When I started this site, it was out of a moment rage. I know, based on my ranty posts, this surprises you not one bit.
That moment was seeing yet another roundup post on a SEO blog that quoted zero women. At the time, I didn’t even know of any women who had SEO blogs, but I knew plenty of women doing SEO.
But this post isn’t about the sexism and misogyny in the SEO industry. It’s about the other problem – if you’ve read one SEO blog written by one of the thought leaders, then you’ve read them all….and the same goes for most of the big SEO groups on Facebook.
This isn’t a new problem, in fact that’s what gave me an editorial focus with my content here — a bullshit-free zone that doesn’t just rehash the same recommendations, reviews, and content. But have you ever noticed how cliquish this industry is in a lot of ways?
Which Club Are You In?
I’ve actually talked about this a little before, back in 2017 (before I discovered my love of gifs), but here we are still seeing the same shit being regurgitated in all of the same places over and over again. And the same people and services being held up as the best of the best…when that is not always the truth.
It’s always the same story – some thought leader says X and then all the minions toe the line.
I cannot tell you how many services I have tested that have been heralded as amazing, only to be underwhelmed. But I don’t always share those experiences because burning some bridges results in setting your whole house on fire.
That’s the other big problem with cliques and thought leaders in this industry, and any industry really.
For example, I can’t buy links from a service for one of my real sites and then call that service out as a shit sandwich without expecting some negative SEO to the site I ordered links for.
I actually got what seemed to be, in my opinion, a thinly veiled threat via email in regards to a review I posted here a couple of years back. And I had to make the difficult decision to lightly edit that review, even though it really pained me to do so.
bribe reward I got for doing this was admittance to their “exclusive” affiliate program…where I have to cover the PayPal fees when that affiliate money is paid out 😒
The funny thing about this review I had to edit is that, much like my Ezoic review, I told people that the best option for them (at the time) was still to give the service/product a try.
No matter how long you’ve been doing this, I think it’s pretty obvious rather quickly that there are certain cliques – including some who want to be known as the thought leaders (much like high school). I feel like the SEO industry is broken up into cliques kinda like this:
- the Chiang Mai club (mostly affiliate and shady hat SEOs + their fanboys)
- the high level agency SEOs (local SEOs like Nick Eubanks and Aleyda Solis)
- the ‘targeting niche bloggers’ group (like Hashtag Jeff and the guy who used to run Niche Site Azon under one name and now does mommy blogging SEO under another name)
- the crossover group who you see several places (mostly affiliate SEO, like Doug Cunnington, Ron Stefanski, and the Authority Hacker guys)
- the people who aren’t really in any group (like Robbie Richards, Glen Allsopp, Glenn Gabe, and Moon & Marie )
- the ‘doing things differently’ group (like the Income School guys and Anne at yeys.com)
And I feel like people start following one of those groups and they never really get any info from the other groups, so you end up in this echo chamber of the same tired ass ideas being repeated everywhere.
So, if you have fully immersed yourself in the Chiang Mai circle jerk, then you probably miss out on the stories from the “doing things differently” group on how you can crush it with zero link building. And you definitely missed the conversation in the Fat Stacks forum on how one dude is absolutely crushing it with display ads via AdThrive when he is using straight up duplicate content on his site.
I don’t see any of the big players from the CM group, or frankly any of the others, mentioning those things. Instead, they all seem to be busy patting each other on the back and talking about building out tier two links while team doing it different is out there crushing it.
Avoiding The Echo Chamber
As you can see, joining one of those cliques means that you’re probably going to miss out on a lot of valuable information that can help you take things to the next level. And I dunno about you, but I’m all about working smarter instead of harder.
Overall, I think that the best SEOs to follow are the ones that tend to be the quietest. So, not the people who have a big following and are working on building a brand, but the people who are in the trenches every day like you and me.
Often those people are just random commenters in groups and forums.
So, I try to get my SEO tidbits from a variety of sources in order to avoid useless group think. And I caution you to do the same.
My favorite forums and groups for SEO info are:
- Builder Society
- Digital Asset Builders (this is a new Facebook group run by a couple of members in Authority Hacker Pro, who also seem to give solid info)
- Reddit (I wrote about some of my favorite subreddits a few years ago)
My favorite SEO YouTube channels and podcasts (thought I don’t watch/listen to every episode):
- Authority Hacker podcast
- Passive Income Geek (someone recently sent me this so I’ve been going through some of the vids)
- Doug Cunnington (he targets a lot of noob topics, but his interviews often reveal something interesting)
My favorite SEOs to follow on Twitter:
- Glenn Gabe (I do disagree with some of this thoughts on E-A-T though)
- theseowner (I don’t agree with his politics…probably why he blocked me on Twitter…but his SEO insights are usually interesting)
- Marketing Examples
My favorite SEO blogs:
I’m also on a bunch of mailing lists but nothing really that I recommend as something that you just must sign up to. And I’ve bought a few courses just to get into the private Facebook groups, and of those I’d say that the Authority Hacker Pro group has the best info from other members.
And I have a few people that I chat with almost daily about all things SEO, and I encourage you to find a few people for the same purpose. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything interesting.
Some of the most successful SEOs that I know aren’t in any of these cliques. So, if you find yourself getting your SEO info from only one source/group, then I hope you’ll expand your horizons a bit.
It just might help your bottom line.
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.