OK, so we’ve already established that Danny Sullivan is the God of SEO.
As for his disciples, well, the line forms to the left.
For nearly a decade, I have looked up to Danny. I’ve admired not just his SEO knowledge, but also his business sense. In fact, someone once asked me in an interview where I pictured myself in five years. My answer? At a conference, standing right next to Danny Sullivan!
I’ve been following Danny’s blog posts for years. Like so many of his other devoted disciples, I made the pilgrimage with him from Search Engine Watch to Search Engine Land. And, like so many other people in the SEO world, I was blown away when he decided to start Search Engine Land in the first place. After all, who goes from King of the Mountain back to the bottom to start climbing all over again?!
But above all else, I am a disciple of Danny’s because he stands up for what he believes in.
I could go on and on praising him, but words don’t really do Danny justice. So, I’ll simply talk about two events that really stood out in my mind — and still do, to this day.
Even though I had already been a fan of Danny’s for years, my faith was taken to a higher level in 2007 when he wrote a piece rebutting Jason Calacanis’ post entitled “Why People Hate SEO…(and why SMO is bulls$%t)“. Oh sure, Danny could have blasted him for the post (oh, and for saying that SEO was “bull” during the keynote speech at the SES Chicago convention a few months prior).
He totally could have gotten away with writing, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Danny freaking Sullivan, the God of SEO, and how dare you trash my people and the empire that I have built?!” After all, it’s not like this would have been a one-on-one fight. Danny would have had a virtual army of SEO-types behind him, leading the charge against Jason with burning pitchforks, if he had requested it.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he started out by PRAISING Jason. He actually said he loved him! Then, he went onto say that Jason speaks with “passion” and “deeply cares about things”.
Can you imagine saying that about someone who had just trashed your entire life’s work?
After that, Danny proceeded to rip Jason’s argument apart — not with cheap insults (even though he might have deserved them). Instead, he stayed calm and used carefully-researched facts and figures and even a quote or two from Google to make his point.
And then, there was the biggie — he demanded respect for the men and women who call this industry (his industry) home. He refused to let them be attacked. He refused to let the good guys be lumped in with the bad apples. After all, Danny reasoned, every bad industry has bad apples, but that doesn’t mean that the entire industry is garbage.
Does it get any classier than that?
Danny showed his unparalleled class again a year later, when Jeremy Schoemaker wrote a blog post titled “Why I Do Not Like 95% of SEO Experts” — and had Danny (or, the “Godfather of SEO” as Schoemaker called him) on his podcast to debate the topic. Schoemaker even started things out by saying, “Danny, let me have it.”
“I’m not a big debater. I’m not full of anger.”
He then went onto say that he agreed with a lot of the points that Schoemaker said — and refuted the points he disagreed with in a classy, respectful way. Again, he could have told Schoemaker that he was an idiot and to go pound sand, but he didn’t. He even mentioned “poor Jason Calacanis”!
Danny didn’t have to be nice to Schoemaker. Heck, he didn’t even have to waste time talking to him! Instead, he wanted to stand up — once again — for the industry he loves.
How can you NOT be a disciple of someone who acts like that?