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Search Engine Marketing - John Alexander Interviews SEO author Susan O'Neil about the early days
by: John Alexander
Search Engine Marketing - John Alexander Interviews SEO author Susan O'Neil about the early days.
Robin Nobles was the very first person to develop a structured series of comprehensive courses and lessons which are recognized and approved by the US educational system for training people in search engine marketing skills. Robin Nobles celebrates her 6th year in the online Web training business with her ever popular SEO certification courses at http://www.onlinewebtraining.com.
Hattiesburg, MS (PRWEB) July 15, 2004 -- Today we bring you the 4th in a series of interviews conducted by Robin's business partner John Alexander, who is looking up some of Robin's very earliest online students and asking them about their recollections of what it was like building SEO skills way back in 1998 and how far they've come in the SEO industry since then.
John Alexander: "Welcome Susan O'Neil, I'd really like to thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Susan, you had some background in marketing before you started into the search engine marketing industry. Could you tell us a little about your background and how you first got thinking about search engine marketing?"
Susan O'Neil: "I began my career in marketing in 1975 as Director of Public Relations with a symphony orchestra. From there I went to Wall Street where I was National Advertising Manager for Paine Webber. When I moved to New Hampshire, I opened a public relations agency, which is where I first got involved with the Internet when a client company launched an e-mail service."
John Alexander: "Could you take us back and share some memories of the early days? How did you first find Robin Nobles online courses in the beginning?"
Susan O'Neil: "I was helping a few of my PR clients with text for their websites and began experimenting with Meta tags and content alterations. The more I learned about the power of optimization, the more I realized that I didn't know it all. That's when I searched for an online SEO course and found Robin Nobles. Her expertise and her passion for her work inspired me then and it still inspires me now."
John Alexander: "That's very nice and I know exactly what you mean. Could you tell us how long after your initial training was it, before you began realizing your true SEO skills and begin helping people with their Web visibility challenges?"
Susan O'Neil: "I had a good deal of early success back them by just applying the basics that I'd picked up through trial and error. This was easy to do in the mid to late 90's. However, once I finished Robin's course in 1998, I was able to implement a more aggressive program that could better serve the most competitive types of e-commerce sites. Also, through Robin and her students, I found a forum that allowed me to share and learn from peers -- so important in the then-emerging industry. Previous to that, doing SEO was a pretty lonely job since few realized this field of marketing even existed."
John Alexander: "That is very interesting to see how far this goes back. Robin's vision for a forum has always been to create an ideal place where people can share information safely together and she has always been so good at bringing the very best talents out in people. I should mention just for our readers sake, that her newest efforts in this regard just recently has been to fashion an excellent networking community called the World Resource Center at http://www.sew-wrc.com."
John Alexander: "Susan, I was reading a copy of your book which you co-authored with Robin Nobles and noted that in the preface, it says that you two actually wrote "Maximize Web site Traffic" without ever actually meeting in person. Can you tell us how this came about?"
Susan O'Neil: "As I helped more and more of my PR clients move onto the Web through optimized websites, I realized that there was a need for a corporate, comprehensive approach to providing professional SEO services to America's companies. I decided to create such a company and, in 1998, closed my PR agency and launched @Web Site Publicity. In order to give my new company quick credibility and exposure, I decided to write a book on SEO - a "how to" book. Knowing how time-consuming the writing would be, I asked Robin to share the endeavor with me."
John Alexander: "And this was the beginning of this new book?"
Susan O'Neil: "Yes, she agreed to the idea, so we divvied up the chapters and started writing. We didn't meet until it was time to do the final edit. Robin flew up from Mississippi to a ski chalet in Vermont where we typed and talked non-stop for a week. Robin brought a great depth of specific SEO experience which mixed beautifully with my years of marketing experience and the result was a book that, outdated as it is, still brings us fan mail!"
John Alexander: "That is very cool! Now as you know, last month just as of June 29, 2004 Robin Nobles has been celebrating her sixth year in the SEO Training industry with her online (www.onlinewebtraining.com) instructional courses in search engine optimization. Looking back to the early days when you first decided to study search engine marketing, can you describe what your SEO skillset has meant to you personally? How much have these skills meant to you?
Susan O'Neil: "Because of my SEO skills and my marketing expertise, I and my staff have been able to help hundreds of small to large businesses succeed on the Internet. This remains exciting and gratifying. Our clients were also better able to ride out the dot.com bust because our approach to providing SEO services has been to focus on the long term "health" of a website, which means building quality content continuously. Robin in her teaching and, together, in our book - we've never strayed from the truism that "content is king" and that continues to serve my clients well."
John Alexander: "Can you tell our readers about one of your earliest SEO success stories and what it felt like the first time you made a real difference to someone's business online?"
Susan O'Neil: "A longtime PR client of mine is a publisher of fine nonfiction for children. This company was early in recognizing the power of the Internet and so invested in a delightful, informative website that also offered subscriptions to their magazines. However, after spending the money to build the website, they didn't get any visitors. I liken it to giving birth after a long labor to a beautiful new baby that no one comes to admire. Aware of their concerns, I starting tweaking tags, cleaning up code, and adding content and their site began to take off. That early first client has remained with my company all these years and has been generous in their recommending of us to others as they continue to grow their online business."
John Alexander: "What word of wisdom or advice do you have for any of our readers that might be considering building a new career in search engine marketing these days?"
Susan O'Neil: "I don't think you can be in marketing today without at least an understanding of search marketing concepts, even if you don't build the code and write the content. As this "new" science of SEO has become not only universally accepted but consistently praised for its cost-effective strategies, there will continue to be opportunities for people who can apply consistent, aggressive, yet ethical strategies for growing online success, both in-house for e-commerce companies and with SEO/SEM agencies like mine. In fact, my agency is growing still and when I hire someone who may have a great marketing background but be new to SEO, I have them start their learning curve with one of Robin's courses because no one can lay out the ground work better."
John Alexander: "How nicely spoken, Susan."
Susan O'Neil: "The other word of advice I have is an old one: don't believe everything you read. SEO newsletters and forums are great starting points and can be entertaining, but the people with the best information don't go giving it away. Whatever you hear or read, never apply a strategy to a client's site without thoroughly testing it first extensively. We developed our own E- Commerce Lab for just this purpose."
John Alexander: "Finally in closing, I'll ask if you have any other favourite online resources you would care to mention for the benefit of our readers?
Susan O'Neil: "As my company has grown, my responsibilities have shifted from trying to discern the optimum number of words on a Google-friendly page or the best marketing spin in a title tag, to focusing on the bigger picture, so I'm not a good one to recommend the best SEO reading today. Instead, as I lead my team into our 7th year of business, I'm reading the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the UK's Financial Times, always trying to look beyond the bend - to try to see where business in general is going and the Internet specifically. To keep our clients ahead of their competition, we need to keep ahead of ours.
John Alexander: "That is so very true. Well, I want to thank you again so much Susan O'Neil, for taking time today to share some of your rememberances of the early days of search engine marketing and telling us how you first got in to the business. It has been fascinating to speaking to you and I'll just take this opportunity wish you the very greatest of ongoing success in the future."
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