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Interview with Aaron Wall of SEOBook

Written by George Manty  · August 1, 2007

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Search Engine Marketing guru, Aaron Wall. Aaron Wall made a name for himself very quickly in the SEO/SEM world. In 2003 he launched his first website, and in 2007 he is one of the most recognized names in the SEO industry.

In addition to SEOBook.com, Aaron owns the popular community blog ThreadWatch.org and helps run the SEM business clientsidesem.com.


Q. If someone had told you five years ago that in 2007 people would consider you an SEO expert, what would have been your reaction?

What is SEO? I wasn’t even aware of the term 5 years ago. My first site went live in January of 2003.

Q. What prompted you to start your first online business?

A wide variety of factors, which include:

  • an emptiness and disconnect from doing jobs I did not like

  • a lack of satisfaction in working for others

  • a lack of trust for employers gained through being a low level worker, later being a manager and hearing what my boss thought of other workers, and knowing that my bosses boss was about to put me in charge if I didn’t quit…basically I saw little loyalty anywhere in the few jobs I had

  • realizing that I worked harder than most people and was probably going to work myself to death if I kept up what I was doing

  • a desire to better learn and understand myself

Q. For some people, Search Engine Optimization is a pretty dry topic, but for you it seems like it’s about so much more than business. What is it about SEO that fascinates you?

I think there is the idea that you can create something and share it with others…that small changes can lead to bigger ones. Also I love the idea that individuals can compete head to head with multi billion dollar corporations.

Q. Your book was the first product I ever saw being sold through a blog, what made you decide on that approach?

In 2003 it seemed obvious to me that blogs were given a disproportionate amount of link equity for their quality of content because they made it so easy to find out when you had something new to say. That is the main reason why blog as a format made sense for me, it was an easy and cheap way to acquire authority.

Q. When you wrote your book, the Overture search term suggestion tool showed 0 searches for SEO book. Why did you think there was a need, and did you think it would sell?

I never guessed it would become as popular as it did, but I remembered hearing that all SEO Books were crap because they were years outdated. That is a large part of the reason why I created an ebook.

Q. Search algorithms have evolved a lot in the past several years. If you were starting your first website now, instead of four years ago, what would you have to do differently?

A lot of it depends on how much capital you have to work with, how much you know about your topic of choice, and what your end goals are. If I marketed a credit card site 5% as hard as I marketed SEO Book I would probably have 10 or 20 million in the bank right now. The biggest thing I try to do with sites I start right now are to try to create competitive advantages that are hard to clone. Many of my new sites are via partnerships, and I try to get my partners to become leading subject matter experts in those fields. There is some amount of fake it until you make it to the approach, but it is easy to gain traction if you care about the market you are in. Another thing I like to do is create brands and ideas that are easy to like, and try to leverage that authority to profit from sectors of the web that are of higher value.

Q. Which SEO tools do you use on a regular basis?

SEO for Firefox, my keyword tool (which links to most of the best ones worth using), and the iGoogle homepage and custom RSS feeds (for news and link searches). I also like subscribing to a few best of breed content channels that are not freely available.

Q. What is the biggest SEO mistake people make?

  • Cloning methods that were once successful, but are of little or no merit in today’s market. For example, that guy with the one page lead generation site that is ranking probably had real content on that page in the past, or was one of the first in the market and existed back when linking was more natural than it is today.

  • Following what competitors are doing rather than creating their own competitive advantages.
  • Believing in the advice of some guru too much and not spending the time needed to develop a deep understanding of the marketplace and create something unique and of value.

Q. SEO seems to be evolving into a much more cutthroat field. Can competitors use methods such as Seach Engine Bowling to ruin your Search Engine rankings?

It can happen, but I think it is much less common than some people think. I think what is much more common is people creating hate sites that rank highly for brand related keywords.

Q. How can you protect your Search Engine ranking?

Don’t rely too heavily on any individual keyword, or search marketing in general. Make it a piece of what you do, but outside of that create a strong brand and get people to evangelize your offerings.

Q. Do you prefer SEO over WEB 2.0 traffic generating techniques? Why?

I think it is a mistake to separate the two ideas. I look more at how they can play together to produce better results. At the end of the day it is all marketing, and the one thing worth tracking is results. šŸ™‚

Q. In your “about me” section (one of the largest, most detailed I’ve ever seen, by the way), you talk a lot about social change. In what way do you see your current business ventures as avenues to social change?

Honestly it is a bit hard to know how what we do affects the world around us. If nothing else I think I try to push the question authority angle quite a bit. That should hopefully help some people believe in themselves more and create more creative stuff, but on the other side of the coin many of my readers represent business interests that are likely against the best interest of most consumers. There is a thin line between optimization and fraud. I can’t tell how people use the advice I give or what they market with it.

Q. One last question. What one thing must people learn now to be successful in SEO a year from now?

The market will likely look much like it does today with few major exceptions. I am thinking that right now there is too much weight put on domain authority by Google. I think they are going to find a way to break sites into pieces so one well marketed section can’t carry a low value section as well as it does today. In addition they will look for ways to implement usage data for signals of value, authority, and trust.

Over the next two or three years Google’s ad offerings are also going to become much more automated and wipe out many large markets where market leaders add little value to the market. There are also going to be swaths of content coming online. Independent publishers that do not have RSS subscribers (or some similar equivalent) are soon going to find their content buried. See this post for more on that http://www.seobook.com/archives/002327.shtml


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Comments

2 Responses to “Interview with Aaron Wall of SEOBook”

  1. Review Of The SEO Book Training Program on May 14th, 2008 6:56 am

    [...] have been meaning to review Aaron Wall’s SEO book ever since I interviewed Aaron last year. I am finally getting around to [...]

  2. Bedding Mattress on January 20th, 2009 4:08 am

    This is a fantastic post. What a great interview. I like what he said about how to protect your SE ranking. Excellent stuff buddy, keep up the good work! šŸ™‚





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