So below is a brief interview I held with him on Monday, the first working day after the event…
1. Jason, when did the idea for holding a Charlotte WordCamp first come to you, and how did it all get started?
My first interest began around March. I commented on some blogs and approached some WP folks about Charlotte as a venue with little response. Which, in all honesty, is pretty fair considering the lack of these types of events in Charlotte in the past.
As most of you know, I’ve been teaching SEO for several years. But this year, we made a special effort to create and teach repeatable classes in the Charlotte area.
In doing so, many students have expressed appreciation. So far, I don’t have an official “testimonials” page on my training site, so I’m going to list a few comments I’ve been getting lately on this blog.
Just last week, I heard from one of our students…
After spending an entire week running around NYC and Massachusetts visiting with friends, it was time to head back home to good ole Charlotte, NC, on Saturday, November 15, 2008.
I was scheduled to fly home on Saturday evening, but when I realized it was the same day as Charlotte WordCamp 2008, I was not happy. Just a few weeks before, Jason Keath had asked me to present, so I just knew I had to get there earlier.
So I woke up at 4:45 AM and my sister took me to the bus stop in Framingham, MA. From there, I took a 30 minute bus ride to Logan Airport in Boston. Thankfully, I got on an early flight and drove straight to the Charlotte Observer, where I made it to Charlotte WordCamp around noon.
I got in just in time to hear someone ask a question about search engines. Jason was kind enough to point over to me and I was answering a question as soon as I walked in.
Charlotte Wordcamp is only one week away. It will be held on Saturday, November 15th, at the Charlotte Observer. You can learn more and register at the Charlotte Wordcamp blog. It’s only $15 so you definitely need to go.
A few weeks ago, I ate lunch with Jason Keath and he asked if I’d be willing to present on the “How to Promote Your Blog” afternoon session. I was happy to do so and especially happy to be presenting alongside Lisa Hoffman and Wayne Sutton.
One of the hardest parts of building a new website or working with a new client is knowing where to start with link building.
In our SEO Class, we spend an entire day on linking. We start with teaching the fundamentals of linking. We then list where to get them.
I always recommend starting by looking at your own sites, your colleagues, friends, and family. Certainly, you must know SOMEONE that owns a website that could link to you.
But what next?
Almost exactly two months ago, Google lit the blogosphere on fire by releasing an Internet browser. Personally, I blogged that it was a direct attack on Microsoft and served no other purpose but to get everyone talking about Google.
However, I gave it a shot. At first I tried to use it exclusively, but it lacks the ability to use add-ons such as themes or plug-ins.
In our Google AdWords class, we teach how to use Google AdWords to advertise in many places. The two most common are:
Throughout the entire class, I constantly remind everyone that you should ALWAYS create separate campaigns for each. Google makes it very easy to “just check this box” to advertise on both search and websites.
Don’t fall for it!
But first, why is important to know who links to your competitors?
In case you have not heard, a major part of the Google algorithm is based off of off-page factors. In other words, they look at links from other sites to determine if they should rank your site.
So how many links do you need to rank well? The correct answer is “More than your competitors”. Remember, as I wrote earlier, don’t chase Google. Chase your competitors.
Given those two points, you need to go build links. Conversely, you could actually remove links from your competitor and it would have a similar effect. In other words, you can go get six links, or take three links from your competitor and have them link to you. Same effect.
This is easier said than done. However, if you can figure out who is linking to your competitors and why, you may be able to not only get some ideas, but you could actually call or reach out to the owners of those links and explain why they should link to you instead.
So how do we do it? In the discussion group, a couple of online tools were listed, namely Link Diagnosis and Backlink Watch. Both were recommended by Ty and are online web-based tools. They work good, especially for the price – free!
But I prefer SEO Elite. Here’s how it works…
(The screenshots are small, but you can click on them to see more.)
You can choose the site you want to review links for. Then choose which search engines to use to find the links. Lastly, you choose what additional information you want on the report (Google PR, Age, Whois info, etc)
Then, you can review the results…
I tend to sort by Google PageRank and investigate the top ones to see if I can imitate (or steal) the link.
The only bad part is that it is not free. The price for SEO Elite is $167 and you can buy it here. Please don’t be turned off by the long scrolling copy. (I hate that too.) It really is a good product.
Today I want to offer a special “Thank You!” to everyone who has been inquiring about our SEO, AdWords, and Blogging classes. I really appreciate your interest and I feel I owe you an explanation of why there are no classes scheduled right now.
But first, I want to mention how greatly I enjoyed the classes from September 29 to October 3. I forgot to get a picture of the students as I have before, but the turnout was fantastic. As always, there was a wide variety of backgrounds. We had web developers, web hosts, entrepreneurs, marketers, and employees – all learning these valuable Internet marketing skills.
But now it is October, and I’ve decided to take a break from teaching for a few months. Here’s why.
1. I’m a little behind in some client work and really need to focus on keeping them successful, especially during these tricky financial times.
2. November and December are holiday months and it is typically tricky to fill classrooms while everyone is traveling and vacationing.
3. I am doing some extra volunteer work (50 hours) during October.
4. I am starting to work on some new classes on Social Media and New Media. (I’m really excited about both those topics.)
5. I want to start creating a regular podcast by the end of the year.
6. Jason and I are working ferociously on creating a new e-commerce website. (We’re just getting started, but it will sell housekeeping carts.)
Note: I’m documenting what we are doing and hope to have an upcoming class (or webinar) on e-commerce best practices.
7. Jason and I are attending a conference in November in NYC. This is due to point 6 above.
So given all of the above, our next set of classes will start up in January. I’m sorry if this is inconvenient to any of you, but I promise that the classes will continue to get better as we fine-tune and improve them.
I’ll post the new 2009 schedule soon, I promise.
My wife and I just spent 8 hours in the car driving from home (Charlotte, NC) to Florida. Typically, this makes for an interesting time. As you can imagine, I get bored easy and my wife just likes to relax – not a good combination.
This time was different. Sandy had a laptop and earphones. So she watched some girly movies. I had my iPod Touch and listened to several quality SEO podcasters for several hours. Occasionally we had pleasant conversation. But overall, this arrangement kept me from pestering her. Everyone was happy.
As a side benefit, it means I am more psyched than ever about SEO. You see, many people think SEO is boring. Honestly, it is. Writing tags, editing pages, checking rankings, bla, bla, bla.
But after listening to some experts talk about the latest and greatest techniques for link building in particular, I’m excited once again. These guys are brilliant and their ideas on how to use blogs, social media, and other sources was just awesome.
I’ve now got some great stuff to share with my colleagues and students in the upcoming weeks. I’m also excited to get to work on several of our internal projects to make them even stronger.
SEO – WHAT TO CHASE
While driving, I heard two great SEO illustrations that I want to share. These are not really tips or techniques, but a mindset.
Two experts were discussing how to view SEO. Unfortunately, many think of it as a battle between you and Google. That’s not really true. Your real competition is not Google, but the other sites (or businesses) competing for your key phrases.
To illustrate, if you are camping with a group of friends and a bear jumps out of the woods, do you need to run faster than the bear? Not really. You need to run faster than the others with you.
It’s an interesting way to look at it. Don’t chase the algorithm. Outrun your competition. It’s almost always easier.
Because even though the algo has not changed much over the years, it is hard to chase it. When you shoot an arrow at a flying object, you don’t aim for your target, you aim for where the target will be.
Do we know where the Google algorithm will be in 3 months, 6 months, one year? We have some loose ideas, but not really.
So don’t chase the algorithm. Outrun your competition.
And next time you go on a long trip, bring something to watch or listen to. That’s today’s advice for SEO and a happy marriage.