Part 20 is here, for the Women in Internet Marketing series. If you didn't know, I try to interview two women a week for this series (although we did take a break for the summer), although sometimes when schedules conflict we have one women interviewed. That being said, we're close to 40 women being interviewed! Can you believe it?
This week I decided to make it a "Top Rank" week, yes, puns intended, as I've chosen to interview two wonderful gals from Lee Odden's team at Top Rank Online Marketing. I had the pleasure of meeting these to women on my flight to SES in San Jose. I arrived at the gate and figured (correctly I might add) that Lee would be on my flight (since he was last year), to my surprised it wasn't just Lee but his whole team. What was even more fun, was that they sat one row behind me, so I actually got to talk to our two interviewees during the flight.
Both of these women are relatively new to our industry both, with a little less than 2 years experience, so I thought their perspective on our market would be especially interesting. No one really ever goes to college to be a Search Engine Marketer, so I was curious how these two landed their positions with TopRank and how they view the industry from a "newbie" perspective. So today let me introduce you to Dana Larson and Melinda Cayetano.
Dana's been with Top Rank for about a year now and she is responsible for SEO and web site promotion which includes a mix of traditional link building, social media and social networking. Dana also helps to contribute to the TopRank blog from time to time, especially during the conferences.
Q: What brought you into the Search Marketing Industry?
A: Getting in touch with TopRank was an amazing stroke of luck, as I had never learned about SEO in school. Starting there gave me a really quick, intense education in the world of SEO and I am so glad to be a part of it.
Q: Why do you like the search marketing industry?
A: The fact that everything is so fast-paced and interesting. I have to stay on my toes in order to keep up with everything, but I love to be busy and I love to continue educating myself, so this is a great industry to work in for me.
Q: You're pretty new to the industry, what changes have amazed you since you first started?
A: I know everyone has been talking about Google Universal Search and blended search recently, but this is posing some challenges and learning experiences for me right now. I am now optimizing a variety of resources for the web, such as blogs, videos, images as well as the client’s site itself. People tend to learn from a variety of stimuli, so seeing news and videos and images on a Google results page only serves to bury the client name, site and message in the searchers head. Utilizing Google Universal Search is going to continue to be beneficial for our clients as well as beneficial for the searchers themselves.
Q: What is the favorite part of your job working for an agency?
A: Being able to work on so many different clients at the same time. I like the variety that gives me in my day, as well as the chance to learn about so many other industries and how to help them out individually I also feel very fortunate to work in an agency with two strong supervisors. Lee is fantastic, of course, but Susan Misukanis, the President of our sister company Misukanis & Odden, is extraordinary! She really cares about each of us in the company, and her leadership and coaching have really helped me expand my professional skills. I know I want to stay with this company because I feel I can learn so much from her example and she makes it a very positive environment for all of us.
What advice would you give for other women starting out in this industry, based on your own experience? I am a fan of hard work and a positive attitude. So far these two qualities have been working out great for me, so I recommend them to anyone else as well.
Women in a male-dominated work environment have always had it rough, but we are prevailing. Just make sure you do your work, respect yourself and be willing to step up to the plate when needed. When all this happens, there is no way you shouldn’t be learning and speaking and writing the same – if not more – than the men in the search industry.
I'm also especially proud of my post on the Paid Links session at SES: "Are Paid Links Evil? Optimus Prime vs Megatron". It was pretty awesome having Matt Cutts comment on my blog post from SES San Jose in August.
Q: Who's your favorite blogger to read (we know Lee's a default choice, so who's your next favorite :) )?
A: Well, of course Lee's blog is fantastic, but I keep up to date on Peter Da Vanzo's blog, LinkJuicy, to learn more of what is going on in the linkbuilding world, as well as read some funny tidbits he throws in on occasion.
I also check out Sphinn every morning when I get to the office to make sure I am up to date on other popular blog entries and find out what is more interesting in the search industry that day.
Q: How important do you feel Social Media is to a clients marketing strategy?
A: Depending on the client, I think it can be very important. Social Media can gain a lot of attention for a client and connect them to people and places they may not have otherwise been connected to.
However, there are always going to be clients whose business ideas don’t involve social media. A more serious industry may not be open to the idea of connecting with hundreds of people in various online communities and chatting. That is alright. We just want to make sure we deploy the right tactics for each of our clients to make sure they are happy and we reach their goals.
Q: Linkbait – evil, lame, necessity, or give it a new name?
A: I think linkbait is interesting. It can create buzz around almost any topic, and if it is a well-written and deployed campaign, linkbait can reach almost anymore.
I would neither call it evil, lame, necessary nor in need of a new name. I enjoy brainstorming with my co-workers new ideas for linkbait for our clients and if it would have a lasting positive impact on their company’s marketing efforts.
One of my goals is to create a very addictive linkbait campaign that EVERYONE sees. I mean, come on, who hasn’t seen the “I’m in love with Obama” video? And while the Barack Obama campaign may not have wanted that sort of attention (and I always make sure I stay in line with our clients’ goals when creating these ideas) it may have received more attention and increased potential votes of those who hadn’t really been following the presidential campaigns thus far. That is what I want!
Q: Facebook or MySpace?
A: Because I was so anti-Facebook in college, I am always going to say I like MySpace better. However, since Lee got me hooked on Facebook, I will admit only to you that it is a hundred times for entertaining... Well, to you and the thousands of readers at Search Marketing Gurus :)
Now for some fun, we want to know all the good on Lee and what really goes on at TopRank!
Q: OK.... give us the goods, what's it really like working for Lee Odden?
A: It's fantastic! (and I'm not saying that only because he is reading my responses :)) Lee is so intelligent and he always knows exactly what to do if there is a question about a client or a linking tactic I try out. And if I ever need any new ideas, I know that sitting with Lee for 30 minutes will generate so many that my poor little brain feels like it will explode from excitement!
Q: You describe yourself as a "halfway-out-of-the-closet country music fan", as a "totally out of the closet
country music fan", come on out of the closet and tell us why you think it's awesome??
A: I don't know! All I know is, there are some people in my life who will shun me for listening to country music, so I keep singing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-in-the-car-along-with-Carrie-Underwood to myself usually
Q: Matt Cutts - super spam fighter (complete with superhero tights and cape), over-worked Google employee,
worry wart, or generally all around nice guy?
A: All around nice guy, from what I've seen. After all, we did conspire together to get some great photos!
Q: You are on SEO Survivor - which 4 SEO/SEM's do you pick to help you win the game and why?
A: I am choosing:
- Melinda Cayetano - my coworker at TopRank with whom I can creatively concept almost anything and make it very important and necessary for a variety of people/places/clients
- Lee Odden - because even on an island, he will somehow get to his blog and update the world on our progress while also gathering other tribes' information to bring back to us in a meeting
- Matt Cutts - as long as he brings his superhero cape and tights to fight off evil-doers of unethical search practices!
- Danny Sullivan - because rounding out my SEO Survivor team with a bigwig like Danny Sullivan is pretty much guaranteeing my victory on SEO Survivor
Thanks Dana! It was great getting to know you, thank you for taking the time to share a bit about yourself with the SMG audience.
Now this takes us onto our other Top Rank gal, Melinda Cayetano
Along with Dana, while I had my flight out to San Jose, I got to meet Melinda Cayetano. I was immediately impressed with her friendly nature, as she didn't run away from this strange woman suddenly talking to her like she knew her for years. Thankfully once I said I know Lee, things made more sense.
Melinda's been working for Top Rank for close to 2 years now. She's respsonsible for organic search optimization, and developing creative online marketing strategies for client accounts that she manages.
Q: So Melinda, how did you "fall" into the Search Marketing Industry?
A: It's demand for agility and creativity. It's been fascinating to witness and experience the tremendous global impact the internet has on marketing as well as the sociological impact it has had. With search engines, people really have the liberty to choose what information to which they want to be exposed. As an SEO, it’s my job to understand how to most effectively bring awareness to my clients based on the preferred channels of their targeted audience.
Q: Do you have any accomplishments that stand out as your most successful?
A: I don't necessarily know if it was my personal accomplishment, but I thought that Facebook's zombie application would be a great viral marketing tactic for the upcoming Resident Evil movie so I blogged about it. One month later- whether due to coincidence or not I’m not sure, the application was rebranded with Resident Evil. I guess great minds think alike ;)
Also, I managed to survive 4 days of blogging and networking with a terribly high fever at SES. We’re a committed bunch at TopRank!
Q: Why do you love this industry?
A: I love the industry because it's constantly changing so it challenges me to develop my skills on a fairly regular basis. It also challenges me to broaden my view of the various opportunities for client exposure (i.e. through images, video, audio, social networking sites).
Q: You're pretty new to the industry, did you ever see yourself becoming a search marketer when you were
studying in college?
A: No, I never saw this coming. In fact, I was prepping for graduate studies to pursue research in neuroscience, but TopRank introduced me to a whole new world opportunities for research in a fairly new industry.
Q: What is the favorite part of your job working for an agency?
A: I enjoy the variety of clients with whom we work. The variety challenges us to hone our skills across the board. It also provides us with a breadth of knowledge about an industry as well as a depth of knowledge for specific marketing tactics. My favorite part about working for TopRank in particular is the team. I have the opportunity to brainstorm with some of the most creative and innovative minds I have ever encountered.
Q: What advice would you give for other women starting out in this industry, based on your own experience?
A: I would stress the importance of interacting with other women in the industry. When I began my career in search, the only woman SEO of whom I was aware was Jill Whalen of High Rankings. Of course as I continued to learn more about the industry I came across other women thought leaders and their contributions. There is something empowering to know that there are other women out there contributing great things to what seems to be a male dominated industry. To anyone pursuing a career in this field I would suggest to do your research and don't be afraid to experiment. Take a look at what has worked in the past and see if you can't take it to the next level.
I have had the fortunate experience of having a wonderful woman mentor as well. Susan Misukanis has spent a lot of time helping me develop my skills as a strategist. She has really provided me with a strong foundation to continue to learn. I would definitely advise women to seek out mentors.
Q: I asked this question to Dana, with the stipulation that Lee was the default, so who else is your favorite blogger to read ?
A: Todd Malicoat (stuntdubl)
Q: How important do you feel educating your clients on what going on in the search industry is?
A: I feel it's paramount in the success of a search marketing campaign. It's important for clients to maintain some level of awareness of the industry in order to properly manage the expectations of a program. For example, you’d be surprised at the number of clients with whom I have worked that hold the notion a blog is nothing but an online diary.
Of course, it is my responsibility to demonstrate or identify the opportunities a blog can create for their business, so I am quick to educate clients on the marketing benefits of blogging. Once clients understand basic benefits of a blog, such as an easy way to add fresh and valuable content to a web site or a way to host an online media room (which search engines love) most clients take on a very different perspective on how blogs can help them grow their business. Blogs also offer the added benefit of publishing content in a way that might allow the audience to interact in a more interpersonal manner, which satisfies the usability or human component.
Q: Wikipedia – evil, lame, doing a good job, overrated, or we need to find an alternative?
A: I'd say it does a good job. I usually use it to read the spoilers for books that I meant to read.
Q: Digg or Stumbleupon?
A: Stumbleupon for sure
Alright now it's Melinda's turn to give up the goods on Lee and the TopRank team!
Q: I asked Dana this question, so I have to ask you, what is like working for Lee? Maybe you can let us know
if he has an alternate personality that dawns a cape and superhero tights in the after hours?
A: Lee has no alternate personality, at least not that I've seen Although he does have this addiction to social networking sites, all of which he has invited me to join. I get random emails on Saturday afternoons or at 4am on Mash and LinkedIn. I don’t think Lee sleeps ever.
Q: What was your favorite part of SES San Jose?
A: I would have to say the Google Dance was my favorite part. My TopRank teammates Thomas, Dana, Mike and I set out on an adventure to find Matt Cutts and we did. We even managed to steal a group photograph with the security people saying no, so I guess you could say we’re edgy. We also started a pretty intense volleyball game at the Google Dance.
Q: Matt Cutts or Adam Lasnik?
A: Matt Cutts. I was totally star struck when I met him at SES. Unlike normal women my age, I get more nervous meeting the head of Google’s web spam team rather than Brad Pitt.
Thanks Melinda! It was fun getting to know you too. Lee's got two great SEO's in his crew, and not only that they know how to have fun!
That's a wrap for Part 20, I really hope you enjoyed learning all about Melinda and Dana, as much as I did. Getting a peak inside of what it's like to work for Top Rank and Lee was fun.
A big thank you Dana & Melinda (and Lee) for allowing the SMG audience to get to know you! Stop back next week for edition #21, where I'll have two more new interviews from women within our industry. Until then, read up on our many other women in this industry by checking out the Women of Internet Marketing section here on Search Marketing Gurus.