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My geeky tattoo – the original Google PageRank equation

I’ve posted it on Twitter, but I thought it deserved a post all of its own!

I have 3 tattoos, a Celtic dragon on my left arm, a large pinup on my right shoulder, but I decided I wanted a new one, something that showed my love of my profession, and my extremely geeky side.

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The Rainbow Dash Theory of Content

Rainbow DashIt was last year that I wrote a post asking one very simple question. Can you be a good SEO by following the teachings of My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic. I'm not sure that I came to any solid conclusions, and ended up comparing the @Moz TAGFEE culture to the My Little Pony elements of harmony…look it up, they're practically identical!

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How to make a proper sandwich, or manwich, man up, go big, or go home!

Upon visiting my hetero life mate at the weekend and feeling the pangs of hunger on Friday night, we decided to embark on the creation of a sandwich, but not just any sandwich, a Man Vs Food style Manwich. It is dubbed the manwich because the term “man sandwich” brings up all sorts of wrong connotations. In this post, I’m going to lay down how to make a proper sandwich. Continue reading

I tweeted a lot during #linklove

Now, I know I tweet a lot during events, particularly if I’m not live blogging the event, but I have to confess, I didn’t realise it was enough to put me into an infographic. Created by the good folk at Geekyscribbles, it shows which sessions at linklove had the most online dicussion as well as who the top tweeters were. I consistently think that the Distilled events are the best SEO/inbound marketing events in the UK with a good mix of insight, learning, new tools and actionable tips. This was the last linklove ever, probably because our mission as SEOs is changing from getting links by any means possible to getting the right links through providing good content.

And, as I appear on said infographic, it would be rude not to post it on my blog (with appropriate link love of course).

LinkLove - The Inevitable Infographic

Courtesy of: GeekyScribbles

There was a lot to take away from linklove, and as I was apparently too busy tweeting to my peers to write it all down, here are some of the best round-ups by those who were taking more notes than I was:

Koozai – Over 100 Amazing Tips from Linklove 2013

Strategy Internet Marketing – 152 Actionable Tips From Distilled’s linklove 2013 (PS – Love the animated gifs on this page)

State of Search – The Future Of Link Building, Will Critchow at Linklove

State of Search – Small Business SEO for £350 A Month, Ade Lewis

As I said, this was the last Linklove, but that doesn’t mean that Distilled is finished in the event business. We have Searchlove to look forward to in October and I’ll hopefully see you all there.

Les Miserables – Facebook style #lesmiserables

With the Les Miserables movie out soon, I wondered, what would it be like on facebook

A Portrait

Now I’m not usually one to share my artistic and literary side and in full myspace page logic, I’m going to express my feelings using someone else’s words.

I can’t remember when I first heard this poem, but it’s stuck with me for years….not all of it mind, but snippets, particularly the “Unless to speculate…” verse

anyway, enjoy….

A Portrait

Old: yet unchanged — still pottering in his thoughts;
Still eagerly enslaved by books and print;
Less plagued, perhaps, by rigid musts and oughts,
But no less frantic in vain argument;

Still happy as a child, with its small toys,
Over his inkpot and his bits and pieces–
Life’s arduous, fragile, and ingenuous joys,
Whose charm failed never — nay it even increases!

Ev’n happier in watch of bird or flower,
Rainbow in heaven, or bud on thorny spray,
A star-strewn nightfall, and that heart-break hour
Of sleep-drowsed senses between dawn and day;

Loving the light-laved eyes in those wild hues!
And dryad twilight, and the thronging dark;
A Crusoe ravished by mere solitude–
And silence — edged with music’s faintest Hark!

And any chance-seen face whose loveliness
Hovers, a mystery, between dream and real;
Things usual yet miraculous that bless
And overwell a heart that still can feel;

Haunted by questions no man answered yet;
Pining to leap from A clean to Z;
Absorbed by problems which the wise forget;
Avid for fantasy — yet how staid a head!

Senses at daggers with his intellect;
Quick, stupid; vain, retiring; ardent, cold;
Faithful and fickle; rash and circumspect;
And never yet at rest in any fold;

Punctual at meals; a spendthrift, close as Scot;
Rebellious, tractable, childish — long gone grey!
Impatient, volatile, tongue wearying not –
Loose, too; which yet, thank heaven, was taught to pray;

‘Childish’ indeed! a waif on shingle shelf
Fronting the rippled sands, the sun, the sea;
And nought but his marooned precarious self
For questing consciousness and will-to-be;

A feeble venturer — in a world so wide!
So rich in action, daring, cunning, strife!
You’d think, poor soul, he had taken Sloth for bride,
Unless the imagined is the breath of life;

Unless to speculate bring virgin gold,
And Let’s-pretend can range the seven seas,
And dreams are not mere tales by idiots told,
And tongueless truth may hide in fantasies;

Unless the alone may their own company find,
And churchyards harbour phantoms ‘mid their bones,
And even a daisy may suffice a mind
Whose bindweed can redeem a heap of stones;

Too frail a basket for so many eggs–
Loose-woven: Gosling? cygnet? Laugh or weep?
Or is the cup at richest in its dregs?
The actual realest on the verge of sleep?

One yet how often the prey of doubt and fear,
Of bleak despondence, stark anxiety;
Ardent for what is neither now nor here,
An Orpheus fainting for Eurydice;

Not yet inert, but with a tortured breast
At hint of that bleak gulf — his last farewell
Pining for peace, assurance, pause, and rest,
Yet slave to what he loves past words to tell;

A foolish, fond old man, his bed-time nigh,
Who still at western window stays to win
A transient respite from the latening sky,
And scarce can bear it when the Sun goes in.

-Walter de la Mare

The laziest SEO Spam email I’ve ever read! #fail

I have just seen the most laughably lazy SEO spam ever.



This is Baldwin Dsuja from an SEO company based in India. I was going through your website and I see website is very niche. However it is not ranking anywhere, for your industry keywords. I see your competitors are ranking very well due to right SEO strategy and you are losing business because of low visibility on Internet.

We are having a special offer for you on the occasion of Christmas. To let this offer and make your Christmas more special by availing more sales for your business come to us.

If you are interested in getting your website rank higher please reply me on this email with the list of keywords and domain which you want to target. I will send you free detailed analysis report of your website.

Looking forward for your earliest response.


Baldwin Dsuja

How wonderfully lazy is this, he was apparently going though my website, checked my rankings for my industry keywords and all that competitor research.

Yet right at the end, he asks what domain and keywords I’m looking to target…..but surely he knew all that due to all the “research” he’s done

major fail

Is there too much content on the web??

This post is pretty much a meandering thought rather than a firm conclusion.

With the shift of late in our industry to look at content marketing, the idea of creating something cool, that will be shared or linked to, or a guest blog post to gain a backlink, it’s started me wondering whether we have too much content on the web and whether the best way to market for our clients is to create yet more of it.

I would say that 1 in 100 sites is actually good, and in that 1 site, probably 1 in 10 articles is actually worth reading. Probably 1 in 10,000 sites is truly exceptional and has truly exceptional content (and no, I don’t consider my search marketing related rants to be one of them)

We have multiple sites giving us the same content, writing essentially the same article over and over and over. We dress it up in new ways, but it comes down to the same familiar themes and the same familiar conclusions.

Good examples of this are the:

  • SEO Is Dead
  • Social is the new search
  • shares and the new links

etc etc etc, blah blah blah yawn yawn yawn.

So, when there is so much similar content on the web, similar infographics, similar articles, similar conclusions, similar websites and if only 1% of articles are actually worth reading, you have to start wondering whether it is truly the quality of your content that drives it’s popularity, or essentially the public relations job done by the site to set themselves up as the authority, the site that is worth reading to the exclusion of all the others writing the same articles.

Is your SEO is dead article better than the 176,000 articles that came before it and asked the same question and gave the same answer? (based upon a Google exact match search for the term “SEO is dead”

So what gives a site this edge, makes it the one to read, even if they’re later breaking news than other sites etc…

I’ll say this, off the top of my head, it’s unlikely to be the quality of the written content.

For our industry, I would put the following as reasons:

  1. The site’s personality
    A site that becomes a personality in itself is likely to be read as a matter of course.
  2. The author’s personality and social equity
    Are any of the “SEO rockstars” (hideous term) associated with the site, if so, this is going to help the content spread.
  3. The community behind the site
    Does the site have an active community that  slavishly shares and links to everything written on the site?

The “best” sites in our industry of course, have all 3.

Is the quality of the written content going to help a shopping site?

Of course I have sites that I like, we all do, and we see something and think “Hey, that looks cool” such as Hipmunk or Modcloth and we talk about it in our industry as good examples, but when it comes down to it, unless you’re looking for a particularly bespoke or rare item, the main driver of most online shoppers is price and convenience, not a well tended blog!

With so many price search sites out there my main drivers to visit a website would be:

  1. Is it the cheapest?
  2. Are there any vouchers available that will make it cheaper?
  3. Can I go through quidco and get a percentage of my cash back making it even cheaper?
  4. Does the site look legit? Or does it look like a crappy affiliate site.
  5. How quickly can it be delivered without huge delivery prices?
  6. How easily can I return it if it’s shit?

I might go and look at items on other “prettier” sites when deciding what I want to purchase and read your carefully curated reviews, or view your product videos, but when it comes to the actual purchase process, my thinking is particularly linear and is purely price driven and I don’t particularly care if a site has nice videos showing the item. If they’re not the cheapest with the best customer service record, they’re not getting my custom!

We’re told over and over in our industry (and I’ve said it before as well) that “Content is King”, but that’s only partly true, you can have the best content in the world, but if nobody’s reading it, or even reading it viewing your videos etc, but then not buying from your site then I hate to say it, but your content is failing.

Look perhaps less at writing yet another blog entry of how satchels are in this year, or creating yet more video and look at converting the traffic you’re bringing in. Look to optimise your conversion process, unless you’re selling bespoke luxury items, work to keep your prices as low as possible.

Quality content is important, but in a world where everyone is spewing out “quality” content,  perhaps it’s time to concentrate your efforts elsewhere. Good brand, good customer service, low prices, good community loving your site, and you pretty much can’t go wrong.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – What can it teach you about SEO?

It was probably only 6 months ago that My Little Pony: Friendship is magic came into my life, but I can’t deny that, as a grown man in his late 30s, I like the show. My name is Jim, and I am a brony!

Anyway, for those not familiar with the show, this set up what the first episode is about

Anyway, Twilight Sparkle rushes to tell Princess Celestia and, she is told to stop reading those dusty old books and is sent to Ponyville with her little dragon Spike to check on the preperations for the Summer Sun Celebration (with me so far??)

Twilight Sparkle arrives in Ponyville and she is introduced to the six ponies in charge of various parts of the celebretion; Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Rarity who all want to be Twilight Sparkle’s friend. Worried that Nightmare Moon is returning, she wishes to research the elements of Harmony.  At the end of part one, Nightmare Moon appears and the sun doesn’t rise.

Determined to restore balance in the world, Twilight Sparkle and her new friends, seek out the elements of harmony is a scary forest and Nightmare Moon puts obstacles in their way to stop them.

Long story short, this is how it ends:

So, by recognising the Elements of Harmony in her friends, Twilight Sparkle was able to summon, the most powerful element, that of magic, and defeat Nightmare Moon restoring balance and daylight back to Equestria.

So let’s break down these Elements of Harmony and try to apply them to SEO and search marketing, let’s start with the first pony that Twilight Sparkle meets:

Pinkie Pie

Pinkie Pie – The Element of Laughter

Pinkie Pie is the quintessential party pony, you can see that by her balloon cutie mark, she is always upbeat and unlike the other ponies, she bounces rather than walks. Pinkie Pie can teach us three things.

  • Firstly, never give up, outreach is hard, it’s boring and it can be utterly soul destroying when things aren’t going your way, but try to find the fun in what you’re doing, make a game of it and pretty soon, you’ll be making those links like you wouldn’t believe.
  • Find the fun in your niche, I admit that this can sometimes be hard, but if you can find something fun in a dull niche, you’re gonna get a huge amount of links from it as websites who are only used to posting dull things, post your content as a breath of fresh air.
  • If all else fails…..Party

ApplejackApplejack – The Element of Honesty

Applejack is a country pony who lives and works at Sweet Apple Acres, Ponyville’s apple orchard and cider making farm. Applejack is a reliable and hard-working pony, although headstrong about doing things on her own. She tackles the annual apple harvest all by herself while her brother Big McIntosh recovers from an injury in the episode Applebuck Season, she represents the element of honesty.

We can learn a lot from Applejack. SEO suffers from being an industry that’s coupled with a lot of mistrust, we can be seen as shady, however there has been in a shift in the industry of late to try and become more open and honest. Honest SEOs with good advice are becoming easier to find and they’re no longer keeping their secrets in caves.

Also, Applejack’s work ethic is something to be admired and emulated. What people don’t realise is that SEO is hard work because not only do you have the long tedious hours of link building, the meticulousness of technical SEO, you also have to keep up with a field that moves faster than most. The world of SEO changes on a daily basis and we as search engine marketers have to keep up, we need to make sure we’re ahead of the curve and that is a lot of hard work, watching Google like a hawk, reading blogs and tweets every day.

FluttershyFluttershy – The Element of Kindness

Fluttershy is a female Pegasus pony and probably one of my favourites ever since Jessica Nigri did a photoshoot as her. She lives in a cottage near the Everfree Forest and is an animal caretaker, the most prominent of her charges being Angel the bunny. She represents the element of kindness.

You can get a lot from SEO if you keep the element of kindness in your heart, think about what you can do for others, look for ways to help people online and build relationships rather than build links. A good relationship and empathy can give you much much more than a single link and it’s worth remembering that.

As her name suggests, Fluttershy is a very shy pony, when she first meets Twilight Sparkle, she can barely get her name out, but when she needs to be, Fluttershy can be quite brave. Our industry has changed somewhat and some people who are more at home staring at a computer screen full of code have had to adapt to outreach and speaking to new people. For some people, this can be hard, if you’re a naturally shy person, keep Fluttershy in your hearts and minds when doing outreach, if she can overcome her shyness, so can you.

Rarity – The Element of Generousity

Rarity is a unicorn pony who resides in Ponyville. Rarity works as both a fashion designer and as a seamstress at her own shop, the Carousel Boutique. She has a white Persian cat named Opalescence. Her personality traits consist of elegance and generosity, for which she represents the element of generosity.

There are two things that Rarity immediately gives us, she loves everything elegant and beautiful and although beautiful design and SEO don’t always go hand in hand, it’s much easier to optimise an attractive site, and by attractive, I don’t just mean on the outside (although getting shares for a nice piece of design is always easier) and Rarity knows that beauty is more than skin deep. A beautifully organised site, with a well defined structure with proper semantic mark up is much more beautiful to an SEO than one that is aesthetically pleasing.

Also, being generous with your time online pays off, spending your time helping others will pay dividends

Rainbow Dash – The Element of Loyalty

Rainbow Dash is a Pegasus pony. She is responsible for maintaining the weather and clearing the skies in Ponyville.  In Sonic Rainboom, Rarity and Princess Celestia both declare that she is the best flier in all of Equestria. She represents the element of loyalty.

I must admit, loyalty, although an admirable trait is a difficult one to equate with SEO, Good SEOs are loyal to our industry, they’re loyal to their customers but on a day to day basis, a sense of loyalty will not give you any major SEO advantage so I will just say this.

Be loyal (if you can) to Google’s webmaster guidelines, try to keep your hat white (or as light grey as possible) and you will be rewarded by never falling down the rankings (assuming Google haven’t messed up)

Twilight Sparkle – The Element of Magic

Twilight Sparkle is a unicorn pony and the main protagonist of the series. After the events of the first episode, she moves from Canterlot to Ponyville in order to continue the study of friendship under Princess Celestia’s tutelage, and regularly maintains correspondence with the Princess. She lives at the town’s library along with her assistant, Spike, and her pet owl, Owlowiscious. She represents the element of magic.

SEO magic is a truly rare thing, when everything just lines up and true magic occurs, we use the word awesome a lot in our industry but rarely are things actually awesome, they’re quite good, or fairly cool. So let’s amend it to mean exceptional.

When you do something truly exceptional, it’s the best kind of SEO. The kind that requires no actual marketing. Put all your energies into creating something truly exceptional and true SEO magic, the most powerful of the elements of harmony will occur.

The SEOMoz Team are so obviously Bronies!

I didn’t realise it when I started this post but it became more and more obvious as I wrote it, but the My Little Pony Elements of Harmony and the SEOMoz TAGFEE culture have an awful lot in common, if you consider the 5 tenets of TAGFEE, they are 5 of the 6 Elements of Harmony:

Transparent & Authentic: Applejack – Element of Honesty

Generous: Rarity – Element Of Generousity

Fun: Pinkie Pie – Element of Laughter

Empathetic: Fluttershy – Element of Kindness

Exceptional: Twilight Sparkle – Element of Magic

So I’ve taken the liberty of throwing together a Rand Fishkin pegasus pony with Roger Cutie Mark using this great Pony Creator

So try to remember….

So can you be an effective SEO whilst still holding true to the teachings of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? I’m not sure I have an answer to be honest, but keep Ponyville in your heart, love and tolerate everyone and everything, be honest, hard working, generous, kind, loyal and fun and you too can hopefully summon SEO magic

We’ll end with this:

Thanks for reading everypony

SEO Spam – Everyone else now fed up with it???

I love my job, I love the field that I work in. I truly hate the fact that our industry is blighted by spammers peddling outdated and dangerous SEO services!

Just recieved a mail that said this:


Hope you are well.

I am Sonia Jain -Business Development Manager.

We have a SEO offer going for the following package: -

Monthly Task and responsibilities: -

  1. 150 Directory submissions
    Pointless submission to non indexed directories
  2. 10 Social Bookmarking Submissions
  3. 10 Article Submissions (1 article x 10 article directories)
    They not heard of Panda?
  4. 10 Press Release Submissions (1 press release x 10 press release websites)
    Submission where??
  5. 10 Blog Submissions of what precisely, to what blogs, where? 
  6. 1 unique, 400 word article written
    1 whole 400 word article, probably rattled out in 5 minutes by someone with questionable English that would reflect badly on your organisation if anybody actually fucking read it
  7. 1 unique, 400 word press releases
    See above
  8. 15 One Way back links with mix PR,
    15 whole links from junk pages and still talking about pagerank
  9. Meta tags changes suggestions
    1997 called, it wants it’s SEO back
  10.  Keyword research
    Wonder if they’ve ever even heard of transactional keywords
  11. Competitor Analysis
    That would be interesting to see, what do they do, google you and copy the front page
  12. Heading tag changes
    Changing what tags now???
  13. Alt tag changes
    Great, lets stuff our alt tags full of keywords
  14. Interlinking wherever required.
    Spose this is useful, but it’s not exactly rocket science
  15. Keyword density in site content.
    Really…keyword density…for fucks sake!
  16. HTML Site Map
    What for??
  17. XML site map and Submission in webmaster tool
    Which will have no benefit on rankings whatsoever

Our Best rates for this are: – USD 150 per month per project at beginning of every month.
Please let us know in case you are interested.

Sonia Jain

OK, so we have $150 a month to do stuff that at best will have no effect whatsoever on your rankings, or at worst will get you banned from Google and can all be automated within about 10 minutes…for $150. Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work by trying to be an honest SEO, it’s obviously a very lucrative 10 minutes!

Obviously, nobody I work with would be fucking stupid enough to entertain such an idea, but there are a lot of naive people out there who may consider this as a viable option for their online business.

All I can say is before anybody looks at accepting one of these offers is DO YOUR RESEARCH, the SEO industry is becoming more and more an open book, we like sharing, we like talking, we like the sound of our own voices so don’t listen to any of these spammers before you look around.