[box type="info" ]This post is satire and was written for fun. Jon Cooper is the real deal when it comes to link building and I recommend you check out his Link Building Course. [/box]
All is not what it seems in the SEO industry.
At only 18 years of age, Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO has been hailed linkbuilding’s “wunderkind”. The Tarpon Springs, FL native is probably best known for his publishing of “Link Building Strategies – The Complete List“, an article that received widespread acclaim from some of the industry’s most noted thought leaders. Despite only recently graduating from high school, he’s been called a “rising star”. So well recognized is his star-status within the industry that aspiring SEO-celebrities clamoured to heed the advice he shared in an article about how to get known within the SEO industry.
In that post, Jon claims that his rise to stardom hinged on his ability to create great relationships and great content. But something didn’t seem to stack up. Indeed, the link building advocate is not exactly what everyone believes him to be. Despite the recent ire around “outing” I feel it is my responsibility to share this story with the SEO community, consequences be damned. To those of you who are fans of Jon who will no doubt give me the worst kind of backlash imaginable: sometimes progress means revealing a beloved community member for what they really are.
This is nothing personal, strictly business. I hope you can understand.
Cooper: Genius, or Fraud?
I first became suspicious of Jon when I was asked to guest blog on his company website. During my interactions with Jon, I noted that something rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. His rankings were incredible, his insights on link building were, to put it mildly, advanced. That said, I trusted my gut feeling and began to check up on the so-called SEO prodigy. I started to investigate his personal life, digging for clues. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I was driven to look.
And then I found it. In Point Blank SEO’s backlink profile, this link:
What’s this!? A profile link to a software engineering forum? That seemed uncharacteristic. Profile links, from a link building guru? So I followed the rabbit hole. All the while, Jon continued his façade.
A Tangled Web of Lies
But that forum profile linked to other profiles, those profiles linked to other highly prominent top-level domains, and finally, after hours of searching, I landed on a Flickr account registered under a different name. Using tools to examine the exif data of the photos, I determined that “R_Wilknz” had snapped the pictures at GPS coordinates that would land him far, far away from Florida.
So I went back to the source. Analysis of Point Blank’s WHOis turned up nothing. Google queries of “Jon Cooper” yielded far too many results to be useful. My interest was piqued when a phone call to Tarpon Springs Highschool revealed that there was no “Jon Cooper” attending the institution.
Then, a breakthrough. Using tineye, I found that those same photos I found on Flickr were being used in the personal blog of someone much different than the Jon Cooper we know and love.
So ladies and gentlemen, here’s the ugly truth. Jon Cooper is NOT the 18 year old whitehat linkbuilding advocate from Florida we thought. In fact, he is 56 year old software engineer Ron Wilkins, a shy, overweight father of 3 from the suburbs of Kentucky.
The Real Jon Cooper
Upon discovering the truth, I anonymously contacted Ron Wilkins privately via the e-mail listed on his blog, looking for answers. After repeatedly denying he knew anything about Jon Cooper, I finally confronted him with the evidence. Ron agreed to a meeting and urged me not to go public with the information.
I met with Ron at a Kentucky Denny’s on May 25th, 2012. Over a “Superbird Sandwich”, a coffee and a large side of onion rings, Ron admitted that he was not, in fact, 18 years of age, had lied about his college acceptance on Twitter and was in fact an ageing software engineer moonlighting as the spry young teen.
“I needed a fresh start” said Wilkins, who explained he fell in love with SEO while developing a SaaS solution for real estate agents just prior to the recession. When he lost his job, Ron dedicated himself to learning the profession. Surprisingly, Jon relayed that he had actually released a number of posts under the company name of “Daddy Wilkins SEO”, but was frustrated when those in the SEO community refused to acknowledge his contributions, some going so far as to call him “old balls” and “outdated”.
” I was getting nowhere. SEO was an exciting field, but I needed an angle; a persona people would find compelling.” explained the soft-spoken Ron while smoothing out the wrinkles in his “I <3 Linux” t-shirt. “So I dug up some old high school photos, changed the company name and invented Jon Cooper. The rest, I guess, is history.”
Some might call him a genius still; in a fashion not unlike “Catch Me If You Can” Ron adopted a new identity he believed would resonate with SEO’s. It worked. In spades. From Rand Fishkin and Jon Doherty to Mike King and Wil Reynolds, everyone was hailing the “kid” as the bright hope of SEO’s future. Meanwhile, Ron continued to post under the pseudonym while studying his own 17 year old son’s online interactions to “stay believable”.
Does Ron feel bad about deceiving the SEO community? ”I guess so. I never meant to hurt anyone, I just wanted a seat at the table. I knew it couldn’t last forever, but it was a hell of a ride.”
At the time of this writing, Point Blank SEO’s website was still fully indexed by Google.
(If you haven’t figured it out by now, this post is a joke. Please stop bothering Jon.)
Featured image source: http://brucesmideastsoundbites.blogspot.com/2011/08/three-strikes-youre-outunless-youre.html