#18 – The Final Letter of a Self-Loathing SEO


Dear Father,

I must confess, I have failed you. I have failed our family.

Emblazoned on our family crest, above a finely-etched image of a brand new iMac and Moz’s Roger, lies the family motto, which I have so disgracefully shamed; “The Links Will Come Naturally.”

I have not lived up to that motto, father. The links have not come naturally. I’ve had to build them myself. I have even built links without building relationships. This is not how you raised me.

When I was 12, you shot a man. It is a vivid memory for me. I can still picture the rage on your face, when that wretched man interrupted your afternoon pint and dared to call you a “link builder”. You challenged him to a duel. At dawn, you both plucked a pistol from a silver platter, turned your backs, took thirty steps and turned. You were the victor, and no man has dared to call you those unsavory names since then. His family’s tears fueled your personal content marketing brand better than even the most retweeted Tweet ever could.

Your blog post describing the duel was a huge inbound marketing success. “This is what a real man looks like,” you said, pointing at the deluge of comments and social media shares. “A real man never asks for a link in exchange for content. A real man attracts links like a magnet.”

I have not attracted links like a magnet and I have ruined the family name. I run around in some bad circles, father – I associate with people who still call themselves “SEOs”…and even “link builders”. They have not rebranded themselves into inbound marketers. I have fallen in with the blue collar ditch diggers, building links with my own sweat and blood. Such things are beneath our family and I feel nothing but shame.

“You never place a link with the intention of increasing search rankings,” you told me one morning before your weekly fox hunt. “That is spam. Never forget this, my son.”

I loathe what I have become. I must confess, father, I am an SEO. A link builder. I am not an inbound marketer or a relationship builder. My link building strategies may be formidable, but I cannot deny I am just like all the other riffraff.

Rest assured, though, father – we hate ourselves just as much as you hate us. Some of us have evolved, abandoning Search Engine Optimization for advanced “link earning” techniques. This new breed of “inbound marketers” have become the elite, and would make better sons to you than I have.

I have written articles that have earned minimal social shares and not a single comment. I have provided content that does not include graphs or charts. Sometimes I have stooped so low that I have merely provided entertainment in exchange for a link – and I did it all in the name of higher search rankings.

What I do is effective, but my work is as lowbrow as the work of the blacksmith who shoes your horses. I know you disapprove and I understand why you disowned me. I ask only this – when Wadsworth, our beloved family butler, serves your after-dinner whisky tonight, please remember me as the bright-eyed boy who clung to your every word. I regret that I had not the strength to follow your example. We walk different paths now, father, and I must continue down mine – it is a dark path, but it is my own.


Your Son


  1. Reply
    Anthony Pensabene (or Content Muse when dressed in costume) May 30, 2013

    “Every child had a pretty good shot to get at least as far as his old man got, but something happened on the way to that place. They threw an un-Penguin flag in our face.”

  2. Reply
    Tad Chef May 30, 2013

    “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone!”

  3. Reply
    Sean May 30, 2013

    This post is DA bomb.


    Seriously though, this is a very cool post.

    • Reply
      Michael May 30, 2013

      Sean… That was PAthetic.


      Lulz. Good laughs Dustin. Thanks sir.

      • Reply
        (not) Se▲n May 31, 2013

        Haha, very good Michael! Hope things are going well mate.

      • Reply
        Dustin Verburg June 10, 2013

        Thanks Sean and Michael! I had a good time writing it. It’s good to unleash the snark every once in a while.

  4. Reply
    Future-Patrick May 31, 2013

    Dustin, you must remain strong, my friend. It may not seem like it, but many years from now you will reconcile with your father. Although right now he is an Inbound Rockstar, he will one day see the light.

    Walk your path Dustin, it will see you through the impending storm…

    • Reply
      Dustin Verburg June 10, 2013

      Future Patrick, I love your Terminator Eye. It’s awesome. I hope I get one in the future.

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