Most Epic Distilled Content of 2011

2011 has been a phenomenal year for the SEO industry. Here at Distilled, we shipped a lot of work, much more than I would have believed possible. Our company is constantly reminded by our executive team (Will, Duncan, Tom, and Rob) to ship content and projects frequently. This year has been the year of "shipping" for Distilled, and I'd like to take this chance to highlight the most epic Distilled content from 2011, partially to resurface it and also to encourage all of you that you can accomplish way more in one year than you ever thought possible.

So here is Distilled's most epic content from the year. It's not based on number of tweets, or number of comments, or anything tangible. Instead, it's based on what brought the biggest impact to Distilled, and hopefully the community.

Note: all the titles are links to the posts and content.


This year Distilled employees (and our epic intern) created guides to help the SEO community.

Linkbait Guide

Ed Fry's Linkbait Guide was, in my opinion, the best SEO content published this year. Ed worked for two weeks on this guide and produced all of the videos and graphics himself. He walked us through the complete process of producing and launching linkbait, from working with designers to doing outreach and using PR.

What came out of it: This guide received hundreds of tweets, a couple hundred +1s, and gave us a shining example of incredible content, including photos, text, embeddable elements, and videos, with elements of lead capture integrated. And, this post received a link from Seth Godin's blog. Boom!

Excel Guide

Learn how to use Excel for advanced SEO

Mike Pantoliano's Excel Guide for SEOs stepped us step-by-step through the beginning paces of Excel, skills that all SEOs need to use when doing keyword research or crunching any sort of data for clients. It includes a downloadable PDF and an example Excel workbook to practice on.

What came out of it: Because we moved domains in May, the social counts were lost, but it would be over 1,200 by now. This gift from Mike to the SEO community has helped out many, from feedback we've received. Oh, and it ranks 1st page for "Excel Guide" even though it does not have "Guide" in the title or URL.

The ImportXML Guide for Google Docs

Dave Sottimano created this guide in June to follow up on Tom Critchlow's How to Build Agile SEO Tools Using Google Docs. While officially a blog post, this guide is broken into sections from beginner to advanced, and includes some premade toys and resource for you to play with. A guide for the ages (or at least until ImportXML stops working in Google Docs :-)

What came out of it: The effects of this are harder to quantify, as it only received 93 tweets. In that regard, I think it was one of the most under-exposed pieces of content throughout the year.

How to Build Agile SEO Tools Using Google Docs

The original post by Tom that set off the Google Docs craze in the second half of the year. Tom showed us how to use ImportXML and other formulas within Google Docs for many different purposes. This has helped many of us expedite and automate a lot of our work and has spawned a whole host of tools that people have hacked together.

What came out of it: So many helpful tools and blog posts. Some of these include:

Using Tools & APIs To Track Your Social Media Strategy - SEO Tools

In this guide (I can't call it just a blog post), Tom took us through a number of free tools that can help define a social media strategy. Then, he taught us how to pull social metrics into Google Docs and gave us the scripts to do so. Tom never ceases to amaze me with how giving he is with his time and talents, and this is a post I reference often.


Tom Anthony bashed together a bunch of ad-hoc tools for many different purposes. Bookmark each of these, download the sheets, pillage and steal, do what you have to do in order to use these.

Competitive Analysis in under 60 Seconds

In this post, Tom uses the SEOmoz API to pull domain and link metrics, then displays it as a graph to show search results saturation across your keywords. Brilliant!

International SEO Backlinks Tool

Tom also knocked together a tool for Hannah Smith's Mozcon presentation that attempts to identify the language of the page, as well as the separate areas of the site by language so that you can then clean the data in Excel. Boom!

Link Profile Tool to Discover Linking Activity

Mr. Anthony also put together a tool to show backlink profiles. It uses the SEOmoz CSV export and rates the linking domains by DA. Once you copy and paste the data, the tool visualizes the breakdown of the DAs of the linking sites. This tool is especially useful for seeing if a client has been buying links, like so:

SERP Turkey

Perhaps the most awesome of Tom's tools that he has put out this year, this tool uses MechanicalTurk and allows you to split test meta descriptions and title tags for click through rates BEFORE you publish! You push variations to Mechanical Turk, the users then provide you a code, and the tool shows you the clickthrough density. OMG I think I might die from the awesomeness:

Go to the tool here

3 Tools for Quick Checks of Social Metrics

Tom built a chrome extension to allow you to quickly pull all the social metrics for the page you are on, like so:

Download the extension

He also included in this post a Simple Bulk Social Metrics tool that you can export into a CSV. AND he provided a Google Doc to pull even more bulk metrics. WOW.


For some reason, this was the year of the video for Distilled. We decided to tape our SEO conferences and sell them online. Tom also did a few Appsumo videos.

So this section is self-serving, but I wouldn't put the content in this post if I did not truly believe that it is some of the most valuable content you will come across from the past year.

AppSumo (startups)

Tom Critchlow did a video for Appsumo called "SEO for Startups". He wrote a post about it here. Unfortunately the videos no longer work, but I encourage you to do what you can to get your hands on them.

Google Docs Unleashed

Tom shared his Google Docs expertise with Appsumo and world in this video. He showed the power of Gdocs for SERP scraping (sshhhh), pulling in info with APIs and other simple scripts, and much more. Watch this video to help with learning Google Docs wizardry.

Linklove SEO Videos

I would be remiss to not include the Linklove videos from both London and Boston. As a personal aside, I went to the London conference before I worked for Distilled and returned home to hit the ground running and take a 99% competitive term from 16 to 5 in just 4 weeks. Boom!

Searchlove SEO Videos

Searchlove, just a couple of months ago, was quite possibly our best conference yet and our first in New York City. With speakers ranging from Rand Fishkin and Michael King to Noah Kagan and Michael Gray to Wil Reynolds and Dave Minchala (are you convinced yet?), this was world class training that would be well worth your time and money to access.

We hope you have enjoyed all of the content we have created this year. Here's to looking forward to 2012 and all the shipping and epic content that awaits.

As our COO Will likes to say, "Watch this space." :-)

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