Here is another interview from our SES series. This one is with Todd Malicoat, aka stuntdubl, one of the leading SEM experts in the industry. Todd is currently working on two very interesting projects, SEO Class and MarketMotive (be sure to check them out, if you haven’t already). Joe caught up with Todd in San Jose to talk about SEM industry, training, its future and its current image. Enjoy!
SMS: So, Todd, you’ve got a couple of projects that you’re working on right now, Marketing Motive and SEO Class. How are those going?
Todd: Very good. We just had our second SEO Class in New York and had a pretty good turnout. We are going to be doing another one in LA. I forget the exact dates, but it’s on SEOclass.com. All the info is there.
The other one, MarketMotive, just got started. We are planning to push that out. We have about 4 or 5 experts now in different areas. It’ll be more online-based training so it’ll be podcasts, and stuff over PowerPoint and kind of more premium types of training.
SMS: So do they get a certification at the end?
Todd: We’re looking at that. For the most part now we just want solid and trusted information from the people that have good reputations, and then taking it a step beyond what you would see on the regular blog.
SMS: Speaking to that, there have been a lot of classes and training courses. There are even actual college courses starting to offer something like this. It seems to me there is going to be a definitive line between the people that know what they are doing through experience and those who learn something through these courses. What is your opinion on that?
Todd: It’s been pretty easy traditionally for anyone to just throw up a website and say “I do SEO,” and I’m guilty of that myself. Four or five years ago I did the same thing. I said “today I’m going to do SEO.” I put up my website and became an SEO. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. And anybody can do that.
There is really no regulation within the industry, which is fine, but it is kind of self-policing at the same time. Having gone to a couple of conferences, you find out who knows what they are doing and who is just BS’ing all the time. It really started as a handful of guys, first PubCon and SES – just small groups of people. And a lot of those same guys are still around and are still practicing. And then they went off and taught a handful of people, and it has sort of grown from there.
From what I found, it’s about the people who are really active in the community and have a high respect for the community, learning all it’s about instead of just going in and saying “teach me how to redirect subdomains and cloak.” There are some people that come in and certainly do that. But it’s more of a trust-based community than that. It is those people that learn that who will end up doing well and succeeding.
SMS: One thing I would be concerned with in the upcoming years of this particular industry is that a lot of businesses are not going to differentiate between those two types of people.
Todd: And going in, a lot of times they don’t. And that’s what’s unfortunate. That’s why people have bad experiences. And some people learn from those experiences and try to search for better ways to find an SEO. And some don’t. They just walk away and say “it’s a terrible industry, it sucks.”
One cool technique is just to ask 10 SEOs who they would suggest if they were too busy. A lot of the best SEOs are going to be busy and they will be happy to do that. That’s a good way to learn who’s good and trustworthy.
SMS: That’s a really good point for businesses that are looking to do SEO. Obviously, if they are signing up for something like SEO Class or any of these others, they know they have been started by people that founded the industry. That definitely adds a level of credibility.
Todd: Yeah, I get so many requests and as much as I want to work with everybody, I can’t. The more that I work with somebody, train somebody one-on-one or on a company basis, the more it takes away from self projects and other clients. You have to be picky. Whereas with SEO Class or MarketMotive, we can teach a whole lot of people at one time, which I enjoy.
SMS: I know that you’re really branded as a link guy and I know I’ve talked to you tons of times about links. What do you think of Pownce, Twitter, and sites like that? Do you see any link value from these sites?
Todd: I don’t see a lot in terms of link value. It’s probably similar to the other social media sites as a distribution point to push your content out to, then get it linked to from the decent places. That would be the main value, I think. With a lot of the Web 2.0 stuff in general, the users are so fickle. Everybody was on Twitter and then Pownce comes along and everybody jumps over to Pownce and leaves Twitter.
A lot of Web 2.0 sites just go for the traffic, where SEO is kind of the opposite of that. Yeah, we might want the traffic but my first question generally always is “what’s the business model? Where are we going to make our money here?” It’s kind of the opposite with those communities.
Nine times out of ten, generally one of my very first questions is where are you guys making your money. And it’s a touchy question. That’s like asking someone his religion or political beliefs. But you got to get right to it, otherwise you’re wasting everybody’s time.
SMS: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Todd. Good luck with your ventures.