SearchGuild, My Favorite SEO Forum, Goes Offline

My buddy Patrick Münzinger just informed me that SearchGuild went offline - forever. SearchGuild is the forum that (along with NFFC, a few other mentors, and a few lucky breaks) took me from near bankruptcy to knowing enough about this market to be exceptionally profitable and be able to help many other people do well.

While many other forums were polluted with useless noise, syndicated spin and half truths from search engineers, self promotion (submit your site to MY directory AND buy MY services), bogus ethics claims (what is a white hat anyway?), and tactical misinformation ... SearchGuild was the one that taught me to test stuff and to gain enough confidence in myself to make my opinions matter and make my decisions profitable. Guys like Chris Ridings and Lots0 may have seemed cranky, but they were blunt and honest. They helped people just because they liked helping. The web could use more of that.

But when SearchGuild was profitable the profits were donated to charity, and even though the site's popularity has been maintained, ad revenues dropped, and so that great service no longer exists as a hobby in spite of the great value it offered. In the last 5 years my 2 favorite sites about search were Threadwatch and SearchGuild, and now they are both dead because they had bad business models. This is yet another sign to me that you really have to charge what you are worth if you create value for others, or eventually it dries up. Thanks for the 5 great years SearchGuild.

Published: December 24, 2007 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


Matias Bulox
December 24, 2007 - 7:55am

It'd be nice if some company would buy or finance SearchGuild after reading what happened. They do not deserve this but I know that something better is awating SearchGuild.

December 24, 2007 - 8:32am

Sucks to see it go down, but when your with 1and1 this is all normal, problems, ignoring e-mails, deleting wrong reseller accounts, deleting random files, deleting websites without any warning or asking you to make a backup, db crashing out of nowhere but yet no one knows why. Support at 1and1 has always sucked and will always suck, people go to them because they see the fancy ads in magazines and the flashy ads on the web for the cheap domains and hosting. Which is total BS as we all know you have to look for an dedicated host company not a co. like 1and1 thats in it for the money.

December 24, 2007 - 3:08pm

I don't understand why they prefer to close the company forever instead of financing it by online advertising... If they are enough relevant and have enough authority, this decision not make sense for me.

December 24, 2007 - 3:45pm

Searchguild was not a company, but a forum by one webmaster who did it mostly as a hobby and not for profit. Ive heard before that forums weren't very profitable in general and I can imagine that might be even worse for a forum in a field where people are internet savvy (I mean how many times have you clicked on an ad when you were on a SEO forum?).

I'm glad I found that forum through your e-book a year ago already and was able to get to know some of those folks and ask most of the SEO questions that were on my mind. Hopefully I'm gonna meet many of those guys again in the facebook group.

Aaron, do you know if grayhatnews was maintained by Chris, too? I sort of associate it with Gurtie and always thought it was her site, but ever since searchguild has been down, grayhatnews has been down, too?

oh and merry christmas to everyone!

December 24, 2007 - 8:01pm

This is too bad. Sorry to hear about it. Did they close shop just because of money? I know that running a forum takes a lot of time, especially if you're interested in keeping the integrity of the information.

Not that I'm trying to be insensitive, but it even more it makes me want to start a free private, non-ad-driven, invite only SEO/SEM/internet marketing forum.

In fact, if you're interested in this type of forum please send an email to kevin at I won't really be able to dedicate a lot of time to it until after the new year but let me know if you'd be interested.

Dave Keffen
December 24, 2007 - 5:23pm

It's a crying shame to see such generous sites effectively have to give up like this.

I'm sure most of us would be happy to contribute a bit towards decent forum.

With my photographer's hat on, I have been a paying member of the digital wedding forum for a while now. It is full of real professionals and does not attract too many trouble makers imho because we are paying to be members. Though it like any other forum must be subject to crackers, there have been very few problems.

Although it flys in the face of our basic keep it free mentality, the payments help to [a] pay for extra server protection [b] get those involved with the forum to hand over a bit of guaranteed contact information (yet with decent payment security).

The site's moderators work really hard to keep it both polite and informative. I only mention it because there are very few forums that manage to survive intact for more than a few years these days and for anyone thinking about setting up a fresh one, it would be a good model.

Anyway, maybe Searchguilld will re-appear one day. If so it will have a lot of fans.

December 24, 2007 - 5:31pm

Funny, I was just re-reading your book recently, Aaron, and saw that site in it. I was like hmmm, there's one I haven't noticed/paid attention to - ought to check it out! Anyways, this means there's at least one more thing to update in the SEO Book.

Shame that it's down I suppose, but perhaps the paying model mentioned above would help.

December 25, 2007 - 2:43am

SearchGuild will be missed. It was a nice collection of people who were willing to help and not pound their chests too often. It will be interesting to see where the refugees end up. ;-)

December 27, 2007 - 4:20pm

That is often a tremendous stumbling block for many would be online marketers. Many think the lowest price gets the goods. I have found that the best perceived value brings in the most sales no matter what the price is.

Providing free anything is a good way to get people "in the door" but at some point, if the information is good enough, some form of compensation should be enforced. In the case of forums and blogs, this is an excellent way to keep most trolls away.

December 27, 2007 - 4:28pm

Hi Bartimus
I totally agree. Even requiring registration is, in a sense, one form of charging people. After I changed the CMS I had far fewer comments, but the comments from tolls and spammers dropped by at least 99%, and over time the greater comment quality that is occurring now will attract other great members like you. :)

December 27, 2007 - 7:43pm

Hi Aaron,

Have you considered your own SEOBook forum? I just find that most of the good things that people say about SearchGuild also apply to your site.

Thanks for all you do.


December 27, 2007 - 7:59pm

Hi Eric
It is something I have been thinking about. I won't do anything major between now and the end of the year, but I might try some new stuff sometime next year.

David Eaves
December 28, 2007 - 7:28pm

Like you have said Aaron the guys over there were blunt and to the point, I remember getting told how things were over there a couple of times when I 1st got started, I learn't a lot and it is a real shame to see it go, Gurtie started some great threads.

December 28, 2007 - 8:18pm

Hi David
Gurtie rocks. I felt like I was best buddies with her, Chris, Brad, and Lots0.

October 17, 2012 - 6:19am

I don't understand why they prefer to close the company forever instead of financing it by online advertising...

April 3, 2013 - 10:47pm

Zuzyanggriany, it went up in a cloud of smoke, financing it by online advertising was never an option.

Some of us are still hanging out together on an even smaller forum that nobody seems to know about. Cannot believe it has been over 5 years already. A few of the old faces are still there, although we are not so much about SEO as afternoon tea these days. The most popular discussion of 2012 was about sheds ......

April 3, 2013 - 11:04pm

...also a database corruption issue & the host screwed up the back up as well, so that killed a lot of the momentum. And I think many of the moderators were doing many different things & moving in various different directions. Chris was brilliant of course, but he was also doing loads of academic research in addition to his efforts in the search space...a lot of things to have on one plate in an industry changing so quickly.

Also, the ad revenue the site did generate was donated to charity, because that was the kind of kick ass person Chris was/is.

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