Ruud Questions: Jill Whalen

by Ruud Hein January 30th, 2009 

After I had taken some basic SEO advice to heart and noticed an improvement in ranking and traffic (wow, actual traffic!!) to our family site, I decided to pursue this SEO "thing" further.

Jill Whalen's High Rankings SEO forum was the first forum I joined back in 2002? 2003? to learn more.

Her basic plan, and this is just my impression of it of course, is to work through content. It's not simply "write it and they will come" (as you will see below) but without the "write it" the "they will come" will never happen. And if the "write it" isn't good, the "they will come" will be meaningless: they will go too, won't come back, won't become customers, and won't link to you.

I always feel a little bit special for her following me back on Twitter or us being "friends" on Facebook. She's one of those people I look up to: hard work, clean profile, careful, professional — and she gives back through her newsletter, her forum and in many other ways.

As always, highlighting is mine; answers haven't been edited but for applying line breaks to break up the conversation.

In What's The Biggest SEO Myth Aaron Wall answered "that of quality content", arguing it takes content and push marketing to get anywhere.

What's your take?

Yes, thats absolutely true.

Theres a strange misperception out there that anyone can get rich quick (or get high rankings and traffic) on the Internet by simply throwing content on a website, as if theres no marketing involved!

Part of the problem with that myth is that most people dont actually even understand what quality content is. But even those that do, still have to get out there and market it.

The Field of Dreams mentality has never really worked online, despite what many people think.

I'm a company selling widgets. Can I simply add my products as a shopping cart on the web, make a catalog site, or do I have to add some form of unique content?

If your widgets are the same basic widgets that everyone else is selling, youll have a hard time getting people to your website and buying from you unless youre providing some unique, added value.

Whats your unique selling proposition (USP)? If you dont have one, then you need to come up with one. When you have that, you promote it to the hilt all over your website.

And no, your USP cant just be that you have really great customer service, or fairly low prices. Those people or companies who are the most creative in coming up with their USP will typically win out over those who arent.

With Facebook, among others, growing so huge, so fast — how does the current inception of social media change SEO or SEM?

It doesnt.

Social media, imo, is not SEO, and vice-versa. It can certainly be a form of website marketing, as is SEO, but its separate from SEO.

Where they can sometimes intersect is in social media marketings ability to indirectly attract links. And since links obviously help SEO efforts, theres some synergy there. But social media is much more online PR then it is SEO.

If a friend of you would be laid off, how would you suggest she recoups the loss of income via the web?

Thats a bit of a loaded question.

Not everyone can just make money online because they want to, and even if they could it would take a ton of time and hard work to do so. Its funny how many think its easy!

In general, it would really depend on my friends skills.

For instance, if he or she was a print journalist who got laid off, then there may be lots they could do online to make money. I would suggest they learn about SEO copywriting and then attempt to align themselves with some small SEO companies who might have the need for a copywriter. Most solo SEOs are not copywriters (or at least shouldnt be) and are desperate for good writers.

But if my friend was say a nuclear engineer who got laid off, Im not sure what advice I would give him or her. It would depend on what their outside interests were. I guess I would tell them to focus on doing something that they love and are passionate about. However, I would also warn them that theyd probably need at least a year of major hard work before being able to make any money from their passion.

Having no budget, basically, what do you suggest someone does for her site?

Umm get a budget? :)

It really does take money to make money. Thats a basic fact of life.

That said, if you have more time than money, then theres certainly enough free info out there to learn basic SEO skills and other things that can help you create and market a website.

Assuming this someone has something worth promoting, as well as a unique selling proposition, then I would suggest they start with keyword research to find the phrases people use at Google to find products and services such as theirs. Then be sure you describe your products and services using those phrases, as well as get the word out about what you do. Thats pretty much it in a nutshell!

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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9 Responses to “Ruud Questions: Jill Whalen”

  1. Thanks so much for the great Q and A session with Jill. She is truly one of the best in the SEO game. Great information!

  2. LOL! I love your comment about taking money to making money. Tell that to Citibank or AIG ;-) I happen to agree with your comments though….

  3. SEO Q&A sessions always catch my attention, and Jill is a stalwart in the field of SEO. Suffice to say that without links and proper on page optimization good content wont amount to much….

  4. i think that's so true. People go on about content, but are little help when you ask, well what should I do with the content. Marketing is crucial. How else do people know it's there?

  5. Great thoughts from Jill, and I appreciate an article that's already been highlighted for me, especially before the coffee kicks in :)

    I've had a lot of discussions with clients recently about content marketing – we're all guilty of wanting to produce content that drives traffic, while completely glossing over the fact that we'll have to market that one-off content. If you create linkbait that no one visits, all you've really done is spent time and money to push your marketing efforts one step away.

  6. Utah SEO says:

    It's frustrating when people don't have budgets and they want to do a rev/share model but have a crappy product/service.

  7. Mark says:

    I am reading for Rudd Questions the first time. And it is really good to read best of SEO people's interviews in the series. Your emphasizing on marketing shows that SEO is a process which involves lots of things. People think that they have content or good keyword rich website,so they are going to rank well in search engines, but they forget about other things like link building and marketing.

  8. al3b says:

    SEO Q&A sessions always catch my attention, and Jill is a stalwart in the field of SEO.

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