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Dear John circa 2009 –

This is John from September 2011 writing to you. It’s been an interesting past couple of years to be sure, but you’ve come a long ways and learned a whole lot. Two years ago you were a bit lost in your direction in life, having just left a good paying job at a software company where you could move up fast. You had just taken the chance to quit your job and move to Switzerland for an unknown amount of time, to run a company in a market you had little knowledge of.

For comparison’s sake, here is a picture of you two years ago beside a picture of you now:

Living the dream as a hippie in Switzerland

Living the dream as an SEO consultant at Distilled in New York City

Here are some things you will learn in the next two years:

1) Not everything works out the way you want it to, but things end up better than you could have imagined. You’re going to go through a lot of questioning, a lot of self doubt, and some very real heartache, but don’t worry because you’ll come through it stronger and be in a really good place in two years.

2) Your penchant for looking ahead and setting goals will serve you well. Don’t be afraid to take risks like you always have. They’ll pay off, I promise.

3) Own up to your mistakes and allow others to see that you’re not perfect. I know that’s hard for you to accept, but it’s true and people need to see your real side. Let them in and you’ll go far.

4) Hustle and keep hustling. When you stop working hard, that’s when you fail and life doesn’t work out like you thought it would.

5) Facebook is a waste of time. Google Plus is going to be much better.

6) Listen to your parents. You may be an adult, but they know you better than almost anyone.

7) Start reading the SEOmoz and Distilled blogs now. In 2 years you’ll be a lot further along, but don’t worry, where you end up is pretty great.

These are all lessons that that you should have done, or that you did and are now reaping the benefits. Remember: stay true to yourself, work hard, and listen to your mother.

You’ll come a long way in the next two years, and the two after that are shaping up to be the most transformative of your life.

Good luck.

Alright folks, when this blog post goes live I’ll be on my panel at SMX about Twitter, Facebook, and SEO. If you want to tune in live, my friend will be live-streaming it to this URL:

Tune in live

And right here, you can chat live as well! You’ll need to authenticate with Ustream, Twitter, or Facebook, then you’re in!

Kristy Bolsinger is a Social Business Consultant with Ant’s Eye View in Seattle. A well known and loved face on the conference circuit, Kristy gave an inspired talk about engaging with, measuring, and leveraging your community for both a social boost and SEO productivity. She focused on everything from tools to monitor your community, ways to get in front of your audience, and then measuring your audience using data. I also love that her Twitter handle is just her first name. She’s a baller.

Here’s her Storify recap:

Wil Reynolds from SEER Interactive loves linkbuilding. He loves to talk about linkbuilding. He loves to beat the bad guys by outworking them and being smarter. And he is a really smart guy who has built an incredible team at SEER in Philadelphia.

Wil unveiled a phenomenal tool to use to find link prospects using a bunch of Twitter tools. He also gave some awesome workaround ways for finding and getting white-hat, clean, and staying .edu links to add value to your clients.

Basically when Wil speaks on linkbuilding, you need to listen up.

Here’s his Storify:

Mozcon Day 1 Recap

John Doherty —  July 28, 2011

Wednesday was the first day of Mozcon in Seattle, WA. I’ve been to a couple of SEO conferences, two Distilled conferences to be exact and I wrote recaps of London here and Boston here. Mozcon has continued to raise the bar for SEO conferences I think, and here are links to Storify renditions of the talks given today:

Retargeting by Joanna Lord

Google Places Pain to Gain by David Mihm

Design that drives Action by Brian Zmijewski

Insanely Creative Ways to Make Your Audience Spread Your Word by Bob Rains

Automating and Scaling Keyword Research by Richard Baxter

Building and Measuring Your Online Brand by Jamie Steven

Content Strategy – What Works and Doesn’t by Ian Lurie

International SEO – How Not To Suck by Hannah Smith

Marketing Smarter Not Harder by Tony Wright



I’ve only been in full-time SEO for about a year. This comes as a shock to a lot of people who read this blog, and I am always humbled when people are shocked by it.

I have to be honest though, becoming an SEO, which was quite honestly a fortunate accident, has rocked my life. I’m not going to say that becoming an SEO has been easy, and I have had to make some tough life choices because of it.

I initially became an SEO when the job I had taken as a content writer at a marketing firm in Philadelphia turned into the SEO role. I had just returned from a year of living in Switzerland, where I had run Destinee Media. I moved to Philadelphia with my then-girlfriend to get more experience in the business world.

In the span of the past year I have moved from a 150 person dairy village on the side of the Swiss Alps to New York City, my relationship ended, and I’ve been working more than I ever have before. And I love what I do.

Why do I stay in SEO, and why do I love it so much? All of us have different reasons, but let me explain why I love what I do.

1. I get to solve cool problems for a living.

I get to test why page titles get changed in the SERPs (link) and how getting tweets will bump up websites in Google. I get to see the effects of my hard work on websites turning into increased traffic and growing businesses for others. In short, I find SEO to be consistently exciting.

2. I get to work with and in community with some of the smartest people I know.

The SEO community is so tightly woven and connected that it feels redemptive to me. We are breaking down the old-school notions of competitive business and striving to help each other learn. That is awesome! In short, I find the SEO community to be passionate and encouraging.

3. I can see a future in SEO.

I have worked other jobs where I just could not see a future. I did not see a future in software. I definitely did not see one in industrial painting, stocking a warehouse in Alaska, being a lifeguard at an oceanfront waterpark in Myrtle Beach, or loading people onto ski lifts at my local ski resort. SEO offers the opportunity to grow and learn constantly, and to move into the future as a learner, because the SEO landscape changes constantly. In short, SEO is promising for the future.

Basically what I have come to realize is that when you love something, you are willing to go to many lengths to see it through. For me, this has meant big life changes. Yet it doesn’t mean permanent change. I do want to have a family someday, I do want to settle down someday. I was raised to value family and time with family, and you’d better believe that once I have a family and kids, I will spend plenty of time with them. And I’ll keep killing it at work.

Once upon a time, in a land far far away…

This is the way fairytales or deep epic stories begin usually, right? Well this is neither. The far, far away bit is true, though.

I’m talking about the Distilled Linkbuilding Conference that is being held in London, England on March 18th.

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The Beginner SEO

John Doherty —  February 14, 2011

The goal of The Beginner SEO is to provide information to the newcomers to the SEO industry, writing as a newcomer to the industry. My full-time experience started in October 2010, though I was trained as a web developer at university and have operated around the fringes of the SEO community since mid-2007.

I plan to write about a few main topics, and we’ll also have some fun! The topics I will write about mainly are search engine optimization (SEO), Social Media, book publishing (as I am a partner in a small Christian book publishing company), and other miscellaneous thoughts, lessons, and musings.

Let me know what you think, engage in the conversation with myself and others, and we’ll try to make a difference and learn a few things along the way!