Now that’s what SEOs call music

vinyl on my plate!

I listen to a lot of music. Always. I started to talk to other SEOs about music they listen to, till I realize I wanted to know more about what music SEOs listen to when working. This was a huge project for me, because I had to get in touch with a lot of SEOs, and I didn’t know the response to this (since I am pretty unknown in 2012 :D). I am happy to say that more than 50 SEOs answered me back. The project started in this way: choose 2 songs or 2 bands you listen to, one for onpage stuff and one for offpage. Some SEOs were able to choose only 2 (I know it’s really hard), others wrote me their taste in music in general, refusing to choose only 2 songs. I decided to keep all the answers, no matter what was the original project, because it was a huge chance to me to discover a lot of music…and so, it’s a huge opportunity even for you! So, let’s start. This is a huge post, kinda epic I have to say (it’s really long, so take your time), and I want to THANK all the awesome people out there that were kind enough to share with me their music and who helped me to realize this. Ready to rock?


I generally don’t listen to music too much while working unless I am doing something boring and repetitive that I want to get through fast (think organizing spreadsheets or doing onpage SEO for 50 or 100 pages in a couple hours).

Bob Dylan:
– Desolation Row … a reminder of how lucky I am relative to the crap so many people have to go through and what some of my pre-web jobs were like. 🙂
– With God on Our Side … a reminder how some of the biggest murders in the history of the world were doing it “for god” … and to always question & distrust authority.
– My Back Pages … sort of similar to the previous song & a reminder not to take oneself too seriously.
– Girl of the North Country … the tipsy live version he did with Johnny Cash is spectacular.

– Here on my own … a reminder how boring and isolating online marketing can be, and how lucky I am to have my wife in my life 🙂

Sigur Ros:
– Glosoli … a reminder of the beauty of nature (I used to live near Starved Rock & the DVD Sigur Ros put out was breathtaking).

The Church:
– Under the Milky Way … same as above.

John Lennon:
– Imagine … a reminder of how a lot of deeply entrenched belief systems are designed to be divisive.

– Idioteque … nice tempo. Also offers caution toward our lack of concern for the future as a society.
– Fake Plastic Trees … a reminder of how “not real” so much of the web stuff is.
– Motion Picture Soundtrack … a reminder to be more loving & less robotic and work driven.

– The Man Who Sold the World … cover of an old Bowie song & a reminder that success and happiness are not one and the same (considering what happened to Kurt Cobain). The same thing with Don’t Follow from Alice in Chains.

Neil Young:
– Helpless … a reminder of how insignificant we are as people in the grand scheme of things. Some of the live versions are spectacular….just like so many other songs he has done.

Johnny Cash:
– Hurt … the video has such raw emotion & vivid imagry in it. And it is also a reminder that we all die.

The Flaming Lips:
– In the Morning of the Magicians … love the line “the universe will have its way, too powerful to master”

Brian Eno:
– The Big Ship … love how the guitar comes in on this one…one of the few modern songs with no/few lyrics that I like a lot (along with Untitled from Interpol).

The Beatles:
– A Day in the Life … a reminder of how big a gap there can be between internal & external views.

Band of Horses:
– Funeral … the bicycle video of this song on Youtube is spectacular.

The Arcade Fire:
– Intervention … there is a video of this on Youtube tied to cuts from 1984. It’s a fan made video, but looks professionally done.

AJ KOHNBlind Five Year Old

I listen to quite a bit of music when I work, but I’m not sure that I have different music for different activities.

Overall, I listen to music that establishes mood and propels me forward. Lately I’ve been listening to Daft Punk‘s Discovery and actually created most of my SMX West Presentation while listening to it over and over again.

Other favorites are any album from Kasabian or the Kaiser Chiefs. When I’m really serious about work I usually put on some electronica/techno/rave music. That means I’ll drop in something like: Moby (specifically the self-titled debut), 808 State, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method, The Propellerheads

Or I’ll put on one of the complications like Maximum Rave (discogs) or Rave ’92 (discogs). If you see me listening to any of these it’s almost like a do not disturb sign.


I’m going to hit this question with the two opposites of my music tastes, and why they suit each.

Linkbuilding can be pretty time consuming, digging through prospective links and sifting through data; so something to keep calm and happy is ideal for me! In that regard, I like to listen to a few bands, but one that sticks out as a favourite of mine is Little Dragon – soft voice and good beat, works well to keep your head and remain focussed.

On-page or technical SEO site work on the other hand is often messy and very hands-on. I love technical SEO because of the instant impact it can have. Once I’ve got a list of stuff which needs doing, I like to get stuck in immediately, no messing around. So, something for this situation requires an album which grabs your attention; something like… Dr. Dre‘s 2001 album. There, I said it. I bet no other SEO will admit to listening to a bit of Dre while undergoing on-page SEO, but I thoroughly recommend it! 😉


I’m always listening to music that is new to me, so it’s hard to pinpoint just a few bands. I figure I should list a couple that are maybe not as popular to help people find some new music. I don’t need to be the 10th SEO on this post to tell you how awesome the new Drake album is. Here are a few that I’ve really enjoyed over the last few years. The type of music that I never get sick of. I use Spotify to listen to music while I work.

Everything I listen to is interchangeable for the tasks I’m doing. I don’t have a particular music style to go with a particular task.

The XX (spotify link) : example track: Basic Space (spotify link) and Jens Lekman (spotify link) : example track – The Opposite of Hallelujah (spotify link)


When I’m doing on-page optimisation I find I really need to be ‘in the zone’ – shutting out all distractions and getting on with the tasks at hand. I find that the heavier types of music – heavy rock and metal – work the best for me there. A personal favourite of mine is the Northern Irish band “And So I Watch You From Afar” whose instrumental post-rock really gets me in to that zone.

For the ‘softer’ SEO and social tasks that require a degree of creativity – such as linkbuilding or content development – I tend to go for softer music as well, as I find this helps me maintain my concentration but also allows my mind to go off on little tangents which sometimes lead to new angles and insights. A favourite artist of mine in this respect is Foy Vance, whose lyrical prowess and melodies I can wholeheartedly recommend to everyone.


I listen to music non-stop. I have it on no matter where I am. It needs to be on when I sleep. I basically live off Spotify and have my iPhone plugged into my car, my iPod stereos at home, and anywhere I don’t have a PC (which will also be running Spotify). Best $10 a month I could spend. Check it: My Playlist Is Better Than Yours! As I type this I’m listening to The Chap.

I don’t really follow one genre (though my band is more of a psychadelic rock indie jam band). I’m a Frank Zappa completist, and am livid that he’s not on Spotify. But I’m very into experimental stuff when I’m working. I like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, Marco Benevento, Nels Cline, Mike Patton stuff. Or jammy stuff like Phish, Les Claypool, Hendrix, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Disco Biscuits. Things without formulas.

My guilty pleasure is hair metal or 80’s cheese pop. That’s nostaltia for me. My coworkers have probably heard me tapping my pen to Cherry Pie by Warrant more than a couple times. Or Huey Lewis. When Spotify shows that on my Facebook page, I get a lot of shit from my friends.


Music for On-Page: I absolutely cannot work in silence but I also don’t like to be too distracted so I tend to listen to songs that I’m very familiar with. I have a number of go to playlists on Spotify that I have set up ready to listen to – 70’s Disco, 80’s New Romantics or Indie or a bit of Cheesy Listening like Mancini or Sinatra. These provide a great background but aren’t too intrusive.

Music for Linkbuilding: I’m in a different mindset while linkbuilding so will listen to stuff that’s new to me or perhaps listen to the Radio (Radio5, Radio 4, 6Music or Talksport) or even listen to some podcasts.

CHRIS DYSONRoots Web Solutions

On Site: I like to listen to my favourite local band at the minute. Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles ( a great set of talented guys and girls who make some of the best alternative pop music right now. If you like Beirut & Arcade Fire you will definitely enjoy their beautiful harmonies and poetic lyrics (free download link).

Link Building: I’m a reformed hip hop DJ and I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the UK hip hop scene as a promoter & blogger from 2005-2010. There are so many great UK hip hop artists I love to listen to when link building from Ty, Mystro & Jeh5t to Roots Manuva.

Right now I can’t get Bada Bing by Benny Banks out of my cranium; real head nodding UK hip hop just how it should be. A proper track to get my inner hustler fired up.


Onsite – ‘Nirvana – Come as you are‘ – This has always zoned me out and brings on the thought process that there’s a light
Onsite – ‘Nosia – Tommys Theme‘ – Technically sound that considers the smallest of things, this tune takes you on a journey
Off page – ‘99 Problems – Jay Z‘ – Creative word play, swagger and over confidence that says keep on digging
Off page – ‘The Marriage Of Figaro / Duettino – Sull’Aria‘ – Just love this, sets the mood to take on anything.


When link building or doing any outreach I often listen to 80’s music. Right now at the top of my Spotify 80’s playlist is Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung and Under The Milky Way by the Church. I grew up in the 80s and this type of music puts me in a social mood.

On-page work is definitely for Belle and Sebastian. Not sure why – something about locking yourself in a room with ironic angst.


The two bands I listen to most right now when doing SEO are One Republic and The Script. I don’t download any music, instead I rely explosively on Pandora and YouTube to power my tunes.

When I really need to focus I’ll sometimes listen to movie soundtracks. Something instrumental like Pirates of the Caribbean so I don’t need to think about the words.

As for the on-page, off-page breakdown. Most of my time these days is spent on patent research and SEO tests. If I do get hands on with a client campaign, it’ll likely be on the Social SEO side of things.


Music I listen to when working huh? If I’m doing something technical or writing I like to listen to purely instrumental music since I find that words slow me down or distract me. I have a playlist that is all instrumental Joe Satriani music that I’ve used for a long time and works well, or if I’m in a more mellow mood I have a playlist that has the album “This Binary Universe” by BT, the album “Safe in the Steep Cliffs” by Emancipator, and then 2 albums from the group Near the Parenthesis.

my hands on vinyls!


If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I’m a HUGE music fan and performed music professionally for 10 years before switching to SEO.

ON PAGE: Anything produced by J Dilla. If you don’t know, the late J Dilla was one of hip hop’s most revolutionary producers. His credits include Slum Village, Common, Janet Jackson, A Tribe Called Quest. If you’re a hip-hop fan, and listen to anything pre 2006 (the year he passed) you’ve probably heard Dilla’s music. You can find a lot of his tracks as instrumentals, which is great to work to (no distracting words). He was known for making his MPC 3000 (the sampler) sound like a live band, so the instrumentals stay really interesting, unlike others producers which just loop the same thing every 4 or 8 bars.

Dilla, or any music with a hip-hop feel, is at a good tempo (generally about 80 – 100 beats per minute) so a nice medium tempo to keep the energy going. I LOVE all music with rhythmic tension, rich harmony and colorful textures. It keeps me focused and in the zone, but not distracted by words if I put on the instrumental versions.

If anyone wants to check out a classic J Dilla instrumental.

OFF PAGE: This is a tough choice, but there’s a newer style of music called ‘Timba‘ which originated in Cuba. Mix salsa, hip-hop and funk and you get Timba. I like this for link building, because its a bit more energetic – the song arrangements are really fast moving (they change from verse to chorus, to mambo very quickly) so it has a rhythmic form that just keeps going, like perpetual motion. Yo no entiendo mucho español (I don’t understand much Spanish) – so the singing / words don’t distract me at all, they’re just like another instrument. Again, extremely interesting rhythmically.

One of the best Timba artists is Issac Delgado, and this is a classic recording of him in Cuba if anyone wants to check it out.


I listen to: Rodrigo y GabrielaVibrasphere and some songs by The xx.

I like this music for working because it doesn’t have lyrics (which distract me) and it is high energy music which helps me move through projects faster.


For me, on page stuff and reporting needs attention to detail. Music with a lot of lyrics tend to get in the way and keeps me from being able to think about the words or numbers im looking at. So, in my opinion, onpage or reporting call for beats. Something like: Daft Punk – some of my favorites are Human After All (grooveshark) and the Tron Legacy (End Titles) (spotify) and MSTRKRFT – I really like Work On You (grooveshark) and Fist of God (spotify)

If I’m trying to think of a sweet linkbuilding idea or I’m snooping on competitors, I’m usually playing hip-hop. These guys get heavy rotation on my playlists:
Busta Rhymes – check out Everybody Rise (grooveshark)
Can’t go wrong with ANYTHING on Wu-Tang‘s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (spotify)
This is a great one by Nas: NY State of Mind (grooveshark)
This one is less known, but i really like it: Exhibit C  (spotify)
I also have a 90s rock (mostly) playlist which i play when im doing light report building, some competitive research, or even some keyword research: My 90s playlist.


I actually don’t listen to music when I’m doing on-page stuff – when something is really technical, I need to not be distracted so I keep the music off. When I’m linkbuilding though, I quite like listening to The Black Keys (and I’ve just started listening to Band of Skulls). I’m not sure if they help me build better links, but the music is awesome and, along with coffee, it keeps me working.


I am always listening to electronic music. 2 examples:

Onpage: Robert Babicz –  Dark Flower Fever Remix (youtube)

Offpage: Club Life edition by Tiesto (youtube)

cds and vinyls:yeah!


Personally, I prefer a band like ‘The Kooks‘ for giving me the energy to efficiently work on the on page SEO and ‘Coldplay‘ for keeping me calm whilst stressing out about completing my Linkbuilding work!  Although everyone else in the office are not fans of Coldplay at all 🙁


The only thing I listen to in the morning is the Mike and Mike talk show (link). I have a huge crush on Mike Golic and love sports talk so they are the way I start my day. After that, what I listen to depends on where I’ll be and what I’m doing. If I’m in the office I’ll listen to whatever is on my iPod, that could be anything. I have a rule in my house when it comes to music and the kids, whatever you download you have to also add to Mom’s iPod. This way I keep an ‘eye’ on what they’re listening to. I am less concerned with foul language as I am the violence some artists glorify, that doesn’t fly with me.

When I do find “Debra” time I head to my playlists which include the Allman Brothers (Eat a Peach is my fav all time album), Kinks, Cheap Trick, Steppenwolf, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Cream, Joe Cocker, early Aerosmith and Clapton. I like the old ‘hard’ stuff as well as “old” Madonna, B52’s, Bruce Hornsby (of course), Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, Pretenders and Prince. Also love Buckcherry, Black Eyed Peas and Dave Matthews. If you need a pick up, listen to Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch”, that song makes me laugh.

In the last few years I’ve added a lot of ‘country’ music to my iPod (thanks to my daughter) like Big and Rich, Steve Earle, Sugarland, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts and others. I love listening to the stories they tell, country music has a way of picking me up with the message as well as the melody.

I also listen to a lot of Austrian/German classical music, my mother is German and I spent 12 years there growing up. Yes I know, a little odd but it’s what I grew up with and I find it incredibly soothing.

But my favorite all time sound? The little ding my computer makes when one of the friends pops on IM and comes looking for me. I’d rather talk to them than listen to anything 🙂


Since I am terrible at understanding lyrics in music in any language I tend to listen to instrumental pieces or electronic composition. Traditionally my working music was house as it didn’t make me think much. However, I found that it would put me in a dull trance after an hour or so. For this reason I made a switch to dubstep which acts as a catalyst to my thought processes by injecting renewed bursts of energy at just the right times.

Many don’t know that I used to write and perform live electronic music on improvised equipment and illegal underground venues and warehouses in Europe and Australia.


I don’t have some specific bands I am listening to. I am listening in general to samplers with a lot of different artists and bands.

Onpage -> Cafe del Mar, Lounge Music
Offpage -> Hed Kandi, Kontor House Music

I need music that helps me to relax and focus on things, that’s why I am listening to music like Cafe del mar if I am doing onpage stuff. With offpage stuff, I need some music which is a bit more dance-style so that I get the right mood for analyzing backlinks.


On-page: not really any difference to me, it just depends on the mood I’m in at the time. Generally speaking, I groove out to classic rock and metal. I like to listen to Meytal Cohen‘s drum solos (link). As a drummer, I truly look up to her as she makes it look easy and does so with a smile. Here is one of my favorites: The only problem with listening to Meytal, is I also want to watch her… not good for productivity. 🙂
Link building is usually reserved for old school hip-hop or mashups of classic rock/hip-hop. Two of my favorites to start off a late night linkbuilding shift are: The Missing Link by Dinosaur Jr. and Del the Funkee Homosapien The other is Werewolves of Chessboxin’ by Warren Zevon vs. Wu-Tang Clan

ED FRYwebsite

I’m not going to be of much use. Either listening to something relating to my A Level music studies or music off and locked down into getting shit done.

That said, when writing (I guess this could be in your onpage stuff), dance/trance tracks like Pendulum/Prodigy can help when you know what you’re going to say and you just need to geddit done.


Here is my playlist on youtube.


Ok so today I’ve been doing alot of outreach and like to listen to something upbeat to keep me in a good, cheerful mood, I think that comes across in my email tone. is one of my current fav tunes by a little know English Ska band.

On page I like to whip through at pace so something fast and aggressive works better  – Billy Talent – The Ex (video) fits the bill!


I change the type of music I listen to when working based on mood. but generally I will create a station on Pandora, Something like Dokken (80s hair bands) or any 80s music will do.

Or if I am in the mood for something more modern I will pull up my favorite local radio station 94.5 the buzz which plays more current day up and coming alternative rock bands.


Actually, since I was a student, I cannot concentrate myself without having music in the background; let’s tell it, doing keyword search in a silent ambient is a passport to sleeping.

When I work I usually rely on my giant collection of Soundtracks and Movie Scores, with a preference to Danny Elfmann, James Newton Howard, Howard Shore and John Williams works. I find soundtracks perfect if I want to get concentrated but not distracted by the music. Sure, if I have to pump me up, then I put score like “The Gladiator” one and rise the volume up.

But I don’t rely only on soundtrack and instrumental music. When I am writing a blog post, for instance, and I need to write with a rhythm, then I choose to listen to old classic electronics bands, like Massive Attack or Chemical Brothers… to write a post with your ideas and your typing following the rythm of “Right here, right now” by the Chemical Brothers is something have to try at least once 🙂


I listen to two playlists, mainly.

I use one playlist I call “Rocklike” when I have to recharge myself. Here is the youtube link

When I need to relax I listen to: Vinicio Capossela (youtube playlist), Rino Gaetano (youtube playlist), Elisa (youtube playlist), Mia Martini (youtube playlist), Yann Tiersen (youtube playlist) and more classic music (youtube playlist)


To be frank, while doing seo work i hardly listen to song. I listen to it when I’m free but as you asked I can give you two of my best songs which I listen everytime I do any seo for time to pass.

During On-page I listen to Enrique Iglesias “Push Push back up on me” which I feel the single most best song sung by enrique.

During Off-page I listen to T-pain’s “Take your shirt off” because you know sometimes while doing off-page from home I used to take my shirt off & work.

You may find it funny but yes this is how I do it.


I am not a huge music fan but when I am working, I tend to listen to hip-hop music or classical music.

If I am doing proposals or client management stuff then I will listen to classical as it helps to relax me and get me in the flow, if I am doing link building for example or other client work then I will listen to hip-hop as it is energetic and makes me work quicker.


The band that I mostly listen to when I’m doing or thinking of link building strategies is Glassjaw. Their upbeat and very experimental flow of music helps me or somehow guides me to create and innovate other things, weird, but it’s true. With the way how they create music (extremely creative guitar riffs as well as use of effects, bass lines, drum’s offbeat patterns and the awesome voice of their vocals – Daryl Palumbo) inspires me to really think outside the box.

When doing on-site development, I normally choose to listen to relaxing or ambient music (since phases from this area of optimization mostly require you to be analytic). Hmm, there are times that I find some of Deftones‘ songs relaxing, so I guess that would be my choice for now.


On-Page: If I had to pick 2, it would be Jack Johnson & Coldplay. They are less upbeat, helps me to think and formulate some kick-ass title, descriptions and copy.

Link Building: Bliss N Eso & Rage Against the Machine. The beats and lyrics of these 2 bands keeps me motivated and keeps me going with blogger outreach research.


1) Onpage stuff – Radiohead. Always Radiohead. I’ve listened to so much Radiohead that all the albums just blur together to bring out this cosmic focus to block out everything else. I get twice the amount of focus from them than anyone else. Anything else I may be listening for a hook or chorus or my favourite piece of the song, but with Radiohead when those pieces come up it’s like a tetris block fitting into place while optimizing, it’s the perfect kick.

2) Linkbuilding – Chemical Brothers. The video for star guitar runs through my head and the upbeat mood of a lot of their music is motivating and perfect for the focus required while my head bobs away to the flowing Chemicals and I zone out. I really enjoy that a lot of it is just music too, it’s really great working away to flowing notes merging perfect together.

haha wrote those out and I’ve been giggling a bit… “tetris piece” and “flowing notes” 🙂


When I am cranking any type of work out I am usually listening to Girl Talk, its got a good rhythm that keeps me moving. But sometimes I like to mellow out with a custom channel on Pandora which consist of mostly 90s rock.


JOEL KLETTKEThe Best Looking Man in the World

Onpage: Don’t Move by Phantogram

Why: When I’m worrying about on page, I’m normally worried about content and organization. I need music that’s not too invasive, but upbeat. Phantogram kills it on this track and it’s super fun to listen to without being distracting. The idea is to bob your head without having to pause the music to focus.

Link building: The Failsafe by Misery Signals

Why: To me, link building is like war. It’s not a happy experience. I don’t love doing it – but I do love crushing competition. So I need a bit of a war anthem. To that extent, Misery Signals has always been the right dose of both melody and aggression. You throw it on, feel like a champ and set out to crack some skulls. Nothing better.


I have an interesting relationship with music. What I listen to depends on my mood.

Usually, my favorite onpage (technical SEO) music is Bronze Radio Return or some sort of jam band. This is because the music is quick and becomes background productivity for me.

When linkbuilding, I usually listen to Nas’ Illmatic or Stillmatic. I’ve been known to listen to Kanye or JayZ as well. I listen to rap/hiphop when building links because I need something to inspire me, since linkbuilding can be frustrating and tedious.


On page: Daft Punk radio on Pandora.
I listen to Daft Punk for onpage stuff because they’re one of the few artists I can list to for hours. I get concerned over the smallest details, which ends up costing me a ton of my time, so having someone I can listen to for that duration is a huge help for staying focused.

Link building: 2Cellos
I recently came across 2Cellos, one of my new favorite artists. They don’t have a ton of songs, but I can listen to all of them over and over again without discontent. The reason I like them for my link building efforts is because they’re music is just flat out cool and inspirational. Inspiration is something you need in link building, because processes like prospecting can get a little repetitive and boring.

JONATHON COLMANpersonal page

I guess that I don’t really segment out my music into on-site/off-site the way you’re asking, so here’s some of the stuff I generally listen to while working:

Bob Marley. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa in the late ’90s, I struggled to learn French. Even though I’d had a few years of French in high school, the conjugations and accents just weren’t coming back to me. But people all around the world love the music and message of hope of Bob Marley… but he only sings in English! So I set to work on translating his songs into French with the people in my village and we had a blast and I finally picked up the language. Listening to Bob Marley reminds me of the struggle for freedom all over the world and our ability to work together to overcome challenges.

The Avett Brothers. I first saw them perform live at Bumbershoot in Seattle back in 2007. What an amazing show by an amazing band! Their lyrics are so well-written and their harmonies are so natural and infused with feeling. I’ve heard of them being called everything from bluegrass to banjo-thrash. I’ve seen them perform at least a dozen times and can’t wait to catch them again. Listening to them makes me feel focused, confident, and in touch with my colleagues and audience — a great place to be as an SEO!


It differs, but my most productive hours, either coding, SEOing or writing, are usually spent with no music at all or with classical music like Bach.

JULIE JOYCELink Fish Media

My office actually did a link builders playlist and the 20 or so people there all contributed their favorite 5 songs. Some songs are utter crap but there’s some good stuff there if you want a listen. You can find it here:

I am usually working on strategy, dealing with clients, managing the link builders that work for me, or writing articles so I don’t do any on-page work. However, if I am digging into a site to see if there are any technical problems that are affecting my link efforts, I almost always listen to something very fast and punk because I work in a chaotic way when doing this, so it’s usually The Buzzcocks, The Ramones, or early Clash. I’d say my 2 favorites would be London Calling by The Clash and Into The Valley by The Skids. If I am researching or writing an article however, I tend to listen to something less obtrusive so I can really focus, which usually ends up being Kraftwerk‘s Computer Love or something by The The, usually Perfect Day.


These days, I spend quite a lot of time listening to TheSixtyOne ( It has good and bad, but I’ve discovered a lot of great music there.
If I had to pick two songs that I really like listening to, I’d pick Say it Ain’t So by Weezer and Glycerine by Bush. Weezer Say It Ain’t So – It’s relaxing and upbeat at the same time, and my favorite Weezer song. The first time I saw a Windows 95 machine it was playing the Buddy Holly video.
For link building, I’d say – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk. This song is motivating, addicting, and upbeat.
While I was at the Distilled office, Ben in Seattle would always be playing Smashing Pumpkins.


When I’m asked to look at a website it takes a certain creative or conceptual part of me, so I like to rock something like Mos Def, Common, or Talib Kweli. The lyrics, the beats, it all gets me going. SEO takes a different kind of person, especially at the agency level when thousands (if not millions) of dollars are on line. If you don’t have a little swagger, a little confidence, you won’t make it past the doctype when doing an SEO audit. If you don’t feel something after listening to “Champion Requiem” by Mos Def, I can’t help you!

Link building and more repetitive tasks in SEO don’t take quite the same approach, for me it’s more about grinding it out, and getting tasks knocked out, so I’ll go with Queen, “Another one Bites the Dust”. And another link back and another one back, another site bites the dust…


When I do on page SEO I listen to Professor Green. Why? because it makes me focus, have no idea why, but it has that sort of music which just makes you get on with the job.
For link building I listen to music like Prodigy & Faithless: the upbeats make me get creative for some reason. It’s a much more intensive type of music much like link building.


Whenever I’m doing on-page work, I listen to Amon Tobin. Usually Permutation and Supermodified. If you like electronic music, or jazz, actually – I suggest checking him out. A lot of drum and bass, some really creative usage of jazz samples – really good stuff. Since there’s no (or very litte) lyrics, it makes great background music to work to. I go the lyric-less route for on0page work because I’m doing a lot of reading (keyword lists,) and writing between page tags and content. I tried listening to music with lyrics, but always ended up typing lyrics by accident – not exactly something you want in the middle of your title tag. Go-to songs are Four Ton Mantis, Chocolate Lovely, People Like Frank, and Nightlife. (The first 20 seconds of Nightlife is actually my morning alarm.)

Link building is typically Nine Inch Nails. For longer work sessions, the pacing on The Fragile is great, and it clocks in at about an hour and forty minutes, which is a nice “Ok – get up off your ass, now” benchmark. For shorter spurts, I’ll do a mix of songs from The Downward Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine. Main must-haves in that one are: Mr. Self Destruct, The Only Time, Head Like a Hole, and Ruiner. Much faster paced than the on-page work, and the lyrics don’t really get in the way (for me, anyway).


When I’m doing onsite SEO, I don’t have one or two particular bands. I tend to listen to harder stuff though: My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie (yes, really) and the White Stripes. I don’t know exactly why, but onsite SEO gets my blood pumping. Which is a little sad, I know.

Offsite SEO: For me, offsite SEO is all about diplomacy, outreach and generally being sneaky in a nice way. It’s a little more contemplative. So I end up listening to Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush and the like.

I’ll throw in some Daft Punk and Beethoven when I need variety.

Hopefully this music selection doesn’t get me admitted to a mental health facility when the public finds out.


I think this is a great SEO theme song: Mission Impossible 2 theme song (youtube). I picked the MI theme song because in SEO I’m always trying to figure out where to get the links from and it’s not exactly an easy task to get say, the Wall St. Journal (or some other huge authority site) to link to your site specific anchor-text. It requires a lot of planning and great execution, and if the plan actually works, it feels great!


Link Building: Weird Al / Lonely Island – Two amazing comedy singers that give you something to laugh at in-between captcha codes

On Page: My Chemical Romance – I challenge anyone to not get in to the zone when they listen to Sing.


I listen toBlockhead, Drake, Common, Elzhi, Jay Z or Kanye West while I work.

NEIL PATELQuick Sprout

I listen to music helps me work faster. For both on page seo or link building or anything else I am doing.

Deadmau5‘s “Moar Ghosts N Stuff” (youtube) , Swedish House Mafia‘s “One” (youtube), Avicii‘s “Levels” (youtube), Clokx‘s “Oddity” (youtube), Dada Life‘s “White Noise/Red Meat” (youtube).


Whenever I’m working on SEO, music is as important as oxygen, if not more. I need heart-pounding bass and a symphony of blended samples to keep my energy high and mind focused. My Pandora stations and YouTube playlists are tools in my optimization toolbox just like my Moz Pro account and Excel macros.

When I’m working on on-page optimization or traffic analysis I prefer to be ‘in my own world,’ this helps me to focus in on getting my pivots tables updated correctly, and my correlation data in place to start painting a picture of how recent page element changes are affecting overall performance. For the past month or so I seem to find myself listening to Breathing to the Rhythm by Charlie P (video) over and over again while working with large amounts of data. Perhaps it’s the progressive building of the percussion line or the deep dark bass, but this song just puts me in the zone. It is usually pretty easy to spot when I’m listening to it as my headphones are on and my left hand (non-mouse hand) is probably tapping (or banging) on my desk.

For link-building, which for me at the moment is almost entirely content strategy and production planning, I prefer a song with more dynamics, pretty much anything from Marty Party or PANTyRAiD. Recently however I have developed a bit of an obsession with Gangsteppin by Marty Party (video), which is mellow enough that I can concentrate on spotting behavior patterns while analyzing page flow but has just enough bass and drums to keep the blood flowing and my energy level high. I can probably directly credit this song with our consistent 100% month over month traffic growth 🙂


onpage: “How Made Up The Rules” by Agaric – this is what it’s all about – YOU can make the rules!

offpage: “The Time Is Now” by Moloko – take your chance and go for it!

other songs are “Run” by Gnalrs Barkley because it is pure power, fast, no mercy, ironic and “With Or Without You” by Daft Punk vs. U2 (remix) because it’s deep, groovy and “wide thinking”.


On-Site: For onsite I’d have to say Pop Song by Starfucker. On-site SEO can get a little boring for me, so up-beat songs help me stay entertained and in a good mood while I”m running crawl reports, sifting through hundreds of pages, and checking every crevasse of a site.

Off-Site: Definitely Atlas by Battles. The rhythm and steady beat help me stay focused instead of getting distracted by a random blog post when I’m doing outreach.


I’ve chosen a few tunes that are not necessarily ones I’ve actually recommended that much on Twitter, as some of the more unusual things that I do share I don’t really listen to whilst working.

On-Page: A Thing For Me, Metronomy (video)

When I’m working on page, I like to have music with at least a half decent tempo to keep me working a decent pace. I really like Metronomy’s discordant sounds, and I find the hooks on this tune keep my head nodding and my focus on the HTML. The whole of the Nights Out album works really well for me, as do the others they’ve released. I also listen to a lot of instrumental music, jazz or latin tunes without lyrics when I really don’t want to get distracted by any vocals.

Off-Page: The Only One, Danger Mouse & Jemini (video)

When link building I often come back to this tune – it pumps me up, and helps add a cockiness to my attempts to gain some links. After all, the site I am approaching will want to link to my client right? We are the Only One that is right for them to link to! The whole Ghetto Pop Life album that Danger Mouse & Jemini did is one of my favourite hip hop albums – its lively, full of bounce and really helps to set the tone for a day when I listen to it.


I’ve been liking Trampled By Turtles-Codeine (youtube) and it probably works for link building (the “drug of choice” for the SEO world) 🙂 might be good for on-page, since we’re helping build the web’s highway with content.

RHEA DRYSDALEOutspoken Media

It’s tough for me to break music into on-page vs link building. Music is often dependent on whether I’m writing or not and how complicated that writing needs to be or what mood I need to be in. When I’m on-page, I’m usually developing an audit, which requires a lot of thought. I can’t handle music with words or my brain will cling on them and it’ll take me hours to finish. So, I usually turn to a “no words” Spotify station I setup with a mix of Miles Davis and classical.

If I’m on something less word-y, I’m a mixed bag. I’ve got an:
Angry girl station which is great for writing pissed off emails and posts (Poe and Jazmine Sullivan)
Rock station for when I need feel like I can conquer the world (Rush and Meatloaf)
Alternative station for when I need to give the world a finger (Fugazi and NIN)
Dance station for when I need to wake up (Far East Movement and David Guetta)
Alt country station for when I’m making sweet love to my work (Ryan Adams and Wilco)
Reggae station for when I’m truly inspired (Jimmy Cliff mostly)
Rap/R&B station for when I’m knocking out something awesome (Wale and OutKast)
Asking me to choose one song or one person is impossible. It’s like asking me if I’d rather eat a PB&J or turkey sandwich everyday. I’m not in jail, so that’s not a fair question. I refuse to choose! I’m a music slut, I’ll take pretty much anything as long as it’s unique and awesome.


An all-time fave: Styx – Mr. Roboto (youtube)

vinyls on the wall

ROSS HUDGENSFull Beaker | blog

I most listen to (link). It has a great combination of “hip” mixes, mostly stuff like Kid Cudi, Kanye West, and etc – mixed up in really cool ways. That and a nice black coffee gets me in the zone for some link building. I have some weird taste, too – like The Social Network soundtrack by Trent Reznor and the infamous Sean Parker’s hipster international list on Spotify (link). Some great stuff there. There’s really no difference in terms of what type of work I’m doing. I either listen to any of that music on random or really any podcast from the 5by5 network (link).

SEAN – 01100111011001010110010101101011

On page – You Can’t Quit Me Baby – Queens of the Stone Age – Sexy, magical, stomping, psychedelic rock from the modern day Led Zeppelin. Need I say more?

Off page – Polynomial-C – Aphex Twin – Brilliant forward driving tune from a melodic genius. Forget the others in this list, this is the very definition of link building music 🙂

SHA MENZBF Design Studio

OK, so because I was a local radio announcer for 20 years, my playlist is fairly big …hehe (just over 12,000 tracks) and I tend to spend a lot of time stuck in the 80’s, so choosing just two songs is difficult.

As a word nerd, I love ballads.

When I am working on on-page, research etc I tend to listen to softer tunes like True Colors by Cyndi Lauper from the 80’s, Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol or Rolling In The Deep by Adele.

When I’m working on link building it tends to be something that gets the blood pumping a little more, so pretty much anything that rocks from ACDC to Jet and anything in between.


I have been slightly mocked from within the office for my poor choice in music and unfortunately, don’t have difference in music between on-page and linkbuilding. SEO is intense/exciting/challenging as is, I don’t need intense music to go along with it :0

However, regardless, I like listening to John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Script, and in general (slightly embarrassed to say this) Motown or ’90s pop (Wilson Phillips).


Ok well because of the office I work in I have little choice in the music but there is a strong disposition towards 80’s pop!!

Personally I like dance music, you need something upbeat when ploughing through a technical audit, and of course the office is filled with the sound of Rebecca Black on a Friday.. Damn those developers.

Link building?? Yeah slam the dance tunes on again, helps the creativity process 🙂


Ok – so I’m a bit weird in my music tastes and they cover a wide range of stuff. But common ones:

Onpage – Katherine Jenkins. I tend to me too much of an ‘active’ music listener and can get distracted by music, but Katherine is great to listen to in the background.

Linkbuilding – Rolling Stones. Yeah, they’re a bit old school now maybe, but I have to admit to being a bit of fan. Linkbuilding can be boring and sometimes if you’re just in ‘thinking’ mode for a creative idea then lively music can help.


Not sure the music is perfect but here’s what I’m listening to right now:

On-page: Simple Song – The Shins (soundcloud) : perfect for reminding yourself that really SEO is all about making things simple.

Link building: The Games You Play – Wax Tailor (video) : “I have no time to play games” – don’t chase the algo, focus on crafting something remarkable.


I do enjoy the classic Silence by John Cage (performed by the BBC symphony) and Silent by Slum Village.


For Analytics and keyword research my mix has included Bad Girls by MIA, Power by Kanye, Niggas in Paris from Watch the Throne. I also am really diggin’ on Machine Gun Kelly, Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T.

These are great for when I don’t actually have to formulate sentences, etc (so I guess they would be off page)

For on Page I listen to things that can fade into the background like Fiona Apple, Paul Oakenfold, Foster the People.

WAYNE BARKER – Online marketing consultant @ Boom Online

On Page – Tend to go for the more instrumental or atmospheric stuff to allow better concentration – whether that be post rock (Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros) or instrumnetal hip hop (Madlib, J Dilla). I’m gonna plump for something from Entroducing by DJ Shadow – Building Steam with a Grain of Salt.

Link Building – Get the creative juices flowing! Tend to listen to something a little bit more leftfield for inspiration and to get lost a little (can be from any genre, looking at last week I listened to Can, Silver Apples, Brian Eno, Silver Jews, The Fall, The Gun Club and Sun Ra)…I’m gonna go with something a little more apt – Tom Waits – Whats He Building


When I need to type fast, I listen to fast rythyms (such as the state of trance podcast on spotify) or things like Italian opera (I don’t speak Italian). This applies to site reviews, I guess.

When I need creativity (which would include link building) I like things like the social network soundtrack or Deadmau5.

When I’m not working, I more often listen to things with actual, you know, lyrics.

**UPDATE**: you can follow all the #seomusic comments here: . Thanks to Sean! what are you waiting for? add your own comments on twitter!

**UPDATE /2**: if you have Spotify, you can check this playlist made by Pete Handley with the music you read in this post!

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