Most Epic SEO Content of 2011

2011 has been a pretty incredible year and as this is my last planned blog post until January, I figured it would be a great time to curate some of the best posts I’ve read all year on SEO, content marketing, social media, conversion and more.

To prove this is more than just a list of random posts I’ve thrown together – I have added my thoughts and comments to each post. Just click “why this is epic” to read why the post made the list.

Happy to add others you think I’ve missed – just contact me


  1. How much should you vary your anchor text – by Ross Hudgens

    Why this is epic

    A scientific way to vary your anchor text with some excellent tactics at the end of the post. If you are looking for generic, fluffy advice then don’t read Ross’ blog.
  2. Which type of link anchor text is most effective – by James Agate

    Why this is epic

    It’s a post by me – shameful self-promotion, sorry about that. I wouldn’t go so far as to call my own work epic but it was certainly well received (7th most popular post on SEOmoz this year) so I felt I could include it.
  3. Does directory submission software work? – by Ted Ives

    Why this is epic

    Coconut Headphones is fast becoming one of my favourite SEO blogs – interesting, against the grain stuff backed up by solid research and experience. I also love reading about experiments and particularly experiments which challenge ‘common wisdom’.
  4. 6 steps to infographic success – by Oli Archibald

    Why this is epic

    Right when everyone was harping on about infographics being dead, Oli produced a stellar roadmap for ensuring your next infographic project is a success. He beat me to this post as I was working on something similar but I guess I will just have to keep working on my draft and release it in 2012 :-). Thanks Oli for pushing me to produce better stuff!
  5. Using scrapebox to find guest posting opportunities – by Andrew Breen

    Why this is epic

    Scrapebox sounds like a dirty bit of software but this is a solid way of mining guest post opportunities. I’m a big fan of techniques like this because it’s about helping SEOs to be quicker at gathering opportunities meaning there is more time for sifting and evaluating. Scrapebox is like an enterprise version of the simple Guest Post Opportunities tool I put together earlier in the year which uses ImportXML.
  6. Everything I know about effective blogger outreach – by Marcus Taylor

    Why this is epic

    A really solid introduction to outreach with some great tactics and useful little hints.
  7. Linkbuilding 101 – by Joost De Valk

    Why this is epic

    You all know Joost and the quality of post he produces so this needs little introduction but it is an excellent resource which features some strategic and tactic level thinking as well as some useful links.
  8. How I got my 10 best links – by Jon Cooper

    Why this is epic

    I am really enjoying the work of Jon over at Point Blank SEO, he has some cool ideas and this is one of them, kind of like a monthly income report for linkbuilding bloggers – interesting little read.
  9. 12 stage hustle process for linkbuilding – by James Carson

    Why this is epic

    This was a late addition based on a recommendation by Patrick Hathaway and what a great read – really cool to see some innovative linkbuilding using nothing more than a bit of hustle and existing content assets. Genius Mr Carson – not workable for everyone but some of the concepts could easily be translated for others.


  1. Duplicate content in a post panda world – by Dr Pete

    Why this is epic

    No he isn’t a real medical doctor but he has some great advice on content following the Google Panda update. A real must-see. I’m a big fan of Dr. Pete’s work.
  2. Creating contagious content – by Derek Halpern

    Why this is epic

    This post isn’t going to guarantee you’ll be creating viral content by tomorrow but it does go quite a way to explaining the logic behind content that get’s shared. It gives you some ideas on what you need to tap into if you want your next blog post/infographic/video etc to get shared.
  3. Using content to make your business famous – by Simon Penson

    Why this is epic

    Given that the magazine business practically invented attention grabbing headlines, reworking of pillar topics and captivating audiences, I’d say us online folk have a lot to learn from the boys and girls in ‘traditional media’ . Simon, as someone with a background at some of the UK’s most popular magazines, does a great job of explaining some of the tactics that you can apply in your content creation efforts online.
  4. 11 ways to create linkbait with zero budget – by James Agate

    Why this is epic

    My guide to generating loads of eyeballs and links even if you don’t have a penny to spend.
  5. Getting hundreds of links to your next blog post guaranteed – by Glen Allsopp

    Why this is epic

    A world-class guide to producing compelling content from someone who really knows what they are talking about…
  6. Why your linkbait fails – by Ed Fry

    Why this is epic

    Failure isn’t something that is talked about often but this does a great job of looking at why linkbait can fail and offers up a solution. I am looking forwards to reading more from the ‘teenage SEO’ Ed Fry.
  7. 5 ways to attract more customer reviews – by Linda Bustos

    Why this is epic

    You’ve probably heard that customer reviews are good for SEO and for conversions but that’s pretty much where most advice on the subject stops. “Get more reviews” isn’t really all that actionable. Linda from Get Elastic, dives into some really neat ways that any online store owner can encourage more reviews from their customers.
  8. Beating Q&A sites at their own game – by John McElborough

    Why this is epic

    A quick, straightforward post but sometimes it can be great to read ‘simple’ stuff because we are all guilty of trying to reinvent the wheel when a tried and tested tactic is probably what’s called for.

Social media

  1.  9 pieces of advice on how a new site can succeed without search – by Stephen Croome

    Why this is epic

    I think this post is great for so many reasons, firstly because it is the head of SEO strategy at a well-respected SEO agency saying that SEO isn’t necessarily the best option and certainly isn’t the only option. The concept of being channel neutral is something we all need to get to grips with, after all, it is the outcome that matters more. It is epic also because it offers some sound tactical advice on growing a site (particularly a new site).
  2. Are you placing too big a bet on social media’s direct impact on search rankings? – by Wil Reynolds

    Why this is epic

    A very interesting research-led piece that challenges the wisdom of the year that “social is the key to SEO”. I have to say I agree with Wil that as things stand, social should still just be a part of your SEO efforts because whilst social’s influence is growing, activities like linkbuilding still reign supreme in terms of delivering results.
  3. The incredible power of StumbleUpon

    Why this is epic

    I don’t know about you but any post (well, infographic), which highlights a way that a company is beating Facebook in some shape or form, counts as epic in my book. In this case, it reiterates the power of StumbleUpon as a marketing platform.
  4. Using social media to get ahead of the search curve – by Michael King

    Why this is epic

    Innovative thinking like this really gets my brain fired up. It offers some very intriguing suggestions for ways that search marketers can utilise social data to outflank the competition in the search marketing terms.
  5. Introducing Google+


  1. Building conversions using SEO – by Patrick Altoft

    Why this is epic

    Patrick Altoft does a superb job of linking conversion and SEO together – two practices, that I feel go hand in hand but are often implemented miles apart from eachother.
  2. How to make users scroll down your page – by Conversion Rate Experts

    Why this is epic

    I was fortunate enough to meet the two founders of CRE when I was at the SasCon mini-conference earlier this year and their business is certainly one to watch closely. This post in particular identifies and offers a solution for a common problem as well as backing up their theories with evidence. Superb.
  3. eCommerce usability – by Jakob Nielsen

    Why this is epic

    This one is just an excerpt of a paid report but it still has some very interesting and usable takeaways. When a legend of the usability world talks about eCommerce, you know he is going to be worth listening to and this report certainly doesn’t disappoint. He has some interesting stats and some sound advice for anyone involved with eCommerce.


  1. Dynamic meta descriptions for SEO – by Rishi Lakhani

    Why this is epic

    Improving clickthrough rate is often a key objective of an SEO campaign for a more established site as you look to squeeze more traffic out of existing positions. This post is a write-up of Rishi’s experiments in creating multiple meta descriptions.
  2. Just how smart are search robots – by Michael King

    Why this is epic

    A fascinating, theoretical read which made me stop and think about the way I view search engine robots.
  3. Document level classifiers and Google spam identification – by Bill Slawski

    Why this is epic

    As always from SEO by the Sea, a technical but interesting read nonetheless. This post was in my opinion one of the best of 2011 as it offered up some interesting thoughts on potential ways Google may be classifying spam. It is always useful to try and understand what might trigger a page as spam in Google’s eyes so that we can spot and fix potential issues. Whilst the factors covered aren’t necessarily ‘fact’, they are certainly well reasoned and logical.
  4. Set it and forget it SEO – by Russ Jones.

    Why this is epic

    The holy-grail of SEO, Russ talks ‘automatic’ SEO with a fascinating look at some of the stuff Russ does for quick wins, the post also highlights some really cool little tools and hacks like Virante’s PageRank recovery tool.

SEO business development

  1. 7 lessons learned running an SEO agency – by Neil Patel

    Why this is epic

    I personally wish there was more business development content out there for us SEOs, I enjoy the business side of SEO as much as I do SEO itself and in this post Neil Patel offers up some really solid approaches to building an SEO business based on his own experiences. They are concepts that I feel had been floating around my head and Neil’s post codified them for me. Brilliant stuff.
  2. A CEOs guide to internet marketing agency growth – by Ian Lurie

    Why this is epic

    It is hard to resist the brutal honesty of Ian Lurie on his blog, Conversation Marketing. This post has some real home truths which helped me to realise that perhaps I’m not the only business owner to be facing certain challenges.
  3. Pushing flywheels hurts – by Will Critchlow

    Why this is epic

    A brief but intriguing look inside the challenges that even a world-leading SEO firm find when putting on events.
  4. 8 hiring mistakes you are probably making – by Matthew Ogston

    Why this is epic

    SEO is a business driven by the people and quality people at that. Recruitment expert Matthew offers up some common hiring mistakes that he sees companies making and provides some ways to avoid them in your own business.
  5. 11 reasons smart people start internet marketing agencies – by Ian Lurie

    Why this is epic

    Ian makes a second appearance to talk about all the reasons that running an internet marketing agency is cool. This post will remind you why you do what you do if you are having a bad day.


  1. The future of commerce – by Gregory Pouy

    Why this is epic

    A really detailed and well-thought out presentation which looks at the potential future direction of eCommerce – a must watch for anyone who owns an online store or helps to market one!
  2. Marketing facts vs marketing fantasy – by HubSpot

    Why this is epic

    This slidedeck embedded the concept in my mind that in the world of online marketing, there are the unicorn loving fantasists and then there are the realists who focus on what’s working in the here and now rather than the methods they wished were working. This presentation has some mind-blowing facts and highlights some tactics marketers can use to reach their customers. Some of the content is a little basic but the pretty graphics make up for this.
  3. Inbound marketing for startups – by Rand Fishkin

    Why this is epic

    One of the best presentations of the year, there is more valuable advice packed into this 100 slide deck than you will find on many of the so called ‘leading’ websites out there. It’s a solid reference and can act as a roadmap for helping clients visualise the process or as an orientation aid for a new member of staff.

SEO trends & search engine updates

High quality websites – the new Google ranking factor – by Richard Baxter

Why this is epic

A brilliant look at what a ‘high-quality’ website might look like, drawing on research and evidence to back up his points. This post is for me a real reference point when trying to explain to clients what the Google Panda update is most likely about…

Here’s a timeline of some of the key updates of 2011:

  1. Google Panda 1.0 update 
  2. Meet the +1 button
  3. Panda goes global
  4. Panda 2.1
  5. What is Schema?
  6. Panda goes global again
  7. Google guidance on building high-quality sites
  8. Panda 2.5
  9. Panda Flux
  10. Google Freshness update
  11. Google launches SSL search to make search more profitable for them secure for their users
  12. Panda 3.1
  13. Google imitates transparency with a second installment of their search quality highlights

To finish this post (and this year) I would like to point out that content curation is far more time-consuming than content creation. :-) The thoughts in my head find their way onto my computer screen far quicker than this list came together. It took me about 8 times longer to put this post together as it did any other blog post I have written this year. But hopefully it was worth it…

Have a great Christmas – enjoy some time off and spend it with the people that matter in your life. I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has made this year so incredible – clients, employees, subscribers, supporters and you dear reader.

See you in 2012.


  1. avatar
    Muhammad Talha Imtiaz December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    This is absolutely great stuff… I am now a die hard fan of James…

    thanks James for this.

    Is it possible to ask you for advice if I get stuck in my SEO work sometime?

    • avatar
      James Agate December 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Absolutely – you know where I am. Glad you enjoyed the post

    • avatar
      Keith December 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      I’m with Muhammad, great stuff James.

      • avatar
        James Agate December 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

        Cheers Keith

  2. avatar
    Marcus Taylor December 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Awesome list, James! Thanks for mentioning my blogger outreach post too – much appreciated :)


    • avatar
      James Agate December 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks Marcus

  3. avatar
    Darren Moloney December 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Wow, excellent post, I just found it after following you on Twitter. I’ll be more than happy to RT it, certainly useful and will keep my busy checking the links to other blog posts this lunchtime! Thanks James!

    • avatar
      James Agate December 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      Thanks a lot Darren – hopefully it’s a useful ‘guide to the year’

  4. avatar
    Iain December 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Great post James. Also a good use of the ‘ego stroking’ technique!

    • avatar
      James Agate December 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

      Hope it becomes a ‘bookmarkable’ guide to the year – that was the aim really. Thanks Iain!

  5. avatar
    Jon Cooper December 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    James, THIS post is epic! Thanks so much for the mention above :D

    There’s a few posts up there that I haven’t quite gotten around to, so I’ve got some reading to do :).

  6. avatar
    Dali Burgado December 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Hey James, Thank you so much for compiling this list! You are appreciated!


  7. avatar
    Deepali December 14, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    This is the kind of content I was looking for, I was planning to make the list manually but thanks James you have done my work much easy. This is definitely going to my SEO bookmarks.

  8. avatar
    Andrew Breen December 14, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Thanks for the mention. I really appreciate it. Your Guest Post Tool is great. I’m gonna share it around.

  9. avatar
    Rudy Chou December 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    Your extra 8 hours of putting this together is well worth it.

    Although compilations like this is great linkbait; all the effort is not lost. I’ll definitely share it.

    Thanks for curating the content!

    • avatar
      James Agate December 17, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      You are welcome Rudy and I am glad you enjoyed it – all this positive feedback definitely makes it worthwhile!

  10. avatar
    Jan-Willem Bobbink December 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    This is definetely a good list to start with! Maybe you could make a list with upcoming trends for 2012?

    • avatar
      James Agate December 17, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      Hi Jan, I will see what we can do at the start of 2012 then – I did a piece like that last year with what does the future hold and it was quite well received so thanks for the reminder :-)

  11. avatar
    Wendi December 17, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    I have to climb aboard the James Fan Wagon. This is by far the best post I’ve seen in the past six months. I’m new to this whole SEO world and I’ll be spending at least the next week combing through each and every link provided.

    Thanks James, for yet ANOTHER thoughtful and useful post and resource…one that I’ve already bookmarked and thrown into Evernote just to doubly ensure it doesn’t get lost!

    Happy holidays and can’t wait to hear from you in 2012.


    • avatar
      James Agate December 17, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      Hi Wendi,

      Thanks very much for your kind words *blushes* :-)

      Feel free to give me a shout if you have any questions at all, happy to help guide you through the world of SEO.


  12. avatar
    Bev December 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Truly epic! Came across this as I was doing my research about you, James. Hope we see more of these in 2012. :)

  13. avatar
    Gem Franco January 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Thank you for the useful information James. Very useful for those who just started like me. This will be included in my SEO strategies this 2012.

  14. avatar
    Bruanson January 18, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Fantastic article, bookmarked, shared, subscribed and favorited! I have a new list of things to immediately read.

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