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 🙂