SEO

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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Soooo… SEO huh? What’d I Miss?

I don’t know if y’all knew this but, I used to be pretty good at this SEO crap.  But after taking a few years off I an only assume I missed a lot of super important stuff.  I heard something about a panda bear, some scheme-a-ma-jig, so-cal votes and facebook smears…

Seems important.

Do uh, links, still work for SEO?  Anybody out there still spinning and winning?  From what I have read, every type of automation has been systematically weeded out and all sites using it have been banned right?  We need to “hand-job” everything in order to succeed?

One thing’s for sure, from the research I’ve done since I’ve been back, I can say this: there’s still just as much noise, fear mongering, ass licking, and bullshit being pushed from these so called “experts” as there was back in the day when I was ignoring them.

I call bullshit.

As much as some nuances have changed, the basics are still the same.  Get links.  The bigger the better.  Get authority.  And anchor text still works.  Search engineers always find ways to close holes in their algorithms that have been exposed time and time again, right?  But for some reason there still are holes so big you can still drive a Mack truck through them.  And some of the new stuff they’re introducing is even easier to game in it’s early stages.  *cough* *choke* *automated google +1 votes* *fart*

In all my years, I’ve played in and dominated very competitive verticals, and I have never had a single site banned.  Because common sense tells you don’t get too spammy, and don’t be too obvious, and don’t be evil.  Just because you can flare up some behind the proxy scraper / spinner / poster / pinger tools to harvest 30,00 links doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  But competitive sense should tell you that just because a few big time SEO names or search engine employees at some expensive drunk fest glad-handing circle jerk (I mean conference, in case you didn’t catch the reference) tell you not to do something, IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT WILL NOT WORK.  You just have to get a feel for where the line is and don’t cross it… too often.  And if you do cross the line, do it by a tip toe, not by a mile.  Don’t be the Leeroyyyyyy Jenkins of link building.

There are safe ways to be aggressive.  Even now, when everybody tells you it’s impossible.  Don’t run around like an idiot blowing shit up with a hydrogen bomb where a single sniper should would do the trick.  And don’t listen to these fools trying to throw you off course.  Get links.  Good ones.  Lots of em.  And rank Up!


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!!


The Canadian SEO Prize Package!

Melanie Nathan (follow her on Twitter @MelanieNathan) recently had a kick ass little contest to get people to participate in her brand new blog, which worked like a charm.  Just check out all those comments.  She LITERALLY just launched Canadian SEO at the time of that post, which I guarantee will take over that frozen tundra like a Nor’ Easter.  No wait, like the British.

Well I didn’t win the contest.  BUT!  I found out that I was awarded a consolation prize just for being a funny guy!

AAAWWWEEESSSOOOMMMEEE!!!!!

So I interrupted the regularly scheduled program of getting my kiddo ready for bed to see what I got!

Here it is in all it’s glory.  A coffee mug, poker chips, card, hat, and keychain according to customs
Canadian Prize

Imagine my excitement when I got the package!
Canadian Prize

My daughter was excited too.  So excited, she tried to steal the package from me.
Canadian-Prize

She got it, which somehow magically made me warp backwards and rage
canadian-prize-4

We compromized and decided to open to together
canadian-prize-5

Kaylee was excited to find out it was chocolate.  I almost cried.
canadian-prize-6

So here goes nothing, let’s check out our chocolate…
canadian-prize-7

Hey this isn’t chocolate!!! It’s a CANADIAN GOLDMINE!
canadian-prize-8

canadian-prize-9

canadian-prize-99

So I put the kid ot bed and decided to play with some of my new awesome Canadian Toys!
canadian-prize-999

DRINKBAIT!
canadian-prize-9999

Wow, that shot was smooth.  And I spilled some on my shirt
canadian-prize-99999

Hey it worked!
canadian-prize-999999

I heard my daughter come back down stairs, and thought I would give her a little Canadian surprise!  Canadian Rally sticks FTW!
canadian-prize-9999999

But she retaliated with a viscious combo attack
canadian-prize-99999999

And that was pretty much the where it ended.  I put her back to bed, and resumed pimping the web, only now with a pile of Canadian AWESOMENESS!

Thanks Canadian SEO!
canadian-prize-999999999


The Ultimate SEO Marriage – I’ll Do the Honors

Imagine a marriage between cShel and Daver.  High atop the Sears Tower, the place is packed with friends, family, and SEO Superstars.  They are broadcasting live on uStream and hundreds of people are watching online.  Lisa Barone is live blogging the event, with SugarRae smacking her in the back of the head for not using the <more> tag.

Dave’s looking sharper than ever; standing at the alter in his tux, plams sweating, so focused on whats about to happen that he’s not even checking his iPhone for Twitter updates.  Carolyn walks in the room, looking absolutely ravishing.  Heads turn, and twitpic lights up with mobile uploads of our SEO darling in the most beautiful wedding dress Adsense ever bought.

SEO Wedding Couple

All of the sudden, “Here Comes the Bride” is scratched to a halt and Europe’s “The Final Countdown” starts blasting over the speakers.  Strobe lights, fog, lights camera action.  Chris Hooley is elevated from a platform below the stage, pounding a beer bong like it’s spring break. “KISS THAT BRIDE MANG SO WE CAN GET THIS PARTY STARTEEEEEED!”

Chris Hooley the Dudeist Priest

Dave busts out a rock the size of a softball (paid for by his newly launched pyramid affiliate scheme), pops it on Carolyn’s dainty finger, and Hooley screams “I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SEO MAN AND SEO WIFE (#2)”.

This Could Happen, Really.

I can legally perform a marriage for any of you SEO rockstars, and turn your special day into a virtual circus.  For a small fee, or some kick ass links to some of my most prized web properties, THE Chris Hooley can do YOUR honors.  Because I’m now an ordained priest.

I’m a Dudeist Priest.

If you’re interested in hiring me to get the deed done, I take PayPal, money orders, Google Checkout, or XLS sheets filled with hot link locations.  I also do birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and I’m a notary public.

If you wanna learn more about how to become a dudeist priest yourself, I’m selling an ebook with convoluted instructions so I can make it seem more complicated than it really is and charge a fee for it, even though it’s free at this site over here.  So give me money and let’s turn your wedding into a real party!


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.


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:

Question

“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!”

Answer

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!


Hip Hop Promotion

I’m sure you’re completely confused as to why my blog has a post titled “Hip Hop Promotion” but I assure you there is at least tangential relevancy.  An old friend of mine, Nick Norris, has plunged himself head first into the world of web design, SEO, and all that juicy stuff.  At first I thought “Ohh great, another new Phoenix SEO to compete for contracts.” Shizzle bizzle, I had no idea how much he was into it his new passion until I saw like 10 of his sites.  One of which, Hip Hop Village, he is targeting for the phrase “Hop Hop Promotion”.

In my cockiness, I may or may not have just blurted out to him that I will get his site to rank #1 in Google for Hip Hop Promotion.  This of course, was before I did any research.  But after doing a bit of research, turns out it will require at least some effort… which stinks because it aint like I’m getting paid for this. My “bigger than it should be” mouth just got me into a stupid predicament. I wrote a check that my ass is now required to cash…

So maybe you, my friends, could post a little linkie to his site with some nice rich anchor text to help a brother out?  If you do, me love you long time and me also owe you one.  And if you do, let me know if there is anything I can help you push as well, since I will owe you one!  In the meantime, I’ll see what I can do about that page title, redirect, and content. ;-)


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.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.  WordPress.com, 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=”http://www.SiteOrPageYouAreTryingToRank.com/”>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!]


SEO Superlatives Winners TBA on the 4th of July!

The SEO Superlatives Team has reviewed nearly ONE THOUSAND polls, and your winners have been determined.  But, our work is not done yet.  Compilation of the master post is currently underway. This blog post is just a teaser!  Results will not be leaked, no matter HOW MUCH you hound us!!

We plan on posting the results along with the rest of the fireworks.  In the meantime, thank you so much for your participation!


The SEO Superlatives Committee Announced! (kinda)

The SEO Superlatives committee has been established, and we’re already hard at work. Much thanks to those who’ve put their time and effort into helping me with this so far. For those who want to nominate your choice for any of the categories, you know who to bug now!

And without further ado (sp?), here’s your committee!

Chris Hooley – Wannabe Class President – AKA Captain T.C.
Lisa Barone – Secretary of Pure Awesome, from Bruce Clay’s Search Engine Optimization Blog
Melanie Nathan – Can’t think of a title, but she works at this Edmonton Design Firm
Michael VanDeMar - Secretary of SMACKDOWN
David Temple – Gentleman and SEM Scholar
Taylor Pratt – Mustache Advocate from Gonzo SEO, who’s obsessed with this for some reason
Zak Nicola - Content Writer (bwaaahahahaa!)
David Harry – Staff Hat Salesman

D

Still awaiting confirmation from a couple other peeps. I’ll add them as they confirm. But for the most part, we’re set… to judge you… in public! LOVIN’ IT!


SEO Superlatives – Your Yearbook Committee is In Session!

Looking in my old yearbook, I found it fascinating who was chosen “Most likely to succeed”, “Best Couple”, or “Class Clown” (BTW- that was me in Jr. High) . Seems a lot of it was pretty much right on. The only thing I didn’t like about it is that on clique had editorial control on these lists. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to be the guy who makes the list.

Well, I just decided today that I AM gonna be that guy.

In the next few days, I’ll be developing the SEO Superlatives list. Yearbook style, with a male and female winner in each non-couple, non-group category.

I’ll open up nominations a day or so after all the categories are chosen. I need *your* help to generate the categories *you* would find the most interesting / entertaining / stupid, whatever. I think this will be pretty fun!

So far I have the following categories earmarked:

  • SEO Most Likely to Succeed
  • SEO Conference Clown
  • SEO Couple
  • SEO Party Animal
  • SEO Flirt
  • Smartest SEO
  • Most Athletic SEO
  • SEO Social Media Addict
  • Best SEO Blogger
  • Best Smile
  • Best SEO Conference

Newly added superlatives! (from awesome commenters)

  • Best SEO Conference Speaker
  • Best SEO You’ve Never Heard Of
  • Most Creative SEO
  • Most Likely To Be Banned
  • V1@gr.A Salesman Of The Year
  • Cutt’s Pet
  • Biggest Google Fanboy
  • Least likely to date Hooley (ha haha)
  • Best technical SEO
  • Top Linkbaiter
  • SEO with the biggest PageRank
  • Best Dressed SEO
  • Best SEO Hair
  • Biggest SEO Nerd
  • Best SEO Nickname/Handle
  • 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
  • Best Up and Coming SEO
  • Most Feared SEO
  • Mr / Ms Congeniality?
  • Most Likely to Start an Argument
  • Most Likely to Win an Argument (even if they’re wrong!)
  • Best Fence Sitter
  • Best Tweeter
  • Nosiest SEO
  • Snarkiest SEO
  • Most Traveled SEO
  • Best Ranter SEO
  • Most Networked SEO
  • Best SEO Hater
  • Most Sharing/Giving SEO

Please add any other superlatives you would like to see on this list in a comment below so I can get this thing rocking! Nominees will obviously get those clean links and stuff, and winners get a lil mo’

Hook it up, add your ideas below!


I Wish I Was Good Looking… And Relevant

Wow, my fragile male ego took a double hit. A contest for the best looking SEO dude is the reason for my newfound insecurity. Either I got hit pretty hard with the Ugly Stick, or people forgot about me. I’m not sure which is worse, feeling ugly, or feeling like a nobody.

Oh well, at least my beautiful girlfriend still thinks I am the best looking man in SEO!

best looking dude is SEO with his beautiful lady!


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…

So let’s get to the point then.  Come follow me on Twitter.  Micro-blogging.  Fast.   Click here and win fabulous prizes!


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. Salary.com 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 Salary.com. 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 Salary.com 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?)


Perfect SEO – Rick Astley + Your Logo Doing Karaoke!

While perusing some of the premium content over at SEOmoz for some new nuggets, I found the answer. The magic bullet. The ONE thing I need on my blog to harness the sheer link power of the internet.

And this was the result:

Rick Astley Doing Karaoke with NextStudent

Now, I just sit back and wait for the ranks to ROLL right in! Thanks Mozzers!!


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 NextStudent.com, 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)

w0rd.


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!


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!


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.


Guess Who’s Blogging Again!

Me!

I’ve spent too long minoring in the majors and majoring in the minors. I gotta get back to what got me where I am at today. For those who have forgotten who I am, I’m Chris Hooley. The Fonzie of SEO. I work for the best Student Loan Company on the web. I am a father, a son, a sumo wrestler, and an interpretive dancer / figure skater.  I will be your guide to pimping the web and pwning corporate America.  Stay tuned kiddies, I’m back with a vengeance!!


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