What has been the biggest change in search, that has effected professionals in the industry in recent years?
Social networks. Social media. The commodisation of recommendations.
When we started to have blogs we said that it was a game changer because anypme could be a publisher " but that was a blatant lie. Anyone could be a publisher just like "anyone" could start a site on Geocities or Tripod: the truth being only a special kind of geeks did but hardy ever "anyone".
Now anyone can say something and be heard. I know people who say things like "it's a web site on Google" who are on Facebook every day now and have an audience there: that is true "anyone can be publisher".
As a market force, a viral force, it's huge. And as search engines are taking note, that game is going to change too.
There's a lot of talk in the UK about cleaning the SEO industry up. Accreditation has been one of the solutions mentioned. For or against – and if against what would you suggest to give clients confidence in their SEO provider
Accreditation is a seal: a seal of approval, of trust, that says "this person or company works the way it should".
You can only put a seal on approval on known techniques, known methods, known ethics.
Part of competitive SEO is going to the next frontier, over the hills and far away. Pushing the limit. You can't accredit that because I'm not going to tell you about that.
What's left to accredit is the well known, well trodden path. Useless. Because what does your seal stand for then? "Certified, most over-used SEO techniques"? Or: "Certified White Hat but may use advanced unknown techniques"? Because in that case, every charlatan will call his nonsense "advanced techniques".
So I'm not for or against; just saying it's useless, meaningless.
Shopping for SEO is shopping for a contractor for your home; ask for references. Check, check, check. And especially: use the 'net. See what names are associated with the company and look into social networks how those names are connected, who is talked well about and who isn't.
What do you envisage being the biggest change for 2010+ for SEO and search marketing?
Micro SEO: highly targeted SEO.
We're thinking of local as a very targeted, almost niche kind of SEO but that too is still carpet bombing. We're going to follow old school marketers and new era companies, like Google, in finding out who our target is, where they live, what they earn, how they vote " and then optimize for them.
The next fights, in the next 5 year, will be in that arena: winning moms under 25 on Facebook who earn more than 50k per year; interesting single fathers on Twitter who love NFL and have mid-level company functions; being the go-to for well, you get the picture.
To (over) simplify the idea: the mirror image of personalized search is personalized SEO. It's home-grown, automatic, Adsense-style interest matching but also old school different audience = different landing page. It's rewriting text on the fly, re-arranging content, swapping media. Hooking back to your accreditation question; that's why that doesn't work " because some of the very tools and techniques it would consider "black hat" would be, will be, the stuff we'll be working with.
What were you doing before search marketing? What's the worst job you've ever had?
I've bought and sold stuff both online and offline. I've done data entry and what not. Taught English as a Second Language. I've truly never have had a "worst job". The closest I've been to one is when I just starting looking around and I visited a huge dry cleaner Hot, humid, no daylight; horrible.
I think the hardest jobs are paid the least " or at least not good enough. I make sure to have a smile with me for the people at the supermarket checkout: standing in the kitchen for half an hour I already feel my back I can only imagine how theirs feel.
What's your social media poison? Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or another. Are there any worth keeping an eye out for?
Facebook was the first social place I had fun besides online forums but it was and is Twitter that totally "declenched" it for me. The "right now" effect is amazing. Especially for someone working in a home office the social value is huge.
The conversation, links, news, chatter and networking " I can't think of a more effective, efficient and fun social tool than Twitter.
What are your 3 favourite SEO-related tools that no one has ever heard of?
Nobody has heard of is difficult but among my most useful tools are:
- Evernote: been using it since 2005 and I consult it to look up information 10-20 times a day at least. Fact, factlets, posts, names, logins anything and everything is in there.
- Mindmanager: the best mind mapping software. I have it open most of the time. Use it to take structured notes during talks, telephone calls. Quickly map out questions, solutions, flows, issues and what not.
- FeedDemon: mine your RSS feeds. Make them work for you instead of you for them.
Follow-ups: PowerDesk, Personal Brain, UltraEdit, MediaMonkey, FlashFXP.