For this months interview I’ve spoken with well known blogger and SEO – Tad Chef. Tad has been around the blogging and SEO world for 10+ years. He is widely considered as an expert in the industry and often seen on marketing and SEO forums.
Loving the no BS responses here, Almost feel guilty about asking some generic questions! :)
1. Hi Tad thanks for doing this interview, what’s your background and what are you currently working on?
“Well, thank you for the opportunity. I really like your blog, the whole design, choice of topics and holistic approach of it. So I feel delighted to be here. My background is that of a classic old school SEO I guess. I have been a front web developer until 2004. When the programming got more complex I wanted to make the transition to something less technical and more content oriented.
Currently I’m mostly blogging about SEO, content, branding, website optimization and the likes for a few blogs all over the world, blog.ahrefs.com and blog.serps.com among them. I still update my own blog, SEO 2.0 on a more or less weekly basis too. My latest SEO client project is about eco cool socks in funky colors.”
2. What shade of “hat” are you and why?
“This is a somewhat funny question. You wouldn’t ask a designer or car mechanic the hat question would you? Also in reality the world is not black and white. For the first several years I have been very keen on presenting myself as “the whitest hat alive”. Then over the years I grew either more cynical or wiser, I hope the latter one, I can’t judge it myself. I realized that everybody in the SEO industry is a panama hat SEO. I have written about that in 2010.
You can think you are purely white hat and do everything possible to help Google but the next minute Google is changing the rules out of a whim and you’re among the worst spammers.
Since then I ignore the white hat vs black hat debate as irrelevant. Also I prefer to speak about being ethical rather than white hat. According to the white hat SEO definition you can promote websites of weapons manufacturers and be completely white hat while it’s of course unethical to support killing people.”
3. You recently decided to “no follow” everything to Google, what’s the thinking behind this?
“The reasoning is pretty simple. I don’t like to be pushed around. In case I’d be paranoid I could think that Google wants to kill me. I feel a bit like Yossarian from Catch 22. Google has literally killed off several of my clients. It’s not that I or they spammed or something. I was in many cases just blogging for them until Google decided to trash them. Google has penalized my own blog too for no apparent reason. Lately Google even deactivated my Adsense account. So it’s not me irrationally hating Google or something. It rather seems that Google runs a personal vendetta against me. That’s of course not true.”
I know that Google doesn’t care and doesn’t even notice.
“I’m just “collateral damage” like millions of other genuine webmasters. So I try to get up every time Google punches me and I strike back at least symbolically. When they stole my Adsense money I decided that I have to act again. I have been banning Google search on my blog for a year now but Google apparently didn’t get the message. So this is just the next step in my righteous fight against the ruthless corporation. Did you know that they have been selling illegal drugs worth half a billion of dollars?
On a more down to earth level when it comes to SEO adding nofollow to Google links is just the most logical step to do. nofollow has been meant to be used on links to sites you don’t trust and do not approve of. Also as of late Google wants you to curb all “unnatural links”. Don’t you think linking to Google in every single post is not unnatural? You don’t do that? You have Google+ buttons and widgets on your site don’t you? Of course they don’t add nofollow to their own widgets…”
4. As a seasoned blogger, what are your thoughts of “Ghost”?
“I haven’t been able to test Ghost yet so I can only say what I see on the outside. It looks good. It’s based on simplicity. It seems to be a promising self-hosted Tumblr alternative (alas without the community aspect). I have a private blog on Tumblr I consider moving to Ghost.
WordPress has become bloated over the years so I welcome Ghost.
I won’t quit WP despite this though. In any case it’s great to see some healthy competition on the blogging CMS market. The biggest drawback of Ghost right now is that it doesn’t have built in commenting. So technically it’s not a blog software at all as commenting is a crucial part of most blogging definitions.”
5. I’ve got to ask dude, what’s with the sombrero and moustache?
“On the Internet nobody knows that you’re a dog. So when Facebook and all that became inevitable I had to come up with a fake identity to hide my true one. No, just kidding. I’m an early adopter of the Web. I started in 1997 when you could be whoever you wanted on the Web. On the Internet nobody cared that I was a Pole, that I had severe acne at that time and so on. You know in Germany “polish jokes” are still very common. So each time someone new of lower intelligence meets me the person asks me why Poles are stealing cars etc.
Using a pseudonym and an avatar made only what I did and published matter. I still appreciate at least some level of anonymity.
The Mexican avatar looks very much like me so I chose it to be me and not me at the same time. Also it looks ridiculous so everybody remembers it with ease. It also perfectly reflect my “biggest white hat around” philosophy I have adapted around 2005 – 2006. I may change it though. Just taking a photo seems so boring to me though. Maybe I’ll take one of my parkour images.”
6. What SEO tools do you regularly use and why?
“That’s another typical SEO question. As I mostly blog my main SEO tool is WordPress. For the SEO jobs in between I use the tools that each task requires. So for example I had to deal with “unnatural links” on a client site and accordingly used tools like Ahrefs, Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO.
There are no tools I use daily though beside of my analytics tools.
So I rather use blogging tools like Compfight to find Creative Commons images to illustrate my blog articles. I use Unroll.me to keep my inbox clean (and thus have time to do real work). I use Topsy to find out how my posts perform on Twitter. I use Google+ to waste my time and to try to engage with my alleged audience of 8k.
IMHO SEO is about creativity not tools. In case you rely mostly on tools you are doing only a small part of SEO.”
7. Has Hummingbird or Penguin 2.1 affected you or any of your clients?
“I don’t think so but as noted above I don’t have that many SEO clients these days.”
8. Where do you see social media’s role in SEO over the next 6 months?
“You know, my approach since 2007 has always been that social media and blogging are an integral part of SEO, thus the SEO 2.0 moniker. So it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s exactly changing or will be different in the upcoming 6 months. On the other hand we witness a shift from search traffic to social media traffic recently. So we may see a change of mind from “I need social media shares to get higher on Google” to “I need to get people to see my content directly on social media”.
9. Who do you look up to in the SEO world?
“Good question! You know I hate influencer ass kissing but on the other hand I still look up to the old school people who made much of what do we have today possible. When you look up the query [seo blog] on Google.com you will find some of them in the top 5, with one exception, a cat blogger who works for Google as Pandora’s Box. I also still look up to some of the people who “invented” SEO 2.0 around 2005 – 2007. I have to mention one person by name though, Rhea Drysdale who saved SEO from getting trademarked by spending numerous hours and thousands of dollars on fighting it in court.”
10. What are your plans for Onreact and do you have any ambitions for the future?
“I will build up a global empire. I started by buying domains like onreact.us, onreact.co.uk, onreact.info etc. I need to have some more time though to achieve that so it may take a decade or two.”
“Thank you for inviting me!”