April 06, 2011

Women of Internet Marketing Interview with Claire Carlile

By Julie Joyce



Welcome to the next interview in the Women of Internet Marketing Series, where today we have the utterly lovely and sweet Claire Carlile. Now, a few introductory words about this little fairy...


 I first encountered Claire online (like you do) and immediately thought she was a nut. I mean that in a very, very good way too, as I like nuts. When I finally met her in person a month or so ago, she was even better than I expected and we had so much fun in London, especially when we drank cocktails with Jane Copland. As you'll see, she's pretty much 100% ego-free, genuine, and a total insane piece of joy in a Barbour coat.

Q: For those of us unfamiliar with you and your work, can you give us some background on who you are, how you got started in SEO, and what you're up to currently?

A: I’m Claire Carlile, I’m a Chartered Marketer based in Pembrokeshire on the beautiful West Wales coastline. I’ve worked with a range of small to medium sized businesses on their offline and online marketing for years, my interest in SEO was piqued when I started to explore the online opportunities it presented for my clients – and I guess it all went from there.

Q: How is it doing SEO in such a remote place? How do you keep a connection to the industry?

A: Initially it was pretty frustrating, and I struggled with feeling isolated. But then I spent some time in the big city and got to know quite a few people there, and these connections followed me back to the sticks in an online sense. I have some great friends and contacts that I’ve met online, then I’ve gone on to meet in the flesh (which has a kind of blind date feel about it), and now we’re firm friends. One of my ‘real’ offline friends (he sells Italian meats) laughed at me for referring to my industry as having an ‘SEO community’, and in my experience that’s how it’s been – generally very friendly, supportive and giving. I guess there isn’t an equivalent community in the sausage industry, more fool them.



Also, I’ve just started working for a lovely digital agency in Bristol (shall I name check them? They’re called Yucca), which means that I’m part of a really switched on digital team. I get to spend a week a month with them in their airy offices, and then the rest of the month working from home, holed up in my office wearing my PJs. I think this will offer me the best of both worlds and I’m really excited about it.

Q: I know it's April already, but what are your predictions for the industry for the remainder of 2011?

A: Ooh la la. Well, I guess people are still talking and thinking about the panda / farmer update, and now people are buzzing about Google’s plus one and what this is going to mean. Being of a marketing persuasion – and at that a customer oriented marketing persuasion – I’m really hoping that increased use of social metrics (whatever that might look like) will result in improved search placements for sites that really do have the needs, requirements and expectations of their customers and audiences at the forefront of their online offering. Did that sound really cheesy? I think I was just a little bit sick in my mouth.

I think we’ll hear increasingly about how SEO is not ‘just’ SEO anymore, and how it works best as part of a suite of online marketing practices, and not in isolation. Good SEOs will also be more like good PRs, more aware of how to leverage online and offline relationships to result in links or social ‘votes’. Oh, and I’m interested to see how ‘social spam’ develops. Like link farms and link networks, I guess there will be a growing network of fake social profiles. The one’s I’ve seen so far suck, so I’m interested to see the evolution of these, and how the search engines will differentiate ‘good’ social signals from those that have been gamed.

Q: Are there any areas of SEO in which you have no experience? Anything in particular that you view as your area of expertise?

A: I consider myself an SEO newbie in many senses as I’ve been learning and doing SEO full time for just over 4 years. I’ve constantly got my head in a book (reading Danny Dover’s new offering at the moment) or nosing through a blog, I don’t have a technical background, but I’m teaching myself to be more become more familiar with the technical side of SEO. Expertise wise, I try and stay on top of Google Places and local search opportunities. I like to work with businesses on ranking their local pages, and putting systems into place (for example customer feedback loops) that will allow them to continue to accrue reviews, but also to help them deliver excellent customer service.

Also, I’m a big fan of keyphrase research and love getting involved with this, ideally in the early stages of a project and then feeding all the learnings back into their IA planning, into new product and service offerings that the business hadn’t necessarily thought about or realized there was demand for, or for planning informational and ‘how to’ content for their site that will help them rank for lots of really interesting mid and long tail keyphrases. 

Q: What are your go-to SEO tools?

A: Now there’s a question. I recently had to trim back my toolbar fetish as I wasn’t using half of them. If I had to name just a few I would say the web developer toolbar for making site audits much easier, SEOQuake for at a glance metrics, live http headers to work out sketchy redirects and the SEOMoz toolbar for a basic poke around in the page title tag etc.

For link analysis I like Open Site Explorer and Majestic, and I’d love to get my hand on the Ontolo toolset (any offers Garrett French?). Ooh, and I do like the SEO gadget keyword tool for keyphrase research, it saves my brain from trying to understand excel stuff, and is a nice way to make sense and categorize very large sets of keyphrase research and data.

Q: Can you think of anything in particular that you once thought to be true and have since found out was not? For example, I used to believe that Toolbar PR actually was a decent metric. I no longer do.

A: About 10 years ago I went on an SEO training course run by a self proclaimed ‘SEO guru’ who told me and the other SMB owner participants that submitting your product or service to Google base would be the panacea for all ranking related ills and that we’d all miraculously rank for our keyphrases on the back of this. I slavishly updated my listings weekly to no avail. Fun times.

Q: On the issue of Toolbar PR, are there any other metrics that you are using in order to gauge the value of a site?

A: Metrics aside I’ll have a little look around first to get a feel for the site; is it answering the visitors question and meeting their needs? Is above the fold stuffed with ads? How is the user experience, in general? I guess this is a more qualitative overview, because even if you can get the visitor to your site if it basically makes them want to puke and hit the back button then you’re not onto a winner. I guess it also depends on what the ‘value’ of the site means, for example the site’s likelihood of ranking for a particular query, or how likely that site is to send you qualified traffic.

From a quantitative point of view I’ll look at and consider the number of links to the domain, the number of unique domains linking in, the authority of that domain and associated page (be that Google TBPR or the proprietary score of a tool such as OSE or Majestic), domain age and all that regular stuff. I guess we’re having to factor in social signals too – is there an active and / or authoritative twitter or facebook account associated with that site? What about other social networks? How often does that site get mentioned, or links to that site get tweeted. I guess it’s not just about links, it’s also about social citations. Eek!

Q: Let's say I am your new client and I want assurances that you'll rank me in the top 10 in 3 months. How can you convince me of the insanity of this request?

A: Ok, it’s insane. But I might promise to rank you for ‘sweet Southern red headed SEO temptress’. Scrap that, don’t search for that, whatever you do! Do I have to answer this one seriously? I have to find a way to manage their expectations. It’s different with each client. I like to be strict.

Q: Have you ever done any SEO that's backfired?

A: It hasn’t backfired yet, but I am waiting for it to. It’s not for a client, it’s a personal project, that’s all I can say ;)

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the industry over the next year?

 A: I want to continue to learn, and to be excited and engaged by what I do every day. I like working with new people, being part of a digital team has always been a goal of mine, and I’m really looking forward to being part of an integrated digital marketing agency, so I can understand more about the synergies of, and opportunities presented by, different online marketing channels.

I want to blog more, my own site (Claire Carlile Marketing) gets woefully overlooked on the blogging front. I find it much easier to create content for my clients and I’m much more reticent to blow my own trumpet. I think that’s terribly British, do you think?

Ok well that's enough of that...now onto the real stuff I wanted to ask.

Q. What's it like living in one of the most gorgeous places on Earth? (note from me: need a photo here that doesn't have a naked gun-belted man in it?) Is remote hassling of poor Sam Murray even remotely as good as in-person hassling?

A: OK, all the things that Sam said about the things I used to make him do when I was working with him at Verve – they’re not true! Ok, some of them are – like walking on his back when he’d hurt himself, oh, and making him feel my biceps after every gym session. I think he really misses me.



Q: You seem to be very fit, which frightens me. What was the impetus behind getting in great shape and have you beaten anyone up yet? Gotten into any Welsh bar brawls? If not, do you plan to?

A: I row a big wooden boat called a gig – we row on the sea and each year we compete in the world gig rowing championships in the Isles of Scilly, which is an awesome event with over 100 boats on the start line which makes for an exciting and scary time. We tend to be much smaller in stature than the other ladies teams – I guess we’re a team of Welsh little people, so we tend not to pick fights because we’re scared. Oh, and because we are nice gentle folk. I did go through a stage of arm wrestling other ladies, and then there was a period of  Innuit ear pulling, but that really hurt.

Q: What SEO have you met that caused you to be the most star-struck? Obviously it was me but for the sake of things, who else?

 A: Basically just you. Oh, and Jay. And when I met Lisa Myers, and then when I saw Rand Fishkin’s back in a pub in London once. Oh, and at SES London I made Lee Odden get his photo taken with me, and I put my arm round him. He looked uncomfortable, but stayed totally professional and didn’t take out a restraining order. Yet.

Q: Would you rather go to a bar with loads of strict old-school blackhats or whitehats? Why?

A: Really, I prefer bobble hats, or one of those mini top hats that you wear at a jaunty angle on the side of your head, like a show girl.

Q: Write a somewhat dirty limerick about SEOs. Do it. Now.

A: Well, I would do, if I wasn’t already 3 weeks late returning the answers to your questions. I started writing something, but it was just too rude. Can I come back to it?


October 20, 2010

Interview with Disa Johnson: Women of Internet Marketing Series

By Julie Joyce



Welcome to the latest (and possibly greatest) installment in the Women of Internet Marketing Series, where we interview, um, women. Today's interview should definitely interest you, as it's none other than Disa Johnson, a very outspoken SEO known as much for her brilliance in in the field as for the fact that she used to be male. I had the honor to meet her in person at SMX East recently and we'll soon be seeing her blogging a LOT.



Q: For anyone unfamiliar with the phenomenon that is AirDisa, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into SEO?

A: I was always interested in the arts. I dabbled in painting and it was by studying music that I assumed a career as an accomplished musician. In the nineteen eighties, I took note of how technology was changing music as a whole. I used to listen to records on vinyl, but I was the first on my block to own CDs and a player. Peter Gabriel's So record was the first ever to use digital equipment through the entire process from recording to CD. I was fascinated by that.

It was about that time that I also read a piece in the LA Times about new equipment called digital modems using telecommunications networks for household computer to computer data connectivity. That intrigued me greatly too. In one instant, I saw that musicians of the future would be empowered to distribute their music individually, without label support, using this new technology. I learned all I could about computers and the Internet so that I would be prepared for the change to music.

I started out with a 14.4k baud modem surfing local bulletin boards. The rest is SEO history.

I've worked as an expert witness on matters of Web technology and search for the US Post Office and several trademark cases involving Google rankings and competition acting unfairly. My attorney would probably advise me that it's a growth area for my business hah hah! It's always been good to have in my arsenal of skills, and been good for the health of my consulting practice. If you know SEO, and you are extremely savvy about legal matters of copyright, trademark and digital publishing, then it can be rewarding.

I had a hand in helping Danny build the SES conference series, and a little to do with SMX as well. He has so many moderators these days that it's hard to imagine when Danny and I were the only ones starting out trying to cover as many topics as we had then. We began with expert roundtables with up to five topics per room. We quickly realized these discussions deserved one room per topic. We had a two track conference for years, until Danny hired Chris and utilized all the SEO personalities that grew out of those early conversations.

Q: You've made no secret out of the fact that you were once Detlev Johnson. As you were a big name then and now, as Disa Johnson, can you speak to how you were treated as a male in the industry vs. a female? I must say that you have a totally unique perspective!

A: I'm having the time of my life. I always loved my life as Detlev too. I like to think of these things as equal overall, but with different benefits (obviously). People treat me differently in the realm of courtesy and respect. Detlev generally commanded instant respect, and now I can safely assume a certain courtesy will be extended to be by men that have self-respect. These aren't absolutes. There are both men and women out there who act badly. I think most people have had such experiences.

Q: Are there any people you've worked with both as Detlev and as Disa? If so, are there any differences in the before and after relationships?

A: Oh yes. I'd say it took a serious turn in every sense working with people and not everybody chose to continue working with me. The exception are the women owned businesses. Everybody I knew previously from women owned businesses generally just had one or two questions, and we then moved on like before.

Most SEO firms are owned by men though. There would be some difficult questions, difficult for them, mind you. I am open about anything to try and help people get it. Things moved on with male owned business often as though I were still Detlev, or until I made them laugh with a joke or two to break the ice. Sometimes someone would brave a joke, and I always love to see a guy try hard to make light when I know their wheels are turning uncomfortably.

At first, you see, my voice hadn't noticeably changed. Most of my work starts over the phone. It's very difficult to not sound like Detlev on day one. Even after a year I have people slipping and calling me Detlev and using male pronouns with me on the phone. That's an indication that they see me as the guy Detlev was. When they catch themselves, they believe they have to correct it out loud and apologize profusely.

I take it upon myself to inhabit Disa. Most of my friends have made the adjustment quickly, impressively fast. Only one or two can't easily hack the switch. Over time they will all make the switch. I'm reaching that point now. My voice is a lot different. You can go back to WebmasterRadio.FM archives with me on it and hear for yourself how I shifted my voice.

Q: Can you tell us about your new webcrawler tool?

A: It's a thing of beauty. It's the first distributable crawler, meaning that the same code runs on any device's browser with a Javascript Interpreter. That's a lot of browsers including mobile versions. For account holders, it securely communicates with a database at Search Return. Given that it's distributable, the crawler is only limited by how many browsers you can run. On the desktop, you can run it inside as many tabs as you have memory to handle. It can't be stopped, spoofed or limited by any site since it uses the browser engine. You can even crawl behind pass-protection.

Q: Where do you see us going with mobile SEO? Will it continue to be popular? I confess to being very poorly informed about all things mobile. I'd especially like to know your thoughts about how the ipad will continue to factor into our lives, because I like to justify the cost.

A: Mobile SEO is becoming increasingly important. At this time, just get your content in mobile format. Google's new basic SEO document spells it out clearly. They want site owners to think about mobile. The adoption of mobile has gone according to past forecasts, at a faster clip than other platforms of Web computing. I have completely mobilized my office in anticipation of our mobile future, our crawler looks fabulous on an iPad.

My advice is to think of mobile in two ways: Mobilized legacy SEO services with boots on the ground at your client's place of business using an iPad or similar device. Also consider the biz dev situation at a conference, or at an Admirals Club or Starbucks. Laptops have become clumsy. The other thing to make sure to learn, is what works and what doesn't work on mobile devices. There's a whole new reason to avoid Flash. I may be able to view Flash on my iPad with a string of apps, but it's not conducive to the interactive style of Flash in any case.

If Jakob Nielsen says: "Flash is 99% Bad" on the desktop, Flash is 100% awful on mobile devices with a touchscreen. Flash is just doomed to fail for anything but banners and games. As for the iPad, it's selling 4.5 times faster than the original iPhone. There's no stopping it. That said, our crawler will run on any device with a browser and full Javascript Interpreter (which would include any surprise competitors).

Q: When you say you're truly mobile, what exactly does that mean? Can you truly do all your work (even coding) from mobile devices? I'm a bit scared of messing with a spreadsheet on my iPad still.

A: I'm at Starbucks. I could also be anywhere I have coverage with my data plan. I can crawl the Web with my software and use apps to accomplish virtually any task I handle in my business. It wasn't easy to get to this point, a lot like it's not easy to switch sex. It takes commitment to a whole different level. You have to start to cut all the ties with the past and forge new dependencies on mobile communication, which is scary.

Critical spreadsheet info is not so easy to handle but it's possible once you are comfortable with the limitations. If you have to handle macros scripts in your Excel, use Word comments regularly then you're going to be disappointed even by Microsoft Mobile 7. The iPad can open Excel and I can change data cells but writing macros is something I would do on my laptop at home. I would do that from my iPad by logging into my laptop at home via the iPad. I do everything but writing source code native to the mobile device I'm using.

Q: What is the AltaDisaSEO℠ Score?  Also while we're getting technical, If you could list 5 skills necessary for a good technical SEO, what would they be?

A: AltaDisa SEO is essentially a set of scores that are unique to my way of thinking about SEO. Being a vet, there are things which are painfully obvious to me which somehow go neglected by today's SEO. My Pagerank Integrity(sm) score is specific to a site's links. Every other tool that analyzes these things get into unnecessary complexity too quickly, and often skip the most obvious big thing you want to know.

I also have a Related Indexed Backlinks score. My AltaDisa trademark is established as a placeholder for the compilation of all these scores into a search engine for account holders. I have SEO practices that I've quietly held on to which is published throughout the application. As far as skills, I've always highly valued writing skills in this business.

It's not enough just to be a good writer though. Marketing savvy is an important accompaniment. In potential employees I look for an information filtering process, which is absolutely necessary on the Web. I don't require tech experience, but I do look for people clever enough to spot dynamic objects at play on a page. The last two skills go hand in hand when considering bots. Recognize dynamic objects and screen your incoming information.

I had an employee burn out within 6 months at age 24 because he tried to keep up with 3,000 feeds of SEO news sources. He knowingly read something like sixteen versions of the same story looking for whatever insight, I don't know. He eventually lost it, the poor soul. I don't ever want to repeat that and hurt anybody's brain. Filter new information first by noting that bots create the third half of all the Web's content, and go from there. The Web is all fluff and bad SEO.

Yesterday, I saw what I consider bad SEO at CNET. They're an authority that rank exceedingly well. How could they screw this up? I searched for a release date for an iPad copycat device, and in the result set was a CNET review with 'release date' text. I would have been satisfied with a simple rumor. The CNET page was an auto-generated empty review page, keywords in the title, ranking top ten for the tablet I was looking up. That's just daft and a bad search experience which reflects most poorly on Google.

It's a win for the SEO, who probably used a ranking report to show off, but is a total failure for CNET who pays them good money for wrong-headed advice. The most important skill in SEO that is actually doing SEO. Everyone wants a 'push button cash machine' like CNET in their portfolio. Because CNET buys the bells and whistles, and would rave about the most modest gains when viewed through the tiny lens of an upward moving line graph.

I look for anyone who has the sense to do better than that.

Q: Anything going on in SEO today that you hate? I'll go first by saying that I truly despise both the debate about "ethics" and Google Instant. That's right. I've disabled you!!

A: I have one other thing that bugs me, but I completely understand it - and it's not limited to SEO. What I hate is when someone assuming they came up with a novel idea, is just hacking an older idea. Twitter is novel for it's mobility, and that's why I like them to beat Google Instant forever. There are very few novel ideas that are actually novel. Blogging is basically just someone taking old guestbook software and tweaking it. The two are hosted HTML-form based publishing with comments. They're really not that different.

People rarely (if ever) make the connection that I just drew. Guestbook spam by bots was a problem. Blog spam by bots is a problem today. The spammers know that guestbooks and blogs are the same exact thing. The best part for me is that Google loves these things even more than when Infoseek used to love guestbooks - hah hah! I haven't seen a new SEO technique in years. It's all repeating stuff we did ten years ago and calling it new or improved. Google's public SEO document even uses sentences that I wrote ten years ago that is now all part of the SEO lexicon.

Q: What's a typical workday like for you?

A: I get up early, but I can veto that myself if I had a late night. My day can start as early as 4am with NPR then a workout. It's common that I'm at the gym by 7 or 8am. When I started my transition, it was like packing two lives in the time space of one. It's less like that now, after about a year and a half, but there's still a lot to do - much more than it took Detlev to be a successful SEO. My business suffered while I had stays at the hospital, and concentrated on working out to heal and get fit. I went from size 24 to size 10 in eighteen months. I work on it daily to better myself, since I knew nothing about being a woman on the outside when I started. It only takes me two hours to look totally fab for anything.

Q: How did you change your weight so drastically? That's very, very impressive. I type that as I sit here cramming in pita chips, of course.

A: There's no pill or diet fad. There's just eat well, watch calories and workout. If you burn up more than you eat then you'll lose weight. It's that simple to start. I stopped eating cheese except once in a rare while. I stopped eating chocolate too, except once in a rare while as well. I don't butter my toast anymore. It sounds like a shame until I explain about how much fun I"m having doing all this. Also, I get to allow myself a budget for things that I love like cheese and chocolate. I just have to think of it differently.

Working out is hard to start and maintain but you can't let yourself down in this regard or weight loss can be painfully slow unless you practically starve yourself. I like cheese and chocolate and as long as I'm losing weight I get to eat well balanced which can include those items without worry. It's all about a balance that is going to get your weight down, and into those size 10 jeans. It's so exciting to fit into size 10 from 24. They don't make the best clothes in plus sizes. Plus size women have to make do with what's available. It's not fair. It's the way things are.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Do you see yourself still doing this in 5 years?

A: I definitely intend to continue to be involved with search. Perhaps I'll still be consulting personally but I like writing code best. I am actually very excited about my service marks and what I'll unfold with my applications. I also have other interesting prospects, including a possible return to music and art. The Web will always be hugely central to whatever it is that I'm doing. I'm a digital girl. I'm all digital bits now. I get to live forever. Who wouldn't want that?

Now, the fun ones...and I did try to limit these because there were a billion things I wanted to ask!!

Q: What are your current favorite bands?

A: My music did turn hard towards appreciating music that I wouldn't have intentionally put on as Detlev. I now have this incredible love affair with music that Detlev loved because I am doing so well as Disa. I get to listen to Jimi Hendrix and think along the same lines I always did. Led Zeppelin is intriguing but for a whole other reason. Besides, Heather and I saw Robert Plant in concert and he checked us out. How cool is that?

What's different is that I am filling out the natural curve in music I would have had if I had switched earlier in life. I'm going back to the eighties music, through to Alanis Morissette where I'm getting more depth into the bands I missed out on following the arena rock that Detlev did. I get to bring my arena rock experience to music that I'll participate in down the road. I have more a punk edge today than I did, and I like it all.

Q: Where do you buy your boots sister??

A: Boots! I buy them online, I buy them in physical stores. When I know by way of my stylist precisely that I want that Hunter boot, I'll order it online through Net-a-Porter or Zappos. When we're out shopping, (he's the most fabulous stylist in the universe), we'll try to find something perfect down in The Village or The Meat Packing district in the city. That's where I got my riding boots last year.

Eric also brings me things to whet my chops for high fashion, but we find things in second hand stores too. I got great Frye boots used in Andersonville here in Chicago. They are used, as in better than new, since it truly looks like I've personally had them for years. I've learned everything I know through Eric. I wouldn't trust another soul with my style, especially not me!

Q: How can the SEO industry be more friendly to the GLBT community?

A: No one is asking for perfection but SEO is not perfect in this regard. Danny was very kind to come out to. I was mentally prepared to be tarred and feathered by the rest, but I personally cared about Danny. No one should have to feel so much apprehension about living a successful life. I would say people have been very kind, and some haven't. There are rotten tomatoes thrown about in SEO by cowards, just as much as any other industry. I'll stand and take it.

Those who were backing me were gracious, some even had the guts to stand up and say stuff publicly stand beside me, prepared to defend me. Most people were unaware for a long time, didn't care, or actually were just intimidated by it and afraid to ask. No one showed up for my panel discussion to answer questions. I would say people should speak up more often when it comes to human rights, but it's generally great to be SEO and be gay or whatever.

Q: Ever been smacked on the arse and called cupcake? If so, when and where? If not, do you plan to be?

A: A drunk attorney squeezed my ass and boobs without any permission, and somehow he stole a face lick all at the same time. To this day I can't figure out how he got that lick in too. Previously to that, we were having martinis, talking about music. He seemed totally harmless, coy. I'm 42 and I think he had me by at least time and a half. Not that age is a problem with me, (unless a guy is way too young). It just came as a shocking surprise that someone of age acted like that.

On another occasion, I was standing in line to speak with Vint Cerf (I'm a fan!) and an obnoxious guy cut ahead of me in line. Again, any man with self-respect extends courtesy to women, it's just that simple. Vinton Cerf turned from his conversation, told the man: "ladies first" and took me aside to field my questions.

That was very special to me. I was just starting out, still size 24, and could easily have gone ignored for a multitude of reasons. It was even more special to me because that was the first time "ladies first" had ever been said in reference to me. It was Vint Cerf, I'm a happy geek girl.

Q: Who have you learned the most from in the industry, and what have these people taught you?

A: Heather Lloyd Martin. I learned way more from Heather than any other personality in the industry. We were a couple in business for several years in the mid nineties. Working alongside her taught me a great deal about the writing process in general. Previously to that, my writing was far too technical without tone and voice. It's still like that today but I've developed tone and voice over the years. I exercise it everyday with Twitter now.

Q: Any advice for anyone in ANY minority group who wants to be a part of the SEO community?

A: Live everyday like it's your last. Joy is where you'll find it: It's right inside you! Rise above the noise and walk with your dignity intact (regardless how you feel). Feelings last only for a time, even when they last for what seems like a long time. Feelings will change eventually, just remember they're chemically driven, so eat well and exercise. Watch "It Get's Better" on YouTube (by Dan Savage). No one but *you* are responsible for the way that you feel, one minute to the next. After all that, dismiss the importance of loud jerks if they're pestering you. It happened to me, it can happen to anyone. Once I dealt with the damage, I just moved on with a smile about what's coming next. My life is my message.

So there you have it folks...Disa Johnson. I'd like to thank her for agreeing to do the interview and be so honest and open about her life.

September 15, 2010

Women's Internet Marketing Interview with Carla Marshall

By Julie Joyce

Hi everyone!

Women-of-Internet-MarketingI know it's been a long time since the last installment but we're picking up again, this time with Sorbet Digital's lovely, lovely Carla Marshall! You may know Carla from Bronco as well, or maybe a Roxy Music fan club site.  In any case, here she is in all her glory. Did I mention that she's lovely?


Q. Please tell us about your background and how you got into the SEO industry.

A: To cut a v
CarlaMarshallery long story short, I'd been working in a full service digital agency for a few years on the admin side but wasn't happy at all in that role. Rather than leave and waste all that experience I decided to pick up as many digital skills as I could while I was still there. The search team looked like they were the most innovative department in the agency, and to be honest, they were the ones having the most fun too. I tried my hand at basic SEO, loved it, knew I was good at it and it all snowballed from there. Just wish I'd done it years ago to be honest. In terms of my background, I studied English at Oxford but have done everything from being a nanny in Paris to being a shop assistant in Harrods.

Q. How do you manage to work for Bronco and run your own agency? Have you experienced any conflicts with the two?

A: I’m very lucky to be in the position where I’m part of one of the best SEO teams in the UK but I also get to run my own company. Sorbet Digital had been going for about a year when a post became available at Bronco and I didn’t think I’d be much of an SEO if I didn’t at least apply for it. I’ve always been upfront and honest with Dave & Becky about Sorbet and there hasn’t been any conflict between the two agencies - when I’m working for Bronco, all my efforts are focused on those clients and vice versa for my Sorbet accounts. I’ve always been good at organising and compartmentalising my workload so that helps a great deal of course.

Q. I know that you do SEO and PPC both. Which area is most enjoyable for you, and which is most beneficial based on what you've seen with your clients?

A: Although I totally appreciate the benefit that a PPC campaign can bring to a client, it's SEO that really fires me up. There's no doubt that for a new site, or one that has little to no presence in the rankings, a good paid search campaign can make all the difference in the early days. However, organic rankings stay around long after the PPC budget has run out or been turned off so for
a long term business strategy, excellent organic rankings are the goal for me.

Q. If a client had number one organic rankings for his top ten keywords and his brand, would this affect your PPC strategy? If so, how? If not, why not?

A: It would absolutely affect it, yes. In that situation it becomes all about the conversion rates, the effectiveness of specific landing pages and the ROI of one type of campaign over another. If a PPC campaign was bringing in converting traffic then I’d be certainly recommend continuing with it and use the data for the SEO campaign.

Q. Let's talk about social media, something that is usually fairly tricky to measure. Do you think that all websites should be marketed on social media platforms? It seems that everyone is rushing to get a Facebook page even when they aren't measuring the ROI and may not have many fans.

A: I think that many people hugely underestimate the time and effort it takes to run a really effective social media campaign and think they can fling a Twitter account or Facebook page up and be done with it. I’ve advised more clients NOT to do that then I have to go ahead because it simply wasn’t appropriate or they just didn’t have the resources to maintain the momentum. Instead, I’ve tried to convey what social media is, as opposed to what tools can be used, and build up the understanding and enthusiasm that way. Social media is important but it’s just a huge bag of nothing if the client doesn’t buy in to it or understand the long term implications.

Q. Does your typical strategy for inheriting a client differ from the one you employ when a client is starting from scratch?

A: Yes, it has to really – but surprisingly not that much. For me, there’s as much of a learning curve with an established site as there is with a new one and I tend to do the same kind of keyword research, competitor analysis and on and off page review with both. You can get much more information from an established site of course (well, hopefully) which can be super useful but I’ll still tend to approach new accounts from roughly the same starting point.

Q. I've seen some pretty messed up link profiles from clients who come to us, and while I'd love to clean them up, sometimes the client says no. As you know, clients don't always take our advice. Would you agree to keep working with a client who rarely, if ever, listened to your advice and wanted to do something that you thought would be harmful for him or her?

A: It’s very, very difficult because I’ve seen the kind of damage that can be done and my conscious won’t let me stay quiet. Empowering the client with some SEO knowledge can be a very beneficial thing for both parties but conversely, a little knowledge is also a dangerous thing and it’s in this situation that it becomes a problem. I’ve reluctantly parted company with one client because they absolutely refused to believe that duplicate content and deleting pages with decent TBPR was an issue....

Q. If I came to you with $5000 and a shiny new website with 5 pages of decent, but not exciting, content, how would you have me invest that money in order to get started?

A: More great content, more pages to hold that great content, inbound links from guest posting and elsewhere, a PPC campaign if appropriate, content generation for article placements......whatever it takes.

Q. Any thoughts on how the UK and US SEO industries are different from each other? What about differences between the UK and Europe?

A: When I first started in the industry I think that the US was a couple of years ahead in terms of knowledge but the UK seems to have caught up – or perhaps that’s just because I work with Dave Naylor who’s pretty much the first one to know what’s going on anyway LOL

Q. Are there clients that you would refuse to work with for whatever reason? When I first started I thought everyone deserved a shot, but then I encountered someone marketing something so truly distasteful that I couldn't do it.

A: There *are* one or two things that I'd really rather not work on to be honest. I'm a pretty strict veggie so I couldn't really see myself putting long hours or much enthusiasm into finding links for meat and I'm a bit claustrophobic too so even the thought of optimising a pot- holing or caving website has me hyperventilating.

Fun ones finally...so stop pretending to be bored.

Q. Has Dave Naylor ever really, really scared you? How much does he curse at work anyway?

A:Dave is a big pussycat, the only time I've ever been really scared is when I thought he was going to drive Bob the Campervan through the office wall one morning. As for cursing at work, it's pretty compulsory in the Bronco office. All in context of course. 

Q. Roxy Music is touring and you've said you don't want to see them in case they suck. What other bands from that era would you see? And don't say none, damn you.

A: My first memories of Roxy are from the early 80's so we're really talking Duran Duran, Japan, Scritti Politti, Soft Cell, Heaven  17, ABC, The Human League, New Order and other stuff that was coming out of Factory plus indie pop like Aztec Camera. Thank God for Spotify so I can listen to these bands on a continuous loop..:-)

Q. If you had to pick 5 SEO mates to be stuck in a pub with on a rainy day, who would they be and what would you argue most about?

A: There are far too many industry people I want to meet, or meet again, that there’s no way I could narrow it down to 5. That’s such a lame answer isn’t it? Haha

Q. What non-SEO blogs do you read?

A: Oh my God, I read loads. I’m obsessed with conspiracy theories, the crazier the better, and anything on cryptozoology so I usually treat myself to a couple of hours of searching for that type of stuff on Stumbleupon for a couple of hours a week. Otherwise it’s mostly blogs about pop culture, cupcakes, New York and the iPad.

Well that concludes Carla's part but I'd like to point out two things.

1. Carla refused to write my SEO haiku. For that I respect her.

2. In order to annoy an English major at Oxford, I decided to use a period after the Q and a SEMI-COLON after the A in this interview. Take that!!

December 16, 2009

Women of Internet Marketing Series: Interview with Sarah Goodwin

By Julie Joyce


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.Sarah Goodwin

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.

September 02, 2009

Women of Internet Marketing: An Interview with Ayima's Jane Copland

By Julie Joyce

JaneCopland Q: In the unlikely event that anyone reading this doesn't know who you are, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you're currently doing, workwise?

A: The short version is that I'm a twenty-five year old SEO consultant, relatively fresh off the boat from the United States, living in London. I began my career in SEO at SEOmoz in Seattle and I now work for Ayima Search Marketing here in the UK. I'm 100% organic-SEO focused (PPC sounds like something people take at the club around the corner from my flat) and I'd far rather chase down a stellar link profile than attempt to converse with people and engage in the "conversation". The technical aspects of SEO interest me far more than the social, which is odd since the social side was what I first worked on.

Q: Your entry into the world of SEOmoz is a fascinating story. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to work at Ayima?

A: My road to working at SEOmoz was literally the result of replying to a job listing on Craigslist that wanted a junior SEO, experience not a factor. I almost didn't click on the ad: it was about midnight and I'd been replying to job ads for hours. The title of the ad, however, was "Do you use your powers for good or for awesome", a Homestar Runner reference, and I couldn't really go past that, even though I wanted to go to sleep. I read the job description and decided it sounded like something I could do. I was always meticulous with cover letters and resumes, so I was up for another few hours making sure the application was right. Three interviews, a public blogging contest and a lot of hoping later, I had the job.

I came to work at Ayima after deciding to leave Seattle in the winter of 2008. It was time for a lot of changes, and Rob Kerry and I basically came to the conclusion that me moving to work at Ayima might work. It turned out that Rob's partners at Ayima weren't adverse to the idea either. It took me exactly a month from deciding to move to leaving Seattle. I've actually been in the UK for seven months today.

Q: What is your role at Ayima?  

A: I'm a search marketing consultant, meaning that I work almost exclusively on client-facing projects, managing / completing both on and off site work. We focus on traditional organic SEO. I love this. There is so much less bullshit in SEO than there is in this buzzy world of back-patting called social media. I can't even stand the term anymore. It makes me wince, it's such a fluffy catch-phrase.

Q: Describe a typical day for you. Leave out the part about living near my favorite pub please. No one likes a braggart. 

A: I get up at 4:50am and run six miles. I do this at this time because I like to run in an area of London that is packed with morning commuters come 6:30 or 7am. If I get this done before the day really begins, I also get to take another nap before work. I live very close to Ayima's Clerkenwell office: it takes me less than five minutes to walk to work. I unfortunately have to sit next to Dean all day, which results in a constant battle as to whose computer / keys / mobile phone / glass of water is on whose section of the desk. It's making for an incredibly hostile work environment ;)

As oppposed to when I worked in Seattle, all of my clients are based in the London area, so I travel across town for meetings far more now than I did in Seattle. However, it's still pretty much your standard nine-to-five day. After fighting off requests to go to the pub after work (unless it's Friday, at which point it's game on), I go swimming after work at a pool five minutes in the other direction from where I live. I'll be there for a couple of hours, go home, eat dinner, maybe do some contract work and go to bed. It sounds like a lot of activity and not much downtown, but it makes me happy and I have learned in the last seven months that it's very necessary to do things that make you happy, even if they involve constant activity.

Q: You've done a lot over the past few months... moved from Seattle to London, moved from working at SEOmoz to working at Ayima, etc. How have all these changes affected your perception of the industry? Have you seen that there are any notable differences between the US and the UK?

A: I do notice the difference in culture between having consultants and companies spread over a huge country, and having a lot of them in a select few towns. If there is competition for a contract, you likely know the other companies pitching for it. You likely know the people who worked with a client before you did, and you likely know who's doing the SEO for your clients' competitors. This presented the UK industry with the option to become very nasty and childish, or for its members to develop a mature level of mutual respect for each other. Due to the calibre of people we have working over here, the vast majority chose the second option. Business is business and a LondonSEO piss-up, a birthday party, a dinner date with industry friends or whatever, is just that. That isn't to say that nastiness doesn't occur, but it appears to be less of a problem than it can be elsewhere.

The practice of SEO isn't terribly much different, although of course you need to put yourself through a crash course in a country's culture when you arrive in it to practice marketing. Imagine walking into a meeting about getting some entertainment-niche website ranking, but never having seen the magazine or television show or pop group that they're most interested in at that time. I had to learn a lot fast about a myriad of small cultural nuances of British society. You don't know what you know about a place until you're required to use it in everyday marketing decision making. On the flip side, I come in handy when United States culture needs to be referenced, as I lived there for seven years.

Q: In addition to all of this, you're also an amazing swimmer and you've recently gotten back into it on a fairly big level it seems. That seems to be a very competitive sport. Notice any similarities between it and the SEO industry? 

A: There are certainly some, but the differences are becoming more interesting. In SEO, all of our work relies on a third party--usually Google--agreeing that that work was worthwhile. In swimming, standards are made a lot clearer than they are in search. If you have a qualifying time you must meet, you know what that time is before you attempt to achieve it. Rarely (although it does happen) does someone decide after the fact whether your work or performance was good enough. I like the differences more than the similarities, in fact. SEO is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game where we're always trying to be one step ahead of a third party. That's fun. In swimming, the responsibility for a positive outcome is far more within my control, especially now that my attitude towards it is so different to what it was when I was younger. I used to swim for a range of reasons: to get out of my town in New Zealand and to the US, to pay for college, and sometimes because I didn't value myself terribly much if it wasn't backed up by some achievement in a pool. Now, I truly do it because I want to. There is no other motivation, and that has been very freeing.

Q: You and I have talked privately about the current trend of bully blogging. What are your thoughts on that? Is it becoming fashionable to establish yourself in the industry by being mouthy? Sometimes I think some people never got out of high school when I see the fights on Twitter. 

A: There is currently a false perception in this industry that it's okay to badmouth people directly, and that if you do not agree with the loudest bloggers, they could end you in one way or another. This perception has been created entirely by the bloggers themselves. A few of them actually find it acceptable to call people whores, fat, ugly, and a range of insults on Twitter and on their websites. The worst (best?) example of this is someone who literally went on a mission to destroy the reputation of a woman he'd apparently never met. It stuns me that collectively, we don't turn around and say "You are acting in an objectionable, horrible way. We don't tolerate that sort of behaviour, let alone celebrate those who engage in it." And these same people are asked to speak at conferences and are heralded as industry leaders.

I used to blog fairly often, but I do not believe I engaged in the nasty bullying that passes for 'snark' and wit right now. If I did, I have definitely learned a lot about respect and humility and I would never be as downright rude, either directly or indirectly, in writing anymore. Can we please finally stand up and say "no, it's not all right to take a snotty, snide tone and be celebrated as clever. It's not okay to bash people you don't like in posts or comments or tweets. You can keep doing it; that's your prerogative. But we will no longer squeal "Great post!" when it's nothing short of bullying."

I know that I'm far from alone in thinking this. Many people recently emailed me and told me that they fully agree. All it would take for this trend to no longer pass as acceptable and popular is for all of us who find it objectionable to say so when we see it in action. Because inaction is what currently allows it to continue, and it only makes all of us look as childish as some of us.

Q: There is always the argument about what background best prepares one for doing SEO. You and I have the much-maligned English degrees, yet I can say for myself that it's served me very well so far. Based on what you've learned so far, what type of skills do you think people need to be successful in this industry?

A: I think too much effort goes into analysing who has what degree, or who has no degree, and talking the abovementioned smack about it. Two of the most successful, brilliant people I know in search didn't finish university. I have a degree in English, as do you. I could have used some more computer science knowledge when I began, but most of the really important skills I've learned, I couldn't have been taught in a classroom. I could have spent those four years learning what I've learned on the job as an adult, but then again, there are many things I learned in college, in and out of the classroom that help me daily.

To do well here, you have to be willing to accept that what you knew to be true a short time ago isn't true anymore. That can be more difficult than it sounds. You have to love learning, but be prepared to learn things over and over again as they present themselves in different ways. And I believe you have to love the technical side of SEO because if you don't understand it, or aren't willing to learn everything you can about it, you're at a severe disadvantage.

Q: Since this is the Women in Marketing series, I need to ask a girl question here. How do you think women are viewed in the industry overall? Any really good or really bad personal experiences? 

A: Well, aside from the usual comments about being young and female and working in tech, I have certainly not found it to be a disadvantage or an advantage, save for the fact that women writers in this field get more attention than their male counterparts overall. That's an advantage.

There are one or two gross problems in SEO that revolve around gender and sex, but this isn't the time or place to get into them. That's a battle for a different day.

Now the fun ones: 

Q: How do you tolerate working with Rob Kerry every day? 

A: Sound canceling headphones ;)  (inserted Li comment her - Jane -- I do have a karaoke video of Rob singing the Spice Girls somewhere!)

(I adore Rob.)

Q: If you could get snowed in at the Fox and Anchor with any 5 SEOs, who would they be and what drinks would they all be having? Since I am the interviewer, make sure you mention me here please. 

A: Ugh, I'm going to end up NOT naming people I love in this industry if I'm reduced to five!

  • Ciaran Norris, who'd be drinking Guinness and still looking posh about it.

  • Lisa and Jon Myers. Lisa would've bought a bottle of wine becasue there's no way we'd not get through it, and Jon would be drinking Peroni.

  • Rob Kerry and Mike Nott who'd be drinking London Pride

  • Dean Chew, who'd be drinking what we tell him is Foster's, but is in fact just some regular, awful lager.

  • Kate Morris and Kalena Jordan, who'd be drinking Sauvignon Blanc.

  • Stephen Pavlovich and Michael Motherwell, who'd be drunk and asleep in the corner.

  • Rand Fishkin, who'd be talking too much to drink.

  • You, Julie Joyce, and you'd be having a Bakewell Tart martini from the bar next door.

Q: Favorite ridiculous conference anecdotes? 
 A: 1) Walking back to Liverpool Street station during SMX London last year, while I still lived in Seattle and had no thoughts of leaving, right past the building I now live in, the supermarket I now shop at and the pool at which I now swim.

2) Trying desperately to hold in laughter on stage during SMX Sydney last year as Rand and Geraldine abused the text-in-a-question feature, asking Ciaran "Is that a tie or did a monkey die on your shirt?"

3) Being dragged to an establishment in Vegas by you, Julie Joyce, whom I had only really just met, called "Slots A Fun". They had 99c hotdogs and similarly-priced margaritas. The carpet was appalling. The bartender appeared to know you all very well, and his name was Blaze. The lights were too bright and I was scared. Where have these nutty North Carolinians taken us? Ciaran and I made our way back to the plush comfort of the Wynn before something terrible could happen.

November 19, 2008

Women of Internet Marketing: Mary Bowling

By Julie Joyce

Fisher Towers Ladder(2) 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?

Continue reading "Women of Internet Marketing: Mary Bowling" »

September 30, 2008

Women of Internet Marketing: Stephanie Weingart

By Julie Joyce

Welcome to the latest installment in the Women of Internet Marketing Series! It's not even Wednesday but we're throwing caution to the wind...

This is my first interview for the series and I am incredibly honored to have spoken to the loveliest social media minx out there, my fellow SEO Chick and friend Stephanie Weingart. She's adorable, she does yoga, and she happens to be a fantastic writer (check out her blog, Frozen 2 Late) who is very clued into the latest in social media. What's not to love?

Stephanie and I first "met" online when she baited me, quite successfully, into doing an interview with her. I was a bit flabbergasted by her methods until I realized that, well, she'd achieved her goal...then I realized that this woman seriously knows what she's doing. It was nice to turn the tables on her for a bit.

Stephanie Q: How did you become involved in the search industry?

A: There has always been something intriguing about this industry.  I have always been interested in social media and wanted to learn more about it when I started blogging in 2001. 

Q: How can you use social media to benefit smaller clients?

A: It is important to remember that social media is as valuable as real estate.  Big and small clients need to buy up land before somebody else comes and builds condos on their territory.   Social media is the best tool for smaller clients; it gives them a voice in a crowd they would never have reached before.

Q: Do you think it's more difficult to keep up with industry trends in social media than it was a year ago? Why or why not?

A: I don't find it difficult to keep up with industry trends in social media because it is my job to know everything that is possible in social media.  However, with so much going on and the day to day changes in social media, it would be rather hard to keep up with the trends if it was not your main agenda. It is important to try to stay on top of the social media game as best as possible though because you never know when the next Twitter is going to pop up.

Q: Tell us about a successful social media campaign that you've run…what made it work? What made it fun? How did it benefit the client?

A: At Morpheus we work with a lot of fun clients who allow us to really come up with and implement creative campaigns.  I'm very thankful for the opportunity because there are very little restrictions as far as what we can and cannot do.  The greatest campaigns I have been a part of thus far are a few blogger events, where we create opportunities for bloggers to interact with clients in special ways.  It benefits everyone because bloggers should be taken seriously (no matter how big or small) and when they get the respect they deserve, they are so grateful to the clients.

Q: How important is it to be "visible" in the industry these days?

A: Well for marketers, I think it is important to be visible but not to show off.  I see too many marketers really making fools of themselves. There is a really thin line between Social Media professional and over-exploited clown.  Clients, brands, and companies should be very visible in the industry, however they should also be active.  Just buying social media profiles and parking in spaces does not make a brand effective in social media. 

Q: How does link building fit into social media? Does PPC fit in at all with what you do? 

A: Link building and social media are best friends. Link building definitely prospers when blogger outreach is conducted.  Building the right relationships will also build the right links.  PPC is not a part of what I do, but it is all interconnected at some point.

Q: Have you used any "questionable" techniques in social media?

A: I chose to use a really holistic approach to social media tactics.  I actually maintain relationships that are built based on social media. I really dislike when I get random IM's and "random" social media type requests from people who don't really take the time to maintain a social relationship with me. I understand it is the nature of the business but I think that everyone would benefit from taking a more organic approach. The only downfall is that really putting in this type of work is time consuming but fun!

Q: What industry trend leaves you cold and why?

A: There is so much that leaves me cold.  As I said before, I am really sick of marketers who brag and exploit themselves.  I think that if you are a marketer and your work is good, you will be complimented.   Also, I am a little bit turned off by industry blogs lately.  It is getting really difficult to come up with fresh posts and it seems like people are getting really desperate and will post pictures of their babies with Danny Sullivan's head photoshopped on just for link bait.  A lot of value is being lost.

Q: What is the best part of your workday and why?

A: The best part of my workday is definitely being creative and brainstorming ideas for crazy and fun social media campaigns for my clients.  I also enjoy lunch.

Q: What advice would you give to young women trying to make a name for themselves in SEO right now?

A: My best advice for young women to try to make it is to work really hard and accomplish great things in SEO or social media first before you go out and talk a lot of nonsense.  Also, try to find other SEOs who inspire you and ask them for advice or to be their intern.  It is a constant learning process; the game never ends and we can all learn from each other.


..Now for the fun ones...

Write a poem about your favorite SEO Chick, who is obviously Julie Joyce. Ahem.

Before I really knew about SEO
I did my research, just so you know
I read a blog written by hot chicks
And subscribed to the feed to get my fix

But one chick stood out
She was more awesome than the rest
Her name, Jule Joyce, SEO Goddess

After learning and idolizing, I chose to reach out
Not knowing what I was doing, I gave her a shout
and blogged a funny post on my little blog

Julie was flustered, who was this little minx?!
I got her attention and she started to think
It was no time at all
She invited me in the group!

The chicks let me post and share my voice,
But I could not have done it without Julie Joyce!

Q: Which do you prefer, men in kilts or men in khakis?

A: I am not a fan of either! I like guys who have style that represents their personality.

Q: If you had to choose 5 female SEOs to do a pub crawl with, who would they be and why?

A: If I could only chose FIVE amazing SEO women to do a pub crawl with, they would be Lisa Ditlefsen, Jane Copland, Julie Joyce, Danielle Winfield, and Judith Lewis.  I would probably need more than 5 Female SEOs to party with!!!

Q: If you could take the job of any high-profile SEO, forcing him or her to work at Denny's, who would it be and why?

A: This might sound lame but I wouldn't trade my job for anyone else's.  I really enjoy all of my clients and my work and wouldn't want to ever have anyone else's work.

Q: Why does Lisa Ditlefsen always look so amazing in photos?

A: Lisa DItlesfsen emits an aura of happiness at all times.  I have never seen a bad picture of her.  When people are genuinely happy in their photos they will look great...and It doesn't hurt that she is also stunning.

Well there you have it, with only a TINY bit of arm-twisting on my part, really. Thanks to Stephanie for letting me interview her! (Like she really had a choice...)

August 02, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Jennifer Yuan of 1000 Times No Hangs Out at PodCamp Philly

By Li Evans

Yes, it's Saturday morning, seems my last two Fridays escaped me rather quickly!

None the less, I do have a photo this week.  Timely in the fact of our announcement about SearchCamp Philly working with PodCamp Philly to bring an affordable online marketing conference to Philly!  This week's picture is of Jennifer Yuan hanging out at PodCamp Philly last year.  Jennifer is one of the extraordinary people who help to organize PodCamp Philly, she also has her own podcast called "1,000 Times No".

If Jennifer's name sounds familiar, it should for the folks who read SMG on a regular basis.  I interviewed Jennifer for the Women of Internet Marketing series last year.

Fun Photo Fridays: Jennifer Yuan of 1000 Times No Hangs Out at PodCamp Philly

If you like this photo of Jennifer Yuan of 1000 Times No Hangs Out at PodCamp Philly, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at PodCamp Philly, there's just over 40 photos in the set.

July 20, 2008

BlogHer '08: Elisa Camahort Page Interview, BlogHer CoFounder

By Li Evans

For the past view days I've been in San Francisco at BlogHer '08.  It's been a spectacular time, and it's really amazing to meet so many, intelligent, super charged up women bloggers.

Over the course of a few months I've gotten to know the founders of the BlogHer community.  These women are just spectacular.  Smart, savvy women who care about bringing knowledge and community together.  Never more apparent was that, than at the community keynote.

Elisa Camahort Page, one of the BlogHer Co-Founders, agreed to do an interview with me.  She speaks about one of the major highlights of the event being the Community Keynote, as well as the new BlogHer Reach Out Tour (this I'm really excited about!).


We'll be adding more videos throughout the week to the SMG YouTube channel, so subscribe to get the latest videos there, as well as checking back to SMG for the interviews as we post them.

Full Video Interview Transcript After the Jump....

Continue reading "BlogHer '08: Elisa Camahort Page Interview, BlogHer CoFounder" »

April 23, 2008

Building Communities in Social Media

By Li Evans

Wendy Piersall started her blog as a hobby, the blog was an extension of her business, a tool to compliment it.  Within three months, Wendy’s eMom's at Home blog became its own full time job.  She had to rethink her strategy about the business.  Within 2 years Wendy had a thriving community on her hands, with thousands of readers and subscribers. How did this happen?


Communities thrive on it, we humans crave it.  Unless you are a hermit or a person on a religious quest that requires seclusion and not speaking, we seek out human interaction.  We want to hear other people’s thoughts, we long for interaction to know if our own thoughts are in line with common thinking or if we are out of line, or are we rebels (with or without a cause).

Communities are nothing new.  Communities bond upon a single or a few commonalities.  It was how this nation (the United States) was formed, a common bond of the wish to have freedom of religion.  Later on for immigrants coming through Ellis Island, the bond was the dream of a better life.  It is no different even with all of our gadgets, speed and technologies, we as humans still need to bond, and it is why we seek out communities online.

Wendy’s community grew and thrived because she fostered a great conversation.  She listened and she also conversed with her audience – she never spoke "at" them.  She constantly listened and she participated in the conversation, always keeping in mind “what would her audience get” from each conversation she would invoke with her blog posts.

Wendy was also wise enough to realize the conversation wasn’t just going on, on her blog.  There were other blogs out there having similar conversations that she felt helped or contributed to the conversation.  Wendy wisely not only sought them out and commented about on their blogs she included them in her own conversation as well.  By doing this,  she was eventually pulling in their audiences to participate in the conversation.

Now a little over 2 years later, realizing that what started out as her “hobby” has grown into this enormous community and her original thoughts for the blog my limit the potential for the conversations growth, Wendy reached out to her community.  Wendy asked and the community overwhelming responded and now eMoms at Home is opening to an even wider community by becoming SparkPlugging, focusing on the entrepreneurial community.  Wendy's own blog is getting renamed to Sparkplug CEO, as well.

When you recognize that a conversation is happening and you embrace it and foster it, a community can grow around that conversation.  Hard sells, preaching a message, and advertorials just don’t work, those methods do not foster and grow communities.   You really have to have a love, a passion for your conversation, you have to care about it, if it is going to even have any shot at succeeding in this new online social world. 

It’s why companies who really do care about what people think about their brands, or their products or services succeed in overwhelming ways in social media.  If you only care about selling a soda (think Sprite Sips on Facebook ), or getting people into your store (think Walmart Flogs) you likely won’t get very far since your conversation is only one way and isn’t really genuine.  However, if you are like Wendy, or BlendTec or even Lionel Menchaca from Dell, your community grows at astounding rates.

The key to building communities?  Conversation and realizing that as much as they involve speaking to someone, building communities involves a lot more listening and understanding.  So, stop and think – are you preaching or are you conversing?

I said yesterday that Mack Collier inspired me to love Blogging again.  Wendy also inspired me about communities and she made me excited about the potential of building a great community. To read about Wendy's presentation at SEG's Unleashed Conference for Small Business Marketing, check out David's take on Wendy's session.  Hop on over to SEG to get all the coverage of what happened at SEG's Unleashed Conference in Houston.

You can also find Wendy on Twitter, Mack on Twitter and even me on Twitter, too. Why not start a conversation with us?  :)

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