Ruud Questions: Gab Goldenberg

by Ruud Hein August 20th, 2010 

First time I saw a photo of Gab I thought smooth guy. You know, the kind that is a bit too smooth? Then he asked me for an interview and I thought ha! smooth!.
Meanwhile though I read his stuff. Looked what he shared, linked to, wrote about. Thats when I started to nod my head, thinking; solid.

You're a law student but aren't really interested in pursuing a law career because you find in doesn't scale well. How does SEO scale the way law doesn't then?

Gab Goldenberg Excellent question.

Truth be told – SEO doesn't scale well in the same way law doesn't scale well! You need to keep adding staff at one point.

For the moment, I'm subcontracting with various people and it's going well. My impression is that we have more capacity than we're using, but at the same time for the sake of link source diversity (and assuaging paranoia/anxiety), I kinda prefer finding new bloggers for each project.

Back to your question – I'm also not pursuing a career in law because
1) The hours are inflexible;
2) The work can bore you to tears
3) Why be someone else's lackey to learn a new business, when I'm already in a good position in my own business?

Long term (4-5 years) I think/hope a few things will be different. Either I'll have proven myself wrong and figured out how to scale SEO efficiently, and/or 2) My business will be something that does scale better. I have no dearth of business ideas, thank heavens :) .

Talking about scale: finite market, finite search engine positions, finite keywords. How does SEO scale, future-wise?

Gab GoldenbergHeh, I'm working on figuring that out.

Covario bought out Stephan Spencer's NetConcepts, and now offer their software which is pretty clever.

They have a server middleman between Google and your site, that duplicates your site's money pages but with the appropriate on-page changes.

Googlebot and Google-referred traffic get the page served by the middleman (so Google and humans see the same thing).

So they've figured a way around IT involvement. You do a one-time installation and the site's SEO is done. That scales.

I also know the guys at Slingshot SEO are working hard on developing a quality, scalable service; interview them if you want details ;) . I've seen their client results and there's some impressive work going on there.

When you accidentally fell into SEO you pushed your first site forward through free directory submissions and a lot of on-page keywording, ranking in no-time for some obscure-ish terms and cranking the toolbar PR of your site to 5. Did it surprise you how relatively easy it was and can be to rank?

I was
surprised
this sort
of thing still works
Gab GoldenbergI don't remember if I was surprised at the time, but I was surprised recently to read that this sort of thing still works. Read Glenn's strategy piece for more on that.

What has surprised me is that I've seen a plateau around the top 20-40 with a site that's got nothing but quality backlinks (especially relatively to directories). I think it's because we haven't been aggressive or varied with anchor text, so we're working on that and I'm following the results to see if it helps.

You don't like life at a frantic pace — so how do you like it? What's a good day for you?

Gab GoldenbergThese past 3 weeks have been awesome. My schedule is roughly along these lines:

  • Wake up (around 8)
  • Pray
  • Breakfast
  • Read
  • Work/school
  • Lunch
  • Work/school
  • Sports/socializing/other activity
  • Dinner
  • Miscellaneous
  • Bed about midnight as much as I can.

In short, my schedule is flexible, I do as I please and thankfully this has allowed me to make good progress on my goals.

My schedule in Israel, where I spent this past semester, was similarly flexible and allowed a LOT of learning experiences – be it life lessons (doing my own groceries, laundry, cleaning the apartment etc.), social, or Judaic.

The difficult part is having the self-discipline … I find deadlines are helpful in that regard, because it forces me to work prior to that…

If work(ing) is not your end-goal, what do you do it for? What's the dream you're working towards?

Gab GoldenbergI could tell you my dream now, but it would just come off as a kid with a big mouth. I'd rather say if/when I achieve it.

On a smaller scale, I want to life a comfortable life and split my time about evenly between work and play. Whatever's extra I hope to use to help others.

As a student you maybe stand more firmly, still, in the world of the "regular people"; a world where Google is a simple tool to "go on the Internet", YouTube is just for fun and Facebook & Twitter are for anything but marketing.
What, if anything, seems to you a major disconnect between our SEO/marketing focused micro-cosmos & the real world out there?

Gab GoldenbergHow Im much likelier than my friends and family to crack a joke about viagra :D .

That said, I think the gap you described is getting smaller as internet marketing becomes more mainstream. I used to have to explain SEO more frequently; now people I talk to are more likely to know about showing up in Google, or having a Facebook page etc.

For instance, my best friend used to tease me about how whenever we discussed a new topic, I'd excitedly decide to go make a blog about it. (In fairness to him, I tried to make a fly-fishing blog on the 'these niches are open' advice of some guru … that went nowhere fast.)

Nowadays, that same friend has hired Dev Basu's Powered By Search for his dad's bankruptcy trustee firm and I hear they're getting good results so far. (To the same effect, my friend's dad used to think the Yellow Pages were key and the web was meh, or too futuristic still, only a few years ago.)

These days SEO touches a lot of disciplines; marketing, branding, PR, to name but a few.
Which is dear enough to your heart you'd want to move into it if you wouldn't be allowed to do pure SEO anymore?

Gab GoldenbergAlready none of us are doing "pure SEO" anymore. Usability, conversion and branding are tightly integrated to SEO. Here's an excerpt from my upcoming advanced SEO book to prove the point:

One of the themes of this book is that usability is part of SEO. One of the main paradigms of search engineers is that of user experience. As Matt Cutts likes to say, If I put my user hat on, what would I think of this?

If thats too abstract, here are a couple of quick examples of this interaction:

Usability is part of branding. The easier your site is for people to use, the more frequently and loyally theyll visit your site. This means more sales, more links, and more word of mouth. Its a virtuous circle. Well get back to this in my chapter on branding.

All-flash sites usually have all their content on the root domain. That means you cant bookmark deep pages, nor get deeplinks. And so you can only rank the homepage.

If you lift your conversion rate, then each visitor is more profitable and you can afford to reinvest more into generating or buying search traffic.

You SEP readers who thought that made sense can get a free chapter of my advanced SEO book or read another book excerpt online.

If you had to do that first site over today, you would ….

Guest post like crazyGab GoldenbergGuest post like crazy and focus on relationships, not SEO.

Traffic in the political blogosphere is very much link driven, and less so search (unless you target trending terms). I'd probably also develop my site, http://PoliticalConsultant.ca and offer services to our national and provincial parties. There are some excellent terms they can target (which a blog wouldn't gain much from ranking for, hence my earlier comments)

Gab's 5 favorite software tools?

Gab GoldenbergBasecamp – Online reporting /project management is a huge time saver

AuthorityLabs.com – Recommended by Slingshot SEO, whom I mentioned earlier, this rank tracker is fantastic and a lot deeper than any of the other solutions I've seen including SEOmoz or SEObook's. Sorry guys, but AuthorityLabs kills your tools.

WordPress – What's not to love about the world's best blogging platform?

Aaron Wall's Keyword List Generator – This thing is so versatile. I've used it for domaining, and Wiep shares a variant tool's use for local link building; check my comment there for a general link building use for it.

AdWords Editor / Wordstream Keyword Grouper (tie) – Everyone knows how the Editor can save you time, but Wordstream's tool offers PPC campaigners (and domainers?) a super powerful time saver that used to only be possible with complex programming geekery.

If you imagine the worst for a moment, what should Gab absolute have done, said, or arranged ASAP before the game is over?

Told my next of kin financial and internet account details – banks, paypal, domain registries, website admin passwords. I've written them down (hattip to Shoemoney for the idea) but should put it somewhere safe. Maybe get a home safe? I thought of doing this online then realized it's more secure offline!

Also, made sure that a percentage of what I have left goes to charities, unless my family needs it.

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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