5 SEO’s Walk Into a Bar….

To start off let me introduce you to these “5 SEOs.”  We have…


Phil Buckley who started out in web development and moved to online marketing.  His portfolio of work varies from multi-million dollar e-commerce websites, SaaS software companies, advertising agencies and other SEO agencies.

Currently he is the Director of Technical Search at Adapt Partners.


Patrick Stox who is an SEO Specialist for IBM.  He is also an organizer for the Raleigh SEO Meetup, an author for leading industry blogs such asSearch Engine Land, Marketing Land, & Search Engine Journal, as well as a speaker for the SEO conference.


Jenny Halasz is President and Founder of JLH Marketing, a marketing consulting firm focused on implementing technical website improvements and content marketing through SEO.

She writes a column (All Things SEO) for Search Engine Land, and is a contributing author for “SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.”

She is a search marketing instructor for ASPE, and has spoken at several conferences including SMX, SES, Pubcon, Conversion Conference, Internet Summit, State of Search and other conferences.


Russ Jones is Principal Search Scientist at Moz where he researches budding topics in search marketing.

Prior to working at Moz, Russ was CTO of Angular and Virante Marketing for the previous 10 years.


Last but not least, we have Marty Martin who is a search marketing professional.

He has worked for clients and employers that vary from traditional print publishing, retail e-commerce, to Fortune 100 & 500 businesses. He has also consulted with governments and higher education, including non-profits and religious institutions.
So what does a political science grad, criminal justice grad, marketing grad and web developers have in common?

They got you when it comes to SEO.

This past Thursday I had the chance to sit down and chat with some of the brightest minds in the business.  What makes it even better is that they will be speaking at the next TMC event this Tuesday, and that’s exactly why you should go.

Not only was it a pretty tasty lunch at Bar Louie, it was an extremely entertaining one.  I learned a lot of things.

To name just a few, Marty Martin owns some chickens, Phil Buckley use to sell….toys, and Patrick Stox was destined to the SEO gods as a young child.  Not only that but Jenny Halasz has been “shunned” from the “googlers,” and one time Russ Jones sent a lot of emails to a lot of the wrong people.

Aside from those minor reveals, I learned a TON about SEO, and if anybody knows a lot about SEO, it’s these five people.

So what happens when 5 SEO Experts walk into a bar?

After lots of laughing, munching, and sharing, this is what I got…



You don’t need a degree to be good at SEO, what you do need is passion and the will to learn

As you may have already figured out, a chunk of this crew saw no SEO/marketing related world in their future.  In fact, Marty was in law, and Russ was something like a politician?

Which brings me to a very great point, you don’t need to major in SEO or computer programming to be good at it.

First of all you can’t just yet, but second of all, the knowledge is easily attainable, you just have to want it, and you have to always want it.

According to Marty, “If you don’t like to continue to educate yourself, than you are not going to like SEO, it’s just as simple as that.”

The SEO business is constantly changing so you must constantly be updating yourself on what is new in order to stay “number one.”

The good thing is, as Jenny likes to put it, is that, “it’s always new, but the fundamentals stay the same.”




The most important thing people should know about SEO is that there is a spectrum

“SEO is like a race, even if you start out at the same time, if you fall down, it’s going to take time to get back in the game.” – Bryson Meunier, quoted by Jenny Halasz.

There is no definite right or wrong answer to SEO.  It depends on the company.  It depends on where they are already at, what they are willing to do, pay, and where they want to go.

No SEO story is ever the same.  With that said since it’s ever changing and ongoing, there is no set formula to get from one place to another.

Instead it floats on a spectrum.  It could take a few months to get higher up on the google rankings or it could take half a year.  You don’t always know, and it’s important that you’re patient.

“SEO has gotten exponentially more complicated as the years have gone by.  It’s like turning a tank on the ocean, eventually it will turn around, but it’s not going to happen overnight, it just gets more and more complicated.” – Marty Martin

The most important thing to note here is that SEO is constantly fluctuating, the strategies for getting the highest ranking vary, and the amount of time it takes to see positive results ultimately depends.

“I mean if Oprah told everyone today on her show to go check out this website, she doesn’t need an SEO spectrum, but for normal human beings, yeah, it takes some time.” – Phil Buckley

0146695-300x160The difference between the Black Hats and the White Hats and why they’re both good

“Huge respect for Black Hats, they do a lot of important things – testing to understand things, push search engines to be better…if it weren’t for the Black Hats, the search engine would suck.  In a way they push us all to be better, yet it still can get pretty frustrating.” – Jenny Halasz

What Jenny means here, basically, is that there can’t be any White Hats without Black Hats.

However, some of the things “Black Hats,” get away with are not great.  It’s like doing things the “right,” and “wrong,” way – sometimes both will get you there with the same results.  Though just because you get there, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook with doing the “wrong,” thing.

The Black Hat way may be necessary for the White Hats to exist sometimes but it’s dirtier and pretty unfair.  There’s like a constant battle going on between the two too.  It’s the difference between creating dirty links, and doing things organically.  One might get you there quicker, but in the long run, it’s going to hurt your reputation.  Organically may be a longer, or more frustrating road, but it makes your company look trustworthy.  Plus, it will pay off in the long run.

machines-236x300-236x300Machines are taking over…but this we already know

Robots are the future of SEO.  They are pretty much the future of everything right now, let’s be honest.

Since it is predicted that machines will be taking over SEO pretty soon, we’re curious to see how that will affect things.

“Google wants to basically take humans out with a machine that can learn, (a good or bad machine), that will learn over and over again.  It will eventually get to a point where it is faster and better and makes better decisions than humans but the algorithms are still being written by humans.  The machine will just tweak it enough and get to a point where no one will know the algorithm by themselves.” -Phil Buckley

So the question here is, how will this affect the SEO industry?

According to Phil Buckley, people could lose some jobs, but there will also be jobs gained.  Machines may become smarter and faster, but human beings will always be fighting the algorithm.  Therefore, it may speed things up, or make it harder to “break the code,” but it won’t take away the effect SEO has on companies.

“If you’d like to learn more about the Future of SEO, type that into google, and my blog is number 1,” Patrick said.

You know you’re a true SEO expert when you’re blog is number 1 on Google, just saying.



The immediate go to’s to starting out a fresh SEO campaign for a brand new company

After learning that pretty much every SEO client is different, I was wondering what the basics still were.  For example, if a company was brand new and hadn’t done anything to affect their web presence, where would they start?

According to Phil, in those cases, the most important things to start with are the ones you can do on your own.  Which include creating good titles, and good meta descriptions.

Those two things are so important because they are what inspire people to click on your page.  You must make the meta description interesting enough to make viewers want to click more.

After that, “while you’re watching the latest Bachelor episode, you can start filling out all the ridiculous freebies that are available on local pages,” says Phil Buckley.  Why not though?  Who doesn’t trust the local pages anyways?  If you’re not on there, your chances of being noticed or trusted are a lot less.

Once that’s all over with, the more complicated stuff comes into play.  That’s when you start paying the big bucks too.  And if you’re not Oprah who can do it herself, paying the experts to do it should definitely be considered.  Unless magically, the work you have done on your own has gotten you to a top spot on the search engine.  In that case, job well done.


biopic_0Marty is the real chicken whisperer…

Marty: I have chickens…

Phil: But he does not bring the extra eggs to work

Marty: Yeah we adopted the chickens from the person who was moving out of our new place.  My son quickly named every one of them.

Phil: Do you watch the chicken whisperer?

Marty: I am the chicken whisperer, they follow me everywhere.

Russ: Can you imagine…Marty talking to the chickens, rubbing their little heads…”just let it happen.”

Jenny: And your son named them all?

Marty: Oh yes, we have Plucky, Feather Wing, Nuts, Elevator, Stellavator, Beatrice, and when we get a rooster I am naming it Little Jerry Seinfeld.

What does this have to do with SEO you may ask?  Absolutely nothing, but a point you can take from this is that you should find something you enjoy on the side that keeps you well rounded and always learning something new.

And if you eat a lot of eggs, maybe consider buying a chicken?



The SEO hangouts are the best hangouts

Regardless of where this crew is at, they know how to have a good time.  Apparently there is an SEO conference circuit rolling around in the Raleigh area.  If you are trying to get in with the cool SEO crowd, I suggest checking it out.

Several of these guys will be attending the SMX Advanced Link held this week.  We actually changed the date for TMC because it was something that must not be missed in the SEO world.

Since i’m kind of new to Raleigh, i’m always curious where the cool hang out spots are, so I had to ask, “What are some good places to hang out at after work, for a beer or coffee?”

Phil: Wherever anyone else pays

Marty: Um, my house

Phil: Really a lot of people go to SEO meetings and stuff, there’s like a conference circuit we all try to join in on.

Phil: Sharkys? (Where the SEO meetup is held)

Jenny: Raleigh Brewing is pretty cool, I can take my kids there.

Chris Douglas: You ought to try Compass Rose, it’s twice the space.

(You can also try it for free every third Tuesday of the month, including next week. ?


do-what-you-love-240x300These five people truly love what they do and wouldn’t change it for a thing.

When asked if they had the chance to do whatever they wanted to do for a career, would they still choose SEO?

I was quite surprised at their answers…they all said yes.

Russ: Yeah definitely.  I mean even now most professions require something even beyond a college degree but SEO doesn’t.  Not much stands in the way of being successful at this job.  The only con to that is it’s not easy to differentiate yourself all of the time.

Jenny: Yes, but SEO is always changing.  It’s always new, and the cool thing is, is that the fundamentals stay the same.

Marty: I love that it’s always a challenge.  You know you’re in the right place too if you constantly enjoy learning.  If you don’t like to continue to educate yourself, than you are not going to like SEO, it’s just as simple as that.

Phil: Even working at an Ad agency, most of the time you’re going to be saying the same thing to your clients who may have different problems.  However, with SEO it varies with every new client.  You get a completely fresh look at each project, and it’s more fun that way.

Jenny: I’d do it for free, if money didn’t matter.  That’s how much I love it.


And there ya have it folks,

This bunch is the real deal.  They know what they are talking about, and they truly love what they do.  Not to mention, they make it fun.

I can assure you that Tuesday’s event will have you eager to learn more about SEO, sharing some laughs with some very interesting and super intelligent people, all the while holding a tasty beverage of your choice, for free. Can’t beat that.

Hope to see you there!

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