Wow I can't believe its' Wednesday already! That means its time to introduce you all to two more lovely and talented women in our market space. Last week I got the opportunity to let all of you get a closer look into what makes Kim Krause Berg and Rebecca Kelley tick, this week, I bring you Rae *SugarRae* Hoffman and Christine Churchill.
Christine has been involved with the Search Marketing industry for over 10 years now and fell into the profession. The company she worked for at the time needed an internet marketing solution. In the late 90s she was part of an Internet startup (NetMechanic) that originally had no marketing capital. As the lone MBA in the company, she had to learn how to send traffic to the site on a shoestring budget and she became extremely good at it. Now she uses what she learned all of that experience and acquired knowledge to help her current clients’ online businesses with her Dallas, Texas based search marketing firm, Key Relevance.
Christine is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit at Search Engine Strategies, Webmaster World Publishers Conference, High Rankings Seminars, Internet World, and other Internet conferences. She is also a moderator at High Rankings forum where she offers advice to forum members as "HorseCove". To add to her arsenal of search experience, Christine works with Mike Grehan on an e-marketing-news-letter that accompanies Mike's Search Engine Marketing Book.
So here's some Q&A I got to ask Christine:
Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
A:. My main frustration has to be designers who lean so far towards "style" that usability and search engine accessibility suffers. I believe that usable, accessible sites work best for the customer. Unfortunately, those types of sites are often not considered "sexy" so it can be a hard sell.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: My biggest challenge now is maintaining a balanced life and running a company in this demanding and fast-paced industry. The nature of the Search world is all-consuming. That’s what’s so thrilling about it—there’s always continual change, and you have to change too to stay at the leading edge. But that takes it’s toll and it takes discipline and continual effort to keep stepping back and making sure that life’s priorities are being given their proper due.
Q: Where do you see this industry going in the next 5 years?
I think basic marketing principles will continue to grow in importance. In the early days, online marketing was crude. It was more about having a web site than having a strategy. The people who will succeed in the coming years will be well grounded in marketing and psychology. Sure, technological advancements will allow for the proliferation of video and other technologies. But as businesses become more and more savvy about the use of the web, and as the internet, as a medium for business, becomes even more competitive, how well you understand and employ foundational marketing principles will determine how well you will succeed on the web. Now, sound marketing principles will triumph regardless of the technologies employed.
Q: Right now, how many women bloggers/writers/journalists do you read blogs/columns from?
I don't have time to read a lot of blogs but I do occasionally read several women blogger sites including Rae Hoffman's, Debra Mastaler's, Jennifer Slegg's, Amanda Watlington's, and Kim Krause Berg's soulful blog. I especially like Kim's blog - her passion and love for this industry comes across in her posts. I usually find myself smiling when I read her blog so is has become a frequent stop in my Internet travels.
That answer leads us perfectly into our next wonderful woman, Rae Hoffman!
Out of all the women in the industry, Rae (aka "SugarRae") fascinates me the most. This woman is a pure inspiration, so getting to learn more about Rae was an absolute thrill for me. Her accomplishments are amazing as is how she came into SEO.
Rae, like a lot of us in this industry, "fell" into SEO and ended up in the industry completely by accident. She was a young first time mom at twenty and her son ended up with massive medical issues. She built a little webpage that focused on her son's medical issues and it started her down this path. Rae wrote about how she got into the industry and about her son CJ (who's now 9) on her Sugarae blog. The explanation she posted explains everything so much better than I could.
Rae's very involved with Webmaster World and moderates on the Link Development and Yahoo Publisher Network (YPN) forums on the site. She's also a featured speaker at Webmaster World's Pubcon event. Rae is also well known for ranking a "Whitehat" site for a hugely competitive single keyword in a spam filled and dominated industry. Not a lot of people are aware of that aside from Rae and the spammers she competed against in that SERP.
So now for Rae's Q&A:
Q: Why do you like/love this industry?
A: It’s amazing and ever changing. I have a short attention span, but in 8 years, I’ve never gotten bored. This industry has people from all walks of life, all with one common thread of finding something they find exciting and hopefully are good at. We are a diverse industry – I don’t know any other industry in the world like it. I am lucky to have accrued a lot of close friends from this industry – not only business wise, but friends in my personal life as well. And unlike a lot of industries, you’re only limitation in this one is how hard you’re willing to work. There are no degrees or huge startup costs. Anyone with a computer and desire can get into this game… for now. I hope that as we (the industry) evolve into something “more legitimate” in the business world, that we don’t lose that aspect. This industry has changed a lot of people’s lives. I know it did mine. As sappy as that sounds, it’s my honest opinion.
Q: Where do you see this industry going in the next 5 years?
A: Well, that’s a tough one. I think without a crystal ball, it’s pretty hard to make any accurate predictions. I probably have the same odds of guessing which celebrity couples will break up five years from now. ;-) But, I’d have to say that what I currently see is more and more big businesses waking up to the money they’ve left on the table over the years with this whole “search engine marketing thing”. As they enter the space with their big budgets and aggressive desires for rankings, I think we’ll see smaller businesses struggling to be seen on generic keywords. And these big businesses are going to need SEO directors, managers and employees. I see big business coming, small businesses working harder and a lot of independent SEO’s becoming corporate. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep what I stated was good about this industry in tact while it occurs.
Q: Who’s your favorite blogger to read?
A: Well, another tricky question. Some of the best SEO’s I’ve ever met in my life are unknowns – and they like it that way. So, a hat tip to those guys… they know who they are. As far as “public SEO personas” from a professional level; Rand Fishkin is someone I genuinely enjoy reading. He is definitely at the top of my list on people I read regularly. He’s a very genuine person in general too. Michael Gray is another person who I think is extremely smart and ravenously hungry. If you want cutting edge, follow him. Brad Geddes is always schooling even the old dogs in regards to pay per click information. If Brad states it, I’m pretty willing to bank on it.
Q: Who do you feel is a leader in this industry and why?
A: As far as a female, in my mind, there is one woman who stands well above the rest in the SEO arena. She’s a phenomenal SEO in general. But, she is the example I hope to live up to in regards to being a female in this industry and that’s Christine Churchill. I knew early on after meeting her she was smart, funny and very genuine. But I’ve had the chance to spend some one on one time with her over the last few years. She is incredibly talented and good at what she does. She is also very business savvy – but in an upfront way. Christine is real, she hasn’t changed herself to be a leader in this industry, but she is no pushover either. And she has never been in contact with the ego bug; she completely lacks one. If I sound like I admire her, I do. I hope that more women in this industry take the time to meet her and learn from her. I know I take every chance I can to do so.
I have to agree with Rae on that last sentiment, it's why I chose to feature Christine!
Stop back next Wednesday for the next installment in the Women of Internet Marketing Series!