Marcus Sheridan


Before I get started, I want to reiterate a point I’ve made quite a few times over the past few years:

SEO Matters

In fact, SEO will matter until this little thing called “Google” doesn’t exist and people like you and me don’t use the phrase “Just Google It” any longer.

But until then, it matters. And when I say it matters, I mean it can be the difference in a business keeping its doors open or closing them, which is exactly why I feel the need to tell you the following story…

Uhmmm, Why Isn’t the Traffic Going Up?

Not too long ago our company here at The Sales Lion was engaged by a national business to assist them with their content marketing efforts. The goals of the project were simple: Increase traffic, leads, and sales from their website—metrics that had been extremely stagnant for well over a year without any growth whatsoever– despite the fact they’d been producing content regularly.

Feeling incredibly confident we could make a massive difference if they’d follow our proven methods “Search Content Marketing” — I couldn’t wait to watch the website get rewarded by search engines and readers alike.

After 4 weeks of steady work and a very high level of great content added to the site, there was one problem: Almost no traffic growth…nor leads…nor sales.

Same thing after 6 weeks.

And then the same thing after 8 weeks.

Paying the Price of Previous SEO Companies

By this point, I was banging my head against a wall. I knew we were doing everything right. I knew this company’s content was way better than what was currently ranking ahead of them in search engine results pages.

I also knew we were following every “best practice” you could possibly read with respect to SEO combined with content marketing.

Notwithstanding, the Google Gods paid us no mind.

Amid my frustration and perplexity, I had the good fortune one evening of speaking in Arizona. While there, I was able to catch up to a friend and SEO expert, Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures.

After explaining to Arnie my dilemma, he kindly volunteered to have his team take a look at the site and see what might be the problem.

Well, to make a long story short, his team found the site had been penalized by Google.


The answer is simple, and sadly all too common: 2 year previous an SEO company had added a bunch of “bad” inbound links pointing back to the site. Once Penguin hit last year and Google started to punish sites with junk links, my client became a victim…and they had no idea until now.

Disavowing Bad Links

Upon hearing this news I experienced an odd mix of relief and frustration. I was relieved because I could finally understand why we hadn’t been building the momentum we were used to seeing with clients. At the same time, I was frustrated because this great organization with an outstanding product had their growth stunted by another foolish SEO company dancing with the digital devil.

Now that the old links have been disavowed (thanks to Arnie’s team identifying the problem), my client’s website metrics have more than doubled over the past few months, but the lesson here is one that all companies need to be aware of:

If you’ve ever worked with an SEO company in the past and they did any type of bad link-building (or other shady practice), you should do whatever is necessary to “make it right” as quickly as possible. The worst thing that can happen to many businesses is to be punished by search engines, especially when they have no idea they’re at fault in the first place.



Mad Marketing 35: Getting Content Marketing Buy-In and Martha Stewart’s Keynote Bust

September 23, 2014

Well, it’s podcast time again folks! After traveling to conferences these past few weeks and reflecting on what I’m seeing throughout the marketing industry, I wanted to discuss in this episode a variety of subjects, but mainly the power of words (messaging) and how it can dramatically impact your business. Furthermore, we’ll discuss: Getting buy [...]

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Content Marketing’s Biggest Problem and What Can Be Done About It

September 15, 2014

As I write this article, I find myself just 2 days removed from Content Marketing World. As has been the case for the last 4 years, Joe Pulizzi and his crew managed to put together an amazing event full of great education, entertainment, and lasting memories for the 2500 attendees from around the world. That [...]

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Why Anti-Buyer Personas are Essential to Content Marketing Success

September 9, 2014

When it comes to content marketing, there are few subjects more talked about these days than that of “Buyer Personas.” You can read all about them on the Content Marketing Institute blog. And the HubSpot blog. Or just about any other marketing blog for that matter. But I get it—you better know who it is [...]

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HubSpot CEO Discusses Inbound Vs Content Marketing and the Future of Digital

September 2, 2014

In late 2009, I picked up a book that would help alter the course of my life forever– Inbound Marketing– coauthored by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Recently, the two have done a revision of the work and updated it to not only cover the important marketing topics and questions of the day, [...]

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Mad Marketing 34: SEO, Train Rides, and More

August 25, 2014

Well, it’s podcast time everyone and as always, this episode ended up have a great mix of education, laughs, and some typically random thoughts from yours truly. I think you’re going to love this episode and as always, if you have questions for the podcast simply contact me here. In fact, here are a few [...]

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The Simplest Website Messaging and Copywriting Tip You’ll Ever Read

August 19, 2014

When it comes to effective content marketing, too often businesses forget just how much their website copy and messaging impact a reader’s ability to trust, relate to, and want to do business with a company. When it comes down to it, here is the deal: Every word of your website is a component of your overall [...]

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