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An Interview With Rob Kerry – speaker at SMX East

5 September 2011 BY

Yes, conference season! That means we can lavish ourselves with great talks on several different places. One of these places is SMX East in New York next week already! State of Search as a media partnering is helping you get warmed up by doing several interviews with speakers.

We talked to Danny Sullivan, Julie Joyce and Debra Mastaler. Today you are hearing from Rob Kerry.

Rob Kerry is the co-founder of the SEO agency Ayima and heads-up an industry leading team of SEO experts, working with a select number of large companies in a similar way to an in-house team. Outside of Ayima, Rob has been the Editor of industry news site Sphinn and the Editor at Search Engine Watch Forums.

Could you tell our readers what your talk will be about?

I’ll be moderating a panel called “Extreme Makeover: SEO Edition”, a new session format that Chris Sherman and I trialled at SMX London this year. It answers the common nagging question in the back of most conference attendee’s heads – “How do I know that the speaker knows more than I do?”. I see misinformation getting spread at conferences all the time, where the speaker relies on third party blog posts or guess work for their presentations. This session features real case studies, real businesses and real data, established specifically for the conference. We also help local charities/SMEs in the process, offering free SEO consultancy in return for using them in our case studies. Dave from Ayima for example, will be helping the New York homeless charity Nazareth Housing.

What makes SMX a conference you want to speak at?

Search Marketing Expo isn’t afraid to select speakers based on their knowledge, rather than their “celebrity”. By also delegating speaker selection to trusted industry veterans rather than a single person/company, panels are kept fresh and varied. I do however feel that it’s important to attend a variety of conferences, in different countries and with different core agendas.

Do you feel the industry is changing now Google is entering the world of social with Google+?

The industry is evolving, but it always has done – this is nothing new. Google+ is a relatively poor Social Networking execution on it’s own, but +1 buttons bring in a whole new level of social engineering to search. From an SEO standpoint, social circles and influence can be gamed just like any link metrics, but Google+ and +1 are still logical steps for Google in trying to fight a losing battle. You may think at first “I’ll buy +1′s and friends”, but Google’s profiling data is much larger than that. A whole new trust algorithm can be developed around factors such as identity verification (Google Checkout) and graphing the likelihood of a user really liking an article on Viagra based on their email topics in Gmail, AdWords clicks, and article views where the page loads AdSense/Analytics etc. The expense of maintaining genuine-looking profiles and circles will be immense, as will the number of footprints that Google could sniff out compared to independent link purchases.

What are your thoughts on Google’s social efforts?

I actually feel quite sad about the direction that the internet is heading in. Originally established to share information in a neutral space and promote freedom of speech on a level playing ground, the new web will be more about homogenising information exposure and opinion in one of a few mega-hubs. There is condemnation of China planning to run its own web, cut-off from the world, and yet the ultimate goal of companies such as Facebook and Google is to create a walled garden of information. Entire lives processed, profiled and grouped into a single “community”, your engagement photos sponsored by Confetti.com, your choice of restaurant governed by Dave from Liverpool who +1′d it, “Rob and 232 other friends liked Freedom in Libya”. It may sound like the “Tin Foil Hat Brigade”, but Google’s move into social is about controlling as much of people’s online experience as possible. Google’s original plan of just making things easier to find on the internet and making money off of a few ads no longer works as a business model for the publicly listed company. The only way to please shareholders is to make more money, which requires Google to take control of more of every user’s online experience. This is not a Google issue, Facebook are doing the same, it’s an issue with internet users becoming too complacent with selling themselves in exchange for a little more ease and enjoyment. Talking of which, feel free to tweet at me @robkerry or add me on Facebook ;)

What do you think is the search marketers future? Is there a job for him or her in 4 years time?

Search Marketing is slowly becoming more about Internet Marketing as a whole, but that doesn’t mean that jobs will be on the line. The technical knowledge, data insight and problem solving abilities of an SEO are hard to find in other internet marketing disciplines. SEOs are not just marketers with a fancy degree, they’re something much more special. Saying that, SEOs will still need to be aware and open to outside influences affecting their search rankings and exposure. Those that learn to adapt to these new influences whilst not letting go of their core search understandings, will be the people that succeed in our industry. So stop trying to convince your client/boss about SEO factors that you read about in a book 4 years ago; stop basing your decisions on second/third hand information; get testing, get data crunching and get innovating!

More posts about SMX East 2011

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Be sure to also look at our overview page of SMX East 2011

The coverage of SMX East on State of Search in part made possible by a sponsoring from Majestic SEO who have the largest Link Intelligence database in Search. To get your free trial, give a card to this blogger in person at the conference or drop us an e-mail.

AUTHORED BY:
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Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.
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