Welcome to the latest installment in the Women of Internet Marketing Series, featuring the (obviously) adventurous Mary Bowling from Blizzard Internet Marketing. Blizzard conducts marketing for hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals and has quite an impressive team of talent...with Mary being one of their senior SEOs and, most likely, the staff member most likely to climb Everest or dive with sharks.
Q: 2003 must have been a good year for SEO. That's when you and I both became involved in the field...ahem. What drove you to take the job at Blizzard?
A: I was bored, needed a new challenge and stumbled on the opportunity.
Q: What are your day to day responsibilities at Blizzard?
A: I specialize in Search Engine Optimization, not only optimizing client websites, but establishing best practices and processes and training others.
Q: You teach online courses, speak at conferences...where do you find the time to stay so involved?
A: I am so intrigued by SEO that I can’t help but do it.
Q: What did you do before becoming involved in SEO? Did you ever see yourself doing online marketing, or, like many others, did you simply kind of fall into it from something else?
A: I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for most of my life and after I sold my last business, I retired, which was totally boring. So, I learned to be a ski tech and bike mechanic for the local ski resort’s shop. Once I mastered those skills, I needed something new and interesting to do, so I jumped into Search marketing with both feet.
Q: You're a graduate of the Ultra Advanced Search Engine Marketing Symposium, which is a program targeted at ethical practices only. How has this helped you in the development of in-house Best Practices at Blizzard?
A: When your clients invest tens of thousands of dollars developing websites, you have to protect and build on that investment rather than risk it on shaky tactics. While this may preclude some easy, short term gains, it creates a viable online business that can last well into the future.
Q: What are your thoughts on linkbait?
A: It’s great when it works and it works best when you have something truly valuable to share.
Q: Ever attend conferences where you don't have to speak? Do you think that you get different benefits out of speaking at vs. simply attending a conference?
A: Yes, I’ve been to many conferences where I didn’t speak. You gain attention for yourself and your company with memorable presentations and help to build your reputation.
Q: What is your current main passion in the industry?
A: Local Search. This is where enormous growth is going to take place, as more and more small businesses realize they need to be marketing online. Social media seems to have everyone's interest at the moment. Is this something that you see as constructive on a local level? I’m not much of a social butterfly and like to get straight down to business whenever I can. While I totally get Social Media, I’m too focused on accomplishing tasks to spend much time on those sites.
Q: Do you see more women becoming involved in SEO these days, or are we simply becoming more visible?
A: I definitely see more women in the field. At the first PubCon I went to, it seemed like there were only a handful of women.
Q: What are your must-read blogs/sites each day? We're always glad to hear about the non-industry ones too!
A: I usually don’t read the same blogs everyday. A feed reader is way too distracting for me and there are so many valuable blogs that I like that I have to keep myself from spending all day reading them. I do like to keep an eye out on what’s new and hot on Sphinn and I regularly read the official Google Webmaster Tools and Maps blogs and Matt Cutts, Greg Sterling, David Mihm, DoshDosh, Mike Blumenthal, Sage Lewis, Jerry West, Stephan Spencer, The Kelsey Group and too many more to name.
Now for the fun...
Q: If you could trade jobs with any other SEO for a day, who would you pick? You know that it's quite foolhardy to name your boss in a case like this.
A: It would have to be Matt Cutts, so that I could get the down low on his spam fighting plans from inside the Googleplex.
Q: Name three SEOs you admire but haven't yet met, and tell us what makes them so darned special.
A: I’m lucky enough to have at least met all of my SEO heros at one conference or another. I’m not too shy to sit down at the table with them at lunch, go up and introduce myself to them or bully a friend into introducing me. I still haven’t met Danny Sullivan, though.
Q: Why doesn't Li Evans quit SEO and become a professional karaoke singer? She's freaking amazing, I hear.
A: Hummm, I haven’t heard her singing, but she’s excellent at many things, so why not? What does that pay?
Q: Which SEO has the best avatar? Why do you like it?
A: Today, it’s Graywolf’s Hello Kitty on Twitter. Why? Because I can soooo picture him with that innocent smile and a bow in his hair.
Q: Pick your SEO dream team, with everything from PPC to link building.
A: I started a list and it got totally out of hand. There are so many brilliant people in this industry that I can’t pick just a few of them. I learn something awesome form almost everyone I meet.
In the spirit of Mary's admirable conciseness (something I've never, EVER had), I'd like to conclude by saying thanks to Mary for taking the time to answer my questions and letting us get to know you a little better!