Articles Tagged with Community

What’s The WORST Link You’ve Ever Seen? SEOs Share Their Stories!

Face collage title image

The mighty Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO fame recently published a sequel to his Creative Link Building post, the latter/original becoming the most popular article ever to be shared on to date.

Inspired by Jon’s posts, I had a light-bulb moment when chatting to good friend and fellow SEO Emma Barnes:

Instead of the best and/or most creative links SEOs had built, what about the worst they’d seen on their SEOing exploits around the Web, whether it be through link analysis or more randomly?

I decided to ask a number of SEOs in the industry about their experiences, horror stories and/or funny encounters. There were a few caveats though:

  • No outing! All examples must be anonymous so as not to implicate anyone specifically.
  • It didn’t necessarily have to be the spammiest link they’d seen – I was also looking for links that had been poorly executed, incorrectly implemented, etc.

When asking for contributions, a few people declined, feeling a little uncomfortable with getting involved. I could understand, given the nature of the content. However when I had the idea, I never saw it as this negative or hateful post, and so I’m hoping people will see it as a good teaching point – i.e. certainly how not to build links! – and also get a few chuckles out of it.

NOTE: Even with the above caveats, it goes without saying that some of the examples are NSFW, so be careful if you’re reading at work! (I’ve labelled the ones that this applies to.)

Ok, so I’ll kick things off…

Steve Morgan photoSteve Morgan
@steviephil /

As many SEOs will know, you have some clients who don’t want to get involved with the SEO at all (they just want you to do it all for them), but there are those who like to get stuck in and involved as well. I once had a client while at a previous agency who wanted to help out. I won’t say what industry he was in – let’s just say it was household furniture. Anyway, we’d had discussions about our link building process before (e.g. keep it relevant, keep it high quality, etc.) and so I assumed he had a good idea about the good ways and bad ways to obtain links.

A little while later, he got back to me and told me that he’d just bought 100 links! I was concerned immediately. 100 links at once? Paid links?! I asked him for examples – and that’s when I started to panic. 20 of them were on ‘health’ sites (yep, you guessed it: the ‘v’ word)! The funniest was one that had a blogroll containing a dozen links: 11 of them had anchor text such as “buy [pill name]” and “[another pill name] 100 mg” and in the middle of them? One link all on its own, the odd-one-out, with the anchor text: “buy pine furniture”.

Click to read more!

The Ever-growing List of Ask Me Anything (AMA) Threads AMA header image

* Update * – When I started this list, there wasn’t a dedicated AMA category on Now there is. So I’ve decided to stop continuing this list.

On January 16th 2013, Ed Fry announced that would be introducing Ask Me Anything (AMA) threads, starting with the mighty Rand Fishkin, one of the founders of the site. As I type this, there have been three official AMAs to date (by “official” I mean announced by the team – I thought I’d make this point as some people have created their own AMAs). However, as there isn’t a dedicated category for them and the three so far have been submitted in different categories, there’s no easy way to keep track of them all.* So I thought I’d start a list…

* You could do a Google search such as “ask me anything”, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll pretend that’s not an option, okay? 😉

Interestingly, while researching this post, I found out that Jonathan Colman was the one who first came up with the idea for AMAs for – inspired by Reddit – in this thread (I can’t link to the comment directly, so you’ll have to scroll down).

Anyway, here’s the list, which will be updated as-and-when new AMAs take place. Please feel free to check back if you miss one or want to refer back to an old one!

Click to read more!

Interview with Ed Fry about logoBack in June, I interviewed Rand Fishkin about, an Inbound Marketing community that calls itself the “Hacker News for Marketers.” The site was about four months old at the time of the interview, as it had officially launched in February this year.

Roll on six months and the site has seen some significant changes: Ed Fry (@edfryed) was hired as the site’s General Manager in September and a redesign of the website was released towards the end of October.

The site’s nearing its first birthday and Ed and co. have some big ambitions for the site for 2013 – see Ed’s The Future of slides and the related submission/Discussion page (which itself links off to eight other Discussions which are covered in the slides) to find out more.

I recently approached Ed asking if I could carry out an interview – sort of as a follow-up to the one with Rand in June – and he happily obliged. Below we cover his recruitment, the redesign, what’s new, what’s in store in 2013 and more…

Click to read more!

Meet Your SEO Community: An Analysis of all the MYS Interviews

Meet Your SEO bannerAlessio Madeyski photoOver the past year, Italian SEO and inbound marketer Alessio Madeyski (@madeale on Twitter) has been running a great series called Meet Your SEO. Every week, Alessio would interview an individual working in the SEO industry, usually asking them the same set of questions. For us working in the industry, it was interesting to get very personal insights into the best tips, biggest pet peeves and favourite drinks (caffeinated, alcoholic or otherwise!) of renowned SEOs based all over the world.

Before recently deciding to take a hiatus on the series, Alessio had accumulated 32 interviews: 31 Meet Your SEO interviews as well as one Meet Your Marketer interview. I approached Alessio and asked if he would mind if I analysed the interviews, basically consolidating all the answers and seeing what the ‘combined’ answers would be from this portion of people in the industry. I’m glad to report that Alessio gave me his blessing to do so, which is fantastic.

In addition to the 32 from Alessio’s site, I’ve also included Gaz Copeland of Stoked SEO’s ‘takeover’ interview, where he interviewed the interviewer over on his site. So it’s 33 in all.


Firstly, some general geographical information:

The US was the most highly represented country, with 16 (48%) interviewees. The UK came second with 8 (24%). Other countries included Canada, Germany (twice), Israel, Italy, Pakistan, the Philippines and Spain (twice).

Out of the US states, Pennsylvania was the most highly represented, with 4 interviewees (and I’m pretty sure most – if not all – of them are based in or near Philadelphia). Joint-second were California, North Carolina and New Jersey with 2 each. The rest were Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Meet Your SEO: Geography Pie ChartsWhen did you enter the SEO world, and why?

The when wasn’t straightforward to calculate, as some people gave vague-ish answers – e.g. covering a range of years – or no answer at all, so it may not be 100% accurate, but here’s a graph roughly depicting 29 of the answers:

Meet Your SEO: 'When' GraphTo put it another way, almost half of the interviewees entered SEO around 2006-8.

As an aside, it’s very encouraging how some of the industry’s best and brightest have only been in the industry for a few short years. For example, Jason Acidre (aka Kaiserthesage) has only been doing SEO since 2010, which I found truly astonishing given the quality and insight of his blog posts and his ranking on It’s inspirational to those who are new to SEO – there’s nothing to say that you can’t join the industry now and be one of its best by 2014…

As for the why, that’s even harder, given that every response was personal and unique to each individual. Two things I picked up on are that some people discovered SEO after starting their own websites, while others stumbled into it purely by accident.

Jason Acidre photoI accidentally became an SEO on February 26, 2010 – that’s the date when I was first hired to be an SEO by an Australian-based SEO agency, and I didn’t know anything about it, even what SEO means during that time! I needed the money that time (because of I have to, for my son), so I tried searching for a writing job, then I emailed this agency, as I saw their job posting on craigslist, then when they emailed me back, they asked if I’ll be interested to work as an SEO for them instead of being a writer (they thought/feel that I’m fit for the job), so I said yes.

Jason Acidre (@jasonacidre)

A great tip about onpage optimization?

Optimising the title tag was given as the most popular onsite tip. Other honourable mentions include:

  • Having a good internal linking structure
  • Writing naturally (i.e. not forcing keywords into copy)
  • Writing unique content site-wide
  • Implementing rich snippets (e.g.

Moosa Hemani photoTitle tag, everybody knows it’s important but very few people know the real art of crafting the right title that can help the website to get benefit from search engine and at the same time it looks really catchy to the reader.

Moosa Hemani (@mmhemani)

The most stupid thing people believe about onpage optimization?

8 people (24%) mentioned keyword density as this biggest onsite pet peeve, regarding how people believe there to be a magic percentage and that they have to abide by it. The next most popular was keyword stuffing, with 4 mentions (12%).

Gianluca Fiorelli photoThat On Page is enough in order to rank.

Gianluca Fiorelli (@gfiorelli1)

A great tip on how you build links?

The most popular link building tip? Building relationships and networking. Other honourable mentions:

  • Conducting outreach
  • Planning strategy
  • Encouraging natural linking

Shelli Walsh photoNetwork, network, network. I follow the PR approach to link building, build relationships with people. Search for the influencers in your niche who have the power to broadcast your message and get to know them.

Shelli Walsh (@shellshockuk)

The most stupid thing you heard about linkbuilding?

The answers here were very varied! Almost everyone gave a unique answer or spoke about a different aspect of bad/dodgy link building. However, a couple of people each mentioned the following:

  • Automation is necessary (or that not automating is foolish)
  • “Creating great content” is all that’s needed to succeed
  • Link building is easy
  • Link building is dead

Anthony Moore photoThat it’s simple. I guess there might be some styles of link building that might be deemed as “simple”, but these days, you need links that will last. Those aren’t so easy to achieve.

Anthony Moore (@amoore138)

If you have to explain what you do at a 10 year-old kid, what are you gonna say?

I’m leaving this one out, as the answers are all very different. Here’s my favourite answer though:

Gaz Copeland photo10 Year old kids are pretty smart these days, they probably know more about SEO than I do.

Gaz Copeland (@StokedSEO)

What do you drink when seoing?                                          

Let’s start with the tame (read: non-alcoholic) answers first…

Do SEOs prefer Coke or Pepsi? Coke wins 5 to 2.

Do SEOs prefer regular or diet Coke/Pepsi? Diet wins, also 5 to 2.

I’m sure Ian Lurie would approve on both counts.

And somewhat unsurprisingly, 23 interviewees (70%) drink coffee. There were a few tea drinkers in there, too.

Hannah Smith photoCoffee. Buckets of it.

Hannah Smith (@hannah_bo_banna)

Now onto the fun part…

The ultimate question: what is an SEO’s favourite alcoholic drink?

The answer? Beer! Beer was mentioned by 10 interviewees (30%), followed by whisky, which was mentioned by 7 (21%). The fact that beer came first and IPAs were also mentioned confirms Emma Still’s suspicions that many of us SEOs are fond of our beer.

Red wine was favoured over white wine, plus there were mentions of gin & tonic and cocktails. And of course, let’s not forget Chris Dyson’s list…

Chris Dyson photoI generally drink:

  • Mouthful of red wine
  • “Lighter fluid”
  • Double gin
  • Finger of cider (with ice)
  • Finger of cider (with ice)
  • Finger of cider (with ice)
  • Glass of sherry
  • Two big chugs of sherry
  • [30 other bullet-points containing alcoholic drinks]

or diet coke.

Chris Dyson (@RootsWebSol)

I should point out that at the end of Peter Attia’s interview, Alessio had started to become worried that “SEOs seem to drink quite a lot when SEOing” – given Chris’ response, I’m not surprised!

What do you think about SEO community?

It’s tough to do a proper analysis on this one, too. Generally, the sentiment is positive, although a few people feel that the industry may be too nice insofar as it is not challenged enough.

AJ Kohn photoWell … it’s diverse. I really enjoy the passion and there are a number of people in the community who I respect and enjoy – even if I don’t always agree with them.

I do get a bit frustrated at the rubber stamp part of the community. I wish we’d be more committed to testing things out ourselves instead of taking ‘expert’ opinion (even my own) as gospel.

I’d also like to see a higher level of intellectual honesty in evaluating what’s really valuable within our industry regardless of who or where it was published. I want more quality, more authenticity and less ‘me too’.

AJ Kohn (@ajkohn)

Make yourself a question and give an answer

An odd one to include perhaps, but I was curious to see if multiple SEOs asked themselves the same question. But as it turns out, every question was unique.

The majority of them were related to SEO, but a couple were general, including a few to do with music.

Here’s my favourite though… 😉

Jason Acidre photoMake yourself a question and give an answer: Do you have a crush in the industry?

(Sorry, can’t think of any other question haha). Yeah, there are some that I do admire in the industry like Steph Chang of Distilled, Hanna Poferl, Lauren Litwinka of AimClear, and Joanna Lord of SEOmoz.

Jason Acidre (@jasonacidre)

Who is your biggest SEO influence?

Our 33 interviewees mentioned a total of 94 people that they’ve considered an influence on them in terms of SEO. That’s nearly 3 influencers per interviewee, although it varied, with some interviewees only offering one (or not specifying anyone individually at all), right up to the likes of Jonathan Colman, who referenced a total of 19 people.

Two people had 5 mentions/votes each:

The following had 3 or 4:

Of course, it’s not always necessarily our industry’s leaders who can be influential…

Peter Attia photoNew link builders. They’re some of the most creative SEO’s I know. Some of the out of the box ideas I’ve heard from new talent has been quite incredible. When you’ve been doing SEO for a while you start to get some tunnel thought. New folks still don’t know what is and isn’t doable, so they come up with some really clever concepts.

Peter Attia (@PeterAttia)

If you weren’t an SEO, what would you like to do?

If Google were to collapse and SEO were to disappear tomorrow, we’d have:

  • 5 writers/authors
  • 3 chefs
  • 3 musicians (one being a rock star)
  • 2 teachers
  • Multiple brick-and-mortar property/shop owners
  • An astronaut
  • A fireman
  • A gardener
  • An assassin/hacker
  • One would catch up on sleep
  • One would eat pizza (ideally professionally)
  • And finally… 2 would be superheroes

Anthony Pensabene photoWhen I was younger, I had aspirations to be a surf bum/counselor, hanging on the beach, surfing all day while ‘talking with and inspiring thoughts’ in others. Psychology, “the why of people,” has always been a fascination of mine and was one of my college majors. In my shallowest moments, I thought about being the pool boy at the Playboy Mansion; but, those girls would probably just gawk at me…not appreciating my beautiful insides… As I’m getting older (33!  Man, wasn’t I just reading Shakespeare during high school Math class a little while ago?), I’m learning it all starts inside you. I just want to be someone better than the dude yesterday in the mirror each morning…I think the ‘what’ is not as important as the ‘who.’

Anthony Pensabene (@content_muse)


Lastly, in the spirit of the #seomusic hashtag and Alessio’s Now That’s What SEOs Call Music post, I just wanted to let you know that this post was brought to you by the following albums:

  • …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
  • Bellowhead – Broadside
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Also, if anyone has any “who said that?” moments based on the above (where I haven’t specified a name) but you’re struggling to find out for yourself then please feel free to tweet me or leave a comment below and I’ll find out for you. I have some info saved in a spreadsheet – I’d share it publicly, but it’s in one heck of a messy, note-filled state!

[Image credits: MYS ‘banner’ and all interviewee profile images borrowed from; flag icons from Flags of the World]

An Analysis of 100 Submissions Incoming screenshot

When I interviewed Rand Fishkin about – the community-curated inbound marketing resource – earlier this year, I found his answers to be very open, interesting and eye-opening. In particular though, this answer stood out the most for me:

Steve: What’s your view on self-promotion? Should people be afraid to submit their own posts (even if they are really good, ideal for the audience), or would you much rather see people only sharing other people’s content instead?

Rand: If you’re submitting 1/100 things you produce, that’s fine. If it’s closer to 1/10, that’s probably crossing a line. We don’t currently ban/remove for self-promotion or self-submissions, but we will ban accounts that consistently submit low-quality stuff (from anywhere).

In particular, it’s that mention of the “1/100” ratio. For everyone 100 posts someone submits, 99 should be someone else’s material – not their own.

Now we’re an industry all about marketing and promotion and regardless of the industry, I think if anyone’s proud of what they’ve written and genuinely thinks that it can help others, there shouldn’t be any shame in sharing it. I think I’ve submitted close to 1/20 of my own stuff, either from SEOno, my company’s blog or in the form guest blog posts, but a) not excessively and b) only when I think it’s genuinely useful to people. Here’s an example (which flopped anyway and made me feel a little like this)!

As a daily visitor of who also regularly tucks into the Incoming page (rather than just sticking to the main page), I’ve noticed a fair few folk who do not follow this rule even close to 1/10, let alone 1/100. So I got curious…

At around 9pm (BST) on Thursday (25th October), I scraped the 100 latest incoming posts to analyse them.

Disclaimer: I’m not doing this to show anyone up, to discredit the site (which I adore!) or to highlight how Rand’s utopian view of the site does not line up with the reality. It’s purely scientific – I’m taking some data and analysing it. Treat it as a social or even a psychological experiment: i.e. here’s a site and this is what people are doing with it!

How many people self-submit?

So the first thing to check was how many people self-submit/self-promote their content. The answer? 38%. More than 1 in 3 out of the sample. Wow. Sorry Rand…

What counts as a self-submission? Some are less obvious than others, so I considered all of the following:

  • When the submitter is the owner of the blog,
  • When they’re the owner of another blog indirectly (e.g. “in association with…”)
  • When they’re the author of the post, even if it’s not on their own site (e.g. a guest blog post),
  • When they’re submitting the post of someone they work for/with,
  • When they’re submitting something from another website that still promotes them in some way (e.g. if it’s a SlideShare presentation on a talk that they’ve done, etc.)

Of course, it’s not simply a case of saying that it should be around 1%, as not all submitters are created equal (so to speak) and some people contribute more than others. I suppose it’s a bit like Dr Pete’s recent post on “X% of Queries” –  there’s other factors at play and therefore it can be interpreted a number of ways. But regardless, even if we were to say that 5-10% was a fairer figure, 38% is still considerably higher than that.

Here’s a few other random-ish observations…

Were self-submitters a certain type?

I definitely noticed that self-submitters were usually company/agency profiles. Although a few individuals self-submit (and likewise a few companies/agencies don’t), it seems the case that individuals using the site will use it as intended – sharing content that’s written by others – while companies/agencies will share their own.

Who was the most selfless submitter?

Who submitted the most posts that weren’t their own? The wonderful Aleyda Solis, who submitted 7 posts that weren’t her own. I think she deserves a link for that. 🙂

Ed Fry came second (with 4). Ed recently became the site’s general manager, so it’s good that one of’s leading figures is using the site exactly as intended.

Speaking of which, a fair few SEOmoz individuals were in the sample, including Jen and Cyrus, all of them submitting non-SEOmoz material. However you could argue that with a site like that, they don’t need to self-submit because inevitably someone else is going to do it anyway – there’s less pressure on them to consider doing so. (Note: I’m certainly not saying that they’d be that way inclined anyway, but there’s certainly a difference.)

Who was the most selfish submitter?

Who submitted the most posts that were all theirs? I’m not going to name-and-shame, and luckily for me, it was a tie between a few people, so it doesn’t seem feasible to link to them all anyway (hah)! But there were a few people who’d submitted 2 of their own posts and just that – no one else’s.

I won’t say who, but in particular, one self-submitter has submitted 20 posts in their history and all 20 have been self-promotional. Now that is a bit sucky.

Ok, so while I don’t plan to name-and-shame, in the spirit of TAGFEE, I’m still willing to pass on the data. Want to see the spreadsheet with the full sample? You can view it here.

General hat tips

I wanted to end on a few notes of thanks…

Cheers to @Andrew_Isidoro of SEOFoSho for recommending a scraper tool for me to use in order to obtain the data from the site. While I used a different one in the end, I still wanted to say thanks.

Cheers also to @ir_emery, @Nonentity and @paulgailey/ for recommending Google Drive as the best/easiest way to share a spreadsheet online.