Never underestimate the power of a group of pissed off SEOs protecting one of their own.  Or at least that is what the whole Iacquire drama over the past week has shown us.  If you happen to indirectly attack someone who is buddy buddy with some other well known SEOs, well, the fireworks will commence.

In one corner, we have Michael King (@ipullrank), Director of Inbound Marketing for Iacquire.  In the other corner, we have Josh Davis (@JoshD), writer and publisher of, who did all the research and original post about Iacquire’s link tactics.

It all started with @JoshD writing about some suspicious link requests he received which led to the downfall of the SEO agency Iacquire.  But because @ipullrank happened to work for Iacquire, Josh has been vilified in the industry by those who back Michael, despite the fact that Josh did an amazing piece of investigative work, including screenshots, responses and connecting the dots between the various companies iacquire was hiding behind.

And let’s be fair, I am sure that Josh didn’t set out with the plan of getting Iacquire banned from Google, because that was unprecedented for Google to ban an agency who was doing the link buying rather than the site that was benefitting from those link buys.  He was rather highlighting a case where he was repeatedly contacted by someone wanting to buy links, and it annoyed him enough to look into who it was.  As I am sure many SEOs would have done the same if they were being harassed by a company over paid links.

Whether you support outing or not (I am personally not a fan and wouldn’t do it myself, but it is what it is), as far as outtings go, this was the most researched one I think the industry has ever seen.  He could have simply posted some screenshot emails, called out Iacquire for buying links, and not bothered to do fact checking or tried to get responses from both sides.  He made it interesting, he had all the facts.  Yes, it resulted in Google banning the site, but I could not see Google doing something so brazen unless they had absolute proof Iacquire was behind it all.

But talk about circling the wagons.  Michael King is still really a “new kid on the block” who rose to stardom pretty quickly due to his connections with SEOMoz and SMX, but has quickly garnered a very loyal following, judging from the tweets attacking Josh.  Here is a sample (click on each image to go to the Twitter link for each tweet).

Then of course, those supporting Michael under the “he can do no wrong” mentality.

One, I am pretty sure he wasn’t framed, he just had the misfortune of working for the company who got busted for link buying.  And two, what Google did is to show Iacquire and Michael that yes, the rules do apply to them too.

In defense of Josh and his outting, there really wasn’t that many,  although many were tweeting his article without adding personal negative feelings about him doing the outting.

Then there was this exchange, where Yoast stood up for Josh, but I think Alan Bleiweiss (@AlanBleiweiss) sums it up best with “Ben, it’s called human professional respect and courtesy.  Seriously.”  And that pretty much says what most people on Team Michael weren’t doing.

And lastly, something that really truly shows what SEOs shouldn’t be about – trying to out someone simply because you don’t agree with their opinion, which seemed to be in response to a comment made on the original Search Engine Land thread about Iacquire.

Would this mob mentality have happened if Michael King wasn’t a Director at Iacquire?  I highly doubt it.  There have been other SEO companies (SEO Inc comes to mind) that had been banned years ago in Google, and SEOs celebrated that fact when it happened.  The same thing happened when a nameless SEO was arrested and charged (I am not naming names because he has paid his dues to society, as far as I am aware) and industry people all circled the wagons to email his local newspaper and the judge that the charges couldn’t possibly be correct, and they had the wrong guy, it must be someone else with the same name.

It’s definitely not dying out yet (as you can tell from the dates on some of the screen shots) and I am sure the name calling and bashing will continue until Iacquire returns to the Google index – if it ever does.  Should Josh have written what he did? I think so simply because he had the facts to back it up, and it was so much more worthy than the usual “OMG ___ has this spammy backlink they must be spamming!” that we often see. Plus if Iacquire had taken a lesson on how not to piss off people with repeated paid link requests, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion – they are the real people to blame because if it wasn’t Josh, I am sure it wouldn’t have been long before their aggressive tactics caused another SEO to do exactly what Josh did.  You know this will show up on some case studies at future conferences about what not to do!

By 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.

23 thoughts on “The Mob Mentality of SEOs”
  1. Happy to see a reasonable take on the feeding frenzy that occurred in this most recent drama. I think you’re spot on. If this was someone that no one in the fishbowl of insider seoball had ever heard of (and how’s that for a really bad analogy mashup?) I gather JoshD would have posts at some community forums singing his praises. Too much turns on personality and politics and I think it’s interesting that the louder voices – the same that decry the unfairness of ‘outsiders’ painting SEOs as charlatans – are the first to attack anything exposed by an outsider – regardless of how legitimate.

    But I guess people look at things through their own lenses, and they can’t imagine someone writing a blog post because they really were surprised by what they found to be happening. They assume JoshD’s motivations must match their own (write only for pageviews, attention, and links). I think that’s off in this case, and it’s unfortunate that JoshD has been so brutalized by the ‘professionals’ in SEO. The lessons that should have been learned in all of this were completely lost among the personal attacks.

  2. Because you’re talking about journalistic integrity I’ll point out that the tweet you grabbed from me was taken completely out of context and was in reference to Mike not needing to spend his day responding to trolls and personal attacks because he’s too smart to get caught up in bullshit. The tweet came after I encouraged him to focus on real work. It didn’t have anything to do with the situation.

  3. Outing has consequences and not being trusted by most of the SEO community is one of them. Josh wanted attention and he got it but personally, I don’t think the cost was worth it.

    Secondly, my tweets to Mike were simply asking for him to share his side of the story as I thought the iAcquire blog post on the topic was somewhat lacking.

    1. Yep, everything has their consequences. Remember that next time you’re buying links.

  4. Well well… To clarify, my grumpy tweet was an outburst based on the argument that outing in the way that Josh did it could have had very serious implocations for the companies involved, could have cost people jobs and business. People with families and mortgages and responsibilities.

    It seems to me that the rash of outings we have seen are entirely based around either a delusional belief that Google are the good guys (Look at todays shopping news if you want to see behind that mask) or through a vain and odious need to appear popular in an industry populated by self promoting individuals.

    And for the record I am not a supporter of Mike in any way, I would suggest that I probably disagree with about 90% of what he publically says so I wouldnt include me in any protective ‘mob’.

    And not even a link to my site…. how far we have fallen 🙂

  5. I am enjoying the write show. As of now, i got no response nor a comment, let me continue waiting till its okay to join the talk. I like everything here!!

  6. You either get mobbed by one group for pointing out an element of hypocrisy in a well-liked SEO or you get mobbed by another for seeming to gloat in moral superiority like Dan Thies did. Either way, it’s a mob mentality that seeks to stifle differing opinions and it’s pretty stupid.

  7. […] The Mob Mentality of SEOs, ShoeMoney […]

  8. […] The Mob Mentality of SEOs, ShoeMoney […]

  9. Google has even taken action, so this shows that they are very quick with all this.

  10. Bad PR is better than no PR. I’m sure Josh was anticipating the aftermath…

  11. […] The Mob Mentality of SEOs, ShoeMoney […]

  12. Too much regrettable grammar on this page. Thanks for the suggested link, but my preferred form of SEO is a more concise query.

    Good luck with the nebulous.

  13. […] The Mob Mentality of SEOs, ShoeMoney […]

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  15. we can say that this one is great sharing but finding about social media checklist – and i got your post but anyway its very very impressive post and content which is very user friendly. so thanks for sharing this type of things with us.

  16. An often overlooked strategy is to scare the crap out of your competition about the tactics they’re using while working feverishly behind the scenes scaling the same methods. Fearmongering is good for business.

    “Thou doth protest too much”

  17. […] The Mob Mentality of SEOs, ShoeMoney […]

  18. People need to stop outing. The fact is they are manipulating the results as much as the other guy. The only difference is that iAcquire is doing a much better job than most…

  19. Nobody likes a whistle blower, even if the outing was backed up by substantial research. The backlash wouldn’t have taken place if JoshD gathered the facts and discussed it discreetly with Google so he so that he could get the link buying company off his back.

  20. wow! isnt everyone doing this for 1 thing and its $$$$$. that dude is such a hater. if people didnt open their big mouths alot of these methods wouldn’t even be exposed to google! i think everyone in IM does some sort of black hat. its impossible to not to.

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