Welcome to the latest installment in the Women of Internet Marketing Series, where I talk to Sarah Goodwin, otherwise known as Yoshimi_S. Whether she's making Lisa D. Myers speechless, rescuing homeless rats, or smoking one of those weird USB-ish cigarettes whilst wearing a giant shawl she knitted herself, she is truly one of the most fascinating Brits you'll ever meet.
Q: Give us your background, if you'd be so kind.
A: I'm a university drop out (which is easily explained when I say I was studying accounting) who wandered into sales and then carried on wandering until I fell into SEO about three years ago. Last year I started sticking my head out of the trenches & participating in the SEO community, giving me some great opportunities such as writing for LeedsSEO, and best of all SEO Chicks, and most recently going to work with the wonderful folks at Bloom Media!
Q: How did you find yourself working in the SEO industry?
A: Completely by accident. I was working in sales, doing HR consultancy. One of my clients was an SEO company and they asked me to help them develop a job spec for a sales manager they wanted to take on. Well after I left the meeting I thought, "I've just described my perfect job" so I called them the next day and asked if they would mind if I applied. I started a week later. From there I learnt about SEO and moved from just the sales and account management side to managing the SEO campaigns, and that was that really.
Q: You've just begun a new gig at Bloom Media. What will you be doing there? Any differences in responsibility from the previous job?
A: It's very different. In all my previous roles my main focus has been strategy and account management, here I'm getting the opportunity to get a lot more involved in the link building, and while I'm still going to be working on a lot of the strategy, I'm going to have a lot less client involvement and a lot more hands on work to do. I get the feeling that that's back to front from how most people do things, but I'm really looking forward to getting my hands dirty!
Q: You've recently joined us at the SEO Chicks, and we're thrilled to have you! What can we expect to see from you there, in the coming months?
A: Being the ridiculously organised person that I am I actually already have my next three or four posts planned, and one already written (I'm a freak I know). I'm going to be doing a lot on the new SEO 101 series, and a lot of, what I think of as culture commentary. The culture of the SEO industry fascinates me, as it's so full of big personalities it works differently to any industry I've worked in or with before. So it's my favourite thing to write about.
Q: What are your must-read industry sites? Who are your must-read bloggers? Other than the Chicks, naturally...
A: Oh lord, where to start. there are so many great blogs and bloggers in our industry, I think it goes back to that big personality thing again. For astute observations and industry predictions I love seobook.com, I think SEOmoz is great for beginners & networking, searchcowboys.com is fantastic for news, and I love Huomah.com for really juicy technical information.
Q: What, exactly, is Leeds SEO?
A: We're not really sure at the moment. Stu & Stephen started the blog about 9 months ago, and it's not really settled into it's own niche yet. I think for now it's just a place for the three of us (and a few others who blog there occasionally) to say the things that are too long for twitter, whether that's actual blog posts or just random made up songs. It's a fun place for us to hang out I guess.
Q: How have you found the industry to be, in terms of welcoming you as a relative newcomer? I ask this because I read a lot of people saying it's an unfriendly industry for newbies, but I never felt that myself.
A: I never found the industry to be unwelcoming at all. There were a few comments at times that you couldn't be a real SEO unless you were around since the birth of Lycos, but I disagree with that, and I've never been scared to say so. I think I maybe found it easier than others because I watched the blogs & forums for so long before joining in. I only joined SEOMoz a year ago, so for two and a half years I was watching and learning. But I think that's the key to joining any community. You would have to be stupid to join a new art class and tell people they're doing it wrong, but people do that online all the time. That's where the animosity to newbies comes from I think, rather than the fact that they're new.
Q: Where do you see us heading with social media in the next year? Do you think that microblogging platforms like Twitter have the potential to change the entire landscape of presenting information to the public?
A: They would if the public were on them. I think as an industry we overestimate the effect that things like twitter have on the general public. A perfect example is wave, I posted on facebook to offer out invites and all I got was questions about what it was, with most people just thinking it sounded really complicated. I think we need to be careful not to mistake the uptake of our peers, for the uptake of the "public". There is a long way to go yet before social media use becomes truly mainstream.
Q: What are your thoughts on attempts to label certain SEO practices as unethical?
A: I don't really have any. When I do my campaigns I want them to be useful and relevant for the end user, I want them to generate income for the client. Those two things drive what is ethical for me, what's ethical to do for one client may not be for another. If someone else's line in the sand is drawn differently from mine then that's their business (literally). There are some things that I do find unethical, but they're not restricted to SEO, taking advantage of clients, taking advantage of customers, not providing what's promised, I think those are far more pressing issues than what counts as a paid link.
Q: Link buying seems to be the big bad target right now with Google. Any thoughts on what they (or other engines) will try to crack down on next?
A: I'm kind of hoping they go back to making more on page judgements. To my mind there are too many sites that are providing a crap user experience, or providing dud or copied or regurgitated content, that are ranking well because of the links. I'd like to see them crack down on poor usability and poor informational content. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but the increase in people using no follow, and going to content through social media may (I'm crossing fingers and toes) force them to re-assess how they look at on page factors and assign them more importance.
Q: Have you noticed any differences between SEO in the UK vs. the US? I know you're an active participant in several online communities...anything stand out as being vastly different?
A: Not really, I think that Americans tend a little more towards the dramatic, but that's what makes the forums so interesting. I also get the impression that there's less general SEO awareness with small US businesses, but that really could just be a size thing
Q: Speaking of online communities, which ones have been most valuable to you?
A: The ones that aren't about SEO. Seriously I would recommend to anyone wanting to work in social media in any way, and even to SEO's go and join a community that's about something other than SEO. See the people in the forum help areas asking how they send a message, see how people really communicate online (and by that I mean people who don't spend their lives thinking about the internet). Some people in the industry seem like they have only ever seen customers in the zoo, they need to get out there and see how they behave in their natural habitat.
Q: Ever been involved in any ethical dilemmas in the industry?
A: I don't think so, although I may have, and just steamed on ahead on my own course without noticing.
Now, the fun questions...
Q: You're given a free pass to spam the ever-living heck out of one social media platform like Twitter, Digg, etc. for a client. Which do you choose, and why? Put on your black hat, maybe even one that you've knitted.
A: Ha, I never knit in black, too difficult to see the stitches! You know even with my blackest hat on I can't think of any reason to spam other than to irritate a whole lot of people, so I think I would spam 4chan, because they always like an excuse to be outraged about something.
Q: At the risk of stereotyping anyone here, with whom would you rather have dinner (and pick his brain in a non-zombie fashion): Matt Cutts or Fantomaster?
A: Fantomaster, no Matt Cutts, no Fantomaster...this is the hardest question yet. Don't make me choose, how about I take them both out together, we'd make a cute threesome.
Interviewer's note: I can guarantee you Ralph has better taste in music.
Q: Tell us about the rats. Do you knit them sweaters? How many do you have? Do you give them silly names or proper names like Reginald? Do you knit them hammocks? Do they ever bite you? Do you cook for them?
A: Woah there, one question at a time! I have 8 pet rats, Freya, Hnoss, Saga, Sagatoo (they're twins) Dita, Bullet, Strike & Hel (mostly names of norse goddess Dita was named by her first owner, after Dita Von Teese, and bullet & strike are maniacs, so norse godesses didn't seem appropriate). I don't knit them hammocks, because they might get their little feet stuck, but both Hubs & I sew them hammocks with pretty fleece. I've been bitten quite a few times, but only by 2 of the 15 rats I've owned. I like taking on "problem rats" and rehabilitating them, so the bites were my own fault really. And finally, yes I do cook for them, often they get a little of what we're having or some fresh greens, I did once make little individual lasagnes for them which was quite fun!
Q: Favorite zombie movie, and why? Also, do you really think zombies would move as quickly as they do in certain films? I picture them moving about quite slowly, not darting about.
A: Now you see, you're opening up a whole zombie debate there. George Romero, the king of zombie films says no, they couldn't move that fast, and I would have to agree with him, all that rotting flesh couldn't support that kind of impact (ok I know I take this far too seriously, I'm just glad you didn't ask me about zombie attack plans or I would have been here all day). As for favourite zombie film, I'm going to have to go top 5, because there's no way I can narrow it down to just one, so in ascending order it's, Resident evil, 28 days later, Diary of the dead, Dawn of the dead, and Day of the dead.
Q: You did a truly amazing Southern accent when you were mimicking me. Damn you for that. OK seriously, have you either used it since then, or do you plan to? Like to explain something stupid you've done, or pick up a jockey? Usually works for me.
A: I've tried doing it since and I failed miserably, so either it's something I can only do with you or something I can only do when drunk. So my plan is to come over to visit you and spend the whole time pissed and talking with a southern accent.