Monday, June 18, 2007

Mirror Mirror On The Wall......

My friend and colleague Liana Evans of Search Marketing Gurus recently interviewed me as part of her Women of Search series. Here's how my little spiel turned out:

I first met Deb online in the High-Rankings forum, and even before meeting her in person, I knew she was a great person to get to know. Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but, I think she's likely the top expert on the subject of linking and how it affects your search marketing efforts. I know that's a bit of a big statement, but she not only speaks and trains at SES conferences, but she volunteers at High Rankings as a moderator. There's never been a time where Deb's information and advice has steered me wrong.

Deb's the president of her own company, Alliance Link, and also has her own blog called the Link Spiel. Along with training and speaking at SES, Deb also speaks at Jill Whalen's High Rankings conferences and fills in once a month on the Linking column with Eric Ward at Search Engine Land. So now, lets get to the questions!

Q: How did you get into the Search Marketing Industry?

A: By way of a directory link! Between late 1997 to early 1999 I had a directory of organic co-ops, farms, and food stores after searching online for a central resource and not finding one. Email aside, I had no experience online much less with search engines or SEO so I used the standard marketing and public relations techniques I knew and was comfortable with. I bartered links for email lists, ad space, created cross promotions and would issue a press release each time I had a new customer or created a new section of the site. I started to rank really well for just about any ‘organic’ phrase so I was happy but still clueless as to what was making that happen. It wasn’t until the business owners in my directory started asking me to help them rank that I realized I was doing something right. That’s when I started researching online marketing and found a newsletter called Rank Write which was written by Jill Whalen and Heather Lloyd Martin.

I still have the original email I sent to Jill and her answer to me. Every once in a while I pull them out and remember fondly the simple days when it was all about keyword density, meta tags and any inbound link. Jill patiently explained what I was doing and the effects it had on my site and from those conversations Alliance-Link was born. I eventually let the directory go and ventured into SEOLand and link building. It’s been a fun ride so far and I have no regrets save one – I wish I had never let the directory go for all the ‘link’ reasons you can imagine!

Q: Most successful industry accomplishment?

A: I’ve been very fortunate to have a number of wonderful opportunities come my way and I appreciate each one beyond words. I’m especially grateful to Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman for making me part of the SES conference series and part of their Search Engine Land blog team.

It was an honor to have been asked to be the initial Link Building Moderator at the HighRankings Forum and to be part of the Incisive Media SES Training Program. I will always be grateful to Peter DaVanzo for being the first person to ask me for an interview and to Jennifer Laycock for being the first to reprint one of my blog posts.

Q: Why do you like/love this industry?

A: For several reasons. I like being part of an industry that has front row seats to the changes taking place in our society via the Internet. I’ve watched as MySpace burst onto the scene and became part of our daily vernacular, how Google morphed from a search engine to a verb and how local search has just about made the yellow pages obsolete.

And it goes without saying that I love a great number of the people I’ve met along the way and consider myself lucky to call them friend.

Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?

A: (laughs)– guess I should have seen that question coming…. Well, two things aggravate me - people who plagiarize content and people who preach SEO/link building but don’t practice it.

Just because someone has a website and “optimizes” it doesn’t make him an authority on the subject of SEO and/or linking. And yet we tolerate a number of people in our industry as *experts* who have this type of background. I work on a variety of sites and never experience the same outcome for any of them, so why do we embrace people who make blanket statements about cause and effect when all they have is one site to base their observations on?

Q: What’s the next big thing you see happening in this industry?

A: More and more integration of Web 2.0 type concepts and technology into corporate America’s online sales and communication activities. We’re starting to see it but once the blue-chip companies integrate the technology and show consumers it’s fast, easy and fun to use, it willl morph forward.

The other thing I see happening is the refinement of mobile search. You can search from your phone now but it’s not pretty and it’s not efficient. Wouldn’t it be cool to speak a search command into your phone and produce a listing of businesses? I’d have a field day with shoe stores wherever I traveled!

Or how about rating a restaurant right after leaving it instead of waiting to get home and power up the laptop? Point and click will be replaced by speak and click and we’ll all own more shoes.

Q: Do you feel Search Marketing and Search Marketers get have a bad rep, from outsiders of the industry?

A: I’m sure we do but then there are people who don’t like the Pope, Gandhi and Elvis as well so it’s best to keep all that in perspective when we talk about what people think.

Q: Why do you blog?

A: I blog to practice my writing skills which suck. And not because I use eloquent words like *suck* but because I don’t have the ability to put down on paper what I hear in my head.

I try to blog on a regular basis but life and work get in the way. And yes, I am planning to take The Link Spiel off Blogger and give it a big girl blog right after I redesign my pitiful website which at the rate I’m going will be in 2010.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you at your company?

A: Depends if I’m at home working or on the road. I have a number of clients in the Richmond/Wash DC area on retainer so I’ll visit with them several times a month and I do a lot of off-site training. I’m a chatty Cathy by nature so the visiting and the feedback is a lot of fun for me.

On the other hand, I love my jammies too so I’m glad I can have both types of work days.

Q: Who’s your favorite blogger to read?

A: Hands down Rohit Bhargava. Closely followed by SEO By The Sea, BoingBoing, Micropersuasion, Constantin Basturea, Eric and Justilien. Oh and Gawker, Gray Hat News and Mike Grehan for fun and good photos.

Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?

A: Let’s see, eight on a regular basis. Yours, Christine’s, Dazzlin' Donna's, Amanda, Kim, and Jennifer. I also like to read Lisa Barone at BC's and anything by Esther Dyson.

And now of course for the juicy stuff!

Q: Favorite Memory for an SES Conference?

A: Google Dance 2004. I got to spend time with Paul Gardi.

Q: You have been in the industry for quite a while, surely you can tell the audience if you’ve ever seen Bruce Clay in tights and a cape?

A: Nope, but I have seen him in purple silk _____ !!

Q: Sexy SEO’s, which would top your list? Oilman, Web Guerilla or Dave “Fookin’” Naylor?

A: Ooooo be still my beating heart! Well... Todd can talk over Greg which makes him my hero and I hear he drives a big truck so big sex appeal points to Todd. However, I’d need to know if he has chest hair before he takes home the prize. So…

Even thought I don’t know Mr. Naylor the fact he’s earned a middle name like "‘Fookin" is promising. I already know he doesn’t have chest hair since I’ve seen his streaking video so I need to find out he drives a big truck or SUV. That leaves….

My panel-mate MonkeyBoy. Anyone who says it would be an honor to be bitch slapped by me and openly compliments his wife is definitely OK in my book. However…..

Truth be told I’d run them all over for Paul Gardi.

LOL - Deb has a wonderful way with words! Thanks Deb for letting us get to know you!


It was my pleasure Liana, thank you!

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