Posted May 18, 2013 8:00 am by with 12 comments

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Good Saturday morning to you!

As summer approaches, we all tend to get a little more of an itch to go outside at the weekend, travel to the beach, or simply enjoy the lazy days of summer. With that in mind, The Beal Deal will be taking a summer break and will return in the Fall.

Dana LookadooWe finish this batch of interviews with one of the most loved people in the internet marketing industry: Dana Lookadoo.

I have yet to meet a single person that doesn’t both love and respect Dana. She’s one of those people that shines with marketing smarts as well as warmth and compassion. If you’ve never met her, be sure to track her down at the next conference you attend, and you’ll see what I mean.

OK, enough with the gushing. Let’s get to the interview so you can see for yourself!

Q1. Your career includes working for yourself and working at agencies. Why the current switch back to being a consultant?

I thrive off working closely with clients and getting to know them and their needs.

I’ve predominantly been self-employeed or have run my own agency since 1999. It just works. I started an Amway business when I was 17, so I guess it’s in my DNA.

Relationships are central to my approach. Consulting and working with a small team provides more freedom to choose which clients are served with a personal, customized approach. If a call extends an extra 30 minutes or an hour to listen and discuss what’s going on in their life, there’s more freedom to do so. Admittedly, it’s a tradeoff. You can do more as part of a bigger agency, but then you also have more pressure to meet budgetary quotas. I thrive off working closely with clients and getting to know them and their needs.

Q2. You’re currently focused on “Audience Engagement.” How do you define that?

Audience engagement results in better relationships, loyal customers, and hopefully some positive reviews and links

The Yo! Yo! SEO tagline summarizes that question – “It’s Word-of-Mouth SEO!” Companies need to learn and understand how their audience speaks and searches so they can optimize their online conversation – by the content they write on their websites and the interactions they have in social media. Initially, many clients who ask for SEO often think they need rankings. What they really need is traffic and conversions and loyal customers. They need to engage their audience with:

  • Better title tags and meta descriptions to increase the CTR from the SERPs;
  • Valuable content that answers their target audience questions and meets their needs;
  • Sincere conversations on and off their website.

Audience engagement results in better relationships, loyal customers, and hopefully some positive reviews and links. Heck, a little engagement and showing that one cares can turn an angry customer into into a brand advocate!

Q3. Which area of internet marketing are you hoping to explore further in 2013 and why?

…what you do with the visitor once they land on your page is KEY!

If your question would have been phrased to ask me what areas I want to be a Ninja in, I’d say I want black belts in landing page optimization and Google Analytics! Conversion optimization and analytics are two areas in which I want to improve and hone my skills.

One of the challenges I see with “pure” SEO is that it’s just about getting traffic. However, what you do with the visitor once they land on your page is KEY! Plus, the SEO lines are blurred. Internet marketing is really about taking a holistic approach.

Mining through and understanding the data can help one know the “best” way to design or write a page based upon what one’s audience needs.

Q4. You attend just about every conference out there. What has been your best conference moment?

Oh, gosh… There have been so many since my first Search Engine Strategies San Jose in 2005. At SES SJ 2006, I won a copy of “Call to Action” personally autographed by Bryan Eisenberg for asking the most intriguing question after a session. As a fairly noob conference attendee, I was thrilled!

My proudest search conference “attendance” was being chosen as one of 4 members of the SEOmoz community to speak at MozCon 2012 to present my Structured Social Sharing Formula.

I ran up and shouted into the microphone, “Gooooood morning, IM Spring Break!”

My most memorable conference moment is from IM Spring Break in 2009. At the very beginning of the conference, Chris Winfield asked how everyone was doing. Most people were tired from traveling or partying the night before, and I shouted out loudly. He commented on my energy and asked me to come on up to the podium to say something. (I didn’t think twice about what I was going to say.) I ran up and shouted into the microphone, “Gooooood morning, IM Spring Break!” the way Robin Williams did in the movie starring him as a DJ in Vietnam. That woke us all up!

Q5. You love cycling, and we all know that Lance Armstrong used black hat tactics to win. Where do you draw the line when a client asks you to compromise your integrity as a marketer?

Lance Armstrong and black hat – a parallel I’ve thought of many times, for sure! I can see why the UCI (international cycling authority) didn’t accept his “reinclusion” request even after he disavowed his “links!” 🙂

Integrity is key, for sure!

Our contract states that a client must own copyright of their content and images. I’ve had to deal with requests to “modify” someone else’s copy and simply refused. The client proceeded on their own, and guess what? Copyscape revealed all!

The other area in which I feel challenged is link building and tactics related to automation and “grey” hat. We simply tell clients “No!”

I let such situations bite the client themselves and stay away from any active involvement. For example, we performed an audit for a large e-commerce site and immediately noticed a link scheme. When I met with the team and CEO in person, they asked me not to tell them to take it down, because it was resulting in >$30K per month revenue. I simply advised them on best practices and warned them that it would probably catch up with them. That was in August 2011. You can guess what happened when Penguin rolled out last year!

Q6. You are always smiling. What’s your secret to staying happy and positive in life and work?

That’s one of the BIGGEST compliments I could receive! Attitude is key, and to have you say that, Andy, puts me over the moon! OK, this gets a little personal, but since you asked…

My Mom said I was a happy baby and that I was a lot like my Dad. Here’s a picture of me taken with my Dad and Mom:


It was as if God was showing me that he was having a great time and that I had nothing to fear or worry about.

My father died just 2 months before I turned 5, and it obviously rocked my world. While he was in the hospital with his kidneys failing, he was still happy and positive – joking (probably flirting) with the nurses. His making the best of that situation is a perspective I think about, often. Also, for a couple years after that, I had recurring dreams of him walking down the street toward me. He was dressed in a long robe, like the Israelites would wear in Jesus’ time, and there were kids on each side of him jumping up and down. They were all smiling. It was as if God was showing me that he was having a great time and that I had nothing to fear or worry about. I’ve held onto those dreams and faith that I’ll see him again.

They say women often marry their fathers. Well, 8 years ago I married a man who wears rose-colored glasses. He sees the positive in every situation. It’s like I’m inoculated with happiness and gratitude!

Told you the answer would get personal! 😉

Andy, I’m absolutely giddy to have had this honor to be part of The Beal Deal interview series. You really do a great job of getting inside one’s head, which makes this even more fun. Thank you!

I do want to revisit your earlier question about conferences to tell you that I remember meeting you at SES San Jose and being awe-struck and impressed. Your speaking and sharing at conferences has influenced and shaped my perspective and contributed to my success in online marketing. Really! Thanks for being so “radically transparent!”

Aww shucks. My face just turned as red as our title font! Thanks Dana!

  • Thank you, Andy, for the “gushing!” Gosh, I hardly know what to say. People say my Dad never knew a stranger, so I guess I’m following his footsteps. REALLY appreciate it and the opportunity to be part of this fantastic series!

  • This was especially interesting for me: two of my favorite marketing people on one page. It’s true Andy: I’ve never met anyone who dislikes Dana either and it’s obvious why. Thanks for this!

  • Thank you, Aaron & Patricia! Your support means sooooo much! One of the best aspects of our industry is having friends like you!

  • seowording

    what is beal deal ?

  • Rhaeme

    This is so great! _

  • Mike cetta

    Thank u great!!!!

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  • Doc Sheldon

    I’m jealous, Andy. Dana’s long been one of my favorite people to see pop into a chat or on Twitter. One of these days, maybe I’ll get a chance to experience her smile in person. Great interview!

  • yara mostafa

    مركز كالتكس لاباده ومكافحه الحشرات والنمل والصراصيرو البق والفئران بدون مواد سامه ودون مغادره

    مكافحة الحشرات

  • I have to agree with everyone here Dana is an inspiration to us all in the world of all things Search.

    Thanks for bringing this to us.