, I have developed a deeper sense of self and a deeper sense of purpose. Being “the Man” has both a greater sense of responsibility, and greater sense of freedom. It’s make or break it, and nobody else can mess this up for me even if they try. And try they may. But iff it breaks, I have nobody else to blame. And if it works, I’m not feeding the fruits of my labor up to somebody else. I reap what I sow.

There’s no shame in working for somebody else, but I personally have found greater sense of pride now that I am back to running my Phoenix Web Design, SEO, and Web Marketing Company, MCP Media. Fortunately in my years of being corporate, I had enough successes under my belt that the moment I stepped out on my own, I had a ton of business just waiting for me. My transition has been easy because opportunity has been knocking the entire time. So easy in fact, that I’m not sure why my sense of loyalty prevented me from being my own man for so long. I guess you can chalk it up to experience.

That experience has proved invaluable. I’ve learned that once you accumulate a critical mass of knowledge on how business works, there are some things you just never do the same. And taking a “jobby-job” is probably one of those things. If you are critical to a business’ success and you are thinking of working for somebody else, get a work contract. Don’t just become an employee. Be very clear on the rules of engagement. You must trust the person or people you will be working for. If you don’t, it will not be worth the money in the long run. Profile your BOSS first. This person will be responsible for making decisions about your future. You might think YOU are responsible, but that’s not really the case when the buck stops somewhere else. And above all else, LOVE what you do. If you take a job just for the money, you’ll go home each day a little less happy than you would if you felt good about what you did all day.

As for my previous experience in corporate America. the jury is still out on how I feel about it. Most of it depends on how the company handles itself now that I am no longer an employee (i.e. honoring my severance, which has still not yet been paid) but I can say this, I am glad I did it and I am glad it’s done. Because now I can move forward and BE the MAN, instead of being subordinate to the “man”.

And as the man, I can tell you this. I take the responsibility seriously. If you have a boss you believe in, one that truly cares about who you are and tries to put you in a position to succeed, then it might be the perfect stepping stone into becoming “the Man” yourself. As I expand, I will be the man giving ten fingers to launch people toward their own goals. I will do what I can to make sure when people talk about their experience working for me, they say ” He’s the man! ” instead of ” He’s ‘the man’ “.

My Upcoming SEO Conference Speaking Gig!

SunCity SEOcon was traditionally an underground Arizona SEO meetup that happened in the heat of the summer, during the day, to enjoy splashing around with cold beers, some good ole BBQ, and to pick the brains of local search marketing experts.  Year after year we had a blast.  This year, we opened it up to the public.

We’re keeping the theme similar, a good mix of fun in the sun / SEO conference / networking event.  It’s nothing like any other conferences.

Here’s a long winded analogy to kind of give you an idea of the way this thing will feel, as compared to the other known conferences.  SES is like a band playing a sold out stadium. PubCon is like a local band who hit the big time and come back to their home city’s biggest club. SMX is like a rave. Elite Retreat is like an intimate club with a bad ass band… SunCity SEOcon is like Snoop Dogg playing at MTV Beach Party.

I gotta say, I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.  The speakers are the real deal on this thing.  I mean, check out this allstar line up!

It’s going to be crazy.  Register now before it’s sold out!


Patrick Sexton, if that is your real name, I am in Phoenix. And it is possible to contact me through this site. I tried to comment on YOUR POST but as it turns out, comments are not allowed. What are you afraid of?  There is also no contact info on your site.  I call FOUL!  I CALL FAIL!!!

I am calling you out.

Call me, text me, IM me. I will put you under the table, and you will cry like a sissy girl.  And we’ll videotape it and post it to YouTube so the world knows who’s the moffuggin’ man, and who’s perpetraytin’ a fraud!

SEO Superlatives Winners for 2008

The time has come to announced the winners for the 2008 SEO Superlatives. But before the announcement, I’d like to thank everybody who contributed. The SEO Superlatives Committee was awesome. All you crazy guys and gals who where socializing this, kick ass. Thanks so much for making this contest so much fun!

And without any further, here are your winners!

SEO Most Likely to Succeed

Danny Sullivan

SEO Conference Clown

Chris Hooley
In the running: Neil Patel

Best SEO Couple

Carolyn Shelby and Dave Rohrer
In the running: Greg and Barbara Boser

Best Dressed SEO

Brett Tabke
In the running: Kid Disco

SEO Party Animal

Chris Hooley

SEO’s Best Hairdo

Chris Winfield

SEO’s Biggest Flirt

Kimber Cook
In the running: Lisa Barone, Becky Ryan

Smartest SEO

Stephan Spencer
In the running: Aaron Wall,Bill Slawski

Most Athletic SEO

Cameron Olthuis

Best SEO Blogger

Lisa Barone
In the running: Loren Baker

Best Smile

Jane Copland

Best SEO Conference

Search Marketing Expo
In the running: PubCon

Best SEO Conference Speaker

Matt McGee

Best SEO You’ve Never Heard Of

Jeff Dempsey
In the running: Jon Heinl, Karl Ribas

Most Creative SEO

Lyndon Antcliff

Most Likely To Be Banned


Biggest SEO Nerd

Aaron Wall
In the running: Neil Patel, Barry Schwartz,Bill Slawski

Best SEO Nickname/Handle

In the running: Captain Thundercock, FeedtheBot, the MadHat

Cutt’s Pet

Rand Fishkin

Best Technical SEO

Stephan Spencer

Top Linkbaiter

Andy Hagans (RIP!)
In the running (CLOSE RACE!): Lyndon Antcliff , Matt Inman

Best Up and Coming SEO

Eric Lander
In the running: Gab Goldenberg, Rhea Drysdale, Melanie Nathan

SEO Social Media Addict

Tamar Weinberg
In the running: Chris Winfield, Brent Csutoras

Biggest Google Fanboy

Ann Smarty
In the running: Brent D. Payne

Least Likely to Date Hooley

Jill Whalen
In the running: Greg Boser

Biggest PageRank

Matt Cutts
In the running: Bruce Clay

Most Fiery SEO

Michael Gray
In the running: Rae Hoffman

SEO Most Likely to Become President

Barry Schwartz
In the running: Danny Sullivan

Most Likely To Get Kicked Out Of The Bar

Chris Hooley
In the running: Rae Hoffman, Greg Boser

Most Likely To Close The Bar

Chris Hooley
In the running: Rae Hoffman, Patrick Sexton

The SEO You’d Be Most Afraid To Bring Home to Mom

Rae Hoffman

Most Feared in SEO

Matt Cutts

Mr / Ms Congeniality

Rand Fishkin
In the running: Vanessa Fox

Most Likely to Start an Argument

Michael Martinez
In the running: Michael Gray, Doug Heil

Most Likely to Win an Argument (even if they’re wrong!)

Rae Hoffman

Best Tweeter

Chris Winfield
In the running: Todd Friesen

Noisiest SEO

Chris Hooley

Most Traveled SEO

Danny Sullivan

Snarkiest SEO

Rebecca Kelley

Best SEO Ranter

Michael Gray

Most Networked SEO

Matt McGee

SEO Hater Award

Jason Calacanis
In the running: Jason Gambert

SEO’s Biggest Douchebag

Jason Gambert (forgettable SEO Trademark guy)

The Results

The winners were chosen almost 100% from the unfiltered voting results, allowing SEOs to game the voting system to the best of their abilities. And game they did.

There were more polls that only voted for one single person than completed surveys. IN all, half the votes were spam. HALF. Numerous nominees, especially in the categories for unknown or up and coming SEOs had bots voting themselves up in an almost embarrasingly traceable way. Same IP from nominee’s city votes for self 100 times in an hour? yep. Lots of that. Rushes of voters from India, Russia, Malaysia, and Poland overnight? Some of that too.

Despite attempts at altering the vote, much like Google we also had manual review. And much like Google, the popular vote still overpowered the spam for the most part, so the committee’s job was pretty darn easy in that regard.

Below are the unfiltered results of the vote.

As you’ll see, the committe only chose one or two winners over the unfiltered voting results. And sorry Michael, but it’s hard to believe you’re more feared than Matt Cutts in the SEO world.

Report: SEO Superlatives Summary – Compiled 07/04/08

1. SEO Most Likely to Succeed

Nominee Count Percent %
Danny Sullivan 228 41.76%
Barry Schwartz 159 29.12%
Rand Fishkin 80 14.65%
Aaron Wall 54 9.89%
Todd Friesen 25 4.58%

2. SEO Conference Clown

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Hooley 309 60.00%
Neil Patel 166 32.23%
Darren Slatten 23 4.47%
Gab Goldberg 14 2.72%
Gab Goldenberg 3 0.58%

3. Best SEO Couple

Nominee Count Percent %
Carolyn Shelby and Dave Rohrer 197 38.70%
Greg and Barbara Boser 161 31.63%
Chris Hooley and Anna Rule 94 18.47%
David & Irma Wallace 30 5.89%
Jeff Quipp & Jennifer Osborne 27 5.30%

4. Best Dressed SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Brett Tabke 208 38.88%
Kid Disco 127 23.74%
Pamela Lund 87 16.26%
Mikkel deMib Svendsen 66 12.34%
Pimp McFly 47 8.79%

5. SEO Party Animal

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Hooley 238 45.33%
Todd Friesen 76 14.48%
David Harry 54 10.29%
Rae Hoffman 51 9.71%
Kid Disco 32 6.10%
Frank Watson 31 5.90%
Greg Boser 18 3.43%
Jon Heinl 11 2.10%
Greg Hartnett 8 1.52%
Aaron Chronister 6 1.14%

6. SEO’s Best Hairdo

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Winfield 361 69.16%
Dana Todd 61 11.69%
Greg Boser 44 8.43%
Krazy Korean 32 6.13%
David Harry 24 4.60%

7. SEO’s Biggest Flirt

Nominee Count Percent %
Kimber Cook 161 34.26%
Lisa Barone 131 27.87%
Becky Ryan 84 17.87%
Lora Lufark 50 10.64%
Patrick Sexton 44 9.36%

8. Smartest SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Stephan Spencer 278 52.85%
Aaron Wall 113 21.48%
Bill Slawski 79 15.02%
Rand Fishkin 40 7.60%
Brent D. Payne 12 2.28%
Joe Sinkwytz 4 0.76%

9. Most Athletic SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Cameron Olthuis 247 49.40%
Becky Ryan 102 20.40%
Barry Schwartz 96 19.20%
Kid Disco 55 11.00%

10. Best SEO Blogger

Nominee Count Percent %
Lisa Barone 230 42.28%
Loren Baker 109 20.04%
Rebecca Kelley 50 9.19%
Aaron Wall 46 8.46%
Barry Schwartz 41 7.54%
Jane Copland 35 6.43%
Ann Smarty 20 3.68%
Bill Slawski 13 2.39%

11. Best Smile

Nominee Count Percent %
Jane Copland 276 51.21%
Becky Ryan 104 19.29%
Chris Winfield 62 11.50%
Zak Nicola 52 9.65%
Danny Sullivan 22 4.08%
Lyndsay Walker 18 3.34%
Greg Boser 5 0.93%

12. Best SEO Conference

Nominee Count Percent %
SMX 392 75.24%
PubCon 96 18.43%
SES 33 6.33%

13. Best SEO Conference Speaker

Nominee Count Percent %
Matt McGee 227 45.77%
Stephan Spencer 83 16.73%
Rand Fishkin 71 14.31%
Todd Friesen 44 8.87%
Greg Boser 35 7.06%
Neil Patel 22 4.44%
Jeremy Schoemaker 14 2.82%

14. Best SEO You’ve Never Heard Of

Nominee Count Percent %
Jeff Dempsey 131 20.44%
Justin Boeckman (asked to be removed from the competition) 92 14.35%
Michael Streko 88 13.73%
Kay Dinsdale 82 12.79%
Jon Heinl 64 9.98%
Karl Ribas 64 9.98%
Clint Danks 28 4.37%
Lyndsay Walker 26 4.06%
Melanie Phung 26 4.06%
Leslie Rohde 21 3.28%
Adam Moro 19 2.96%

15. Most Creative SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Lyndon Antcliff 223 42.88%
Michael Gray 187 35.96%
Aaron Wall 59 11.35%
Jeremy Schoemaker 46 8.85%
Michael Campbell 5 0.96%

16. Most Likely To Be Banned

Nominee Count Percent %
Quadzilla 280 54.26%
Dave Naylor 103 19.96%
Slightly Shady SEO 88 17.05%
Irish Wonder 27 5.23%
Earl Gray 18 3.49%

17. Biggest SEO Nerd

Nominee Count Percent %
Aaron Wall 151 27.61%
Neil Patel 137 25.05%
Barry Schwartz 113 20.66%
Bill Slawski 96 17.55%
Tim Nash 28 5.12%
Dan Thies 17 3.11%
Adam Moro 5 0.91%

18. Best SEO Nickname/Handle

Nominee Count Percent %
SexySEO 158 29.48%
Captain Thundercock 139 25.93%
FeedtheBot 96 17.91%
the MadHat 64 11.94%
Seocracy 30 5.60%
SearchBuzz 18 3.36%
SEO Idiot 18 3.36%
OldSchoolSEO 13 2.43%

19. Cutt’s Pet

Nominee Count Percent %
Rand Fishkin 235 44.34%
Shari Thurow; 136 25.66%
Danny Sullivan 104 19.62%
Melanie Nathan 25 4.72%
Audrey Sieberling 21 3.96%
Lyndsay Walker 9 1.70%

20. Best Technical SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Stephan Spencer 265 51.36%
Aaron Wall 92 17.83%
Bill Slawski 52 10.08%
Hamlet Batista 47 9.11%
Dan Thies 30 5.81%
Joe Sinkwytz 30 5.81%

21. Top Linkbaiter

Nominee Count Percent %
Andy Hagans (RIP!) 134 25.52%
Lyndon Antcliff 130 24.76%
Matt Inman 125 23.81%
Todd Malicoat 43 8.19%
Rand Fishkin 39 7.43%
Neil Patel 35 6.67%
Debra Mastaler 19 3.62%

22. Best Up and Coming SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Eric Lander 198 37.50%
Gab Goldenberg 74 14.02%
Rhea Drysdale 67 12.69%
Melanie Nathan 60 11.36%
Jon Heinl 47 8.90%
Darren Slatten 37 7.01%
Doug Heil 18 3.41%
Melanie Phung 15 2.84%
Jeffrey Smith (couldn’t find his blog / site) 12 2.27%

23. SEO Social Media Addict

Nominee Count Percent %
Tamar Weinberg 226 36.63%
Chris Winfield 187 30.31%
Brent Csutoras 65 10.53%
Zak Nicola 45 7.29%
Lee Odden 26 4.21%
Martin Bowling 25 4.05%
Barry Schwartz 24 3.89%
Brent Cstustoras (lol!) 16 2.59%
Tad Chef 3 0.49%

24. Biggest Google Fanboy

Nominee Count Percent %
Ann Smarty 238 49.90%
Brent D. Payne 194 40.67%
Alex Chitu 45 9.43%

25. Least Likely to Date Hooley

Nominee Count Percent %
Jill Whalen 222 44.49%
Greg Boser 110 22.04%
Matt Cutts 84 16.83%
Stoney DeGeytor 60 12.02%
Dave Naylor 23 4.61%

26. Biggest PageRank

Nominee Count Percent %
Matt Cutts 225 44.29%
Bruce Clay 192 37.80%
Aaron Wall 64 12.60%
Danny Sullivan 27 5.31%

27. Most Fiery SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Michael Gray 262 50.48%
Rae Hoffman 169 32.56%
Aaron Chronister 54 10.40%
Michael Martinez 23 4.43%
David Harry 11 2.12%

28. SEO Most Likely to Become President

Nominee Count Percent %
Barry Schwartz 217 41.65%
Danny Sullivan 159 30.52%
Rand Fishkin 70 13.44%
Jason Calacanis 41 7.87%
Andy Beal 34 6.53%

29. Most Likely To Get Kicked Out Of The Bar

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Hooley 189 36.99%
Rae Hoffman 150 29.35%
Greg Boser 67 13.11%
Aaron Chronister 52 10.18%
Dave Naylor 39 7.63%
David Harry 8 1.57%
Earl Gray 6 1.17%

30. Most Likely To Close The Bar

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Hooley 205 42.01%
Rae Hoffman 122 25.00%
Patrick Sexton 84 17.21%
Kid Disco 30 6.15%
Melanie Nathan 27 5.53%
Aaron Chronister 13 2.66%
Jon Heinl 7 1.43%

31. The SEO You’d Be Most Afraid To Bring Home to Mom

Nominee Count Percent %
Rae Hoffman 234 48.55%
Dave Naylor 70 14.52%
Chris Hooley 64 13.28%
Michael Martinez 64 13.28%
Greg Boser 26 5.39%
Earl Gray 13 2.70%
David Harry 11 2.28%

32. Most Feared in SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Michael Gray 202 38.62%
Matt Cutts 171 32.70%
Rae Hoffman 66 12.62%
Dave Naylor 38 7.27%
Greg Boser 24 4.59%
Lora Lufark 22 4.21%

33. Mr / Ms Congeniality

Nominee Count Percent %
Rand Fishkin 230 43.98%
Vanessa Fox 130 24.86%
Chris Sherman 74 14.15%
Dazzlin Donna 62 11.85%
Barry Schwartz 27 5.16%

34. Most Likely to Start an Argument

Nominee Count Percent %
Michael Martinez 140 26.57%
Michael Gray 105 19.92%
Doug Heil 98 18.60%
Jill Whalen 62 11.76%
Rae Hoffman 55 10.44%
Darren Slatten 49 9.30%
Dave Naylor 12 2.28%
Brian Turner (couldn’t find his site) 6 1.14%

35. Most Likely to Win an Argument (even if they’re wrong!)

Nominee Count Percent %
Rae Hoffman 208 40.08%
Rand Fishkin 150 28.90%
Li Evans 84 16.18%
Jill Whalen 44 8.48%
Dazzlin Donna 18 3.47%
Shari Thurow; 15 2.89%

36. Best Tweeter

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Winfield 290 55.24%
Todd Friesen 141 26.86%
Lee Odden 49 9.33%
Melanie Nathan 45 8.57%

37. Noisiest SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Chris Hooley 244 53.74%
Brent D. Payne 126 27.75%
Darren Slatten 84 18.50%

38. Most Traveled SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Danny Sullivan 189 37.43%
Todd Friesen 155 30.69%
Mike Grehan 84 16.63%
David Temple 45 8.91%
Lee Odden 32 6.34%

39. Best SEO Ranter

Nominee Count Percent %
Michael Gray 281 52.52%
Lisa Barone 155 28.97%
Michael Martinez 46 8.60%
Michael VanDeMar 29 5.42%
David Harry 19 3.55%
Darren Slatten 5 0.93%

40. Most Networked SEO

Nominee Count Percent %
Matt McGee 230 40.49%
Danny Sullivan 158 27.82%
Tamar Weinberg 95 16.73%
Lee Odden 43 7.57%
Chris Winfield 42 7.39%

41. SEO Hater Award

Nominee Count Percent %
Jason Calacanis 275 52.38%
Jeremy Schoemaker 97 18.48%
Jason Gambert (forgettable SEO trademark guy) 83 15.81%
Dave Pasternack 38 7.24%
Michael Gray 32 6.10%

42. Biggest SEO DoucheBag

Nominee Count Percent %
Jason Gambert (forgettable SEO trademark guy) 530 100.00%


THANKS SO MUCH to all who participated! I owe a lotta people beers on this one. David made some AWESOME badges for all nominees and winners. Feel free to grab one, and proudly display it on your blog! Linking back is optional (srsly, I pinged Matt Cutts like 10x on this blog post) but if you do, you know I got nuttin but love for ya.

Next post up will be a more in depth analysis on how this whole thing went down. I thought some of the behind the scenes stuff was really interesting. I’ll also have a post for those who got shafted this time around. There were a bunch of people who would have been nominated that were not, and a bunch of categories that would have been fun. We’ll get them in next time. But for this year, we’ll call the next vote the "SEO Shafties!" – coming soon peeps :-)

SEO Superlatives Poll is Officially OPEN!

OK folks, here’s your chance to cast your votes! The voting closes after the first 250 responses (or until the committee gets bored!) so choose your winners now! The SEO Superlatives Polls are officially open!

EDIT– we hit 250 responses in about an hour, so it’s opened up to 1000 responses. There’s STILL TIME to cast YOUR votes!

Please note– this page requires Firefox. Other browsers are really gonna hose this page.

SEO Most Likely to Succeed
SEO Conference Clown
Best SEO Couple
Best Dressed SEO
SEO Party Animal
SEO’s Best Hairdo
SEO’s Biggest Flirt
Smartest SEO
Most Athletic SEO
Best SEO Blogger
Best Smile
Most Creative SEO
Best SEO Conference
Best SEO Conference Speaker
Best SEO You’ve Never Heard Of
Most Likely To Be Banned
Biggest SEO Nerd
Best SEO Nickname/Handle
Cutt’s Pet
Best Technical SEO
Top Linkbaiter
Best Up and Coming SEO
SEO Social Media Addict
Biggest Google Fanboy
Least Likely to Date Hooley
Biggest PageRank
Most Fiery SEO
SEO Most Likely to Become President
Most Likely To Get Kicked Out Of The Bar
Most Likely To Close The Bar
The SEO You’d Be Most Afraid To Bring Home to Mom
Most Feared in SEO
Mr / Ms Congeniality
Most Likely to Start an Argument
Most Likely to Win an Argument (even if they’re wrong!)
Best Tweeter
Noisiest SEO
Snarkiest SEO
Most Traveled SEO
SEO Hater Award
Best SEO Ranter
Most Networked SEO
Biggest SEO DoucheBag

Micro-Blogging; Come Follow Me on Twitter!

If you’re like me (a completely A.D.D. web geek) your attention span is probably really shor..

So short I couldn’t even finish writing that sentence…

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Enough with the SEO Fundamentalism!

According to my last check on Wikipedia, fundamentalism is a “deep and totalistic commitment” to a belief… usually of religious or moral nature. But what I have seen in the SEO community far too often is a “holier than thou” thumping of the general SEO population, that is by nature, narrow.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have morals. I stick to my personal set of ethics, both in my personal and professional life. They might not be the same as your values, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Last week I stumbled (social) on a very entertaining story (bait). So entertaining in fact, I thought I would share it with some friends (viral) not realizing it was written by an well known SEO (bad ass). The story was about a 13 year old who stole a credit card to play halo with hookers. Who doesn’t want to read about that? It’s HILARIOUS! So hilarious in fact, it ended up getting mainstream media coverage from the likes of Fox News and such.

The story did not claim it was actual news, or even true for that matter. It was an entertaining anecdote, and people ate it up. Except for a whole bunch of SEOs who reacted harshly to it. Reading the sphinn comments on the story really started to test my patience. It felt like I was hanging out with my neighbors who always try to save me and take me to their church… which I am not a fan of BTW if you are reading this Eric.

Sentiments like “Social Media is ruined forever” and “SEO sunk to a new low” are preachy, at best. Jill Whalen, you and me go way back from my days at HighRankings, and the last thing I want is for you to feel offended here… but I don’t want to go to the SEO Church of Link Morality or subscribe to somebody else’s code of ethics. Establish your own, that’s fine and respectable. Just don’t thump us with them. We can all decide own how we choose to operate.

There is no black and white. Everything is shades of gray. We all must way the risks and rewards for our own actions, and think laterally. Sure, there are times I do wish others would up their own set of personal or professional ethics, but I’m not going to be the one preaching it to them. I’ll do what I do, you do what you do. Just don’t tell me what to do and we’ll be cool. Cool?

Corporate SEOs: Time to Give Yourself a Raise

Salaries for Corporate SEO Professionals vary drastically. So how do you know you’re getting paid what you deserve? Let’s explore a few ways to look at it, and at the end of this post, a one size fits all solution to bring to your higher ups for getting that raise!

First, let’s look at profitability. As a marketing guy, you probably have a pretty good idea how much is spent on promotions, and how much revenue your company generates from it. You might even be privy to information about fixed operating costs. In the best case scenario, your company even posts it profitability. If the company you work for is a cash cow, you can probably use profitability as a good selling point on getting an increased salary. ESPECIALLY if you can track it directly to your own individual efforts.

Let’s say your company nets 100 million annually, and you drive 30 million in profit while only spending a few million. There’s probably no good reason you should be making 50k yearly. If you work for a smaller company or a start up, chances are good you’re not producing hundreds or tens of millions in net revenue. In this case, check out the trends in your specific industry, and especially your company’s profit.

If there’s a big upside on the horizon, but little money going around at the moment, here’s your move: Sit tight at a lower salary for a while, but talk to your boss or CEO and plant the seed. Let them know you are OK with working at a lower salary temporarily, because you intend on helping to grow the company and to reap the benefits when that growth happens. From that point, track your performance (you should already be doing this anyways). If your company turns a corner and starts posting larger profits, and you have been doing more than your share, it’s probably a great time to remind your boss or CEO about your previous conversation and try to schedule a meeting.

Next, get a good idea about how much others who perform your specific job function earn, especially in your zip code. is your friend. There are some awesome charts you can print out and keep on file. Use these on the big day when you approach your boss or CEO. I just performed a quick search on Web Promotion Specialist earnings in my zip code. Do the same for your exact title, or closest match.

As a rule of thumb, hiring managers are usually comfortable hiring new professionals in the 25% to 50% range according to If you want to demand more than that, you better know your stuff inside and out, have some concrete evidence or prior performance, and have a darn good sales pitch prepared. Oh, and people love pretty graphs and / or pie charts. Make some from your previous job(s) and keep them on file.

Another more risky technique of getting a raise is to feel out the market for YOU. Even in economically repressed times, there are always companies looking for web gurus. If your boss or CEO isn’t very receptive to chatting about your eventual raise, look for a job. Get an offer, and present it to your boss or CEO with the opportunity to match (provided you want to stay at your current job). If they cannot match, you can always jump ship to the next company willing to pay more.

But be careful, this is a higher risk technique. Both companies could look at your differently, possibly negatively, if you play hard ball. Do not use this technique if you think you can make headway in the politically correct way, or especially if you are somewhat easily replaced. Nobody want a high maintenance individualist on their team.

Even if there are valid reasons that you cannot have a pay increase, there’s always title. Getting a better title sometimes is easy if you pitch the company that you won’t cost any more. The better your title, the more likely your next job will pay better. Especially if the company you work for is not a start up. (side note: Titles at start ups, very small companies, or family businesses don’t usually carry the same weight from a hiring manager’s perspective. I can’t even count how many times I have interviewed CEOs from their own web design firm or music label who are looking for an entry level position.)

And finally, here is your one size fits all solution. 60% of the time, it works every time (thanks Anchor Man). But be forewarned, this magic formula will ONLY work if you can provide results. You MUST drive more volume than your current level. If you do, you have a raise. And without further ado, here is your formula.

Take your current salary, and cut it an half. Take your current performance metrics (hopefully sales volume or profitability) and devise a pay for performance monthly bonus structure, which sums up annually to half of your salary. Make sure you have a few versions of your bonus plan just in case your logic is disputed, make sure you have accurate reporting already in place. You want this plan to be bullet proof before you present it.

Here’s an example of the plan in action. Let’s just say you drove 100k in directly trackable profit for your company last year and you are currently paid 50k. Why not change your salary to 25k with a 25% profit share for volume you are pushing through your channels? This would show that your new plan would pay you exactly the same as last year.

Now here’s the kicker… If you drive 200k next year, your performance means you got an automatic raise to 75k. If you post a cool million, you just made yourself 275k. If that happens, and you used this method of negotiation, I’ll gladly accept checks for 10% of your earnings increase, made payable to Chris Hooley. No seriously, I’m OK with it. Email me. We’ll talk.

“I want my salary cut in half, and a fair bonus ONLY based on my performance” is not a hard pitch. For top level execs, it’s easy to swallow because you cut your fixed costs and only pay out if you are earning more. It’s a win-win situation.

Before you schedule your meeting, have those pretty graphs and charts printed out. Have your info on hand. Look good, get plenty of rest, and put on your salesman hat (the one with the extra charm and wit). Be confident. Then go in and tell your boss you want a paycut, and that you only want to be paid if you provide results.

Why SEOs Love Speaking at Conferences

When I first got into SEO and SEM, my motivation was 1 part money and 5 parts making a name for myself. You probably already know my M.O. – I am THE Constant Self Promoter. Teachers called me disruptive, my peers called me an “attention whore” (along with a host of other profanities, depending on the day), my parents called me “driven”, “loud”, or “a ham”. It doesn’t matter what you call it, the fact is people who are like me, marketers, where born to attain the spotlight. And speaking at conferences is just one way people like me can validate themselves.

Let me just restate that and start another paragrach with it… Marketers where born to attain the spotlight. Now hold that thought.

In no particular order, here are the reasons SEOs love to speak at conferences:

  • Self Validation – It is typical human behavior to seek approval by being recognized by a social group, particularly one that a person associates with or strives to be a part of.
  • Money – Some get paid to speak, but that’s not really where the money is. The more you speak, the higher premium you can ask for when landing clients.
  • Chicks – I haven’t seen an actual female girl get hot for a dude who preached all there is to know about URL cannonicalization. But I bet conference groupies exist, and I bet there are some opportunistic SEOs who have wielded their badges to score some ‘tang. And on the flip side, girls can prolly land douchebags dudes as well, if they got that speaking mojo working for them.
  • Ego – Being respected or acknowledged for anything , no matter what your field, gives people a boost in self confidence. Just admit it, it feels good. In fact, just slide this bullet right under Self Validation and minimize the rest of the bullets, because IMO that’s really the main factor.
  • Your Boss Told You To – There are a couple firms that make a pretty good revenue stream from speaking gigs… they take talented, likable people, and show them all there is to know. Next thing you know, their firm is represented in all kinds of conferences, not just the big ones.
  • Free Drinks – It’s awesome when you have fanboys loading you up all week. Extend your hand while at any conference bar, and BOOM! Magically you have a fresh cold beer.

From the time I wrote my first blog post till now, I’ve held a secret that I never told anybody. I wanted to speak at conferences too. Feels good to finally get that out. I wanted the stage, the notoriety, and the approval of my peers. I wanted people to know who I am. And I wanted to shape what they know about me, my talking smart into a microphone while people write stuff down.

In my quest to feed my alpha male ego, I went on to start numerous joke bands just so I could be on stage. I posted inflammatory comments on blogs and forums just to get people going. And I made a *lot* of noise at conferences while others polished their professionalism and furthered their careers right in front of me.

Oddly enough I never had the guts to pursue the whole speaking thing. I was like that awkward teenage boy who likes that one girl but is afraid to talk to her. I never put one ounce into attempting to land a speaking gig. I felt like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy when he explains his salesmanship to the waitress. “I pet the speaking gig, I love the speaking gig, I squish the speaking gig, AAAHHHHHH I killed it! I killed my speaking gig!”

Do you want to know the reason I never pursued it? Honestly, I think my frail alpha male ego couldn’t take the rejection if I didn’t make it. I was afraid to look like that guy who tried to do it and failed. So I went about my business, being loud and noticed, but in a different (albeit more idiotic) way. Plus, I spoke at this one seminar and even though I think I did pretty good, I didn’t like the nervous feeling. It actually wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. But I did feel self important, which was cool I guess.

I’m seeing a lot of SEOs, especially a lot of new kids on the block, getting out there and getting known. I remember that feeling. But now, I’m at a different stage in my career. I’m no longer afraid to talk about my secret crush on the idea of speaking at conferences, because I actually don’t really care for the idea anymore. I’ll just leave that to the people who are already pretty darn good at it. My focus is a little different now.

My girlfriend feeds my ego. My job makes me money. I don’t need chicks anymore; I have the one I want. My ego is big enough already, and I don’t need free drinks. In fact, I’d be glad to buy one for you!

And for the record, let me be 100% clear about my intentions here… I JUST WANT TO PWN MY MARKETS.

Damn it feels good to be a self actualized web marketing gangsta! (and feel free to speak about this post at your next gig eh?)

Relevence is KEY, Even Off-Page!

You know the importance of themes, relevant content, and relevant website links. But do you understand the value of staying relevant offline, or even what that means?

Ask yourself this question: Are YOU really relevant?

Does your website properly reflect who YOU are, who your company IS? If the answer is no, you might be trying to rank for the wrong phrase. You might not be transparent. You might be faking it, and it’s only a matter of time before everybody, including Google, figures that out.

Google knows who I am. Lately, I haven’t been the crazy guy at conferences that many of you have come to know me as, because now I am a corporate SEO. I was relevant to conference junkie SEO types, with loud stunts and what not. Now I don’t even make the list, where less than a year ago I was a shoe in.

Why do YOU think that is? Is it because I don’t blog like I used to? Is it because I am no longer whoring all the blogs and forums? Is it because I am underground, or maybe even the exact opposite of that? Sold out?

The answer is simple. Lately my focus has been on my business, my corporate SEO gig, and my family. This is where I am relevant now. I rank for phrases that ARE relevant for me, and for my business. I’m not going to rank for SEO Blogger, SEO Blog, Captain Thundercock (yet) because I am currently more focused, thus relevant, in different areas.

The new key is transparency. 5 years ago links could be programmed or harvested rather easily, today you have to be who and what you are talking about. It’s easier that way anyways.

Don’t chase a false dream. You don’t wanna be that guy. Be the guy who IS what you SAY you are, even off-page, and the rest will be easier.

Corporate Web Design Project- SOOOO 2.0!

For y’all who didn’t know, NextStudent is having a web design contest worth $2,000 for the winner. I was thinking… (which hurt a little but I digress) this project is actually pretty web 2.0-ish. Think about it… Here’s some neat buzzwords and how the relate to NextStudent’s current web design project:

  • U.G.C. – User Generated Content: Dude, the DESIGN for our company’s new makeover will be generated by the PEOPLE! That’s soooo social!
  • Social Voting: The PUBLIC can VOTE on the design they want to see as the new face of NextStudent
  • Blog: The NextStudent Redesign Contest Website is actually “just another wordpress weblog!” (that’s a play on words for the default blog description in WP, in case ya didn’t know)
  • S.M.O. – Social Media Optimization: The winner of the contest with get a link on, but more importantly all accepted design submissions can get a link on the design site itself and on my blog and a few other mentions. Blog links are sooo what S.M.O. is about!
  • Networking: Everybody who participates is AUTOMATICALLY my best friend. Unless you hate me in which case you don’t have to actually be my friend. Ok that aint much of a prize but who cares I wanted to put it in there.
  • Money: Ok not exactly 2.0, money is pretty old school but you can still make a bunch of it ($2,000) if you win the contest!
  • Awesome: Hell yeah it is. And you ah too.

So hey do me a favor eh, tell some people about this contest. Especially if you think they’ll participate OR talk about it (especailly if they talk about it on their blogs and stuff, that’s always awesome)


St. Patrick’s Day – S.E.S. New York Style!

The only thing that could possibly be more Irish for the SEM community is moving the SES to Boston… check that, I guess you could have it in IRELAND, but I digress…

NEW YORK FUCKIN’ CITY! S.E.S. Pub Crawl! St. Patrick’s Day!! I don’t know what YOUR plans are, but if you’re a REAL web marketer, you’re probably a party animal like the rest of us. If you’re a REAL party animal, you probably like pubs and pub crawls. If you REALLY like pubs or pub crawls, you’re probably Irish (and even if you aren’t you still pretend you are on St. Patty’s Day).

Here’s the deal, there is a prefect intersection of BAD ASS happening this Monday, in New York Fuckin’ City. I don’t know what YOUR plans are yet but drop them cuz the real bad asses in our industry will be doing ONE THING ONLY. And that’s whoopin’ it up, drinking green beer and Guinness (or Irish Whiskey if you’re extremely bad ass), and talking about how awesome Chris Hooley is during the S.E.S. Pub Crawl!

More details to come, but be ready mofos!

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NextStudent’s Web Marketing Team

Web Marketing at NextStudent. For those who don’t already know, I am Chris Hooley, Corporate SEO, and the guy who runs the NextStudent Web Marketing Department. Just thought I’d get that part out of the way so this post didn’t seem so random…

It’s been a crazy year in Student Loan Land, with the big banks and federal government putting the shake down on student lenders (at the expense of students, and much to the chagrin of financial aid officers). Kids are going to have a tough time finding money to pay for school this upcoming semester because of the perfect storm of bad legislation, tough credit markets, and a virtually lifeless capital market. Big banks are looking at this as a boon, a perfect opportunity to swallow up market share. So they are spending MORE despite the fact that the loans are losing them lots of money right now. I’m even watching them trying to work their SEO, and (cough! choke) get social.

Imagine that, fighting off the big banks with deep pockets every day… Feels like Rocky vs. the steroid guy from Russia.

Well fortunately for NextStudent (and all borrowers who find out how great we are!) the Web Marketing Team is holding it down. We’re the big guys around here on the interwebs! We’ve been training like Sly Stallone and we’ll never give up! Get off my Google B of A. Keep up the Chase, Wells F. The web is My Citi!

Ok enough of the bad plays on words. It’s Saturday Night, I should save the bad jokes for my attempt at getting social (aka going to Santisi Bros. with some buddies).

The deal is, the webmarketing team at NextStudent is a powerhouse. We’re more than strong at all of our core competencies, we’re a collective ROCKY. You might be able to get some licks in, but we never give up and we are always on the top. The people I work with are some of the slickest, smartest, and most motivated people I’ve ever met. All aspects of our web marketing repertoire are handled by the best and the brightest. We’re corporate, we’re out there, and we’re helping define the edge that bigger guys can hardly even fathom. Good luck monetary monoliths. BRING IT ON!!!

Rocky – OUT!

Frikkin Yahoo! I Just Want My flickr and MyBlogLog Accounts Back!

Yahoo! – “chasing Google and frustrating users since 1998” (TM)

I bought a premier flickr account and I haven’t been able to log in for MONTHS. Why? Because they switched log in systems, and nobody inside flickr is responding to my desperate pleas for help. I paid good money for my premier account, and I can’t even manage MY OWN PHOTOS. Photos that rank well in search engines for MY OWN NAME. I am helpless to remove some personal pictures that I no longer really want up there… photos that I paid to manage on their site.

You might ask “Chris, why did you take so long to blog about this? The most recent pictures are like 6 months old!” – You’re right. I forgot all about how mad I was about flickr until I decided to log into MyBlogLog account, which again prompted me to use a new log in that I don’t even have. Now I can’t get in there either.

Now I’m frustrated as hell trying to create a new Yahoo! ID, but my name is already taken (likely by some spam bot since there are only a handful of Chris Hooleys in the world). And once I settle on a user name that I don’t even want, I have no idea how to get those linked to my flickr and MyBlogLog accounts. It’s just stupid. And typical.

Hopefully somebody from Yahoo! reads this post and can get me some kind of help… but I doubt it.

In the meantime, my iGoogle, GMail, Adwords, Adsense, Optimizer, and bazillion other Google gadgets I am using are still working flawlessly. An I have Googlers calling me pretty frequently (even got a Googler visit coming soon) to make sure everything is still working. Just thought I’d throw that out there…

Affiliate Summit and Elite Retreat

I’ve never actually been to Affiliate Summit.  I’ve had a few people offer discounts to get into the event (I can’t for the life of me recall who was offering me passes, if you still exist HIT ME UP!)  I’m still teetering on the edge here.  Should I go?  Should I bring my affiliate peeps?

As for the Elite Retreat, people already know I am a HUGE advocate of this event.   If you are thinking of going and you need some info about it, feel free to contact me directly.  I’ll gladly explain why I am such a huge fan and what it has done for me personally.   If you are defintely going and you haven’t bought your tickets yet, hook a brother up and buy it through my affiliate link so I can make a few bucks!

The FASTEST Way to Lose Momentum on Your Blog

Tired of all those pesky readers on your blog?  Sick of all that annoying traffic?  Had enough of building a community, getting links, or comments on your blog posts?  Well I have a revolutionary solution!  It’s simple, easy, and FAST!  It’s a secret I’ve utilized on several occasions; EVERY time it resulted in a drop in traffic, subscribers, readers and all those other problems that come with owning a popular blog.

The secret?  *looks both ways* sshhhhhh…. (it’s easy, just stop writing for a while).  60% of the time it works EVERY time!

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All In One SEO Pack Plugin for WordPress

Absolutely rocks.  I’ve never put much effort into trying to get links to this site or rank it for anything, so my template was not SEO friendly.  I just got sick of seeing bad title tags on my site but didn’t want to spend any time or effort editing PHP so I did a lil research and and found the answer.

The All In One SEO Pack is the bomb.  SEO suggestion for the day: use it and love it. (if you don’t already)

That’s all I gotta say about that.

Are you WITH Me or AGAINST Me? The Terrel Owens Factor

I like to think of Corporate America like it’s professional sports. Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, and IT superstars are no different than professional athletes with year round free agency. Some demand a high salary, some are lunch pale hard workers who roll up their sleeves, some are loud and brash and can make or break any company depending on their mood.

Like Terrel Owens.

T.O. is one of the best receivers ever in the history of the NFL, but his constant demand for the spotlight and bad attitude when he’s losing was like a cancer to prior teams. He moves to another team that allows him to be himself and enables him to work the way he wants, and next thing you know he’s the role model in the locker room and he’s doing everything he can to help his team win. He’s a player that needs an organization to bend a little to make room for his ego, and rewards that organization if they do.

On the other hand you have an organization with strong and strict leadership that does not bend; the New England Patriots. They would NEVER hire T.O. because HE won’t bend to their will. But their system can make known malcontents (Randy Moss, Cory Dillon) successful and happy players who conform and become part of the team. And they win. Big time.

Corporate America is no different. Some organizations have such strong leadership, and such great vision, that employees work twice as hard to keep up the winning tradition. The scary thing is however, that some employees are so good at what they do that they can single handedly change a corporation and it’s future. And sometimes, there are employees who are cancer. It’s scary when you have a sueprstar like Terrel Owens who can propel your team to the highest highs, or crumble the foundation of the organization.

The question is how to handle something like that? Do you pamper him like Dallas (seems to be working, right?) or do you fire him and look for people who can conform? And think, do you want to face that guy on the field if you do let him go?

There’s some thinkbait for you execs and CEOs who have stars in your corporation. Is your team strong enough to do without your star? Can you afford to pamper your execs who deliver on a consistent basis? Is it even worth it? Do the rules change when somebody is that important? Is ANYBODY that important?

Bulldozer with Ballerina Shoes

Today’s advice for you corporate climbers is short and sweet. Be a bulldozer with ballerina shoes. If you KNOW you are right, you KNOW your decision is best for your company (and yourself) then you can’t accept a “no” right? Problem is that egos, agendas, and personalities can sometimes cloud a company’s decision making ability. And as a good get-along-guy or get-along-girl (which is what you need to be to get anything done in executive management) you must understand how important it is to keep people happy… or better yet how to NOT piss people off. Sometimes you need to dance.

Sometimes it’s tough when your decisions face opposition. But when your decision is right, you need to push forward. There IS no “no”. Become a bulldozer with ballerina shoes. Dance around what you can, roll over if you have to, but push forward no matter what stands in your way.

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