Skip to content Self-effacing Link-bait for the SEO Community

I have to say welcome to SEO Blog World to SEOLoser, who posted his Pubcon experience on his SEOLoser blog. It is so real it is funny, and it is so funny most of the people he lampoons won’t realize most of it is so true.

I won’t reproduce his words here because you should go there and read them, but I will comment for those who have read them (and for the man himself).

First, the answer is “yes” to the question, “Is this the way people behave when fans come up and say ‘wow’ and stare at them?” You didn’t need to go to Pubcon to learn that. Go up to any human and stare at them in admiration and wait and eventually they will get uncomfortable. Still, it was fun to read your story.

Perhaps more more meaningfull comment is how you are exercising blog power on the SEO world. I try and preach this to my clients, and most don’t get it. You were nobody, wanting the attention of the SEO world, and so you blogged on-topic and in a timely fashion, and got the attention. That’s the story here.

Sure there’s Link Bait and Baiting in general (which you did to Rae and Shoemoney) but then there’s hook-humility (where you self-efface and wait for people to say “no you’re not! You’re not a loser!“. You did those, too. And they worked, too.

But I would like to suggest that they worked not because those people are easily baited, nor because they actually care about your low self esteem. They worked because dude, you can write.

Humans are drawn to potential. I don’t care what edition of How to Pick Up Girls you buy, or how many Dale Carnegie books or dating web sites tips you read, the bottom line is you are evaluated for your potential within seconds of first contact. I don’t believe Shoemoney is as much of a genius as he is an opportunist. You presented yourself to Shoemoney as a nothing. No opportunity. No conversation, no added value. And I don’t believe Rae Hoffman is as much of a genius as she is hard worker. Shawn Hogan? I don’t know him but I know he’s a very hard worker and a very smart guy. What potential did you show in your first few minutes of engagement? Nothing there for Shawn.

And let’s not forget that there are two polarities for potential : positive and negative. Your blog posed both to some of those who responded to your bait. Why risk bad vibes from you? (negative potential…detected by Shoemoney, even if his first judgement missed it). Why miss possibly looking good in front of the readers of your blog as it gets popular in SEO world, especially among contrarians? (positive potential…I see Todd posted. He is a gentleman that Todd).

Lucky for you, you’re not an SEO loser yet because you haven’t tried and failed as an SEO in SEO land. You’re off to a decent start as long as you stick to IM, email, and forums. You may be a loser socially, as you report, but that can be cured with practice (and those Dale Carnegi books).  

There’s still time to prove yourself to be an SEO Loser, though. Now that everybody in SEO world has expectations for you, let’s see how you do. Let’s see how you navigate the SEO world. That’s up to you, not the Rockstars.

Personally, the reason I am promoting you here is I agree with much of what you have hidden inside your post, and marvel at how you did it naturally while many of my clients fail to understand it. But I also want to say there are “SEO not-stars” that get plenty of value out of Pubcon, too. Sadly, you missed much of that because you spent so much time waiting for a bracelet to crash the Yahoo! party, or stalking Shoemoney till he had to use the restroom.

Truthfully, guys like you can be very interesting. People who come from the trenches of web world, bring to Pubcon clues that we SEOs need to compete. True, SEO Rockstars bring promotion potential, and are thus very attractive to people seeking attention. But if you are real, working SEO seeking attention of consumers on the web, there is more value in knowing how a particular industry is dominated by one company that is very immature on the web (that’s potential…see it?); or in learning the background and personality of the web master who leads in a new market niche you have entered; or impressing the hell out of a guy who has been impressing a whole crowd of others for 30 minutes with his SEO knowledge, so he then says in front of them “wow…you really do know your stuff“. You can’t buy that external validation through ecommerce. It’s only for sale in person.


  1. SEOLoser wrote:

    Wow, great analysis. It was really interesting for me to read not only because the post was so clearly directed toward me, but also because I think the points you make regarding the experience are extremely accurate. Your assessment is particularly interesting because you do an excellent job of scrutinizing so many (less obvious) marketing concepts. I can’t think of anything I would add.

    One part of the post that I was somewhat surprised by (although you are definitely not alone feeling this way) is:

    “Sure there’s Link Bait and Baiting in general (which you did to Rae and Shoemoney) but then there’s hook-humility (where you self-efface and wait for people to say “no you’re not! You’re not a loser! “. You did those, too. And they worked, too.”

    Perhaps the hook-humility worked—I hadn’t considered it carefully until now—but it was honestly not intended. In fact, when I started getting comments from people offering condolences, I laughed and felt a little embarrassed. I can’t stress enough, and perhaps I failed to do so in the post, but the people I approached never truly insulted me or hurt my feelings. They made me feel awkward and a little dumb at times, but I was not thinking of the “no you’re not! You’re not a loser!” response when I wrote the post, and I openly acknowledge that much of the rejection was my own fault. I will concede, however, that I was trying to express myself in a way that would convey just how funny the whole scenario was, and, of course, I tried to pursue a link-bait strategy (now that I have had time to see the response, I think it was a little overly-optimistic to expect the stars of my blog to link to a post that could potentially be perceived as criticism… I guess it is still early, but so far I don’t think any of the main people I covered have blogged about SEO Loser).

    Another aspect that’s worth an explanation is:

    “First, the answer is “yes” to the question, “Is this the way people behave when fans come up and say ‘wow’ and stare at them?””

    I agree, and this is one of the main elements of my experience that I thought was so humorous and that others might get a kick out off. Even minutes after my interactions with the SEO celebrities, I was consciously thinking “Hmmm… I didn’t really give them much to talk about.” Although it was unintentional, you are right that it seems to have been a valuable marketing maneuver.

    Okay, I really loved your post and would love to discuss it more, but it’s 3:30 AM here (sorry if this comment is bungled or doesn’t make sense, I’ve been going for a while now) and I’ve got to finish a couple more things before bed. Thanks again for your “review;” there is much I can learn from your post, and I also really appreciate your compliment about my writing. I played video games all through high school instead of doing my English homework (I admit I was a universal loser at that point) and when I got to college I always did really poorly in written assignments. I’ve been working relentlessly to improve and it’s rewarding to hear someone felt the way you did. I’ll definitely be reading your blog in the future—I’m really impressed by your recognition of the more subtle aspects of the SEO Loser blogging experience.

    PS: I’d be interested to hear what you thought I could have done better. I’m pretty sure I could have taken advantage of the blog-related social networking sites more effectively—all I used were technorati, digg, and delicious. Finally, I agree that the post has broken into the SEO-world’s consciousness. But, as you mentioned, this poses a new question: Should I stick to event coverage and humorous posts? Or should I actually try to discuss my opinions, theories and experiences with “in-the-trenches” SEO? I’m not sure—my favorite thing about the SEO Loser blog is the interaction with visitors, so I think it would be best to leave it up to them by simply experimenting, seeing what readers think, and blogging about the things they enjoy reading.

    Friday, December 1, 2006 at 4:49 am | Permalink
  2. john andrews wrote:

    Wow that’s a lot of words. Welcome to my blog :-)

    Friday, December 1, 2006 at 5:24 am | Permalink
  3. SEOLoser wrote:

    Haha, thanks, yeah I kind of have a problem with brevity–need to work on that. That’s one of the worst things about the SEOLoser post, imo–it’s something like 4 pages long… I’d expected it to be about a page when I started.

    Friday, December 1, 2006 at 5:26 am | Permalink
  4. graywolf wrote:

    The problem with the moniker is it’s not a trust inspiring brand. For example would use the Charles Manson Daycare Center? How about the Michael Jackson School for Gifted Children, or the Jeffery Dahmer Culinary Academy? Working with words like “loser” it’s hard to overcome. Not say it can’t be done, for example is an excellent source for financial information, however getting past the name is big step.

    Friday, December 1, 2006 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  5. john andrews wrote:

    Graywolf you have a gift for naming! There’s also an SEOIdiot out there.

    Friday, December 1, 2006 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  6. David Temple wrote:

    That was by far the most impressive “review” of seoloser’s gambit that I have seen. My gut reaction was that Kris wrote an open and honest post about his experience and that was the draw. We’ve all been there, done that but dare not speak of those embarrasing moments.

    It was also a refreshing change from the kiss up blogging taking place in the seo world today. Take a look at many of the Thanksgiving posts for example. “I’m so grateful for Danny Sullivan or Matt Cutts, etc”. Bull! Now take a look at ShoeMoney’s Thanksgiving post. I can only describe that as open and honest, not contrived. That’s the “potential” I think Kris can display, the “naturally” that you say many of your clients fail to understand.

    But as you point out, what’s next? Does the seoloser fade into obscurity not to be heard from again. He certainly can’t keep up his seoloser schtick and impress anyone as Graywolf points out. I mean who wants to hang around a self proclaimed loser? Whatever he does I’ll watch and hope he doesn’t lose his way.

    Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 1:35 am | Permalink
  7. Chris Hooley wrote:

    I mean who wants to hang around a self proclaimed loser?

    Dude I’m all about it!

    Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] Lost opportunity? Obviously not…. for me. Thank you Bill for pointing out the incrediBilly obvious – John Andrews is a competitve webmaster and SEO. Vanessa is a very nice person and a valuable Google resource. Pubcon is full of opportunity, if you know how to navigate it. […]