Welcome back to our 15th installment of the Women of Internet Marketing series! I'd like to point out the link just below the banner to you all. Our Women Of Internet Marketing link, will take you to special page that now has the list of each of the women featured linked to their interview. You will also find on that page PDF versions of the interviews. There's a full version that has all the interviews (which will be updated after each interview is conducted), as well as segmented pdf versions of the interviews for easier downloads.
I'm quite excited to bring you our two women this week because both of them were so much fun to learn about! Both have been in the industry for quite a while and both have had extraordinary successes. Learning about what brought them into our industry was a treat in itself, as well as learning what they like, who they think is the best dresser and that even our "vets" tend to duck those questions our past interviewees have. Let me introduce you to Anne Kennedy and Janet Driscoll Miller
Anne Kennedy is one of this industry's most respected speakers and leaders, and has been working as a Search Marketer for over 10 years now. She's the managing partner at Beyond Ink and also runs SEONews.net. Anne's got a diverse background from being involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)to serving on the Board of Directors of Mesda, Maine's IT trade association, she's quite involved in all areas that are connected with our industry as well.
Anne has seen this industry grow from its infancy and has consistently guided her clients with successful results. Her company, Beyond Ink, has consistently created and built visibility for scores of businesses, achieving average traffic increases of 300-400 percent, improving conversion rates, and increasing e-commerce sales. Anne, as the managing partner of Beyond Ink runs the business and, guides her staff which includes past interviewee Alex Bennert to great success with their clients with amazing consistency.
So, now, lets get to know a lot more about Anne!
Q: So Anne, what do you consider to be your area of specialty or practice?
A: Search marketing. Well, actually attracting and managing talent for search marketing. As the staff here keep reminding me, I run the business; I don’t do the business. Providing the occasional visionary comment, too. Oh, and then there’s the leadership thing.
Q: What's a typical day like for you at Beyond Ink?
A: I travel a lot, but when I'm in Maine it goes like this: We open and close late, because of all the west coast business, but I generally start my day at home early checking emails, and pinging Europe. When I get to our office and check in with our team to see who needs what from me. My job as leader is to enable them to get the best job done. We use YM as a virtual sign-in board; we provide laptops, broadband and VPN so they can work from anywhere, and do. Here the middle part of the day is almost always meetings on the phone and in person. My new mantra is to not schedule anything closer together than 30 mins. When I'm traveling, things are much the same, though switched around. For example when I'm in the UK I'll have the meetings first and then get on the IM to see what's up as the US Inkers are starting their days.
Q: Can you tell us what brought you into the Search Marketing Industry?
A: After 30-odd years in marketing I was looking for a way to do public relations online and it quickly became clear that organic search was the prime way to get that critical third party endorsement. If your business can’t be found in search engines, your credibility takes a nose dive. As I was coming to this epiphany in 1998, I was sharing start-up office space with web developers who were really good at getting “hits” when it was easy. The owner said, “search engines are getting too complex for us to program ways to get traffic. You do it for us.” And handed me our first three clients, one of whom is still with us.
Q: What do you consider your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: Contributing to our clients’ success. Repeatedly. That’s what has kept us in business for 10 years.
Q: What makes you love this industry so much?
A: First, I love the people. We have a real global family. In what other industry do competitors share trade secrets, leads and business? The friends I’ve made around the world mean a lot to me. Then there’s the travel; I love a business that requires me to visit places like Stockholm and Reykjavik. Most of all I love what we do. Search marketing is so much more satisfying than traditional push marketing; customers are actually looking for what we’re showing them and when we recognize that they are in charge, not we, the whole thing goes much better. So long to the Vance Packard Hidden Persuader days, when you could get a man to buy a car if it was red. (were guys really that easy?). The best of us respect our clients’ customers and respect the medium we work in.
Q: So, lets turn that question around and tell us what aggravates you most about this industry?
A: Speaking of respect, what really bugs me are the fast buck companies that prey on limited knowledge to sell businesses services that are at best in effectual and at worst can actually damage their competitive positions. This has been a problem for as long as I have been doing this, and it just won’t go away. The lyrics may change but the song remains the same.
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: Consolidation, monetization, and proliferation. When I started there were engines like Infoseek and Excite. Does anyone remember Northern Light? [Li: *nods* oh yeah!] In marketing, competitors winnow down into Coke and Pepsi, and maybe the “Uncola” if things get interesting. With three major players and Ask increasing market share at a good clip, the consolidation ain’t over yet. Meanwhile, monetization is a natural evolution, too. After all, “being in charge of all the world’s information” (Sergey Brin 2003) takes a lot of brain and processing power, and those don’t come cheap. By proliferation, I mean the increasing ways to search: shopping, news, image, local, mobile, and so forth. To me as a marketer, each is a new way for my clients to be found by their customers, which multiplies their odds of doing so.
Q: You’re involved in the PRSA, and are on the Board of Directors of Mesda, does being involved with these associations give you the opportunity to promote/dispel rumors about Online Marketing Industry?
A: I try. Mesda is a great Maine trade association for IT, and through it I made my first friends when moved the business here in 1998. PRSA, on he other hand, suffers from a head-in-the-sand approach to search. There are a handful of great PR firms who ‘get’ search, but for the most part PRSA appears to subscribe to the magical thinking that if they ignore search it will go away. Perhaps traditional PR practioners fear no one will need them to talk to the media for them, when in fact there will always be a place for good strategic media relations. That said, the way journalists get information for stories has changed radically in ten years, and the PR firms that will suffer are the press-release-by-the-pound mills. If you understand search and how much editors and writers use the engines, then you realize they are a very important target audience for search and need to be respected as such.
Q: You’ve been involved with SES for quite a while as a speaker/moderator, how have you seen this conference change over the years?
A: Other than doubling in attendance every time? Danny and Chris have done a great job keeping the content changing with the times. And we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. Attendees are more from marketing than the early days when they seemed to be a lot of techies. I remember my first SES, where the cloaking session was SRO, and Writing for Search Engines was sparsely attended. Well, guess which session is still on the grid? Though cloaking must have paid well, because the panelists wore really nice suits.
Q: What advice would you give for other women starting out in this industry, based on your own experience?
A: Network. Make friends. Listen. Everything we know we have learned from each other. In the early days it was Marshall Simmonds’ i-search discussion list, where we traded tips and observations. Now there are great blogs and forums, with the engines themselves chiming in.
Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?
A: Ouch. I keep thinking I should read more. I’ll start with yours, OK? Still I went to some of BlogHer lat week in NYC and got really turned on by the caliber of talent there. So many blogs . . . so little time (sigh)
Alright, let's have a little fun! Yes, Fun! :)
Q: Rand Fishkin, Greg Boser, Danny Sullivan and Andy Beal are all in a contest to rank for the phrase “I’m a hot & sexy SEO” – who wins?
A: Tough call, but that’s something I can actually imagine Greg saying, and Barbara would surely agree.
Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen at an SES conference?
A: Oh my, “crazy” can have so many meanings. Gonna duck that one; who knows which craziness I was in on?
Q: Any other comments you’d like to add?
A: I could go on for days, but better get this off to you. Next time definitely!
Anne: Thanks for asking!
Can I just say.... I just loved doing this interview with Anne! :)
Now lets learn about our next fun and talented woman featured tonight, Janet Driscoll Miller.
A few weeks back I got a really great email from a man who suggested a great woman for me to interview. I took that suggestion and did a little digging, then realized I'd met this women, but never got her name. Thanks to Tad Miller, both I and now you the audience will get to learn a lot more about his wonderful wife, Janet Driscoll Miller.
Janet Driscoll Miller
Janet has had a long career in internet marketing and public relations, and has become a leader in our industry through her great work throughout her eight years in the industry. Janet is President, CEO and Lead Search Strategist for her company Search Mojo and has her own blog, Search Marketing Sage.
Prior to starting Search Mojo, Janet was the was the Director of Internet Marketing at WebSurveyor Corporation, where she helped to increase Web Surveyor's Google Page Rank from 5 to 9. She also increased their #1 rankings on Google by 900%, and decreased pay per click advertising spend while doubling conversion rate. Wow!
Alright so with that introduction, lets get to Janet's questions.
Q: So Janet, can you tell me just how you landed in the Search Marketing Industry?
A: Eons ago, I was in public relations. When the web was gaining in popularity, I moved to web design and web marketing because it combined the marketing and PR side that I loved with my other love -- technology. In 1999, I began to really delve into search marketing as it began to gain popularity. In 2004, I decided to focus on only search marketing vs. marketing communications or other forms of online marketing because I realized how quickly SEM changes. I knew if I focused in that one area, I could see greater success.
Q: What's a typical day like for you at your company, Search Mojo (if there is anything that's typical!)?
A: LOL. That's a good question. Let's see... emails, problem solving, accounting stuff, more emails, conference calls.... it's a long day. As a growing company, I'm not only training the new staff and helping the experienced folks too, but I'm currently the accountant, office manager, IT manager, and everything else too. As we grow, that will change, but it is challenging to balance it all.
Q: What would you consider to be your most successful industry accomplishment?
A: I'd have to say starting my own business and keeping it running successfully. It's a crowded space -- lots of companies want to offer SEM services. I think we're able to differentiate ourselves, so we're able to not only compete, but grow like wildfire!
Why do find that you love this industry?
A: The thing I love most about SEM as an industry is that most SEM professionals view their colleagues as friends and advisors. There's an openness with SEM professionals that I've never seen in any other industry. Perhaps it derives from the nature of the web -- open access to information. But whatever the reason, I really appreciate the advice and guidance of my colleagues.
Q: What aggravates you most about this industry?
A: Part of what drove me into starting my own SEM firm was that I get very aggravated at the amount of misinformation floating around about SEM, and I get frustrated that so many companies fall prey to poor-performing SEM firms.
Q: Linkbaiting – love it, hate it – over-hyped, under-utilized - think it needs a better name?
A: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE link baiting. I think when used correctly, it's a great win-win for everyone -- a great tool and a great viral link builder. A good example is a link bait application I worked on with one client -- an online polling tool. The client is an online survey company, so the polling tool combined their technology and a link bait opportunity into one. It's a win for those who use the free application and for the software company.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve ever worked on?
A: That's a tough question. I think they're all very exciting! Each client brings new challenges, and so our jobs never get boring! I think the most exciting projects we've been working on lately have been with helping clients enhance their ROI tracking. It's important to us to help clients accurately track ROI so they understand the impact of SEM. Clients love to see the data, and we love to see the success. It's been really exciting.
Q: Janet, you’re a speaker at SES, which panels do you speak on and how did you become a speaker?
A: I'm speaking on the SEM firm track on partnering with ad agencies. I really enjoy sharing data with others about how we've been successful as an SEM business, and hopefully my experience can help all of those folks thinking of starting or growing an SEM firm. I approached Danny Sullivan about my experience and the data I had to share, and he selected me for the panel. I feel very honored to be able to speak to my peers!
Now here's a bit of a touchy question, I hope we don't spark any debates here! Do you feel that doing SEO is as easy as baking a cake?
A: Most things in life and work can be simplified if you have a process. Baking a cake is a process -- you have a recipe. If you don't follow the recipe, baking a cake is difficult. BUT, if you have a good recipe, anything can be made simple. I think that's true of SEO as well.
Q: Right now, how many women bloggers do you read?
A: Wow. Unfortunately, not many. I've found that the SEO/SEM industry is pretty male-dominated -- maybe it's just me thinking that? I was at a Web 2.0 conference recently as a speaker, and I was the only female panelist on the entire program for the day. I don't normally think about it being male vs. female -- I really just look for the most knowledgeable info.
Q: Best Dressed Male SEO?
A: Hmmm... how about Rand Fishkin and his cool yellow Pumas?
Q: Have you googled yourself on Google and been surprised with the results?
A: Doesn't every SEO do this? :) Definitely surprised, but pleasantly surprised.
Craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
A: Motherhood. By far. It's crazy, it's fun, and it allows me to stop being a workaholic. I have already given my 19-month old daughter a toy palm pilot and cell phone so she can be high tech, just like Mommy.
That's too cute Janet! :)
I'd like to thank both of these women for taking the time to answer my interview questions. Stop back next week where we'll have our 16th week of our series. Keep up to date on our list of interviewees by checking our Women of Internet Marketing area on SMG!