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Blogging about the blogger; with Lisa Barone

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 07:40

Good day to you my fellow search geeks, I am still interviewing peeps here on the trail, as they are just damn fun to do. This time I wanted to talk to someone we all know well, but at the same time know very little about; Lisa Barone.

You see, (the)Lisa has been writing and live blogging about the industry for many years now, but she’s always covering someone else. I thought it would be fun to reverse the spotlight and give her the stage for once…


Let’s learn about Lisa

Dave; Ok, let’s get the easy stuff done and sorted; How old are you? How much do you weigh? Where do you live? Naaawww…. Just kidding. No stalker bait… How about telling me ‘your sign’ (Chinese astrology)

Lisa; I, apparently, am a dog. Which explains why I'm still single.


Dave; Ok.. does it capture you or not? I’m always curious…. It’s a fun way to get to know you better…

Lisa; Besides the 'seeing things in black and white' part, I'd say, yes, that's probably a fairly good description of me, which is a bit creepy. I'm very protective over the people that are close to me and I'll fight for things to the detriment of myself. It's probably a character flaw, actually. But if you won't fight for the people or things you believe in, what good are you to anyone?  I have a habit of sticking up for the underdog/little guy in my blogging. It's definitely something I've noticed about myself.

Apparently, dogs are credited with being good judges of character. I like to think that's true. I spend a lot of time in social settings being quiet and observing. I like to watch people and their interactions with others. I feel like I learn more that way.  I pick up on who I can trust, what kind of person someone is...and then I'll open up.  I think it probably catches people who know me only through my blogging a little off guard. They expect me to be really loud and snarky and instead I'm a bit quiet. It's not that I'm shy. I'm just trying to see if I can trust you. :)

What's my sign?

Dave; Speaking of blogging, you’ve been at that and conference hopping for a while now; what are the best parts of the experience from that perspective? How do you feel the direction you traveled has affected your evolution in the SEO industry and as a person?

Lisa; The best parts are all related to the people. I've met some of my closest friends through this space and my interactions with it. I've met people who are constantly challenging me and pushing me to learn more and be better. I've met people who teach me by example, people who motivate me and people who have forced me to be stronger through our disagreements.  Sometimes we all get caught up in the drama of it all, but the truth is, there are some incredible minds and hearts in the SEO industry and I'm incredibly lucky to get to work with some of them. Two of my favorite people in SEO happen to be my new business partners.

It's hard to think about my 'evolution in the SEO industry'. I'm just here doing my job. I don't spend a huge amount of time thinking about it.

On a personal level, I've really grown up the past few years and found a voice I didn't know I had. I guess it's empowered me a bit to be able to speak out for/against things that matter to me. In some ways, I feel a bit like my favorite child star that was forced to grow up in front of an audience. I've had a small degree of success in blogging and some very public blogging blunders.  Landing that first job at Bruce Clay, Inc. changed my life completely. It put me on a totally different path and I'll always thank Bruce for placing that initial trust in me.


Dave; You did some great work at BC - in your travels you’ve certainly been privy to many prognostications on the future of SEO; what’s your take on it? What trends do you feel are ahead for the industry?

Lisa; To me, the biggest trend is accountability.

  • We have to be accountable for what we're doing for clients: The tricks and loopholes don't work anymore. Those who dabbled in the high risk arts are having a tougher stay and need to take on clients to support themselves. As an SEO, you have to ask yourself, "what am I doing for my clients today and how will that help them in the future?" I'd never want to be in a situation where I knowingly did something today that could hurt a client tomorrow. You have to be accountable.
  • In-house SEOs need to be accountable for what they're reporting back to higher ups: Analytics are becoming more important as we fumble through this recession. Executives need to see why you did what you did and what you produced. For a lot of folks that will mean attaching tracking to social media efforts so that you can see trends and what works before committing major money to it. The increased ability to really track what you're doing makes everything more powerful.
  • Brands need to be accountable for the persona they're creating online: Companies big and small will focus more on online reputation management and cleaning up the mess either they, or others, have left behind. You're responsible for what your SERP says about you and it's up to you to keep it clean.


Dave; ...that’s an interesting angle with SEO, I’ve thought recently about writing ‘Future proofing your SEO’ – you’re a believer in not cutting too close to the lines? Using a safe margin with tactics that will hold up over time?

Lisa; I think you hit the nail on the head with investing in tactics that will hold up over time. Buying links may have seemed like a great way to manipulate a loop hole a year or two ago...but a lot of those sites are hurting badly right now. They're banned, they're penalized or they have a giant mess to clean up. That's not a wise investment.

Use your time and resources investing in the type of SEO that you're going to continue to see benefits from. That means the tried and true stuff, it means engaging in social media the right way, it means investing in the life of your site, not chasing quick results or rankings you don't naturally deserve.  I know, I'm boring, but that's always been the kind of SEO I've believed in. I've never thought that you needed to cheat in order to win. 


Dave; While we’re talking trends; what about a notable controversy or myth? Have a fav? You know the ones, ‘SEO is dead’ as are ‘Rankings’ perhaps? How about ‘bounce rates’? – or the old fav ‘Standards’ even ‘Google FUD’? – We’ve seen a few.

Is there a drama among them that just won’t go away? Any that irks you?

Lisa; I think I stopped paying attention about a year and a half ago. All the big controversy and SEO myths that occur don't mean anything. Stop reading SEO blogs to the point where they make you dumb, and actually start doing SEO and running your own experiments. I think that's the best way to stay above the nonsense and industry drama. Focus on what matters and what makes you money, not creating/defending/bashing the next "SEO is Dead" article.


Dave; Ok, but isn’t it a statement of the times that actual research gets far less play than these mythological or bold statements made in this business? And shouldn’t we defend what we believe in?

Lisa; Sex sells.  :) You should absolutely defend what you believe in. And while you're writing your 3,000 word blog post on why you're right and some A-lister is wrong, Outspoken Media will be over getting clients real results. It's about balance. Defending SEO and your craft is important, but it's not more important than actually learning about and practicing it.


Dave; Ok then, back to the nuts and bolts; do you have a favourite aspect of the SEO discipline? There are those that specialize in local SEO and others that love link building while some excel in onsite, I enjoy creating themes (concepts not just KWs) myself. I’m just curious if there is an area or aspect of SEO that fascinates you… that you enjoy reading/writing about?

Lisa; I'm really into community building. I don't think it gets far enough attention as an SEO technique. The truth is, the search engines are looking at new factors when trying to determine a site's relevancy for a set of keywords. They know that links can be manipulated, that votes can be bought, etc. But if you build a strong community on your site and increase people's willingness to engage with you, the engines are looking at that.

They're looking at factors like time spent on site, whether or not your site was bookmarked, if it has the amount of traffic it should, if people keep coming back, etc.  That's all being given more weight in terms of determining relevance and it all starts with community building. That's something I'm pretty obsessed with learning about -- empowering yourself by empowering others.


Dave; when you say ‘community building’; do you mean cultivating consumer community following? Or actually building communities on a client’s website? (And don’t even get me started on engagement metrics)

Lisa; I mean actually building communities on client's Web sites. I mean creating a place where people want to invest their time and interact. Creating a mini-home. I think it's completely sexy and addicting.  It's something I'm really looking forward to getting to do with Outspoken Media. The ability to take a cold Web site, Wizard of Oz-it to have a heart, and then watch it take off. It's powerful.

Outspoken Media

Dave; I had to ask that since you’ve mentioned your newest endeavour is a (ladies) power trio with a few industry notables; your own search marketing firm – Can you give me a quick run down on the company? The ‘vator pitch if you will?

Lisa; The Wall Street Journal outed us a bit last week, but yes, I've recently helped found Outspoken Media, Inc , with fellow industry loudmouths Rhea Drysdale and Rae Hoffman .

The exciting thing about Outspoken Media, Inc. is that you're getting a full Internet marketing campaign from three people who are experts in their fields. There's no one better to get affiliate marketing advice than Rae Hoffman. Rhea Drysdale is an expert in online reputation management, social media and SEO consulting.  And then I come in to cover the content, blogging and community building needs. I think we complement each other remarkably well to from the perfect SEO trifecta.

What's our elevator pitch? Our SEO company kicks more ass than your SEO company. :) - I think we're uniquely skilled to get clients results. I don't think there's anything this team can't do.


Dave; and what’s your title/role with the new company?

Lisa; Officially, I'm Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer. Unofficially, I'm the one who's constantly picked on by the other two.

Dave; The company pin cushion, nice. Well thanks for coming out and I wish you bad ass ladies all the best with your new gig. I guess that means you can lounge around in a nightie and knee-socks at will huh?


Lisa Barone

More about 'theLisa'; I’d like to give a huge thanks to Lisa for riding along with us today. It has been a pleasure sharing more about the person, not just the writer, with the rest of the community. And for those of you looking to get hooked up you can check out her personal Twitter account as well as the Outspoken Media account – as for the new company, drop by and check out these sirens of search for kick ass marketing advice and services!



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