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The Stunt Train SEO Marketing Manifesto

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 14 years and 166 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

There’s probably a lot of better more cool names I could label myself – but I will forever consider “being an SEO” an honor, despite the beating it often takes from those that sully it’s good name. Below are the principles and qualities I would consider for qualification as a “good SEO”. I’m sure there are plenty that I missed – and hopefully there will be some debate of what can be added or removed, but these are the areas I personally feel are unique to “being an SEO” – and common traits and ideals that I see in those that I would consider top SEO’s. Why do you need a flashy title if you can sum up what you do in a three letter acroynym?

1. SEO is a marketing school of thought…not a process.

There are plenty of people that understand the process, and don’t “get” SEO. Here’s the process – SEObook, SEO glossary, and Ranking factors. There’s still only ten spots that matter.

The process of SEO is fundamental in just the same way that there are formulas for headlines in direct marketing that have MUCH higher likelihood for success – read the playbooks and the process becomes second nature.

2. It’s much easier to plan a website than to retrofit it.

Understanding fundamentals makes it much more valuable when you hire a consultant or agency. 18 questions your CEO forgot to ask.

3. Search increasingly impacts every form of media.

Every media distribution point is doing their best to incorporate search to personalize the conversation rather than just screaming at random people.

4. It’s all about the links

(but also about the exposure, rankings, conversation, and conversion) Building link equity is the new brand branding. It’s really all about the conversion – but you gotta love links (and openly admit to it).

5. Any marketing decision impacts search engine rankings – and vice versa

TV, radio, print and other ads can all be used for attracting links. Want to use all flash as the homepage? Pick a different school of thought.

6. Creating a “purple” idea is much easier than begging for links

There is always an extraordinary, remarkable new angle to any industry.
SEO is about understanding the indirect correlation of things to execute on great ideas that no one else has envisioned by having a unique perspective on marketing. Looking for quick fixes and the latest loophole is NOT SEO. Drinkbaiting is SEO – if you can’t figure out why – you’ve never spent a full 40 hour week asking for links.

7. Social media can be optimized

Optimization does not mean manipulation. Optimization is examining the rules of the game and using them to your advantage. Social media increases both exposure – as well as the level of public scrutiny. People appreciate when bias is disclosed, and conversation is HUMAN.

If you are not authentic – you will not last. The higher the value for financial gain of the industry – the more reluctant consumers and agents of distribution become to helping you distribute your message for free.

8. Top rankings won’t fix a shitty product

9. Blackhat is lying to clients, customers, partners, or vendors.

Whitehat is proactively discussing risk tolerance, process, expectations, and contribution to a community instead of just bilking people into teaching you to think.

10. It’s all about the results

Great results can be rankings, sales, or the spread of ideas. There are many great business leaders that don’t realize they are SEO’s. It is more than a process – it is understanding the process and stacking the deck in your favor within the confines of the game – which ultimately changes the game. SEO is the understanding of the dynamic game of business marketing.

Summary, references, and comments

Now I’m starting to understand why many marketing companies hate search – We persist in telling them how wrong they are (their school of thought that is).

This manifesto was inspired by Hugh’s rewrite of the Hughtrain, and his call for manifesto’s as well as, of course, the original cluetrain. (it was tough to play by the rules and get it down to 500 words).

I’m sure there are other founding principles to the SEO school of thought that I am missing – please tell me what I missed, or what sounds way off. Feel free to let me know if you think I’m a wanker or are things or read and agreed with every line.

More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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  • Ahmed Bilal

    fantastic post mate – although since you asked for feedback:

    If results are all that matter – then why bring in white hat vs black hat? In the long run, blackhat methods don’t always work while a whitehat strategy is by definition long-term. Where does morality come into it? Or is this part of the ‘being a good seo’ bit? Not messing about, just asking.

    I probably have more, so I’ll come back later and bug you again. cheers.

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  • David Temple

    Nice post Todd. Chris Hooley’s purple thinking was not only a great link bait moment, it was FUN according to all involved. You’re right it is “more than a process”, its a way of life.

  • Jeremy Luebke

    Here is where I disagree

    9. Blackhat is lying to clients, customers, partners, or vendors.
    Whitehat is proactively discussing risk tolerance, process, expectations, and contribution to a community instead of just bilking people into teaching you to think.

    Right after that, you go on to say results is what matters. Blackhat is what the SEs say it is. results is what the clients want and if you explain to that client the techniques that the SEs hate but can get them rankings that is not lying. Many clients choose to go that route.

  • Stuntdubl SEO

    Hey Jeremy –

    That’s actually kind of what I was trying to get across (obviously failed with the delivery).

    In my mind there are no hats/ only goals

    I was mainly trying to get across that it’s more unethical to dupe clients, partners, vendors, etc. than it is to not play by the search engine’s ambigiuous rules if that makes a bit more sense.

  • Brian

    Saw your manifesto over at Gapingvoid, enjoyed it a lot. Ian thought he would add a #11: “SEO is not an IT function”

    He blogged about it at

  • Content Strategist

    > 10. It’s all about the results

    Should be number one. Results-oriented marketing. Indeed you have to know your clients, know their verticals, understand how business, brands and customers interact and not just have an understanding of the role that technology plays.

    “thought…not a process” – Bravo!

  • Eric Itzkowitz

    Good post Todd. I’d like to add a #12 & #13

    12. Not All #1 Rankings are Created Equal
    Holding the top rank for a keyword or key phrase that drives highly unqualified or no traffic is worthless.

    13. Experience
    Just because you can talk the talk, doesn’t mean you can walk the walk.

  • Dave Davis

    Hey Todd.
    Another great post. Found the link on Aarons site.

    This is a great list and offers something to help explain to clients on the “process” of SEO (I know your opinion on that, but a process fits with client thinking, what they know and trust) and the ideas behind it.

    I’ll be lifting some of this directly. ;)

    Love point #7

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  • Patricia Jenkins

    Hey, I forwarded this on to a friend of mine who was just promoted to manage online marketing at
    Good insights, especially for those of us who are new to this world.

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  • Ed

    Thanks for the great topics

  • edynaga

    social media can be optimizd its very great quote i like it

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