Duran Inci: If Any SEO is Mentioning "Black Hat", They are Ancient
BizzTeams are proud to upload an interview with Duran Inci, Co-Founder and COO at Optimum7, who was one of the speakers at SMX Advanced London 2012 a few days ago.
The days of "black hat" are over.
It's becoming difficult for Google to meet the growth expectations of investors. They will surely miss a key element that a couple of focused geeks in a garage will not miss.
The beautiful thing about what we do in Internet Technology is that "nothing is impossible!"
Hello, Duran! We are glad to salute you ahead of SMX Advanced London 2012 Show! Is this event of any significant importance for you and why?
This is the first conference that I get to speak at which is outside of the U.S., so yes. I have always been curious about how the Internet Marketing Industry functions outside of the US and wonder if they have the same issues and solutions we do.
Duran, your personality is very interesting to our readers. You are a very versatile person and know many areas of internet marketing and web technologies. Please tell us more about yourself: your professional experience, your achievements and points of interest.
I built my first website in 1995. It was one of those personal sites that you could put on Angelfire (very few people will remember those days) and you only had 5 MB of space. I remember seeing the site live, learning ftp, connecting links, images and how much I liked it. It was as if I created something out of thin air, something that did not exist before and I did not even have to leave my chair to do it.
I moved to the U.S to attend college in 2000 and after about a year or so, I started working on websites professionally. I worked for one of the first large drop-shipping Ecommerce stores in the US using Yahoo Stores in 2003. There were about 80,000 SKUs and a lot of the operational processes needed to be automated. That gave me a lot of experience.
The most important skill I developed was problem solving. Often, you do not have the necessary resources to overcome a problem or a bug, so you have to get really creative. I had to create processes for many the problems that I solved. I think that's where most of my experience comes from. There are 100 ways to execute a project online, from a custom programming functionality to a Full Service Internet Marketing Campaign, and we as marketers have to know all of them.
We know that you initiated and managed the development of the first Microdata WordPress SEO Plugin. What was that and what were your initial goals for creating it? Did you achieve those goals after implementing the Plugin?
We always stay on top of the developments in our industry. So when Google, Bing and Yahoo got together for the first time to introduce Schema.org, we were excited. As we attempted to implement MicroData on our site as well as for our clients, we saw that this was no easy task. Well, what better way to showcase our expertise than creating a WordPress Plugin. I would assume that over 90% of popular blogs online use WordPress. So, we decided to create a MicroData Plugin for WordPress. Our goal was simple; create a plugin that anyone can use. We got a lot of positive feedback from the plugin, so I believe we were successful in achieving our goals. There has been about 3,600 downloads so far. The only issue we ran into was the fact that there were some plugins that would clash with the Microdata Plugin, so we had to do many revisions to deal with those issues.
A clear example of your activities’ efficiency is your “work with countless custom cross-platform integrations to bring very successful businesses into the online arena and propel them into strong competitive positions with their industry’s movers and shakers”, as described on Search Marketing Expo site. Is it difficult to provide such work? What personal qualities help you most in this process?
I believe that I speak for every consultant in our industry when I say, "Nothing that we do in Internet Marketing is easy." In the early 2000s, optimizing for organic search and implementing Sponsored Search was easy compared to what we do today. It's always difficult when you try to implement a strategy for the first time. You have to do a lot of debugging, research and testing to get it right. However, once you build a successful, repeatable process, it gets easier. Our strength at Optimum7 is building comprehensive processes which are built-in to every execution plan. This could be anything from integration between a client’s internal inventory system and their WordPress or Ecommerce website to implementing a content strategy for a client who is in a regulated industry. The beautiful thing about what we do in Internet Technology is that "nothing is impossible!" Ethics is the first basic important quality and organization is the second. We must tell the client what he needs to know, not what he wants to hear. We also must execute all processes in a timely manner with transparent schedules and deadlines.
What trends of SEM development will we observe in future, according to your vision? Is Google AdWords going to remain the main source of Google’s revenues? What changes in consumer behaviour on search markets can shift the search strategies?
I believe that we will see more improvements by the search engines to target users and usability. Google Panda and Penguin updates are proof that Google is not done with optimizing for relevance and the user. Google AdWords should remain the main source of Google's revenues because it's so massive and it still works! The difference we see compared to 5-6 years ago is that the advertisers are now very aware of metrics like ROI (Return on Investment) and CPA (Cost per Acquisition). One would think that this would make it really hard on consultants like us; however I believe that it only makes us better. What better way to create a project with the right expectations built on statistics and data?
My overall objective is to be able to report to any client of ours exactly how many cents they spent to make a dollar! As long as we can do this, we will be growing our business.
Social is the largest variable here. Nobody has it figured out 100% yet. Social interactions of consumers can really change search and the way it is used today. Nobody can really tell what the masses will respond to; look at examples like Twitter and Pinterest. Now imagine if Facebook was to introduce a search function as a rival to Google. We will definitely keep being surprised by newcomers in our industry.
You are an Internet Marketing expert with over 10 years’ experience in e-business. What has changed most in the image of online marketing since the very beginning of the Third Millennium? Do we have to expect similar changes in the next 10 or 12 years?
The direct and simple answer would be EVERYTHING. We did not have social media, social bookmarking, conversion tracking was not as effective, calculating ROI and similar metrics was almost impossible, we did not have universal search, instant search and my favorite "personalized search".
We can expect a lot of changes in the next 10 years but make no mistake; none of these changes will be similar to what we have seen in the past 10 years, neither in substance nor in scale. Google is making money by differentiating search (local and personalized) and their data suggest that users are liking it.
I also strongly believe that a new player will come into the market in search in the next 5 years, a rival to Google. As successful as Google has been, they have grown way too fast, way too quick and it's becoming difficult for them to meet the growth expectations of investors. They will surely miss a key element that a couple of focused geeks in a garage will not miss.
What will search engines invent in their severe struggle with black hat optimization? How can ordinary users of search engines reach better relevance to their search queries getting rid of unnecessary spam? Why do big companies rank higher on Google Search and how can small business owners attain better search results at least for their local geographical search markets? Penguin save us?
Algorithms are scalable across different platforms and languages. That's why Google loves testing and making so many changes to its algorithm. I think that the days of "black hat" are over. Everyone knows, or should know what they should not do. If any SEO is mentioning "Black Hat" nowadays, they are ancient.
Everything is "gray hat" now. As SEOs, if we are not pushing the boundaries of optimization, we are not really SEOs anymore. But one essential element has changed, and that is the users. We are not just SEOs or Webmasters anymore, we are marketers! So, gray hat or white hat, we have to always optimize for the user, not for rankings. One great thing about Panda and Penguin is that they recognize great content! So, any website with duplicate content, poor information, unnecessary Adsense ads and placeholder domain names will not and should not make the cut. I think Google is on the right track here.
Larger companies rank higher on Google because (1) users prefer and trust these companies and (2) these companies spend a ton of money with Google. I'm not suggesting that Google is favoring them; I'm merely suggesting that they have the resources so they have better access into Google and better feedback from Google. I asked this specific question to Matt Cutts in Pubcon Vegas 2011, "When I search for any home appliance product on Google, why do I always see the big guys on page one like Amazon, Sears, Wal-Mart, Macys and Overstock?" His response was simple, "Because we can see in our data that users prefer to buy from those companies." That's a ton of data that we cannot see and we basically have to take Google's word for it. Although it makes sense from a logical standpoint, it would still be nice if Google released some of this data in the name of "transparency" which they preach so much about.
Small business owners still have an edge against the big guys. I can imagine many people just laughing at that, but it's true. Big companies move very slowly, especially in technology related changes. Smaller businesses can adapt to change faster. So, build a great blog, write great content and focus on your niche! You can do in 30 days what a large company will take 360 days. I guarantee it.
Penguin is a good step in the right direction. I know many webmasters will hate me for saying this because many of them got hurt. People are losing income because of it. I have identified a set of elements that are key items to reverse the effects of Penguin and Panda in my articles. Implement them and you will see that you can come back stronger than ever. Once you come back, the odds of your site being hit with another algorithm update will be very slim, as long as you keep at it.
As for Image Search Optimization, for now making high quality images accessible to search engines and providing some description about images is almost all that can be done for ISO. But that doesn’t always result in first rate search results. What can be invented for better ISO, in your opinion?
Honestly, we have not been paying a lot of attention to ISO due to the fact that we have not seen anything promising in analytics from a conversion or ROI standpoint. The only client/industry that we get a lot of great traffic from image search is Online Art & Print. Users might search for a specific piece of artwork on Google images and order a reprint on the site. It really depends on the industry and the stats.
You are the COO at Optimum 7. That means you must work closely with people, both your clients and your employees. What are the secrets of gaining respectability and authority among other clever and successful people? Do you have any tips and tricks for personal communication?
Know your stuff! Lead by example. Don’t ask your team to do things that you wouldn’t do. Constantly train the team, insist on reading and writing on the important issues.
Be completely transparent with clients. Provide them with the Execution Plan so that they know what to expect and when. Set proper expectations. Overdeliver whenever possible. Respond immediately to questions with authoritative and understandable responses.
Regarding personal communication … BE REAL … never be scripted or appear to be scripted. This can only be done by being in command of the technology and the client’s ability to understand the technology.
Could you outline your plans for the future? Have you got any secret dreams or ambitions you’d like to realize in the nearest 5 years? And what are you planning to do for that?
I have invested my last 5 years in Optimum7 with my partner Arthur Cooper. We believe in our company, our methodologies and processes. We have great people working with us; creative, innovative and dedicated. Professionally, I’d like to make Optimum7 a power-house for true digital marketing consultation. I’m not just talking about buying online media traffic and reselling it or doing PPC; I mean “true consultation” where we bring so much value to our clients that they cannot imagine doing business without Optimum7. That’s my goal for my company; to be consistently excellent in everything we do.
We do this by doing the “hard things;” The things that many talk about but very few actually do. Demanding excellence of myself, my partner and the entire Optimum7 team. Nothing less will really do. It’s what we are really all about.
Now we would like to ask you our traditional personal questions.
Your desk book? – An Ipad. People you hold up as an example? – Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Einstein. Mac or PC? – MAC. iPhone or Android? – IPhone. Favorite auto brand? – Audi. Favorite sports clothes brand? – Nike. Favorite social network? – Facebook. Favorite non-alcoholic beverage? – Perrier or Pellegrino. The best country to live in? – USA. Advice for dummies? – It’s not a shame not to know, it’s a shame not to learn!
You provided a very useful and interesting talk! Thank you for that! We wish that all your projects be always successful!