The Beal Deal Interview Channel

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The Beal Deal with Matt McGee (@MattMcgee)



The internet marketing blog space can get a little crowded, but fortunately–for the most part–we’re all good friends. That’s why it’s a non-issue that our next Beal Deal interviewee is the Editor-in-Chief at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land.

m2That’s mostly because Matt McGee is simply a great guy to know. In fact, part of the reason for inviting M2 (his rapper name…I kid) to take part in the Beal Deal is because I think you’ll enjoy getting to know Matt as much as I have. So, with that in mind, let’s jump straight in with Matt’s 6 questions!

1. You’re the Editor-In-Chief of both Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, you consult, you speak, you teach–where do you find the time?

I’m not finding the time these days! This is a total struggle in my life right now. I’m doing a lousy job of time management lately and I feel like it’s showing up in my work and all the other things you mentioned — plus several you didn’t. I don’t know if my co-workers or people who read the websites notice, but I certainly do.

It’s been a crazy couple months since I got promoted to the Editor-In-Chief roles on both sites, mainly because it coincided with the first instance where we ever went through a formal hiring process to add three new staffers. So that’s meant less time for me working on content, writing articles, etc., and more time doing managerial stuff like interviewing candidates, phone calls, checking references, coordinating on HR stuff and things like that. But it’s cool because we’ve found three great people and I can’t wait to get them on board and get back to doing news.

There’s also a lot going with Local U (which the crew recently formed as a standalone company), my U2 websites, family stuff, etc.

I’m not doing a great job prioritizing and getting things done these days, but you know what? I love my work. I love my family. I love the hobbies. I love the industry we’re in and the people I call friends. I could use an extra hour or two in the day, but who couldn’t? I’m blessed beyond understanding.

2. You weren’t always a search marketer though. Tell us about Matt McGee sportscaster.

My TV sports career ended in 1997 when the road to ESPN was derailed by the fact that I’m a white male.

You should ask my wife this question, or maybe a local friend named Rob — they’d have some good stuff to tell you! And they’d tell you how to make fun of my on-air style. So maybe don’t ask them anything. Please?

Sportscasting was fun. You get paid to watch and talk about sports, right? But it’s not nearly as glamorous as people think it is and the pay is terrible, especially in the smaller markets where I worked. (True story: In 1995, I started working as the Sports Director at the CBS affiliate here in Tri-Cities, doing the 6pm and 11pm TV sports, at a salary of $17,200 per year — which I negotiated up from the station’s original $16,800 offer! Pretty sure the guy making fries at McDonald’s was doing better than that!)

My TV sports career ended in 1997 when the road to ESPN was derailed by the fact that I’m a white male. I was looking to move up the ladder to bigger cities, and two stations told me that I was the best candidate, but they were required to hire a minority. So, I saw the writing on the wall. My wife and I loved this area, and still do, so I got out of TV and started doing web design — and eventually SEO — for a local company. Best thing I ever did, looking back.

The only thing I miss is the sports radio call-in show that I hosted for about a year. That was a lot of fun, and I’d absolutely love to do it again someday.

3. You keep a close eye on the industry. What’s the latest “snake oil” or fad that you think is over-hyped and won’t last past 2013?

…I have my doubts about the long-term effectiveness of many forms of guest blogging

I think “snake oil” is way too strong a word for it, and end of 2013 may be too soon, but I have my doubts about the long-term effectiveness of many forms of guest blogging.

The reasons I say that are:

a) It’s not natural for a writer to hire him/herself out and become a hired gun for 10, 20, or 50 different websites.

b) It’s not natural for Company A to give Company B space on its property, especially if they’re competitors. Like, you wouldn’t see McDonald’s selling Whoppers for a day. You wouldn’t see Jack’s Insurance letting the owner of Sally’s Insurance sit in his office one day to take phone calls and sell her services.

When I think about those two things, and also think about how Google is focusing so heavily on author verification and connecting authors to their websites and articles, I think it could become very easy for them to follow all the footprints that guest blogging leaves and say, you know, maybe this guy really isn’t doing things naturally by giving articles to 20 different sites that all link back to him … and maybe this site is starting to look like an article directory because all it does is publish guest articles from dozens (or hundreds) of different writers and link out to all of the authors’ home pages.

…whenever something starts to work, the SEO industry has a history of hammering it to death until Google has no choice but to make it stop working

Obviously, not all guest blogging is bad and shouldn’t be in Google’s crosshairs. Like almost anything else in SEO, it’s fine when the focus is on quality and it’s done on a limited basis. But whenever something starts to work, the SEO industry has a history of hammering it to death until Google has no choice but to make it stop working. This thing where there’s so much guest blogging for the sake of getting links seems like it’s headed in that direction to me.

4. Small businesses are often at a disadvantage when it comes to budget, but where can they take advantage in search and social?

With social, I think the easiest way to start is to think of it as a customer service channel

We could talk for hours about this, couldn’t we? :-)

With search, I think they can get some easy wins by focusing first on going after long-tail, very specific keywords — including local long-tail phrases. That’s where a blog can be very effective. If the blog posts focus on solving people’s problems, the small biz should end up with a lot of content that covers long-tail phrases that you often can’t easily target on the main website. My dermatologist client, for example, doesn’t only blog about the “skin care lotion” that she sells, she writes about “how to unclog clogged pores” — it solves a person’s problem, attracts a lot of traffic, and brings in revenue because the blog post includes some suggested products for solving the problem.

With social, I think the easiest way to start is to think of it as a customer service channel. It’s the modern-day telephone. Setup some alerts — like via some product called Trackur, that you may have heard of Andy! — or via some of the other alert tools, and just listen. Track your company name, your own name if appropriate, and maybe a couple keywords. And then respond when needed. It’s a more passive form of using social media, but it removes the pressure of having to constantly pump out interesting status updates or tweets or whatever. As I said a while ago on my blog, sometimes a simple reply is all it takes.

5. I know you’re a big Seahawks fan, so let’s talk about the NFL. If you were put in charge of the NFL’s marketing, what would you change?

For starters, I’d put the Seahawks on either Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football every week. Because, let’s face it, the world needs to get to know Russell Wilson better, don’t you agree? And no Thursday night games for the Seahawks, because that seems like torture to have to play so quickly after the previous game.

I actually like most of the NFL marketing that I see. The “Bad Day” TV spots they run for fantasy football, where the guys’ and gals’ teams are having awful seasons, are hysterical. I think your previous interview subject, Mat Siltala, can identify with the guys in that commercial. (Shhh, don’t tell him I said that.)

6. Loaded question: Who’s the greatest rock band of all time, and why? ;-)

U2!!!!!!!

But really, a great artist is someone who can take a beloved song and put a new spin on it, making it sound fresh even when you’ve heard it a zillion times before. So I’d have to include this artist on my list, too. Not a rock band, but it definitely rocks!

Thanks Matt! I don’t think The Edge has anything to worry about. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=743361608 Jesse Heap

    Great interview! I’ ve been a big fan of matts work for years and he has always been a champion for small biz. He has helped our bakery tremendously over the last 7 years. Thanks matt!

    • Matt McGee

      Wow, thx for the kind words, Jesse. Hope you and Anne are doing well. And thx Andy for the chance to be part of this great series of interviews. An honor and a pleasure. :-)

  • FrankReed

    Nice interview Andy and Matt. It’s a pleasure having a class act on this site. It’s OK having Andy here too. :-)

  • http://www.annehaynes.com AnneHaynes

    I’m so behind the 8 ball on my website blogging because I’m doing the consulting work and not writing. It’s tough to manage all of life’s priorities, but I know my blog is where my voice will be heard and my skills will be shown. Great interview Andy and Matt! Now go to my site and critique my work :)

  • Rajesh Magar

    Impressive one…. Was happy to read deep inside of @mattmcgee:disqus. And will sure try to follow his footprints.