An Interview With the Search Quality Alliance
What would you do if you worked for Google, left and started your own business? You would probably focus on that business and would try to get as much out of it as possible, even using the knowledge you had build up at Google.
So when Six former Googlers from the Search Quality announced they were joining together in something called the “Search Quality Alliance” many immediately thought this was about making money. And using their Google background to do so. It is not. They decided “to share their expertise and evangelize successful White Hat search engine optimization in the search industry”. For free, because they feel it is their duty.
We talked to the team containing of six ex-Googlers from five different countries and with a lot of European focus and asked them about their initiative.
You started a company called “The Search Quality Alliance”. That raises some expectations. Could you tell us a little bit about the initiative, who first thought of this?
We are not a company, we are a group of former members of the Google Search Quality team who wanted to share best practises, experience and knowledge among us. At the same time we wanted to extend this knowledge to the industry. The idea is to communicate to the public using our website, contributing on known industry blogs, sharing experiences in conferences, doing workshops, etc.
This initiative came up when some of us were still at Google, planning to found our own companies. We did not want to compete with former colleagues though, so we thought about cooperation. We all happen to have our own companies so this network makes it possible to cooperate on large and international SEO projects with local expertise and sufficient resources.
So you are not a company, does that mean you are not making any money out of it?
Exactly, we don’t generate any money at all!. We have been contacted by some known companies to have SEO support (mainly for SEO advising or Google panda issues) but we have to tell them that we are not a company, so we the alliance can’t work with them. On the other hand, one of our companies could help, and this one could ask for assistance to the alliance.
Will you be “hiring” non-Googlers also or will future members be all ex-Googlers?
For the moment the alliance is only open to former Search Quality team members. However the individual companies we have founded count with very talented and international people, not necessarily coming from Google.
Will you be focusing on projects, development or training? With a mission “to teach as many people as possible” training might be an angle which people will expect.
Although we want to work together in these three poles you mention (projects, development & training), our first priority is training. We believe that we can help webmasters and agencies to think how search engines think.
Why did you leave Google? Isn’t that the best place to “show as many people as possible how to execute successful search engine optimization and to be consistent with the Google Webmaster guidelines at the same time.” as you put on your website?
Google was an amazing experience, but in the search engine world, it is only one side of the coin. We stayed in average 3 years each of us in the Search Quality team, which is enough to know the search engine approach. We wanted to know the webmaster side too.
Many people will believe you will get benefits from being ex-Googlers. If it is not the knowledge you have, its the ‘marketing’ benefit, potential clients will more easily choose for you because of the fact that you are ex-Googlers, you for example stress that you are ex-Googlers many times on your website. How would you respond to these people?
Although being ex-googlers might be seen as a marketing claim, we like to see it as something all members of the alliance have in common. What it means for us is embracing Google´s philosophy, having had the opportunity to work with talented people with different areas of expertise in a multicultural environment. Our value is not coming from “the secrets” we learnt in Google, but more from the way we were taught to think like a Search Engineer.
None of you are US based. In fact most of you are European based. What will that mean for your business, will you be focusing on Europe?
It is true that we all met in Ireland, where the Google European headquarters are located. Because of our native languages (German, French, Spanish & Portuguese) our clients are mainly located in Europe, but we are naturally expanding to America (United States, Brazil, Argentina), as we are fluent in all the languages spoken in that continent. We also have clients in Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, India & Singapore).
Does every member of your team have different qualities or is there an overlap?
We all have different backgrounds and some of us have also worked in other departments at Google. We have our Analytics specialist (Sebastien Monnier from Woptimo), a user experience designer (Pedro Dias from Engeeno), a senior developer (Alfonso Verdugo from Optimanova), a marketing expert (Jonas Weber from webhelps!), a technical webmaster for high traffic websites (Ariel Lambrecht from Engeeno) and a business strategist & project manager (Michael from Improove).
Since our members all have SEO companies, we definitely overlap. We are based in different countries, but our clients are all over Europe & United States. Even if that could be seen as a competition, is more in the other way around. We see it as a good opportunity of collaboration for our clients.