Why you have been blackballed by the SEO Inner Circle

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Ever wonder why you aren’t in the “in crowd” or why you aren’t invited to any of the many super-secret forums/groups/backrooms/dinners in the SEO industry?  Why people clam up when you join up with them at the bar at any SEO conference?  Or your @replies to top industry people seemingly go unnoticed?  While you might tell yourself you just aren’t well known enough yet, the real answer might be a bit more nefarious.

Lots of people claim that if you didn’t get into the industry years ago when WebmasterWorld was the place to be, then there is no way to break into the “cool kid’s club”.  But since there are definitely new people in that inner circle of top and well known SEOs, instead of pondering how you could break into that coveted group, you should instead think about who you have screwed over in the industry, even if you think there isn’t a chance anyone found out.  More than a few times people have complained about it and I am fully aware of exactly why no one trusts them, although I won’t tell that to their face of course.  However, if that person is you, chances are good I will tell whoever you screwed over that you complained about no one trusting you 😉

Gossip in this industry travels at lightning speed.  While we don’t have the joys of Threadwatch anymore, you can bet we all communicate through IM and private forums on whatever the latest gossip is, whether it is speculation about what Google is doing or who did what.  Yes, it can be a bit highschoolish, but trust me, if you were in the inner circle, you would be doing the same to protect yourself, your bottom line and your friends from getting screwed over.

And all those private groups and forums?  Depending on whether people like you or not, those forums should definitely get your ears burning.  There are threads on a ton of people in the industry where we all have given our two cents about whether we can trust these people or not, and if not, who they screwed over in the name of better rankings or better publicity for themselves.  There is not a chance in hell I will trust someone if someone I already trust says I shouldn’t.

So want the scoop on what people have done to be blackballed?  Sorry, I am not naming and shaming (although it is sorely tempting, especially when it is someone who screwed me over), and I had to omit a couple that were way too obvious as being a specific person, but plenty of you will probably know the guilty parties (sadly, they all have more than one guilty party who has done it) or will want to speculate away.

First up is the most common way people get themselves blackballed.  There are those wannabes who decide the way to becoming well known in the industry is to out a site for spam, especially if it is a large brand site or especially clever spam that the algos do not detect yet.  True, people might talk about you for a day, do some RTs and link to your blog, but you certainly won’t be trusted after that, and you’ll always be known as “that guy”.  And yes, there is a total double standard because some people in that inner circle occasionally out sites (and yes, they do get flack for it both publicly and privately).

People in the inner circle aren’t big fans of those who constantly link bait or sensationalize everything they blog or tweet either.  Not only does it get boring really fast, there is always that unease of the next thing you’ll tweet just to get attention to yourself.  Attention whores do not make good confidantes.

There are those who are told a niche market area in confidence by someone they are friends with in the industry, then run out and immediately register a domain name or two and become competition.  True, you might get a piece of the action and make some money.  But that money is worthless when in the grand scheme of things no one ever talks to you about any kind of money making site ever again.  Affiliate managers talk (aka kiss ass) to their top affiliates, and if you are low guy on the totem pole, that affiliate manager will totally throw you under the bus and give up your name to keep that top affiliate happy.  And that affiliate friend will also throw you under the bus by singing like a canary and telling others what you pulled.

Do you love all things Google?  The inner circle of SEOs are also suspicious of anyone drinking the Google juice.  Do you sing praises of Google all day long?  Do you proudly wear your Google Dance t-shirt and plaster your laptop with a variety of Google related stickers?  That is enough to get everyone’s tinfoil hat on full alert.  There is a reason many of those in the inner circle are self-proclaimed (and often vocal) Google haters.

And that brings me to Matt Cutts.  Have you ever pulled him aside at a conference and given him the URLs of a spam network giving you headaches or that spammy competitor the algorithm hasn’t picked up yet?  Or told him about a new way of spamming that hasn’t been caught yet?  Well, you never know who that person standing 5 feet away from Matt is listening to your every word.  And I have even seen it done when Matt has a crowd around him of rock star proportions, and those people are always busted as being untrustworthy.

So next time you moan and complain that you can’t get into the popular crowd, take a look at yourself and think about what you might have done to piss some of them off.  Because chances are good we already know what you did and are laughing at you behind your back :)

About seobitch

Seobitch is a pen name for a well known female expert in the SEO industry that most of you likely already follow. She has more than a dozen years experience and is a very respected expert in the field. Seobitch can be controversial but writes about issues that most people are afraid to talk about due to their employers, clients or friends. She also loves to tackle industry issues from a different point of view than what you normally see the "complainers" of the industry complaining about. She is also open to suggestions for future topics you would like to see the SEObitch tackle.

42 thoughts on “Why you have been blackballed by the SEO Inner Circle

  1. Shane @ Thatedeguy

    I think that there are a bunch of people who are just starting out who get the feeling of being on the outside of that inner circle and then lash out when they can’t immediately find their way into that circle. Like you said, it’s a bit high school-ish, but anyone who has been on the outside of a popular cliche will attest to, it’s awfully tempting to do whatever you can to draw attention to yourself and try to gain entry. Sometimes, in desperation, I think most go a bit too far. And, as you point out, it very rarely works out well for the person trying to get in. Far better to do your work and earn their trust first.

  2. Dave

    A couple things:

    1) I thought shoemoney was writing the post until you used the word “nefarious”

    2) You wrote a lot, without saying much. “Insiders don’t trust people they are suspicious of”.

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  4. tribalNerd

    The real insider secret is simple, it’s sales…. pure and simple. If you can send sales or have a product that converts like gold, you’re in!

    Once you reach this, Sponsors invite you to parties and events like the Super Bowl, all inclusive & exclusive, and very much past a groupie dinner with a fancy elite title so some gullible sponsor will pay for it.

    Most of these social group parties/dinners are really nothing more than a group of people that got together and talked a Sponsor into covering costs. Anyone can duplicate this by standing in a lobby of the hotel at a show at 6pm, gather up anyone without dinner plans, then go tell a few sponsors you got 20-50 people, and they’ll send a staffer over…. and almost always, a Sponsor (billers love this) will pick the bill up if they get to self promote a bit.

  5. Chris Wiegman

    Interesting, you’re right in that the cool kids aren’t going to take you in if they don’t trust you, however I think you missed one massive point. The cool kids in SEO earned their name making epic stuff. The real reason any given person ain’t in that group is because they haven’t made anything of note. Mediocrity has no place on the awards platform.

  6. Brian

    At the end of the day… if you’re cool to other people, people will be cool to you. If you’re not cool (a.k.a. don’t think about the possible consequences of your actions)… people won’t be cool to you. It’s not rocket science; I’d like to say it’s common sense, but I feel common sense is not so common anymore.

  7. Blase DesMarais

    I’ve never been in a inner circle and I have always felt bad about that.

    Never one of the cool kids, never part of the in crowd.

    Now my self esteem is even lower because I just found out about another inncer circle I am not in!

    I think I’ll start the “IMINITIC” Internet Marketing I’m Not In The Inner Circle. :-)

    In all seriousness, with the Internet being so vast isn’t the inner circle of SEO that you are aware of just one of 100’s?

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  9. Zac Johnson

    The link building blog networks have taken a major beating from Google lately, as they all keep getting de-listed from Google. Over night these several hundred thousand dollar and million dollar businesses are wiped out. (BuildMyRank, LinkAuthority, RankJumpers).

    Quite interesting to watch the SEO world as of lately.

    1. Alex

      Very interesting indeed. I’d like to join the “inner circle” not to gossip and talk about other SEO’ers but to gain access to the knowledge and case studies about what SEO methods the pros are working on now.

  10. Darryl

    Sounds like the people on the outside are socially inept, part of why they are on the outside looking in. Like so much of what we do, it is about relationships and that takes time to do.

  11. browie

    I smell some sort of stab at some one or some people here and if they read it they will understand.

    This is just obvious nature but I’m thinking you’re giving some one some grief.

  12. samuel victor

    Snitches welcome… that is all this is telling me…. snitch snitch snitch…. rats

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  15. ricky solon

    this is ridiculous…it will benefit nobody…. selfish move and power trip are the worst reaction possible…. at the end of the day it makes the seo crowd looks like cry babies and unprofessionals….

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  18. Alex

    The fact you’re talking of a ‘SEO inner circle’ perfectly sums up the current problems of SEO. Full of wank.

  19. Julian sutter

    95% of those in SEO were nerds in high school, so of course we want to be in the “inner circle”. Honestly speaking though, I have found more acceptance by the fringe members than the “inner crowd” (just like high school).

  20. Jenny Halasz

    I wouldn’t be so bold as to say I’m in the inner circle, but I am on the fringes. The way I got there was by speaking at conferences and delivering great presentations. And I don’t hole up with my laptop after hours, I hang out with fellow speakers, never say anything bad about anybody, and don’t drink too much (but don’t teetotal either). Then I follow up with those people on twitter and try to keep an ongoing dialogue.

  21. Todd Malicoat

    Great post….I’ll name some names…give me a cold IPA in the bar, and turn off your recording device and I’ll give you an earful…

    At least one person ALWAYS comes to mind.

    1. Chuck

      I tend to agree with Dick! A good % of people at conferences are simply attention whores (no disrespect meant). Check this out, read my outdated book. The real “meat” is collaborating and trying. Too many people starting in SEO are looking for a magic pill to hit #1 overnight or crush a niche. The only pill is HARD WORK / SMART WORK (either on your own or outsourced). The Guru circle evolves around $$. If you can bring money to them you’re in. If you can’t then you’re on the sidelines. Good post though~

  22. jezza101

    I recall when I started working for a large commercial website (sold a few years back for a 9 figure sum so we’re talking proper big time) and at the first company party I went and introduced myself to the SEO team.

    Here’s my chance to learn the secrets, to get the “insider” knowledge that you guys don’t know about. Finally, access to the “inner circle”.

    Of course it quickly became apparent that there was no such thing. It was just a bunch of smart guys who tried different things and applied the guidelines across the site.

    No disrespect to those guys but they didn’t have much more knowledge than I, the difference was it was their job to apply it. As a large international company we had the resources to automate things such as keyword discovery, stats guys to calculate keyword profitability, content writers to target specific terms, a PR team to get us on TV etc. But none of this is a “secret”, it’s just having the resource to action it all.

    So if you are having trouble accessing an “inner circle” it’s probably because it doesn’t exist. And if it does, they have as much access to Google’s industrial secrets as the rest of us. ie none.

    Of course would be happy to be proved wrong, problem is we ain’t never gonna see that proof are we? Shhhh, it’s a secret! 😉

  23. Tracy Robinson

    I think nowadays the whole inner circle thing is a little overblown anyways, there are lots of people on the supposed “outside” of that circle that are way more successful than the “rock stars”, but they don’t go around to parties or conferences to toot their own horns because they are too busy making money.

  24. John Caskoby

    I am just one of these guys who started in july of 2007 from my room, made some quick cash, reinvest that and did nothing for like 2 years. I am just not one of these guys who want to be in a circle or something, i just want to be that type of guy that gets enough money the lazy way and enjoy life (woman)..

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