Breaking out of the SEO Echo Chamber

Breaking out of the SEO Echo Chamber

9th May 2013

Last week I was fascinated by Paul Miller’s story of his year without the internet. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that I feel the internet is corrupting my soul, I have been feeling like I’m stuck in an SEO (or perhaps more accurately a search industry) echo chamber of late.

It’s not that I don’t love this industry, I do; however I’ve been making a concerted effort to change my usual reading habits in search of something new. To be clear, I’m not talking cute pictures of kittens (can you read pictures of kittens?!); I’m not convinced that those are likely to bring me much in the way of inspiration, new perspectives, or new ways of thinking.

Today I’m sharing some of the sites I’ve been reading of late, along with further recommendations from other State of Search writers and various other kind souls who responded via twitter. I’ve grouped them into categories to make the list a little easier to digest…

Ready? Let’s go.

Start Ups / Management


AVC – MBA Mondays – Fred Wilson is a Tech VC with 27 years’ experience which he shares in his MBA Mondays series. Hat tip to Mike.

Harvard Business Review – A wonderful mix of strategy, innovation and leadership / management articles. I love that the posts here often don’t have an online bias but could be easily applied online – take this article on finding the customers your competitors offend – this could easily be turned into a very actionable search / social article.


Trends / Insight


Nielsen Newswire – Consumer trends company Nielsen share some of their research here – check out these stats on ad revenues. Hat tip to Liam.

Big Think – Aiming to make sense of the abundance of information, Big Think includes features on science, tech, influence and innovation. Hat tip to Barry.




Creative Review Blog – Featuring advertising, design and ‘visual culture’ (yeah I’m not sure what the hell that is either) the Creative Review blog also includes gems like this sound poster.

99u – Aiming to deliver insights and best practices not for ideation, but for making ideas happen. I really enjoyed this piece on planning. Hat tip to Veer.

Smashing Magazine – Covering coding, design, usability, UX and more; this one of Gianluca’s ‘must reads’.

It’s Nice That – This charmingly titled site champions creativity across the art and design world without being pretentious. Via Ned.


General Interest


Libertine – In addition to the newly launched print magazine, the team at Libertine curate ‘interesting morsels from around the web’, feature interviews with the likes of Playmob’s Jude Ower and much more.

The Morning News – An online magazine of essays, art, humour and culture; featuring wonderful long reads like this linguistic take on band names. Hat tip to Stephanie.

mnmlist – A site by Leo Babauta about minimalism and how in a world of consumption, less might actually be the answer. Hat tip to Ben.

Narratively – A platform devoted to telling original, in depth stories about New York and now branching out to other cities too. Amazing find from Ned.




The Next Web – International tech news, business and culture. Nice coffee time reading. Hat tip to Bas.

The Verge – The Verge cover technology, science, art and culture. They cover news which is great, but for me the articles I enjoy most are the long-form features like this on Augmented Reality Dating.




The Web Psychologist – Written by Nathalie Nahai this blog is about online influence and the psychology of the web. I love this piece on Silicon Sycophants. Hat tip to Bridget for this one.

Psyblog – A site about scientific research into how the mind works, written by Jeremy Dean. I loved this piece on the Temporal Doppler Effect. Dear readers I feel I ought to highlight that prior to watching the Big Bang Theory I had no clue as to what the Doppler effect was. See – who says TV makes you dumb? Hat tip to Luella.

Freakonomics – Should this really sit under psychology? Honestly probably not, however it’s the pieces with a psychological slant that I always find interesting – check out this interview with Shaun Abrahamson one of the authors of Crowdstorm. Hat tip to Mike.


If you read nothing else, just read this…

Medium – Created by Ev Williams and the Obvious team (creators of blogger and twitter amongst others).

In Ev’s own words lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced. Medium is attempting to build a system optimised for quality rather than popularity, a place where writers can collaborate on pieces to create something better than they could create alone. The content is divided into collections – I’d recommend you start with what I learned building… then lose yourself.


Congratulations you made it to the end. You deserve a reward. Go waste a little time with the Annotated Weekender.

If you’ve any other non-SEO / search industry sites you’d recommend I’d love to hear about them – do let me know via the comments.




Image credits:

Start Up, Trends, Design, Interesting, Newspapers, Brain


Written By
Hannah Smith is an SEO Consultant working for Distilled in their London office. She manages technical, link building and content campaigns for clients across a range verticals in addition to managing one of the internal SEO teams at Distilled.
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