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SEOmoz’ Biggest SEO Mistakes: What You can Learn from Them?

25th January 2013

I have recently discovered a new “hangout” place in social media –, an Inbound Marketing community. It’s where cool guys and gals like SEOMOZ’s Rand Fishkin (also the co-founder of,) SEER Interactive’s International SEO Aleyda Solis, and many more.

As I am a newbie in Inbound Marketing, I look for some nice updates from I discovered from Rand’s discussion (he responds to members questions) one of many interesting videos: It’s about what SEOMOZ did wrong in the past, SEO-wise.

As we all know, we can get a great deal of lesson from others’ mistakes, so this video grabbed my attention. The video was posted 2.5 years ago, but it’s still relevant today. Check it out:

Wow… Rand Fishkin and SEOMOZ made those mistakes? It’s quite a revelation and a good reminder for the rest of us, including those who claimed to be SEO experts, that what we think would work out well can go awry; that when it comes to SEO, nobody is immune to mistakes; that if you want to be SEO savvy, you sometimes need to make mistakes first THEN learn from your mistakes.

Want a recap? Just visit this SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday post.

Lessons learned

Rand documented the mistakes for the world to see and learn from his mistakes. Here are some lessons learned from his “confession” video:

1. Don’t even think to do black-hat SEO tactics – not even grey-hat ones.

Most people want shortcuts… I do want shortcuts. Who doesn’t want to get results as quickly as possible with as little efforts as possible? But unfortunately, if you want quick results in SEO, that means you are interested in going black-hat.

Black-hat does give results… but they are typically short term. Unless you know what you are doing and understand the consequences, you should steer clear of such strategies. Why?

Well, they are unethical at best and as you are dealing with real people, you are actually scamming them to a certain degree. Just focus on white-hat SEO, as recommended by Rand and many other SEO experts.

2. Don’t buy links – seriously

Not only this will put you in a position where you are against Google TOS, if you are doing this for your clients then you are actually putting them in a risk of losing their search engine ranking.

But let’s get things straight first, here. Buying/selling links ARE against Google TOS IF you pass link juice with your links (that’s the most common reason why people would buy/sell links! Link juice helps you rank better…)

Want to stay safe? Just add rel=”nofollow” and you’ll be fine 🙂

I know that buying and selling links are common practice. They can make you good money, too. But if you are not careful, you will raise Google’s red flag.

Here’s the thing with link buying/selling: Some get caught, some stay safe. If you enjoy living on the edge, just don’t bother this warning. But when you get caught, well, your site’s finished (Google Panda and Penguin updates, anyone?)

3. Following advice is good, but don’t follow blindly!

SEO is more an art than a technique.

In SEO, 1+1 is not always 2. There are plenty of factors in search engine algorithms, and for a search engine, algorithms are like secret recipes to restaurants. You might be able to understand how it works, but you can’t possibly detect every single ingredient of the “recipe.”

That’s why you should adopt best practices knowing that they might be no longer best practices somewhere in the future. Remember the “get many quality links to your site with your main keyword as the anchor text”? This advice is now invalid, as getting too many links with your keywords in them will get you into trouble with Google Penguin updates. How about this “get exact match domain name for your main keyword” advice? Well, you will not be too happy knowing that many if not most sites with exact match domain names were hit by Google EMD update.

Follow best practices well, but don’t overdo it!


Bottom line – use your common sense, and put yourself as a visitor/reader, looking at your site. Is that site cool enough for me to return later and recommend to my friends and colleagues? If you are unsure, how do you think your visitors and readers will be convinced?

Learn from the SEO pros’ mistakes, and take this as an opportunity for you to do the right things without the trials-and-errors. Believe me – trial-and-error sucks. Big time.

Photo credit: funkandjazz via photopin cc

Ivan Widjaya is the owner of, as well as the founder of several online businesses:, and He runs his business from anywhere, anytime he wants.

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