Articles Tagged with Interview

Interview with Max Minzer about Max Impact

It’s been a while since I did an interview on SEOno (you can see previous interviews here) – in fact, I don’t really think to do them anymore, however I really wanted to interview Max Minzer about Max Impact (#maximpact) because he’s such a humble and modest guy and I love his shows (since show #40-odd I’ve attended pretty much weekly… in fact, this was my first appearance), plus with the fact that he ran his 100th show not so long ago, the timing couldn’t be better…


Steve Morgan: Hi Max! First things first, please introduce yourself – tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

Max Minzer photoMax Minzer: Hey Steve! Thanks for having me!

My name is Max Minzer. I am the owner of ReEngage Consulting – digital marketing consulting service specialising in local search marketing. I view it as business advising and enjoy doing what I do. I also host a weekly digital marketing show called Max Impact, moderate a Local Search community on Google+ and I like meeting and talking to people.

I’m married and have a 3-year-old boy.

Steve: If someone asked you to summarise Max Impact in 30 seconds or less (or a couple of lines!), what would you say?

Max: Max Impact is a digital marketing show where people join video call (and real-time social media discussion) to share ideas to help businesses and marketing consultants grow their business.

Steve: How did you come up with the idea for Max Impact?

Max: I saw Google+ Hangouts On Air (the video broadcast platform) being used effectively in other industries to meet new people and share news, places and ideas. There was nothing like that in the marketing industry at the time. I was using Hangouts for more private conversations already but decided to give it a try as broadcast.

Also, many of us consultants work from home and often miss human-to-human interaction (during work; not that we don’t have lives 😉 ) and the “meet new people” element. It’s incredible that technology allows us to meet people around the world.

Max Impact Hangout screenshot
An example of a Max Impact show on Google+ Hangouts On Air

Steve: Please talk us through the usual format of a show. What happens on your typical Max Impact episode?

Max: I try to invite people 10-15 minutes before I start the broadcast so we can have an off-the-record chat and – often – meet new people for the first time and get comfortable. I then start the broadcast.

I have a featured guest in most cases and start the episode by introducing and interviewing them about a selected topic. I then become a moderator and have everyone else join the discussion. I let people ask questions, comment, discuss and I also read questions we get on social media.

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Interview with Rand Fishkin about the Moz Rebrand

Moz logo

Around this time last year, I interviewed Rand Fishkin (@randfish) – CEO/founder of Moz – about Inbound.org (which you can read here).

I’m delighted to have been granted the opportunity to interview Rand again, this time about the rebrand that took place at the end of May – when “SEOmoz” became simply “Moz.”

At the time, Rand talked about his reasons for the move in a blog post, plus Mozzer Ruth Burr has blogged about it from a domain migration point of view, and while my questions have touched upon a few things that have already been brought to light in those two posts, I wanted to catch up with Rand to see how he was feeling about the overall process.

Here goes…!

Rand Fishkin photoSteve Morgan: The biggest question on many people’s lips: why rebrand at all?

Rand Fishkin: As I mentioned in the blog post about our rebrand, this is really for several reasons. The biggest of which is that we’re more than an SEO software company, and having “SEO” in our name doesn’t transparently reflect our identity today or our plans for the future. We always want to provide great tools for SEO, but to do that, we need to go beyond SEO and into areas like content, social, branding, local, etc. (just as many SEOs have).

Steve: When did you have the idea for “Moz”? And when was the decision made?

Rand: I believe the idea was first conceived and proposed in late 2010, and the decision was made to move forward with the re-brand in mid-2011. Although the re-brand and new website wouldn’t have been hard to pull off on their own, our decision to ship Moz Analytics (the new version of our software) with that change delayed us considerably.

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Interview with Ed Fry about Inbound.org

Inbound.org logoBack in June, I interviewed Rand Fishkin about Inbound.org, an Inbound Marketing community that calls itself the “Hacker News for Marketers.” The site was about four months old at the time of the interview, as it had officially launched in February this year.

Roll on six months and the site has seen some significant changes: Ed Fry (@edfryed) was hired as the site’s General Manager in September and a redesign of the website was released towards the end of October.

The site’s nearing its first birthday and Ed and co. have some big ambitions for the site for 2013 – see Ed’s The Future of Inbound.org slides and the related submission/Discussion page (which itself links off to eight other Discussions which are covered in the slides) to find out more.

I recently approached Ed asking if I could carry out an interview – sort of as a follow-up to the one with Rand in June – and he happily obliged. Below we cover his recruitment, the redesign, what’s new, what’s in store in 2013 and more…

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Meet Your SEO Community: An Analysis of all the MYS Interviews

Meet Your SEO bannerAlessio Madeyski photoOver the past year, Italian SEO and inbound marketer Alessio Madeyski (@madeale on Twitter) has been running a great series called Meet Your SEO. Every week, Alessio would interview an individual working in the SEO industry, usually asking them the same set of questions. For us working in the industry, it was interesting to get very personal insights into the best tips, biggest pet peeves and favourite drinks (caffeinated, alcoholic or otherwise!) of renowned SEOs based all over the world.

Before recently deciding to take a hiatus on the series, Alessio had accumulated 32 interviews: 31 Meet Your SEO interviews as well as one Meet Your Marketer interview. I approached Alessio and asked if he would mind if I analysed the interviews, basically consolidating all the answers and seeing what the ‘combined’ answers would be from this portion of people in the industry. I’m glad to report that Alessio gave me his blessing to do so, which is fantastic.

In addition to the 32 from Alessio’s site, I’ve also included Gaz Copeland of Stoked SEO’s ‘takeover’ interview, where he interviewed the interviewer over on his site. So it’s 33 in all.

Geography

Firstly, some general geographical information:

The US was the most highly represented country, with 16 (48%) interviewees. The UK came second with 8 (24%). Other countries included Canada, Germany (twice), Israel, Italy, Pakistan, the Philippines and Spain (twice).

Out of the US states, Pennsylvania was the most highly represented, with 4 interviewees (and I’m pretty sure most – if not all – of them are based in or near Philadelphia). Joint-second were California, North Carolina and New Jersey with 2 each. The rest were Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Meet Your SEO: Geography Pie ChartsWhen did you enter the SEO world, and why?

The when wasn’t straightforward to calculate, as some people gave vague-ish answers – e.g. covering a range of years – or no answer at all, so it may not be 100% accurate, but here’s a graph roughly depicting 29 of the answers:

Meet Your SEO: 'When' GraphTo put it another way, almost half of the interviewees entered SEO around 2006-8.

As an aside, it’s very encouraging how some of the industry’s best and brightest have only been in the industry for a few short years. For example, Jason Acidre (aka Kaiserthesage) has only been doing SEO since 2010, which I found truly astonishing given the quality and insight of his blog posts and his ranking on Inbound.org. It’s inspirational to those who are new to SEO – there’s nothing to say that you can’t join the industry now and be one of its best by 2014…

As for the why, that’s even harder, given that every response was personal and unique to each individual. Two things I picked up on are that some people discovered SEO after starting their own websites, while others stumbled into it purely by accident.

Jason Acidre photoI accidentally became an SEO on February 26, 2010 – that’s the date when I was first hired to be an SEO by an Australian-based SEO agency, and I didn’t know anything about it, even what SEO means during that time! I needed the money that time (because of I have to, for my son), so I tried searching for a writing job, then I emailed this agency, as I saw their job posting on craigslist, then when they emailed me back, they asked if I’ll be interested to work as an SEO for them instead of being a writer (they thought/feel that I’m fit for the job), so I said yes.

Jason Acidre (@jasonacidre)

A great tip about onpage optimization?

Optimising the title tag was given as the most popular onsite tip. Other honourable mentions include:

  • Having a good internal linking structure
  • Writing naturally (i.e. not forcing keywords into copy)
  • Writing unique content site-wide
  • Implementing rich snippets (e.g. Schema.org)

Moosa Hemani photoTitle tag, everybody knows it’s important but very few people know the real art of crafting the right title that can help the website to get benefit from search engine and at the same time it looks really catchy to the reader.

Moosa Hemani (@mmhemani)

The most stupid thing people believe about onpage optimization?

8 people (24%) mentioned keyword density as this biggest onsite pet peeve, regarding how people believe there to be a magic percentage and that they have to abide by it. The next most popular was keyword stuffing, with 4 mentions (12%).

Gianluca Fiorelli photoThat On Page is enough in order to rank.

Gianluca Fiorelli (@gfiorelli1)

A great tip on how you build links?

The most popular link building tip? Building relationships and networking. Other honourable mentions:

  • Conducting outreach
  • Planning strategy
  • Encouraging natural linking

Shelli Walsh photoNetwork, network, network. I follow the PR approach to link building, build relationships with people. Search for the influencers in your niche who have the power to broadcast your message and get to know them.

Shelli Walsh (@shellshockuk)

The most stupid thing you heard about linkbuilding?

The answers here were very varied! Almost everyone gave a unique answer or spoke about a different aspect of bad/dodgy link building. However, a couple of people each mentioned the following:

  • Automation is necessary (or that not automating is foolish)
  • “Creating great content” is all that’s needed to succeed
  • Link building is easy
  • Link building is dead

Anthony Moore photoThat it’s simple. I guess there might be some styles of link building that might be deemed as “simple”, but these days, you need links that will last. Those aren’t so easy to achieve.

Anthony Moore (@amoore138)

If you have to explain what you do at a 10 year-old kid, what are you gonna say?

I’m leaving this one out, as the answers are all very different. Here’s my favourite answer though:

Gaz Copeland photo10 Year old kids are pretty smart these days, they probably know more about SEO than I do.

Gaz Copeland (@StokedSEO)

What do you drink when seoing?                                          

Let’s start with the tame (read: non-alcoholic) answers first…

Do SEOs prefer Coke or Pepsi? Coke wins 5 to 2.

Do SEOs prefer regular or diet Coke/Pepsi? Diet wins, also 5 to 2.

I’m sure Ian Lurie would approve on both counts.

And somewhat unsurprisingly, 23 interviewees (70%) drink coffee. There were a few tea drinkers in there, too.

Hannah Smith photoCoffee. Buckets of it.

Hannah Smith (@hannah_bo_banna)

Now onto the fun part…

The ultimate question: what is an SEO’s favourite alcoholic drink?

The answer? Beer! Beer was mentioned by 10 interviewees (30%), followed by whisky, which was mentioned by 7 (21%). The fact that beer came first and IPAs were also mentioned confirms Emma Still’s suspicions that many of us SEOs are fond of our beer.

Red wine was favoured over white wine, plus there were mentions of gin & tonic and cocktails. And of course, let’s not forget Chris Dyson’s list…

Chris Dyson photoI generally drink:

  • Mouthful of red wine
  • “Lighter fluid”
  • Double gin
  • Finger of cider (with ice)
  • Finger of cider (with ice)
  • Finger of cider (with ice)
  • Glass of sherry
  • Two big chugs of sherry
  • [30 other bullet-points containing alcoholic drinks]

or diet coke.

Chris Dyson (@RootsWebSol)

I should point out that at the end of Peter Attia’s interview, Alessio had started to become worried that “SEOs seem to drink quite a lot when SEOing” – given Chris’ response, I’m not surprised!

What do you think about SEO community?

It’s tough to do a proper analysis on this one, too. Generally, the sentiment is positive, although a few people feel that the industry may be too nice insofar as it is not challenged enough.

AJ Kohn photoWell … it’s diverse. I really enjoy the passion and there are a number of people in the community who I respect and enjoy – even if I don’t always agree with them.

I do get a bit frustrated at the rubber stamp part of the community. I wish we’d be more committed to testing things out ourselves instead of taking ‘expert’ opinion (even my own) as gospel.

I’d also like to see a higher level of intellectual honesty in evaluating what’s really valuable within our industry regardless of who or where it was published. I want more quality, more authenticity and less ‘me too’.

AJ Kohn (@ajkohn)

Make yourself a question and give an answer

An odd one to include perhaps, but I was curious to see if multiple SEOs asked themselves the same question. But as it turns out, every question was unique.

The majority of them were related to SEO, but a couple were general, including a few to do with music.

Here’s my favourite though… 😉

Jason Acidre photoMake yourself a question and give an answer: Do you have a crush in the industry?

(Sorry, can’t think of any other question haha). Yeah, there are some that I do admire in the industry like Steph Chang of Distilled, Hanna Poferl, Lauren Litwinka of AimClear, and Joanna Lord of SEOmoz.

Jason Acidre (@jasonacidre)

Who is your biggest SEO influence?

Our 33 interviewees mentioned a total of 94 people that they’ve considered an influence on them in terms of SEO. That’s nearly 3 influencers per interviewee, although it varied, with some interviewees only offering one (or not specifying anyone individually at all), right up to the likes of Jonathan Colman, who referenced a total of 19 people.

Two people had 5 mentions/votes each:

The following had 3 or 4:

Of course, it’s not always necessarily our industry’s leaders who can be influential…

Peter Attia photoNew link builders. They’re some of the most creative SEO’s I know. Some of the out of the box ideas I’ve heard from new talent has been quite incredible. When you’ve been doing SEO for a while you start to get some tunnel thought. New folks still don’t know what is and isn’t doable, so they come up with some really clever concepts.

Peter Attia (@PeterAttia)

If you weren’t an SEO, what would you like to do?

If Google were to collapse and SEO were to disappear tomorrow, we’d have:

  • 5 writers/authors
  • 3 chefs
  • 3 musicians (one being a rock star)
  • 2 teachers
  • Multiple brick-and-mortar property/shop owners
  • An astronaut
  • A fireman
  • A gardener
  • An assassin/hacker
  • One would catch up on sleep
  • One would eat pizza (ideally professionally)
  • And finally… 2 would be superheroes

Anthony Pensabene photoWhen I was younger, I had aspirations to be a surf bum/counselor, hanging on the beach, surfing all day while ‘talking with and inspiring thoughts’ in others. Psychology, “the why of people,” has always been a fascination of mine and was one of my college majors. In my shallowest moments, I thought about being the pool boy at the Playboy Mansion; but, those girls would probably just gawk at me…not appreciating my beautiful insides… As I’m getting older (33!  Man, wasn’t I just reading Shakespeare during high school Math class a little while ago?), I’m learning it all starts inside you. I just want to be someone better than the dude yesterday in the mirror each morning…I think the ‘what’ is not as important as the ‘who.’

Anthony Pensabene (@content_muse)

#seomusic

Lastly, in the spirit of the #seomusic hashtag and Alessio’s Now That’s What SEOs Call Music post, I just wanted to let you know that this post was brought to you by the following albums:

  • …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
  • Bellowhead – Broadside
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Also, if anyone has any “who said that?” moments based on the above (where I haven’t specified a name) but you’re struggling to find out for yourself then please feel free to tweet me or leave a comment below and I’ll find out for you. I have some info saved in a spreadsheet – I’d share it publicly, but it’s in one heck of a messy, note-filled state!

[Image credits: MYS ‘banner’ and all interviewee profile images borrowed from AlessioMadeyski.com; flag icons from Flags of the World]

Interview with Rand Fishkin about Inbound.org

Inbound.org logoIt’s an absolute pleasure to have been given the opportunity to interview Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz fame (@randfish), about his new side-project: Inbound.org.

Inbound.org is a joint collaboration between Rand and Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot (@dharmesh), which has been going since February – so about 4 months now. Although Rand has already been interviewed about Inbound.org over at Mixergy (around the time the site was launched), I wanted to catch up with Rand about how it was going 4 months in and also ask him some questions about the site, relating to technical details, UX aspects, the site’s own promotion, etc. – mainly out of curiosity as a daily user and fan of the site.

Let’s get started…

Rand Fishkin image from SEOmozSteve Morgan: Inbound.org is a “fun for,” not-for-profit project. What inspired its creation? What encouraged you to create a site of its type in the first place?

Rand Fishkin: Dharmesh and I had long wanted to create something like Hacker News for folks in the marketing world, and Inbound.org is the result of that. We both read Hacker News regularly and love the variety and value of articles submitted there.

Steve: What were the biggest challenges in creating Inbound.org?

Rand: Finding the time to manage the product – both Dharmesh and I are insanely overwhelmed by our jobs and lives already, so this was an exercise in patience and in delegation.

Steve: I heard there was lots of downtime in the beginning. What happened? How did you handle it?

Rand: When we first launched, the Twitter signup system failed, hence folks couldn’t register, submit or vote (making the site largely useless). It was particularly sad because at launch, it got a bunch of press and visits that never returned (due to the broken-ness).

Steve: I know that @caseyhen is the main developer involved on the site. But who else is involved? I see that you have moderators as well.

Rand: We’ve got about a dozen volunteers who help with spam, submissions and moderation. Two of the most active are Dan Shure and Lauren Hall-Stigerts. The design was done by the great folks over at We Are Fixel.

Steve: How does the site’s algorithm work? Obviously there’s a voting system, with an element of time factored in (with old posts eventually drifting of the main page as they become obsolete and less popular), but is there more to it than that?

Rand: It’s very similar to the Hacker News algorithm, with a time decay factor on votes and a feature that props up items that get consistent upvotes. It’s not tremendously complicated, but we have tweaked it a few times to get to something that feels appropriate.

Steve: Do you find that the algo constantly needs tweaking and tinkering? How’s that going?

Rand: In the first month after launch, I think we changed it 4-5 times, but since finding a sweet spot, it’s been fairly solid.

Steve: Posts can only be upvoted, and not downvoted as well. Was this implemented on purpose?

Rand: Yes. We didn’t want folks burying stuff they didn’t like. There’s been more than a few articles on the site that I’d have voted down, but removing that makes the overall experience far more positive.

Steve: It’s interesting you say that, because over on SEOmoz, users can downvote posts and comments as well, which is why I was curious.

Rand: I think if we were starting the Moz blogging system anew, we’d probably go with the thumbs-up only. It’ll likely stay due to legacy, but in general, my experience has been that positive votes only are the way to go.

Steve: What’s your view on self-promotion? Should people be afraid to submit their own posts (even if they are really good, ideal for the audience), or would you much rather see people only sharing other people’s content instead?

Rand: If you’re submitting 1/100 things you produce, that’s fine. If it’s closer to 1/10, that’s probably crossing a line. We don’t currently ban/remove for self-promotion or self-submissions, but we will ban accounts that consistently submit low-quality stuff (from anywhere).

Steve: How are you coping with spam? Has there been more/less than you were expecting? Have you found that the Guidelines and ”I Solemnly Swear…” button have helped at all?

Rand: There’s been less than I expected, though still more than we’d hope for. Since Twitter is the login mechanism, pure spam accounts get banned by Twitter before we need to worry about them (which is awesome). Folks are also conscientious that all their activity on the site is tied back to Twitter. I’ve tweeted at more than a few who’ve submitted spam asking them to stop or we’ll ban their account. It works like a charm. :-)

Steve: I’ve actually contacted Casey a couple of times pointing out spam submission spam and comment spam. Have you found a lot of people doing this – trying to help police the site and reporting those who are causing a bad experience – even though they’re not official Inbound.org moderators?

Rand: Yeah, we’ve had a few good Samaritans like yourself helping out, which is awesome. Thank you!

Steve: Any funny/odd spam submissions you’ve received that you’d be happy to share?

Rand: Sadly, nothing particularly fun. A few e-commerce retailers from Turkey, but that’s about the only memorable one. Spam’s getting pretty boring these days. Honestly, if something truly fun came through, we’d probably keep it on the site, just for kicks. :-)

Steve: I’ve noticed on your Twitter that you regularly tweet Analytics info, even recently. How’s the site fared overall?

Rand: Good, though not great. It gets solid traffic – a few thousand visits a day, lots of new folks checking it out, but overall the traffic has been growing very mildly since launch. I think we’re ~50K visits/month. The best part of the site for now is that it can expose many prominent influencers in the marketing world to great content/sites/tools they otherwise wouldn’t have found.

Steve: It’s a shame that you say “good, though not great.” Do you have any plans to push it more in the future via any PR/marketing efforts? Or are you happy to see how it goes?

Rand: We’ll probably let it continue to grow organically for the next few months, but may do something to promote/boost externally thereafter.

Steve: How many submissions do you receive nowadays, roughly?

Rand: We’ve had 10,649 submissions in 133 days, so ~80/day.

Steve: Do you have any plans to make changes to the site in the near future? If so, what should we expect to see?

Rand: No big ones right now. We’re hoping to grow engagement in submissions, voting and comments, but given it’s a side project, it’s tough to devote a lot of resources right now. Thankfully, a great community of folks are helping out.

Steve: Overall, what have you learnt from creating and launching Inbound.org?

Rand: People in the marketing world are generally awesome, rarely buttholes and love discovering useful content. I’d also say that personally, I wondered whether something like this could organically sustain and grow without much engagement from Dharmesh and I. The answer is yes, at least a little, but clearly we could/should be doing more.

Steve: Lastly, what’s your advice to someone hoping to do something similar, perhaps a community-curated news site in their particular niche or industry? Do you think it works better with inbound marketing than it would with other industries/niches? If so, why is that?

Rand: It definitely helps to have a community that’s comfortable and familiar with portals like these (and with interacting socially on the web). I think it also helped tremendously to have the boosts from many already-existing communities and individuals (like SEOmoz/Hubspot and Rand/Dharmesh). Without that, it would have been tough to get off the ground.

And that’s it! Once again, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Rand for answering my questions!