Week 12 is here and I know you are wondering, "who else is to come?" Well we have two women this week, and I've got about 3 more weeks worth of women lined up to interview as well. That means we'll have interviews up until week 15, at least. I'm hoping I'll have enough interviews to last us up until SES NYC, where maybe I'll even get some live interviews with the women who've been featured in past weeks.
So, that brings us back to week 12, and two women who've been contributing to our industry for quite a while. One of these incredibly talented women, most of you are going to know because she's a true luminary to a lot of us. The other is a relative new comer to the conference, blogging and news scene, but has still had the industry experience of around 3 years under her belt. So let me introduce you tonight to Sara Holoubek and Rhea Drysdale.
To me, Sara Holoubek has always been that great writer whose articles I always look forward to reading, and always hoped to get to meet "one of these days". When I was in Kitty O'Shea's at Chicago SES, I turned around and there she was talking with Frank Watson (who at the time, I had no clue who he was). I had to introduce myself, being a fan of her writing and also snagged her for a hatbait picture, which also led me to being able to interview for SMG! See hatbait was good for somethings! ;)
Sara's been in the online and interactive industry for 8 years now. She specializes in Corporate Growth Strategy. As she explained it to me "In layman's terms, I help businesses grow and frequently building, buying or restructuring a search competency is part of this equation. Occasionally I will advise search agencies or other small businesses on their overarching growth plans." Of course, most of you also know her as the contributing editor of the DMNews SearchBuzz newsletter.
Q: So Sara, can you tell the SMG audience how you came to land in the Search Marketing Industry?
A: While I had early exposure to Overture and then Google when working at an interactive agency in 2002, it wasn't until I joined iCrossing in 2003 that I really got my feet wet. At that time, the firm had 35 people in Scottsdale, AZ, and I was hired to help build the New York office. Coming from the interactive agency background, I saw many opportunities to elevate search engine marketing.
Q: What do you consider you most successful industry accomplishment to date?
A: Being successful as an independent consultant. There is nothing like being compensated for what you think, and not for what a firm wants you to say!
Q: Why do you like/love this industry?
A: I am a very reluctant marketer. I am more interested in consumer behavior patterns and what this tells us about society. For me, search not only represents the most efficient means of providing a consumer with what he or she wants, but provides a meaningful layer of linguistic data.
Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
A: While we have many brilliant tacticians, there are very few who have their eyes on the future of the industry. Forget algorithms and bid strategies for a second, and think about the effect of industry consolidation, Google potentially disintermediating agencies or some of the potential game changers out there.
Q: Being a consultant, what's a typical day like for you?
A: Meeting over coffee with a client, analyst, or banker, followed by endless email, phone calls and analysis. While working for myself does allow for a certain level of flexibility, I admit that I am a total workaholic.
Q: Social Media – like it, love it, still figuring it out?
A: Love it with a capital L.
Q: If you weren't in Search Marketing, what would you love to be doing?
A: I would dedicate more time to working with socially responsible enterprises.
Q: What's your favorite thing about being involved with SEMPO?
A: As a board member, it provides me the rare opportunity to sit back, forget that we are all competitors, and think about the industry's macro issues. For example, there has been a dearth of talent for the past few year, so we asked ourselves: what can we do about that? Thus the SEMPO Institute was born.
Q: Who's your favorite blogger to read?
A: I tend to scan all the search blogs, since I need to stay current for my role with SearchBuzz. If you really want to know, I'm obsessed with NYC real estate, so I read curbed.com
Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?
A: I guess I don't think too much about gender when I read blogs!
Alright, semantics out of the way, lets get down to the fun stuff!
Q: Chris Boggs or Kevin Lee?
A: If only there were a Chrevin Blee.
Q: Who do you think throws the best parties at search conferences?
A: My philosophy has always been that Yahoo! usually spends more dollars per person, but Google's parties tend to be more fun.
Q: Alex and Elisabeth both dodged this question – will you be brave enough to answer " What's the craziest thing you've ever had happen to you while you have been in this industry?"
A: That's a toss up, though I'd have to say being cyberstalked is just plain weird. Sometimes I ask myself, "Is there some picture of me out on the web that I don't know about?" ;)
Q: Top 3 Sexiest SEO Men?
A: If only my significant other used computers....sigh.
Oh, how these women so beautifully dodge answering some of these "tough" questions. :) Thanks Sara, this was fun!
Now lets learn a bit about Rhea.
I met Rhea this past December at SES in Chicago. The first night there, Cameron Olthius grabbed up a group of us to go to Dick's Steakhouse (I'll spare y'all the joke) and Rhea was in that group. The next day Rhea was on the bus in the seat in front of me for the Yahoo party, and then she was at the luncheon that SEO Fan Girl threw. I'd never met her prior to that, turns out, this was her first conference, and it thankfully we didn't scare her off!
Rhea's been in the industry for about 3 years now and works as an e-commerce analyst at Venus Swimwear. She's also the newest contributor that Loren Baker's added to Search Engine Journal, and also helps out with their SEO Clinic. Rhea's got a really interesting background, and her "prior life" job before landing in this industry is really a complete change from online marketing, so read on and find out just what she use to do.
Q: So Rhea, tell me, how did you land in the Search Marketing Industry?
A: After taking a basic HTML course as an elective while finishing my B.S. in Advertising, I stumbled upon a job posting on a local surf message board. No, I don’t surf, but everyone else in my life does and I’m an active member of the Surfrider Foundation. The job description appeared to be for an entry-level web developer and at the time I was interested in web design. With years of Photoshop experience and an elementary understanding of meta tags I was one of two hires and easily out-lived the second. Little did I know it was really a full-time SEO and copywriting position or that I’d love it!
After six months I was promoted to account management and had a crash course in PPC, email campaigns and client management. It was a challenging, but intense experience and the lessons I took away from it proved to be invaluable. By the ripe old age of 23 I’d already managed more than 100 clients ranging from a Fortune 500 hospitality group to small businesses.
Q: What do you consider your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: During my first six months at the entry-level job, I had multiple clients ranking #1 for some of the hospitality industry’s most competitive terms. I wouldn’t call that an accomplishment though, I was just doing my job. To date I’d have to say becoming a contributor on Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal. I’ve only had one article published, but it was well-received and put a smile on my face for days.
Q: Why do you love this industry?
A: It holds my attention. I lose interest quickly if I do the same thing every day, so I thrive on learning and challenging myself. I also love that I found a career where all of my favorite skills or subjects are used: creativity, analytics and behavioral science. I’ve always been obsessed with what motivates people’s decisions to act or think a certain way. In college I wrote a thesis on marketing and brain nodes, this fundamental understanding of brain activity comes in handy daily. Even further back, in high school I studied primate behavior at our local zoo. Everyone called me monkey girl, but I loved learning about innate versus learned behavioral responses. Yes, I’m a dork.
The point is - I love SEO because I get to analyze human behavior and make adjustments to a site to help fill a need or solve a problem for someone. It’s terribly exciting.
Q: So lets turn that around, tell me what aggravates you most about this industry?
A: General misconceptions - I think SEOs are a lot like car mechanics. If something is wrong with my car I have to trust the mechanic’s advice, because I have absolutely no knowledge of the subject. It makes me feel helpless. I could learn to fix things myself, but I’d probably blow myself up or cost thousands of dollars in damages later on down the road. SEO is exactly the same, no one understands what we do or how we do it, so it’s easy for some “experts” to take advantage of that incompetence. That gives everyone a bad name and forces clients to try and fix things themselves which wastes time, resources and money.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you at the company you work for?
A: After attending SES Chicago I have a terrific True Local rocket launcher, which I like to shoot my coworkers with throughout the day. I also play with my Bruce Clay puzzle quite a lot. Sometimes I do a little work, go to meetings, make phone calls, etc. Anything to look busy. :)
Seriously though, I work hard and I can’t separate work from home. I would say my work day varies depending on what’s going on. Some days I’ll spend hours catching up on research articles and blogs. Other days I spend hours pouring over PPC reports or constructively brainstorming new media/code tweaks with other departments. We switched domains in November, so that was fun… in other words, I had the shakes for three months.
Q: So what is your opinion of Social Media – over hyped or a real tool for Search Marketers?
A: I think it’s a real tool, but the bottom line is if your company doesn’t belong in a certain area you shouldn’t force the matter. For example, I’d love it if Venus made the first page of Digg, but I doubt a 17-year-old boy from Colorado is interested in buying a bikini from us. It’s essential that I don’t lose site of our target market and brand or I risk wasting time and money. So, I absolutely love social media, but I proceed with caution when it comes to a multi-million dollar business.
However, I should note that it’s ridiculous for a company not to consider their place in social media. Every opportunity should be considered regardless of whether a stuffy suit thinks MySpace is nothing but a Dateline special waiting to happen. When timing, an ingenious concept, branding and location come together in the right mix, greatness is achieved.
Q: If you weren’t in Search Marketing, what would you love to be doing?
A: Seriously? I’d be in the Congo studying gorillas or at one of the regional primate research centers studying cognition. I’ve been to every zoo on the eastern seaboard, received a grant from Budweiser to attend an International Environmental Enrichment Conference and spent a summer studying whiptail lizard foraging ecology in the Arizona desert. I had a career before I ever graduated from college and I burnt out fast. I was like a pageant kid for animal behavior!!
Q: Your working with Loren Baker on Search Engine Journal on the SEO Site Clinic, how did you become involved with that?
A: I don’t know! Somehow I ended up at dinner with Neil Patel, Cameron Olthuis, Lee Odden, Loren Baker, Justilien Gaspard, David Wallace, David Temple and yourself my first night at SES Chicago (also my first ever conference). When I got home I put my 11 Networking Tips into place (without knowing it at the time) and Loren asked me to contribute soon after. My suspicion is he felt pressure to include a young female contributor after it worked well for Bruce Clay and SEOmoz. I’ll be ecstatic if I can amount to half of what Lisa and Rebecca have already done for the industry.
Q: Who are some of your favorite bloggers to read?
A: I like each of the following for different reasons…
All of SEOmoz and Search Engine Journal, Graywolf, Oilman, Threadwatch and Andy Beal just to name a few. Yes, I like Andy Beal because I won the iPod, but he also pushes articles out like a machine.
Q: So how man many women bloggers do you read? A:
- Lisa Barone at Bruce Clay
- Rebecca Kelley at SEOmoz
- Tamar Weinberg from 10e20
- Kim Krause Berg at Cre8asite
- Sara Holoubek for DM News
- Jessica Bowman from SEM In-House
- Jennifer Slegg from SEO Days
- Jill Whalen at High Rankings
Alright, now that we put you through the ringer on the "all about you" part, we'll have a little fun!
Q: Loren Baker or Barry Schwartz?
A: Cartoon Barry is awesome and I think he’s original in a sea of noise. BUT… I’m obviously partial to Loren, he’s my Florida buddy and we have the same dry sense of humor.
Q: Best dressed Male SEO – Rand Fishkin (with his yellow shoes), Joe Morin (with his fairy godmother appeal) or Mikkel DeMibb Svendson (with his great suits)?
A: This depends on your definition of “best dressed”. If we’re going purely on aesthetics Rand wins, but if we’re dressing to get noticed Mikkel slaughters the competition. My first impression of him was simply… Wow (sorry Vista, it was an exclamation before a slogan).
Q: Craziest thing you’ve ever had to do?
A: I’ve done a lot of crazy things… Measure the anal shoot of a 200 pound tortoise, help capture Mojave and Western Diamondback rattlesnakes and ten minutes before my fiancé proposed I was free climbing the side of a cliff much to his dismay. I don’t think I “had” to do any of those though. :)
Thanks Rhea for letting the SMG audience get to know you a bit more, now we can all look forward to seeing you at more conferences!
As always, visit our Women of Internet Marketing category to read all about the prior features we've had here at SMG! Stop back next week for week 13's edition when we'll have two more great women featured.