14 Things You Didn’t Know About Real SEOs

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I have been thinking about this for a while. There are so many new SEOs getting into the game and unfortunately many of them are clueless wanna-be’s. How are we to distinguish between these posers and the “Real” deal?

I have been in this industry for over a decade and during that time I have uncovered some very specific traits of Real SEOs that might help you tell the difference.

1. Real SEOs … Don’t wear hats in public

All Real SEOs own every color hat in the book. But none of them are worn in public. The idea is that if no-one sees your hat, they can’t tell what color it is. In private, most will break them all out based on the needs of the day. The SEO Purists (light and dark) will use their favorite color exclusively keeping the others in storage … “just in case”.

2. Real SEOs … Hate doing PPC

It’s true. Real SEOs would rather be a telemarketer for Traffic Power than do PPC. They “Just Say No” to track-able results and defined rule sets and revel in the unpredictable and immeasurable algorithms. What fun is it if they tell you all the rules up front.

3. Real SEOs … Go to conferences to drink

Ok, some go to speak, but mainly so they can drink for free. Real SEOs know that the real value of conferences is found at the hotel bars and the after parties. This is where the only good information is exchanged and usually accompanied by regret in the morning .

4. Real SEOs … Don’t care about algorithm updates

Real SEOs are either doing the fundamentals on a clients site which would not be affected much by an algorithm update, or working their own sites which are so far ahead of the algorithms, that an update is just the engine trying to catch up.

5. Real SEOs … Have two or more search related T-shirts

At least one is a Google Dance shirt and another is a smaller lesser known engine like MSN. Real SEOs usually don’t wear either of them and are more likely to be found wearing an SEOmoz or ShoeMoney shirt instead.

6. Real SEOs … Don’t go to the forums

Real SEOs used to go to forums all the time. As a matter of fact, I bet most Real SEOs learned the craft on those very forums. Now, Real SEOs post all of that hard earned knowledge on their own sites or friends blogs. Why give away the milk when you can monetize it yourself.

7. Real SEOs … Don’t care about rankings

Oh … they pretend to for the sake of the client and their standing in the community. But deep down it’s not the rankings that matter as much as it is the challenge of taking a broken web site and making it fly. Real SEOs love the craft, not the results; those are just a by-products.

8. Real SEOs … Have seen Danny Sullivan drunk

There are rumors that the number of times you have actually seen Danny drunk in person can influence your success in the SERPs. Additionally, buying Danny a “girly drink” is potentially an instant boost to your authority.

9. Real SEOs … Do SEO more than they write about it

Most of the time Real SEOs are doing SEO and you never hear from them. They don’t have time to write about SEO, unless of course they want to take a break and answer some of the 10,000 plus SEO questions filling their email spam folder or enter some dumb guest posting contest.

10. Real SEOs … Don’t give a damn about PageRank

Every Real SEO gets a good laugh out of all the hoopla that surrounds a Toolbar PR update. If they knew for sure when it was going to happen, gatherings would be planned and Real SEOs would be found drinking beer, eating sushi and betting on which forum or user would be first to scream “PR UPDATE!” Even odds on Digitalpoint.

11. Real SEOs … Are Geeks (even if they don’t think so)

Even if Real SEOs don’t look like Geeks, they are. They may try and be cool and aloof, but they are geeks deep down. Don’t believe me? Ask any Real SEO; they can check email, post to a blog or order pizza (via proxy) at anytime, from anywhere on the planet, without getting out of their chair. If that’s not geeky, I don’t know what is.

12. Real SEOs … Have Tamar on at least 2 friends’ lists

If you don’t know who Tamar is, then I am not sure how you made it this far down the list. You are automatically deemed an “SEO Poser”. If you only have her on 1 friends list, then you better start kissing her ass.

13. Real SEOs … Became an SEO by accident

Real SEOs didn’t start out to become SEOs, most were going for “real” jobs first. Some of the careers Real SEOs actually wanted include; Cruise Ship Comedian, Airport Luggage Handler, Pet Photographer, Urban Refuse Management, Boarder Crossing Guard and of course McDonald’s District Manager. The majority are now happy doing SEO.

14. Real SEOs … Don’t even try to explain what they do anymore

Real SEOs take great care to avoid putting themselves in the position where someone might ask “What do you do?” The average Real SEO has been asked this question over 500 times in their career and no one ever understands the answer. Now days, most Real SEOs just respond … “I’m a Spammer”, trust me, it shuts them up.

Bonus Item

15. Real SEOs … Have the URL to the leaked SEO Sex Tape

None will ever admit to having viewed it. But Real SEOs know it is not a myth and can tell you who is in it.

I am only one man, so if I have been lax and left out some important identifiers, please help me and the rest of the community by adding them here in the comments. We all need to be able to tell the Real SEOs from the SEO Posers … do your part and contribute in the comments below.

John Carcutt is the President and Founder of AppliedSEO, a search engine optimization and social media marketing firm based out of Boca Raton, Florida. John is also a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies and Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Conferences.

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  • Rhea

    Nice article and funny, which is appreciated on a Monday. I disagree with a few points, but I’ll let others argue those… I need to get back to work because #9 is definitely true.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    16. Real SEO’s … don’t have nightmares are loosing their Google rankings. Google has nightmares about Real SEO’s dominating Google.

  • Sushubh

    i agree with most points here!

  • Sarah Austin

    “It’s not the rankings that matter as much as it is the challenge of taking a broken web site and making it fly.”

    SEO is sort of like counting cards; Real SEOs like the challenge of beating the system.

  • Andrew

    good stuff…

  • Ken Jones

    I’m glad to see #13 on the list.

    Makes me feel like less of a poser.

  • Shirley Tipsy

    Cutts/Zawodny sandwich? ;P

  • Jeffrey L. Smith

    Personally, I love #4 as my choice. Great Stuff John…

  • Dan Perry

    Wow, this is great. I’d say all but one or two apply. Great job.

  • Todd Malicoat

    That was awesome – great stuff John.

  • John Carcutt

    Thanks Everyone… I had a great time writing it.

  • esoomllub

    Nice list. I’d have to say that #1 should have an exception. “Bad-ass” blackhats (as opposed to black hat kiddies) wear their hat in public, dare people to knock it off, and taunt purists for sport.

  • Web Browser

    That’s a good one 🙂

    I felt that you wrote that about me, hehe. So much true, expect that drunk guy, I don’t know who is he :-/

  • Malte Landwehr

    SEO sex tape oO

    But honestly is there any other reason but socialising (=drinking) to go to a seo conference? Does anyone expect to learn anything in a (more or less) public place?

  • Janette

    I agree, #13 best describes us. A wanna-be is an excellent place to start. What you do after that to become a great SEO is up to the individual.

    Thanks for the great article.

  • Shawn

    I do not like this post at all. I don’t find it funny – I guess #11 is in full force here. I see this as another arrogant post by an SEO elitist. I’m not trying to start trouble, but I hate these kinds of posts. Are you seriously using this criteria to define “real SEOs”? If you are that is really weak and if this is a joke or somewhere close to a joke it isn’t funny at all. The only joke here is this post.

    Some of these I find to be mildly funny, but nothing worth writing a blog about. I have to see Danny drunk or even go to these conferences at all to be considered a “real SEO”? By defining a “real SEO” through this criteria is insulting and makes you sound like you are part of a clique on a middle-school playground.

    Enjoy your time getting wasted at the bar and talking SEO secrets. I’ll be on the streets kicking your ass in rankings. AND PS – I wear all kinds of hats in public.

    Sorry for the hostility and normally I really like this blog, but you really got me going on this one. And, for the record I do like #9.

  • Shirley Tipsy

    Wow Shaun, angry much? Anyone can see that this post was written to make light of all of the things that we in the industry know about each other. John is certainly not implying that anyone is less of an SEO for not knowing these things.

    Makes me wonder though, are you upset because you didn’t think it was funny, or because you don’t understand the jokes?

  • Gids

    Thank you John for an inspired list.

  • Shawn

    Oh.. I’m fully aware of all the humor and metaphor in these so-called “jokes”… and I’m not even near “upset”.

    I just wanted to comment on the fact that I thought the post was weak and not funny. Mostly because I never like these “real SEO” posts.

  • John Carcutt

    For you Shawn

    #17 – Real SEOs … Realize you cant please everyone when discussing SEO since there are so many opinions as to what it is and what works … seems this goes for humor too.

    Sorry you didn’t like it, seems like some did. 🙂

  • Forest Parks

    Real SEOs……….. would settle for number two spot!

    I’m sick of being offered no1 on Google!!!!

  • Everett

    I was busted on all but the last one. What sex tape? Is dana todd in it? And where can I get it?

  • jonson roth

    Real SEOs don’t wear pants… No no, wait. Wrong list (but I swear that’s what I thought I saw when I first glanced at the top of the list.)

    Very entertaining. I guess I’m not a real SEO yet.

  • Web Browser

    If we would remove

    Have two or more search related T-shirts
    Real SEOs … Have seen Danny Sullivan drunk
    Real SEOs … Have the URL to the leaked SEO Sex Tape

    That won’t be “funny list”. That actually would describe a real SEO. At least me.

  • Mac

    Great articles. Real SEO is a newbie like me three years ago 🙂

  • Hjörtur Smárason

    Brilliant. I see I have a thing or two I need to pick up before becoming a real SEO.

  • Rasmus

    Great Post. #16 Real SEO doesn’t tell….

  • Marty

    Real SEOs are not concerned with being “real” SEOs. 🙂

  • Snel Lenen

    I guess a real SEO doesn’t work for a company. Or does that make you a spammer?: s

  • Shawn

    I agree with Marty

  • rumblepup

    That just rocked.

  • Darrell Long

    Real SEO’s… wear flip flops… or at least i do hehe

  • Mark Hughes

    If your not a Real SEO it’s good to know one…
    BTW: John…you are the real deal!

  • Bobbink SEO Blog

    Ghehe, Real SEO’s are really funny guys!

  • john andrews

    haha good list. How about:

    “real SEos” don’t need to name drop Tamar or Danny’s names


    “real SEOs” aren’t SEOs at all. They’re business people who know how to get their jobs done and done well.

  • Travis Long

    Great list John, #3 has definitely sounds true after the stories you and Darrell tell me.

  • Josh

    “Just Say No” to track-able results…

    Great post John, thanks for all your help! Coming from an SEO poser.

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Real SEOs dont need SE “approval” to rank well.

  • Canukian

    WOW. #3 makes me want to be so much less of a poser =) Good stuff John =)

  • Judith ‘deCabbit’ Lewis

    #18. Real SEOs have eaten the ChocBait.


  • Tim Gill

    How about Real SEOs are too busy too blog because they are actually working and blogging SEOs must not be really working.

  • Web Browser


    You have a strange imagination. Do you think that SEO guy wakes up, sits near PC and “do SEO” (whatever that is) till the sun goes down? They’re rather busy working on their projects (not on SEO) or just enjoying life 🙂

    I basically agree and don’t agree with you 🙂 Real SEOs won’t post about “SEO Tips” on blogs which they’ve found. Thats why they are posting same useless sh*t all the time (newbies could post that too). Like: use title tags, fu*k page rank, etc…

    Anyway, I forgot what was my idea on this comment :-/

  • John Carcutt

    Hi Tim … See #9 … 🙂 I agree.

  • Edward Beckett


    So, I guess I’m a fake SEO …
    I can live with that …
    just please don’t tell my clients …

    @ John C ~ Hey John … they kicked us out of panera bread again … and it’s all your fault … : )

  • Chuck Miser

    Hey If any of you guys have any backlinks you are not using can I have them?

    thanks chuck

  • Jody

    Hilarious post… love it!

  • The Dude Dean

    Really SEOs don’t talk about SEO. Its rule one and two!

  • Raghavan

    Real SEOs don’t blog about real SEOs.


  • J. D.

    # 2. Real SEOs … Hate doing PPC

    What fun is it if they tell you all the rules up front.

  • Chuck

    I changed my title from SEO to SEM now SES Search Engine Sear!

    Got any back links you can spare mister?

  • paisley

    2. Real SEOs … Hate doing PPC

    whew.. i am not alone..

  • Nick Stamoulis

    This list is priceless and ridiculously true! I particularly love #2 and #3. This article hit the nail on the head. 🙂

  • Blogger Rise

    Great post give new prespective on SEO to me 🙂

  • Gabby

    I was so mad. I just wrote an article about SEO Posers. See it at http://livingdreamteam.com/2009/08/07/internet-network-marketing-and-seo-posers/

  • Web design agent

    So in other words SEO’s are dorky and drunk … LOL Are you spying on me 🙂