The Write Podcast Episode 3: From Black Hat Spammer Raking In k a Month to Inbound Marketer- Jeff Deutsch's Story

The Write Podcast Episode 3: From Black Hat Spammer Raking In $50k a Month to Inbound Marketer- Jeff Deutsch’s Story

Ever since I read Confessions of a Google Spammer on, a viral story with over 275K reads, I knew Jeff Deutsch was the kind of marketer I’d like. And I was right. We’ve collaborated quite a bit; he’s done a blog interview for me, and he was a featured guest expert on one of our first #ContentWritingChat sessions. And I was very pleased when he said “yes” to being my FIRST Write Podcast guest expert!
If you’re invested in online marketing at all, you will absolutely love this episode – Jeff shares all kinds of golden SEO and online content creation nuggets, with all the expertise of a crazily diverse marketing background. This guy went from raking over $150,000 gross/$50,000 net per month doing black hat SEO, to becoming an inbound marketer for a startup in Beijing, something more stable for him as he focused on fatherhood. I have nothing but respect for Jeff – and as he said himself, we basically agree on everything. 
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I had fun recording it with Jeff! Remember to leave an iTunes review if you loved it; I’d greatly appreciate it!
jeff deutsch inbound marketer episode

In Episode 3 of The Write Podcast, guest expert Jeff Deutsch reveals:

  • How Jeff entirely quit blackhat SEO after a “spanking” from Matt Cutts
  • What a stable marketing career means to him as a father today
  • What content looked like in the “black hat” days
  • What great content looks like today & how storytelling plays a huge part
  • The WORST SEO practices to never, ever do
  • How authentic online content is more about connections than just keywords
  • …& more!

Full Transcription of The Write Podcast, E03: From Black Hat Spammer Raking In $50k a Month to Inbound Marketer- Jeff Deutsch’s Story

Julia: I’m here today with Jeff Deutsch, an SEO professional and the VP of marketing at PTEngine. He’s best known for his story that went viral around the Internet in 2015, Confessions Of A Google Spammer.
Jeff it’s so great to have you here today.
Jeff: Hi Julia, how’s it going?
Julia: Good, so I wanted to I ask for a nutshell of the story that you wrote on I know its gone viral around the web, it had so many shares and views by now and pretty much I can make my entire podcast about your story which is a really cool story.
Jeff: Sure, it’s about my journey from being a black hat spammer for SEO to becoming an inbound marketer, and it’s got a message which is basically, don’t follow my path. But it’s a lot about my life’s story. How kinda going down that black hat rabbit hole affected my life and a lot of crazy things that happened during that time which was from around 2010 and 2012 especially.
Julia: So what was your turning point, whenever you switched mindsets from black hat over to the light side?
Jeff: Yeah, basically I mean it was just that I was getting a spanking from Matt Cutts basically and Matt Cutts was like one of the first employees at Google, he was the head of the web spam team and he’s basically like the dark overlord for black hat SEO guy. He’s kind of like the antithesis of who we were.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘I stopped doing bad SEO when I got a spanking from @mattcutts, the dark overlord.’ @jgdeutsch #quote” quote=”How I stopped doing black hat SEO: I was getting a spanking from Matt Cutts basically and he’s basically like the dark overlord for black hat SEO guy. “]
Because his job is to hunt out the spammers who were getting their spamming content to the top of the Google search engine results pages, and to eliminate them from the search engine results.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Google sniffed out our network and we went from making $150,000 gross a month to nothing. -@jgdeutsch” quote=”So yeah, basically they sniffed out our network that we had built, which was a very advanced and very effective SEO network before they found us, and destroyed us. I could basically get anything I wanted on the first page of Google in like five minutes just waiting on a maximum of about a week. It just went from overnight from having an SEO business that was making like $150,000 {gross} a month to having nothing.”]
Julia: That’s crazy.
Jeff: So yeah, I wish I could say it was like I had a turn of conscience but no, I just got spanked.
Julia: [LAUGH] That’s good you’re being real.
Jeff: [LAUGH] Yeah, the turn of conscience came later, and it was more about wanting to build something that was sustainable: which I think inbound marketing is. It’s the slow and steady approach and I think that had a lot to do also with being a father because I have a young son and you want something sustainable because there’s enough uncertainty when you have a kid, and you’re trying to raise him. You know marketing is a much more stable career.
Julia: That’s so true. I have a toddler so I totally relate to that you know just finding a stable income. Making sure your kids have something to rely on.
Going from black hat to where you are today, it would be really interesting just to get your perspective on content, and how important it is to the Internet and how to do content marketing right, since you kind of know how to do it wrong: SEO wrong, to say.
Jeff: The content that we were producing back then was completely written by robots. I wrote a script basically that could scrape the web for any key wording, create content that Google considered high quality. But Google has gotten way better at detecting spam since then. I don’t think that they necessarily can use a robot that can tell the difference between what’s really quality, and what’s not but they have their fingers in all the user, interaction data and engagement data.
Now because I mean Google Analytics, Google Webmaster’s in almost every website at least like 60% of the top million websites have Google Analytics. So they know what’s going on landing pages. So I think that content you can write it for Google if you want to, but the users are gonna come and they’ll be able to smell the difference.
And if they don’t like the content they’re gonna bounce and if you’re bounce rate is high Google’s not gonna rank you high. It’s your engagement and on the article is well then it’s the same thing.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Write for search engines, but at the end of the day you have to write for people. @jgdeutsch #quote” quote=”So yeah I mean you can write through search engines all you want, but at the end of the day you have to write for people, you have to get people to share your content, and engage in it, read it and really consume it or it’s never gonna rank long term.”]
Julia: That’s so true and you used those principles when you wrote your story. Which I thought was really great, it was really engaging, and you were really authentic about your black hat practices, and then your switch over and where you are today.
And going back to that is a form of a story, and you and I always talk about how important storytelling is. How do you see that fitting into content marketing and SEO?
Jeff: Something I’m really into now and I know you are too, is just using emotional persuasion to grab people’s interests. Because the data and like the attention span of the average web user is just scary. It’s like if your page doesn’t load within 4 seconds it’s like 25% of people will bounce it.
And web users have like an 8 seconds attention span, which is down from 12 seconds in 2010 or 2012 when the study was done before. So it’s just basically people don’t have time. They have so many options and so many alternatives, other stuff that they could be doing or reading, so maybe you have to grip them somehow and you have to use.
Basically use emotional triggers to keep them engaged with what you are writing. And it’s something that you are really good at, something that you definitely know to a deep degree. And I mean storytelling influences people to a really deeper degree and it really cuts through like that.
I think you call it like a hockey, 1950-style marketing of selling and fakeness and stuff. Content writers should be authentic and real and especially personal and share personal details in their content. It does something to draw the reader in and kind of just emotionally get them involved in the content and most decisions are made with emotions. We use our emotions to make decisions, we use our brains to rationalize afterwards and that includes, am I gonna invest like the two or three minutes it’s gonna take for me to read this article or buy after ten minutes.
It’s like long form storytelling so to say.
Julia: I also wanted to go into some things to avoid since you came from that black hat background and you’ve done things that Google’s smacked you down for: so what are some of the worst maybe outdated SEO practices that marketers could be doing that should be avoided today?
Jeff: Any kind of link dealing where the content is bad.
If the content’s crappy or if you don’t have control of the page’s linked to you, because the worst case scenario is you do some link building and then you have no ability to take the link down so you can’t remove the links and then disembowel them which is the only way that you’re gonna get out of the penalty.
So if you have to, you don’t have to black hat spam, but if you have to, make sure that at least you’re in control of it so that when, not if, but when you get a penalty, you can remove the links yourself, but why bother? If it’s only a short-term thing, you’re gonna be on a treadmill where you’re gonna be constantly having to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild.
Why not build something sustainable?
Julia: I’m absolutely on the side with why bother because for the last four years that’s all we’ve been doing is good practices. I don’t even like to say white hat, because we write blogs, we put out content and then we try to do it better each time and that’s been 98% of our lead generation of our visitors.
Just putting out really good content, whether it’s like an infographic or a really good blog post that’s really in depth, so yeah I’m totally on the side of why you can bother.
Jeff: Yeah and it’s not like other benefits from writing your own content and getting legitimate, actual real people to follow you and care about you, because relationships and networks, personal networks, are algorithm proof.
Julia: Mm-hm.
Jeff: Google is never going to like have a penalty where you suddenly lose all your friends, so [LAUGH] so people who read your stuff and get engaged with that and are like Julia, she’s really switched on, she really knows what she’s talking about.
That’s going to last beyond any algorithm so even if one day Google, I don’t know search engines, become a thing of the past, you’ll still have your network.
We had like 3,000 customers are at our peak with my SEO company. I mean I don’t talk to any other people anymore because it was all about, next time let’s get our money in and let’s spend our money and let’s move on to the next bigger thing and that’s one of my biggest regrets was that at least I could have spent more time connecting with those people, but I was just watching the money roll in to my PayPal and just like okay cool I won, I don’t have to work anymore, I can just like sit back and just be lazy and go like party all the time do whatever I have to like to fulfill whatever fantasy I was trying to fulfill.
If I had those connections it would be worth a lot more than the money I made.
Julia: That’s a really good point. Today it’s really all about connections whenever you create your content and like for example I don’t even think of keywords anymore when I create a blog I think about the audience and where is this post going, what level is the audience at resonating is what my content is all about whenever I create, that’s a really great point.
Jeff: Yeah I mean it used to be you’ll start with the keyword and you’ll be like, okay let’s research the key word and figure out what do people talk about and they talk about and whatever. And now somebody gives me an assignment I’m like, okay who am I writing it for? What’s their emotional state? What do they want? Because if you know those things about it, if you could build a persona of the person that you’re trying to engage. Makes it so much easier.
It’s so much easier to get them to engage because they’re just gonna do it naturally. Like I said, they smell the difference. They know when it’s real and when it’s fake.
Julia: Absolutely and we’re facing millenniums, I should say millennials, and that’s an audience that really, they are in the know-how of tech, they’re gonna be able to stiff out a cold sale quicker than anyone else and it’s not coincidence.
Jeff: Yeah was that you who in your article you were talking about millennials how they value authenticity over content?
Julia: Yeah. That was me.
Jeff: Yeah. That’s true I mean because in contrast to all the noise of being constantly sold to and being so fed up with that. I mean its like having a real authentic thing from a personal point of view that’s vulnerable and it really cuts through.
Because Americans I remember this quote from few years ago, I don’t who said it but like Americans we love to buy stuff but we hate being sold to.
Julia: [LAUGH]
Jeff: We just hate it, you know what I mean? It’s so true, it’s so true. So yeah we just wanna have like the excuse to be able to buy without feeling like we are being taken advantage of, because it is, it’s fun buying things it’s fun, we want to.
We go into every blog post, we click the link like we are out there ready to do something, just don’t turn us off with your fake BS.
Julia: [LAUGH] That’s a good way to sum it up.
So, Jeff just to wrap this up, I want to get your perspective as an SEO marketer on maybe specifically blogging how do you see that tying into concept marketing and just today and maybe the future concept marketing?
Jeff: You mean blogging on your own blog or like guest blogging on someone else’s blog or?
Julia: Let’s go for the wide sphere, so just blogging whether your guest blog, blog for yourself, wherever you do it.
Jeff: Yeah I think that now what’s happening and this has been happening since probably around like 2010, 2011 is that now we’re kind of moving away from brands and more to like people. People aren’t more into personas that they aren’t into like things like the brand, you know what I mean? Conversion XL is a famous brand, they have their own followings that they bring to it. Crazy Egg, who is a competitor of ours, and I probably shouldn’t have said that, but screw it, has like Neil Patel, and Henshaw, and Hubspot has Dharmesh, and these personalities are actually I would say when it comes to buying like when it comes to actually the conversion part of where readers are reading a blog again and again and then like actually goes to convert, I think that the persona of that person is more clear in the buyers mind than the brand itself. You know when Dharmesh, for example like can go into it like a different marketing company and still build and bring all of his trust with him.
And I don’t think that was necessary like as strong of a thing five or ten years ago. It’s become this type of personality thing with blogging where like you are developing through your series of this posts, it’s almost like how you get attracted to characters like in a TV series and you like you work for that.
You saw this in Game of Thrones 2 where people are more into the characters than they’re into the show itself where they’ll be like I’m not watching anymore, I can’t believe you killed this character. So I think it really is the same thing that blogging, it’s a cult of personality thing where people want to make a connection with the person not just with the corporate brand.
So then you said like there used to be brand loyalty for like for your favorite brand of cigarette, or your favorite like brand of car—like I only smoke Marlboro, I only buy Hondas I don’t think that those statements will be ever be said by the same person, but you know what I mean.
Now it’s a commitment to the people who personalized the brand, put a face on it, and that’s something I’ll be completely honest and something that for us for PTEngine like my startup I’m trying to do because there are other key map and analytics apps out there, and there’s other people who talk about CRL and everything but like if people start to feel a connection to me and they don’t feel better about using our product and I don’t think that it works as much now where it’s like, oh I love this product, let me get to know everything about the person who made it.
I think it works much more the way like they get drawn in through blogging through the personality of the person and then they are like ah sure I’ll give your product a try why not you know.
Julia: I bet that ties into the really attention span too.
Jeff: Yeah exactly because there’s nothing more emotional than connection to another person you know. I mean there’s plenty of data I just read some them like a version of blog about this too.
About like royalty to brands it’s not really a shocker, but it’s not anywhere near the I’m not a royalty like a friend or a personal recommendation by a person, who you know and trust.
Julia: I think so. Jeff thank you so much for being here and sharing your thoughts it was really insightful thanks for joining me.
Jeff: Yeah you’re welcome and it was awesome I mean we basically agree on everything anyway.
Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more online content tips and strategies, visit, and now here’s your host Julia McCoy with a final message.
Julia: Jeff’s story is inspiring. I think it’s amazing he left a black hat SEO world where he was making $50,000 a month to become an inbound marketer for a start up. You can read his entire story by searching Google for Confessions Of A Google Spammer, it’s on You can also follow Jeff on Twitter @JGDeutsch.
If you haven’t joined my twitter chat yet, be sure to check it out and join the community as we share content writing and marketing tips and tricks. Join us with the #contentwritingchat every Tuesday at 10 AM CST. Also I’m writing a book: So You Think You Can Write: The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing. In this book I discuss everything you need to know to write great content online, both as an ultimate guide for freelance writing career, and for the business owner. It’ll be available to buy on Amazon by the end of this March.
Thanks for joining today’s episode of The Write Podcast! For more episodes go to

#ContentWritingChat February 9 2016 Recap: SEO in 2016 and Beyond with Jeff Deutsch

#ContentWritingChat February 9 2016 Recap: SEO in 2016 and Beyond with Jeff Deutsch

Rachel is our team Social Media Specialist.
If you missed this week’s #ContentWritingChat, you’re in luck! We have rounded-up some of the best tweets from our chat on Tuesday, February 9th at 10 AM CST. Ready to dive in and learn more about SEO? Keep reading!

#ContentWritingChat February 9 2016 Recap: SEO in 2016 and Beyond with Jeff Deutsch

Our guest host this week was Jeff Deutsch. Jeff is the VP of Marketing for Ptengine and a contributor to (Check out the post where he got famous: Confessions of a Google Spammer.)
Jeff is super knowledgeable in SEO. He joined our chat to share his expertise on the best SEO practices you should be using. We were so excited to have him joining us!

As Jeff and our CEO, Julia, pointed out, SEO is about optimizing your content for search engines. You want Google to view your content as relevant and authoritative in order to rank higher in search results.
Jeff also gives us a very important reminder about making sure you’re writing for humans. Google’s algorithms keep getting better and better and you want to keep up – and this is a key way.

Kavita mentioned the importance of keywords in her answer. Make sure you’re selecting the right keywords for your content. Use keywords that people are actually searching for so you can reach them. Include keywords in your post title, throughout your content, and in the alt tags for your images.
Don’t forget to think beyond keywords, too. Netvantage brings up a great point about making sure your website is optimized. Google favors websites that are mobile-friendly and have quick loading times.
If it wasn’t already obvious by the answers from Jeff, Kavita, and Netvantage Marketing, picking the right keywords is essential! You want to target the keywords your audience is actually searching, otherwise you cannot expect them to find your content. Kavita added a great tip which is to make sure you’re including your focus keyword in your post title, throughout the post itself, and in the alt tags for your images. Very important!
However, don’t forget to think beyond keywords. Netvantage Marketing reminds us the importance of having an optimized website. Google favors websites that are mobile-friendly and ranks them higher in search results. You also want to have faster page-loading times because that’s a good thing to Google!

What are some good standards for SEO content?
Follow the advice from Jeff and Ryan and make sure all of your content is relevant and authoritative. High-quality content is key first and foremost!
Try asking yourself Jeff’s question the next time you’re writing, “Would an expert on this subject link to this?” If not, you might want to step it up!

Jeff and Julia provided great answers for this question! Storytelling is important for building a connection between you and your reader. That kind of connection is memorable to your readers and is going to make them want to share your work.
Focus on building a stronger relationship with your readers to grow your brand.

To naturally earn links for SEO, focus on providing quality content for your audience. When you create valuable content for your audience, they’ll want to share it. As Jeff pointed out, be known as “that guy” or “that woman” within your niche. Position yourself as an authority figure for whatever it is you do. Become to go-to person everyone knows and trusts.
Andrew also reminds us that while great content can earn links on its own, promotion is important. Don’t forget to spread the word about what you’ve created.

Jeff offers a great tip here! If you have a piece that you want major influencers in your niche to see, contact them! It may seem scary, but it’s worthwhile to just put yourself out there. You never know who might be willing to share your work so it’s worth a shot!
Michael mentioned the importance of connecting with your audience. Building that relationship with them is key because they’ll be more likely to share your content when you do.
Don’t forget the hashtags, too! Use the hashtags you known your target market is using so they will be more likely to discover your work. It’s a simple way to reach new people.

Don’t fall for any of those bad or outdated SEO practices! Take Michael’s advice and ditch the robotic copy. Focus on writing great content and working your keywords in naturally. No keyword stuffing either because you don’t want Google to think you’re spam.
Julia offers a great point when she said you should think about your reader. Your reader comes first so make sure you’re providing them with valuable content they’ll love. When you do, they’ll keep coming back for more.

Jeff offered some examples of black-hat SEO practices he’s heard about and they are ones to avoid!
We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Be sure to join us on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 at 10 AM CST.

The SEO Basics of 2015 (It's Hard, Here's How You Win) Q&A With Jeff Deutsch

The SEO Basics of 2015 (It’s Hard, Here’s How You Win) Q&A With Jeff Deutsch

We sat down – virtually, of course – with acclaimed author and SEO marketer Jeff Deutsch, author of the viral Inbound post Confessions of a Google Spammer (which hit over 160,000 views and 90k+ Facebook shares). He gave us some awesome, original insights on SEO basics for current marketers in 2015 (and beyond). It’s a read any online marketer should take the time to make.

SEO of 2015 Q&A with Jeff Deutsch

Commence Jeff’s insights in 3, 2, 1…

Tell us a little about how and why you got started in SEO.

I’ve always dreamed of changing the world through mind control. As an introvert, SEO seemed like the best way to approach it.
I probably got the dream from my dad. He was a pretty prolific writer. When I was 8 years old, he taught me how to hypnotize people. He used to proudly tell me stories about how, in college at Columbia in the 1950s, he would make his (pretty, female) subjects regress to memories from the womb—and beyond. I thought that was pretty cool.

Thousands of years ago in the 1960s, writers had to publish their stuff on things called books. My dad, Ronald M. Deutsch, wrote a bunch of them.

Thousands of years ago in the 1960s, writers had to publish their stuff on things called books. My dad, Ronald M. Deutsch, wrote a bunch of them.

In college, I majored in political science. Because I thought they were going to teach me how to do mind control on a mass scale. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t.)
So I tried doing it on my own. My first experiment came in 2003. At the time, the debate was raging on the need for war in Iraq. I was fervently against it.
I had carefully collated all the projections on how many lives would be lost and money spent. Then I put up a website with the facts. Then I advertised the website by stapling and taping hundreds of bright lemon yellow flyers all over the conservative, war-hungry streets of New Orleans.
The next day, I saw most of my flyers had been torn down during the night.
My anti-war website got no traffic. That was the first time it dawned on me how important it is to have a reliable source of traffic that other people can’t easily take down.
I wish I could say I started doing SEO back then, because man! It was easy back then. Unfortunately, I only started to figure it out in 2008, when I was doing marketing for a company in Beijing that had virtually no budget.
By 2010, I had started my own little SEO company in Plainsboro, New Jersey, in an attempt to escape the Beijing pollution and relocate myself and my then-pregnant wife to the U.S. The relocation failed, but the SEO succeeded in a big way.

How big have SEO basics changed since the day you started out in SEO compared to today?

Nowadays, it takes a LOT more money, charisma, or tech skills to start an SEO agency. Today’s SEO basics are a lot different that yesterday’s.

Photo credit Social Media Explorer

Photo credit Social Media Explorer

Back in 2010, anyone with limited tech skills and the right cheat-sheet could easily start a successful SEO agency on a $1200 budget. I even wrote a post about it on if you want to know the details. But the basic concept was building parasite backlinks using spun content and force indexing them.
If you don’t recognize those terms, never mind. They’re not going to help with SEO for the big money keywords these days anyway.
However, I talked to some guys at one SEO agency at Opticon and according to them—amazingly—these methods STILL work for very low competition keywords. They use them to rank for reputation management clients’ names.
But they are the exception to the rule. Most successful agencies these days have the money, charisma, or tech skills to have a comparative advantage over you and me. They gobble up all the keywords (and clients… and money…) by combining that advantage with the scaling power of automation and social media to force the Gini coefficient of SEO ever upwards closer to 1.0.

Money SEO agencies

These guys just buy links on high PR guest blogs like HuffingtonPost, or buy whole sites on Flippa to turn into pumpers or feeders, or pay to build a big ole PBN. They have the resources to reverse engineer their competitors’ backlink profiles and outbid them on quality link placement.

Profile: Think in-house link buyers for online casinos.
Zodiac sign: Taurus.
Star Wars equivalent: Think Senator Lott Dod, Minister of the Trade Federation.
D&D counterpart: A NEUTRAL EVIL human rogue.

Charisma SEO Agencies

These people know how to network, be popular and get tight with high traffic sites. And get them to link to their creative content. Which they know people will like because they extrovertedly talk talk talk to everyone.

Profile: Think inbound marketers like Dharmesh Shah, Neil Patel, Joel Klettke.
Zodiac sign: Libra.
Star Wars equivalent: Queen Padmé Amidala.
D&D counterpart: A LAWFUL GOOD half-elf bard.

Tech Skill SEO Agencies

These folks know how to automate outreach and find loopholes to rank and bank. Mostly these guys are pretty agnostic about the method, and only care about the result, so it’s hard to label them “white hat” or “black hat.” If, for example, they develop a WP plugin that gets them cloaked links, and they only rank reputable sites, who are they hurting really? Or maybe they develop the scripts to find high value expired domains with aged backlinks to build PBNs or 3BNs. The main thing is that they are mavericks who zig when everyone else zags, and they almost assuredly rock the pants off PHP, Python, Ruby, or all three.

Profile: Think Justin Mares from and any SEOs on
Zodiac sign: Aquarius.
Star Wars equivalent: Han Solo.
D&D counterpart: A CHAOTIC NEUTRAL halfling swashbuckler.

By the way, as you can see from my $1200 guide above, back in 2010 people like me used to hand out actionable, effective SEO basics advice on forums for free all the time.

Those days are over.

Nobody does that anymore for The Three Reasons People Don’t Publicly Share Effective SEO Tactics Anymore.

Photo credit

Photo credit

The Three Reasons People Don’t Publicly Share Effective SEO Tactics Anymore

  1. Google’s anti-spam team reads the forums to find and close loopholes the way agents in the Matrix popped into people’s bodies.
  2. SEO is a zero-sum game. There will always only be 10 spots on the first page of Google and a scarcity of high value, low competition keywords. It doesn’t make sense for me to help people compete with me.
  3. Any SEO who outs a privately known method for ranking is shunned by his community.

Instead of talking publicly on forums, SEOs now trade secrets privately and carefully on platforms that Google’s anti-spam team is less likely to be able to monitor, like Skype.
So you can imagine how important it is to have SEO buddies these days. This will not be the first time I mention that in this interview.
My biggest regret after my link building empire crumbled was that I hadn’t spent more time developing relationships with SEOs. The people who did that, like Matthew Woodward, Terry Kyle, and Alex Becker, will keep making money no matter what algorithm change Google throws at them.
Remember the catchphrase from V for Vendetta–“ideas are bullet-proof”? Well in SEO, human relationships are algorithm-proof.

What’s one piece of advice you would give someone just starting out learning SEO basics?

If you have lots of money, charisma, or tech skills, just do like the people do above.
If not, get an entry-level SEO job or apprentice to a successful SEO. Learning what works through experimentation takes too long. Paying for what works is too expensive.
Build a network of friends on a Skype-like platform and talk to them as often as possible. Trade up on secrets the way Kyle MacDonald traded up from a red paperclip to a house.
For those of you who are thinking “aw what a let-down, he didn’t tell me the secret right now!” Re-read The Three Reasons People Don’t Publicly Share Effective SEO Tactics Anymore repeatedly until you get it.

Do SEO and content marketing tie in today? How important do you feel content marketing is to SEO?

If you’re going the charisma route, content marketing is everything. For the other two, it’s only absolutely critical. Look at how Hayden from is using his awesome IM blog to build a worldwide niche site intern army (directed by an oligarchy operating out of a mansion in Mexico.)
When you start making good content, use it to attract friendships and talk talk talk to your network as much as possible. They’ll tell you what works in SEO basics, behind the scenes.

What’s one tip you’d offer for someone who’s looking to boost SEO rankings on their existing site?

Never, ever, ever (did we say never?) think of SEO like this... Photo credit

Never, ever, ever (did we say never?) think of SEO like this… Photo credit

Get on SEO forums, meet people by proving you can provide value, and make friendships. Get on Skype (or some other non-Google monitored IRC platform) and trade up on SEO secrets like the red paperclip guy.
Oh and, never out your best secrets of successful SEO basics on a public forum (like this blog post.) 😛

We love the content you share on! Thanks for being a great inspiration in SEO.


And Finally, Check It Out: Jeff’s Awesome Offer For You (Yes, You The Reader!)

One last thing.
Like I said earlier, human relationships are algorithm-proof.
I’d like to build a relationship with everyone who enjoyed this interview.
And I have the perfect first step. It’s one of those “once-in-a-lifetime type opportunities.” Literally. It has to do with something called CRO.
Remember that I wish I’d gotten into SEO in 2003? In 5 years people will be lamenting not getting into CRO “back in 2015.”
Why is it important? Well, doing SEO without CRO is like burying a treasure chest in quicksand. CRO converts visitors into leads, buyers, subscribers, whatever. And it’s also not dependent on Google algorithms. That’s why I started working for a company that makes an awesome CRO tool.

Right now I get to give away 5 lifetime Enterprise level licenses for Ptengine, which normally cost $300 a month. Even better, I get to work with the winners to help them get more conversions per visit. And I don’t have to charge them $0.01.
All you have to do is work with me to create a case study about our success that we can put on our website.
Interested applicants should email me at to apply. Just let me know what your website’s domain name and about how much traffic it gets.

Who Is This Jeff Guy? 

Jeff Deutsch is the VP of Marketing for Ptengine, a tool made by people who are obsessed with making your visitors stop abandoning your website. (He seriously wants you to email him at so he can help you for free. He’ll explain after you email him.) He works out of Tokyo and Beijing and the Bay Area. In his spare time he contributes to and HubSpot’s blog.
9 Lies SEO’s Are Still Telling Themselves

9 Lies SEO’s Are Still Telling Themselves

Joshua McCoy is our company COO and our all-around developer and web guru. Read more on the About page.
Did you hear about this story yet?
Chances are, if you’ve made any kind of rounds on the internet, you already have.
After years of being a massively successful link builder who made upwards of $50,000 each month by spamming Google, marketer Jeff Deutsch realized that he was building homes on the dark side of the moon.
I started out in SEO around 2010, and although many marketers around me did, I never followed suit and went the black hat way. I stayed white hat and inbound marketing friendly ever since I started out (which is why my role at our content agency, Express Writers, fits me perfectly). Yet, I know enough of the “dark” realms to have major respect for someone like Jeff telling his past as a black hat this transparently.
The iconic image below was all too perfect for the crazy tale that subsequently fetched 150,000 views and over 94,000 shares alone on Facebook.
google spammer
He didn’t quit black hat SEO because the income wasn’t good or the lifestyle pleasant (quite the opposite, as Jeff details).
It was because the SEO model he had created was impossible to maintain in the face of increased awareness about link builders and aggressive Google programs like Panda and Penguin.
In Deutsch’s powerful confession piece, “Confessions of a Google Spammer,” the author chronicles his rise and subsequent downfall as a black hat link-builder. He transparently allows readers see the ugly truth of how the life of a professional, black hat SEO can quickly spiral out of control, becoming a merciless and often empty money-machine that leaves the spammer devoid of real skills or knowledge of white hat tactics.
When his link-building business begins to fail, Deutsch becomes anxious and addicted and realizes that he is ill suited to survive in the post-de-indexing world.
After a hellish 18 months, he finally realizes that to be truly white hat, he needs to cross over into the world of inbound marketing and high-quality content instead of continuing to run on the “anxiety-inducing treadmill of using black hat SEO to get traffic.”
Although this story may seem anecdotal, it is more than just a come-to-SEO-Jesus moment.

9 Lies SEO Marketers Like To Tell Themselves (And Stay Comforted In Their Sleep)

This story is a perfect example of how SEO’s often tell themselves things that involve the following nine lies, which lead not only to their personal downfalls, but also to the mucking-up of the entire SEO industry.

1) My latest hack will fall below Google’s radar yet again

Although there are loopholes in every system, Google is a particularly good one and with developments in de-indexing as well as programs like Panda and Penguin, it’s highly unlikely that a hack will evade Google’s radar for long.
What’s more, once Google catches on, there is a solid chance that the hacker is in for a rapid de-escalation of lifestyle like the one Detusch experienced after his $100,000 per month business was lost to de-indexing.

2) Those tiered links won’t get figured out anytime soon

Since tiered link building is a decidedly black hat technique and search engines are on a mission to destroy black hat techniques, it’s a safe bet that tiered links won’t work the way SEO’s want them to.
Google’s algorithm relies on at least 200 ranking factors arranged in order of their impact on total rank with contextual links being the crème de la crème of the linking world. Not only does tiered linking not work but it is likely to be found out due to the fact that a large number of low-quality links throws out a huge number of negative metrics, which acts as a footprint for Google’s spam filters, which are now built specifically to obliterate spam-filled tiered links.

3) My pyramid linking scheme still works

Pyramid linking is a risky business and since it is so intrinsically reliant upon wobbly pillars like tiered links and ongoing hacks, it is liable to crumble and, when it does, the SEO is in deep trouble.
Once again, one needs only to turn to Deutsch’s article for an example of this. After the Authority Link Network began to crumble, Deutsch found himself in the position of watching his clients loose their clients and so on and so forth. Although a pyramid seems like it might touch the sky, there is no way for the top to stay intact when the bottom begins to crumble.

4) I can post crappy content that a $5 Fiverr gig author wrote

Content is king, as it turns out, and there’s really no way to get around this fact. Nowadays, crappy content sticks out like a sore thumb and Google doesn’t appreciate spammers who add millions of words of spam to its index.
As a result, there have been several updates to the system that are designed specifically to target cheap, spammy content. With increasing focus on high-quality content and strong, white-hat links, it’s gotten harder and harder for crappy content to rise through the ranks.

5) I still think I can succeed with .gov links

Links are an important topic to white- and black-hat SEO’s alike but the essential difference lies in the type of link being used. Links can either help or hurt SEO or simply be ignored altogether by search engines. .Gov links happen to fall into the latter camp.
White certain types of .gov links can be beneficial to SEO ranking, they do not often rank as high as other types of links. The reason for this is that, historically, black hat SEO’s have used .gov and .edu links to lend false authority to their spammy content and, like it always does, Google caught on.

6) My article spinner isn’t broken

Simply put, article spinning is poor form for any SEO and, as search engines continue to evolve, the use of article spinning software continues to become a worse idea. One of the main reasons for this is that article spinners produce amazingly awful content, often resulting in unreadable or garbled articles that negatively affect SEO ranking.
As article spinning became more and more popular, Google responded by creating Panda, a software that is designed specifically to de-index sites that feature low-quality content and spun articles so, in addition to being ill advised and unethical, there’s a solid chance that today’s spun articles won’t even get past Google’s spam filters.

7) ScrapeBox is still my BFF

Although ScrapeBox can very occasionally be helpful in legitimate link building, it is primarily a spam services that allows black hat SEO’s to scrape links, mine WordPress, leave keyword-laden anchor text comments on blogs and drive traffic to low-quality money sites.
Like many other black hat SEO techniques, Google and other search engines are on the lookout for ScrapeBox spam tactics and as the digital world continues to evolve, it is becoming more and more likely that ScrapeBox content will not make it through spam filters.

8) I don’t need to conform to all of Google’s latest changes

Yes, you do. Google’s latest changes have been instated for the sole purpose of raising the content bar and ensuring that the links, websites and pages that show up in search results are high-quality and authoritative. Failing to adhere to these changes means that your content will consistently rank low or be flagged as spam.

9) MozBar’s DA is the greatest authority metric there is

While MozBar’s DA can be a helpful authority metric, it is by no means the golden standard. A great example of this truth is the fact that Moz’s last index accidentally included 24 billion Chinese spam domains, which served to artificially inflate DA rakings across the board.
Although Moz is a company that certainly attempts to do its best to provide a reputable DA source to writers and SEO, DA scales with spam and Moz, like many other software platforms, is not immune to spam.
Throughout the course of digital history, many SEO’s have been tempted to cross over to the dark side. By telling themselves lies about why and how they spam as well as who is truly benefiting or suffering at the hands of the spam, black hat SEO’s have managed to get by for a number of years, contributing crappy content to Google’s indexes and mucking up the waters for the white hat SEO’s among us.
Fortunately, those days are slowly coming to an end. As Detusch’s article points out, black hat SEO techniques and the lies that go along with them are ultimately not sustainable and, in this current “content is king” era, they are being obliterated by enhanced search engines and spam filters on a daily basis. The Internet has spoken and the cries for high-quality content, inbound linking strategies and authoritative domain links have been heard, loud and clear.
Because of this, we’ve reached an era in which SEO lies no longer hold up under the pressure of the actual market and black hat SEO’s will ultimately find that, in order to build a successful business model, the focus needs to be on content and ethical linking practices.
Fortunately, the SEO community gets a bit closer to this reality every day and internet users, writers, SEO’s and content marketers will soon be able to reside in an internet world that is (largely) free of content spam and the SEO lies that fuel it.
Need great content that is more Jedi-like than Darth Vader, when it comes to SEO optimization? Check out our Content Shop.