What Kind of SEO Are YOU?

by on June 6, 2011

What Kind of SEO Are You?

If you’ve been in the SEO industry for more than a year and had the chance to talk to a few of your optimizing associates, you’ve probably begun to realize that you may not optimize the way another SEO does. At Level343 we are firmly convinced that there is more than one kind of optimizer.

Never mind philosophical questions like, “If an SEO optimizes a site and nobody pays him, is he still on SEO?” – And we’re not talking about the age-old argument about reading vs. doing. We’re talking about personality traits… some might call them personality issues, disorders, etc – that can be categorized into several sections.

Follow us, if you will, into the minds of our fellow optimizers, and learn about…

SEO Jumpers

SEO Jumpers

Also known as “fly by the seat of our pants” optimizers, these SEOs prefer to skip the testing and put things into action. They generally begin a sentence with, “I wonder what would happen if I…”

They’d rather leap at an idea or perceived opportunity and try it rather than talk about it. The Jumper philosophy is, “By the time I’m done testing, the algos will already have changed and I’ll lose the potential juice.” When something comes to mind, they simply say, “Let’s do it,” and jump in with both feet.

To other optimizers, these SEOs may seem half-hazard and a bit crazy. However, most Jumpers have a sound foundational knowledge of SE ranking tactics and base their actions on that prior knowledge. Amazingly, their feet-first leaps work more often than not.

SEO Geeks

SEO Geeks

Another name for “Geeks” would be “Generals”. At the forefront of SE change, these SEOs pass on gleaned information to those working in the trenches. Optimizers in the trenches are then expected to change their tactics to meet the upcoming SE changes.

Geeks are immediately recognizable by their reaction to the question, “So what do you think about XYZ tactic?” Another optimizer might start a conversation, exchange ideas and stories, or scoff and point out why the tactic they use is better.

A Geek, on the other hand, will gently smile and shake their head at the poor little dumb bunny. They are then likely to start a long-winded discourse about how XYZ tactic is past its prime because of SE patent #1023894, submitted by SE experts X and Y, which, when combined with SE patent #3569238, undeniably says the SEs are aiming toward algo changes that will, not only make XYZ tactic useless, but will also turn SEO on its head and make it beg for mercy (pheww).

Geeks may be long-winded and type in extremely long sentences, but other optimizers love them. They may occasionally deign to step away from patents long enough to do a little optimizing here and there, but, on the whole, would rather consult than do the actual optimization. Often, these SEOs will kindly write up condensed versions of the patents for reading by the masses, while passing any work they don’t want to do on to others.

Cautious SEOs 

Cautious Geek

Cautious optimizers will always test first. They’d rather know a tactic works before implementing it, and may miss potential opportunities because of this. Like the Jumper, they also start sentences with, “I wonder what would happen if I…” However, the Cautious SEO will look at the idea six ways to Sunday, check the data, test and track before implementing on a client site.

Now, some optimizers not in this category may laugh at their Cautious industry contacts, but others know better. These careful SEOs know the tactics they use backwards and forwards. If they say, “this tactic works,” or “this program is a good one to use,” you can be assured that it’s true. Every method, every tool and every SEO site in their inventory, whether “old school” or new, is capable of producing positive results out in the wild.

If you know a Cautious SEO, don’t let them out of your site. These optimizers are the ones to ask for product, method and site recommendations. When you ask, “What do you think about ABC tool,” they’ll tell you and, most likely, have a better one to pass your way.

SEO Data Dogs

SEO Data Dogs

Data Dogs, as the name implies, are constantly sniffing after the hard data. “What does the data say,” they might ask. You’ll often find Data Dogs pouring over analytic files, server logs, and measurement tools. Thriving on baseline metrics, numbers, charts and graphs, these optimizers are constantly looking for viable information sources.

Data Dogs are often OCD, and are therefore invaluable for implementing and tracking a campaign. Disgusted by the lack of micromanagement, these SEOs are more likely to put the campaign in motion themselves. After all, if nothing is set up right, the data coming back won’t be reliable.

From key terms to URLs, social bookmarks, titles, tags, anchor links and the sites they go on, Data Dogs will make sure each step is flawlessly implemented to report correct data. For those looking for a good measurement program, whether it’s for site analytics or social media measuring, these are the people to ask.

The Alcoholic SEO

(Added – Thanks to Justin Parks for the idea)
The Alcoholic SEO treats optimization like a binge drinker treats booze. Quick to complain about how SEO has ruined their life, they’re drawn back to their addiction, nevertheless. These optimizers often talk about packing their bags and moving to a new career, while feverishly typing notes in their high-tech notebook at the SMX conference.

The Alcoholic SEO wavers between being Cautionary and being a Jumper; they have a love-hate relationship with search. During the Cautionary, or sober, phase, they test everything and check to see if old tactics are still working. During the Jumper, or binge phase, their favorite saying is, “Hey ya’ll, *hiccup* watch this!” Depending on the phase, these optimizers can be found sighing over the good ole’ days of uncomplicated SERPs or gleefully stumbling after the next great idea.

Wildly unpredictable, they have an unusual knack for digging in gutters and coming out with gold. While others are trying to figure out how to use their newfound knowledge, the Alcoholic SEO is implementing with drunken giggles. As of this date, other optimizers are still struggling to create an SEO Anonymous group. Unfortunately, the Alcoholic SEO is too busy staring at data with morning-after eyes to join.


The above are just a few; of course, out of the many SEOs in the industry, we’re sure there are more categories.

Would you agree with these categorizations? Do you have any to add? Most importantly, what kind of SEO are YOU? Let’s make this fun, people – drop your ideas in the comments and see how many we can come up with!

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynnette Glover March 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm

When it comes to SEO, I’m pretty much “all-of-the-above” albeit, some more than others. Love it! All in all, very fun read. Damn, I’m obviously a jumper!


steve serps April 6, 2012 at 2:54 am

great post, sorry to say I think i’m a jumper!


Level343 Team April 12, 2012 at 9:01 am

Hey, Steve – Everybody has to be something lol. We need jumpers as much as we need any other kind of SEO in the industry!

Thanks for commenting!


Neil February 13, 2012 at 8:04 am

When it comes to SEO, I’m pretty much “all-of-the-above” albeit, some more than others. BTW< came across this post by way of Stumble. Added your Blog to my favorites. Strong work! Social SEO


Level343 February 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

LOL Hey Neil, thanks… we still get a kick out of that post! I’m sure we’ll add a few more as we meet them along the way ;)


Sean January 4, 2012 at 8:39 am

Unfortunately I am definitely an Alcoholic SEO, the love/hate divide is never far away :-(


Jeremy November 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

Great Article…and quite humorous.


Liz June 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Fun post and great analogies ;-)

I think I’ve been guilty of all of them at one time or another.

Today I think I fall more in the category of the ‘Cautious SEO’



Level343 June 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Welcome to the Article Archive, Liz – don’t believe I’ve seen you commenting before. :) I like how you phrased that last sentences, starting it out with “Today…” It implies that tomorrow may be different.. and let’s face it.. we all have at least a little bit of these “categories” within us. lol

So glad you enjoyed the post. Come back again!


Grumpy Old SEO June 7, 2011 at 9:19 am

Alcoholic SEO signing in, hic !

Great article, dude. Made me smile !


Level343 June 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

I have to be honest “Grumpy Old SEO” I’m not surprised ;-) (hic) that’s cute


Eren Mckay June 7, 2011 at 7:18 am

This post is kind of like the Myers-Briggs assessment for SEOs where even if an SEO sees himself in more than one type, deep down he/she knows that one of them is predominant in his/her personality.
Each type seems to be a perfect description of an SEO that I know. It would’ve been cool to put their pictures in each paragraph as real life examples, however it might have caused too much of a ruckus.. hee hee ;-) .


Level343 June 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

You know, Eren… we thought about that, but decided we’d be better off leaving the pictures out… for the same reason you mentioned… Besides, imagine if we dropped a specific person into a category they didn’t agree with? Can you imagine the nuclear fall out? lol yes, we took the safe way out


Reuben Yau June 7, 2011 at 5:56 am

Nice list. I think I’m a little of each, depending on the time of day, phase of the moon and what projects are looming.


Shankar June 7, 2011 at 3:18 am

Hi Gabriella

Its a wonderful post most of the SEO (who learn for a year) are Jumpers as they keep on jumping for money not for knowledge & they do learn less than others. ( I feel). Lets take a advanced SEO Techniques (Q& A) as poll & look at the result.

Then we can come to know thirst of SEO Knowledge not categories :)


Gabriella June 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

Seems to be a popular topic among the SEO geeks maybe we should dig a little deeper and take this further. Thanks for the inspiration, I’ll see what we can do!


Dean Cruddace June 7, 2011 at 3:16 am

I am definitely a “Jumping Data Dog”


auxeff June 7, 2011 at 2:19 am

A cautious SEO’s might be me. I think it’s better to check if the plan works before implementing such plans. I might not be a risk taker but i make sure that such plans really works.


Tad Chef June 7, 2011 at 12:17 am

Damn, I’m obviously a jumper! Stop outing SEOs!


Level343 June 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

lol It’s not outing if we don’t name names, Tad. I promise, nobody would have even suspected you were a Jumper if you hadn’t outed yoursef… no no, really. I mean, Smart Mob SEO isn’t Jumper mentality at ALL…


Sandy June 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I am a Cautious SEO, the reason why I am cautious is that the update we found in SEO everyday. SEO should not be typical, it’s not an unique process that is used for a long. Everyday, the technological update increase the opportunities for SEO or it may decrease sometimes.

Recently posted: E-commerce Application Development: A Review


jeypandian June 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I think I have a little bit of me in each definition. :-)


Level343 June 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Jey, bless you, & thanks for your transparency ;-)


Brian June 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I would say any good SEO Company probably has mix of all of 4 Categories. I believe it is good to have a diverse group working together to make the end user(Client) happy. We can all learn from each other. There are so many methods to optimize a site and love to get feedback from the different people.Thanks for the great post.


Michael June 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

I definitely have to agree with your comment stating “any good SEO Company probably has mix of all of 4 Categories.” We really can all learn from each other. I’m a ‘hybrid’ type of SEO. I am somewhat of a mix between Cautious, Geek and Data Dog. I kind of have to be as I am an in-house SEO currently. All in all, very fun read. Did make me laugh a few times. Glad I came across it from someones “tweet.”


Brian June 7, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Thanks for the great post. Nice to get away from the everyday BS and get a good laugh.Cheers.


Don Rhoades June 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

I split my personalities on this one Gabs. #1 (Jumper) for sure is the ‘Gonzo’ approach, and I’m all for that. But that is for my own projects. When it comes to clients, I am more likely to be Cautious. Being a Jumper at home helps being a Cautious at work. Great post!


Gabriella June 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

If we were honest I think we all have one or more of each SEO described on here… I still wish I would have sent this to Justin lolol The alcoholic SEO would have added the finishing touch!


Don Rhoades June 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

You calling us liars, Gabs? j/k – Unspoken fact is that most of us are into a bit of the sauce b/c is part of the game (not kidding) :)


Gabriella June 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

Omg don’t tell me there’s going to be an AA for SEO’s? SEO Anonymous calling card: can’t think of anything else without breaking it down to beach, beaches, public beach, private beach, Pacific beach, seaboard, seacoast, seashore, seaside; coast, coastland, coastline, shore, shoreline; oceanfront, shorefront, waterfront; bank, riverbank, riverfront, riverside; esplanade; littoral; lido, plage… is it too late for me I wonder :-/ ?


Don Rhoades June 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

you forgot Embarcadero…. #thecity – Now my signal vs. noise is tipping th wrong way on this thread. ;)


DocSheldon June 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

Love it! The noteworthy thing, as already pointed out, is that each type has its pros and cons.
“I learned that if I open my mind, I can learn something from ANYBODY. If I’m not learning something from them, it’s usually because I’m not trying, not because they have nothing worthwhile to teach me.”
-Doc Sheldon


Justin Parks June 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

Wheres the alcoholic one?


Level343 June 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

LOLOL I should have ran this post by you first it would have been a brilliant addition! ❤❤


DocSheldon June 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

Leave it to you to ask the burning question that at least two of us yearned to see answered! ;)


Level343 June 7, 2011 at 7:41 am

Your wish, our command and whatnot… The Alcoholic SEO has been added! lol


Eren Mckay June 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

Hey.. you need a picture to illustrate the alcoholic SEO .. maybe you can use Justin’s avatar LOL


Level343 June 13, 2011 at 5:01 am

LOL Erin… we love Justin too much to throw him under the bus. Maybe if we tossed a nice bottle of scotch under there with him? ;) lolol


Eren Mckay June 13, 2011 at 6:04 am

I think he would be honored~ LOL


Glenn Ferrell June 6, 2011 at 6:37 am

Ha ! I love classifications and taxonomies — and when you talked about SEO geeks with a patent-focus, I couldn’t help thinking that you had someone in particular in mind :)


Level343 June 6, 2011 at 7:14 am

WHO could we have POSSIBLY had in mind, Glenn? lol Glad you enjoyed it!


David Christian-Woodruff June 6, 2011 at 2:18 am

That’s a really entertaining and relevant read. I couldn’t agree more that there are different types of SEO consultants and that each have their own benefits and potential downfalls. Specifically, I can’t really say that there is a set or correct way to optimise as there are so many different techniques that people have come up with to target and crack the algorithms SE’s use. As such, it’s difficult to place myself, as an SEO, into a category. If I was to stick my neck out on the line however, I would have to place myself into the SEO Jumpers bracket. Whilst I am very structured and like to make sure that I know what each little bit of coding I do works, I am also more than willing to try anything to help push the SEO, jump at the chance to implement it and see what effect it has on the performance of the site. Perhaps that makes me a hybrid SEO, merging two different categories, but then I suspect that this may be the case with more than just myself.


Level343 June 6, 2011 at 6:07 am

The more & more we drown ourselves in this “SEO” work the more we realize there really is no category, but we thought it would be fun to come up with a few our readers can relate to ;) thanks David!


steveplunkett June 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

ok.. so i’m cautious? shhh.. don’t tell anyone.


Alan Bleiweiss June 6, 2011 at 1:09 am


Really clever article, though I’m a little of all of these. because I”m OCD that way. :-)


Level343 June 6, 2011 at 6:05 am

You OCD? ;) lolol I would have never thought that of you Alan…


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