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November 07, 2007

Women of Internet Marketing Wednesdays - Part 26

By Li Evans

Womenofinternetmarketing Welcome back for another week of our weekly series, Women in Internet Marketing.  Did you know we're fast approaching the one year mark of the series?  Next month will mark that anniversary, and it's hard to believe this series is still going strong.  I want to give the audience a bit of a heads up, due to the holiday and my heavy travel schedule, it's likely there will not be editions on November. 28th or December 5th.  I might be able to pull together the 28th's edition, but if I can it'll be a surprise to you all!

Now, let me get moving onto our two fabulous ladies for this Wednesday's edition! Both of our ladies in this edition have been in the industry for well over 5 years.  One fell in love with Google Adwords, while the other found love with SEO copywriting.  One of our ladies is a well know face on the speaking circuit and considered a leader in the industry, while our other woman has taken on the amazing task of helping a new startup increase it's natural search traffic on a shoestring budget.  Today, let me introduce you to Heather Lloyd-Martin and Susan Urban.

Heather Lloyd-Martin
Heather_llloyd_martin Heather Lloyd-Martin is one of the most recognizable names in the Search Industry.  I remember going back maybe 5 years now, hearing about her and was just amazed.  Then I saw Heather speak and I became a fan.  Heather is a speaker at the SES conferences, usually you'll see her on the SEO writing panels with Jill Whalen.

Heather's been in the industry for over 9 years now, and is known as one of the industry's authorities when it comes to SEO copy writing.  Starting out as a freelance writer, she started doing freelance writing for Jill Whalen.  Soon after things took off, and today she owns her own company called SuccessWorks, and is the author of the popular book Successful Search Engine Copywriting.  Now, let me allow you the SMG audience to learn a little more about Heather.

Q:   What brought you into the Search Marketing Industry?
A:  I completely and totally fell into the opportunity! Back in 1998 or so, I was working as a freelance writer and followed a discussion list called WEB (Women Talk Business.) Actually, many of today’s well-known businesswomen participated on that discussion list. That was a very cool time in the world as we helped each other figure out how to leverage the online environment and create a successful business.

Through that list, I met Jill Whalen. Jill was a SEO even back then. She needed a copywriter, as she believed (and was one of the first in search to feel this way) that good copy made good business sense.  I wrote, she liked what I wrote, and I discovered the synergy behind “old-school” copywriting principals and “new-school” SEO.  Soon after (1999, I believe), we started the RankWrite newsletter, which focused on SEO tips and SEO copywriting. Then things started moving whirlwind-fast. Suddenly, I was on conference circuits, writing books, traveling (and I hardly ever travelled away from my college-town cabin back then.) Wow. I look back and wonder how it ever happened like it did.

Q:   Most successful industry accomplishment?
A:  People ask me this all the time and I tell them that I have no idea. Seriously, I feel so blessed, that every day feels like a successful accomplishment.  There have been “bigger” moments that have touched me. Like, speaking in Amsterdam for the very first time (that was even the first time that I travelled to Europe by myself. Consulting with my first Fortune 100. Being invited to chair the Direct Marketing Association’s Search Engine Marketing Council. Those milestones were cool. I feel very lucky to have had those experiences.

Maybe the biggest accomplishment is that I’m still working in search – I haven’t burned out yet like some (close…but I’ve always pulled back.)  I have my own business, I do things my own way, and I’m happy most the time.  Search marketing has allowed me a measure of freedom that has let me do what I want to do. And that freedom is important to me.

Q:   Why do you love most about working this industry?
A:  Search is extremely fast-paced, which suits my personality perfectly! I’m never bored, there’s always something new to learn and I can travel when I want. That’s pretty cool!

What I really enjoy most, though, are all the friends that I’ve met over the years. In a way, all of the search marketing old-timers grew up together. It’s amazing to think about the large number of folks turning 40 (or getting really close to 40) who started their search careers while in their late 20’s/early 30’s. It’s fun to work and hang out with the best and the brightest. I feel very lucky to have that opportunity.

Q:   Do you think search marketing professionals get a bad "rep" outside of our industry?
A:  Sure, I think that that perception is out there. Unfortunately, some businesses did get ripped off by unethical search firms.  A couple particularly bad instances saw some press, so that certainly didn’t help build our reputation.

At the same time, I haven’t heard the “You’re as bad as a used car saleswoman” line for a long time. People are seeing quite a bit of success from their search marketing campaigns, and those results are finally getting noticed. Plus, as prospects become more educated about what ethical search marketing is – and is not – they can make more informed buying decisions. Are scam artists still out there? Sure. They’re in every industry. But, as long as we can prove that search marketing strategies are driving new business, gaining qualified leads and increasing brand awareness, we’ll always have something to show the “nay-sayers.”

Q:   Can you give us a brief background on the services Success Works provides?
A:  Of course! We specialize in SEO copywriting, training and content development strategies. Back in the day, I spent about 100% of my time writing copy. Now, that’s split 50/50 with SEO copywriting training (either in-house or online) and consulting.  I’m finding that companies prefer learning SEO copywriting skills and creating content in-house, so I’m spending a lot of time teaching. Which is cool – training is fun!

I’m also seeing quite a few businesses request content reviews. These are folks who may not be ready for a total copywriting overhaul yet – but they want to understand their opportunities and challenges.

Success_works_logo_2 Q:   What's a typical day like for you?
A:  The day always begins with a Starbucks, extra-hot soy latte. Always.  Rain or shine, I walk there for my morning fix. It’s the only way I can wake up! It’s a painful thing if there’s not a Starbucks nearby when I’m on the road.

I used to spend a lot of time managing the work flow and responding to what seemed like 1,000 emails every day. Just recently, I’ve moved myself out of the day-to-day and into strategic planning and writing. A lot of different business initiatives are coming together in 2007 and will be announced in 2008, so I’ ve been expending energy in those directions. Good news: there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I should be finished with everything by December 21. Just in time for the holidays.

If I’m on the road, I sleep as long as I can, do what I need to do, and then head to bed early…OK. So you’re not buying the “head to bed early” part. Well, OK, so I may be out “networking” at various “events.”  But it’s only for business reasons!

Q:   What's the most challenging thing you have to do deal with as a woman owning your own Search Marketing Firm?
A:  I get asked that question quite a bit. You know, I’ve never felt that my chick-ness has contributed to any unique challenges. Do I have work/life balance issues? Oh, you bet. Do I wish that I had more time to keep in touch rather than keep on working? Yes. And I know my male colleges feel the same way. So, we’re in the same boat.

I should include here that the Men of Search have been nothing but supportive during my SEO ride. I have learned from them, hung out with them, and, with some folks  (you know who you are) cried on their shoulders. I don’t know what I’d do without them. My gender has only been an issue once – and the situation was so insane that it made walking away from the deal a snap. I’ve been fortunate.

Q:   You've been around in this industry quite a while, what changes in the search industry have taken you by surprise?
A:  That’s a hard question. In one way, nothing has really surprised me. We’re a young industry that’s quickly growing up – and that means consolidation, integration and – of course – more monetization. I suppose the most surprising thing is how fast things have moved. Once upon a time, people hardly knew what a search engine was – much less how to use one. Now, search and searching behavior have entered our normal day-to-day lives. If I need a question answered, I go online. If I need a phone number, I forgo the phone book and go straight to a search engine.  If I want to research a company, I Google it. For good or bad, search has given us the power of fast answers and instant gratification. Amazing.

Q:   What advice would you give to a woman starting out in this industry?
A:  Basically, the same advice that I would give anyone who is looking to enter our crazy world. Know your skills and don’t try to be everything to everyone. Improve your skills by taking every training opportunity you can get. Make friends with industry leaders and learn from them. Decide how to effectively brand yourself, whether you’re working for a company, or doing your own thing. If you’re starting your own shop, understand how to price for your marketplace and always (always) deliver top quality. And, perhaps most importantly: Know that search is a fast-paced world that can be extremely fun – or incredibly consuming.  It’s easy to have multiple balls in the air and burn out without noticing. Don’t let that happen to you.

Q:   Who's your favorite blogger to read (can be any, doesn't have to be SEM/SEO related)?
A:  Web Workers Daily. It’s by geeks, for geeks.

Q:   PPC, SEO or Social Media?
A:  SEO and a smattering of social media (more all the time.)

Q:   Google Adwords or Yahoo Panama?
A:  Yahoo.

Now for the fun part that everyone likes!

Q:   What is the most memorable event that's happened at all of the conference you've been at?
A:  Ooohhh…yes….there are quite a few memorable events out there. My personal favorite was Buddy Guy’s bar during SES Chicago 2005. Buddy Guy actually got on stage and played a song (he’s so awesome) which was amazing to see. Everyone was blowing off steam, relaxed and having a great time. I think I danced more that night than at any other conference! A lot of things happened that night, most of which are filed under, “What happens  at SES, stays at SES..” That was a fun night.

Q:   Gord Hotchkiss, Kevin Ryan or Brett Tabke?
A:  Ooh, they all have their advantages!

  • Gord Hotchkiss: The beard. I love guys with beards.  I hope he never shaves it (and I don’t want to know if he does!).
  • Kevin Ryan: He and I had some giggles during one of the SES San Jose panels. A sense of humor is always a good thing.
  • Brett Tabke: There is a scandalous-looking picture of Brett and me in a taxi where I’m lying across his lap. The story behind it is that a bunch of us were heading to GoogleDance, and the only way that I could fit in the taxi is to lie across the laps of Detlev Johnson, Jim Boykin and Brett Tabke. Scandalous looking, yes. But it was completely innocent.

Q:   You are in charge of recasting the Gilligan’s Island show with folks from the SEO/SEM industry, who would have fill the following characters?
A: 

  • Skipper: Detlev Johnson. C’mon – can’t you hear him saying “Li’l Buddy?”
  • Gilligan:  Why does Matt Bailey come to mind with this? Hmm. Don’t know. But I stand by my answer!
  • Mary Ann: Definitely Christine Churchill. Like Mary Ann, Christine is sweet, smart and cute.
  • Mr. Howell: Daron Babin
  • Mrs. Howell: Brandy Shapiro-Babin
    I actually chose Daron and Brandy because they are one of the few married couples in search. Not because that they really remind me of Mr. and Mrs. Howell.
  •  
  • The Professor: Mike Grehan. I see him puffing on a pipe while enjoying a tasty glass of Merlot.
  • Ginger:  I’ve always seen Ginger as a major bimbo, and I can’t think of any women who would qualify as such. Yet, I see some Ginger-glamour in almost every search chick.  Let’s just say that we’re all as fabulous as Ginger – without the bimbo qualities!

Thanks Heather!  You know you're right about Gilligan, hmmm I think Matt just might beat me when he sees me next for agreeing with you!

Now lets learn about our next women of internet marketing interviewee, Susan Urban

Susan Urban
Susan_urban_payscale Susan Urban had an addiction, it was an addiction most of us are quite familiar with - one to Google Adwords!  She landed in the search industry about 6 years ago, although she'd been dabbling in online marketing for over a decade.  Her love of search and Adwords started with her position at a small cruise company and it continued to grow.

Today Susan is the SEO/SEM for a startup based in Seattle, Washington called PayScale.  I was intrigued by Susan when I met her in San Jose this past August and wondered how being a search marketer for this type of company must be challenging.  So, let find out just how challenging it is!

Q:   Can you give us a brief background on what PayScale does?
A:  PayScale is a service that lets individuals and businesses compare salary to others with similar job titles and experience in the same city. Basically, PayScale helps people answer the question, “what am I worth?”  PayScale also just came out with Meeting Miser, a widget that tracks meeting costs. I personally like to use Meeting Miser to show how much time we waste because people are late for meetings.

Q:   What's a typical day like for you at PayScale?
A:  After walking through the door wondering … will I actually do what I have planned today? I grab a red bull to gain the needed energy to answer way too many emails. I take a break from answering email by reading the Daily Search Cap to get caught up on the previous day’s search news. After getting a bunch of new ideas from the numerous search articles and blogs, I increase my search To-Do list to make sure it stays above 1000 items. After these morning rituals, I don’t really have a typical day. I might be determining the SEO strategy for the newest product, building multi-variate PPC landing page tests, optimizing new SEO content, tagging our content across social media, determining new conversion strategies or just work on increasing my search task list to 2000 items.

Payscale_logo Q:   What's the most challenging thing you have to do deal with in your position at PayScale?
A:  Working for a small tech startup, it is the typical battle for IT resources. Getting the company to prioritize quick SEO improvements over new functionality is true combat ;-)

Q:   What brought you into the Search Marketing Industry?
A:  I started playing with Google Adwords for a small cruise company, and I was instantly addicted. Since I’m an extremely competitive person, the immediacy of results got me hooked. Rather than waiting months to determine how the direct mail campaign really performed, I found myself jumping on the computer in the middle of the night to tweak by Google Adwords campaigns. It didn’t matter if I was in a boring meeting, at home or on vacation, I was always tweaking my ad copy and landing pages. I have recovered from my Google Adwords addiction. I hired a very efficient Seattle PPC agency that provides great group PPC therapy.

Q:   Most successful industry accomplishment?
A:  I’d say doubling the natural search engine traffic to PayScale.com in just nine months…or perhaps increasing b2b leads for a government business intelligence company by tenfold through pay-per-click.  For some reason, SEO accomplishments for small companies are much more satisfying. I think it’s because you have to really battle for IT resources to make even the smallest SEO change. And for a small business on a shoestring marketing budget, you have to get very creative.

Q:   Why do you love most about working this industry?
A:  I love that it is a constantly changing industry. One day the new term Social Media Optimization is coined. The next week people groan and complain about the new phrase. The next month it is a key component to SEO strategies. And now, social media marketing is thought of by some as the new SEO. There is always something new to learn…

Q:   What changes in the search industry have amazed you the most?
A:  The impact of social media on search. With Google OpenSocial launching and Microsoft investing $240 million in Facebook, search is truly going social.

Q:   How important is the art of link baiting?
A:  Quality links are everything today. It’s hard to get new pages ranked without having a solid linking strategy. Being a small business site that has over a million pages, but only a small portion indexed… if I don’t bait the hook, we won’t be having fish for dinner.

Q:   What advice would you give to a woman starting out in this industry?
A:  Self education and keeping up-to-date is extremely important. Read search blogs; listen to podcasts; watch webinars. Go to SES and then graduate to SMX. You’ll need the knowledge and your facts organized to go into battle for resources, especially if you are working for a small company.

Q:   Who's your favorite blogger to read?
A:  I don’t have a favorite blog or even one blog that I read every day. I’m really too busy adding things to my To-Do list to read anything regularly other than SearchCap. SearchCap does lead me to many of my favorite blogs: SEOmoz, Stephen Spencer, TechCrunch, SEOBook and Bruce Clay. I also love to read the LinkWeek column on Search Engine Land.

Q:   PPC or SEO?
A:  SEO all the way! PPC is a discipline. SEO is an art form.

Q:   MySpace or Facebook, or something else?
A:  Linkedin.

And now, it's Susan's turn to show us her silly side!

Q:   What is the most bizarre job that you have seen that PayScale tracks in its system?
A:  Master of Wood. This position is at a Whiskey Distillery. (It is also interesting to note that PayScale has a complete salary information for Adult Film Actors and Actresses.)   Li:  Master of Wood.... Why do I hear Beavis & Butthead laughing in the back of my head? LOL

Q:   Lee Odden, Andy Beal or Chris Sherman?
A:  Chris Sherman. He is the “easy listening” station on my PC. I do my monotonous keyword research and body text optimization while listening to his webinars. Compared to Danny Sullivan’s lively and entertaining  podcast rants, it is soothing.

Q:   You are in charge of recasting the Partridge Family show with folks from the SEO/SEM industry, who would have fill the following characters?
Patridge_seo A: 

  • Shirley Partridge (she's the mom): Gillian Muessig
  • Keith Partridge: Rand Fishkin
  • Danny Partridge: Danny Sullivan
  • Laurie Partridge: Vanessa Fox
  • Tracy Partridge: Amanda Camp
  • Chris Partridge: Lee Odden
  • Reuben Kincaid (band manager): Chris Sherman

    I had so much fun recasting the Partridge Family, I had to attach a photo of the new cast. (Too bad I’m not good enough at Photoshop for this to make Search Illustrated.)

Thanks Susan, and that picture is hilarious! :) My sincere appreciation to both Susan and Heather for allowing me to interview them and let all of you know a little more about them!

Stop back next week for Part 27 so you can learn about two more women within our Search Industry, but to hold you over until then, catch up on all our past interviews in our Women of Internet Marketing category!

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» SearchCap: The Day In Search, November 12, 2007 from Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing
Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.... [Read More]

Comments

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Thanks so much for sharing your notes. This is really great - great questions, inspiring and informative answers.

This is truly inspiring that an increasing number of women are getting into internet marketing business day by day. Thanks for sharing such a nice information.

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