Social search? Author rank? Terry Van Horne has his word

Candid interview with SEO/search expert Terry Van HorneTerry Van Horne is widely known and esteemed by the SEO and search community for many reasons.

He is held in high regard for championing SEO and search industry standards as the veteran SEO professional that founded SEO Pros. He is recognized as the Director of the not-for-profit Organization of Search Engine Optimization Professionals (OSEOP). He is known for his work with David Harry at the SEO Training Dojo.

Terry is also distinguished by his colorful character, straightforward manner, sharp wit, and merciless honesty when offering his opinion on industry matters – and I’m delighted he has done so here!

In this interview, I ask Terry for his take on social search, Google’s authorship, and the related G+ attribution issue. (His choice words about the latest buzzword, “outbound marketing,” were entirely unsolicited.) :)

There’s been a lot of discussion about Google’s authorship and its future as a ranking signal. Where do you see this whole author tag thing going?

Author Rank is a gleam in every popular blogger’s eye. I don’t think it has a hope in hell of ever being a bigger ranking factor than it is now.

In other words, if someone is plugged into the mother ship they see their friends and those they follow. Beyond that, author tags are only suitable for use in a very limited way.

The day they make it a ranking algo is the day you start seeing author tags on e-commerce pages.

In our initial discussion, you had mentioned a glitchy issue with Google’s attribution loop. What needs to be corrected?

Glitchy? I bet those getting caught in the “glitch” have a more colorful word for it.

To some extent it is broken with too much mis-attribution. Spammers are now picking up and targeting sites that are vulnerable to mis-attribution.

Google is trying hard to complete the circle between G+ profiles and anywhere they are found, so if a site is not using the author tag they are vulnerable to someone commenting and including a link to a Google profile.

Another way is if an author links to a G+ post. To some extent Google is forcing the use of the tag by making those not using it a target for highjacking authorship.

There’s also a lot of buzz about “social signals” in search and “social SEO”… What’s your take?

Think about it. This is SEO 101! If it is not indexable, it can’t affect rank. Correlation is not causation!

Most of Twitter is not indexable! Large portions of Facebook – same deal. Even Google + is limited by the privacy settings.

David Harry and I were interviewing Joe Hall for our “Search Geeks Speak” around the time he was promoting a social search tool, and he shared with us that he was surprised how much data is hidden on Facebook by privacy and other impediments.

IMO, Social is about verifying other signals like links and general promotion with buzz and legitimate engagement. For instance, an increase in the velocity of link acquisition should be accompanied by increased “mentions” and other Social buzz.

We found the easiest way to move video up the rankings was to accompany it with social activity. It is even more important for press releases and other more temporal searches, such as for events.

What are your top 5 favorite sources of SEO & search information?

SEO Training Dojo and the SEO Pros Community, David Harry, Bill Slawski, Webmaster Help Desk and Google Search – the last of which is by far the most useful resource I have to learn about anything from SEO to programming or the phone number of Buzz Buzz pizza! The best pizza in Toronto!

I don’t read many blogs as I would rather filter info through the community I’m hanging in. I see what’s worth reading or worse, what people need to be protected from.

As a veteran SEO professional, what words of wisdom would you offer the new SEO copywriter?

Concentrate on writing good copy because good copywriting naturally uses primary and derivative keywords which make the copy more understandable/readable and RELEVANT – because in the end “Google does not buy anything! Their users do!!”

Please the users and you please “the Google”.

You are known as an advocate for SEO & search industry standards. Could you discuss your work at SEO Pros?

SEO Pros and the Ontario registered NFP (Not For Profit) OSEOP (Organization for Search Engine Optimization Professionals) have been around since 2003. We were the first organization for Search Engine Professionals.

At times we have participated in the discussion of SEO Standards, and have always had upholding standards a requirement for being included in the OSEOP directory.

Currently we are moving our focus from Standards (basically there are many ways to the same goal) to Risk Assessment, which is less of a moving target.

I’m also a big supporter in the belief it has to be an inclusive process. I like the ideals of the RFC (Request for Comments) process* where anybody can participate by just following the framework.

Any parting thoughts you’d like to share?

People say SEO has changed a lot. On page optimization is same as it ever was and well, quite frankly, I don’t see link building and lot of what others call SEO as actually being SEO!

IMO, it is internet marketing/promotion or the new buzz word that annoys the F…. outta me … outbound marketing.

There ya go boys’!  An F bomb – the reputation remains unsullied!

[email protected]!


* Request for Comments is the process by which many Internet Specifications and Protocols evolve.


About Terry Van Horne

Terry Van Horne has been developing and marketing websites since the early 90’s in various marketing and development positions, including: working as internet marketing manager for one of Canada’s largest real estate developers; SEO for an award-winning real estate company; and as search engine and marketing manager for ecommerce stores in the apparel and musical instrument industries. In 2007, he developed a YouTube Marketing Strategy for WorldMusicSupply, and to date those 300+ videos have received over 26,000,000+ downloads.

He is currently a partner with David Harry in the award winning SEO Training Dojo, a learning community, as well as three other marketing and industry news sites. Terry founded, an organization for consumer advocacy and search engine optimization professionals, and is currently a Director of the NFP organization OSEOP that grew out of it.

photo thanks to fdecomite

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2012’s Top-10 SEO expert interviews

The number 10 representing our 10 best interviews with SEO experts from 2012For us, 2012 was a year enriched with conversations with some of the best and the brightest in the SEO and search industry. From Jonathan Allen of Search Engine Watch to Jill Whalen of High Rankings Advisor, Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting to Dana Lookadoo of Yo! Yo! SEO, our guests generously shared their stories, perspectives, and insights with us.

So here they are (in no particular order): our top 10 interviews with a line-up of illustrious SEO visionaries, experts, thought leaders, luminaries…and really great folks!


Photo of Nathan Safran, SEO expert from Conductor2013 will be the year of the SEO”: an interview with Nathan Safran

Can you feel it? Conductor’s Nathan Safran did when his research, in partnership with Search Engine Watch’s Jonathan Allen, predicted that “2013 will be the year of the SEO.” Why? You’ll have to find out for yourself! Nathan also has some truly interesting things to say about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, and the SEO and search industry as a whole.


Photo of Jonathan Allen, SEO expert, Director of Search Engine WatchInterview with the Englishman in New York, SEW’s Jonathan Allen/Part 1

And speaking of Jonathan Allen…the head honcho of Search Engine Watch shares the story – in intimate detail – of his path to his current role in part 1 of our 2-part interview. Did you know he began as a student of literature and philosophy? Learn more about Jonathan’s intriguing journey into the center of the SEO and search industry in this first installment! (Includes his break-through video, 50 SEOs, 1 Question).


A second photo of Jonathan Allen, to accompany part 2 of his interviewInterview with SEW’s Jonathan Allen/Part 2: A Search Manifesto

An in-depth interview unto itself, in part 2 Jonathan shares his unique take on Google’s search, social, and clean-up initiatives (i.e., Search Plus Your World, Google+, and Panda/Penguin). He also describes where he sees the search industry going with his provocative, self-described “search manifesto.”



Photo of Jill Whalen, SEO expert and CEO of High RankingsJill Whalen on SEO: then & now

One of the first women pioneers of SEO (she discovered SEO before it was SEO), Jill Whalen of High Rankings shares her trail-blazing venture into the industry. Starting with her analytical curiosity dating “waaaaay back to the early 1990’s”, Jill was instrumental in forging the SEO and search industry – along with her reputation as a leading industry thought leader and practitioner. She also shares her insights into the primary factors influencing SEO, the importance (and rarity) of truly good copywriting, as well as the impacts of Google’s data encryption, over-optimization penalty, and Search Plus push on the SEO profession and search industry.


Photo of Eric Enge, SEO expert, Owner of Stone Temple ConsultingInterview with SEO expert & master interviewer, Eric Enge

Renowned SEO veteran Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting is recognized not only for his expertise, but also his skillful interviews with the likes of Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan. Eric credits his interviewing technique for allowing him to predict both the Panda and Penguin updates. Besides generously sharing his insights into how he sees the SEO and search industry evolving in the near future, Eric indulges us with a prediction for a huge update that should happen any day now…hmmmmm


Photo of SEO expert Jennifer Evans Cario of Sugar Spun MarketingOn SEO, social media & small business: An interview with SugarSpun Marketing’s Jennifer Evans Cario

Among the “second wave” of women who followed in the footsteps of the original SEO pioneers, Jennifer Evans Cario of SugarSpun Marketing shares her self-taught foray into SEO and internet marketing. She also shares her passion and childhood inspiration for championing small business, as well as her reasons for migrating from SEO and search to blogging and social media marketing. Along with her personal sharing, Jennifer addresses the intersection of search and social with her “Pinocchio Effect” theory, and talks about the thought processes behind her (then upcoming) book, Pinterest Marketing: An Hour a Day.


Photo of C.C. Chapman, Co-Author of Content RulesC.C. Chapman on SEO, Search Plus, and doing the unexpected

The widely recognized co-author of Content Rules, C.C. Chapman had relatively humble beginnings as yet another corporate employee. In his interview, Chapman shares a “high-level view” of his path to becoming a writer, speaker, and consultant, and why he loves Google’s Search Plus. He also speaks to the role of SEO in content marketing, emphasizes the importance of “doing the unexpected” with your content, and discusses why indeed content is king.


Photo of Debra Mastaler, SEO Link-Building ExpertQueen of Link: Interview with Debra Mastaler

Think link building, and you think Debra Mastaler. Like Jill Whalen, Debra is one of the first wave of SEO women who helped build the industry. Here she shares her story of her SEO beginnings – honing her link-building skills working for Whalen – and her holistic marketing approach to her profession (in fact, she refers to link building as link marketing). Find out what Debra has to say about the changing (pre-Penguin) link landscape, Google’s preference for big brands, and the plethora of link-building opportunities that social media and blogging have brought.


Photo of Matt McGee, SEO and Search ExpertMatt McGee on SEO & small business search marketing

The talented journalist and Executive News Editor of Search Engine Land and sister site Marketing Land, Matt McGee also finds time to write his own daily blog, Small Business Search Engine Marketing. In this interview, Matt traces his rise through the SEO ranks, discusses why he chooses to focus on small business SEM, as well as what small business owners need to focus on in light of the Panda and Penguin updates.



Photo of SEO Expert Dana Lookadoo of Yo! Yo! SEOYo! Yo! SEO’s Dana Lookadoo on Re-branding and SEO+

In our interview with another force emerging from the “second wave” of women in SEO, Dana Lookadoo shares her path to her profession. She also talks about her re-branding to incorporate word-of-mouth marketing and social media sharing with Yo! Yo! SEO (hence SEO+). So if you were ever wondering how Dana arrived at that name, you’ll find out here! You’ll also find out about her passion for educating clients, her thoughts about the state of the SEO industry, and her words of advice for the new SEO copywriter.


Photo thanks to woodleywonderworks

From surviving to thriving: lessons from Sean McGinnis

Today we feature our interview with Sean McGinnis, a highly successful online marketer and trainer who started out his internet marketing career with a simple DVD movie review website in 1999.

Here, Sean shares his experience and the insights he has gleaned through his 14+ years in the internet marketing industry, from how he first started out with his online business to what he did to carve out his market niche in digital marketing training with his launch of 312 Digital.

A most informative and inspirational chat! Enjoy…and please feel free to ask Sean your own questions in the comments section below.

Please do tell: how did you start out in internet marketing?

I got my start in the industry the same way so many others have – I built my own web site. I launched DVD Verdict, a DVD movie review web site, in April 1999. Along the way, I learned a lot about HTML and web development.

Later, I sold websites to lawyers for a premier web development company focused on the law firm market. From 2006-2009, I managed the SEO team for that company.  My team consisted of 37 consultants. I served as CMO and General Manager of an internet bar exam test-prep business. Today, I’m VP of Sales & Marketing for a startup in the legal space that drives highly qualified traffic to law firm web sites.

You recently launched your business, 312 Digital, as a “hard-core, how-to digital marketing training business.” Could you elaborate on what 312 Digital is about?

312 Digital offers a wide range of digital marketing training classes. The classes are always conducted in-person and they are limited in size to encourage the best possible learning environment.

Many people attend a conference or webinar to try to learn the various disciplines that fall under digital marketing – or they just muddle through and learn on their own.

Most conferences don’t teach attendees how to perform digital marketing tasks. Instead, they focus on teaching strategy or worse yet, simply highlight keynote speakers.

Most webinars don’t teach anything, either. Instead, they exist to get people to hand over their contact information so businesses can follow up and sell them something else – a product or a service. Webinars are the perfect lead gen machine – but they very rarely teach very much.

312 Digital provides a rigorous, structured method for learning the ins and outs of digital marketing. We offer classes in Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media, Video and much more.

What inspired you to create 312 Digital?

The “idea” of 312 Digital is really a coming together of a few different ideas. I really wanted to do more speaking, because speaking and teaching is something I really enjoy.

I also love to work closely with people I love and respect. Collaboration is, to me, one of the highest art forms of professionalism. I love to surround myself with people who are much smarter myself: Better writers; better speakers; amazing people.

I have a pretty robust network and was looking for a way to collaborate with the best and brightest. 312 Digital is a coming together of these two things – collaborating with really smart people and teaching people about digital marketing.

Could you share your insights into what’s involved in starting up an online marketing business?

I’m not sure we’re doing anything different than what you would do. We’ve created a tightly defined offering – one that lends itself to robust storytelling. We’ve identified a group of influencers and shared what we are doing with them in hopes that they would actively share our story with their networks.

We have focused quite a bit on potential off-line marketing channels, because our target market is not necessarily heavily involved on-line. A significant segment of the market still needs to learn these digital marketing skills. We’re targeting them.

So what makes 312 Digital training unique?

My main goal for 312 Digital is to be able to offer the best possible training for the money. One of the ways we do that is via a business model and a mission that keeps the focus on the training and on serving our students.

The best way to illustrate what I mean is to share with you a few guidelines we’ve developed as I thought through the business model.

  1. 312 Digital will NEVER accept sponsors at our events. Ever. I believe the very act of selling access to your paying customers is akin to pimping them out – a vile act that has no place in business.
  2. 312 Digital pays our speakers. This ensures there is an arms-length business relationship between 312 Digital and our speakers. This is the best possible way to ensure the content they provide is the best it can be. My time has value; so does your time; so does our students’ time. I value that time and pay accordingly.
  3. 312 Digital speakers receive every lead from every class. I will never take a consulting fee from one of our students. I will never take a finder’s fee or a cut of any work our speakers that generates from a 312 Digital class. Ever. This ensures I have the best interest of our speakers at heart, just as I do our students.

I know of no other provider who has stated operating principles like these. These are the cornerstones of what I would call “business integrity.” I believe we charge a fair price for an amazing day of learning. I don’t want that muddied or muddled by side deals and sponsorships. I want the focus on the classroom and the student.

Any words of wisdom you’d like to offer to the newer online copywriter or internet marketer?

My advice is this. Study hard. Work hard. Be a student of the game. Understand your customers. Understand the rules of the game. Understand who the judges are and what they want as an outcome.

My single most important advice is this – stop trying to find shortcuts to success. As marketers, it is endemic in us, and I cannot for the life of me understand why. If something is freely available, cheap and easy to execute it probably doesn’t work. If it does work, it won’t work for long.


More about Sean McGinnis

Sean McGinnis is founder of 312 Digital, a company that teaches marketers, consultants and small business owners how to market their business on the web via training classes focused on Digital Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, PPC, and more. Sean also brings his 14+ years of digital marketing experience on behalf of clients through regular consulting and speaking engagements. You can connect with Sean on Twitter and LinkedIn.

photo thanks to woodleywonderworks


Is your website not converting as it should? Or do you need a content marketing strategy for 2013? Check into my low-cost, high-value SEO Content Review service – I can diagnose (and treat) your web content blues and strategize an awesome content marketing plan for the new year!




Women who rock SEO: the second wave

Following up on last week’s post featuring the first generation of SEO Women who made the profession great, today we focus on the second wave of women who have joined in the work of building and shaping the SEO and search industry (and rocking it!)

So meet this second generation of fantastic women championing SEO and search, these movers-and-shakers who continue to make the industry great with their dedication to its highest standards, as well as their leadership, mentorship, and professional contributions that go far and beyond mere content.

As with the first wave of SEO women, they too have much to share and teach you. Get to know them and follow them on Twitter.

Jennifer Evans Cario – Founder and President of SugarSpun Marketing, Inc., Jennifer has been submerged in SEO since 2001. Her impressive client list includes Verizon, American Greetings, the State of South Dakota, and Highlights for Children. Jennifer serves as an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University Mini-MBA program, and since 2004 she has been Editor-in-Chief and joint owner of Search Engine Guide. She has authored two books, including the free e-book  Zero Dollars, a Little Talent and Thirty Days, in which she shares her experience in starting an online business from scratch. Follow Jennifer @JenniferCario.

Donna Fontenot– (That’s FONT-KNOW) – Owner of Making A Living Online, Donna is an e-Business coach, HubSpot-certified inbound marketing consultant, Web developer, and SEO diva. Her motto is, “You’ll never shine if you don’t grow.” Donna’s vast work experience includes gigs as a ColdFusion Web developer and I.T. department head. Her blog, Making a Living Online, combines her technical background with her inspiring vision for success, and is geared toward home-based entrepreneurs. Follow Donna @DonnaFontenot.

Kalena Jordan – Owner and Editor of ASK Kalena, Kalena specializes in everything search engine, and her blog offerings have recently expanded to include PPC analytics, social media and product launches on Google.  As the Co-Founder and Director of Studies at Search Engine College, an online training institution, Kalena tutors SEO and PPC courses and is the main contact for students. Her LinkedIn profile list her specialties as “Bionic, fibulous conglomeration of random search algorithms resulting in superior ascensionic ranking and visitation abilities. In other words, search is my life.” Follow Kalena @kalena.

Anne F. Kennedy – With over 35 years in marketing and public relations, plus 10 years in SEO and search marketing, Anne is currently International Search Strategist with Beyond Ink. She is also the Director of Marketing of Joblr. An accomplished speaker, her recent appearances include SMX Sydney Australia, SES Toronto, and RIMC in Iceland. Anne’s expertise landed her a prominent position on the Search Engine Strategies (SES) Domestic Advisory Board. Anne also serves on the board of directors of Helium Writer’s Network, and is co-author of Global Search Engine Marketing, a guide to fine-tuning your international search engine marketing results. Follow Anne @AnneKennedy.

Dana Lookadoo – Owner of Yo! Yo! SEO, Dana calls herself a “search geek who prefers people over search engines but optimizes for both.” Her speciality is in coupling audience engagement and social media with SEO. Donna began a career in computing/PC training in 1984, then moved into website development and online marketing. As a business trainer, Donna has developed classes for Sun Microsystems Open Gateway Programs, Monterey Institute of International Studies, U.C. Santa Cruz Extension, and WallMart’s MEM Technology Conference Series. She believes, “Successful engagements require creative tactical planning, implementation, perseverance and presence!” Follow Dana @lookadoo.

Elisabeth Osmeloski – As the Executive Features Editor of Search Engine Land, Elisabeth manages all the editorial content and daily articles from industry experts. A veteran in the search engine marketing industry, Elisabeth has worked as an SEO consultant and search marketing analyst since 1999. Last year she became Founding Board Member and President at SLC Utah Professional Search Marketing Association. Follow Elisabeth @elisabethos.

Pamela Parker – As Executive Features Editor of Third Door Media’s Marketing Land, Pamela is an accomplished journalist, editor, and writer. In her diverse background, Pamela has worked for ClickZ, and covers media, marketing, advertising, and technology. Aside from her editing duties at Marketing Land, Pamela writes at her personal blog, The River, and has covered such diverse topics as The Future of Display and How Mad Men and Women Get Introduced to the Digital Ad Age in Google Trade at Marketing Land’s sister site, Search Engine Land. Follow Pamela @pamelaparker.

Gabriella Sannino – As CEO of Level343, an organic SEO and copywriting company based in San Francisco, Gabriella operates on the core belief that “conversation is the new currency.”  She is fluent in five languages, and as an international content strategist, she handles everything under the SEO and SEM umbrella from content development to usability testing and data analysis. The Level343 blog covers a wide range of topics including How to Create Content Without Bombarding Your Readers to Buyer Psychology and The Effects of Influence. She states, “Great writers are everywhere but SEO is all about creativity and strong knowledge of search engine marketing.” Follow Gabriella @SEOcopy.

Catherine (Cat) Seda – Catherine is a 15-year internet marketing veteran and the author of How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders and Search Engine Advertising. Presently, she is the Director of Online Marketing for Kelley Blue Book, and an internet marketing consultant, speaker & writer at Seda Communications, Inc. Catherine writes the “Net Sales” column for Entrepreneur Magazine and has contributed to eBay magazine, Leader Magazine, and Yahoo! Small Business Insights. Catherine served as Dean of Internet Marketing at LA College International, and is a sought-after speaker on the conference circuit. Connect with Catherine at LinkedIn.

Lyena Solomon – Founder and Owner of NetSprinter Consulting Services, Lyena began her career as a webmaster in1995, then transitioned into web development and consulting. Currently, she is also the Web Optimization Analyst at Yo! Yo! SEO. Lyena specializes in helping small to medium sized businesses with analytics, social media, and web development. Her NetSprinter blog covers such topics as Why Non-Profits Fail and Website Redesign. Last year, Lyena was voted by Level 343 as one of the Top SEO Women. Highly educated, she is fluent in Russian and holds Masters Degrees from Vladimir Pedagogical University and Illinois State University. Follow lyena @lyena.

Diane Vigil – As owner of the DianV. Web Design Studio, Diane oversees offices in Austin and Los Angeles. She discovered the web in 1996, and within months she was, “…convinced that I could do it because I’d seen <b> tags [and thought] how hard can it be?” She quickly fell in love with designing websites and started her Web design studio in 1997. Known around the Web as “DianeV”, she was an early moderator and administrator at VirtualPromote/JimWorld, a popular discussion forum for web designers and Internet promotion industries. Her diversified site design portfolio includes music, arts, internet marketing, business, and more, with her client list including the (late) singer Davy Jones, Cal Earth Institute, and KLR Motorcycle Parts. Follow Diane @dianevigil.

Our gratitude to all the women who rock the SEO world, both the first and second wave – and those who have yet to make their splash! :)

The lists of women honored here and in last week’s tribute were not intended to be exhaustive, by any means. Do you know a fantastic woman in SEO you’d like to add? We’d love it if you would tell us in the comments below, and it’d be great if you could include a link to her website or social profile! Thanks!

photo thanks to Mike Baird
















Interview with Ken Lyons of Measured SEM

Ken Lyons, Measured SEM

Ken Lyons has been in Internet marketing for more than seven years and is co-founder of Measured SEM, an inbound marketing agency in Boston, Ma. He’s an avid blogger and has been featured in Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and Website Magazine. He also writes a monthly Web strategies column for

So tell us a bit about how you came to establish Measured SEM

In 2009, I started working at WordStream, a venture-backed startup in Boston that provides search marketing software. That’s where I met my current business partner, Tom Demers. Tom and I headed the SEO and inbound marketing efforts for WordStream. We worked really well together and in one year were able to grow site traffic at from 2,000 monthly visits to 200,000, which was no small feat considering we were slugging it out in hyper-competitive, organic search verticals dominated by some of the top SEOs and SEO agencies on the planet.

Ultimately, Tom and I decided to launch our own boutique inbound marketing agency, Measured SEM, which we did this past February. With Measured SEM, we knew that we could apply the same strategies and tactics that transformed into a traffic and lead generation machine to other companies in other niches and see similar results. So far, so good :)

What is the make-up of your clientele?

Currently, we have a roster of 30 clients that range from smaller mom and pop shops, who want local SEO/geo-targeting traction, to larger SMBs software vendors where we manage their online marketing campaigns from end-to-end, to ecommerce clients where we develop and execute content-based link marketing campaigns.

So how did you determine your niche market?

Starting an inbound marketing agency that would grow site traffic and online lead generation for companies seemed like a logical extension of our experience, skill sets and passion. What’s more, despite the economic slowdown, the search marketing space continues to thrive each year. So it made sense to continue working in an industry that’s enjoying rapid growth and still relatively young with a lot of upside.

What kind of SEO services do you provide?

Our SEO services include technical site audits, SEO strategy, keyword research, on-page optimization and SEO copywriting. We also offer a range of content marketing and link building packages, that include everything from infographic creation and promotion, to group interviews with industry thought leaders, to our popular guest blog posting service.

The overriding goal of our services is to provide exponential value to our clients. So for example, if you spend $X amount with us per month we want you to see $2X worth in return.

How big a role does copywriting play in the services you provide?

Copywriting is pervasive in almost everything we do at Measured SEM. Think about it: good copy touches so many aspects of traditional SEO–from crafting clickable title tags, to persuasive meta descriptions, to compelling page titles. In addition, we produce search-driven content for clients, which includes informational content (blog posts, expert articles, authoritative industry reports) and transactional content (SEO landing pages that are designed to convert).

Great copy also plays a major role in our content marketing campaigns, where we not only research and generate the content/linkable assets, but we also promote the content via outreach, which in itself involves writing a very persuasive pitch letter to compel the recipient to not only look at your content but to share it with their audience as well.

Any advice for those considering starting up their own SEO copywriting business?

There’s a lot of competition out there, from cost-effective content shops, like Text Broker, to higher-quality resources like Level343, so you really need to distinguish yourself and provide a strong value prop. The best way to set yourself above the pack is to over-deliver on every project. This is especially true if you’re just starting out. Make the client feel like they’re getting more than they’re paying for and you’ll minimize churn, create a loyal customer base and get tons of referrals.

Tell us about your most difficult challenge as an SEO business.  How did you resolve/deal with it?

Setting client expectations is the most challenging aspects of what we do, but it’s vital to the health of every project. You need to set realistic, achievable expectations for clients right out of the gate so everyone is on the same page. Then, you over-deliver :)

Do you recommend keeping SEO copywriting in-house, or outsourcing as a new biz?

For new businesses, it probably makes the most sense to outsource for a few reasons:

  • Copywriting is one of those tasks you can outsource and not suffer on quality.
  • Given the uncertainty of success for a new biz, its one less fixed expense. It’s a lot easier to dial back your commitment to a consultant than to lay off an employee if your business hits a rough patch.

However, once you start to gain momentum and generate consistent revenue growth, I think there are advantages to having a copywriter on-staff. Anyone who’s embedded in your company is going to acquire valuable institutional knowledge and have a much better understanding of your space, your industry and your business. For the in-house copywriter, that means knowing how best to speak to and connect with your target audience.


Interview with Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking on many panels with the wonderful Mr. O. Not only is Lee a nice guy, he is incredibly smart in the ways of content marketing. I’m very honored to feature his guest interview today. — Heather

So how did you come to be the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing?

After working in numerous roles from late 1996 to 2001 for a web development and marketing agency, I left as VP of Online Marketing and joined with Susan Misukanis to launch a Marketing PR consultancy. I started TopRank as a product for the agency and it grew to become the company itself. Somewhere in that transition I became the CEO.

A good portion of our client base are B2B companies like StrongMail, PRWeb, and McKesson, so the need for content to educate during longer sales cycles has always been an integral part of our SEO and Social Media consulting practice. Until a few years ago we called it “Editorial Marketing” until Joe Pulizzi helped popularized the phrase “Content Marketing.”

From your perspective, how has content marketing evolved over the past few years?

The biggest change I’ve seen is that more people are jumping on the bandwagon of creating content with the multitude of tools and publishing platforms available. While the value of great content to engage and persuade customers has always been important, I guess it took a while for a lot of online marketers to catch on.  Now content is an essential piece of any robust online marketing effort whether it’s B2C or B2B.

As more companies get into the “brand as publisher” business of creating content, I think many will burn out and turn to content curation as a way to provide value. Many of them are doing that now but will need to be aware of how Google deals with short form and duplicate information if they expect search to be a significant driver of traffic.

What would you say are the most important influences affecting content marketing today?

As far as the industry goes, there are rich information sources like Content Marketing Institute and the growing number of blogs (like this one) rich with information about marketing with content. My opinion is that anyone in a position to create content also has influence over how the organization plans, produces and promotes content.

When it comes to influences on the practice of content marketing, I’d say it’s the ability for companies to understand the people they’re trying to connect with, a.k.a. “audience,” “customers” or “community,” and then putting that understanding into an accountable content strategy. There is an accelerating quantity of content and digital information created every day and content marketing will evolve as changes in how people discover, consume and share information occurs.

What are your thoughts about the relative influences/intersections of Social Media and SEO on content marketing?

In the customer lifecycle from prospect to evangelist and everywhere in between, the information a brand publishes and exchanges with the community involves (or can involve) search-optimized content for discovery, social media for discovery, as well as content creation and sharing.  As consumers change how they find, interact and engage with digital information, marketers must anticipate what that means for their own messaging and methods of engagement.

Imagine the difference between these two scenarios:

Let’s go back a few years. Customer A needs a blender. She searches Google, is presented with results showing retail stores that sell blenders and visits several until she sees one she likes and buys it. A little simplified, but you get what I mean.

Fast forward to today. Customer B also needs a blender. She Tweets, “I need a new blender that can handle my monster smoothies, any recommendations?” (Yes, that’s under 140 characters). She might also message a few friends on Facebook asking a similar question. Some recommendations come her way and she “Googles” the brand / model names.  While she’s on the retailer website(s) there are product reviews, and some have articles and downloadable recipe books. Another links to a food/cooking community. After careful consideration she decides to buy one. Then she posts a thank you to her Facebook friends for helping pick out a new blender with photos of her first smoothie.

In the first example, our content is pretty much focused on the web pages that show up in search results. In the second example, content takes many forms including web pages, Tweets, reviews, social networks, and images. Maybe even video if margaritas we involved. Search and social increasingly drive discovery of new content. Social media facilitates sharing of that content.

The takeaway is that knowing consumer preferences should lead to making content findable, whether it’s search or social (or both), and shareable. That’s the intersection of Social SEO and Content in my book.

There’s been much discussion about content curation and creation — where are your thoughts on that?

Actually, I think it really depends on the strategy and resources of the business.  For many companies, original content is difficult and out of budget. In their search for other options, a strategy focused on becoming a single source of news and information around niche topics might be implemented through content curation. There are tools like Curata (a client) or Curation Station that provide companies with the ability to create these types of news destinations focused on specific topics. There are other tools like Amplify, Storify, and Eqentia that do similar things.

I’m a bit biased towards a mix of creation and curation. Most importantly, I think creating a content marketing strategy that is focused on providing customers with useful information and resources in a way that inspires them to buy and refer my clients’ products/services is the most effective.  In some cases that means 70% greenfield content and in others it might be 25%, with the balanced focused on being a filter of useful industry information for the community.

If there were any words of advice for the new content marketer, what would you tell him/her?

Turn around, run! Don’t look back. No, really: Study great sites like and visit CMI (mentioned above) for great tips and case studies on how companies are implementing and innovating with content. Network with other content marketers and find a way to experiment. Build a base of knowledge and get wicked smart with analytics so you can demonstrate the impact of your awesome-sauce work.

Lee Odden, Founder and CEO of TopRank® Online Marketing, regularly shares his content marketing expertise at TopRank Blog.

Since 2001 TopRank® has helped Fortune 500 companies (and a few Fortune 20’s as well) increase traffic, sales and brand visibility online through a holistic internet marketing approach.