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Why I Love The Digital Marketing Community

Mike Essex

by Mike Essex on 20th July 2012

Love Heart CandyI’ve had a few rants recently… ok make that a lot. So today’s post is something totally different; a sunshine, lollypops and puppy dogs post compared to my recent ones. And why not? When writing a post about the digital marketing community it’s hard not to smile, and that’s what I want to celebrate today.

No rants. Honest.

Everyone has time to help
The general rule in the digital marketing community seems to be that the busier someone is, the more likely they are to help. It goes against general business rules and yet it is an essential part of the community and one of the key reasons for its growth every year.

For our post on How did you get started with SEO or Digital Marketing, 26 people took the time to share their experiences to help others get started. That’s incredibly useful for someone new to the industry and is just one of the thousands of helpful posts written every day.

Likewise when I asked people to help me with a personal challenge, over 60 people have said they would take time to lend their support on 27th July. If I wanted 60 friends outside of the community to help it would take me days of begging and pleading, but with the online marketing community the response was amazing and I think there’s a really good chance of succeeding in the challenge too.

Helpful People

There are very few corporate secrets
Another thing that makes very little business sense is the way the community shares vital corporate information. In any other industry if someone spent hours creating a tool and then gave it away for free they would be fired and probably taken to court. Yet it happens all the time in our industry – such as tools by SEOgadget and Distilled. Neither of these companies sell tools, so there’s no possibility of them selling you further paid tools, and yet they help the community by giving away free tools.

It’s illogical and yet I love the community for it.

SERP TurkeyJust one of the many free tools. Thanks Tom Anthony!

Likewise hardly any of the big SEO blogs are run for a profit. They exist for people to share information and help others. Our community is one of the few that realise that giving away information helps people gain trust in your brand. Whether it be filming videos for Koozai TV, making free digital marketing guides or writing for the blog, it’s a lesson we try to put in to practice with all we do.

People do crazy things (so you don’t have to)
The other great thing about all this sharing is that whenever you have a problem to solve someone has probably already done it, blogged about it and told you exactly how to fix it. In some cases large scale experiments have been run that save countless man hours and guesswork for everyone else in the industry.

The Branded3 Tweets vs Rankings study provides a lot of data that only a huge product could. James Agate helped confirm outreach theories by tracking 400 guest post pitches and then Mike King took this a step further by plotting the trends in 300,000 outreach emails. Does anyone else have the time to do that? Nope. Well thankfully Mike did, and he shared it with the world. That’s the kind of community we work in, and it rocks.

People give credit where credit is due
While other industries seem to spend as much time as they trying not to credit the original source, the digital marketing community is (almost) always happy to credit them. In this article I’ve linked to numerous competitors giving them an SEO boost. If I worked in another industry I’d get a slap on wrists and the links would be “nofollowed” or removed.

Our community is built on trust and mutual respect. We give links here, we get them back there. It works and it’s not crazy (although some other industries may see it as such).

For example when I sent Rand Fishkin a topic for his slidedeck I hoped he’d feature it but I certainly didn’t expect my name on the slide, or for Rand to break the fourth wall and look directly at me in the audience and say thank you. You can see the slides here and my smiley face on slide 53. Within an hour in the next presentation Mike King did the exact same thing (slide 73). It was literally the best day ever.

Thanks Rand!

We welcome newbies
What made the above even more exciting was that a year before that point I attended the exact same conference and knew about five people. Fast forward a year and I bumped in to someone I knew every couple of minutes. Every single person I’ve met in the industry has been friendly and incredibly welcoming and anyone new to the industry is welcomed with open arms.

PRO TIP: Leil Lowndes books helped me incredibly as well. I felt like a shy little kid before I read them, and a combination of her books and the welcoming community make it so easy to feel like a part of something incredible.

Leil LowndesThis book will change the way you network

We’re a community where an 18 year old can teach people things they never knew before. And yet we also have incredible respect for the people who helped us grow. That’s why so many people spoke in support for Tom Critchlow and Jonathan Colman when they left SEO, and why Mel Carson received an incredible amount of public support when his role at Microsoft was “eliminated”. We’re all in this together, and it shows.

We fight for the industry
It feels like not a week has gone by so far in 2012 without an attack on online marketing or SEO. Rather than sitting back we’ve fought back and continue to fight. The comments on this Kernel article show SEO’s unprepared to be marginalised and stereotyped based on a few bad apples.

Likewise when we see bad things happening in the industry we fight back against them. Our article on eBook spam was featured in the Guardian, TIME and more. When we fought against review spam it made the homepage of Hackernews and bought in over 8,000 visitors. People clearly care about these issues, and we’re not the only ones fighting either (such as Jane Copland’s excellent post on Women as entertainment in the SEO industry).

Even this week when a children’s furniture shop lost their rankings as a result of bad SEO, countless members of the SEO community pledged their support to help save the store.

For all these reasons it makes me proud of our industry. Which is why it hurts all the more when we are seen as a subculture that only sells fraudulent products or services (thanks The Verge!).

As long as we continue to be an open community dedicated to sharing information and helping each other the digital marketing community can handle any problem. That’s why the community is amazing. Long may it continue.

Normal ranting service will resume next time.

Image Source

Love Heart Candy via BigStock

Mike Essex

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...


  • Andrew Isidoro 20th July 2012

    Love this post Mike.

    I remember starting out in digital and finding it so easy to get involved, ask questions and generally get answers from just about anyone. Hell, I had only been working for about 9 months before I was included in an infographic about starting out as an SEO.

    Even some of the top SEO’s in the industry are welcoming and respond to even the most basic of questions asked by novice marketers.

    I think it really is a testiment to the industry that a post like this can be written, and every word of it can be honest, open and shared (no pun intended) by everyone working in search, social and beyond.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 20th July 2012

      Thanks Andrew. I appreciate the love!

      The first time I met a well known SEO was a really similar experience. I was amazed that they wanted to speak to me, and listen to what I had to say. It was a really grounding experience and almost everyone I’ve met since has been nice (I assume the rude ones were probably just busy / jetlagged).

      Reply to this comment

  • Benjamin Beck 20th July 2012


    Great post and I totally agree! The digital marketing community is a unique and great space to be in. I’ve been thinking of doing a similar post to this, but you beat me to it.

    As a “newbie” coming through the ranks I can confirm that people in this industry are extremely approachable and helpful. Like the great people at Koozai.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 20th July 2012

      Thanks Ben. Sorry about that! I was quite surprised it hadn’t been written before.

      Thanks for your support, we’ve tried to be super helpful over the last 2 years and it’s a great feeling to help add to the debate on key topics and help newbies.

      Reply to this comment

  • Thomas Hefke 20th July 2012

    Hi Mike,

    I´m right there with you. And i really love reading, learning and testing things. Its so much easier when you can ask people and get answers. Or if someone is showing his tactics on several topics, at least for inspiration :)

    Online Marketing isn´t a “single player game” it´s all about collaboration!

    Unfortunately not all people do have the same opinion on this topic. I´m a german online marketing guy and we do not really have this culture of sharing really in depth knowledge. You can get a lot of basic information but you can not compare this to the english speaking online marketing guys.

    I just checked my rss + twitter + g+ accounts and its about 80% english speaking people / content.

    so a big thanks to everyone who is willing to share his/her knowledge and i really enjoy nearly every piece of content here @koozai ;)

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 24th July 2012

      Thanks Thomas. I love the video game analogy and it’s totally right. If everyone treated SEO as a single player activity the industry would be years behind where it is now.

      That’s a shame that in other countries the knowledge isn’t the same, although that means there is a perfect opportunity for you to start the trend!

      Reply to this comment

  • Tim Aldiss 20th July 2012

    How refreshing to see someone taking the time to write something so nice about what really is a great community. I completely agree and long may it continue to be a successful self-regulated space.

    Cheers Mike

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 24th July 2012

      Thanks Tim. Absolutely, and I think the community spirit will be essential for our industry going forward as it matures.

      Reply to this comment

  • Mel Carson 21st July 2012

    Thanks for the shout out Mike (and the link) and what a well-written and refeshing piece. Been a little quiet since I wrote that post because I’ve been so busy replying to all the fantastic emails of support. I have been TOTALLY blown away by the response and, as you say, love the way our industry steps up when the going gets tough and stands behind their people. Generosity and kindness seems to breed more of it, which is why I’m determined to reciprocate in any way I can. It also means I’ll be sticking around in some shape or form, so thanks again and watch this space!

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 24th July 2012

      Thanks Mel and you are very welcome. I look forward to seeing your next blog post and hearing more about your next move :) Best of luck with the book too.

      Reply to this comment

  • Scott Krager 23rd July 2012

    Very true post. The SEO industry is especially nice….sure there is some drama from time to time…but overall, the average SEO is genuinely very helpful.

    I’m not sure where it comes from exactly. But I love it. SEO conferences are way more fun than most marketing or affiliate conferences…they just have a softer vibe to them that I really like.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 24th July 2012

      Hi Scott, thanks for the comment. What I like about SEO conferences is that almost everyone networks. I’ve been to other conferences and there has been mainly closed group discussions and no one stayed for the networking afterwards.

      Compare that to the excellent networking at Searchlove, and the amazing parties of Thinkvis and you’ve got something for everyone.

      Reply to this comment

  • James 24th July 2012

    Interesting article.

    You link to your own Koozai white-papers as examples of giving to the community; they are anything but. They are emblazoned with Koozai branding and people can only access the white-papers if they go through the laborious process of registering with Koozai, to grow the company’s sales database. Hardly an example of being ‘giving’.

    Reply to this comment

    • Mike Essex

      Mike Essex 24th July 2012

      Hi James, thanks for the feedback.

      Whilst it’s true that whitepapers do help build up our contacts, the majority of people who download them are other SEO’s who want to improve their knowledge. We mainly ask for contact details so we can better understand who reads our content, and try to write better things for them in the future.

      That’s why we keep the hoop jumping to a minimum and unlike some other free whitepapers that are just for sales leads we don’t deleve in to company details such as company size, or “when are you next reviewing your SEO project”.

      Reply to this comment

  • PageOneCory 25th July 2012

    This is great. Seeing all of the examples of people coming together, regardless of if they are competitors or not, to make this industry the best it can be really brings a smile to my face. Like you said, where else can we find something like this?

    Reply to this comment

  • Asher Elran 9th October 2013

    Sharing knowledge is not all about being nice and helpful, it is always a good business practice. The more people you help the more will consider you an expert in your field. And that is always good for business.

    Reply to this comment

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