Meet your SEO: Mike Essex

Today is friday. I never put online a “Meet your SEO” interview on friday, but I decided to do this for a reason you have to discover yourself or let me help you.

I’m not gonna make the usual intro, just to see if someone is going to miss it 😀 . If yes, you can tweet me! 😀

Today I have the pleasure to interview Mike EssexSEO for Koozai. He is also the author of the book “Free Stuff Everyday” , and you can read more about the book and his thoughts on his blog.

Ready for another amazing interview? (I know I shouldn’t be the one saying these interviews are amazing, but they are).

Mike Essex

When did you enter the SEO world, and why ?

In 2001 I started a video game website and began hearing rumblings about SEO, and that by having an “SEO’d” website you would get more visitors. Back then it was before Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and good keyword tracking software, so doing good SEO was a bit of a mystery to me. I dabbled around based on what I read on forums, and did my own manual checks but that was about as far as it went. Getting good rankings was really just a fun experiment at the time.

By 2005 I started a placement year at a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson and that’s where I found WebTrends (a Google Analytics style tool), and suddenly everything became a lot clearer and data driven. It also helped that I had a small budget for tools and that there was a push internally to use SEO to get more people to our websites.

Once I realised you could actually track SEO it became even more of a challenge and I pursued that further on a personal site, and later at a creative agency. All of those elements cumulated nicely when I joined Koozai and found myself surrounded by lots of experienced SEO’s. This ability to constantly compare ideas and develop solutions keeps the desire to do SEO going for me.

A great tip about onpage optimization?

Wherever possible you should be wrapping Schema information around the key elements of your website. It helps the search engines classify your content and gives you nicer listings in the results pages. Plus who doesn’t love seeing their face in the search results?

The most stupid thing people believe about onpage optimization?

Review spam. Anything to do with writing fake reviews about your product (or a competitors) or putting up fake Schema information (e.g. saying you have 101, 5 star reviews when you have none) just feels like a really scummy practice to me. Lies and deceit are not a long term SEO strategy.

A great tip on how you build links?

Fighting the good fight. The biggest gap in content right now is people standing up against issues they dislike. If you hate something that is happening in your industry then you should be prepared to write about it and discuss the issue.

The web needs more rational debates on issues that affect perfectly good industries. Like how everyone can together to fight SOPA. The pioneers who first wrote about the issue got a lot of links and coverage (and respect!). So look at your own industry, identify the bad guys and key issues and fight to make your marketplace better.

The most stupid thing you heard about linkbuilding?

That you can automate it. Or the assumption that people are so desperate for links that they’ll publish any old thing. Good directories have had to tighten up on what they accept, comment spam only fools the smallest blogs and “spun” content is less effective than ever.

In addition several sites that engaged in these practices in the past are now having to get those links removed as the automated process meant they had little control on where links got submitted too. This led to links in bad neighbourhoods and now they are being penalised.

If you have to explain what you do at a 10 year-old kid , what are you gonna say?

I wrote a blog post a few years ago on “How to explain SEO to a child” (which you can find at Here’s a quick extract of how Chris the organic Carrot wanted to be found;

“Before Chris could be found he knew he would have to make himself as appealing as possible to the rabbits. This involved optimising himself in the best ways he could. He used fertilizer to make himself grow big. He started wearing a t-shirt with the words ‘juicy carrot’ so it would be clear what he offered above and beyond the other carrots. He even wrote an article about himself and put it in a letter.

Once Chris was optimised he wanted to ensure the rabbits would know who he was. So he took his letter and started distributing copies around the other carrots in the field. Soon word spread that Chris was a desirable ‘juicy carrot’ and the other carrots carried on spreading this social word of mouth long after the letters had been read. Chris hoped this news would eventually reach the ears of the rabbits.”

What do you drink when seoing?

Lots of tea, or if in need of a boost then Irn-Bru is the best soft drink of all time.

What do you think about SEO community?

I doubt there is an industry which is as supportive and helpful as the SEO industry. Without the many amazing blogs or help from colleagues and friends I never would have been given the tools or solutions that helped me to get to where I am now in my career. Even really well known SEO’s have given me the time of day when I was a complete novice. Every conference I go to is a chance to finally meet people who have helped me on Twitter and I have never been disappointed. They are just as nice in real life.

When I recently asked the SEO community to help me promote my book, the response was overwhelming ( As I write this over 50 SEO’s have said they will help spread the word. Our goal is to reach the top 100 books on the Kindle store on 27th July and anyone can help. Without such an amazing community this type of collaboration would not be possible.

Make yourself a question and give an answer: What is your biggest goal in the next year?

I’d love to speak at more SEO conferences and am hoping to build up my conference speaking from the back of Thinkvis, OMN London and Distilled meet-up talks earlier this year. In the meantime Koozai TV ( is a great way for me to practice and share quick marketing tips, and I’m building Slideshare decks for fun in the to improve the design of my slides. I’m always looking out for new speaking opportunities so if you have one then get it touch (@Koozai_mike).

Who is your biggest SEO influence?

It’s hard to pin it down to one person as when I first started in SEO it was such a frantic rush of trying to read and test everything. I made an infographic which is essentially a love letter to the SEO’s whose blog post have always inspired me at so that’s a good summary.

The key people I do have to thank are Irina Osovskaya, David Stiles, Matt Curbishley and Ben Norman. These are the bosses I’ve had during my last three roles, and at Koozai, all of whom supported me in learning SEO and allowed me to develop that desire in to a career. For that reason they are by far the most influential figures for me.

If you weren’t an SEO, what would you like to do?

I’ve always enjoyed writing so I’d probably be a journalist or an author. Or a birdplane (