“Stop Talking – Get Back To Work” – Exclusive Interview with Mike King

“Stop Talking – Get Back To Work” – Exclusive Interview with Mike King

24th May 2012

This is a guest post (interview) by Andy Betts, a freelance consultant for many search and digital technology startups, agencies, and direct advertisers on sales and marketing, products and technology. Like this post? Let us know!

I had the pleasure of meeting Mike King last week at SMX London to talk through his thoughts on the SEO space and the future of SEO. For those who don’t know Mike, you should! Mike has a done a lot for the SEO community of the last year. Just take a look at this for an example;

However, before I share the transcript of our chat I wanted to update you issue that happened last week. Danny Sullivan, once again, produced a great overview of the topic here and I know the equally awesome Bas van den Beld is soon to share his thoughts too here on State of Search.

Personally – I do not want to draw too much light on the original author or post. I don’t like outing or baiting. What’s more I think it’s important not to make personal assumptions about people on something that may/may not have happened before they joined?

I totally agree with Danny comment below on my interviewee.

 “He’s sharp, has lots of insight, and he seemed a win for iAcquire when they hired him about two months ago”

“Stop Talking – Get Back To Work”

1. You seem to have been given a bit of a hard time over the last few days? Many people, despite all the good community spirit, seem to have been outing and posting negative after negative. Firstly, what’s your take on events (bearing in mind you have been in your new role for only a few months)? 

“Yeah, there was a lot of half-cocked hate being thrown my way. It seemed like certain people were just waiting to be able to say something about me. That’s a shame especially seeing that I’ve done a lot for the community in the last year. Not sure I really need to defend myself, but I especially thank all the awesome people that have showed their support. It’s clear that level-headed people know my work is white hat and I joined this organization to engage in white hat practices, improve processes and grow the agency. But for those that are unclear, let me be clear that I’ve never bought or sold a link ever in my life, nor do I support the practice. What I myself do and encourage are the strategies and tactics that I have championed throughout my career both in and out of the spotlight. Have I failed in the past? Hell yes, but for better or worse, that’s just not what I do.”

2. How do we solve this? Does it need to solved? 

“Simple. Everybody should just stop talking and get back to work. If it’s not of value to anyone, don’t involve me in it and don’t talk to me about it.”

3. Does this help people’s perceptions of SEO? 

“Not at all. The only winner after a situation like this is Google. I bet Matt Cutts was sitting in the Googleplex enjoying how he has manipulated us into doing his job. Here’s my thing Google is not the law. Google does not own the internet. I do “white hat” stuff because I like having lasting results, but beyond that I couldn’t care less about Google and their made up rules that only benefit them. Google can’t dictate what’s morally correct when they are stealing intellectual property and invading people’s privacy. The in fighting in the community is not useful either whether it be over black hat/white hat, seo/inbound marketing, or whatever. So leave me out of all that. I’m just going to be over here doing what it is I do to move things forward. “

SEO – Passion, Change and the Future – An interview at SMX London 


1. Great to see you again here in the UK Mike. What’s brought you here?

“Hey Andy, yeah it’s crazy seeing people I met in another place on the other side of the world. I’m back in London again here to speak at SMX on the tools panel with a bunch of smart people.”

2. What excites you the most about this industry? What makes you rage?

“The people in the SEO community are generally pretty awesome.

I love the people in this industry, they are far more generous and such than people in other industries that I’ve been a part of.  For example, the music industry is nothing like this. What I specifically enjoy is how there’s no one set path to being an SEO and therefore everyone comes with very interesting life stories. I love the camaraderie. I love making new friends; I’m having a ton of fun.

What I specifically don’t like is how so many people offer conjecture as though it were fact. I also don’t like how we get stuck in a rut of having the same arguments over and over i.e. “inbound vs. SEO,” “is SEO dead?” “are links dead?,” “black hat vs. white hat” and the like. I also don’t like how so many people will essentially reword someone else’s post and then don’t cite the source. That really enrages me, but that is probably more a leftover hip-hop thing for me – it seems like everyone else is generally ok with idea theft.”

3. We are in a period of change in the SEO industry – what do people need to do to adapt to this change

“Well that’s the beauty of it, in SEO we are always inherently in a period of change. Really, the question is what change are you focusing on? 

Right now Search and Social are rapidly converging and a lot of people want to ignore that and keep doing what they’ve been doing since 2008. Organic Search specifically is being called to grow up and sit at the adult table to do things like influence product decisions and drive digital strategies, but again a lot of people just don’t want to be responsible for that.

There’s a saying that once the rate of change outside of your organization is more than the rate of change inside your organization – the end is near.

So in light of what Google is forcing us to adapt to, what the overall digital community is forcing us to adapt to and what we as an industry are changing, the search marketers that don’t embrace change have a fast approaching expiration date.”

4. Tell me a little more about your new role and the title ‘inbound marketing’ – that’s your specialty so tell me more about why you are so passionate about this

“Well, really, me taking the title Director of Inbound Marketing is more me planting a flag as to where I stand in this argument. As a strong proponent with a voice in this industry, I like that I can help shape the perception of something new. However in actuality my role at iAcquire is Marketing Director for our brand because I control paid channels too, but as we grow I’ll be doing more client-facing work and running inbound marketing teams. 

What I specifically love about Inbound Marketing is that most clients don’t really know what it is so you have a clean slate to explain it. Once you break it down, it’s clear that you need to have a large amount of control to complete your tasks. It’s clear that I need to influence strategy across a whole ecosystem whereas the way that people understand SEO they just assume I’m playing with meta tags and redirects and content is considered optional.”

5. How would you sum up inbound marketing and SEO (maybe a rap is on the way?)

“HA! I am not the SEO rapper! Inbound Marketing is the opportunity to educate and entertain your way into conversions through content strategy across free traffic channels. SEO is a portion of inbound marketing and generally focuses on and off page optimization, but as I see it definitely includes social media and content strategy as well.  There’s a very fine line between the two, but I’d say that SEO uses other channels as tactics whereas inbound marketing using them as strategies.”

6.Have you seen any differences in US and UK marketing approaches to search and inbound marketing

“Yeah, in the UK they spell optimize with an S.”

7. The phrase ‘inbound’ gets a lot of stick – what’s your response? (the minute its mentioned people jump on it, say its commercial/hubspot/hype)

“I don’t really care. In general I think all of the arguments in our industry are a waste of time and I just want to do great work. I’m an inbound marketer and I actually do work in the real world, most of the people arguing about this haven’t actually gotten anything ranked outside of an SEO term in the last 4 years so they can’t relate to what people actually do the work go through. If you don’t want to be called an inbound marketer, don’t, stop talking and get back to work.”

8. Can you draw some parallels to your passion in music and your passion for the industry

“Sure, I’ve always strived to be really good at anything I do. I take pride in my work and push things forward. For example, I’m the first person to ever do the freestyle object guessing game blindfolded. I’m the first person (and still one of the few) to do really complicated full sentence rhyme scheme patterns for a whole song. So I guess I’m really into innovation and bringing new ideas to the table.  You can see that in the stuff I’ve shared with the SEO community, like Keyword-Level Demographics and my Social Link Building approaches. In general I think I’m pretty good at seeing what is there and what isn’t and then creating it.”

9. What are you plans for 2012 with iAcquire?

“I have a lot of exciting things in the works actually. I’m personally most excited about expanding our offering and building new products. So you might already know about our product LinkDiagnosis. I’m making suggestions to our tech team who will be rebuilding that from scratch.

We recently brought my friend Josh Giardino (who you might remember wrote the “Googlebot is Chrome” article) aboard as Manager of R&D and I’m working on some awesome projects with him one of which is a Broken Link Index. I’m rolling out a ton of content, blog posts, studies, white papers, comic strips, cartoons, videos, the whole 9. I’m even toying with the idea of putting together a small conference or at least a big meetup.

The expansion of our offering is pretty exciting too because as of now we have mastered off page seo, but we’re doing more strategic stuff for clients and growing into a holistic SEO agency like what I described in the New SEO Process. So ultimately, I’ll be helping the link building team get better at what they do and leading the on page SEO and digital brand strategy teams. It’s my goal to build the absolute best team in the game.”

10. Having read some of your great articles recently. How do you do it! Any tips for upcoming bloggers and content writers out there?

“Thanks for saying that; I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them. 

Really, I don’t have any tricks. I don’t have any ghostwriters. I don’t even have the time to do as much as I do and I’m definitely not as prolific as someone like John Doherty, Rand Fishkin or Danny Sullivan. 

I also only try to write when I have something of value to truly add to the conversation and I try to do it exhaustively. So many people are saying the same thing over and over so find something that you are truly passionate about and you can bring something new to.

That said – the best way to do it is to do it.”

11. What’s your sign off message for the UK?

Why shoot the breeze about it, when you can be about it? 

Enough said?

About the interviewer

Andy Betts has worked in search marketing from its conception in the UK. In the past 12 years Andy has worked for, and with, many of the world’s largest agencies and brands helping formulate marketing, business, and search strategies for companies such as Apple, HP, HSBC, United Airlines, Lexis Nexis, and Saxo Bank. Andy has also spent considerable time consulting in Europe, APAC, and in the USA working with Google, Performics, Publicis and Dentsu. Andy also consultants for many search and digital technology startups, agencies, and direct advertisers on sales and marketing, products and technology.


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