Contributors – Critical Thinking for the Discerning SEO

Updated March 20, 2014

Doc Sheldon

Critical Thinking for the Discerning SEO, the first in the Critical Thinking series, was somewhat an experiment, in that I decided to incorporate responses from a number of professionals into the book. I did that for a couple of reasons.

First, I’m a student of SEO myself, even though  I started dabbling in it about six years ago. SEO, in its broadest sense, is not my focus, since I specialize in content strategy. I felt I needed to learn as much as possible about SEO, though, in order to be an effective content strategist. So I could hardly consider myself competent to teach proper SEO techniques to others.

Second, Critical Thinking quickly evolved into a different sort of creation… rather than trying to teach the reader what to think, it seemed to make more sense to teach him how to think. To do that effectively, I felt that several different viewpoints was the best approach.

Finally, the book became more credible coming from well-known pros in the industry than it would have coming from just one.

The list of contributors is impressive, and I am incredibly grateful for their contributions. Each of them has a bio page in the book, but I felt it might be helpful to share those bios here, for those of you that haven’t yet seen the ebook. Elsewhere on the site, is a complete list of the contributors, so I won’t list them again here. But I am going to post a few at a time, just to give you an idea of what you’re missing if you haven’t picked up a copy yet.

Each of them was also asked to contribute one question of their own, which I included on their bio page. Some of them are very thought provoking, so I encourage you to check back often, as I’ll be adding more each day, until all 31 have been shown.

In alphabetical order, we’ll start with these:

Alan Bleiweiss' profile image

Alan Bleiweiss
Director of Search Services,

Click2Rank Consulting

Sixteen years internet marketing experience, ten in SEO.  Known mostly as a forensic SEO audit specialist, Alan has actually worn all the SEO hats at various times; in-house, agency and consultant.  A strong advocate of ethical SEO best practices, he believes the single biggest factor that separates successful SEO from failed SEO over the long-haul can be summed up in two phrases he coined during his Google Survivor Tips panel presentation at SMX Advanced in 2011 – Sustainable SEO vs. Myopic SEO.

As Director of Search Services at Click2Rank, a Lacey, Washington Search Marketing Agency, Alan oversees a team of specialists in SEO, Social Media, and PPC advertising.  A noted industry speaker and eBook author, Alan also writes for Search Engine Journal and Search Marketing Wisdom.  And if you follow him on Twitter, be prepared for rants.  Because ranting on Twitter is Alan’s way of not having to pay a therapist.

Alan asked this question:

“Yeah – is this questioning over yet?” 

And his own answer to that was:

“I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute to what could very well be the single most valuable resource this industry has ever produced.  And if anything I’ve shared helps even one person become better, then it’s a blessing and a #WIN.”


 Andrea Scarpetta's profile image

Andrea Scarpetta

 Andrea is an SEO Specialist at Sems S.R.L., and a freelance SEO and Social Media Consultant, practicing from his location in the Turin area, in Italy. He worked for several years as a computer technician, then a web designer, CG artist and programmer, before focusing on search engine optimization and search engine marketing. He is a passionate SEO that revels in the challenges that SEO presents.

Andrea Tweets regularly as Gareth Jax.

Andrea asked this question:

“Is SEO Dead?”

And his own answer to that was:

“The day Google will disclose every tiny detail about the ranking algorithm, most “tricks” known as “SEO” will die in order to focus on the most important signals of the algorithm. And even if that improbable day arrives, there will be jobs for people focused on conversion!”

“So, I’m sorry, that Zombie called “SEO” is alive and kickin’!”


 Andrew Bleakley's profile image

Andrew Bleakley

 Andrew is a developer turned internet and performance marketer who is just as happy surfing the waves as he is surfing the web. Expertly able to build and promote your website, Andrew is based in Byron Bay, Australia and has a proven record of long term success marketing ecommerce stores.

You can contact him on his website or on Twitter.

Andrew asked this question:

“What can small online retailers do with a limited budget to improve their immediate situation?”

And his own answer to that was:

“1) Fix any errors and broken links on their website;

2) Write better and more complete product descriptions of their own (instead of short blurbs copied from manufacturers);

3) Ensure any social media integrations are functioning properly, including full and properly configured Open Graph data;

4) Upload higher quality product images.”


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Anthony Verre

I am the CEO of Silver Arc Search Marketing, a local Milwaukee, WI company working to help small and mid-sized business owners with their search marketing strategy and search engine marketing tactics. I’ve been working in the search engine marketing and search engine optimization industry for the last 6 years.

I write The Milwaukee SEO, a blog dedicated and devoted to search engine marketing, search engine optimization, and online business philosophy. I am also a regular columnist at Search News Central and participant at the SEO Dojo. Co-authored eProfitability; a guide for C-Level executives and upper management to understand the search landscape and maximize their profitability online.

To learn more about Tony, follow him on Twitter.

Anthony asked this question:

“Given limited budgets and time on projects, what is/are the most essential thing(s) you address first?”

And his own answer to that was:

“I always address the core of websites first (information architecture, keyword research, content, and finding and addressing technical issues). Everything starts with a strong foundation, all the deft algorithm-techniques in the world won’t matter if you’re building on a faulty foundation.”


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Barry Adams

 Starting out his career in all things online in the mid-’90s as an intranet content manager, Barry has worked in a wide variety of positions including corporate webmaster for multinationals, in-house SEO specialist for a large regional newspaper, and web consultant for dozens of SMEs.

Now he’s the Senior Digital Marketer for Search at Pierce Communications in Belfast, where he works on a wide range of internet marketing projects for clients in the UK and Ireland.

In addition Barry is a regular contributor to several major SEO blogs such as State of Search and Search News Central, and he’s a technology columnist for the Belfast Telegraph. He also regularly lectures on SEO and PPC for the Digital Marketing Institute in Ireland.

Barry asked this question:

“What type of formal education best prepares you for a job as an internet marketer?”

And his own answer to that was:

“In the early days of IM, I’d say having a background in computer science would have been an advantage. Especially with SEO, that type of technical education would help immensely.

“But now that internet marketing is maturing as a marketing discipline,  find that the technical stuff is taking a back seat and the marketing aspect is starting to dominate. In the end IM is about people doing stuff online, and marketing & communications are the educational pathways that prepare you for dealing with humans in commercial environments.

“The ideal internet marketing education has aspects of both CS and Marketing, as it requires a solid understanding of both the technical and human & commercial side of the internet. But that education hasn’t been invented yet. Most IM courses and bootcamps are too much about the practical implementations of things, and don’t really teach you the right mindset – and that, in my opinion, is what a good education should do.

“IM is about web technology enabling business and commerce, so a solid grasp of both of those pillars will definitely give you a head start.”


 Dana Lookadoo's profile image



Dana Lookadoo started her career in website development and online marketing in 1996. She has 17 years of corporate experience with degrees in Telecommunications, Multimedia & Applied Computing and Business Administration with a minor in Instructional Technology. Dana taught Web Design at Cal State University, Monterey Bay and has conducted numerous corporate and technical training courses. She authored a 100-page book for Sun Microsystems, “Traveling the Internet,” a guide for how to travel safely and securely on the Web. She began “playing” with SEO in 1999 and has been focused on search engine optimization since 2003.

As an SEO consultant, Dana works closely with mid- to large-size companies to help them plan and develop their search engagement efforts – from information architecture, SEO, content writing to social media engagement.

Dana is a guest writer for a number of search marketing blogs and is very active in the search industry. You can learn more about Dana on her website or follow her on Twitter.

Dana asked this question:

“What is the one area of search marketing and SEO that is often overlooked when planning/designing a website?”

And her own answer to that was:

“Information Architecture combined with mapping of keywords based off the site’s target audience.”


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Danny Sullivan

 Widely considered a leading “search engine guru,” Danny Sullivan has been helping webmasters, marketers and everyday web users understand how search engines work for over a decade.

Danny’s expertise about search engines is often sought by the media, and he has been quoted in places like The Wall St. Journal, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, The New Yorker and Newsweek and ABC’s Nightline.

Danny began covering search engines in late 1995, when he undertook a study of how they indexed web pages. The results were published online as “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines,” a pioneering effort to answer the many questions site designers and Internet publicists had about search engines.

Danny currently heads up Search Engine Land as editor-in-chief, which covers all aspects of search marketing and search engine news. Danny also serves as Third Door Media’s chief content officer, which owns Search Engine Land and the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. Danny also maintains a personal blog called Daggle and microblogs on Twitter: @dannysullivan.

Danny asked this question:

“When internet marketing is changing so often, with new opportunities emerging all the time, how do you decide which ones make the most sense to pursue and not get stuck in dead-ends?”

And his own answer to that was:

“For me, I try to understand more about the company behind an opportunity. A larger, established company often is more worth paying attention to. If Google rolls something out, that might have a better chance than something from a small new start-up. However, you can’t just depend on that. A small start-up might go viral. Am I seeing chatter in places like Twitter or in mainstream press, not the tech press, about a particular service? That can be one sign.

“Groupon is a good example here. For me, I heard much in the tech press — but then I also could see real merchants using it, could hear from non-tech friends who were actually using it. Are there distribution partnerships? Does the product seem new and unique? Something that offers to let you tweet longer than Twitter really isn’t that much more an improvement than Twitter, so it might not improve. What’s the existing and potential audience? Virtual worlds sounded cool, but were lots of people really using them. These are just some of the things I try to assess for myself.”


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Dean Cruddace

 I am an SEO consultant living in Sunderland in the North East of England, working online since 2001 I provide SEO audits and deliver buying eyes to web properties using organic search.

Owner of SEO Begin Ltd where I blog about search or invite others to. I also run the SEO Company Directory with Doc Sheldon and Alex Moss.

I play around with SEO on my own personal site before I even consider recommending to my SEO clients, some of which I have been working with for years in competitive industries such as travel and financial.

Guest Blogger at various sites including State of Search & Search Engine People. First guest author at Level343. Associate editor at Blekko for /seoblogs slashtag (the default search for SEO on Blekko). Proud participating member of the SEO Training Dojo.

Dean asked this question:

“SEO has been dead since the first time it was uttered many many moons ago. Is it dead yet?”

And his own answer to that was:



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Debra Mastaler

Based in Fairfax Station, Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link marketing campaigns and link training.

In business since 2000, Debra and her talented staff offer a common sense approach to link building by combining traditional sales and promotional strategies with effective online search engine marketing tactics.

In addition to client projects and link training for Fortune 500 companies as well as a number of top SEO firms in the USA, UK and Canada, Debra is a featured guest speaker at the Search Engine Strategies Conference (SES), Search Marketing Expo (SMX), is a guest blogger for Search Engine Land and Search Engine Guide, has done numerous High Ranking Seminars, Small Business Unleashed Seminars as well as the Link Building Training session for Search Engine Strategies (SES) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).  She is also the Link Building Moderator on the SEOBook Community Forums, Small Business Ideas Forum and Sphinn .

In 2009 she was listed 17th in the Top 100 Most Influential Marketers of 2009.
In 2011 Debra was voted one of the Top SEO Women of 2011
Follow Debra on Twitter or Facebook.

Debra asked this question:

“If you were allowed to share just one piece of link building advice to a crowd of people, what would it be?”

And her own answer to that was:

“Build links to pages optimized for the keyword terms found in your anchors and place those anchors on pages/sites that have been around for awhile.  It doesn’t matter what linking tactic you use but it definitely matters where you place the link and what it (the anchor) says.” 


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Eren McKay

Eren McKay is a work at home mom, caring for her three boys in their home in Brazil. She abandoned her Physical Therapy degree, deciding she preferred to stay home and care for her children.  When her boys were old enough to allow her time to pursue her career, she developed her online presence across several properties. She also began studying SEO and online marketing in 2006, to allow her to optimize her own internet properties. She blogs about a variety of topics, however her primary passion is personal development.

You can follow Eren on Twitter  and GooglePlus.

Eren asked this question:

“How do you know who to believe when there are so many different opinions to be found on every question?”

And her own answer to that was:

“The first step is to find the experts. Then I suggest reading several ‘views’ before determining what’s good or bad advice on a certain topic. To find out what the best minds are thinking, use a variety of search queries. For example; if you want to know more about QDF (query deserves freshness), link bait, or some other subject what would you do? You could just ‘Google’ it, but can you really trust the top SERPs? If you know how search engines work, then you’re well aware that an idiot could be at number one for a keyword phrase through link spamming.

“Why not use the resources freely available to you and go straight to the source for the best advice? Using Google search operators is like being able to pick the brains of well known experts. There are lots of search operators, so for the sake of brevity I’ll just show you two: 

“If you wanted to learn more about QDF (query deserves freshness) you could perform a site search on authority blogs like these: “query deserves freshness” “query deserves freshness” “query deserves freshness”

“Find several places that an expert has published by using the ‘in post author’ search. For example when researching about link bait, I would typically perform the following searches:

inpostauthor:“Debra Mastaler” “link bait”

inpostauthor:“Wiep” “link bait”

inpostauthor:“Garrett French” “link bait”

inpostauthor:“David Harry” “link bait”

“When you’ve found enough information on the topic, you can read all of it and identify a common thread amongst all experts.

“Personally I like to read articles from all kinds of different people… not only the experts. Each person has a unique story and strategies that I may be able to learn from. Of course the experts have a lot more experience so I tend to search for what they have to say first. I believe anyone can read ‘non expert’ advice and still find gems for their online presence. It’s important to analyze what they wrote by asking certain questions such as:

“Was this assumption based on accurate sources of information?
Is this person’s emotional state and past history wrongly influencing his or her conclusions?

“If the ‘non expert’ that wrote the article researched several sides on the subject and covered certain critical questions, then it should be good advice.

“Another thing to keep top of mind is that some people have reached a certain level of success by applying tactics that are outdated or that only work for a small amount of time. It’s really sad to see naïve people (sheeple) following these fake ‘gurus’ and hanging onto their every word like everything they say is absolute truth. No matter how successful someone is, you can never turn off your analytical thinking skills before accepting something as truth. I really love this quote:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – ~Aristotle

“Besides that, there are those who have gotten rich through the use of strategies that are not compliant with the Google Webmaster Guidelines. If you want to have a long term presence that will one day produce somewhat passive income, then you want to stay clear of that kind of ‘advice’. However if you don’t care at all about your income being passive or losing search engine rankings overnight, then that kind of ‘short term income’ advice might be applicable to you.”


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Gabriella Sannino

 Gabriella Sannino is the owner and head of Business Development for Level 343, an Organic SEO and copywriting company based in Mississippi. As an Italian citizen she has always thought differently than the American businessman. Incorporating her International business know-how with her commandment of several languages she has garnered worldwide notice for her straight talking business knowledge.

For over 20 years Gabriella has held positions as a web developer, creative director and consultant before opening Level 343. Widely recognized in the social media and SEO world, she shares her knowledge in organic search engine optimization, content development strategy, user experience and social media with anyone willing to listen. You can also follow Gabriella on Twitter for some great tweets.

Gabriella asked this question:

 “If you could start any project what would it be?”

And her own answer to that was:

“I’d like to build a growing community where young women (18 – 25) can apply and be chosen for a 2 year mentorship. The mentorship would be a work/live environment, involved in social media/marketing in their city. It would give them the chance to progress in their personal and professional lives. Maybe offer housing, where they can live and work at the training “center” for a minimum of 2 years before they went off on their own.

“I’d like to offer a lot of outreach programs for the homeless, drug abuse, education seminars for safe sex, etc. In other words, I want a way to give back, and a way to show others how to do the same.”


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Garrett French

 Garrett has a good deal of experience under his belt. As Editor in Chief at iEntry/WebProNewsand manager of Communications at MarketSmart Interactive, then co-founding Ontolo, he built a name for himself in the marketing world. He then went on to found Citation Labs, where he currently puts his marketing wisdom to work for his clients. You can learn more about Garrett on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

Garrett asked this question:

“What advice would you have for someone who’s just starting an agency?”

And his own answer to that was:



 Heather Lloyd-Martin's profile image

Heather Lloyd-Martin

SEO Copywriting

Described as a fast-talking, fiery redhead, Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. Recognized worldwide as a first-generation search marketing expert, her life is split between watching the search engines dance and pinpointing the exact direct response copywriting strategies that make people buy.

Fun career highlights include:

  • Profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes as the pioneer of SEO copywriting.
  • Immediate past-chair of the Direct Marketing Association’s Search Engine Marketing Council.
  • Developer of the SEO Copywriting Certification program, the only industry-endorsed training program teaching SEO Copywriting best practices.
  • Nominated for the Top Woman in SEO, 2012 award.
  • Advisory board member of SEMpdx, and serves on the board of American Writers and Artists, Inc.
  • Quoted and cited in many publications, including The Huffington Post, Target Marketing Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and others.

Presenting at industry events is one of Heather’s passions, and she’s frequently crossing time zones en-route to her next speaking gig. You can see her speaking at Darden School of Business, Search Engine Strategies, SMX, Small Business Marketing Unleashed, PubCon and a host of other events. In her spare time, she enjoys crazy-making travel, grueling workouts, Starbucks extra-hot soy lattes and hanging out with her husband, two dogs and one cat in Portland, OR. Contact Heather here!

Heather asked this question:

“What’s the biggest challenges site owners face around SEO content development?”

And her own answer to that was:

“Often, the biggest challenge is developing a workable strategic plan – which may be taking very small baby steps. Some site owners were burned by Panda, so now they’re scrambling to figure out next steps. Others may know that they “have to do something,” but they don’t know where to start – so they do nothing at all.  Once a plan is in place, everyone is on the same page and knows what to do next. Maybe that means only writing a few pages a month. That’s OK. It’s all about doing what you can do with the resources you have available.”


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Hugo Gill

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Online Marketing, E-commerce and Web Accessibility Consultant & Solutions Provider.

Hugo’s website is, and you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook, visit his company’s Facebook page, or you can visit his LinkedIn profile to learn more about him.

Hugo asked this question:

“If you had 10 hours to optimise an existing 20 page site that has already had its pages indexed by the search engines, what main areas would you focus on?”

And his own answer to that was:

“Conduct keyword research, address technical issues, improve site architecture and optimise internal anchor text, page titles, meta descriptions, headings, content and ALT attributes.”


 Ian Lurie's profile image

Ian Lurie

After 13 years as an Internet marketer, Ian pieced together his experiences with the technology, communications and design issues inherent in our business, and built Conversation Marketing as a rubric for good decision making. He also serves clients from Portent.

As in Internet marketer with extensive experience in email marketing, search marketing and virtually any other type of marketing that can be done via the Internet, Ian is widely considered to be an expert in his field and has many clients’ successes to his credit. You can follow him on Twitter or learn more about him on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Ian asked this question:

“Why do you believe writing is so important?”

And his own answer to that was:

“I’m glad I asked me that question!

“First, folks communicate using words. Online, the primary way to spread those words around is through writing. Your ability to choose the right words separates you from competitors.

“Second, writing helps you organize ideas. The more fluid your writing – the easier it is for you to just sit down and write for 5 minutes straight – the easier it becomes to order your thoughts and turn a bunch of related ideas into a single, concrete plan. Third, writing improves spoken thought. Putting something down on paper will almost always help you more clearly talk about it, too.”


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Jahnelle Pittman

 Proud work at home and home schooling mom of 2, site administrator of many and SEO analyst on the rampage. Don’t mess with me – I know code and have kids.

I’m a true geek with a heart of code and SEO – and a touch of “grammar nazism”. I’m called the “Editing Bulldog”, and have been told I’m the private editing nightmare of writers everywhere.  I wave my red pen across every document in search of perfect client deliverables. When I’m not buried in paperwork, I spend my time buried in website code and SEO research.

Jahnelle asked this question:

“Why do you enjoy your field of choice?”

And her own answer to that was:

“SEO is fast-paced; for that matter, all of internet marketing is. It’s challenging, constantly changing and pushes me to learn, grow and excel. I can be a spy, watching every move of the competition. I can be a writer and influencer of people. I can be a politician and smooth the ways for our clients to interact. I can be a complete geek and pore over data and patents. I can be a hacker and tweak or build website code that does exactly what I want it to do. Of course, it’s all in my imagination, based on what I’m doing at the time 😀 , but that doesn’t make it any less fun.”


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Jey Pandian

 Jey Pandian is a highly experienced SEO, with his greatest areas of specialty being research and analytics. Perhaps the only characteristic which surpasses his ability to drill down to the underlying issues is his dedication to provide ultimate solutions to his clients.

“Good enough” simply isn’t, for Jey. He goes to great lengths to ensure that the recommendations he makes have been examined from every possible angle, tested for validity and implemented properly.

Jey has recently joined the Catalyst team in their Manhattan office, where we’re sure he’ll be doing great things. Follow him on Twitter or check out his LinkedIn profile to learn more about him.

Jey asked this question:

“If I could recommend any 3 books as it pertains to marketing and SEO, what would I recommend?”

And his own answer to that was:

“1) Marketing Warfares by Al Ries and Jack Trout – it will help you get a better grasp on competitive strategies when used against you or when forming marketing strategies.

2) Linchpin by Seth Godin – it will teach you to be passionate about your work.

3) Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash – it will put you build a conversion focused mindset.

Bonus: Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik – you will gain the data skills that are vital in this industry.”


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Joe Hall

Joe Hall is the founder and CEO of 22 Media LLC. Through his work, he has experience on both the national and local levels around a variety of diverse topics and technologies. Joe’s work has garnered the attention of some of the biggest technology publications in the world, including white papers from MIT and The Department of Homeland Security.

You can also follow Joe on Twitter or LinkedIn to learn more about him.

Joe asked this question:

“What comes after hypertext? Social signals, voice search, and Google’s search by image feature, all signal a deviation away from analyzing hypertext/link graphs for rankings. So then, what comes next? How will search engines organize information in the future? Will SEO’s need to radically change their understanding of Information retrieval to stay ahead?”

And his own answer to that was:

“I have no idea!”


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Joshua Titsworth

Joshua Titsworth is an SEO project manager with Click2Rank, a word-class search marketing agency. Josh got his start in search working as a project manager for a international healthcare organization in Kansas City. He was given a mission to get their website more visibility online with a budget of zero (it was a non-profit, what did you expect?). After doing some searches for cheap/free Internet marketing he found a lot of articles on SEO. He read all he could and began applying it to not only their website, but to some board member sites as well that were involved in the financial and religious organization niches. This continued as a passionate hobby for a few years until he decided to take his passion and make a career out of it.

Following Joshua on Twitter can be very entertaining.

Joshua asked this question:

“Why did you participate in this questionnaire?”

And his own answer to that was:

“A few reasons:

1.       Doc Sheldon is a friend of mine and I’m happy to help him out in any way possible. He’s helped me quite a few times so any chance I can return the favour for him I’ll take advantage of.

2.       As I stated in question 12, “Take advantage of opportunities presented and stay committed if you commit.” I think this e-book has a lot of different view points from people at all levels of the industry and from that stance it should make for some good reading for just about anyone. Not to mention I told Doc I’d contribute if I could and well, here I am.

3.       When I finally got the list of questions to be answered I knew right away they were going to require some thinking. I’ve answered client’s questions about their site, but never my own personal thoughts on SEO. It really gave me a chance to reflect and think about how I’ve grown in my knowledge and experience.”


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Justin Parks

 Justin Parks has over 12 years experience in the online environment dealing with marketing, web development and search engine optimisation. He is a prolific social media user and over his career has development a focused and quality network of experienced professionals in the online sector.

His experience is spread across a wide range of verticals including lead generation, campaign creation and management and ecommerce sales.

He utilises WordPress as his main web platform and is continually realising new and innovative methods of ensuring it produces excellent results for his clients in Search Engine results. Combined with evolving tools in social media and search engine optimisation he finds himself “under the hood” most days, fine tuning the platform.

Justin’s main speciality is online networking and social media.  With his historical experience in the sector he investigates these new opportunities and evaluates them in order to bring the best value to clients and businesses he works with, ensuring that they stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving environment.

You can learn more about Justin by following him on Twitter or visiting his website.

Justin asked this question:

“Can I make money in the world of SEO and build a successful business?”

And his own answer to that was:

“Yes. It is possible but it’s not easy.  The world of SEO is affected by so many factors in such a dynamic and indeed dramatic way that sometimes you will be left wondering just how you can take the business forward.

“Understanding SEO is the first step, but understanding good business practices and what they mean is just as essential. Because you deal with clients in such an intimate way then you have to be realistic about the services you offer in terms of quality and price, something that many in the business simply don’t understand or don’t implement.  They soon disappear.

“SEO, or indeed any side of web development, cannot be done on a shoestring budget if the aim is to seriously compete in today’s market place and trying to do it as such will destroy you and the business you are trying to build.  Other businesses who wish to hire you and your services need to be educated about the process of SEO and marketing and allowed to understand that the associated costs are there, as the expected return should, at the very least, cover the expense, if not return a profit.  I have to be careful here as I could delve into deep and complicated examples of how  this all works out in the real world and that’s just not possible.

“It all boils down to the fundamentals.  If you run your business well, offer a quality service and ensure that YOUR bottom line is profitable, then you will succeed and can indeed run a successful SEO business. Offer it too cheaply and you won’t be profitable and neither will the client.  Charge too much and you won’t get the clients. Find the right price range and structure, apply it, prove the value, then begin to grow the service and the associated cost as you expand, hopefully in line with your clients or partners.”


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Lyena Solomon

Lyena has 15 years of experience in SEO, analytics, website usability and navigation. She has a diverse technical background in developing websites, applications, databases, data analysis, etc. Having done in-house web development and SEO for a number of years, 3 years ago, Lyena started consulting with Silicon Valley companies on optimizing their websites.  She helps clients focus on goals, profitability, targets and their audience. Lyena’s consulting company – NetSprinter, LLC – works with local and global businesses to craft marketing strategies that improve their revenue.
Twitter Business card:

Lyena asked this question:

“What are some valuable skills for an SEO?”

And her own answer to that was:

“One of the most valuable skills is getting out of the box.  To be competitive, talk to your PPC team, find out what keeps your web development team up at night, find out what your CFO’s goals are for the fiscal quarter.  Then, ask yourself, how you can help them achieve their goals. When you have the answer, you will be successful.”


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M.J. Taylor

SEO Consultant and Copywriter M.-J. Taylor owns Cyber Key, Inc. in Key West, Florida. M.-J.’s career background in journalism naturally led to a fascination for the information available on the Internet. She created her first personal website in 1996, and in 1997, started building sites for others. It was immediately clear to her that “build it and they will come” didn’t apply to websites. She took an SEO certification class early in 1998 from Robin Nobles though Kennesaw State University, and has kept up with the industry since then through practice and research. M.-J. is a moderator on several webmaster/SEO forums, including WebProWorld, V7n forums and SEOWorkers.

You can connect with M.J. on LinkedIn to learn more about her.

M.J. asked this question:

“What’s your inspiration for link bait and compelling content?”

And her own answer to that was:

“Collaboration. I love working for myself and not managing employees, but I feel I miss the opportunity to brainstorm and collectively create great ideas that can take a website to another level.”


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Michelle Robbins

 Michelle has been designing, developing, deploying and marketing web sites for a variety of business sectors since 1995, where she worked at one of Southern California’s first online agencies and web server software development startups. Striking out on her own in 1999, she grew her web development consultancy to create online presences, develop custom applications and implement various web marketing initiatives for such companies as American Airlines, Honda Civic Tour, DMX Music, and more.

In 2006, Michelle joined Danny Sullivan at Third Door Media’s launch as its Director of Technology. She currently oversees, develops, and implements all technical initiatives for each of the company’s brands: Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Search Marketing Now (SMN) and Sphinn.

Before crossing over to technology and search, Michelle spent 4 years on the management team in marketing and promotion at the Walt Disney Company’s record label (Hollywood Records).

Michelle has two bachelor degrees from the University of California, Irvine.

Connect with Michelle – Twitter  ::  Google+ :: LinkedIn

Michelle asked this question:

“What channel/platform/innovation to emerge in recent years do you find most disruptive to internet marketing?”

And her own answer to that was:

“I think mobile – specifically mobile apps and the emergence of the App store and app ecosystem – has been the most disruptive innovation in recent years. Apps have the opportunity to eclipse traditional, search engine based search, in many ways. More and more apps provide users with more and more information that previously would have been discovered only via SERPs or at web sites. Beyond just app adoption, app usability and in-app conversions present unique challenges – and we are still in the infancy of this market.”


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Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin is the CEO & Co-Founder of the web’s most popular SEO Software provider; SEOmoz. He co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media and was named on the 40 Under 40 List and 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. Rand has been written about in The Seattle Times, Newsweek and PC World among others and keynoted conferences on search around the world. He’s particularly passionate about the SEOmoz blog, read by tens of thousands of search professionals each day. In his miniscule spare time, Rand enjoys the company of his amazing wife, whose serendipitous travel blog chronicles their journeys.

Rand asked this question:

“Where are you as you write these answers?”

And his own answer to that was:

“A hotel room with a very slow web connection in downtown Sao Paulo, Brasil 😉


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Rebekah May

Rebekah manages SEO in-house for a software company. On the side she runs Whole SEO, which provides affordable search engine marketing services to local businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also working on a project that will provide SEO and Online Marketing training to those new to the industry. Follow her on Twitter to say hi and stay updated.

Rebekah asked this question:

“If someone were looking to get into the Online Marketing or SEO industry, what advice would you give them?”

And her own answer to that was:

“It really depends on how much current experience you have.  For example, if a lot of your experience lies in marketing – you may have to re-wire your brain to approach things from a different perspective online.  

“I would recommend getting a server and installing a basic CMS such as WordPress or Joomla, and then just play around with it and see what you can accomplish!  You can use Adwords to send additional traffic to your site which will allow you to test various layouts, calls to action, or whatever else you want.

“I actually started with affiliate marketing which opened the doors to SEO and Online Marketing.   If you want to make your testing more fun and interesting, sign up for some affiliate accounts and see how much money you can learn while you are playing around.

“In addition to testing things yourself, read major industry blogs and forums.  Find thought leaders in that industry and follow them on Twitter.  Join community groups (The Dojo and SEOmoz are great places to start) and also looked through places like LinkedIn to connect with other individuals in your industry.

“Most importantly, be passionate and enjoy what you do!”


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Steve Gerencser

Steve Gerencser, aka Feydakin, has been developing web sites since 1994. As a serial entrepreneur, Steve has spent most of his life developing new businesses and traditional marketing. This gives him a unique take on internet marketing, search engine techniques and developing online businesses.

Steve is one of those that you have to get to know, before you realize how knowledgeable he is. That’s mostly because he doesn’t blow his own horn as some do. If you’re curious, you can learn more about him on his new SteveG blog or on Steam Driven Media.

He’s also a regular on the SEO Training Dojo podcasts, which is great listening for those that want to learn beneath the surface of SEO and IM.

Steve asked this question:

“One of the questions I see a lot that concerns me about the overall health of a website, and the internet in general.

“What percentage of my site’s overall traffic should come from search engines?”

And his own answer to that was:

“The biggest issue with the question is that it assumes that you need any traffic at all from a search engine for your website to be successful. I know that this may seem like blasphemy when coming from an SEO, but you don’t need traffic from the search engines to be successful. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to get viewers and customers without them ever having found you through search.

“With this in mind we try hard to get our clients to understand that while ranking #1 for every possible search term is great, if 95% of your traffic comes from search, and the search engines change the rules tomorrow, you could lose everything. It only makes sense to make search a “part” of your overall internet marketing strategy, but not the only part.

“Add to this the search engine guidelines. Your need to follow them is proportional to the amount of traffic you rely on from the search engines. Getting 90% of your traffic from Google? You better live by the guidelines. Getting 20% or 30% of your traffic from Google? The guidelines become far less important and you are free to explore other marketing opportunities that the search engines don’t care for.

“So, when someone asks me what percentage of their traffic should come from search, I say, as little as possible.”


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S. Emerson

S. Emerson of Accrete Web Solutions has been a permanent student of SEO for quite a few years now (almost 8 as of this writing).  She teaches HTML to small business owners, runs 3 blogs where she writes about SEO related information for website and blog owners ( , , ) , has an HTML information site plus builds search engine friendly websites and blogs for clients.

S. Emerson asked this question:

“How long does it take to learn SEO?”

And answered it thus:

“The basics do not take long to learn if you are dedicated to learning from respected sources.  However, search engine optimization is a never ending process therefore you will have to become a permanent student of SEO if you want to be successful.”


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Taylor Pratt

Taylor Pratt is the VP of Product Marketing for Raven Internet Marketing Tools, Web-based, multi-user software for managing SEO and social media campaigns. Prior to joining Raven, Pratt was a senior search specialist at nFusion and LunaMetrics. He promotes the use of conversion-focused, analytics-based SEO for clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

Pratt contributes to Search Engine Journal covering the latest tools and techniques in social media marketing, and to Search Engine People on search engine optimization. Pratt is a frequent speaker at small business and search marketing conferences, including PubCon, SMX Advanced, SMX: East and West and PubCon South.

Taylor asked this question:

“What’s one thing you wished you knew when you first entered this field?”

And his own answer to that was:

“There is more than one way to successfully market your site in any channel. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the latest trends and follow the advice of the industry leaders to succeed. Experiment and have the confidence to figure things out on your own. It will make you a better marketer in the long run.”


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Thomas Fjordside

 Webdesigner & Internet Addict. I currently work as a webdesigner for a Danish internet company, splitting my time between managing and developing internal projects and designing websites for large and small businesses. I’ve been working with internet marketing for 3 years. It sort of came naturally to want visitors to those nice looking websites I created. You can learn more about Thomas by following him on Twitter or LinkedIn, or checking out his blog or photography website.

Thomas asked this question:

“How do you manage larger marketing programs involving a team of people? And what pitfalls do you often see in these situations?”

And his own answer to that was:

“I/We keep a timeline of our overall goals and activities and then use individual todo lists for each member of the team. We then stay very flexible on moving items up and down on these lists because circumstances change very fast.

“The biggest pitfall I see is that it’s time consuming to keep people on the right track because it is easy to get “gadget envy” because a competitor got a new social media profile etc. I find that it’s important to keep your eyes on the ball at all times. (For reference our team does not use a “leader” as we are specialists in different fields.)”


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Tim Nash

Fondly referred to by friends as the ‘stuff consultant’, Dr. Tim Nash makes even the most complex topics interesting, easy to understand and entertaining. As a speaker he discusses topics such as data mining, site visitor analysis, SEO and information retrieval. He’s also a university lecturer and technical director of Coding Futures Ltd.

Tim asked this question:

“My background is technical/non technical does it help or hinder me?”

And his own answer to that was:

“I come from a engineering and scientific background, which I believe has given me a large head start over many people in the industry. Being analytical helps in this industry as does having a healthy dose of common sense. If you are the sort of person who get’s distracted or quickly moves from one project to another you may find the industry seems to be forever changing.

“Every week someone will announce a big change, the next big thing and unless you have the sense to analyse from the far and using your own judgment you will be constant changing without understanding what these changes are doing. Being an engineer sometimes failing is more fun and useful then succeeding it’s only through making mistakes that we can learn by them don’t be afraid to screw something up.

“It doesn’t matter what your background is, experiment, analyse and test, take advice but don’t rely on it and don’t be a sheep and follow the herd.”


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William Slawski

Some of my fondest memories as a young child were family trips to the Jersey shore, where we would go crabbing and fishing for flounder and eels. The ocean was immense and unknowable, and a number of years later when I was faced with a choice of colleges, I found myself torn between a possible career in oceanography or writing. I ended up as a English major and then a law student, and both involved searching for information and for primary resources, and learning more about the unknowable.

A few years later, a couple of friends helped me learn how to build my own computer, and I reciprocated by building most of a website for one of them for a new business that he was launching.  I started promoting that website while also working at the highest level trial court in my state, and then started working with other sites.

I left the Court in 2005, to pursue a career in internet marketing, and I’ve been using my love of primary resources to explore and write about search related patent and white papers and use what I’ve learned while practicing SEO, while writing at

William asked this question:

“How deeply should someone dive into the Web to learn about Search and SEO when they’ve decided to make a living helping advise others about search and the Web?”

And his own answer to that was:

“It’s important to be able to look at search engines from the perspective of a searcher, a site owner, and a search engineer, as well as a marketer.

“That means building a number of sites and trying to do different things with them. It means participating in other kinds of sites, such as editing wikipedia entries or DMOZ submissions, adding submissions to Hacker News or Slashdot or other communities, commenting on blogs and news sites. It means participating on a forum as an administrator or moderator.  One should learn about and use social sites such as Stumbleupon and Twitter and Google Plus. Even if you don’t specialize in paid search, you should sign up for an Adwords account and try it out.

“There are a great number of help pages and tutorials from places like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, and so on. Spend time reading them, and understanding why they present they information that they do, and why they present it in the manner that they do. Try to understand the motives and assumptions behind those pages.  Try to figure out the problems or opportunities that might have led to the information that they contain.

“Perform a lot of searches every day, and look for the results that stand out for one reason or another – the very good ones, and the ones that appear out of place. Try to understand why the search engines might treat one query one way, and a different query another way.

“Subscribe to RSS feeds from a wide variety of sites if you think those sites might present some interesting ideas that might be useful to you in the future. Explore those not only for the content that they contain, but also the way that they present that content. Explore the ideas behind the ideas. Question them, and look for good questions from them.”


There you have it, folks… that’s the whole gang! That’s each of them answering just one question that they came up with themselves, and there’s some good stuff there!

Of course, if you pick up your own copy of Critical Thinking for the Discerning SEO, you can see the other 14 questions that each of them answered, too. 😉