Survival Guide to Being an SEO – 10 Tips to Making it in the SEO Community

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Well, I’d come up with a great start like, “hey kiddo, you’re looking to become an SEO superstar?”, but I’ll go forward from that path straight to the meat.

To make it in the SEO industry, you really need to just get right down to it and group with others, I mean, that’s all there is to it. There are helpful tips and not so helpful tips. I’d go for entertainment in this post, but there needs to be THE list of what must be done in order to become the TRUE SEO SupaStaR!…

…Okay, that was over the top…”When I get stressed out from SEOing, I put my hands in my armpits and then sniff them like this!”…OoO, just far too sexy.

Anyways, to the meat of the article, past any pop-culture references of years past.

1. Suck up to the right people – Part Deux

You need to start your commenting, your networking and your kiss ass-behavior. Remember that kid you always used to make fun of in class for asking way too many questions and for sucking up to the teacher for that high grade? That’s what you need to do with the gods of SEO…Get out there and suck up to the influencers, for they are seriously good at sneezing all over EVERYONE, especially that Loren Baker….

Here’s a listing of the top SEO oriented blogs (in no particular order) —

That list goes on, but get your comments on those sites and you are just golden, be sure to know something before you have at it though, for n00bs are just embarassing….I know how to n00b, for I am only 3 years in, Beware.

The blogs are to build your reputation and relationships, the forums are used to build your relationships to the nth degree.

“You know what they say – ‘Its not what you know, its who you know.'” – This can be true, but first, you really NEED to know what the hell it is you’re talking about, if you don’t, you’ll just remain a C-List SEO and won’t add to the conversation at ALL.

2. Overpower the Forums and Make Friends

Just post, post, post and network with others through the forums, you will be rewarded by links, friends and reputation. Here is a listing of the highest forums concerning reputation building: (I’m sure there are more, that’s what the comments are for)

3. Dominate your competitors by becoming the Go-to-Guy for ONE Niche

Sorry, Andy, for taking in all your initial lists — It’s just because you’re too godly to not follow your original article’s structuring.

Overall, you need to develop your skill set at doing one thing and one thing will be your main attractive power to the SEO community at large


  • The Social Media Expert
  • The Link-Building Expert
  • The Tactical SEO Guy (Hopefully me)
  • The On-Page SEO guy
  • The Black-Hat Link Spamming Guru
  • etc.

Remember, Donald Trump basically named himself an authority in real estate, meanwhile the guy basically went bankrupt and lost everything, only to later rise from the ashes to “stardom” because of The Apprentice. People will believe your authoritativeness based upon what you do and your Authoritative “Mark”. Do what you do best and then multiply those efforts.

Just call yourself the Guru of ___ and you’re Golden in the eyes of the SEO community (especially when going after clients, this will help you out).

4. Get published.

Get your article published on here, on StuntDubl’s blog, on SEOBook (if possible), on SearchEngineWatch, WebProNews as well as all of the other industry central sites. You do that and you will become an SEO god in no time. I also believe that SEOMoz can help build your ranking severely if you connect with them. You will increase your authority and you may then state where you were published.

Also, there are large holes in the large publisher arena such as Business 2.0, Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc. – Try to get your articles published on there as well as on local newspapers and your SEO expertness will only increase.

Remember, “For One to become a Sensei of SEO, one must publish”.

5. Create Your Central Site / Blog and just BUILD

Get your own unique voice in some way, for there is much SEO garbage out there being repeated and repeated into oblivion. Add in the content your rivals seek and try to get on popular stories before anyone else can. Do this and try to make your content as visual and animated as possible and you’ve got yourself SEO Expert status.

This is actually something all of us SEOs have trouble with, simplifying our content and condensing the content from others is not our cup of tea, try hard and try again and we will all get through the issue of complexity.

6. Make friends with your rivals.

(This one piece is just far too important not to add – Thanks, Andy H for this piece)

Whatever niche youre in, you can be guaranteed that other smart guys will be in it, too. Well, I have news for you; the trend in SEO is cooperation. You link to him, he links to you, and it helps keep the OTHER guys out.

Let me put this another way. Ever notice how great everything is to SEO bloggers? So-and-sos service is great, So-and-sos research report is great.

It isn’t always great, but it is a great way to make the other guy remember how great you are, and some day down the road they will give you the ol’ great nod, and a link along with it. Its all a nudge-nudge of course, but hey the dumb readers dont know that!

7. Build up High Value Links to your site

This can be done by mass link buying and from only getting links from authority sites. I also recommend actually HAVING good content to link to. Add articles to your site and try to add in unique insight, especially on the principles of seo for different niches. — i.e. Real Estate SEO, Law SEO/Mesothelioma/Personal Injury SEO, Academic SEO (for .edus), Government SEO (for .govs), NonProfit SEO (For the .orgs of this world with links coming from their sites for free SEO work completed – build them sponsors and members and you will be rewarded).

One main concern is the whole separation of SEO expertness with the content you provide. I highly recommend creating a service site and a site dedicated to building your reputation – Sync the two together and you’re SEO expertness is rocking and rolling.

8. Create Formulas and Simplified Ideas of the Google Algorithms

The basis of this idea – Create SEO algorithm optimization ideas for various areas of the search engine algorithms. Talk about TrustRank and all the pieces of the SEO sections in a simplified and visual manner. Most people have trouble simplifying these complex topics. If you can simplify the topics, you will become a High-ranking SEO expert/professional – Just keep it unique, fun, entertaining, authoritative and SEO-rrific.

9. Start Your SEO Experimentations:

Don’t just take the research and ideas from others, do your own original research based upon the actions taken on your site and the results in the SERPs you obtain. There are so many niches on the web now that you can easily break off and become authoritative even in traffic trading (for adult sites for example or lead gen sites).

Just experiment, see what works, get input from others and come up with your own theories of SEO. The blind leading the blind is always bad, listen to the experts only and listen to your own passion of SEO/SEM learning and you will constantly evolve new SEO tactics and techniques.

10. SEO/SEM is About Passion and Obsession – Go With It !

Partner with other like-minded people and network with local businesses such as Web Design/Dev companies, Ad agencies (after the local ad agencies move outwards to the regional and then state-wide and to the national level) in order to get yourself the clients you need through partnerships and JVs (profit-sharing is a great idea/Word-of-Mouth/Affiliate Fees for Leads) (Thanks, Loren).

Follow-up on every story and theory you see and if at all possible, test the theories. There are great resources out there and you MUST keep abreast of EVERY change in SEO land. There are the experts of SEO/SEM whom may be found through the forums, sites and blogs of the largest idea gathering sites, and then there are the larger learning zones…

Advanced SEO/SEM learning may be found in the articles and reports on the following sites:

Hats off to Andy Hagans for the inspiration to write the full and comprehensive guide to building cred and making it as the SEO SupaStar!

Become an SEO Expert and Rule the web. As SEMPO says, Top of Search = Top of Mind.

Miles Price

Miles Price

Miles Price is the publisher of the iMarketingGuru Search Wiki and President of iCluck SEO Services, a Buffalo, NY based search marketing firm.
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  • Joshua Steimle

    Alternative title = How to Make SEO Friends and Influence PageRank. Dang it, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all this and get work done too, but thanks for the good list Miles.

  • Justin Palmer

    Great list. Just starting to see the effects of some of these tactics for my blog. Wish I would had this list months ago.

  • Eric Pender

    Great post for all the newbies out there. My question is this: a lot of your post seems to relate directly with how to be a superstar SEO blogger. Taking things one step further, what are the connections you see between your 10 tips and using them to rock out your SEO business?

  • Doug Heil

    So Miles, you admit to being fairly new to SEO, but you give these tips to being well-known in SEO circles.

    I’m kind of confused about why you believe it’s important for “other” peers to like you? I personally do not care if other SEO’s like me or not. Why is this important? I’m interested in your opinion.

    I guess I’ve never spoke to a potential client who wanted to know who I knew or who knew me or my firm. That actually does not have anything to do with how good a firm is or how not good they are “IMO”. What’s your opinion? Matter of fact; I know some very good SEO’s who would “never” post to a blog and who NO ONE knows of in so-called SEO circles…. the circle of people we all know who pat each other on the back.

    BTW; you really should fix that wiki software and make your front page like a real root of your site instead of just another file name/page.

    /index.php/title=main_page is not the root of your site.

  • Matt Cutts

    “Ever notice how great everything is to SEO bloggers? So-and-sos service is great, So-and-sos research report is great.

    It isn’t always great, but it is a great way to make the other guy remember how great you are, and some day down the road they will give you the ol’ great nod, and a link along with it. Its all a nudge-nudge of course, but hey the dumb readers dont know that!”

    Is is just me, or did that tip strike other people as not a great idea? Instead of starting with “suck up to other people in SEO,” how about “do unique research or provide a compelling value-add on your blog?”

  • randfish

    $50 says that comment did not originate from Matt Cutts’ fingers.

  • Connie

    I’m not a SEO so I may have misunderstood you. Do you really mean this is all it takes to be a successful SEO?


    Seems to me like there would be more to being a successful SEO than who you know. Wouldn’t you have to be able to help clients improve their ROI?

    Rand, why do you doubt that Matt posted the above?

  • Connie

    Seems like my attempt to quote was deleted. I’ll try again.

    To make it in the SEO industry, you really need to just get right down to it and group with others, I mean, that’s all there is to it.

  • Doug Heil

    I don’t know why someone like Matt Cutts would not make that post as the post is very true. If he didn’t make the post, it’s still very true and a good post. Makes no difference whether he made it or not.

    I say it’s high time many of us start debunking all the bad information in our industry, and do much better in calling out all the back-slapping and butt-kissing SEO’s in this industry.

    Because someone can kiss good face has no bearing on how good an SEO they are. Never has and never will.

  • Doug Heil

    I feel compelled to give an example that pertains to my prior posts. I hope Loren allows the link… you can de-link it if you wish as long as you show the url. I’m not one of those who gives two shites about a silly link.

    Anyway; I’ve felt for a long time that the SEO industry is mostly about “I’ll do for you if you do for me”. We see many out there who will link to someone just because they “like” them. It does not matter if the firm or person is any good at what they do, they just “like” them and are “buddies”. Of course they link back. What is funny about this; How does it help the people “outside” of our industry if a bunch of “so-called” SEO’s are all linking to and fro to each other? How does it help the industry that some people will recommend other people……. just because? Is that healthy?

    Does a Doctor recommend another Doctor…. just because? Does a home builder recommend another home builder even if they have NO idea how good that home builder might be? I don’t think so.

    The idea of “sucking” up to others just because you may “get something” in return is the main reason our industry is one of the most pathetic industries going right now. It really is people.

    Is it pathetic because of the money a “good” SEO can make? No. It’s pathetic because of what people “outside” the industry are reading and seeing. These people don’t have a clue about how to find someone actually “good” because this industry is toooo busy kissing each other’s butt. It makes no difference whether the person is good or not. It does matter whether or not you “get” something in return. That’s crap.

    Check it. Believe me; my list has some firms in there who do NOT care for me very much. They would “never” link back to me. Some don’t talk to me or communicate with me at all. Did I list them because I “like” them, or because I will “get” something back in return? Hell no.

    I listed them because I know they are damn good and would actually do a client real well. That’s why.

    How many of you actually link to others only because you know they are good? That’s what I thought. You link because you may get something in return. That’s a big reason why this industry is so pathetic.

    I see MANY SEO lists out there who simply “paid” there way on the list, or they are linked to because they are buddies, or they are linked to because they gave a link back in return. That’s crap people.

    Just look at my list. You can clearly see some on that list do NOT participate in my forums, and some don’t even like my ass. Did that stop me from listing them? Nope.

  • Thomas

    @ Doug- dude your site is first on the list!

  • Doug Heil

    hmm, and your point is? If I recall, and rereading what I actually wrote, I said “some” on my list do not like me, nor do they participate in my forums. That’s what I said.

    How many “SEO” lists out there do you know of like that? That’s what I thought.

  • Carl

    I must say I’m one of the guys who don’t do much of what is in this list but can clearly see why some people do it.

    I simply don’t have the time around to be a powerblogger and researcher about SEO while at the same time getting things done.

    For people starting out though, its really powerful to have all this information from blogs and other personal SEO pages at your fingertips. Even though a lot of it is crap that you’ve read 2,000 times before (like ‘create good content’ or ‘make visitors return’) you’ll pretty quick get a picture of the common denominators and understand where the core of SEO activities is.

    So the almost hysterical blogging, view sharing, links to 500 other useful seo blogs and documentation done by some SEO’ers is at least useful to beginners.

  • Ranulph Oh

    I’ve never heard of Miles Price – is he taking his own advice?

    He also missed ‘Say something controversial for the sake of it then provoke the argument at every possible opportunity’


    Or did someone try that one already?…

  • Miles Price

    I am a 3 years in SEO, I am taking my own advice and remember, this is a list to help the readers of SEO/SEM. I am only a person interested in adding to the value in the SEO community.

    You must ADD value in everything that you do and when you do go out there and write and such, you must be adding value. When you work on SEO and you connect with others, you MUST show your expertise at SEO.

    Most of this list takes a lot of time to implement — Most of us do not have that time, which is why SEOs such as myself have not had the time up until now to work on these different aspects (I’ve only started posting to the areas of the forums, the rest – I’m getting into).

    I condense information and make things better, that’s my part in it — Dissemination to you guys is fun and thanks for these heated comments… I’ll write more posts like this

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Miles is helping me fill in while I’m on vacation and he has some good basic tips in this post. Sure, some of his writing is very ADHD, but I do agree with the core points.

    First off, networking does help bring you business. And one of the best ways to network and show off your expertise is via writing or giving tips and tutorials in this business; whether on forums or blogs.

    Secondly, being a blogger in this industry does give you certain ‘ins’. My first SES I was another face in the crowd of hundreds, now, I’m a face in the crowd of thousands. I knew some people from the forums and I-Search, but that was basically it.

    I’m typically a quiet person, and walked away from that first SES with some contacts and lots of good information.

    My second SES was after Search Engine Journal ‘took off’, I was issued a press pass, showed around by speakers and publicists, and really got to know some of the best in this industry, and become good friends with them.

    Those relationships have led to thousands of dollars of advertising over the years and referrals of clients or leads, which have helped me establish my own consultancy.

    I really can say if not for the blog or the conferences, and the good friends I’ve met, I would probably be working for an SEO or marketing company right now, and doing well, but not in the position I’m currently in, and I’m totally grateful for it.

    So, I really wouldn’t agree that ‘sucking up’ is the way to go, and don’t take that recommendation literally, instead apply the basics of friendship and networking to your next conference event, and the rewards will pay off.

  • mark

    Nice tips.

  • Doug Heil

    Well Loren, #1, 3, and #6 should “not” be done.

    I stand by my opinion that this is the problem with this industry. You made my point by writing that if it wasn’t for your “buddies” at SES, you would never be where you are. I second that notion. 🙂

    To hell with real clients…. those who are not buying advertising from a SEO, but real clients who need real help with their websites. If they happen to go to a SES conference to find a good SEO, they are doing the right thing, right? If they simply hire the SEO who gets patted on the back the loudest by the most SEO’s out there, they are doing right, right?

    You see; I don’t buy that line of thinking at all. Never will. This ain’t a popularity contest. Our industry makes it that to the detriment of the outside world. Is that a good thing? Nope. Why?

    Because it leads to bad press from the outside in major newspapers who also start thinking it’s “who pats who on the butt”. It’s people like Jason Calacanis who see and read all the crap out there as well. He has no idea what real SEO is and is not, only because of the butt-kissing weasels in this industry who blur the lines with everything they do.

    Just look at the list of “resources” posted in the OP. I’d say half are either constantly full of bad information, or they are the sites of pure blackhats. Is that healthy? Hell no.

    Let’s not forget a blackhat spammer who use to be a speaker at SES, and who’s firm went out of business because of search engine spam. Was it a good thing that people actually hired that firm because they saw they were a speaker at SES? I don’t think so.

    The industry can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s not getting better, but getting much worse as time goes on.

    Actually; it makes me real sick to my stomach.

  • Doug Heil

    BTW: Thanks for allowing an exact opposite point of view to post in here. You have done this a few times now and are one of the ‘very’ few who allow opposite points of view in this industry.

    I agree with almost nothing that ever gets wrote in here, but allowing me to express that is appreciated. Note that I wrote I agree with “almost” nothing. A few things I have agreed with.

  • Miles Price

    It isn’t just about the patting on the back, it’s about leveraging the help of others and helping them in return. Yes, there are some NASTY SEOs out there who just link spam and page spam, but that’s the way of the game – there are always going to be the whites, the greys (pretty much EVERY seo out there) and the blacks. The big different though is that the best of the best SEOs end up shining through all the cracks of the wrecks of dead SEO companies out there —

    Also, 1, 3 and 6 are just good tactics and guidelines towards working your way up in the SEO community – This is about building relationships and friendships in the SEO community — You aren’t only a suck-up, you actually must bring VALUE VALUE VALUE.

    As for the blackhat spammers at past SES conferences, I can’t speak for I haven’t been there yet — But always remember, in business – There are the black-hatters — Arthur Andersen for example as well as Milken. At the prime of their life, they were the most well-respected, god-like business people in the world. Michael Milken actually did end up living past his mistakes but Andersen’s firm is long gone …

    This goes to show, reputation is EVERYTHING — Give back to the SEO/SEM community and we will see very bright stars shining through regardless of past discrepancies.

  • Doug Heil

    hmm. You don’t seem to understand my posts.

    You wrote this:
    “It isn’t just about the patting on the back, it’s about leveraging the help of others and helping them in return.”

    I did graduate from high school and learned that what you wrote means exactly “sucking up” to get something in return. That’s my entire point. It’s very wrong and is why the industry is in such a bad state of affairs. Of course it’s patting each other on the back and kissy-face. What else do you call it? LOL

    It makes no difference if “you” actually know whether or not the SEO is actually good or not, but if they will in fact give you back something in return. That’s nutty stuff.

    Also; yes; I think the firm called “TopPile” happened about 3 years ago. You give as an example the Enron fiasco. That was way different however. Enron covered up everything and were caught eventually. Toppile never EVER covered up the fact they were spammers. The SES conference “asked” TopPile to speak at the London SES knowing full well they were spammers. It didn’t matter at all to them. Just like the conferences right now…. does not matter at all if others hire these people “just because” they are speakers.

    You all wonder why the industry has the bad rap, and are constantly scratching your heads because of it, but yet you all continue to hand out the bad stuff in SEO blogs around the internet, and constantly “scratch the backs” of other SEO’s as long as they give you “something in return”.


  • Tropical SEO

    Great update to the original classic 🙂

  • Deb Harrison

    I am glad you mentioned #1 as I have adapted to this just recently.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am not an expert brown-noser but I now make a thing of commenting on other people’s blogs hopefully sowing some pearls of wisdom.

  • Doug Heil

    Deb; posting on others blogs is just fine. It’s when you simply always make “nice” comments on those blogs, and always agree with all the post says is when you start looking silly and quite a “butt kisser”.

    This industry needs many more people who stand up for what their brains actually believe, instead of more butt kissers and followers of those butt kissers.

  • Steve

    Great article. I am going to use some of these great resources.

  • Gabriel Gervelis

    Good Post. I recommend all of the above with a supersized sugar free RockStar

  • SEO Web Design

    Very nicely written. Have stumbled and digg this post.

  • Neil Eneix

    Just goes to show that, in the ever changing field of tech and marketing, some tactics / principles don’t change