This week we have our two featured women, but, I've got a surprise for you all. A special treat, just because I've heard that this weekly column has a few fans. So to reward the audience for being patient on Wednesdays (*looks over at Ms. Lisa*), I've gone back to our first two women to ask them a few more questions.
When I first started this column, I didn't ask the "fun" questions to the first couple of women. So I gave Kim and Rebecca a call and asked if they'd be up for "Round 2" of Q&A. I'm glad they said yes! So along with our two women this week, after this edition you'll soon see an additional set of interview questions in a totally separate post to make this an extra special day of Women of Internet Marketing Wednesdays!
First up though let me introduce you to our two wonderful women featured this week. Both of these women have been in the industry for quite a long time. One is a founding member of SEMPO, the other helped a client get on HGTV. One I've met in person and has been going to SES for what seems like forever, the other I'm hoping to meet at a SES conference very soon. Let me introduce you to Jessie Stricchiola and Zinda Schaefer.
I met Zinda this August as I was leaving San Jose. For as shy as she claims she is, she came up to me and said "Excuse me, are you Li who spoke with Ward on a panel this week?" And from there, we had a wonderful chat (yes Ward, she told me all of your secrets!). We were suppose to meet up again at Pubcon, but do to unforseen circumstances, I ended up not going.
Since I knew Zinda worked with Ward, I knew she had to really know her stuff about this industry. Little did I know just how much and how knowledgeable she really is! Zinda works for Evantage Consulting where they specialize in online marketing, strategic online marketing planning, search marketing (SEO/SEM), affiliate marketing, A/B testing, usability / accessibility, web analytics, business analysis, and project management.
Q: Alright Zinda, I'd like to know how in the world you landed here in the Search Marketing Industry?
A: In 1999 when I was working at Deluxe Corporation, my boss came to me and said they were paying a big agency big money to submit their Web sites to search engines in order to get listed. He asked me if I was interested in learning about this ‘search engine stuff' and I said yes. Neither him nor I really knew what this all meant, but it sounded fun and I was ready for a change. I spent ½ day with the ad agency and then I was truly on my own.
1999 and 2000 were actually a very stressful time for me because I really felt alone in this new endeavor. Back in 1999 there were only a couple forums such as MarketPosition where you could ask ‘Black Knight' and other knowledgeable people about such things as robots.txt file, Meta tags, and site submissions. I attended the second Search Engine Strategies conference held in California with an attendance of a couple hundred people! Being so new to SEO – and shy – I just couldn't make myself go up and start a conversation with any of the people presenting at the conference. That's one of my biggest mistakes!
I read every article and every forum discussion that I could get my hands on – no matter the topic, and attended as many SES conferences as I could. When one of the first online search engine optimization classes came available in 1999 or early 2000, I signed up and passed with flying colors. The rest is history…..
Q: What's your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: Of course I have to say optimizing all of the Deluxe Web sites for very competitive keywords (checks, personal checks, etc), obtaining top rankings for the majority of their key phrases in the top engines (yes including Google), and that these rankings remain today is a great accomplishment.
Q: Why do you love about our industry ?
A: I love the passion that people have for SEO/SEM. People always say “you're really passionate about your job” and I am. I'm lucky to work at an organization where the passion is contagious!
Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
A: As with any industry, I hate the unethical SEO/SEM companies that sell a bill of goods to a client. Or worse, when they get the client into a situation where their Web pages are banned from the engines and the client doesn't understand how or why it happened.
Q: Linkbaiting – love it, hate it – think it needs a better name?
A: Linkbaiting can be an effective way of getting quality inbound links, but it can also be difficult to demonstrate ROI unless you already have something that you can offer as linkbait. If you have to develop something, it's important that you consider whether the time/resources required are best spent on linkbaiting or on another search marketing tactic.
Q: What's it like working with Ward Tongen ?
The best! Ward is a client who has been in the SEO/SEM industry for many years. We do a lot of strategizing, brainstorming and knowledge exchange.
A: Do you feel that doing SEO is easier than Rocket Science?
I actually had a former boss that REALLY was a rocket scientist! He explained what a rocket scientist did and at the time I thought SEO was just as hard. Well, maybe not. But I think it can be just as frustrating. I think a key difference is that the science of rockets is built on some physical principles that you can trust to work exactly the same way every time. In SEO, our world is continuously changing, and we need to adapt strategies and tactics as appropriate. And so, some days I feel like I have ‘failure to launch'.
Q: What's a typical day like for you at your company?
A: Certainly, our client activities are our priorities at Evantage, and my work products run from analysis and reporting, strategy and brainstorm sessions, development of comprehensive recommendations, etc. We also work hard to maintain leading-edge knowledge in this industry, which means constant research on articles, blogs and a lot of communication. Of course, I have the luxury of working with a great online marketing team, so we are constantly supporting each other, including talking/evaluating/running ideas past each other.
Q: Who's your favorite blogger to read ?
A: I don't think I have a ‘favorite'. There are so many it would be hard to list just one. Here are a few favorites: Threadwatch, SE Roundtable, Search Engine Land
Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?
A: Cre8pc usability blog and of course Search Marketing Gurus!
Q: OK, I know this is a tough one, but you have to choose ... Ward Tongen or David Temple?
A: Kirk or Picard? Princess Leia or Queen Amidala ? How can a person really choose?
Are you asking who's more passionate or who's balder? It's a toss up either way.
What can I say? They're both special snowflakes. But I know Ward loves food, especially chocolate! He wins!
Q: Which conference has better parties – SES or Pubcon?
A: I like the parties at SES the best. With regards to Pubcon, I'm going to sound like my Mom – the music at the big bash is too loud!
Q: Craziest thing you've ever had happen to you while you have been in this industry?
A couple years ago I was working with a client who makes sofas, chairs, and ottomans. The unique sell is that all three components open for storage, there are lots of fabric choices, and the furniture is shipped via UPS. Awesome products but they had no inbound links and didn't rank in the top 50 listings on any of the engines. I decided to go to the Minneapolis home show with screen shots of this client's products. Walked up to one of the popular HGTV personalities and started telling her about these products. She loved them! I got her in contact with the client, she featured the products in some of her articles and then on some of the TV shows! How cool.
Goes to show – think out of the box!
That it does Zinda! Thank you for letting me fire these questions your way! Now lets get to know a little more about Jessie.
Jessie is well known throughout our industry. She's a founding member of SEMPO and a well known authority on click fraud. I haven't yet met Jessie, but one of our audience members requested to see if I could interview her. I was very happy to see that I could oblige the request! I learned a lot about Jessie just by going out to her site, Alchemist Media.
Q: So Jessie, tell us, how did you get into the Search Marketing Industry?
A: While I was still in college in Massachusetts I worked at a used bookstore in town, where I met a gentleman named Rob who was, while getting his PhD, beginning to do something called “search engine optimization”. He and I struck up a conversation around the internet and search one day, and I told him I had become somewhat addicted to my college's new 24 hour computer lab with 56k internet access!! I was always an information addict, and had become a searchaholic every time I went to the lab to write papers. I had become fascinated by the process of how the search engines “decided” to rank certain web site pages for things I searched for, and so Rob and I had quite a lot to talk about. He asked me if I was interested in coming to work for him, as he was starting a small web consultancy – and so he handed me a stack of books on hand coding HTML, web design, usability, etc, and told me to keep track of my time and he'd pay me $10/hour to read them. If I liked what I read and thought I could work with the medium, he wanted us to work together. I did, we did, and from there the rest is history!
Q: What do you consider to be your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: I've been blessed to befriend so many brilliant and talented people in this industry, and any and all accomplishments along the way could not have been made possible without the support of my industry peers. I feel I've been able to raise a significant amount of awareness around the click fraud issue at a time (2001-ish) when no one really wanted to pay attention to it, and from there the ball has been taken into the hands of many – which pleases me to no end. I also truly enjoyed helping to kickstart SEMPO, it truly was a group effort with some of the industry's brightest – all of whom remain close friends and colleagues to this day.
Q: Why do you like/love this wonderful industry of ours?
A: Two reasons – it's dynamic nature, and the people. The industry itself, as an area of focus in one's life, is just so incredibly vast and open to possibility – and ever-changing at a pace faster than any other industry I can think of. The amount of change and progress that happens in search (or in the web in general) in one week feels like a year in the medical field. I'm never bored. And, I'm never caught up. It makes for fun times.
And to be good at search, it takes a combination of creative and analytical prowess – one must have a true balance between right and left brain giftedness - to think and strategize in ways one must to understand this industry and excel within it. Because of this, nearly everyone I know in the industry is an eclectic, fascinating, dynamic, funky, wildly huge and passionate personality – what's not to love about that?
Q: And now the reverse, what aggravates you most about this industry?
A: How easily and quickly inaccurate information can spread like wildfire, with non-industry folks not knowing necessarily where to turn for reliable information – this happens in general, but we also saw a lot of this around the click fraud issue at one point. But alas, it's the nature of the industry, its speed!
Q: What's a typical day like for you at your company?
A: Wow – no day feels typical anymore. The challenges are always changing, the landscape is always changing. But typically, our time is split between managing accounts that have been up and running for some time, doing the heavy lifting on new accounts, and bringing in the new business. Mixed into that of course is traveling for speaking engagements and client meetings. Typical SEO work.
Q: Click Fraud – over hyped or real problem?
A: Real problem – under-hyped by some, over-hyped by others.
Q: If you weren't in Search Marketing, what would you love to be doing?
A: I'm already doing everything I love to do … I have a great horse I ride every week, have a steady yoga and meditation practice, and travel to some interesting places and meet truly fascinating people for my work. I think I will always have an involvement in search.
Q: You were one of the founding members of SEMPO, why do you feel it was important to help start this organization?
A: The industry needed an increased awareness around its incredible offerings, a voice and a resource point for non-industry entities, and we created that.
Q: Who's your favorite blogger to read? A: Actually, I don't read blogs too much.
Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read? A: See above!
Alright, now for the fun part!
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island name 3 Search Marketers you'd want to be stranded with, and could you give a little explanation as to why?
- Dana Todd – she's one of my dearest pals and we can weather any storm together.
- Danny Sullivan – he makes me smile, constantly.
- Noel McMichael – he'll know where to find the wood to burn.
- Greg Boser – he'll have one of his casino friends fly a helicopter to save us eventually.
Q: Funniest thing that's happened to you at a search conference?
A: When I thought I was being inconspicuous on the last conference day when all my speaking sessions were over – I went out to the pool mid-afternoon, in my bikini, with a hat and sunglasses thinking no one would recognize me – I had been inside a hotel for four days straight in mid-August and I just needed some sun! The pool was empty and I thought I could just soak in an hour of sun, unnoticed. Only later, one of my friends was kind enough to come up to me and let me know that word had been going around the guys at the conference “Go to the pool window, Jessie's in a bikini!”. It was actually my first speaking engagement. I was 24 I think, and I was truly embarrassed. So in retrospect, it was funny, we still laugh about it now.
Thanks Jessie! It was great to learn all this great and interesting things about you. :)
Now, stop back in a little bit, and you'll see Search Marketing Guru's special extra Wednesday edition featuring fun Q&A with Rebecca Kelley and Kim Krause Berg. But if you can't get enough information about all of our women in this industry, visit our Women of Internet Marketing category to read all about the prior features we've had here at SMG!