The Bitter Irony of Hiring SEOs via Google…

INTRO: This post had been in SEOno‘s Drafts for over six months, and I never thought that I’d ever publish it. However, following Doc’s open letter post, and particularly this comment – “I’m not whining about my lost organic traffic. I’m fortunate, in that the vast majority of my business comes from client referrals. I don’t need Google, in that regard.” – I thought that I’d post it on here instead.

Bitter Lemons photoIn recent months, I’ve had my SEO skills questioned by other SEOs on two occasions.

The first time was a few months ago, regarding a blog post I’d written for Box UK (my previous employer). Some arsehole lovely individual left an anonymous comment saying that I “should be sacked” from my SEO role at the company because the post’s title and meta description weren’t optimised. Granted, I didn’t write the post to rank for anything (more on that later), but I’m wondering if this person’s opinion on optimisation was the old school “keyword1, keyword2, keyword3, adnauseum” approach, because, y’know, that’s how you SEO things!* But well, yeah, y’know that’s just like your opinion, man.

* Eagle-eyed readers will spot that that sentence was (mostly) sarcasm…

The second time was a few days ago, regarding my new website’s copy. Someone I know told me that while there were instances of some of the keywords in the titles, meta descriptions, body copy, etc., they felt that it may not be enough to rank.

So it’s inspired me to say something that I’ve wanted to say for ages, that I’m sure will rock the boat (or should that be ‘shift the rankings’) of a few people in our industry. Continue reading “The Bitter Irony of Hiring SEOs via Google…”

7 Digital Entrepreneurs Talk Business

I love a good business-focused post, so I thought it would be nice to reach into the business minds of seven fellow digital entrepreneurs and find out about their approach to business.
Here are the interviewees:

Matthew Taylor – Owner of – a digital marketing agency.


Rachel McCombie – Freelance Copywriter at


Alex Moss – Online Marketer, WordPress Developer and Director at

alex-moss Continue reading “7 Digital Entrepreneurs Talk Business”

6 Tips For Avoiding Content Creation Burnout

It’s something every content creator will suffer – but few people seem to talk about: Burnout. Those moments where you’re stuck, staring into a monitor (or maybe at your ceiling), feeling like you just can’t possibly input one more keystroke. Sometimes you just get stuck trying to think of what to write about (or videotape, or record or… well, you get the picture). Other times, you’ve simply drained all your creativity and feel like a bit of a zombie.

How can you avoid finding yourself in this place again? Here are 6 tips to help you avoid frustration.

1. Ideate in Advance

One of the most frustrating parts of the content creation process is trying to come up with great ideas to create content about. I recently wrote a quick little guide to content ideation that might come in handy. The key is to spend a lot of creative energy at the beginning of the process, brainstorming ideas that will last you months down the road. That way, coming up with a topic will be as simple as choosing from a list, instead of staring into a keypad and wishing you were at Disneyland or on a beach somewhere.

2. Repurpose Content Whenever You Can

Wouldn’t it be great if just one idea could last you multiple pieces of content, without getting stagnant or old? That’s the whole idea behind repurposing. I also wrote about this a short while ago; but the key tenets:

  • Work around one big idea that will make sense in a lot of different formats (it can be broad or specific).
  •  Be deliberate, intense and organized with your research, as this will be the core of your pieces
  • Start by creating one big resource (a “cornerstone” that your other content will point to. Usually a guide, eBook or whitepaper).
  • Create smaller pieces across multiple formats (video, blog posts, images, social shares, whitepapers, slide decks, etc.) that capture the core message but in a different way or with a slightly different angle.

If you can turn your one big piece of content into many little ones, you’ll save time, money and creative energy while still producing things worth reading. Continue reading “6 Tips For Avoiding Content Creation Burnout”

Another Open Letter: to Google

On 3-20, in the wake of Google’s recent Blogger Blitzkrieg, one of my sites received notification of a sitewide manual penalty for outbound links. Apparently, having links to a site that Google has decided violates guidelines that are, at best, vaguely related to the target site’s practices, is sufficient to justify accusations of link selling and link schemes.

I immediately added nofollow to all outbound links (even to Google properties… you have warned us to nofollow links to sites we don’t trust, after all) and submitted my reconsideration request. No response yet, but by the morning of the 24th, my site appeared for its own name again. Hard to imagine that it wouldn’t, really.

What is the goal?

I’ve already made my feelings known on Google’s heavy-handed, scattergun-style penalty distribution methods in a previous post, so I won’t bore you with repetition. In the off chance that you might have missed my original open letter, by all means, please read it.

This letter has a different purpose, however… I hope to appeal to your collective sense of reason. I could lay out dozens of examples of communication that could be advantageous for Google, its users and webmasters, but I’ll keep it simple.

Google wants to clean up the internet. That’s a given – I get it. Believe it or not, I even support it. I hate spam and spammers. I hate seeing crappy sites sitting at the top of the SERPs because of their crappy tactics, while sites that comply 100% with Google’s Guidelines sit a page or three deep. And I hate seeing those compliant sites hammered into oblivion for one mistake while their competitors continue to ride high with scores of violations. And many of my colleagues feel the same. Continue reading “Another Open Letter: to Google”

3 Site Integrity Issues So Basic They’re Often Forgotten

I’ve been talking to a lot of prospects lately, from large and small organisations, with a common theme being that whilst reviewing their websites, whether they are brochure sites or large, complex ecommerce sites, their sites display a lack of site integrity.

By this, I’m mostly referring to common items, like monitoring and fixing broken links, cleaning up after page URL changes or improperly transferring from a previous domain.

All of these items chip away at a website’s authority and we’ve found that fixing these items alone can really help boost a website’s visibility in search engines.

Broken Links

Broken links just happen with websites. You link to great external resources which get moved without you realising and the other site doesn’t redirect these properly (or simply deletes them, the fools). Sometimes this happens internally on a website, particularly when multiple stakeholders have the ability to change a website without thinking about the implications of the changes that they’re making.

You might think that case study is out of date now and needs to be deleted and later replaced with a new kickass one, but did you remember to remove the links to this page from the rest of the website?

So, how do you find all these broken links? My favourite tool for this is, of course, the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, of which I’m a big fan (here’s a picture of me wearing my Screaming Frog Hoodie which they kindly sent me).


Continue reading “3 Site Integrity Issues So Basic They’re Often Forgotten”

An Open Letter to Matt Cutts, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, et al.

Why would I write an open letter to people I don’t know, have never met and will probably never share a beer with? How about this: because they need to hear this… not because it comes from me, but because it is coming from from a large portion of Google’s user base.

Call it hate-mail or call it whining, if you like, but it’s neither. Maybe it’s tough love, maybe its venting… or maybe it’s a wake-up call. However each of you decide to categorize it, recognize the fact that it is coming from a hell of a lot of people, each of whom holds a small portion of your company’s future in their hands.


At 5:20 pm PST, 3-20-14, I received a sitewide manual penalty for outbound links in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines on one of my sites, Google’s Spam Team decided that this site is guilty of “unnatural, artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links” that “may be the result of selling links that pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

Webmaster Tools - Manual Actions - http___docsheldon.com__2014-03-21_00-31-58

Continue reading “An Open Letter to Matt Cutts, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, et al.”

Collateral Damage

cross hairds
They say there is no smoke without fire, but, the latest “attack” and round of penalties from Google has left a lot of “innocent” people in the crosshairs of the web spam team and wondering what the hell is going on.

Let me explain.

We have all seen this tweet.



We all knew who it meant. Continue reading “Collateral Damage”

Hi Julie! Did You Know What An Idiot You Are?

Put on your Hammer pants because it’s fussin’ time. (Note: Even I don’t have any idea what that means.)

I have a high tolerance for spam emails because, as a link builder, I spam the piss out of people so it’s a bit hypocritical for me to get all high and mighty. However, I am indeed going to climb up on a high horse right now because I’ve truly had it with these guys.


Here’s the thing: I very rarely respond in a rude fashion even when people are begging for me to jump ugly, so it really does take a lot. I will certainly talk a giant amount of shite of course, behind their backs. ANYHOO, I’m currently being besieged by companies who are offering to sell me SEO leads. I was actually planning to rant a bit about SEO companies who point out that my site isn’t ranking on the first page of Google for some keywords that they don’t actually mention to me in their snotty emails, but I’m heading for the leads people instead because they are about as obnoxious as Bono. I’ll soon get to the “your rankings are freaking NOWHERE!” people though, don’t worry.

My latest lead-gen exchange went something like this, and for this post I’ll call the company “Dimwith and Dunderfloppin”, and I’ll be “Lady Latika.” No no, I’ll be Julie. Continue reading “Hi Julie! Did You Know What An Idiot You Are?”

Where is Google Taking Us?

Those of us that work in online marketing are well aware that Google is constantly changing the way it selects which sites to show in the SERPs, in which order of importance to display them, and even which sites to downgrade or exclude.

Many site owners may be only vaguely aware of what criteria Google uses in its efforts to respond to a searcher’s query. After all, it’s pretty much a full-time job to keep up, since the search engine’s algorithms are in a constant state of flux.

The Dominant Trend: From SERP Results to Answers


Nevertheless, some trends are fairly obvious to those that pay attention. Things like Instant, Knowledge Graph and Rich Snippets were a few products that were quickly noticed by even casual searchers. But looking at many such features, over time, can help in detecting trends. And those trends can sometimes show you where Google may be taking us.

Google-SERP-Monopoly2Google has made it quite clear, in both statement and deed, that the era of “10 blue links” has passed. They now strive to answer questions right in the SERPs, rather than provide us with links to sites that may answer our questions.

What does this mean to site owners? A couple of things, actually. First, in the short term, it accentuates the need to have pages that are highly relevant to the questions we want our pages to answer. For now, at least, that strategy can still help a page rank highly for specific topics. But what about the long term? Will that really be enough? Continue reading “Where is Google Taking Us?”

brightonSEO Workshops and Conference Exclusive

Exclusive 10% Discount for brightonSEO Workshops and Conference 2 Day Ticket

If you work in search, it’s a fair assumption you’ve attended, or have at least heard of brightonSEO. Starting a few years ago as a meet up in a room above a pub, the conference has grown into a huge 2 day event running twice a year at Brighton Dome. This year, 1700 free conference tickets disappeared in 10 minutes and with workshop and paid attendees added to that, there’s expected to be a whopping 2000+ delegates taking over Brighton on April 23-25th.

Although the free tickets sold out, there are still workshop spaces available, which give you a day’s worth of hands-on training in your chosen field with an industry expert, and then a place at the conference the following day. The even better news is that the crew behind the event are offering Meld readers a 10% discount on tickets! Simply use the discount code “Meld10” on the eventbrite booking form for the discount to automatically be applied. Continue reading “brightonSEO Workshops and Conference Exclusive”