Ruud Questions: Bryan Eisenberg

by Ruud Hein May 22nd, 2009 

Bryan Eisenberg is what I consider a very smart marketer.

I "know" him best from his intriguing 2006 "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark", written with Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa Davis, which, to me, is the "Don't Make Me Think" of marketing. The only other consumer book aimed at thinking how people buy and how to get them to buy that I've found this good over the years was Paco Underhill's "Why We Buy".

Bryan is one of the SES speakers at the upcoming SES Toronto

Persona can be great tools to determine anything from "what to write" to "how to write" and "where to write" -- but selling them or there use can be a lot harder. How to promote and validate their use?

I think everyone will agree that best level of attention you can get is personalized. However, personalization on the web requires a lot of data and serious technology to accomplish.

Instead of thinking about personalization I recommend people start with persona-lization.

Dont mistake what everyone else calls personas with what FutureNow has been advocating. Most people have developed their personas based on design personas first popularized by Alan Cooper in the Inmates are Running the Asylum.

Our personas are based on scriptwriting techniques and the core is understanding visitors buying modalities. These buying modalities look for peoples preferences in information gathering and decision making. Since the time of Hippocrates people have been classified as 4 basic types; logical or emotional and quick to make a decision and more deliberate about making decisions.

You can see these four patterns in a post we did that looked at usability guru Jakob Nielsens eyetracking study of the US census website.

In your opinion, should an SEO company go beyond its traditional space and advise on usability, conversion paths, A/B testing, etc.?

SEO as we knew it no longer is the same field. The nature of search, with real time search and other changes are going to take away a lot of what we could optimize.

I see many companies entering the space of conversion optimization. I am glad the market is finally recognizing the demand for this after more than a decade of my advocating for it.

I will warn those that get into it that it is much more complex than it looks as it requires many disciplines to master.

Not long ago you came up with a replacement term for SEO: ESO or End Searcher Optimization. In essence you suggested SEO's would do what search engines do and focus solely on delivering the best experience to the end user. That sounds a lot like "content is king". Couple it with the use of persona and I can hear some folks cueing the twilight zone tune.

How do we go about convincing our clients, our bosses, our coworkers, that it's about the right content at the right time?

Marketing has always been about delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time. What better time is there to deliver the right message but when the person is searching for it. When you understand your personas and their needs, you can start to work on the right content to help them accomplish their goals. When they accomplish their goals, so will you.

Ive revised my terms to be: SEO= searcher experience optimization and PPC= pay per conversation.

Reconstructing from popularity to persuasion technique -- why is Twitter popular?

Twitter is popular because it is a relatively low barrier to entry and the speed of communication from one to many. However, a recent stat showed that over 60% of people who sign up never return after the first month.

The single most effective "poor man's" site optimization is...?

Testing and improving headlines.


Your single favorite Google tool for SEO/SEM is...?

There are several great tools Google has developed for marketers. However, maybe I am biased because I wrote the book on it, but Google Website Optimizer is a tool everyone should be using more often.

There is nothing like improving the efficiency of your marketing efforts with a little testing. It is all about the post click experience.

One piece of software can't be missing. You'd recommend it to anyone. It's....?

SnagIt!. I love my screenshots.


Are you still a screenshot addict? If so, have you considered switching to PDF, Evernote or other capture tools? Finally -- on average, how many screenshots do you take per day (or week)?

I occasionally do screen video capture as well, but the portability of screen shots is most important for me.


Covey, GTD, Do It Tomorrow, Zen To Done... Life management, time management, priority management; call it what you want but what's your setup, what's your system and what are your tools?

Its called the madness method. I am just very good at getting through things very quickly.


The common answer to "information overload" is "dip in & get out". But what do you do with the information you just loaded? Do you keep it all in your head? Mindmap? Any personal knowledge or personal information management tools you use?

I keep some electronic notes for stuff, but mostly I am filled with loads of trivial facts. I was one of those people everyone hated playing Trivial Pursuit with.


Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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6 Responses to “Ruud Questions: Bryan Eisenberg”

  1. Cool Gifts says:

    Great interview. I like his new terms for SEO and PPC. It's definitely important to optimize for the searcher not just the search engine.

  2. Another great interview with another one of my personal favorites! I have been following Bryan and the "Grok" for years. Its a MUST read. Now I have to start learning how to better use their techniques.

    I would say that improoving the experience/conversion/etc can be more powerful than a top 3 ranking in Google! Its comforting to know that there are still things out there that produce the type for ROI that SEO does…. HUGE!

  3. Great interview as always. I learn something every time I visit. My takeaway today is SnagIt. I never heard of it before but will be checking it out.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      I love SnagIt and have it running in the system tray *all the time*. I take a lot of screenshots of info I attach in my brain, save a lot of random stuff… SnagIt and Adobe Acrobat are my favorite outputs.

  4. […] Be sure to come say hello to me if you are a GrokDotCom reader and are attending the conference. Ruud Hein from Search Engine People and Sarah Benmaza of NVI interviewed me prior to attending the conference. One of the sessions […]

  5. Gail Gardner says:

    Thanks for the interview. I'm always interested in what Bryan and other best of breed specialists have to share.

    Regarding Twitter, the key attraction is that it gives us a way to connect with influential people who are extremely busy and have gatekeepers that make other forms of contact problematic.

    It is also effective for connecting with bloggers who usually do not have phone numbers or their Skype usernames on their blogs. When we find related, high quality blogs we can share their content.

    The primary purpose of Twitter for influencers is as an easy way to spread content and increase traffic and visibility and build relationships that can turn into collaborations.