The SEO Police

I was a bit disappointed when I saw Rand out yet another website recently. Why was the site outed? Because they were ranking for SEO company and Rand didn't feel that their backlinks should count (and Rand wanted another excuse to promote his new LinkScape tool).

In his post Rand...

  • claimed that the site ranking #1 for SEO company was an embarrassment to Google and other search engines
  • wrote "Outing manipulative practices (or ANY practices for that matter) that put a page at the top of the rankings is part of our job"
  • wrote "Isn't the goal of a successful web marketing campaign to build a strategy that is legitimate to survive a manual review by the engines and strong enough to be defensible even to those who peer review or investigate?"

While some may not feel the post was outing, that was the intent of the cause harm to the business highlighted, and to do so for potential personal profit. As Nick Wilsdon wrote:

Yes, Google probably already knows about them but that's not the point. Once a SERP or a naughty company becomes a public embarrassment, it then gets "cleaned up". Google can't be seen to be gamed. There's an element of politics involved.

ShoeMoney also spoke about that topic in this video, titled Don't Make Google Look Stupid

And that in itself becomes an issue. Sure most of us want to be able to have our sites pass a hand review and stand the test of time, but when things are covered with a negative connotation from a negative frame it makes Google more likely to act against the "spam"...even if it was something that was fine for years.

I had a lively conversation with a search engineer about one of my sites where he stated that he thought the site's marketing tactics were a bit spammy. 2 other search engines chose to promote that same site editorially with shortcuts. Because of who owns a site it can be seen as being spammy, while the same site is seen as the clear cut category leader worthy of promotion by other search employees who do not have anti-SEO goggles on.

Where this "out everything on principal" strategy goes astray is when a person's assumption of how the algorithms and editorial policies should work do not match what the search engineers believe. To appreciate that, consider the SEO Book affiliate program. It passed PageRank for years. And then Rand outed it and it stopped passing PageRank.

Recently Rand wrote that Google engineers said that affiliate programs should pass PageRank. So based on what Google engineers say in public, editorial links promoting my affiliate program should pass PageRank, but because Rand chose to out it, it probably never again will.

Shockingly, when asked point blank if affiliate programs that employed juice-passing links (those not using nofollow) were against guidelines or if they would be discounted, the engineers all agreed with the position taken by Sean Suchter of Yahoo!. He said, in no uncertain terms, that if affiliate links came from valuable, relevant, trust-worthy sources - bloggers endorsing a product, affiliates of high quality, etc. - they would be counted in link algorithms. Aaron from Google and Nathan from Microsoft both agreed that good affiliate links would be counted by their engines and that it was not necessary to mark these with a nofollow or other method of blocking link value.

Editorial affiliate links should count, but it was Rand asking "who does Google come down on" that was intended to harm my business to give himself a better competitive position. It was similar to the strategy of blasting Aviva to promote a list of directories people should buy - a profitable strategy, but not one with a north pointing ethical compass.

As to the absurdity to claiming that as a professional SEO's job to police the organic search results...I can only assume that a person stating such has never had a site hand edited (while seeing factually incorrect sites with spammier links and worse site designs continue to rank in the same results). If you read the Google remote rater documents you can see how things are open to interpretation. If you read the remote search quality rater documents leaked from 2003, 2005, and 2007 you can see how they changed over the years.

Years ago I might have thought reporting all spam was a good idea, but after experiencing and seeing the arbitrary and uneven nature of the editing it is not what I would consider a relevant mindset for SEO in 2008. When I was starting out in search my mentor told me "you can't really appreciate how the game works until you lose a site" and once you do, feeling like it is your job to out spam seems a bit small minded and short sighted.

If Rand really believes that "Outing manipulative practices (or ANY practices for that matter) that put a page at the top of the rankings is part of our job" then why does he offer a testimonial on the Text Link Ads website when Matt Cutts has clearly stated that buying text links is manipulative and outside their guidelines? Does he turn in his own clients for link buying?

Patrick's dedication to providing excellent services echoes in all of his employees and the company as a whole. Support and response times are exceptionally fast, and the process of buying links couldn't be easier. - Rand Fishkin

How can you suggest people should buy links and then out them for doing so? Someone is either being intellectually dishonest or economical with the truth.

Published: October 29, 2008 by Aaron Wall in internet


October 29, 2008 - 10:43am

Thought provoking post, Aaron. It's obviously bothering you but I agree with you on a lot of those points. It's interesting how there's a sort of "Honour among thieves" in the world of BH / Link buying.

October 29, 2008 - 3:57pm

It is not an "honour among thieves" issue that bothers me. The issue is that things that are allegedly considered "white hat" become considered "black hat" when well known SEO people give them negative coverage from a position of moral superiority.

Add in the uneven nature of review and editing and why should anyone promote the widespread adoption of outing others?

October 30, 2008 - 5:31am

Outing a site was the only way I could get justice. I had a case where a site stole 10,000 pages of my content. 3 DMCA violations later they still would not take the stolen content down.

So I noticed some black hat tactics they were abusing G with, blogged about it and reported them. A few weeks later justice was served and they were issued a penalty.

In my case, outing a site was my only option for justice, since the legal route let me down.

October 30, 2008 - 4:48pm

If someone stole your content then they were doing something illegal and intentionally trying to cause harm to your business. Mentioning that publicly is totally different than mentioning that you don't feel someone should rank because you don't like their backlinks.

October 29, 2008 - 12:19pm

Is there any fight between you and Rand. I have seen you doing a few posts against Rand.

October 29, 2008 - 4:09pm

From a personal perspective I have always liked Rand, but the outing competing sites for self-promotion and then justifying it is just poor form IMHO.

Don't get me wrong, I have at times made comparisons, etc...but I just couldn't see myself looking at an SEO website that was ranking well and calling it "an embarrassment to Google".

yet another ben
October 29, 2008 - 12:41pm

It would be interesting to get Rand over here to have this discussion in the open...maybe he was just being grouchy because he was ill? Or maybe he's now trying to take the high road? Raises a question over what the SEO high road is, but that's a whole new area to get into...are Google's guidelines the best benchmark for this?

Does anyone else have troubles getting onto SEOMoz - every day their site appears to struggle with "The server at is taking too long to respond."

October 29, 2008 - 12:47pm

I think it's godd that a big site like dears to speak up against Seomoz. There is a lot of stuff I don't agree with seomoz on, but posting it on my blog or anywhere else would be a waste of time for me.

yet another ben
October 29, 2008 - 1:40pm

@Cyherus, sharing your opinion is never a waste of time!!!

October 29, 2008 - 1:58pm

>>>Google can't be seen to be gamed.

Funny thing is, they were gamed, by Rand.

October 29, 2008 - 3:59pm

That is the ironic and hypocritical part of the whole process. Thanks for succinct - but well crafted - comment Rae. :)

October 29, 2008 - 2:30pm

I've been a proponent of No Outing since the whole directory outing thing. Look, lilywhites are going to stand up and say Rah, Rah, Rah because they want to make like their dung don't stink. But ANYONE's site can be misinterpreted as spam. When I was struggling in high school to write great English papers, I'd often use a word too often because I just wasn't thinking about finding alternative words for it. I certainly wasn't an SEO back then, and I sure wasn't trying to spam my English teacher with high keyword density, but that kind of writing could be misinterpreted in today's world as spam. Outing is just bad karma. It will come back to bite you in the lumpy places, ya know? Just sayin'....

Oh, and I created the No Outing badge a while back that I proudly display on my site. You can get it at or just make your own, if you aren't afraid to speak up.

October 29, 2008 - 2:31pm

It appears that Rand is on this downward spiraling reputation nightmare. I do believe that the Linkscape product was the straw that broke the camels back as they say. Anything he and his team do from this point forward will be scrutinized to the nth degree. They pissed off all the wrong people, that's for sure. And the SEOmoz herd is being grouped under the same umbrella. Guilt by association.

October 29, 2008 - 2:34pm

Aaron, I completely agree. The whole "outing" thing and sending spam reports never sat well with me. Now, I must admit some search results are completely spammy (and still I never sent any spam report to any search engine -- not saying I wouldn't -- depends on how it effects my bottomline :)), but in the case of the site Rand "outted" it was not a spam result. Nor did they do anything wrong. I found Rand post more interesting that the site seemingly used directory submissions to take #1 position. This is telling me that directories may be making a comeback and I suspect the site ranked that high using directory submissions due to the abuse of "nofollow" on the web. I wrote a post about it! Anyway, you got me wanting to put on my "Stop Snitching" T-shirt. Nice post.

October 29, 2008 - 2:38pm

BAD karma Rand. Not to mention, deliberately choosing 2 sites to out that are competing for your target keyword... we'll it smells pretty rotten.

Is there a SEOmoz + IHelpYou partnership in the works?

October 29, 2008 - 2:53pm

Honesty, I kinda agree with Rand on this. How can we as professionals expect to be treated as professionals if we make a habit of turning a blind eye to practices that we disagree with. As professional SEO's we should work to elevate our industry with standards and practices that ensure the term "SEO" is thought of as positive marketing strategy. How do we expect to differentiate our selves from true blue spammers otherwise.

October 29, 2008 - 4:11pm

Well one could start by calling the true deep dark black hat hackers and spammers one thing, and realize everyone else is in another group, which is open to interpretation.

If a person goes out of their way to keep expanding what is considered spam and to promote themselves by snitching (and promote everyone snitching on each other) the web is going to be a less enjoyable place to work, especially as Google keeps gaining market leverage.

If someone looked at the hard money lending reciprocal link stuff Rand was doing when he first got on the web, and highlighted his client site on their popular blog and got his client's site killed, that might have changed his career path.

But I don't think he views it from that perspective.

October 29, 2008 - 4:40pm

"If someone looked at the hard money lending reciprocal link stuff Rand was doing when he first got on the web, and highlighted his client site on their popular blog and got his client's site killed, that might have changed his career path. "

Aaron I couldn't agree more. The backlinks for that Web site are on diaper Web sites. This practice was being carried on into 2006.

October 29, 2008 - 3:10pm

Aaron, I especially love this statement:

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know I don't lightly call out manipulative activities in the search results very often

That's just as bad as his self proclaimed honesty, especially since he knows damn well how slimy it is every time he does out someone for personal gain. If it weren't for the blatantly obvious self serving nature of every one of his "outs", then maybe he'd have a point, but come on now.

Also, this bit:

Second, I find Google's endorsement of this site via sitelinks (and make no mistake, sitelinks send a definitive message to a searcher that this singular site is not "a" result, but "THE" result for this query) especially egregious.

Last year when I was battling with Rand over the way he publicly slammed Aviva Directory, he repeatedly ignored and tried to downplay it whenever I would point out the fact that at that time, before Rand highlighted them to Google (and the rest of the community) in the way that he did, Aviva did in fact have sitelinks. He even went so far as to say this a couple of weeks later, talking about what he called a "bad directory":

so we know it's still in the index; and it's even got the sitelinks - keep that in mind next time someone tells you sitelinks are a sign of trust

So, when sitelinks don't support his claims, they don't mean anything, but when they do, they are an "endorsement" by the search engine. He really is a piece of work.

October 29, 2008 - 3:14pm

There isn't anyone online who pleads their case and backs up their opinion like you do. If you ever get bored with SEO, look into the legal community; you'd kill.

Always impressed, and keep up the good work.

October 29, 2008 - 4:05pm

Thanks Dan. I think the thing is I consume a lot of information and have a near photographic memory, so it is easy for me to remember stuff. Truth be told I can bang out a multi-page blog post in a half hour, but if I had to think of the whole post all in real-time and say it outloud I would be much less convincing at making a case.

October 29, 2008 - 3:21pm

I've always had a lot of respect for rand but I was a little uncomfortable reading this yesterday - I guess just since it was a keyword he obviously wants to rank on (regardless of what he says about that).

I'm wondering if taking vc funding was the right decision for seomoz...

October 29, 2008 - 3:38pm

I've got nothing of value to add, but I LOVE the pride police picture. Classic.

October 29, 2008 - 4:17pm

Sidenote: Aaron, the "Email me about replies to this comment" function isn't working for me for some reason. I noticed it last week and forgot to mention it. Are they working for other people..?

October 29, 2008 - 4:19pm

I think that is the second time you mentioned it, and I feel bad about that as it is something I need to fix. I will ping the developer about trying to fix it before this week is out. Sorry for being so slow on that Michael, but I will try to get it fixed soon.

October 29, 2008 - 4:36pm

What made me laugh the most was that Rand considers "SEO company" a competitive keyword! Try ranking for "las vegas hotels" if you think "SEO company" is tough! This is just another example of bullsh*t whitehat spiel which really dogs me off. Getting links thru search queries like "add a url" or crappy directories form the foundation of many linkbuilding campaigns. They're the quick win links anybody can get and often outsource to India. The funny thing is these links which all the blinkered whitehatters out there believe are discounted (just because SEO's like Rand think/say they should be) miss the trick as these so called discounted links generate rankings and always have done. The bottom line is any link is a link. You can't be penalized for a link unless construed as paid so boll*cks to what Rand says because I can't even see how have broken any rules.

The bottom line is Rand is simply surprised that nobody out there has really worked at ranking for "SEO company" and he's pissed that he didn't catch on!

October 29, 2008 - 4:45pm

I think the problem is that Google's algos cannot do things that their engineers want. So they popularize what they like and what they don't. Like they would say they like linkbait and blogs and don't like directories. But this likeness is the likeness of their human engineers.
As far as there algo's are concerned, what they like is what we see in the SERPs. National Positions is the likeness of their algos.

So by writing posts like Rand did, we are only helping Google make their results like their human engineers want (but cannot scale due to technical limitations).

So let's suppose Google will hand-edit the NationalPositions result. Then, this will make an even greater fuss. Everyone will start running away from directory links so that their sites rankings won't go down if discovered. Even worse, people would be reporting their competitors to Google if they see them ranking because of their sitelinks (this is what Rand did in a louder/open manner).
And in all this time, the reality will be that directory links would still count (unless Google somehow improves their algo).
So I can't see how Rand is helping the SEO community here. He's rather giving us a different message: SEO should be what Google's engineers have in mind, not how the algos work. If you find otherwise, report to Google, make a blog post, and downgrade your competitors.

October 29, 2008 - 4:53pm

I tried twice to post this at sphinn but the post feature is screwed up and it has never worked for me so I gave up. so I guess you get it. Some guy said someone was going to be applying for a job at seomoz which explains my first comment, (maybe):
>I bed Doug Heil is on the phone as we speak applying for that open position at MOz.<

Who ??? I thought I knew everyone in this industry that had ever said anything even remotely intelligent but that name escapes me.

As far as outing anyone:
Let he without sin cast the first stone
When you point a finger at someone you have three more pointing back at you
A man is known by his actions

I believe Gillian and Rand as a team make up one of the best online marketing teams on the net and I also believe little gets done without forethought. Hell, with them kids,it could be up to fivethought by now.

I believe Aaron is ALWAYS right whatever he says.

Finally :
who gives a damn? I gotta go sell some crap.

American Service at Indian Rates

October 29, 2008 - 4:53pm

You summed the entire issue up quite nicely. It has nothing to do with what the site at #1 did or didn't do, it is all about the way Rand made Google look in the eyes of the public.

Anyone reading that post would come away with the idea that Google had been gamed and/or that their results were compromised. Google can't allow that kind of perception to remain.

Oh, and while this cartoon is a year old, I think it's fairly relevant (and very entertaining) again: Rat Fishkin.

October 29, 2008 - 5:01pm

@Aaron. You really did a great job with this post. Thanks a lot.

I know you will move (further) into the bad books of SEOMoz and its lovers (though I already know you don't give a damn).

But anyway, self-actualization and dignity are more valuable than $79 x 3000+.

October 29, 2008 - 5:51pm

There are many inferences to be drawn here.

If the intended outcome is more high profile clients, more "big" business, more income then Rand may be burning some ties or bridges whilst building the piers for new ones.

In the SEO realm, including where it is, where it's going and the value of insider connects - or the appearance of being hooked up with the Good(gle) Guys - who is gaining ground IF you are targeting a certain market for new clients and one of your strategies is to engage in public scrutiny of ranking sites - which scrutiny may be perceived as helping Google? Is it good to be an SEO that is perceived as "Google's friend"? (Maybe you're making Google look bad at the same time? I love how inferences run. ;0) )

Does SEOMoz "look less risky" to the SEO client marketplace IF SEOMoz is prepared to take actions that annoy some members of the SEO community?

Does saying "RF is bad" for what some call outing put SEOMoz in a good or better light with certain, probably well paying, clients?

Might some SEO clients draw the inference that SEOs that protest against SEOMoz outing websites could ALSO BE SEOs, by inference, that do things that could put THEIR website in a bad light? And, therefore, that's why those SEOs join the chorus of protesting outtings? I mean, thoughts like "Why do they complain so much unless they are concerned that the same may happen their their client websites?"

Maybe an SEO firm that is prepared to publicly scrutinize websites is the same SEO firm that may scrutinize "their website ranking", and IF SEOMoz manages to maintain an otherwise "we do it right, by the books" reputation THEN perhaps prospective clients will drift SEOMoz's way? If not, might they be the next website to be outed?

I'm not choosing sides on this and I understand there are good reasons to shun outings - such as certain SEOs may forever thereafter not share insights or "secrets" with such perps/rats/whatever - but maybe the SEO game is changing. Maybe the role of "secrets" is diminishing, particularly as they might be applied to big site projects - where the money is.

So, maybe by losing a certain affinity with the larger SEO community SEOMoz might be gaining a certain credibility with the paying clients. Who better to seek to impress - in a certain way?

And maybe SEOs do themselves a disservice, serving up a basis for a negative inference about their own company/services, by dishing on SEOs that publicly scrutinize and cast doubts upon websites and their ranking provenance. So, y'all get on the high horse only to kick up some mud on yourselves?

This could work out, in the end, as a plus for SEOMoz and it could work out that y'all are serving it up, whilst taking yourself down in the eyes of certain folks who may make the big decisions.

Alright, despite pointing out the potential negative outcomes for thos protesting, I'm obliged to say nice analysis and presentation, as alwyas, Aaron. My comments are not me saying I disagree with you, and clearly I'm qualified to express an opinion about running an SEO firm, just that I'm not certain everyone has thought this through to the intended outcomes. In a growing and fractured web marketing / SEO market SEOMoz's approach might work quite well in gaining market share - being the high profile SEO firm that appears to piss off some element of the SEO community.

October 29, 2008 - 7:15pm

"So, maybe by losing a certain affinity with the larger SEO community SEOMoz might be gaining a certain credibility with the paying clients. Who better to seek to impress - in a certain way?"

I don't think so because they are also trying to promote Linkscape and their subscribers. These would obviously come from the SEO community.

October 29, 2008 - 5:48pm

I think you are right that the intent is to appear as though one is in bed with search engines and that their services are safe for clients while others are risky.

I am just trying to wake people up to the intent so people view the outing as part of a hypocritical marketing strategy. If someone wants to support the community they can, but if they are trying to tear it apart for self-promotion then people should be aware of that as well.

October 29, 2008 - 5:48pm

Without getting into the debate about self-serving outing of websites, Google appears to be letting some of this stuff work for keywords around SEO just to confuse people about what works in the "real world".

To use your analogy, high profile arrests mixed with turning a blind eye. Just the mix that will make people crazy. :)

October 30, 2008 - 1:03am

I see hypocrisy in an SEO firm providing SEO services that mirror/mimic the SEO services that the firm publicly attacks IF the public attack is meant to convey the message "No good SEO should/would ever do THAT!".

IF SEOMoz is engaging in a hypocritical marketing strategy then it's a "live by the sword, die by the sword" situation". Unfortunately, that requires someone to out sites that SEOMoz "has optimized by less than squeaky clean SEO services", which runs contrary to the argument that it's a wrong, per se, to out websites . . unless it's justified. :P

Absent additional evidence of a "Do as I say, not as I do!" behavior, which is hypocrisy by popular definition, I can't see calling SEOMoz's actions hypocritical. I do see their actions as violating the old code of silence tenet of SEO, but the SEO world and SEO market is evolving so I expect new standards of conduct and rationalizations to emerge.

Interesting times. Glad I'm just an outlier. ;)

October 29, 2008 - 6:28pm

You an outlier? Yeah right.

No good SEO should/would ever do THAT!

You don't need to see a client list to see the absurdity of the overall claim and perspective though. An SEO service that ranked #1 in Google was blasted for using effective techniques to rank their site. P...
October 29, 2008 - 6:37pm

WOW... Where do I begin? So many things I want to say. Trying to show some restraint. Breathing in deeply and out slowly.

First and foremost, I truly respect both Rand's and Aaron's work and insight into our world. Further, I generally agree with most of the things these guys have to say.

Having said this, however, I feel that this type of public outing is just pathetic. I don't care who it is or in what industry it comes from, but $hit like this always pisses me off.

In my ten years of Internet Marketing experience, I can tell you that I have mostly seen this type of thing occur when one has been outdone/beaten at his/her own game (even if only temporarily). I've also noticed that this type of thing is further exacerbated when the person/company is beaten by a lesser-known entity.

I DIGRESS... So anyway, why can publicly outing someone be dangerous to your business?

First, specifically with regards to this topic, Rand's public outing of this company has indirectly indicated to his audience that he has been outdone/beaten by somebody who is lesser known in our niche and possibly less experienced than himself (even if only temporarily).

A potentially destructive side-effect has been created, as some SEOmoz clients will begin to ask questions like, "Hey, what did these guys do to have such success?" "How did they beat you?" Rand will have a great answer and will continue to thrive, but I highly doubt that this is a can of worms he intended to open.

Second, just because you are a well-respected, liked, admired, and trusted voice does not automatically give you entitlement to anything. Again, with respect to this topic, this statement holds even more true in the eyes of Google, Yahoo, and MSN. They may take what you have to say above that of many others, but at the end of the day THEY RUN THIS GAME! Note: Entitlement is not one of the 100+ metrics that make up the Algo.

Last, but surely not the least, nobody likes a tattle-tell. Adults will still occasionally partake in some tattle-telling, however, they generally handle it a bit more privately. And as professionals, adults generally leverage personal contacts and relationships to right that which is believed to be wrong.

In conclusion, don't put your business in danger by playing these petty games (outing somebody) in the public eye. Use your well-built, powerful resources to deal with these types of problems (or suspected problems) in a more private manner. You may not like the results now, but as we preach... quality will float!

October 29, 2008 - 6:51pm

Webwork, Google is more likely to punish an undeserving site that might appear to be gaming the system, even if they are well within the guidelines, simply because someone has swayed public opinion to perceive that they may have done so. As Aaron said above, it's not about outing real spammers. This is all about attempting to hurt another website for your own personal gain and for the attention it generates. It's scummy behavior, period.

October 29, 2008 - 8:14pm

I am currently watching my competitors spam Google every day. 2 in particular. They have the India-blogpost strategy working overtime. While it isn't doing much for the main keywords, in the longtail soup, I see these crappy sites climbing for they use techniques CLEARLY against Google's TOS, and still win some important SERP real estate in longtail, but relevant search queries. I do hate them.
But I don't report them. Instead, I try to do better. I almost don't care how they beat me when they are cheating...they still win. However, cheating has never been a long-term strategy. They may win for a little while sure, but if I can't beat them down, legitimately, then shame on me. Sure, any dip in traffic sucks, but time is the measure least it typically is for me. And in time, I will win, which is consolation. Outing the shysters is too much work - and not my job, nor any SEO's job.
I obviously don't sell Viagra! :)

October 29, 2008 - 9:10pm

but not one with a north pointing ethical compass.


Bureau 24
October 29, 2008 - 10:27pm

The post on Seomoz was just plain silly. SEO companies are not the Google police, or maybe that should be Google Snitch. Newayz, I was very disappointed in Rands post and saw no sense to it at all.

For example, Randfish said they optimized the anchor text in the links built back to the site. Is that suppose to be a joke? He also denounced their use of directories to build links to their site. Well, wow until what a few weeks ago Google itself advised you to use directories to promote your website. Rands entire diatribe in that article was preposterous!

And as you stated previously Aaron and I stated on SEOmoz what they did to their site works! I wouldn't say Rand had ill intent more so then promoting his tool and linkbaiting a bit but still I agree he went too far.

October 30, 2008 - 2:58am

I concur with Bureau 24...brilliant linkbait.

October 30, 2008 - 4:04am

brilliant linkbait.

I agree as well but there is a price for these links - Rands reputation gets further tarnished.

I personally think outing sites is BS. If you can't outrank a competitor you should shut the f**k up and go back to the drawing board.

Jeremy Beynon
October 30, 2008 - 4:13am

If you really want to rank quite easily for SEO company.

Just go out and purchase as of a minute ago it was available... no need to say thanks for the tip :-)

October 30, 2008 - 5:18am

This reminds of of band who puts out the awesome album, then another, then at some point changes their direction. They sell out and go pop and leave a huge fan base of people saying "I only really like their old stuff"

Some of the people who were there with us in the trenches years ago are the same as always, some have changed for the better, and others have just changed.

I remember one day 5 years ago Rand didn't know who I was, I told him I ranked #1 on Y! for web design (that was a long time ago), and he busted out a few pretty pimp ideas to nab a few links I hadn't yet employed. I was impressed so I link bombed him up (used loosely, it only took like 5 links) to #1 on Goog for "bad ass SEO" and sent him a link to the SERP thanking him for the tips.

Now I rarely post on SEOmoz because I usually get censored. Things done changed.

October 30, 2008 - 2:02pm

isn't Rand just using a classic link baiting strategy here - being controversial?
The only problem is that I feel here's gone to far by using the SEO firm as the sacrificial pig in this instance - it's just plane nasty and I won't be using SEOmoz's services or visiting their blog again.

October 30, 2008 - 2:20pm

It was a nice piece of link bait, very effective. I expect SEOMoz will rank quite well for "SEO Company" by January. Of course, he may also rank quite well for "SEO Police" ;)

yet another ben
October 30, 2008 - 3:53pm

In the UK at least, Aaron's firmly got a hold of that niche: nee nor nee nor!

Arnie Link Builder
October 30, 2008 - 6:00pm

Aaron - glad you had the guts to post this, I saw Rand's article and just shook my head. I like Rand, he is a great guy, but why he falls to the tempation to out someone I don't know.

I agree with Chris Hooley - sometimes people start in one direction then go another. I guess in this biz it is usually black to gray to white.

For example, I'd really like to change my sign-in name for your blog, when I set it up a year or 2 ago I was trying to get a little link juice for "link builder", now I wish I could drop that but could not figure out how to do it in my profile :-)

October 30, 2008 - 6:18pm

I feel that if Rand had not used an actual company name/website (blur with photoshop..duh) that his point could have still been made. He could have just tattletaled on the site to google and not come off as such a rat. I'm in agreement with letting the search engines know if a site is doing unethical practices but don't tell the whole world. You come off as looking like a kid that got upset and it taking his ball home since he can't play in the game.

I respect what Rand and everyone at SEOmoz has to say but I take it with a big grain of salt now.

Since they released linkscape or whatever they call it; it seems like everything that SEOmoz posts is a hard sell for that tool. I don't even pay that much attention to what they have to say when they are using it. Too shady of a sales tactic to me.

Aaron, I didn't realize that Rand was outing you in the video. Not to be "that guy" but, I would be pissed if I were you. Going to where and how I grew up, he would get his ass kicked for that. Not that this calls for that but damn, what was Rand thinking.

Keep up the good work, you still got my respect.

October 30, 2008 - 8:36pm

If this doesn't speak to Rand's affinity for outing folks, I don't know what does?

November 1, 2008 - 7:33am

Honestly, Rand makes me naucious in more ways than one. What a wuss and a snitch. What kind of SEO is he if he needs to out the competition in order to outrank, he is supposed to be an SEO expert? And he obviously supports link buying so he if he can't even compete on that level, what a joke.

Aaron, Rand is neither intellectually dishonest or economical with the truth, he's just a hypocrite who obviously has issues with his competition!

November 1, 2008 - 7:37am

I don't want to attack Rand with mean spirited comments...the purpose of this post was more to highlight that public outings sorta suck!

November 2, 2008 - 2:53am

I nominate Aaron to be the first SEO-Chief of Staff under the Obama Cabinet!

Terry Van Horne
November 2, 2008 - 6:28pm

Rand isn't doing it for the industry,it's all about Rand and SeoMoz and killing off the competition! He's the poster child for "anyone ranking above me must be spamming" crowd.

How Google can give him that much power is dreadful. Rand is easily the most over rated over hyped SEO on earth and that's using SEO in it's loosest terms. He also is a known lier... how does a lier have any credibility at all? Because people take his money and give him undeserved credibility. He's absolute proof the easiest way to the top of the SEO heap is to pucker up and kiss every asse in sight and let every industry leader put their hands in your pockets and grab a fistful!

August 17, 2012 - 9:37pm

Interesting story. Made me wonder if their is SEO police so i would be probably the most searched seo bandit :) HAhha . Just joking

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