Eat Sleep Search

Creative Link Building and Marketing, Explained by Eperts

Non-spammy Tips for Link Building with Forums

Even with your best dis­guise, it’s dif­fi­cult to get away with being an imposter on a forum.

For some, link build­ing with forums is set­ting up pseudo-profiles and start­ing con­ver­sa­tion threads, per­haps drop­ping a sub­tle link to their web­site if and when the oppor­tu­nity presents itself.

You might even to be to stick around and inanely com­ment every time you can, hope­fully hang­ing around long enough to stick a link in your forum signature.

Even when done with the best inten­tions, you’ll stands out like a sore thumb and rile a few of the locals. Whereas you might get away with it once or twice, it’s really not a sus­tain­able tac­tic, nor does it do you any favours with com­mu­ni­ties you really could do with get­ting on your side.

It’s easy to spot imposters and the back­lash you face when you’re caught out isn’t nice — believe me. Here are a few less-spammy tips for using forums in your online mar­ket­ing more about link prospecting by clicking here

N.B. These tips assume you’re not already knowl­edge­able in the sub­ject of the forum

Repur­pose pop­u­lar forum content

This tac­tic errs more on con­tent cre­ation than link build­ing, but they’re two sides of the same coin, so here we go.

Forums are amaz­ing places in terms of the exper­tise peo­ple share.

The lengths and detail at which peo­ple go to help each, debate prob­lems and resolve issues is incred­i­ble, espe­cially given the peo­ple have rarely con­nected in real life.

One thing you can do rel­a­tively eas­ily is mine this knowl­edge for your own content.

Ross Hud­gens, among oth­ers, has spo­ken about lear­ing how to repur­pose con­tent.

Forums are the per­fect place to start if you’re look­ing for con­tent inspiration.

Try search­ing for your head terms and related terms in the forum. What you want is the posts that have had the most input and have pro­voked the most dis­cus­sion. When you get your results then, refine the search by ‘Replies’.

(Most forums have the option to sort by replies and views. If not, you’ll have to scan the threads manually.)

It’s a good idea to cross ref­er­ence the topic on a num­ber of sim­i­lar forums. Usu­ally this gives you a breadth of opin­ions and tid-bits of advice to include in your cre­ated content.

If the topic hasn’t been men­tioned on one forum, then there is scope for reach­ing out to the com­mu­nity armed with what you know so far and ask for advice.

Once you’ve fin­ished your research, you can let  it guide your content.

Reach out to high pro­file members

Forums are a great place to reach out to peo­ple who know about your market.

If you’re work­ing in a dif­fi­cult niches, find­ing appro­pri­ate fig­ures of author­ity to try build rela­tion­ships can be a bit tricky.

High pro­file forum mem­bers are prime can­di­dates here.

Whereas they might not have Hollywood-metrics in terms of Twit­ter fol­low­ers etc, they’ll know the indus­try you’re work­ing in bet­ter than anyone.

You might want to ask for their feed­back on con­tent you’re devel­op­ing, inter­view them on your own site or sim­ply pick their brains about the industry.

There’s no need for any smoke and mir­rors here; just be hon­est about who you are.

Robert Kozinets has spo­ken at length is his book Netnog­ra­phy about the impor­tant of being com­pletely hon­est when research­ing using online com­mu­ni­ties for mar­ket research or any other purposes.

If you decide to lie or mis­lead peo­ple about your inten­tions, you risk your own and, worse, your client’s reputation.

You’d be sur­prised how recep­tive peo­ple are when you’re upfront.

Encour­age client use

One, per­haps obvi­ous (and quixotic) point to sug­gest, is to actu­ally use the forum in the man­ner it is intended to be used by the client.

The cop-out here is nor­mally: (a) ‘Where am I going to find the time?’ and/or (b) ‘What am I pay­ing you to do?’

The ques­tion is, why wouldn’t they want to get involved? If you really care about your busi­ness and indus­try, why not try invest you’re own time in one of its online communities.

This boils down to the vendor/consultancy ques­tion and the role you’re expected to perform.

Rhea Drys­dale defines con­sul­tancy in her WBF:

 “A con­sul­tant is some­one who receives the busi­ness goals from the client, but then they com­mu­ni­cate the strat­egy back to the client, and say, “What we’re hear­ing from you is this is what you want to achieve, but in order to do that we’re rec­om­mend­ing that you pur­sue these dif­fer­ent meth­ods, which we’re going to help you with or maybe we’re going to actu­ally bring on dif­fer­ent resources or we’re going to help man­age resources within your own orga­ni­za­tion and staff this project.”

If your role is as a con­sul­tant and then you should encour­age your client to grow their own pres­ence wher­ever their mar­ket is online, not sim­ply in forums.

You can hold their hand at first, with a view to let­ting them stand on their own two feet one day.

As I say, per­haps this obvi­ous and dis­lo­cated from real­ity. Still, it would be nice…

Experimenting with Custom Reports in Citation Labs’ Link Prospector

As much as I enjoy link prospect­ing, in my heart of hearts, I know it’s not where my time is best spent.

I work in an agency and my time is bet­ter served on the out­reach and acqui­si­tion phase of link build­ing than it is drum­ming up lists of prospects.

I know the less time I have to spend link prospect­ing, the more time I can spend on the work that cre­ates value. The 20% that gives 80% of the results.

One thing I love about Cita­tion Labs link prospec­tor is that it dras­ti­cally reduces the time I need to spend link gath­er­ing link prospects.

Crudely bro­ken down, here is how I used to break up my time spent link build­ing for indi­vid­ual campaigns.

This is how it looked when I was doing a lot of man­ual link prospecting:

Com­pared to now, with a large part of the link prospect­ing automated…

Less time prospect­ing means more time spent mak­ing con­tact and fol­low­ing up, which increases the chance of build­ing more links.

Tools like Cita­tion Labs link prospec­torBuz­zStream and Ontolo are only ever as good as the peo­ple using them.

It is impor­tant to strive to find ways of mak­ing them work for you. A good tool lets you work smarter, as well as quicker.

It is good to be cre­ative in their appli­ca­tion and chal­lenge them to com­plete tasks that would be impos­si­ble, or highly time con­sum­ing, to com­plete manually.

With this then, I’ve been exper­i­ment­ing and test­ing new ways of using Cita­tion Labs using cus­tom, advanced search operators.

Here’s what happened:

Related searches

I blogged recently about my love for ‘related:’ search oper­a­tor.

Usu­ally, I just man­u­ally run these queries one site at a time, scrape the results and then qual­ify them.

It is par­tic­u­larly use­ful at the begin­ning at cam­paigns when you’re research­ing com­peti­tors. I like to make sure I’m aware of every con­ceiv­able com­peti­tor to the site I’m work­ing on.

Usu­ally, the more obscure, the bet­ter, as they’ll have back­link pro­files that haven’t been mined by other SEOs.

I was curi­ous to see what would hap­pen then if I run these queries in bulk.

First then, I set up a cus­tom report…

For the sake of this exper­i­ment, the niche I was research­ing was box­ing and the key­word I chose was box­ing gloves.

I’ll start by tak­ing 10 com­peti­tors and putting them next to the related search query for my search:

My hunch was that the related sites here wouldn’t tell me much I didn’t already know, as I was see­ing sim­i­lar results in all the dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of ‘box­ing gloves’ I searched for.

I took a sam­ple of urls from dif­fer­ent search queries here, as opposed to just the 10 that appear for the term box­ing gloves, to try make sure I got a bit of diver­sity, whilst still being relevant.

I also think it is impor­tant to find out who your client iden­ti­fies as their com­peti­tors, as they may not actively be opti­mis­ing their site for the search engines.

If they do come up with some­one I’ve not already found, I’ll always throw that site in.

My trep­i­da­tion here was def­i­nitely a bit mis­placed, the search yielded 225 domains. As you would expect, there was a bit of junk in here (MySpace, Face­book etc.), on the whole though, the sites it brought back were rel­e­vant and useful.

Although they weren’t the crème de la crème of the com­pe­ti­tion but this was a good thing. They were decay­ing web­sites but, the point is, they have rel­e­vant back­links I oth­er­wise wouldn’t have found.

If I was being thor­ough here, I’d run another cus­tom related report on the new sites the pre­vi­ous report had identified.

I’d then com­pare the two lists using Ontolo’s Fil­ter Prospects tool to see if there were any more new related domains.

I would then have a com­pre­hen­sive list of sites com­pet­ing with my own. I’d down­load every back­link these sites have and then review to see which might be worth try­ing to accrue.

If you want to pull out all the stops in com­peti­tor link analy­sis, then run­ning a cus­tom related search in link prospec­tor should def­i­nitely be part of your process.

Using tildes

Next up I exper­i­mented by using tildes. Tildes (~) is the syn­onym operator.


(If you want to read more, Gar­rett French’s Guide to the Tilde is a good place to start.)

Again, I used box­ing in my exper­i­ment, just because I like boxing.

First of all I defined the oppor­tu­nity I was look­ing for. In this case, it was guest posting.

To keep this exper­i­ment sim­ple, I’m just used the head term ‘fitness’.

One thing Gar­rett under­lines in his post on tildes is that the impact on using them is diver­sity.

If you con­struct your queries to include all vari­a­tions (which I would advise at least test­ing) and aggre­gate your SERP results, you clearly get a far greater diver­sity of domains. This obvi­ously doesn’t mean that the results are more qual­i­fied, just that there’s more diver­sity with less think­ing on your part about what prospect­ing phrases to use.

What I want then, is for link prospec­tor to run the tilde oper­a­tion quickly and bring me a diverse set of domains, with

My three oper­a­tors were:

~fit­ness –fitness

I popped these into Ontolo’s Query Gen­er­a­tor, which shows 132 foot­print queries that could yield good results.

Nor­mally my next step would be to go through these indi­vid­u­ally and use the scraper tool. Need­less to say, this is tedious time con­sum­ing. With the link prospec­tor tool, I just down­load these queries as a csv and copy and pasted them into a cus­tom report.

When it came back I’ve got the results from the 132 tilde queries above in about, 4 min­utes, mean­ing I could move quickly onto the qual­i­fi­ca­tion stage and more impor­tantly, the out­reach :D

My process from here on in is this:

  • Export the paths to csv (I like to see the path, rather than the domain, so I can work out why it has been identified)
  • Next I want to trim the fat. I order the results by PageR­ank and cut out any­thing above 5. These are nor­mally too high pro­file or sites like Face­book and Twitter
  • Then it is just a case of going through the nor­mal qual­i­fi­ca­tion process using Ontolo’s prospect reviewer


Ulti­mately, the Link Prospec­tor is a time sav­ing device that runs mul­ti­ple search queries for you . It allows you to weight your time onto the business-end of get­ting links.

The point of these exper­i­ments was not so much to show the qual­ity of results, but the ease of which run com­plex search query com­bi­na­tions. It feels like a math­e­mati­cian being given a cal­cu­la­tor to use when you’ve been pre­vi­ously laboured with an abacus.

I’ve only really tipped the ice berg here. Would like to see other peo­ple exper­i­ment­ing with cus­tom reports, see their process and see what kind of results they get.

The 3 Best Link Building Books

There is not yet a defin­i­tive book on link build­ing. There is a nice ebook by Gar­rett French and Eric Ward is set to pub­lish one in the near future, which you can bet will be good.

This does not mean there aren’t books out there, how­ever, that will indi­rectly help with your under­stand­ing and encour­age you to become a bet­ter link builder.

Here are  three books that I’ve per­son­ally found use­ful that aren’t strictly about link build­ing. I’d wel­come any other sug­ges­tions peo­ple want to make :)

Cold Call­ing for Chick­ens
by Bob Etherington

If I could only rec­om­mend one book for link builders who are new to the indus­try it would be this one by sales expert Bob Etherington.

Although cold call­ing is tra­di­tion­ally per­ceived to be almost exclu­sively the domain of out-and-out sales roles, the prin­ci­ples are directly related and apply per­fectly to link building.visit to read more about link building opportunities.

What Ether­ing­ton stresses in this book is that it is not just about that moment you pick up the phone and dial a num­ber, but more about being able to effec­tively and reg­u­larly make cold con­tact with peo­ple is a lifestyle and atti­tude choice.

It is about being able to cre­ate effec­tive habits and under­stand­ing how peo­ple make buy­ing (or ‘link­ing’) decisions.

Sell­ing is not telling

Per­haps the key point the book stressed and the best take-away for link builders is that sell­ing is not telling. You can rarely per­suade peo­ple to buy from you; peo­ple per­suade themselves.

Just think about what under­stand­ing this can do for your link build­ing. Mak­ing that first cold con­tact is the first step to the estab­lished order of flow in which you need to influ­ence their thinking.

No one is say­ing you have to like cold call­ing. What you have to under­stand though, is that 85% of the busi­ness out there is won by the 5% of the sales peo­ple able to make cold calls.

I would wager that there are sim­i­lar per­cent­ages for the best links that are won.

Trust Agents
by Chris Bro­gan and Julien Smith

I really was torn between includ­ing this or Seth Godin’s Per­mis­sion Mar­ket­ing. Both tackle the same idea, how­ever, Bro­gan and Smith’s book edged it onto this list because it is a bit more online centric.

Its cen­tral theme is about max­imis­ing human con­nec­tiv­ity and inter­ac­tion online. You need to be able to under­stand the inter­net as a tool and be able to think strate­gi­cally about build­ing your own pres­ence online.

Whilst a lot of the con­cepts intro­duced in the book will not nesses­sar­ily be ground break­ing to most online mar­keters who already ‘get it’, what it does do is per­fectly artic­u­late the econ­omy of build­ing trust online, which comes as a use­ful rein­force­ment even to peo­ple with vast experience.

This is an espe­cially good start­ing point for peo­ple com­pletely new to online mar­ket­ing and the book that, in an ideal world, all clients would read.

One thing that struck me from both this book and Godin’s Per­mis­sion Mar­ket­ing is that for a busi­ness to really thrive online, it requires a fun­da­men­tal shift in its culture.

If its tra­di­tional ways of oper­at­ing stay the same, throw­ing money at mar­ket­ing agen­cies becomes like try­ing to cram a square peg into a round hole.

Bounce: How Cham­pi­ons are Made
by Matthew Syed

My last choice is moti­vated by the fact I think it’s impor­tant to under­stand that peo­ple aren’t born nat­u­rally good at link build­ing, mar­ket­ing, or any other dis­ci­pline for that matter.

They may have been exposed to sit­u­a­tions that have cul­ti­vated the basic skills needed to excel quickly in the pro­fes­sion, but it is not a god given talent.

That’s why I have included Matthew Syed’s Bounce on this list. Sim­i­lar to Mal­colm Gladwell’s Out­liers in its theme, it looks at why and how peo­ple excel in cer­tain sub­jects and sports.

Ulti­mately, it dis­pels the myth that peo­ple are born tal­ented and reit­er­ates how impor­tant pos­i­tive prac­tice is.

I guess this is impor­tant to grasp because even if your work isn’t at the place you want it to be today, you can have faith that through cul­ti­vat­ing the right habits, you can get it there tomorrow.

That’s it then. As I say, I would love to hear other people’s sug­ges­tions. Other notable men­tions that nearly made their way onto my list were:

Sell­ing to Win by Richard Denney

Influ­ence: The Psy­chol­ogy of Per­sua­sion by Robert Cialadi

The Inner Game of Golf by Tim­o­thy Gallwey

If you are look­ing for other SEO-related books to sink your teeth into, check out Paul Rogers’ rec­om­mended dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and user expe­ri­ence books.

Finding Link Building Opportunities with Competitive Link Research


Finding Link Building Opportunities with Competitive Link Research

Link build­ing can be tough at the best of times, so if there are any ways to shorten this process and find some quick wins then I’m always happy to try them out. I thought I would share some meth­ods that can be used to find rel­e­vant link tar­gets for your web­site. This involves some­thing that any link builder should be aware of: com­pet­i­tive link research.

Com­pet­i­tive link research essen­tially involves look­ing at the link pro­files of your com­peti­tors in order to find oppor­tu­ni­ties for you to build links. In a nut­shell, you’re look­ing at where your com­peti­tors have built links and then tar­get­ing these sites your­self whilst avoid­ing all the hard work that went into acquir­ing them. This could be through find­ing blogs  rel­e­vant to your niche that are tak­ing on guest posts, iden­ti­fy­ing higher qual­ity, rel­e­vant direc­to­ries to sub­mit your site to or by dis­cov­er­ing some really orig­i­nal, unique link build­ing ideas.

Analysing Your Com­peti­tors’ Back Links

There are a num­ber of tools that you can use to scout out the links that are point­ing to your com­peti­tors’ web­sites, but I am going to focus on Majes­tic SEO’s, Site Explorer tool and SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer tool. Both of these tools need to be paid for in order to get the best out of them but they will def­i­nitely prove their worth over time.

Majes­tic SEO

Majes­tic SEO has to be my favourite link analy­sis tool and it has helped me to both iden­tify new oppor­tu­ni­ties for links as well as find­ing poten­tial issues with links com­ing into my sites. I have taken a snap­shot of the links to the Web Design Galway web­site that I have been work­ing on through Majes­tic SEO’s Site Explorer, which we can look at in a bit more detail.

Majestic SEO Links

The first thing I always do is down­load this list to a .csv file so that I can fil­ter through the list of URLs that are link­ing back to the Wow Inter­net web­site. What I’m look­ing for is some sites that are bring­ing in par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful links and ways in which I could pos­si­bly take advan­tage of this.

Remove NoFollows

Once the .csv file has been down­loaded I will need to fil­ter through a few parts of the results. Firstly, I’ll hide all of the links that have been flagged as deleted and then also hide the nofol­low links so that I am only focus­ing on links that are pass­ing PageR­ank through to the web­site. If I then fil­ter the SourceCita­tion­Flow (this is a met­ric used show the qual­ity of the link­ing URL) col­umn in descend­ing order, I can see the higher qual­ity links at the top of the list.

Top Links for Wow Internet

Instantly I can see some poten­tial link­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that com­peti­tors of Wow Inter­net could take advan­tage of. The top link is from a blog arti­cle on the SEO­moz web­site and then the next is from the pro­file link on my SEO­moz account that points back to the Wow Inter­net website.

A guest post on the SEO­moz blog can pro­vide a web­site within my indus­try with one of the most valu­able links pos­si­ble. Now this is old news to many of you within the online mar­ket­ing indus­try but when you look at the sec­ond link (the pro­file link on my SEO­moz account) you will see that the ‘nofol­low’ has been removed from the link. The rea­son for this is that I have over 200 ‘Moz­Points’ on my account, which I gained by sim­ply answer­ing ques­tions on the forum and com­ment­ing on the blogs, etc. This could be a quick win toward your link build­ing if you are already pay­ing for your SEO­moz sub­scrip­tion. You will find that there are many instances of this in other niches among high pro­file com­mu­nity sites.

The third link is from a tes­ti­mo­nial that I wrote on the Word­Stream web­site after using their prod­uct. This rep­re­sents one of the best links going back to the Wow Inter­net web­site and can be a great strat­egy toward devel­op­ing links to any web­site. At the end of the day, every­one wants to good PR for their busi­ness. Just from a quick cou­ple of min­utes of scan­ning through the link­ing pro­file of the site it is clear to see that there are many oppor­tu­ni­ties that can arise from car­ry­ing this research out.

Open Site Explorer

For those of you who pre­fer SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer then you are able to do a sim­i­lar task. If I take a look at a com­peti­tor of the Wow Inter­net web­site then I can see this same type of analy­sis from a dif­fer­ent point of view.

Open Site Explorer Filters

Open Site Explorer has some handy fil­ter­ing options that mean you don’t always need to down­load to a .csv to get the best from the results; how­ever, I would rec­om­mend doing so. Through the fil­ter­ing options within OSE I’m able to drill down on only fol­lowed links from exter­nal sites and it’s also pos­si­ble to group the links by domain, which is a par­tic­u­larly handy option. We can then sort the results by domain/page author­ity to see the high­est qual­ity links going to the site.

Open Site Explorer

Tak­ing an instant look at some of the links that this web­site has, I have noticed that the top result goes to an open source SEO tool project where you can donate money toward the project and receive a list­ing on the ‘dona­tions’ page. This page has a page author­ity of 63 and a domain author­ity of 62 so it could be a quick and valu­able link prospect that would only need me to donate a bit of cash toward a good project. Win!

Another link that I have noticed is an SEO/web design-specific online direc­tory that I could add the Wow Inter­net web­site to in order to get an extra back link from a related web­site. Online direc­to­ries shouldn’t be relied on for links, but if they are niche rel­e­vant then they can cer­tainly be quite helpful.

What You Should Be Look­ing For

Hav­ing access to all of this data is invalu­able toward build­ing an effec­tive link build­ing cam­paign, like if we are try to build links for Web Designers Ireland. It allows you to under­stand what your com­peti­tors are doing and gain some quick insights into how to build some extra links. Hav­ing said this, just because your com­peti­tors are flood­ing blogs with spammy com­ments, doesn’t mean you should be doing it as well. Try to look for guest blog­ging oppor­tu­ni­ties by find­ing links that your com­peti­tors have gained by doing all the ini­tial out­reach ground­work and you’re sure to reap the rewards. Also, try and look for some of the more orig­i­nal ideas for back links, such as the Word­Stream review that the Wow Inter­net site had and the dona­tion page link that one of the com­peti­tors had. This is where you will find some real gold.

Also, keep in mind that your com­peti­tors may well be doing the same as you so keep ahead of the game and always be on the look­out for orig­i­nal link build­ing ideas. On top of this, try to focus on build­ing links that are hard to repli­cate by build­ing social com­mu­ni­ties or tak­ing advan­tage of offline rela­tion­ships. Either way, always keep an eye on your competition!

Rebranding Joey Barton

There is something slightly amiss with the shift in Joey Barton’s personality  in the eyes of both the media and the  general public.

Barton’s perception has gone from that of an irrational thug to, in the words of the twittersphere:

“An intelligent, thoughtful young man more than most footballers on here (Twitter).”

At this moment in time, comments of this ilk about Barton are not difficult to find. This seems odd, especially when you consider this brief overview of Barton’s disciplinary record and his once infamous bad boy image.

Some choice moments from Barton’s past have involved:

  • Stubbing a lit cigar out in a youth player’s eye at the MCFC Christmas party
  • Being sent home from a tour of Thailand for assaulting a 15 year old Everton supporter
  • Exposing his backside to Everton fans following an injury time equaliser
  • Being fined for assaulting teammate Ousmane Dabo during training
  • Serving 77 days in prison for assaulting a man outside McDonald’s at five in the morning

Now read two of Barton’s most recent tweets:

And this:

Without being flippant, Barton’s activity on Twitter and his previous reputation simply don’t add up. It is bizarre to imagine the person retweeting quotes from a 19th century German philosopher, is the same involved in this vicious attack on the streets of Liverpool.

Immediately then, it would appear fair to argue one of three things:

(1) For years, Joey Barton has being a misunderstood and somewhat tormented genius

(2) Barton has matured into a responsible, level-headed professional

(3) Joey Barton has enlisted professionals to help rebuild an almost ruined reputation

If we are to assume the latter, then it would be interesting to observe how they have pulled off this coup in shaping public opinion.

And, given this, it is interesting to speculate on how much autonomy they have over Barton in his rebranding.

It seems there have been three key points in the campaign; the growing of his moustasche, his sudden affinity with British popular music and his civility on the social media platform Twitter.

The Moustache

The earliest point public opinion on Barton began to shift was tash-gate, which he began sporting post-Newcastle’s exile from the Premier League.

The moustache cast Barton in a mischievous, scamp-like light; a far cry from the cigar-wielding hot-head of years gone bye. It demontrated Barton had matured and was perhaps was no longer prone to going loco on an opponent/a teammate/a member of the public at any given moment.

The tash could only go some way to rebranding Barton, who still courted controversy by punching Mortem Ganmst Petersen and allegedly directing homophobic remarks at Fernando Torres.


The genius in the campaign may be the way Barton has aligned himself with icons of popular music. Barton, or the powers-that-be, have been all too aware of the way we project ourselves through popular culture and in particular, icons of popular music.

Prior to this year it is fair to say that many would not have had Barton down as a card-carrying Morrisey fan, nor a bastion of underground popular music.

His affinity for The Smiths itself seems a carefully selected choice. Morrissey has long been the poster-boy of those who perceive themselves to be alienated intellectuals. One could understand why Joseph may want to align himself with this image.


All of Barton’s day-to-day Twitter activity is used to reinforce the repositioning of his image and contribute significantly to his overall rebranding.

From the use of his full name (Joseph Barton), to the quasi-patriotic Smiths lyric in place of his Bio.

More interesting than this though, is how throughout the current turmoil surrounding the Magpies, the once irrational thug has become a pillar of diplomacy, as well as oddly philosophical.

Forgive me then for being suspicious that there may being underhand tactics being employed in the Barton camp.

Everything about Barton at the minute is just a little bit too perfect.

Regardless of whether there are PR consultants pulling the strings, one has to acknowledge a shrewdness on Barton’s part to recognise his old self wasn’t making any friends and was detrimenting his career.

At best, his change in image could we attributed to him trying to engineer a move to a top four club. At worst it has gone some way to make him somewhat more palatable to the general public.

*Disclaimer* This post is essentially, merely speculation. In no way do I want to state as fact that Barton has had his reputation managed professionally, nor am I saying he does not have the right to.