Guess what? Its Wednesday, you know what that means? Well yes, that it's Wing Night at the local pub, but before going there, I've got some interesting women for you to read about. So if you must, crack open that beer, pour your glass of wine and read this before going out for those wings!
Tonight I've taken a bit deeper interview of one woman, and have come back around to re-interview another because when I first interviewed her, you all knew her as another persona. One of these women, I've actually looked to as a true leader, someone I aspire to in work ethic, and drive for understanding technology. The other woman, she's become a really great friend to me over the past couple of months, in fact, if I could I'd have her working on my team at Commerce360, but, alas those French pastries keep calling her! So tonight let me introduce you to Amanda G. Watlington, Ph. D. and Ylayn Meredith Ousley.
Amanda Watlington has always been an inspiration to me. She's a woman who I look up to in this industry, as she always is right on the edge of technology figuring out how to effectively use it for marketing purposes. There's very few people who know the ins and outs of podcasting, blogging and multimedia for online marketing, like Amanda does, and even fewer so willing to share their knowledge, like Amanda.
I've been going to SES for quite a while, and Amanda's been one of the speakers I always learn something from. I always try to make at least one of her sessions she speaks at, because she is so willing to share her knowledge with the audience. If you are a first timer to SES, make sure you go to at least one of Amanda's session, trust me you will walk away with ideas already formulating in your head before you are out the door. Amanda's also the co-author of Business Blogs: A Practical Guide, this book is a must read for any business considering starting a blog. Amanda's got a wealth of knowledge she shares in the book.
Amanda blogs a lot too, between writing for Search Engine Watch's blog, and her own blog "Blogs & Feeds", she also participates in a weekly podcast on Partner Maker - wow, she really keeps busy! So now lets learn a little more about Amanda
Q: Thanks for letting me interview you Amanda! Can you explain to the audience what is your area of specialty in this industry?
A: Searching for Profit is a search marketing firm. Our focus is strategic and the tag line “Remember, it only counts if they find you” gives a window on our approach. We make content able to be found. It doesn't matter if it is a product page on a commerce site, a blog post or the audio in a podcast or a video. As clients have turned to adding new media to their marketing mix, we have turned with them. When all is said and done, we work with them as they use search to make a profit. Most of my clients are the new type of search marketing client – very knowledgeable, yet looking for strategic and tactical advice.
Q: How long have you been in the Industry?
A: I blogged back in December that I had been billing for SEO work since 1995. So, if my math is right, that means I've been in the industry for 12 years.
My first technology job was in 1978 when I was managing data contracts in the hospital industry. The company that I worked for gathered data from member hospitals, and my job was to facilitate reporting on Medicare and Medicaid hospital discharges. I managed contracts, developed tape layouts and made sure that the big fat data tapes were sent out on time. It was deep water for me, but I paddled hard and found that I like swimming in the deep end of technology. After a stint in publishing, I stayed in technology marketing. I loved the speed and the constant change. That is what I like the best about search. It is constantly moving, yet the goal is still a marketing goal. The tactics and the opportunities are in motion. I will continue to chase new technologies in search. They are like shiny objects to me.
Q: There's been a lot of different stories about how people have gotten into Search Marketing, can you tell me what brought you into the industry?
A: Like most people in the Web, I came to the Web and search by accident. I was teaching marketing full-time at a college and working during my vacations and free time at a public relations agency. One day we were discussing doing a fax newsletter for a client, and I suggested that we build a web site instead. I wound up creating the site – two generations of it – and doing the online promotions which were tactically search marketing. It was a perfect match. I'd found my place.
Q: What do you consider your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: It probably hasn't happened yet, but looking over the stern I am proudest of being able to continue to work on the cutting-edge of a cutting-edge industry for more than a decade. Being able to stay on the crest of any wave is a challenge, but to stay in it for so long is an achievement.
Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
A: I can't say any one thing aggravates me, but I have grown weary of some things. For example, I've grown tired of the “black hat” vs. “white hat” discourse. I know for some it is just poking fun, but our industry had a smarmy edge to it in the early days. I still meet people who don't believe that there are ethical search marketers and consider us all spammers. I don't like being painted with a coat of paint that does not suit me. As an industry we now sit at the big folks table so why are we still indulging in name calling like we belong at the kid's table. Shouldn't we be crowing more about how much we are responsible for the growth in online sales and marketing? So the sooner we dispense with the “black hat” vs. “white hat” discussion will not be soon enough for me.
Q: You've been in this market for quite a while now, what are some of the major changes you've seen take place?
A: I've been on the bus for the full tour so I've watched lots of changes happen. The scenery outside the bus is very different today than it was twelve years ago. Way back when we all algo chased, and there was no paid search. There were very few tools and the methodologies were evolving. Given how much change there has been already, I can hardly wait to see what the next 12 years will bring.
Q: You're really involved with using podcasting, blogging and video optimization, do you feel that companies are really missing out on a great opportunity to market their companies with these mediums?
A: I was at a conference, BarCamp Boston 2, over the weekend and said during my session that any digital asset – web page, blog, podcast, video – takes time to create. Time is our most valuable personal resource. If we take the time and resources to develop any digital asset, we are wasting our resources if we do not optimize their exposure. In short, I see two opportunities missed. The first is a missed marketing opportunity for those not using these media. The second is a squandering of the resources spent creating them. Optimizing any digital asset should be ingrained in the creation process. I know this is a hard edge approach, but given the results that search optimization can bring, it is not flawed thinking.
Q: You've been involved with SES for quite a while as a speaker, how have you seen this conference change over the years?
I really look forward to each SES with great enthusiasm. I have watched the conference grow and grow in many ways. The sessions have changed and grown with the industry. The content has really changed and grown more sophisticated and more marketing focused. Older shows used to have sessions on directory submissions and doorway pages, and some of the sessions were literally roundtables, much like the birds of a feather lunch tables. Even though I have been attending the shows regularly for years, I still find myself coming away from every conference with some new insights. I really cherish the opportunity the conferences give to interact with other searchies.
Q: What advice would you give for other women starting out in this industry, based on your own experience?
A:Learn everything that you can. Don't be scared of the technical side of this business. Search requires left and right brain integrated thinking, and women are really good at that type of thinking. We also need to highlight our achievements – not hide our light under a basket.
Q: What's a typical day like for you at Searching for Profit?
A: There is no typical day at Searching for Profit. I never have slept a lot, so days and nights are of the same cloth. My days begin early (normal business hours) and end late. We joke that we keep East and West coast hours. I often work all night when I am interested in something. When I lived in the country I used to have a rule of thumb that if I could hear the birds outside chirping, it was time to get horizontal for a few hours. My husband and business partner is also a consultant – not in search – so he is in tune with the time demands. When he is in town, we will sometimes go out to lunch and actually leave the office, a stunning thought. We try not to work weekends, trying to use the time for real recreation – fishing and boating (for both of us), and golf (for me) in the good weather. We are also both crew referees so our weekends are largely spoken for by non-work activities,
My actual tasks depend on what I am working on – talking to a client, meeting a prospect, writing a client report, plunging through data looking at results, solving a problem, developing a strategy, producing a presentation, writing. I am for the most part a heads-down worker. I don't use IM, but the phone is often an easy distraction. I have several people who work with me, but we are virtual for the most part so we live on email and phone.
Q: Greg Jarboe or Andy Beal?
A: Can't choose! both are nice guys.
Q: Who's the got the greatest SES conference "identifier"? Rand with his yellow shoes, Mikkel with his crazy suits, or is it Danny Sullivan with his Lederhosen? (ok, Danny only had to wear those once since he lost the bet to Thomas, but still!)
A: I was told as a child to look for outstanding people, not just those who stand out, so to the greatest conference identifiers are the sparkling intellects of the outstanding people that I've learned from – that is not to say that they too may stand out in some other way too.
Q: Who throws the best conference parties?
A: I've had a lot of fun at the big parties, but some of my best memories are from some of the smaller parties with friends like the dinner I had in London in June of 2006 with Mike Grehan and a twenty other folks.
I couldn't agree more Amanda, I've found the best part of the conferences are the small dinners and the great convos at the bar!
Now, lets talk again with Ylayn. Ylayn? Yes, you've met her before!
Ylayn Meredith Ousley
Ylayn's become a great friend over the past months. Even before I met her, and just knew her as SEO Fan Girl, I had a feeling she'd be a great person, and I was right. She burst onto the scene with naming Rand her August SEO Sexy Man of the Month, and from there, it caught on. With great anticipation the community waited on baited breath to see who'd be next, or even better - who'd be the next comparison!
Ylayn's an American living in Paris, who's constantly in search of fat French people, which she always says is not as easy as it seems. She's working with clients in France and the U.S., through her own internet marketing company, and even gets to go to London to assist her clients with their search marketing projects.
When I first interviewed Ylayn, I didn't know exactly who she was, I only knew her as SEO Fan Girl when I first sent out the questions. So the interview was conducted from that perspective. Tonight I've come back around and wanted you to get to know the woman behind this legend.
Q: So Ylayn, you go by Y.M. Ousley in the business world, why is that?
A: Y.M. (Ylayn Meredith) Ousley - it's not being pretentious, in the US no one gets my first name right, in France no one can get the th sound in my middle name. I figure I can't go wrong with initials. And one day I do hope to make enough from search and internet marketing to be pretentious.
Q: Tell us a little about you, and what you do – beyond the whole SEO Fan Girl persona.
I eat crepes every day and await the upload of America's Next Top Model on bit torrent with baited breath (and then I take a long breath,and bait it again to wait for the recap on FourFour). To pay for this lifestyle, I'm currently working with a few clients in Paris and one in the US. I tend to focus on several aspects of internet marketing and business development because while France has a lot of smart developers, there's still very few of them focusing on marketing, usability, tracking and other things that are just as important as the script running the site. I'm also currently at work on a PowerPoint for a website I hope to get funding for. The first slide offers my first born, so I think I'm off to a good start.
I was recently talked into skiing by SS (Special Someone, since the name Mystery Guest is reserved) and have reaffirmed my commitment to being non-athletic. I also spend time trying to find French people who do get fat (I'm up to 4 since the New Year) and a healthy amount of time with a great group of expat girls on the same mission. To put this in perspective, one of my friends is a US size 6. She goes rock climbing on weekends, works out regularly, etc. She went into a clothing store and a saleswoman excitedly told her they had plus sizes. Maybe the sales pitch was lost in translation.
Q: Were you really snickering to yourself when you saw people asking Lisa Barone or Rebecca Kelley if they were SEO Fan Girl, in Chicago?
A: Well, I was slightly offended that no one wanted to be Fangirl. After I got past that I thought it was pretty funny that people had it narrowed down to Lisa and Rebecca. I met both of them and they had a good sense of humor about it. Which means that they'd obviously already accepted bribes to place guys in the position of Sexy SEO of the month.
Q: Tell us, who wears the cheese the best – Ken Jurina, Ward Tongen, David Temple, Aussie Webmaster, Rob Kerry, David Wallace or Rand Fishkin?
A: Decisions, decisions! Well, Rand had some coordination going on. The yellow cheese highlighted his yellow shoes. Come to think of it, who was the first person to notice the cheese?...
Q: If Greg Jarboe, Joe Morin, Andy Beal, & Jarrod Hunt all had to rank for “I’m the sexiest SEO on the planet”, who’d win?
A: Jason Calacanis (haha, gotcha!) Well, Greg would obviously get the best PR and dominate the news onebox, Joe would start turning up in YouTube videos and take video search, Andy would win with the big brands and graband Jarrod would probably rule the college campuses (or at least their links). So in various markets, I think they'd all win. Greg in the news onebox, Joe in video search, Andy probably turning up in a financial or company link, and Jarrod in the general results. And then Jason Calacanis would blog about how being sexy isn't rocket science and dominate the nofollowed links.
Q: Who’s got the best “gimmick” – Rand with his shoes, Mikkel with his suits or is there someone else you think has the best “identifier” in the industry?
A: I love Rand's shoes (everyone knows that's the way to a girl's heart), and Mikkel suits are eye catching, but my money's on Dave Naylor. Will he give you a hickey? Lick you? He's fookin' unpredictable and frankly I find that type of behavior in an SEO pretty hard to resist. Though I have to say, Ken Jurina's been pretty darn snazzy lately. If he keeps it up there'll be an SQ cover in his future I'm sure.
Thanks Ylayn, for taking the time for yet another interview, this time it was nice to introduce "you" to the audience!
Can you believe it, we'll be moving into our 15th week next week! So stop back next Wednesday, but until then, as always, visit our Women of Internet Marketing category to read all about the prior features we've had here at SMG!