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My SEO colleagues and their television alter egos

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 by Stephen Sumner

SEOOver the last couple of months I have been working in a new role here at Vertical Leap. Having been here for just over two years now and after working on numerous campaigns across many different sectors. The new role I took on involved dealing with sites that have either had a Google penalty applied to them, or had been hit by one of the Google algorithms such as Penguin or Panda.

Changing my type of daily work from more generic SEO tasks to dealing with these specific types of campaigns has been a bit of a baptism of fire for me. I have moved away from the day-to-day tasks of working on a SEO campaign and managing the various aspects of a campaign, to spending my working day deep in spreadsheets reviewing thousands of backlinks to customers’ sites and much more.

This got me thinking about the role in general and what I have turned into. Today I finally realised that I have become very similar to a much loved Channel 4 TV personality; none other than Phil Harding from Time Team!

How did I reach this conclusion? Well, he normally spends his working day in a muddy trench in a farmer’s field, digging down through layers and layers of soil to discover whether there are some ancient ruins (or something at least of interest) under all the mud. As he digs his way down, he sometimes finds items from different periods in history, whether that be Victorian, Roman or anything in-between.

What is the similarity to me you ask? Well, as I dig my way through spreadsheets of backlinks to customers’ websites on older sites, it’s effectively an archaeological dig that I am doing. In my trench (spreadsheet) I can see all the different types of links built – and boy do I see some things that hurt my eyes!

I should add that much of this is stuff we have not built as an agency. As SEO has evolved over the years and Google has gradually changed its guidelines on linking tactics, methods have adapted to stay in compliance. However, in many cases, customers or their previous SEOs have neglected to clean-up the links that were non-compliant to the guidelines as they have changed over time. Perhaps we can now say that reciprocal links pages are like stone-age forts and low quality SEO directories are perhaps Roman sewage systems? Either way, it is an interesting voyage in to the history of a website and that is effectively SEO archaeology that I am unearthing through the review process.

Once I finished thinking about who I was in terms of my SEO TV personality (albeit rather tenuously), I started to think about who else on my team has a TV personality to match their role or their SEO style. I am not going to be popular for this, but who cares, I’m going on holiday for a couple of weeks soon!

We work in two person teams here at Vertical Leap. As I work on penalties and algorithms, I also have a colleague that works alongside me on this. Emily works on sites that have been specifically hit by Google Panda. How am I going to make a tenuous link on this you wonder?

Well, it is quite easy really. Panda issues stem from the quality of a site, covering aspects such as usability, content quality, design and navigation. So, on that basis, I have decided that Emily is Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. She spends much of her day reviewing customers sites and doing some serious makeover work on them. Where good old Lawrence might take exception with someones curtains or wallpaper, Emily will take exception to weak and thin content. Where Lawrence wants to remove some clutter from the hallway, Emily will be looking for duplicate content. Where Lawrence, with his rather flamboyant style, decides a room needs more prominent features, Emily will be looking for pages on a site that need to more engaging or helpful content.

So, who else can I pick on? There are nearly 50 of us in this office…

Let’s talk about David Colgate, who sits on the same pod as me. He is a bit more of an interesting television beast, so I found this a little harder to figure out. But now, after much thought, I think I have nailed it. By day, Dave is actually Neil Buchannan from Art Attack

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvaD8Imj1cU

and by night David becomes Dame Edna Everage – or even Dave Edna Everage!

How did I arrive at this conclusion? Well, quite a few people in the SEO community will have seen Daves talents. If you are an attendee of BrightonSEO, you may have stumbled across his amazing Sketchnotes, which is the Art Attack connection. Then, if you are wondering about Dame/Dave Edna Everage, you will have needed to have attended SotonDigital last year, where David presented in a skirt!!

If you don’t trust me on this, a simple Google search for “Dave Colgate skirt” yields the evidence you require!!

Some might say this blog post was a lame attempt at some ego-baiting just for SEO purposes. Others will see how the role of SEO is a varied one. I am stopping here on this one as I reckon I have months and months of great content ideas for future blog posts on the rest of our growing team!

P.S. If you are one of the celebrities mentioned above, please feel free to link to this blog, but just keep the anchor text branded please!

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Stephen Sumner

Stephen Sumner