SEO Horror Stories - Halloween Spooktacular 2022 with Myriam Jessier & Stéphanie Walter

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Show notes

Welcome dear listeners to this big bumper episode of Search With Candour, our Halloween Spooktacular 2022!

Joining your (g)host Jack Chambers-Ward this week are the devliss duo of Scream Queens, the mortifying Myriam Jessier and shocking Stéphanie Walter.



In the first half of the episode, our horrible hosts play you some of the scariest SEO stories from BrightonSEO's best and brightest speakers & attendees, including:

In the second half, Jack & Myriam learn all about Stéphanie's horror stories from people trying to build links from her blog.



Jack: Podcasts fall across the net, Recording hour is close, and yet, Googlebot crawls in search of links, The crawl budget strains and starts to shrink, And no new content will be found, So your traffic starts going down. Well turn to us, worship at our altar, As tonight I'm joined by Stéphanie Walter. But not just two of us, I hear you say, We're also joined by Myriam Jessier. So, settle in, fearful listener, as this terrific trio shall frighten, With help from special guests recorded in Brighton. This the special episode of Search With Candour, the 2022 HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR!

Jack: Welcome to the show, everybody. That was the spookiest intro I could come up with. It's a little tribute to Vincent Price and Thriller and all that kind of stuff. And I am your host as usual Jack Chambers-Ward. As I mentioned in the little spooky intro there I am joined by the one and only Myriam Jessier. How are you, Myriam?

Myriam: Bonsoir, Jack.

Jack: I'm worried. I'm the only non-French speaker here, so I'm worried there's going to be some conversations I don't understand on this episode. I haven't studied French in about 15 ... no, 17 years? Something like that. So, rusty as hell.

Myriam: You need to be terrified, then.

Jack: I am appropriately terrified. And joining Myriam and I, as I said at the top of the show, Stéphanie Walter. How are you? Welcome to the show.

Stéphanie: Hey, fine. I get the spookiest voice, I'm so sorry!

Jack: We've got spooky voices. You've got an appropriately spooky microphone and you're looking appropriately spooky. I appreciate the effort.

Stéphanie: It has eyes.

Jack: It's got eyes and bats. Myriam, you're a kitsune. You're in your full onesie.

Stéphanie: Oh, Tiger.

Myriam: I'm always dressed like it's Halloween. I decided to take a break and go in a very kawaii direction.

Jack: Nice, nice.

Well, folks, as I said, this is our Halloween spooktacular, and as I said, we'll be joined by some people from Brighton because Myriam and I, when we were in BrightonSEO earlier on this month, we were running around with hot pink microphones, recording things and getting people's SEO horror stories.

So essentially this is going to work in two parts. We're going to start off with a lot of kind of recaps and little bit of intros and stuff like that for these recordings. It's a whole host of guests. There's like 15, 16, 17 different people across the entire SEO industry, PPC industry, and digital marketing in general. Plenty of people you've heard of, some of them you haven't who deserve more exposure. So there you go. It's going to be a cavalcade of guests.

And then we will also dive into some link building horror stories as well, because oh boy, there's a lot of them around and Stéphanie, I think you have experienced a fair few of them yourself very directly. So we will be diving into those in a bumper super episode of Halloween Spooktacular, hopefully the first annual, maybe we do this again next year, right? That's the plan. We'll reconvene every year.

Myriam: We'd love to be your scream queens.

Jack: You are officially the Search With Candour scream queens.

Stéphanie: Like in covens. Every year in the dark, in the night.

BrightonSEO Horror Stories:

Jack: Introducing some of the BrightonSEO recordings. And like I said, we've got a whole host of different people, and I will start off with the man who sponsors this podcast no less, Steve Paine from SISTRIX, talking about an intricate web of internal links lies keep haunting poor Steve Paine. Hello, Steve. How are you? Steve Payne: I'm fine. Take you just getting my 10th cup of tea of the day.

Jack: Nice, off to a good start. Do you have any SEO horror stories you would like to share with the Search With Candour listeners? Steve Payne: Well, I don't do SEO, I measure SEO, I do SEO data. I've seen a lot of horror stories.

Jack: There you go.

Steve Paine: Zara Home. Who, every season when the new home stuff, homeware stuff comes in, they change all their internal linking to promote the new stuff, all the old stu- So you've got this sort of Zig Zag effect, every six months. I first looked at the graphs, what the hell? It was seasonal stuff they're just promoting, so that's my horror story. Spooky.

Jack: Don't fully restructure your website every season, basically.

Myriam: So you would call that a haunting, right? It is recurring.

Jack: Oh!

Steve Paine: Ooh!

Myriam: Oh, categorizing the horror story.

Jack: I appreciate being on theme there, Myriam. Yeah. Nice, nice, nice.

Myriam: Well, thank you very much.

Steve Paine: Yes-

Myriam: I would love to say that Steve Paine has the perfect last name to open his ball.

Jack: Paine by name and pain by nature.

Stéphanie: True, true

Jack: Well, thank you, Steve, for allowing us to regale your seasonal, again, seasonal appropriate with Halloween there as well. Talking about seasonal linking and things like that. Keeping us on theme. Stéphanie, I'll hand over to you for the next one.

Stéphanie: Yay. So next one is Lidia Infante from Sanity, and she's talking about job schema curse. One million clicks murdered. So it's a murder story.

Myriam: There's an e, it's not 1 million. It's actually 14 million something.

Stéphanie: Ah no, 14 million. Sorry. I...

Jack: Even more.

Stéphanie: ... need my glasses. 10 million murder more.

Myriam: Yay. We love your energy. Keep up that enthusiasm. And if you want to know more about...

Stéphanie: I'm all for murdering clicks.

Myriam: Pro click murder, I see, I see. Lidia actually does have a very, very big horror story for you, and I think you will love hearing about it because it's not happening to you.

Jack: Hello, Lidia Infante. How are you?

Lidia Infante: Hello, Jack. I'm all right. I'm in Brighton.

Jack: Congratulations on the recent wedding.

Lidia Infante: Thank you. I believe I deserve congratulations for not being hungover today.

Jack: Yes, yeah, well done.

Lidia Infante: That is an accomplishment.

Jack: You were sat next to me last night. We were drinking a fair amount.

Lidia Infante: Yes.

Jack: Thanks to the lovely people at Wix. We're in the Wix booth right now.

Lidia Infante: Yay, Wix. We love Wix.

Jack: We love Wix.

Lidia Infante: Yes.

Jack: So I'm here to ask, do you have any SEO horror stories you would like to share with our listeners?

Lidia Infante: I do. A while back, I was working for a household name of American career website and they had all of their job post things on their root domain with all the job schema for Google, etc etcetera. I warn them that that was a high risk because any penalty on their job section was going to affect the entire domain. We worked through some ideas on data validation, they had some spammy job postings that were paid and for different business reasons they wouldn't remove them, so we included some validation ideas. Finally, their engineering team decided to postpone that. This was June 2021 when Google decided that a penalty to your job sections, to one of the job's schema, was applied to the entire thing and their website dropped. They lost about 14 million clicks.

Jack: 14 million? Jesus Christ.

Lidia Infante: Yes.

Jack: Wow.

Lidia Infante: That is my horror story.

Jack: That sounds pretty horrifying to me.

Lidia Infante: It is. And I had the most gorgeous, beautiful content strategy for them just ready to go. And they complained that it didn't rank and I'm like...

Jack: Oh, what a coincidence.

Lidia Infante: Yes, I can think of why! But I did love working with them. I did not appreciate being thrown under the bus after that happened.

Jack: She did actually text me afterwards saying, "Oh my God, I have so many horror stories to share with you." So I feel like we may even have to get Lidia as a fourth witch in this coven to join us and maybe next year, regale us with other horror stories.

Myriam: Initiation. Fantastic.

Jack: We will grow the coven. Next up, we have a classic back in the dot-com era from the one and only Mr. Dixon Jones from Majestic. It is the ancient curse of The lovechild of the internet gets noindexed.

Myriam: Just so you know. I think is just like Mr. Steve Paine. Such an appropriate topic tonight.

Jack: Perfect domain, right? The spookiest of domains.

Myriam: Absolutely.

Jack: Hello, Dixon Jones from Majestic. How are you?

Dixon Jones: Hi, Jack. How are you? I'm very well, thank you very much.

Jack: Nice to finally meet you, been using Majestic for basically my entire SEO career, so that's exciting.

Dixon Jones: Good man. We've always loved you for that.

Jack: So I'm here to ask, do you have any SEO horror stories you would like to share with the world?

Dixon Jones: I do, I do. This one goes back about 20 years.

Jack: Oh, okay. Old school.

Dixon Jones: It was in the first, old school.

Jack: OG SEO horror story.

Dixon Jones: It was the first dot-com boom and I just started up a agency at the time, which is still going today. I'm not part of it anymore, but apparently 17 people of Receptional, they're here somewhere I've yet to spot them. The first dot-com boom was just about to go bust and there was literally They were the love child of the internet, frankly. They had all the money, they held this amazing website that was actually working with moving pictures and everything.

But unfortunately, everyone had still a very slow internet at the time, was paying by the minute. They were the first ones to really crash and they hit the headlines and went down with a big bang. Oh, really with the start of the dot-com crash.

So the day that they went down, I had a look at the source code on their website, and the day that they went down the meta index said, "noindex, nofollow" on the whole thing. So that was my horror story. never, never allowed the search engines to look at their content.

Jack: Interesting. Do you know why, any ideas? Someone hit the wrong box?

Dixon Jones: Well, I think right back then, there's either one of two reasons. One is no one ever turned it off. "Oh, we better keep it off until we think the site's right." And the site was never right until the day they went bankrupt.

But I suspect more likely it was early days and they hadn't understood the power of a search engine. And they said, we don't want to give our content to a third party, it's our content. We want people to come to our website to see it. They ain't understood really that you've got to have it indexed enough before you to search engine. So I don't know the underlying reason and there was no one left at the company to find out.

Jack: Fair enough. Awesome. Well, thank you very much.

Myriam: And coming up next we have Arnoud Hellmans with Invasion of the Mutant Parameters. Find out what happens. Will they take over the internet?

Jack: Hello? Arnout Hellemans, how are you?

Arnout Hellemans: Oh, well thank you Jack.

Jack: We've talked about you on the show before. I know we spelled your name wrong in the transcript because...

Arnout Hellemans: I know, I know I reached out.

Jack: I had to go and correct it.

Arnout Hellemans: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jack: That was an auto transcript. I didn't write that for the record, but I did correct it. And now I will always remember your name.

Arnout Hellemans: Which is a good thing, right? So you always need to...

Jack: Exactly. Made a name for yourself.

Arnout Hellemans: Yeah, exactly. Well...

Jack: So I'm here to talk about SEO horror stories. You started talking about migrations very briefly there. Something we've talked about quite a lot on the show before, and I think it's quite a common place for horror stories, right?

Arnout Hellemans: It is, it is. And we've all seen them, right? Not having 301 redirects or leaving the noindex on the robot.txt, all of those. But I actually want to talk about something, which is an SEO horror story, but in a different way. So I got in at a big, big company. Can't name names, but...

Jack: We don't have to name names. It's fine, it's fine.

Arnout Hellemans: And basically it was a 850 page website, right? Guess how many page were in the index?

Jack: Less than a hundred.

Arnout Hellemans: Way higher.

Jack: Oh wow. Okay.

Arnout Hellemans: How many?

Jack: Ten thousand, a hundred thousand.

Arnout Hellemans: Almost a million.

Jack: Wow. Okay.

Arnout Hellemans: So imagine having a website with eight, nine hundred pages having 975,000 index pages in the search engine. What happened was, they started using parameters, they were using Adobe link attribution, which essentially means that every link on the website gets attributed to something in a parameter. They just didn't put canonicals in. So what did the SEO agency do? What you do to stop this from growing? You put a rule in the robot.txt and then you put the canonical in, and then what you should do is remove the rule from the robot.txt. They didn't do that.

Jack: They just left it there. Okay.

Arnout Hellemans: So what happened was the main navigation was internally linking, but all the in context links were, they had a tracking parameter, and as such, it broke the internal linking structure.

Jack: Excellent.

Arnout Hellemans: So I removed that rule, or I got a developer to remove it. So the SEO agency calls me and said, "You should not touch that." And I said, "Well, I just did." A week later, we had an increase of 12% in organic trust.

Jack: Wow. In a week.

Arnout Hellemans: Just basically by getting Google to re-crawl all those internal links and the pages in the index, it shrunk all the way down to a few thousand, which was fine, but imagine my surprise when you do a crawl looking at 900 pages and then,

Jack: 900,000

Arnout Hellemans: Going site semicolon brand name and go, "Fuck me. That's almost a million pages in the index." I don't know if it's a horror story, but I think there is a moral to the story and that is that a robot's txt, you need to understand what it does and you also need to understand that if you prevent Google from re-crawling those URLs, they will stay in there forever. And you're basically internally competing with yourself because every page is in there tons of times. This only happens with massive websites, right? Because you need a lot of authority to be able to get this. But I think that was an interesting horror story and a quick fix.

Jack: Yeah like you said a week later... Nice.

Arnout Hellemans: So that was it.

Jack: Thank you very much.

By reproducing in the millions, in the hundreds of thousands!

Stéphanie: Oh, then we have to kill them. Yay.

Jack: Exactly.

Myriam: You are very pro murder tonight.

Stéphanie: It's Halloween. We can resurrect them tomorrow, it's fine.

Myriam: It's true, we do have that option. But I want to move on to another element that is, to me at least Halloween all year round. And it has been so for quite a few decades. What am I talking about? Well, Florida man. So our very own Florida man, Kyle Place from Wix has his headline. Yes, it was bound to happen. Florida man finds porn online by "accident". We're going to use air quotes here. Oh, don't specify where you put the air quotes. Let everyone have fun with that one.

Jack: Hello, Kyle Place from Wix How are you?

Kyle Place: I'm doing great. How are you?

Jack: All right, thanks. How's BrightonSEO been for you so far?

Kyle Place: I'm loving every second of it.

Jack: You enjoyed the party last night?

Kyle Place: Yeah, pre-conference, during the conference, during the party. It was too much fun.

Jack: Nice, nice. Well, I'm here to talk about SEO horror stories. You titillated me with a potential horror story just now.

Kyle Place: I think it might work. I think it might work.

Jack: Maybe not safe for work, but it might work.

Kyle Place: Yeah, content warning. Must be over 18. Okay. So I used to work before Wix, where I currently work, I worked for an agency. The work week ends on Thursday in Israel.

Jack: Oh, interesting.

Kyle Place: It's Sunday through Thursday. So it was Thursday at 5:00 PM. I should have been getting offline and I was doing a site search, trying to find a, I don't know, related blog for internal link or something like this. And when I did the site search and their, and then I put the keyword and I misspelled it and I misspelled it into something that was not safe for work, 18+. And I accidentally stumbled across hundreds of pages of vulnerability and downloaded a script and they had a porn hack and just pages after pages after pages. No one was answering on the Slack with this client except for the CEO. So I had to go directly to the CEO. He had a pull in developer and we spent the next couple hours fixing it, manually removing all of them, trying to figure out what caused it. And needless to say, I didn't end work at five o'clock like I wanted to that day. So it went on for hours and hours since the night but in the end we got it. They were thankful, I was thankful. It was an embarrassing story of how I found it, but it worked out in the end.

Jack: Did you find what the fix was? Did you manage to work?

Kyle Place: Yeah, the structure of the site wasn't set up as securely as it should have been. So it wasn't an SEO thing, but we found it and they were extremely grateful because their developers should have found this. So it looked good on us and it made us closer. So in the end we won.

Jack: Nice. Nice. Awesome. Well thank you man. Next up, we have the one only Billie Geena Hyde from SALT, talking about all categories get massacred by JavaScript. 3000 products falling out of the index. Hey Billy Geena, how are you?

Billie Geena Hyde: Hey Jack. I'm good, how are you?

Jack: All right, thanks. Yeah, it's been a busy day at BrightonSEO. You've done a talk today. How did that go?

Billie Geena Hyde: It went really well. Thank you very much.

Jack: And you had some issues with slideshow templates though, right?

Billie Geena Hyde: Yes. So I got my slides design from somewhere online and decided to revert back to that template just for some of the headings.

Jack: Some layers coming back from the past to haunt you almost. Well, let's talk about haunting. Let's talk about template horror, in fact, there's a little segue for the podcast. Do you have an SEO horror story for us?

Billie Geena Hyde: Absolutely, I do. It's very, very scary. So I used to work with a client who was undergoing a big template migration. They were doing up their categories, their product pages, everything was changing very slightly and on all of their category pages, they decided to dynamically pull through the products through JavaScript and managed to do all of their links without using a tags. So a good 300,000 products, fell out of the index.

Jack: Excellent, lovely. How did you fix that, were you the one to find it? Was there a process of reviewing it with the client and the developers and being like, "Uh oh"?

Billie Geena Hyde: Yes. So originally I found it because I was doing a Sitebulb crawl and I was like, "Why did we not find any products?" And then I did a quick site command search. It was like, "well, this is significantly less." Found the issue, took it to the developer and it took us about five months to get it fixed.

Jack: Five months, Jesus. Well, that is a horror story and a half. Thank you very much. No problem.

Myriam: That's painful. Can you hear the sound the loss of revenue is making? Yes, you can feel it. Usually the way the sounds is ahhh and it goes crescendo up until you reach 3000 decibels.

Stéphanie: Kind of banshee, like ahhh.

Myriam: Yes, absolutely.

Jack: Perfect.

Myriam: And Jack, you and I have to talk about a Gent of Search.

Jack: We certainly do, and this is kind of our origin story. This is how you and I met for the first time, Myriam.

Myriam: Yes. So this is not a story I'm necessarily comfortable telling, but it's the perfect night and it's the perfect guest. Stéphanie, I know that we have been attending conferences together, but you have never seen that side of me. When I attended my first ever SEO conference, they went on a mission to find a bald white man in tech and to make things.

Stéphanie: It took you five minutes?

Myriam: Well, yes, actually it took me five seconds to find one, but it may not have been necessarily the right one.

Stéphanie: Yeah, it's tech.

Myriam: It's like finding you a needle in a haystack. And the person I was seeking turned out to be Jack's boss. That's how we met.

Stéphanie: Ooh.

Myriam: The problem is Adam Gent, so our Gent of Search, was a witness to my one and only failure. I will let Jack take over slightly and tell his version of the story.

Jack: So I'm sat there, I think playing Street Fighter while they have the little retro gaming corner at BrightonSEO. And at the time, unknown woman to me runs up, shoves a phone in my boss's face and says, "Is this you?" With the picture of his Twitter profile picture. And we both look and we go, "Yeah, I think so." "Wow. I've been searching for you." And I was like, "There's a lot of bald white guys around here."

Myriam: And indeed, indeed, as soon as I stepped out to start this mission, I ended up on a bald white guy. So I go up to him rather confidently, but I know it's not Mark, I can tell. However, he is indeed very white and very bald. I do not want to miss my shot. So I walk up to him and all that I can come up with is, "You're not Mark, are you?" to which he replies, "No, I am not." I'm like, Oh. And then I move on and I'm thinking to myself, it doesn't matter. Nobody knows who I am. Nobody will remember.

Adam was there before you, Jack, and Adam had been telling everyone who would listen this story of this woman walking up to a bald man going, "You're not Mark, are you?" And walking off. So imagine it's my time to leave the conference. I'm confident nobody remembers this. I sit down next to a friend of mine, Jimmy, who attended the conference, and Jamie Indigo starts telling me the story about a woman looking for Mark, a bald man. And I look at her, "Do I have Alzheimer's? Did I tell you this story because I don't think I would tell you." And she goes, "Oh, that's you. No, Adam Gent told me."

So I went, "Who is Adam Gent and can he please forget everything about this?" Turns out I come back to Brighton, I'm invited for the keynote and Jack is interviewing people and I see Adam Gent before me and I go, "Oh, oh Adam, I know who you are." He's like, "I know who you are too, Myriam.", "Oh, oh no, you remember. Okay, then we shall face this."

Jack: And now it's told on a podcast and will be immortalised forever on the internet so everyone knows now, Myriam.

Myriam: I need people to know this though. I am able to have a 50% success rate out of a sample of two bald white men at a conference, a tech conference, I think...

Jack: Out of hundreds of bald white men at that conference as well, probably.

Myriam: Yes. I think that,

Stéphanie: No, that's not bad.

Myriam: No, I think I am basically-

Myriam: Yes. I think I am, basically, giving a run for Google Lenses' money. Like, yeah. Human versus machine.

Jack: Exactly. Exactly. Well, when you did come over, and say hello in Brighton, I was actually interviewing Adam for this very story where Adam tells about a cursed code base that was sent by post.

Stéphanie: This one is amazing.

Jack: Hello, Adam, gent, how are you?

Adam: Hello, Jack. Great.

Jack: You're just saying you've had a nice dinner.

Adam: Yeah.

Jack: You're going back early.

Adam: Digital Marketing Union, who I highly recommend. Dan White who runs it is brilliant.

Jack: Shout to Dan White.

Adam: Shout out to Dan White.

Jack: Yeah.

Adam: Had a lovely meal last night with a few people.

Jack: Yeah.

Adam: And it's been a really good experience.

Jack: Nice.

Adam: So far.

Jack: Nice. Well, should we get into some horror stories? This is for the Halloween episode-

Adam: Yes.

Jack: ...After all. And you said, "Oh, I've got a good one", as soon as I asked.

Adam: I do. I've mentioned this on Twitter a little bit maybe, but maybe people haven't seen it. So, I worked at Solda Agency back a few years ago in the north, and we are very technical focused, and the brand we were working with was working with a particular development agency who I won't name, but they weren't very good, basically.

Jack: And a common theme, I won't name the development agency.

Adam: I won't name the people. Basically, we gained access to certain backend systems, and they basically told us that the client...I noticed that they were parting ways. That was it. Because we, basically, got a new development agency sorted anyway.

Jack: Right.

Adam: But we had to get access to the code base for the new development agency to make changes, and do the things.

Jack: Yeah.

Adam: They sent it to us via USB stick.

Jack: Excellent.

Adam: Via second class post.

Jack: Not recorded, not transit.

Adam: To us, not the client.

Jack: Brilliant.

Adam: And basically, yeah, for several days nobody could get access.

Jack: Wow.

Adam: I think the horror story is, is just be careful who you give access to, or who has control over your website, because they might send it by a second class post in a USB stick.

By the way, this wasn't a long time ago, this was four or five years ago when you could still make changes without sending stuff by hardware. Anyway. Yeah, that's my horror story. Just be careful. The technical guys were worried, they were super confused why they were sending it via second class post.

Jack: Yeah.

Adam: I've never seen that. But maybe that is an efficient way. Maybe I do not know anything about code bases or how they work. I don't think that you send code bases through second class post. Maybe I'm wrong.

Jack: That's the best practice, and was in the wrong this whole time.

Adam: Maybe I've learned the horror is, I don't know that. The horror is the lessons we learned along the way.

Jack: Yep, exactly.

Adam: Yes. That's that's my story.

Jack: Awesome. Thank you Adam.

Adam: No worries.

Myriam: It's worse. It's worse than you think because the timeline is very recent. It's not an ancient story. It's very recent.

Stéphanie: Oh, don't worry. It happened to me. It's like I worked in a company where you had the network disc, they were called, and he sees letters, and then they're like, "Oh, we have to put the call of tender. Can you put it on CD?" CD like CD Home? I'm like, I can't find the network that says CD. And my boss comes like, "No. CD. Actual CD". I was like, "What? We're going to send them a CD?" Not even a USB stick. A CD. Who can even read those?

Myriam: So.

Stéphanie: So, no. And yeah, we send them mail, like the postmaster. Was three years ago or something. So, now I'm not surprised at all. I say.

Myriam: See, I confidently tell people, "Yes, I will". And I will fax it to you. Find me a fax first.

Stéphanie: So, next one is Sean Fleming, from Modern Milkman. And I'll have to Google that because I love the name and the title is-

Myriam: I have questions.

Stéphanie: The title is Attack of the Evil Doppelganger: An eCommerce Horror Story.

Myriam: Where's the milkman?

Jack: Hi, Sean Fleming. How are you?

Sean Fleming: I'm very well. How are you doing?

Jack: All right, thanks. Yeah.

Sean Fleming: That's good.

Jack: We're in the middle of Brighton SEO. We're in a quiet corner, but one thing I'd like to learn from you, Sean, is an SEO horror story.

Sean Fleming: I mean, we're to start.

Jack: Yeah, that's okay. That's my point.

Sean Fleming: This one is migration led with a subpar development partner developing that new website. And essentially the way they structured the URLs was that for every product page, and for every path, it duplicated that product page across all the different various site categories, which they didn't tell us about post launch. This wasn't in the pre-production environment, this was just in live. And they couldn't explain why. And it was just like, at what point do you go, "Okay, well I've done my due diligence". How do I tell the client, they just spent tens of hundreds of thousands of pounds on a website, that we're going to roll back about three years worth of progress?

Jack: Oh God.

Sean Fleming: Luckily, we had good standing with them, and they tore this agency apart. But at this point, there's too much momentum now. They can't roll it back because the key stakeholders are very happy with this website because they don't know shit. They're very happy. So, it's easy. We had to identify every single instance where there was a new site category because it just generated loads of random color filters, faster navigation on steroids, like create actual page paths, products that sit within them.

Jack: Yeah.

Sean Fleming: And then that product, because it was a telecoms client.

Jack: Oh, okay.

Sean Fleming: So, the handset pages were incredibly important for visibility. Most of the traffic come in through the iPhones, the product level stuff. So, unpicking that...I actually left the agency, not because of that.

Jack: Needed a project?

Sean Fleming: But after the project, it was just like, okay, three years was enough for me, and then they'll lump with that. I didn't have to do anything to solve that problem. I still feel bad that I left that point, but it is what it is. So, yeah, I'm not going to name names, but I think anyone who's worked with me, recognises my name, will know exactly who I'm talking about.

Jack: There you go.

Sean Fleming: And my feelings, on said subjects. So yeah, I think that was the big one. The big one. First migration I was ever really properly involved with as well. So yeah, a doozy.

Myriam: So shall we talk about one unexpected poor story? This one is from our very own John. Oh wait, how do you pronounce that? Is that Milu? Is that Mooller? Is that Mueller? So...

Stéphanie: I would say Mueller. Mueller.

Myriam: Ah.

Stéphanie: That's German.

Myriam: We had-

Stéphanie: Mueller.

Myriam: We had a Twitter call, and it turns out that people just refuse Mueller at all costs, but are sponsoring, Milleau. Let's see, high rules. Oh yes, you look shocked, Stephanie. So-

Stéphanie: In French?

Myriam: I had Americans tell me that French word. So, I don't think they sound it out the way we would. So, John said that Google has horror stories too, and the best horror stories are like vampires. You can't see the reflection. So, Google may be owning up to a few horror stories here. I highly recommend you listen to that one.

John Mueller: I mean, Google has a share of SEO mistakes too.

Myriam: What is the most hilarious mistake?

John Mueller: The most hilarious mistake? I think the hilarious mistakes are the ones that people don't notice, that don't end up on podcasts or on blogs.

Myriam: What I'm hearing is you're giving us an exclusive?

John Mueller: No, no, no, no. I mean, we've had the same issues that all of the SEOs have, like random no index on homepages, missing canonicals. Things like URL parameters accidentally being indexed. And then you search for some random keyword, and you kind of click on the link, and it's like, oh, your site is not verified because some site was attached to the URL. It's like all of the usual SEO things. There's no, I don't know, secret thing on Google's site. That's like all of Google's content will always be ranking perfectly because it's normal webpages, and it ranks the same way as every other webpage.

Myriam: So, there's no secret list?

John Mueller: There's no secret list.

Myriam: So, I can't make it on the list?

John Mueller: No, no.

Jack: If anyone will make it on the list, it'll be you, Myriam, of course.

Myriam: Thank you. Thank you. Well, thank you very much.

Jack: John kept it very close to his chest, but he almost admitted Google mistakes...almost.

Myriam: No, he did admit Google makes mistakes. He just refuses to tell you which ones.

Jack: Yes. Yeah.

Myriam: I mean technically...

Stéphanie: Yeah. That's a start, though.

Myriam: Technically, isn't that what we all do in SEO?

Jack: We refuse to admit mistakes.

Myriam: No, because you have a great relationship with that client. So, let's frame it a different way, of course.

Stéphanie: Okay, next one is brought by Andy Jarvis, and we called it Pardon My French, But It's Good Hygiene.

Myriam: We're not telling you more.

Jack: Andy was the only person who actually spoke to you in French, right, Myriam?

Stéphanie: Yes. So, I walked up to Andy, and I was like, "Bonjour". And he was like, "Bonjour". Then he proceeded to tell me a horror story that genuinely made me cringe. And I'm not going to tell you more. You have to listen to that one.

Myriam: Bonjour.

Andi Jarvis: Bonjour, ca va?

Myriam: Oui. You need to tell us your SEO horror story.

Andi Jarvis: My SEO horror story? Oh, Right. Okay. My number one SEO horror story was...

Myriam: You have such a far away look.

Andi Jarvis: I'm just trying to think of something. I once described SEO to a client, because he came in here, and he said, "We don't need SEO doing because our web development agency's done it". And you're like, "Okay, that's all right, but what do you mean they've done it?" And then he explained that they'd have done something, I don't know what. Maybe installed Yoast or whatever.

Myriam: Yes.

Andi Jarvis: So, I was like scratching around trying to find a way to describe SEO with him that would help him understand that your SEO isn't done. The best I could come up with was like, SEO's like the washing up. You might have done it now, but later in the day you've got more dishes to do, and then you have to wash them up again. And then the next day you have more dishes to do. So, you might think you've done them, but you've still got more to do. And he just looked at me sagely, and went quiet for a minute, and went, "Thanks then.", and walks out the room. And that was it. Never saw the man again. So, yeah.

Myriam: I did not foresee that one.

Andi Jarvis: No, me either. But hey, look. So, don't ever, ever consider describing SEO as "like the washing up" because it's a really shit description.

Myriam: Thank you. I have nothing to add. I could not say this one. There's nothing. There's no coming back from this.

Andi Jarvis: Happy to be of service.

Myriam: Thank you.

Jack: I think I've ever seen you lost for words, Myriam. You're usually very talkative, and able to just kind of bounce off people, and stuff. But you literally say, "I have no words. I don't know how to react".

Myriam: I still don't.

Jack: Next up we have the wonderful Crystal Carter from Wix, and this is A Rich Snippets Apocalypse. Roll it back now!

Myriam: And if you don't know what this reference is, I highly recommend you consult the Arcane movies made by the wonderful Arnold Schwarzenegger. And if you want to know what this has to do with the lovely Crystal, you need to listen in, you will find out.

Crystal Carter:: I'm Crystal Carter. I am the head of SEO Communications, at Wix. Okay. So, I had one where the client, where I was just going about my business and I was on the school run. And I had an app that was an app that would tell you if you had errors on your site. And the app sent me a notification saying that there were 500 errors on the website. And I was like, "Hey there devs. Hey". Like I'm literally on the school run. I was like, "I'm getting a lot of 500 errors, over a hundred, all for the blog pages". And they were like, "No, no, it's fine". I was like, "I just checked it, and it's not". They were like, "No, it's fine". And they were like, "Oh, we made an update that you asked for". I was like, "I didn't ask for this. Roll it back". And they were like, "What?" And I was like, "Roll it back now". And basically, it took us a couple of days to actually get it fixed. But basically, it was a couple of days where all the blogs were just off because they had done it wrong. And I just watched all my featured snippets just go. And I'd worked so hard for all these featured snippets, and I watched them all just disappear because Google couldn't call. And then Google's like, "So this page is not a thing". I was like, "Oh my God".

So, that was exhausting, and that was a horror story. No, this was not Wix. This is not Wix. This was a different one. This is when I was client side. I should say that. Oh my gosh. Thank you for clarifying. So, this was not Wix, this is a client side, but yeah.

Myriam: So, Wix is bad at SEO.

Crystal Carter:: No, Wix is fantastic at SEO! Wix is fantastic at SEO! Take it all back, delete it. I'm dead. No, turn it off.

Myriam: I can take over, and talk to you about Malcolm Slade from CreativeRace. This is the thing, we have two alternate titles for this one because I grew up in the US, and I have a very American reference for this. Should We TP The Index? The Answer Is Yes. If you don't know what TP means, please go on YouTube. Don't Google it. You will see, and find out. My brother, upon moving, oh, he loved that tradition. He really went all out with the toilet paper on the house.

And Malcolm had a bit of an issue like this, but he suffered the consequences. And if we're going international, let's keep it seasonal to go with your pumpkin spice latte, Stéphanie. Pumpkin guts spewing thousands of rubbish URLs on a Friday.

Jack: Well, it's Friday morning. How are you feeling, Malcolm Slade?

Malcolm Slade: I'm quite tired, to be honest.

Jack: Yeah.

Malcolm Slade: I'm on the backend of Covid two weeks ago.

Jack: Oh. Nice, nice.

Malcolm Slade: I'm still in that exhausted phase.

Jack: Lovely.

Malcolm Slade: But yeah, so quite tired. But it's great to be here in Brighton, and being relaxed. It's a nice reaction-

Jack: Yeah. Yeah. You've been pretty relaxed?

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. Yeah. It's good.

Jack: You're looking snazzy by the way. Appreciate the waistcoat, looking good.

Malcolm Slade: I like to put a bit of effort in.

Jack: So, I'm here to ask you about an SEO horror story for our Halloween episode. You did tweet at us saying-

Malcolm Slade: I did. Yeah.

Jack: ..."I've got a good horror story". So, I'm intrigued straight away.

Malcolm Slade: So, picture, if you will, a Saturday morning. I've got a young family, they're still in bed. I'm downstairs on my own. That nice peaceful place.

Jack: That sweet moment of peace before it all kicks off.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. You don't often get it as a parent. My phone's on the couch, and I just happen to glance at it. And I'm not a big advocate of constantly checking your work emails, and stuff. But there was an email waiting for me so I'm like, "Oh, okay", I just happened to look at it. And it's a message from Google.

Jack: Nice.

Malcolm Slade: Saying, "I think you work with this client. Are you aware they've just no-indexed their whole website?"

Jack: Oh nice.

Malcolm Slade: And this is literally-

Jack: That's very nice of Google to let you know.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah, yeah. This is nine o'clock on Saturday morning. Right? Big, big OTA. Big. I won't say names.

Jack: Wait. I've heard some horror stories of a lot of banking companies, and stuff like that.

Malcolm Slade: Right. Yeah, yeah.

Jack: Yeah. Big, big websites.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. This is big. Lots of money going through, constant traffic.

Jack: Nice. Nice.

Malcolm Slade: So, I'm like, "Oh crap, what's happened?" And I traced it. So, what had happened was, I've done a session with them, and explained to them about how they were surfacing many millions of URLs to Google that were rubbish, absolute garbage. Standards, kind of like search parameters, etc., etc.

So, I built a whole system for them, and did all the pseudo for it. Talked to the developers. I'm technical SEO at heart. So, I did all the due diligence to build this system that would allow them to control what they were surfacing to Google. We implemented it, we tested it to the high heaven on a staging environment. Everything, perfect.

Jack: Okay. So far, so good.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. Sod's Law, they made the decision to roll it out on a Friday.

Jack: Of course.

Malcolm Slade: And which you should never do.

Jack: All out at 4:00 PM on Friday. Yeah.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. Top tip, just don't do it. You're going to ruin someone's weekend. And what happened was they built this thing in staging as almost a new thing. So, when they moved the changes over to live, they had a binary field that said, should these things be indexed or no-index?

Jack: Right.

Malcolm Slade: Simple, simple thing. If it's a positive, add the no-index tag, or sorry, don't add the no-index tag, it's indexable. If it's negative, don't. So, when they moved it across, you end up in a situation where there were records that they'd added this field to that didn't have a value. So, what is in effect, NAN? So, Not A Number.

Jack: Right, right, right.

Malcolm Slade: So, in a database, not positive or negative. So, the system took that as negative by default.

Jack: Right.

Malcolm Slade: Which was don't index.

Jack: Noindex. Right.

Malcolm Slade: So, when they rolled it out, and didn't take into account how it would react with the homepage, category pages, and all that kind of stuff, because we'd only really tested it within the thingy. They applied the no-index tag to every page of the website. Now-

Jack: That's what you want. Default, no index. That's just what you need.

Malcolm Slade: But it was nice because Google had...I get the feeling that Google must monitor a certain level of website.

Jack: Big, big, wide variety. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. Because these are big websites that are surfaced a lot on Google. So, it was nice to get that email, but it also meant that I had to literally spend the whole weekend phoning people-

Jack: Oh, god.

Malcolm Slade: ...Trying to get it resolved. And even though I've identified the problem, built a solution, it still took another week for them to eventually resolve it.

Jack: Oh, my God.

Malcolm Slade: And by then their visibility tanked.

Jack: Wow.

Malcolm Slade: And I had to go through the whole process of resubmitting pages-

Jack: Wow.

Malcolm Slade: And you know, you could only do 10 a day.

Jack: The whole recovery process.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah. And it was absolutely horrible. And something that could've easily been avoided-

Jack: Yeah.

Malcolm Slade: ...By just thinking about it a bit broader. But that was like, yeah, that genuinely ruined my weekend, and I wish no one came through that...

Jack: Yeah. Ruining your weekend I think is a good SEO horror story.

Malcolm Slade: Yeah, very much so.

Jack: Awesome. Well, thank you very much.

Malcolm Slade: You're very welcome.

Stéphanie: The scary part is not even a pumpkin guts, it's the Friday.

Myriam: Yes.

Stéphanie: Cause you know you'll have to work all the weekend long. Like, No.

Myriam: I'm a consultant. I'm a consultant.

Stéphanie: As a consultant?

Myriam: Yes. This means that Fridays I'm off. I'm preemptively blocking any emails saying, I don't respond to emails until Monday.

Jack: Lucky you.

Myriam: It's not luck. It's guts.

Jack: Pumpkin guts.

Stéphanie: So, next one is Andrew Optimisey. Internet Explorer Zombies. Girls, rest in peace. Internet Explorer.

Jack: Good morning, Optimisey. How are you?

Andrew Optimisey: Hello, Jack. I'm very well, thanks.

Jack: It's been a BrightonSEO, so far. How's it been for you?

Andrew Optimisey: It's been a time. I was moderating yesterday, so I have the day off today. So-

Jack: Oh, nice.

Andrew Optimisey: I'm just enjoying the conference.

Jack: Congratulations. I saw some good reviews of your moderating on Twitter.

Andrew Optimisey: Yeah, my mum was very, very supportive.

Jack: Well, you said you had quite a few SEO horror stories. Can you narrow it down to one for us, on the podcast?

Andrew Optimisey: I'm still scarred by many of them. Probably some I can repeat. We were just talking about one where my old boss, the boss's boss's boss, the person who had the corner office, very important person, would often come to me, and complain as the digital person that things didn't work, and it was too big, too small, the wrong color didn't fit the screen. She couldn't work out how anything works.

Jack: The flash isn't working.

Andrew Optimisey: We were looking at it for ages, and rebuilding things, and going through the code piece by bit. Couldn't work out why it was still a problem. I had to then go into her corner office. This was many years. I was very intimidated. Knocking on the door, very politely shuffling in. I'm very sorry. Could I have a look at your screen to see what you're seeing? She was viewing the whole site in IE7.

Jack: Nice.

Andrew Optimisey: Which, as most people know, IE7 is a piece of shit. The browsers awful. Nothing works. So, unsurprisingly all our websites looked awful in them, but she was of a different generation. So, she had just got her laptop out of the box, and used the stuff that came by default. But yeah. So, I then had to explain to her that it was fine, that she was in the less than 1% of our audience, and that it was okay.

Jack: Nice. Well, did she choose Firefox or Chrome or?

Andrew Optimisey: I downloaded Firefox for her at the time. Yeah, Chrome is still in its infancy. It was painful. The day's wasted, trying to chase IE7 issues.

Jack: How long did you redesign, and tweak, and all that kind of stuff?

Andrew Optimisey: Literally three, me and two colleagues, spent a day trying-

Jack: Wow.

Andrew Optimisey: ...To work out why this is a problem.

Jack: Just go, and look at the screen.

Andrew Optimisey: We had gotten on to the idea that, "Oh, okay. The problem is you."

Jack: Nice. User experience, User problem, human error. Yeah. Nice. Awesome. Well, thank you very much.

Andrew Optimisey: Thank you.

Myriam: I'm thinking that it wasn't necessarily Internet Explorer that was quite undead. There's someone else trying to resurrect it. That may have been the zombie all along.

Jack: His boss was some kind of like necromancer trying to resurrect Internet Explorer.

Myriam: Yes.

Stéphanie: He lit the black candle. You shouldn't have done that.

Myriam: Oh. There's a Hocus Pocus 2 reference here.

Jack: Ah.

Stéphanie: Yay. First one, too, also. I think it's the same person. The second is a black candle. I

Myriam: I think that you can't go wrong with a black candle.

Jack: Just in general. In life.

Myriam: In life, but...

Stéphanie: If you need to resurrect someone, I think.

Myriam: Yes, we need an emergency black candle, Jack. So, maybe we need to find a way to expense it?

Jack: I will ask Mark very nicely. We can buy some black candles for next year.

Myriam: You'll not give him any context.

Jack: Next up we have the wonderful Sarah McDowell from Captivate. And Sarah tells a story of the dead, buried and bandaged up. A Mummified Episode Of Podcast Outreach.

Hello, Sarah McDowell, AKA McDuck, AKA McDallas. How are you?

Sarah McDowell: Yes, I have many names, don't I?

Jack: A woman of many names. So, we're here at BrightonSEO SEO. We're talking about SEO horror stories. But you're a podcaster as well as an SEO.

Sarah McDowell: I am.

Jack: So, we've been talking a little about link building horror stories, when you get that kind of blind outreach rubbish that-

Sarah McDowell: Yes.

Jack: They just don't know what they're talking about.

Sarah McDowell: Yes.

Jack: Sounds like you have a similar kind of podcast story, right?

Sarah McDowell: Yeah. So, when you have a podcast or a platform, people are eager to get on, right? They're like, "Oh yes", got a platform to talk. And it's great, right? But I'm a bit of a podcast addict, so the SEO mindset is my fourth one.

Jack: I know the feeling, mate. I think we bonded over that very much.

Sarah McDowell: Yes. Yeah. And it blows my mind that I get pitched for SEO SAS, and I know full well that they're not listening then. They have no idea what my podcast or what podcast is about. Not had a listen at all. Because SEO SAS ended two years ago, and they're pitching for something like, "Oh, you're doing really great stuff with the podcast". Loved this, loved that. I'm like, "Well, if you loved it so much, you would've known that SEO SAS-

Jack: You would've paid attention.

Sarah McDowell: Amazing show. Big shout out to Hannah Bryce. He was my co-host. That came to a natural end, and the SEO mindset. But I get pitched, and it's just getting pitches from, it's always from, it's not from the guest either.

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah McDowell: It comes from their, what would you call it? Like a talent manager or-

Jack: Oh, sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sarah McDowell: Someone doing it for them.

Jack: Like a rep kind of thing. Yeah.

Sarah McDowell: And they also-

Jack: Agents, maybe.

Sarah McDowell: An agent. And they always go on about how great this person is. And I get it like, oh, all for-

Jack: We get these for Search With Candour as well. Yeah.

Sarah McDowell: And it's just like, I just want a person.

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah McDowell: Because my podcast is similar to yours. It's casual, chatty-

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah McDowell: Laid back. I want someone for an interaction where we can be open, and honest, and stuff.

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah McDowell: So, does that class as a...?

Jack: Yeah, that cold manufactured stuff. I think it's really similar. We've heard stories about, like I said, that cold outreach-

Sarah McDowell: Yeah.

Jack: ...Link building rubbish. That doesn't actually mean like, "Hello news team, please share my story", or whatever. It's like, oh god.

Sarah McDowell: And, I think, also with the SEO SAS, someone got me wrong, and mistook me for Hannah.

Jack: Oh, nice.

Sarah McDowell: So, yeah, it's all fun and games. All fun and games.

Jack: Awesome.

Sarah McDowell: Yeah.

Jack: Well, thank you, Sarah.

I think this one is probably the most similar to some of the stories we'll be talking about in the second half where people don't know what the hell they're asking you to link to.

Myriam: But they want the links. And this is a great way for us to also talk about why we're here. Stephanie, what do you do for a living?

Stéphanie: Oh, I'm a designer. I'm not even an SEO person, but I have a blog, which means I have people trying to sneak their stuff in, which becomes spooky and creepy.

Myriam: Quite. And we decided to basically write the link building the Citizens Field Guide on Smashing, because we wanted to people to understand why they are getting so many nonsensical requests in the wrong language. Copy, pasted, confused. There's a reason. There's lots of reasons. There's a whole parallel universe of links.

Jack: I will put a link to that article in the show notes by the way, listeners, if you don't want to read that full before we get to all of Stephanie's horror stories in the second half. Next up we have the one, the only Martin Splitt from Google. He ended up turning to script to get rid of a haunted crawl. Hey, Martin Split. How are you?

Martin Splitt: Pretty good. How are you doing?

Jack: All right, thanks. Yeah, it's been a bit crazy. I think you're number 36 of my interviews-

Martin Splitt: 36?!

Jack: ... over the last two days.

Martin Splitt: Oh my God, okay.

Jack: It's mad.

Martin Splitt: You're a machine.

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Martin Splitt: Holy moly.

Jack: It's been crazy.

Martin Splitt: Machine! Okay, all right.

Jack: Well we're here to talk about SEO horror stories and you hyped up to me earlier. I've got one, so I'm intrigued already.

Martin Splitt: Yes, so it's about a haunted website that had a noindex without having a noindex on it.

Jack: A ghost of a noindex. Martin Splitt:

Exactly, exactly. That was an interesting one. So someone reached out to me publicly on Twitter that they are seeing a website not being indexed and that our testing tools would say it's because of a no index. And they have checked a bazillion times and they reassured me that I had really, really checked and there is no no index on the page. And I said, "Yeah, yeah, everyone keeps saying that. And then there is a no index on the page. Let's have a look." So I used the testing tools and using the testing tools, I saw no index, but the testing tool said the page, not the life test, but the actual normal test that they had on the screenshot from Google Search Console that said it's not being indexed because of a no index tag in the header of the page.

Jack: Right.

Martin Splitt: I did then go into the source code and into the rendered html in my browser to not see any sign of a no index, which is not necessarily something surprising because that might only be happening for Google infrastructure doing it. So I then used our internal debugging tools to render the page again. And there it was.

Jack: Interesting.

Martin Splitt: There was a noindex.

Jack: Interesting.

Martin Splitt: And I said, "Hahaha. So there is a noindex on this page, but why can't I see it in the testing tools?" And the public testing tools, I used mobile friendly test. So I ran the internal test again and it was gone. So what do you think happened there?

Jack: I have no idea.

Martin Splitt: Me neither. So I needed to dig a little deeper. And I was honestly thinking I'm seeing things and I believed at this- It was bizarre.

Jack: Were you just kind of screenshots, screenshots?

Martin Splitt: That's kind of what happened. And I believed- And the guy was like, "No, no, no, no, no. I really tested and there was nothing here." I'm like, "I know, I seen the screenshots. I could see that it's not there either myself with my own two eyes on my own machine. I've seen it too, but I'm not imagining things. There is a no index in this screenshot. Do you see it?" And he's like, "Yeah, of course. But I swear to God it wasn't there like five minutes ago." I'm like, "I know, and you know what? What's worse about this?" And he's like, "No, what could be worse than seeing a no index that I haven't seen before?" I'm like, "It's gone again." It's like, "No way." And I'm like, "Yes way."

Jack: Was it on a timer? Was it like every five minutes?

Martin Splitt: It was not. It was very, very random. So I basically wrote myself a script that used our crawling infrastructure every couple of minutes to actually make hundreds of crawls to that URL. And every now and then, I would see the no index. And interestingly enough, roughly not exactly, but roughly 10 times out of a hundred crawls. It's like eight times, nine times, 11 times, 12 times. But it was pretty much. And I was like, "Okay, I'll let that run for a day and see what happens." Statistically speaking, it was always around 10%. And I'm like that that is too specific to be random.

Jack: Yeah, that's got to be a pattern, right? Yeah, yeah.

Martin Splitt: It must be some sort of a pattern. So I looked at it again. I looked at the entire site and I literally went through it line by line through the HTML. I'm not kidding you. And then I see this optimized JS.

Jack: Interesting.

Martin Splitt: And I'm like, "Wait, isn't that AB testing?"

Jack: Wait, accidental AB testing.

Martin Splitt: Yeah, I asked the person, "So are you doing AB tests?" And he's like, "Well, every now and then, yes, but not at the time." I'm like, "You sure you disabled that?"

Jack: Have you just left this switched on?

Martin Splitt: "No, no, we removed. Or there's no running test." "But why is optimised still there?" "Well, we might run a test in the future." I'm like, "Out of curiosity, could you remove that?" So they did. And I ran my experiment again and look at that. The no index was gone.

Jack: Ah, there you go.

Martin Splitt: But this entire process made me question my own mental sanity, my mental health. And also made them question theirs multiple times. And this was a process of like two days basically. And I was convinced there was something in our infrastructure that was acting up, but it wasn't. So that was a bit of a horror story. Because it makes you very, very nervous because not just you don't know where it comes from, but you can also not explain it to the person asking you. And they get nervous and scared about it because they're like, "Oh my god, Martin is going to think I'm an idiot." No, I'm not because I've seen it, my own two eyes on my machine happening. So yeah, that was some-

Jack: Awesome.

Martin Splitt: ... mixture of optimised stress and the CDN, I think. But yeah.

Jack: Interesting. Now, like I said, a ghost of a no index.

Martin Splitt: Ghost of a noindex. It haunted us.

Jack: Amazing. Thank you so much, Martin.

Myriam: AB testing genuinely made him question his mental health. That's how bad the story was. We all heard it.

Jack: That was recorded with Martin seconds before he went on the main stage BrightonSEO as well. So he was like stressful. He was like, "I need to tell this story."

Myriam: And we all heard it and went, "This one is the winner. This one is the most intense horror story in SEO land."

Jack: It helps that Martin is such a fantastic storyteller as well. He's just got that away with words. Right.

Myriam: As a side note, Stéphanie and I have been hanging out with Martin for quite a few years, and if you ever meet Martin Splitt at a conference, do not hesitate to stop him and tell him that Miriam and Stephanie sent you to ask about the dying, dying, dying, dying cactus. It will make you lose your mind. He will start laughing uncontrollably and have to tell you the story.

Jack: Next time I see Martin, I'm definitely asking about the dying, dying, dying cactus.

Myriam: No, no there's a fourth dying.

Jack: Oh, sorry. Four. Dying.

Stéphanie: Dying, yeah. Really wanted to be dead. Dead cactus. Definitely. It wasn't meant-

Myriam: It wasn't meant for this world.

Stéphanie: ... for this world. No, no.

Jack: I almost enjoyed the story more without the context, you know, you two just saying that cactus was not meant for this world. I don't need to know anymore information.

Myriam: I wish-

Jack: It's perfect.

Myriam: I can tell you the context. We were all innocently trying to play multilingual Canadian Cards Against Humanity. That's already a feat in and of itself. And the cactus kept interrupting by committing suicide.

Stéphanie: I think I ever even think I have a video of Martin just laughing so loud.

Jack: Oh my God.

Next up we have a PPC horror story. That's right. We're not just SEO and Design here on this episode. We are diving into the world of PPC from the one and only, Azeem. Azeem tells a story of inflated clicks that were coming from inside the house.

Azeem, how are you sir?

Azeem: Hello. Very well, thank you. How are you?

Jack: Welcome to the show. I'm a big fan of you and your podcast and-

Azeem: Thank you very much.

Jack: ... various other things you've been up to in the digital marketing world.

Azeem: It's called the Azeem Digital Asks Podcast. Shameless plug.

Jack: Yeah, yeah. I saw your stickers on the hand dryers last time, you sneaky, sneaky marketer.

Azeem: I'll be honest. They're there now.

Jack: Do they get taken off and then put back on every six months?

Azeem: I've been here since Tuesday, and I thought, "Right. I will-"

Jack: Oh, you pre-loading men's toilets with stickers?

Azeem: Yeah, yeah.

Jack: Nice.

Azeem: That's not a euphemism, but no, I put it-

Jack: It's a bad reputation to have, mate.

Azeem: They're still there. And I thought, "Bloody hell, this is good. Good marketing." And then randomly, I'm waffling now in true podcaster style. Somebody, we were at dinner the other night and this guy said to me, "Oh, you've, you've got the purple background."

Jack: I saw your face in the men's toilets.

Azeem: No, he didn't say that. He's like, You're the purple background guy?" I was like, "What do you mean?" And he pulled out his phone, he showed me he was subscribed to the podcast and I was like, "Boom."

Jack: Purple background guy. Nice.

Azeem: I'll take it, I'll take it. But yeah, no, massively digress. Thank you very much for having me. I'm a big fan.

Jack: Absolute pleasure. But I was talking about SEO horror stories. We talked about link building horror stories. You've teased me with a PPC horror story. So intrigue by, we don't often get PPC stuff, but I'm not a PPC person myself, so I'm always intrigued to kind of dip my toe in that world and see what's going on. So hit me with your stories, sir.

Azeem: I'm happy to share this, but I'm going to give you a bit of context beforehand in saying I froze and couldn't think of an SEO horror story. And you said to me, "I've had a perfect career with no issues at all," which is absolutely not true. But the pressure of the bright lights got to me. So I'll give you a PPC one and I'll give it a further context by saying this particular horror story happened while I was very junior new to PPC. I didn't understand how it all worked. I had a client who sold products that you can wear on your head, which is all I'll say. Very easy.

Jack: Like head lamps for miners and stuff, right?

Azeem: Potentially.

Jack: Yeah, yeah, sure.

Azeem: And the market was very, very competitive, very seasonal, depending on the way the people would purchase these products. So whenever the weather was a certain way, PPC would go through the roof. Sometimes I couldn't respond quick enough as a human inputting things into PPC, like, oh, increase the bit, stay competitive, et cetera. Yeah. So I found a script basically, which it increased the maximum value. I was prepared to pay for a click by a pound every so often. And I was like, "Great, this will do the job. I won't have to do it again. It's very much a set and forget horror story." So I left it and I didn't check the small print of the script. I just thought-

Jack: Nice.

Azeem: ... "This will do the job for me. And this was gone on for a while, by the way. And I will say again, I was very junior in the industry. Every so often the client would say, "We've noticed that costs have gone up a bit, the market's getting more expensive." And me, I was like, "I'm not really sure why, but it's really competitive. Everyone's prices are going up." To save a very boring ending to story, the cause of everybody's price going up was me. I let that script run.

Jack: Nice.

Azeem: Continuously. I think at one point it was at maybe 65 or 66 pound, so more than what the actual product was worth.

Jack: Wow.

Azeem: But I also discovered in doing this, that one of our competitors had implemented the same script. So between us-

Jack: Had they nicked it from you?

Azeem: I don't know.

Jack: Oh, okay. Okay.

Azeem: But between us, we were responsible for massive click cost inflation in the market. And I'm a terrible, terrible person who is all the more richer, pun intended, for that experience.

Jack: Nice. You didn't have to put the competitor out of business or anything like that?

Azeem: No, no.

Jack: That's a shame.

Azeem: We had a very open line of communication and we discovered- Well, they knew they had a script in place, but they just thought the market in general was competitive. And I was like, "Well, hands up."

Jack: It's pretty competitive, but-

Azeem: I've kind of done a boo boo here.

Jack: Nice.

Azeem: Sorry.

Jack: Awesome. Well thank you, mate.

Azeem: Thank you very much.

Jack: Lovely to finally podcast with you.

Azeem: Yeah, man, thanks very much.

Jack: I love this story from Azeem that somehow built a loop between him and his competitor where they just ruined the entire industry basically.

Myriam: So last but not least, the talented Alizée Baudez and she is one of our compatriate, as we say, an international SEO that based in France and she has a white label ghost story. What happens when you are a consultant who's given all, and I mean all the Google Docs, Google Slides, pay slips, client data, it's all at your fingertips. Poor absolutely. No good reason.

Jack: Well, hello. Hello Alizée Baudez. How are you?

Alizée Baudez: I'm great, how are you?

Jack: All right, thanks. Yeah, well we're at the end of BrightonSEO.

Alizée Baudez: Yes.

Jack: And I've heard you have a horror story for a Halloween episode of the podcast.

Alizée Baudez: I have a bit of a horror story.

Jack: Okay, I'm ready.

Alizée Baudez: This might be common practice for some people so I hope this will change some-

Jack: I hope it is.

Alizée Baudez: ... processes, internal processes.

Jack: Fingers crossed.

Alizée Baudez: So I worked with a client once who is an agency. So I was subcontracting for an agency and they didn't want their client to know I was working with them. So I needed access to Google Analytics, Google search, consult to do the audit and everything. And what they did is that they gave me their agency email address, Gmail address.

Jack: Right.

Alizée Baudez: They sent me the password in clear by mail.

Jack: Nice.

Alizée Baudez: I got everything. I got easy to connect. And then I got access to the entirety of their clients' data for the past 10 years. Not just the clients who-

Jack: So they gave you full admin access to everything.

Alizée Baudez: Everything.

Jack: Amazing.

Alizée Baudez: All the Google Drive, all the Google Docs, all the strategies, all the spreadsheets.

Jack: There's folders full of pay slips and stuff.

Alizée Baudez: Everything.

Jack: Nice, nice.

Alizée Baudez: And then I worked again with them. So I told them it was a bit weird, but I went with it because we needed to get the audit done.

Jack: Sure, sure.

Alizée Baudez: And I worked with them again a year later or something. I did a work, like a job with them and they were like, "Yeah, we don't see the same data as you do." But I don't have access to search console so I did it what I could with what I had. "Yeah, you do have access." "You have the Gmail account." "No, I deleted it two months after our collaboration as per anybody should do in that case-

Jack: Yeah, normal data protection.

Alizée Baudez: ... so I don't leak all the data of all your clients for the past 10 years if ever my PC gets hacked or if ever anyone gets access to it, my email. Because the email password wasn't clear in the email."

Jack: Oh God.

Alizée Baudez: Yeah, please if you do this, stop. Stop.

Jack: So yeah, I think you're right. That has happened more than people would like to admit.

Alizée Baudez: Yes. Please stop.

Jack: Please stop giving people access to absolutely everything.

Alizée Baudez: For the past 10 years. And what I was saying too is that they also have several clients in the same niche.

Jack: Oh, interesting.

Alizée Baudez: Because they're specialized in a niche, right? Yeah. So if that data got leaked, it could actually ruin several companies in the same niche.

Jack: Oh my god.

Alizée Baudez: Imagine the mess.

Jack: So an entire industry comes crashing down.

Alizée Baudez: Absolutely. I mean too much power and too much responsibility for one email with a clear password. It is definitely.

Jack: Amazing. Thank you so much.

Alizée Baudez: You're welcome. Thanks.

Jack: So those were some highlights from BrightonSEO from various people Miriam and I threw mics at essentially , just thrust our bright pink microphones in their faces and they were happy to share stories with us.

Myriam: There are two things in this world that give me the confidence of a mediocre white man in tech and that is a clipboard and a hot pink microphone. Clipboards are very hard to find nowadays. And Lisa from the Google team looked everywhere for them. And we have our very own clipboards. Mine is a Google approved clipboard and now I have unlimited resources in terms of confidence. You can give me a restaurant takeout menu and I will put it on the clipboard and walk through an SEO conference like I belong. This is fine. I'm no longer anxious.

Jack: That's all you need.

Myriam: Yes.

Jack: Awesome. Well, I hope you enjoyed, listeners, those a cavalcade of wonderful and weird SEO horror stories from a variety of special guests. And should we start talking about some link building horror stories? Why we have you here, Stephanie, since you are full of the horror stories.

Stéphanie: To tell you the level, no, the fruit of my websites. What does it say? So it says also note that I do not accept guest blogs on artificial link building. Don't expect answers for those. And since no one reads this, if you still sell me your request for that, you legally owe me a sushi. I don't make the rules. So that's at the bottom about a guy stole it and changed sushi to burgers. I'm like, "Okay, I guess it's fine if he stole it." But yeah. Anyway, I think I sent my paper link for three or four times already for sushi. I'm still waiting for the sushi money.

Jack: One day, one day.

Myriam: This story was told-

Stéphanie: Again, I can hope.

Myriam: This story was told on Twitter and John was like, "But we have crypto for this. You could indeed get paid in sushi."

Stéphanie: It took me a while to understand that it is sushi was the name of the crypto. I'm like, "No, I want actually sushi, roe, fish."

Myriam: More value.

Stéphanie: So no, I send, yeah, exactly. I send the PayPal link to be the screenshot of my photo to do those people who still try like, "Oh nice, send me sushi. Thank you." Maybe someone will at some point.

Myriam: So without further ado, I have to ask you about the real, yeah, the real estate Stephanie Walter story, that real estate woman does exist. She is a doppelganger and she has wrecked havoc on your life.

Stéphanie: So I think I ended up, you know, one of those marketing lists. So they have an old email account I don't use anymore. They found my company email some of those edits from my email at my client. So I got some demands for link building even on my client's email list. I'm like, "What the fuck? No one has this email outside of internal people." So I don't know how they did that, but yeah. Anyway. And so there's this Stephanie Walter and oh that's perfect for Halloween. I forgot. She's a real estate agent and she did a podcast on something called LifeBlood. I have no idea what the podcast is about. And I got these people from, can I say the name? Because they really suck? Pattis Communications, I don't know who they are. If you listen, I'm sorry, but I ask you to remove me four times. So at some point-

Myriam: Shots fired.

Jack: Yeah. Name and shame, Stephanie.

Myriam: We love this.

Stéphanie: I send them, I replied four times already, like, "Remove me from your email stuff. You just keep sending me the same message." So they send me a message to say, "Oh, we really like your podcast, blah, blah, blah. We want to help you go global and help you with your media coverage. We don't invoice stuff like that. Please contact us." And so the first time I'm like, What the hell is LifeBlood podcast? Maybe I did a podcast and it changed name and all of that." So I checked and no, they wanted to reach out Stephanie Walter. So they're like, "Okay, I have this tool I bought. Some emails, I was like, "Let's input Stephanie Walter in the tool. Oh, I found one, let's send her the stuff." And I replied. The first time I had this, I like, "Oh, I think you're looking for this person, the really estate agent. That's not me. Please remove my email from the list." Second time I went like, "Come on, I've already asked you." And then they emailed me like two more times for, no, they haven't emailed me anymore, but I think they will be back in two or three months or something.

Myriam: I think they ran out of LifeBlood.

Stéphanie: I don't know. It's the same email and all of that. So I wonder if this lady gets messages from people who want to do UX work and she's like, "Who the hell is that bitch? What's even UX? What do you want with me? I'm a real estate agent." So yeah, having a doppelganger. Maybe she hates me because everyone- Then it may be complicated for us if you try to run, if have someone that has a good website and stuff. But yeah.

Myriam: You want to hear a story about auto correct in real life? I used to work for a company called Tink and we were right next to Tank and we always had candidates for traditional print marketing walking through our doors going, "We are ready to make posters for you." And we were like, "We are a development center. We are confused." And after a little while we understood, we looked at them and we went Tank. Tank. And they're like, "What do you mean?" We're like, "No, we don't want you to tank the interview. We want you to go to Tank. We are Tink. You need to go to Tank." So obviously this led to Tink Tank jokes and that did not help. Did either company move 10 years later? The problem is still happening. They are renting the offices but they are hanging on, waiting for the other one to leave.

Stéphanie: We had that. I was working for Alzac Show in France and you have pastry brand, Alsa. It's basically cooking stuff like baking powder, stuff like that. And there was like one guy. It's a web agency website, so kind of how can you get confused? It's nothing about pastry on this website. Anyway, he found through our website and he sent a very angry email demanding why we removed. I don't remember which type of custard for his small, in a small shop somewhere in the middle of Britain or somewhere. And we were like, "What? Come on."

Myriam: But that-

Stéphanie: What do you want to reply to that?

Myriam: And this happens so often that we ended up with a topic, well, a real horror story. Yeah, so we found a dead link and we'd like to replace it for you. We can swap out a dead body online. Let us do it. Care to tell us more.

Stéphanie: I don't know who taught people that, but they're basically- I admit that I don't check the dead links on my website every few months or something like that. I have a call and I usually remove them sometimes when I kind of remember to do that. But then there's like people who say, "Oh, this link or often links to a competitor or something." And then they come to me, they say, "Oh, this is that. But since I told you it was that maybe you could replace it with the link to my own content." I was like, so usually I just don't reply, remove the dead link and see bye because-

Myriam: You're nice. When people do this to me, I go on-

Myriam: You're nice. When people do this to me, I go on Twitter and I'm like, "Some waffle tried this technique with me, and I'm an SEO, so here is my dead link. Do any of my followers have a replacement link to recommend?" And usually that's the link I update it with. And then I send an email saying, "Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention. It has been replaced."

Stéphanie: No, yeah, I kind of understand the opportunity, but it's really annoying. It's super generic stuff. And then when you look at the content, it's very, it's basically soup. It doesn't bring any value or something like that. But I get that more and more. So I don't know if it's design school who tell the student, "Oh, you should guest blog on other people's blog and then to make your name of yourself," or something like that. But the thing is, my website is literally my name. It has my face on it. That's high level egotistic. It's my personal website. It would be super weird to have a guest blog post from someone and also the people that come to read my content in a sense of my advice and stuff like that. So I would understand if you have an open publication... We published on Smashing Magazine, for instance. So yeah, of course it's a publication, multiple authors, they will accept guest blog posts. But why would you go and bother someone who has literally, their website is their name, is their brand. It's like, I don't even know if someone who has their own website will accept guest blog posts or something like that.

Myriam: No, no.

Stéphanie: For me it's really weird.

Myriam: Wait, the best ones are for the French portions of our personal website. We love it, Stephanie and I, when people send us emails going, "Hello, lovely to meet you. This link would be perfect in your article." And you're like, "Hello, my article is in French, your link is in English, Portuguese, Spanish. We are confused."

Stéphanie: Yeah. That was in Spanish. And then I have the guy who insists. One guy really wanted to fit some back links here somewhere and it was a work blog. And it was aura Optim monster. So it was clearly not at all my theme or anything. So I just sent him the email from, I have a default template where I explain, "Okay, Myriam and I, we wrote this article on Smashing. I don't do artificial link building and guest blog posts." And then I, "Have a good day." And the guy just went stalk me on social media and send an email where it was clearly referencing stuff I said in the last two weeks on my Twitter profile.

Jack: Oh, that's weird.

Myriam: No, no, that's the, I won't take no for an answer person.

Stéphanie: Yeah. But yeah, it was about the link building and we're like, I was like, "No, that's super creepy. Please don't do that ever again to anyone on the internet."

Myriam: We try to avoid bots and copy paste, but this type of tailored harassment is not something we want from a human either. So please refrain from that.

Stéphanie: Also it would not convince me to add your shitty link to my website. So why would you do that, again?

Myriam: Once again, it's the Desperate Housewives, I mean, sorry, desperate SEOs that will try to sneak in some links no matter what happens. And sometimes they try to entice you with a return link to nowhere. Take it away Stephanie, because you've had a lot of those. Well they're like, "Oh, we will share your content with our non-existent audience in the wrong language and the wrong industry."

Stéphanie: So that's the carrot technique. We would love to put a link to, if you could put a link to this content that's totally not related to your content and in exchange we will share your content with our followers or we will put you on our blog. I'm like, "Well again, I don't do artificial link building and I certainly don't want to have poor quality links coming towards my website." It's like a big no-no. So always, nope.

Myriam: And there's also Creepy Chris, we need to talk about.

Jack: Oh this is might be my favorite. I'm not going to lie. Creepy Chris is my favorite.

Stéphanie: Yeah, I think Creepy Chris was this stalker who was like, "Oh, I hope your conference goes well in two days," and to still try to convince me to put his shitty links.

Myriam: Yeah. And that answer was so creepy.

Jack: Yeah, it's just an instant red flag. And to sneak a little bit behind the scenes here and read a little bit of this email, "My name is Christopher, or Chris if you prefer." Instant red flag, instant creep flag, makes my skin crawl. Like, well... Weird, creepy. Straightaway.

Myriam: And what I love is that his creativity has been ignited by Stephanie. He is going all out for this and he's proposing email marketing techniques or viral marketing techniques. And once again, Stephanie specialised in user experience and that's nothing to do with marketing without a budget. Jack: I love his little... Stéphanie: Sort of always the fun ones. Jack: Yeah, I love his little moment of like, "Yeah, I'd love to get in contact with the team." And your reply is, "The team is my brain. I am the team." Stéphanie: I do this.... Myriam: And... Stéphanie: Me, my plans. Myriam: What I loved is even if my whole team is basically composed of a cat, a girl blowing soap bubbles, and a man who feeds the cat, all of those people are in my brain, but it's a complex one-woman operation with a lot of side effects. Stéphanie: Yeah. Sometimes I just have fun answering, but often they just vanish. So maybe that's my problem. I think Chris took it as a, "Oh, she's a fun lady. I can keep the conversation flowing by showing her I stalked her Twitter account." Myriam: Yes. So this was a challenge accepted. The answer was, "It's so nice to know that you have a diverse team and that you have found your Michelle Visage to your RuPaul." "Are you getting ready for your mobile UX design workshop on the 6th of March? Will it be available online? PS: nice article at Smashing Magazine. As you audit, is very important to ensure that everything is under control." Yes. So that article wasn't Stephanie, it was me, but thank you Chris. Stéphanie: So now you got me and Myriam confused. Jack: It even includes a little picture of his face at the end of his email. Always a good sign. Myriam: At least it's a podcast. We are not screen casting his face to the entire internet. Jack: That is a link I will not include in the show notes, listeners. Sorry. Stéphanie: Ah, that's a thing. I have Dropbox full of strange things people... Jack: I love that you just have them all saved in a Dropbox ready to go. You were built for this podcast. Ready to go. Stéphanie: Receipts always. Myriam: We have screenshots of all of this and there is one I want to talk about. It still is rent free in our heads. Stephanie, do you remember the wooden sausages?

Stéphanie: And that's a cry for help. So at some point, I don't know if it was spam, I have no idea. I got random emails with free words completely randomly chosen and the whole content of the email was just, "Wooden cotton sausage." That's it.

Jack: What? What a weird combination of syllables.

Stéphanie: That's the whole email.

Myriam: Yeah. That was the whole email?

Stéphanie: Yeah, the whole email. Maybe someone trying to contact us from the grave. I don't know. And I get a bunch of those and it just stopped so I don't know.

Jack: I'm googling wooden cotton sausages right now.

Myriam: No, don't. You are playing into their game.

Stéphanie: I didn't know. Yeah, I'm wondering actually if it's a strategy, they send you random stuff and sometimes on LinkedIn you get random people send you new links and maybe hoping you click or something. So I don't know, maybe it's a new SEO strategy which is sent to random keywords to people who are, hoping they Googled for it, or I don't know.

Jack: As far as I can tell, nothing's come up for wooden cotton sausages. So there's some Etsy pages of people selling wooden sausages for display purposes, but nothing... There's a place called Cotton Butchers that sells sausages apparently.

Myriam: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wooden sausages for display. Please, can you use that in context? Can you use that in a sentence?

Jack: We have quite a lot of historical things here in Norwich where you have a fake medieval setup thing and it's got all like, "Oh look, it's medieval food," but it's all plastic or whatever. They're fake sausages. And butchers have this as well. They hang fake sausages...

Myriam: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Jack: Outside the front of the shop.

Myriam: Wait, wait. You are talking to us about a fake medieval sausage, and that's traditional for you?

Jack: Traditional's a strong word, but sure.

Myriam: We are finally understanding a bit more about these wooden cotton sausages emails. This has been a mystery for years.

Jack: Could the cotton be, you sometimes get sausages in a little net, a little. Again, I'm a lifelong vegetarian. I'm a bad example talking about sausages, so I don't know much about sausages, but I'm trying to make sense of the phrase wooden cotton sausages in my brain.

Myriam: I could use it in a sentence that will creep all of us out. Is that your wooden cotton sausage or are you just happy to see us?

Jack: I thought we're trying to keep this safe for work.

Stéphanie: I found another one.

Myriam: It's safe, it's wooden cotton.

Stéphanie: This subject was "Chair" and then the message is "Incredible wooden sausages."

Jack: Incredible wooden sausages.

Stéphanie: That's it. Again, the only way... I don't know whether you answer that. "Yes, please."

Jack: Sounds good. Send me some please.

Myriam: What I love about this is that...

Stéphanie: I have a story about that.

Myriam: Every time I complain about link outreach, I have Marco on Twitter who's an amazing SEO, always cosplaying an outreach link builder going, "Dear sir or ma'am, amazing back links high quality for you today now." And it started such a thing that I now go on LinkedIn whenever I have to seriously add someone. And my message to them usually is, "Will you buy a kilo of my fresh organic back links from the backyard?" And then depending on the answer, I know if I have a friend or someone who is very confused about my personality and the SEO industry.

Jack: Well, I've just sent you a link in the chat that says, "It's 10 foot long and weighs three tons. A Welch butcher unveils Britain's biggest banger." It is in fact a giant incredible wooden sausage.

Myriam: Just for the record, the alt attribute of this image that I'm seeing in front of me is, "A smug white bald man in front of a 10 foot long sausage that is made out wood. And there is a happy young man holding a chainsaw aloft next to the sausage." This is bigger than I ever thought.

Jack: It's 10 foot long and weighs three tons. That is an incredible wooden sausage, rather. Maybe we finally found it. The mystery has been solved.

Stéphanie: The incredible wooden sausage.

Jack: Just took a crazy butcher in Wales to do it.

Myriam: I have to talk about a few link building conspiracy theories that I have. So one of them is that all the emails that I get are from maybe the same person with different aliases because it's just so generic. It can't be multiple people doing this. It has to be a one man band or a one human band. And it's very interesting to see. It's my second conspiracy theory. I don't think the link building folks on LinkedIn are the same as the ones that happen to end up in my inbox. I think they're a different breed, because what they will try to do on LinkedIn is have a similar school to yours or have something that is interesting, and they will go up to you and try to initiate human contact for about half second before going, "I also sell links." And it's like, "No, you only sell links."

Stéphanie: Hi, we breathe the same air and live on the same planet. Should we connect? Oh, by the way, I also sell link.

Myriam: Yes. And...

Stéphanie: Something like that.

Myriam: We have bets where I will go on Twitter and ask people, "Would you trust someone whose job title includes SEO but S is capital and then EO is not?" And people are like, "You have to be more accepting. I mean, not everyone speaks English." I'm like, "That's not the question. I'm telling you, this person going to try to sell me links." And then a few folks gave me hope in humanity. I said, "Yes, I accepted. He wanted to sell links right away."

Jack: Of course. Yeah. I'm with you, Myriam. Absolutely don't trust that lowercase EO type stuff.

Myriam: You can auto correct... If you can't beat your own auto correct for LinkedIn purposes, you're getting nowhere in terms of acronyms and nowhere in terms of my inbox. And I think this concludes our SEO link building horror stories for this year.

Jack: Absolutely. This was Halloween Spooktacular. Thank you Myriam, thank you Stephanie for joining me. It's been a pleasure. Where can people find you both across the internet? I'll start off with you, Myriam, where's the best place to find you? And don't worry, all the links for all this stuff of course will be in the show notes, listeners, before you even ask.

Myriam: I'm terrible at promoting myself. So if you want, you can take on my LinkedIn. So it's And if you don't know how to spell this, check the podcast notes. You can find me there in French, so may translate help you. And you will also find me snarging about the platform in English. But if you want to see my real personality outside of corporate SEO trainer, head on to Twitter where I literally shitpost and it's grandiose.

Jack: You're not wrong.

Myriam: One last thing, if you actually do need my help and want to invoke me, please ignore Twitter unless you have... Oh, I'm going to need a royal purple...

Jack: Circle.

Myriam: Yes. But you can also head on over to, so it's And you can send me an email from there saying, "Myriam, I have this slight issue, maybe you can point me in the right direction." So I will do that happily for free if it's easy for me. If you are asking me to train a team of 15 developers, I will do it gladly. But I do require income for that.

Jack: And if it's not enough incentive to go to your website, there are fantastic pictures of your dog on your website as well, so.

Myriam: I have a miniature wiener dog on there everywhere.

Jack: She is adorable. That is worth going to the website alone. No offense to the Pragm SEO skills and SEO training. Most importantly, dog photos. That's the key. Tiny sausage dog. That's the most important thing.

Myriam: And she does participate in my trainings. She does show up. She sits down next to me and will proceed to fart so horribly. It's a stench from hell. So I end up crying on screen with my students watching me and they're like, "Are you okay?" I'm like, "No I'm not. No I'm not." And they're like, "What happened? Are you in distress?" I'm like, "Yes I am. My dog forwarded on me and it's not possible for me to continue. Allow me to turn off the camera for a bit so I can wipe my eyes and move away from the stench."

Jack: Well, Steph, how about you? I tried to think of a segue and I was like, "No, I don't want to..."

Stéphanie: I can't top the dog. I don't have a dog. So yeah, Stephanie Walter Pro on LinkedIn because there's a lot of Stephanie Walters in the world.

Jack: As we've learned.

Stéphanie: Yeah, as we've learned. And I'm Walter Stephanie on Twitter because the other way around was already taken and I'm still pissed about that.

Jack: But was it taken by your evil real estate doppelganger?

Stéphanie: No, it was taken, it hasn't been used in 10 years or something like that.

Jack: Oh, no.

Stéphanie: I don't think you can ask to get it.

Myriam: See, you ran out of life blood. No more life blood.

Stéphanie: Yeah, that's the thing. And the website is I have a weekly newsletter, so I basically publish a lot on Twitter and LinkedIn about things I read I find interesting, tools, mostly design, front end, sometimes SEO and marketing, when I think I find some fun and interesting things. And then at the end of the week I gather all the link I posted during the weekend, put it on my blog so that in two or three months when I will be like, "Oh wait, what was that tool again?" I can just use my own search. So I think I'm the number one user of the search on my own website to find again links I posted before.

Jack: You've built your own index.

Myriam: I do have to say something. After this, I'm pretty sure quite a few people will use your search bar to look up wooden cotton sausage. So you may end up tracking this.

Jack: Keep an eye on your analytics, Steph, and see if wooden cotton sausage suddenly explodes.

Stéphanie: Is great. So yeah, the links are on the blog and then I have a newsletter where you should subscribe. I will send you a reminder like, "Hey, there's a new article and here's all your link for the week."

Jack: Fantastic. Perfect. Well thank you so much both for joining me. Thank you everyone for listening. Hopefully you're appropriately terrified this time of year since this episode does literally come out, it comes out in the morning so it's a little bit less spooky. Maybe save it until the evening and listen to it in the dark, light some candles, get the ambiance going.

Myriam: Oh, very nice attempt at French.

Jack: Yeah, I busted out some French for you both. You're welcome.

Myriam: We appreciate the ambiance.

Stéphanie: We need some candles. Next year, we need spooky SEO candles and send it to people to listen to podcast with.

Jack: I know a guy who makes candles. So we could do that. We could work on that.

Stéphanie: Nice.

Jack: Alex, if you're listening, we might want to do some spooky SEO candle next year.

Myriam: I like the, "Alex, if you're listening," like you have a Ouija board or something going on.

Jack: Yeah, just controlling the listeners now with the Ouija board. Well, thank you everybody for listening. I'll be back next week with a considerably less spooky episode, unfortunately, as it's November and it's far less scary. But thank you for listening and see you next week.