A summer interview with… Judith Lewis (@judithlewis): “the business of search needs a better public relations officer”

A summer interview with… Judith Lewis (@judithlewis): “the business of search needs a better public relations officer”

2nd August 2010

There are many great search-experts out there. We decided we wanted to give some extra attention to some of them. Therefore we will be interviewing some of these experts. During the entire summer you will be served with short interviews with influential people in the industry. You will be seeing interviews with the likes of Joost de Valk, Marcus Tandler, Chris Sherman, Mike Grehan and Danny Sullivan, and off course our bloggers! Be aware that some interviews will be published in the newsletter!

Today: our ‘chocolate-queen’ of SEO: Judith LewisJudith Lewis

1- Can you introduce yourself in one paragraph?

I’m Judith Lewis and I’m Head of Search for Project Metal. I’ve been working in “search” (online marketing) for over a decade, starting out in 1996. I’ve been online, however since 1986 making me exceedingly old. I still love search and have a passion for chocolate which I blog about. I speak at conferences, have a regular column and have contributed to a few books.

2- What are you doing this summer?

This summer I’m building my department up and have just returned from a tour of 3 time zones across the US delivering all sorts of training and speaking to clients. Thrilling, I know, but that’s just the kind of rock and roll lifestyle I live. Work hard, sleep all weekend 🙂 I also will be running the London Girl Geek Dinners 5th anniversary event, finishing off some overdue blogging, cleaning up my home office and possibly getting back to the gym. I know… you’re all jealous now.

3- What is the most hottest subject in search at the moment, what should every SEO be looking into

I feel the hottest subject in SEO is how the social graph is going to affect search results but the one I feel is more important is one I’ve been going on about since before SEOASS (SEO accreditation strategy session) and that is what is happening in our industry with the charlatans and fraudsters and also the pretenders all of whom are to some degree or another bringing the industry into disrepute. However for those in search looking for what they need to upskill in, I’d say the social graph and how PR and search integrate and I don’t mean just syndication of press releases and asking an online newspaper to put a link in that article about you.

4- What do you think is the “state of search” at the moment, is the industry doing good?

I suppose the state of search right now is in flux. I may have missed it but I’ve been waiting for an announcement of an accreditation by an industry body of search professionals (includes an SEO component) since February. I feel that while the activity of search is constantly changing and never the same from day to day what with over a change a day to the algo on average (including weekends), the business of search needs a better public relations officer. Search is never static but nor is law, accounting or medicine. It keeps us fresh and challenged and keeps search from becoming dull but as an industry, and unlike lawyers, accountants and doctors we have no regulatory body the unscrupulous can be expelled from. We do try and self regulate to an extend and many search professionals work hard on paid and organic search campaigns and bend over backwards to get things right for often difficult clients. The few rotten apples spoil the barrel. I also think the level of sharing of information in the UK is getting much better. While not at the level of the US, the UK is forging ahead with sharing information and lessons learned like at SMX Advanced (UK) and SES London.

5- What is your favorite website, apart from your own?

I don’t really have a favourite website as I work for too many clients! I really like the look and feel of the Green and Blacks website, of course I love the SEO-Chicks.com website and MostlyAboutChocolate.com has a great theme going on but I would say that 😀 I do like the Hema site for creativity and Clients From Hell for a giggle.

6- Can “social marketing / media” and search survive apart from each other?

I think social media marketing and search are kissing cousins – much like SEO and public relations. I’ve argued for a long time that these industries need to align more BUT before all sorts of SEOs call themselves social media gurus, I also feel many SEOs lack the proper skills to be public relations people or marketing folk. Marketing and social media both require a particular skill set and while some may feel it is a skill all have, I simply point you to Habitat UK, Eurostar, Dr Pepper and others who have gotten it tragically wrong as examples that professionals are trained and created, not born.

7- What’s your search tip for the summer?

My summer search tip would be to catch up on the great blog posts about some of the research that has been informally done and presented over the last few months. There are creeping changes that are always happening in the algorithm and with so much emphasis these days being put on just one aspect of it, to chase it like that you have to stay on top of everything. Time better spent would be reading a good book and sticking to the fundamentals though. A well-rounded, holistic online marketing approach will last years instead of months – or days at the moment. Don’t chase the algo – work within a framework that touches on all digital aspects and create a framework for engaging with or working with all departments or agencies that control those aspects. Spearheading an integrated strategy, or efficiently feeding in to one, will have better positive long term effects.

Thank you, State of Search, for this lovely soapbox. I’ll get down off it now 🙂


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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