Today I’m proud to introduce to the Gt Community one of the funniest SEO I know in Google+. He is a truly open search engine marketer and he fits well in my “Curiosity, determination, research and particular attention to detail” characteristics that a SEO should have. The interview is not about the usual things you always read in seo interviews because I think that with a person like Dan we can learn a lot looking the world from a broader perspective.
But stop boring you with my theoretical definitions. Enjoy the interview and the great tips that Dan shared with me.
Hi Dan can you introduce yourself to the +Forum GT?
I see that you moved completely to Google+ leaving other social. Why you make that choice?
I decided to invest all my time and energy in Google+ from its very launch. Primary reason for me moving to Google+ used to be strategic and I knew what this platform meant to Google’s top management. Secondary reason is that I truly enjoy the format and the selective sharing logic behind Google+.
Some say that Google+ ripped off Twitter and Facebook. Fine, the combination works for me.
Twitter’s main strength is also its greatest weakness, the character limit based on a temporary trend in mobile phones – SMS. The introduction of smartphones meant we can do a lot more than a few characters and we use our phones for so much more than sending messages. Twitter is frozen in time unfortunately and I refuse to participate in anything more than a simple ‘ping’ with people or to broadcast content.
Remember what SMS did to natural language? Our teenagers use ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ in their school assignments. It’s fascinating and pathetic at the same time considering what advanced computing power we’re using to create those messages.
Facebook does have a more sophisticated platform and allows discussion but selective sharing is not done as elegantly as on Google+ and their UX has many flaws. Facebook also feels like a firewalled network, a great place for family and friends to share more private information.
Google+ is more about integrating various facets of your life into one platform and it does encourage public idea exchange, not just pictures of cats. It’s a place where you connect and learn.
You interact a lot on Google+ and you are one of the nicest people in that ecosystem. What do you think about Italian SEOs?
Thank you, I try to focus on the best things around me and stay positive as much as possible. It’s so much better for both my business and personal wellbeing than when I assume a pessimistic outlook towards the world.
Recently, I’ve met a few really talented SEOs and they’re all from Italy. One common trait: technical excellence and depth of understanding of search. People like that really elevated my opinion of Italy as a hub of SEO talent.
You are one of the “always present” Google Webmaster Hangout participants. How come you never miss one and what have you learned?
I used to participate in every single Webmaster Central Hangout, but after a few months I’ve become very familiar with the format and what type of information I can expect to hear from Googlers.
More I participate less I learn in each new session.
Every now and then, however, I get an “A-ha!” moment and I manage to infer a golden nugget of information from the context of questions and answers. These days I watch the recordings instead to allow others to join in and ask questions.
You started organizing really interesting Hangouts. Can you give us a list of your next hangouts?
Yes, we do hangouts every Thursday 7pm, Brisbane time. This time fits nicely with Europe and we get a lot of participants from there, sometimes even from Italy. The hangout format we developed includes the following:
- SEO Challenge (Asking participants difficult SEO questions)
- Live Website Audit (Live SEO analysis of audience websites)
- Industry Issue (Discussing issues and problems with the industry)
- Skills, Tips & Tricks (Knowledge Sharing)
Tell us something about your Dejan SEO home page with the walking guy. How the concept born and when? And what were the immediate effects from the launch?
I asked myself a question “Why do people come to our site?” I thought about it and I said to myself “To get a quote and get out.” And this is what we did. It was a brave move considering all our content was pushed down below the fold, but it worked really well for our users and our conversions skyrocketed. Contrary to belief of many we did not get hit by the “page layout algorithm”.
Soon after that, news got out about us and at least 20 SEO companies copied our concept. I should have patented it, damn it!
You have lots of intelligent SEO tools. How many people are involved in the development of those tools at Dejan SEO?
Tools are often created to solve internal problems and challenges and anyone from our team could inadvertently initiate a new tool. The rule in my company is that “if something will take more than an hour of work and you do it more than once it should be turned into a script”.
Typically tools are drafted by me, this is how it happens. I walk into my programmers’ office and say:
“Hey Mark, can we have a script for…”
People already know I do this a lot and it’s also a bit of a joke in the office. Idea is then challenged, brainstormed and in the process we often write of glass walls, whiteboards, paper, take notes on the computer…etc. Development and deployment is very rapid and we don’t fuss over details for as long as the tool does the job.
In addition to my senior programmer in Australia I also have two other programmers in Europe, Croatia who each have their own set of skills.
You can say our code development team is 4 people.
DejanSEO is a really big SEO company with 42 members (maybe one of the biggest I know). How do you deal with the organization so big?
I have an excellent COO (Chief Operations Manager) to start with. Without him things would fall apart. Secondly we do regular training sessions and try to establish small sub-teams to maintain quality control. Our secret weapon is our internal link management framework. We have an entire database of all links we ever made. We also log and record any people we have communicated with in the past and how we got a link. You’re also in that database!
Which is the medium salary for a Junior SEO and for a Senior SEO in Australia?
Anywhere from $40,000 – $60,000 and $60,000 – $120,000. You can check it here.
Do you think a big SEO firm should also be a web development firm or not? Why?
No. I find that agencies which do too many things lose focus and expertise and become good at nothing.
What are the most common problems you meet with customers?
Preconceived ideas about SEO and expectations are the greatest challenge. Everyone wants to benchmark deliverables against spammers (link quantities, surge in rankings…etc.). We try to solve this with education of our clients.
As a big SEO firm do you also offer SEO training or not? If yes why and if not why ?
We do training on request and typically for bigger clients with various departments. This is helpful as knowledge of SEO enables us to collaborate with more teams within the company.
Now let’s talk about SEO. Personally I don’t care to much to filters and quality algo update (cause I think that if you know SEO you can never be hit), but as a reputable SEO firm how Panda and Penguin affected your business? Do you see an increase in request of advice?
Panda and Penguin are mostly great as they force everyone to re-think what they’re doing and stop spamming the web. Once enough webmasters stop cheating we’ll have more enjoyable jobs in the SEO industry.
Luckily not many of our clients have been affected, we’ve been pretty paranoid about what Google might come up with to combat spam – and now we’re glad we put measures in place to prevent any major dramas.
The problem can occur when a client hires more than one SEO company, even at the same time. That can undo any good work we’ve been doing and us not even aware of the problem until we detect it through links for example.
In the last 6 months we’ve seen a surge of people running from their old SEO companies and seeking help. Sometimes it’s so difficult to repair the damage, especially in severe spam cases.
Which is the most intriguing part of SEO?
To me the greatest puzzle is that Google still rewards spam and we all know they have very sophisticated algorithms and tools to combat it. It’s a real mystery to me.
Which is the SEO area that you prefer (Research, e-Commerce, editorial etc etc) and why?
I like practical SEO, from doing SEO you can learn more about it than reading research papers and strategizing. This includes any type of website whether it is a business site, blog or an e-Commerce store. Link building and content development are also fun when done properly.
Some advice on the toolkit every SEO firm should have (not only SEO specific one but collateral too).
Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics of course! We use Raven, Majestic, SEOMoz as mainstream 3rd party tools and many others on per-need basis. And of course there is our own framework and suite of tools. Everyone at Dejan SEO is welcome to use any tools they think will do the job.
Tell us something about Australia and make us dream.
Imagine a long, never-ending beach with nice sand and big waves. That’s the East Coast of Australia. There are many places where the beach is just yours, and nobody else on it – just you.
A curiosity. Dan Petrovic is not an Australian or American name. Where are you from? I guess Serbia or Montenegro…am I right?
I am a Serbian guy born in Croatia but I only have Australian citizenship. It’s a long story which I will tell you one day over a cup of aromatic ristretto.