Welcome back to the final stretch of Day 3. Up we have Greg Boser to talk about SEO in the year twenty ten. [Jim Boykin was also part of this double session and gave a talk about how to build links but his presentation asked people not to share it. So, out of respect for Jim, I didn’t blog it. However, there was some great information so maybe bug him to blog about some of it himself. :)]
He can’t get his presentation to load so he’s just going to wing it. Word on the street is that the same thing happened to Rae an hour ago and she knocked it out the park. We’ll see if Greg can pull a Rae. ;)
Greg’s been making a living on the Web for 14 years. In that time he’s worked in a lot of different areas. He spent some time talking about his history in search. I spent some time trying to get my MIFI to connect. Grr, technology.
Greg says we’re at a point where SEO has evolved to where we have to rethink the acronym and what it means and what it entails. People ask him what SEO is and he says he does human behavior analysis. He specializes in understanding how people behave when they’re searching for knowledge. That used to be one little search box, but it’s evolved beyond that. Twitter is search. People are using it as a tool to look for information. His job is to understand that behavior and understand how people are adapting and the new tools available. SEO’s often get pigeon-holed into being “the on-page guys” like we’re not real marketers, but that’s not true.
When Google makes changes, they’re based on them looking at their data and adjusting the same way you would on your own site. We have to interpret what they’re thinking based on what they’re doing because they won’t tell us. You can no longer exist in a bubble. It used to be there was a lot of division – someone did PPC, someone did local, someone did social. But it’s not like that anymore. It can’t be. You have to be able to do all the things because it’s all connected. Human beings are involved.
How do I move forward? What’s important?
He thinks there’s a lot of stuff being missed in the industry. The quality of what we do has suffered a lot. There are always haters that say SEO is dead but some of the things he’d recommend:
Stop regurgitating: We live in an industry where knowledge is transferred through 2-3 generation regurgitation. These days kids are coming out with a SEMPO card in one hand and the Webmaster Guidelines in another. They work inhouse and stay in their boxes. That didn’t exist when Greg started out. Over the years, he’s worked in a lot of different spaces. And that helped him learn a lot. Today’s generation isn’t getting that.
Take the time to go out and play in other areas. That’s where affiliate marketing comes in, even if you have a 9-5 job you should go out and do R&D and learn stuff on your own. If you want to invest in something in value, go find some affiliate programs and build your own sites. Start questioning things you’ve always taken as gospel. How do you know what you know? Do you know because you tested it or do you know because someone just told you it’s so? Doing that stuff makes you better.
He recently accepted a position working with Blueglass. He gives people on his team tests. He tells them what he wants them to prove/not prove. They tell him how they’re going to do it and they go out and do it. He just gives them a list. Now when they’re in a situation with a client where they’re being asked questions, they can do a better job giving them accurate information.
Greg made his whole career off cleaning up after mediocre SEOs. You have to take the time to do the work and know the space. Know their backlinks. Know how they’re getting them. Know what they’re using. It doesn’t scale but if you don’t know invest in that early you’re going to make poor decisions or bite off things you can’t handle. Greg tells clients “no” more than he tells them “yes”. And the more he does that, the better clients he gets. Clients are used to hearing “yes”.
The biggest problem in our industry isn’t the snake oil salesmen, it’s the tier above that. The people who charge a lot of money to basically do nothing. He built his business on performance marketing. He’d take less money up front but then earn 3-4x more what they would have paid originally because he’s now proved himself. It’s not about volume of clients. It’s about finding the clients you can kill it for.
Another thing that’s painfully missing out is your trust network. When he got started there weren’t discussion forums yet. There were no blogs, no Facebook, no Twitter. They’d hang out and share and swap stories. When he started at WebmasterWorld one of the questions he got was are the conferences valuable? He said it wasn’t the sessions that are valuable, it’s the people you meet in real life. The relationships you develop on Twitter are not the same as the relationships you build when you meet someone. He’s never spent a dollar to market himself other than coming to conferences. You come and you meet people who are brilliant. It’s about seeking out people who can be mentors in a way to you and give you a bigger world view. It’s about collectively beating the machine. We try to make macro decisions on micro chunks of information. The value of coming to shows forming those real relationships. Make an effort to go up to people.
Ahhh. Thanks for all the knowledge Greg. If you see Greg later, go and talk to him. It may just pay for your entire trip.