Archive for May, 2012

Where Can I Learn the Basics of SEO?

May 10th, 2012

Samuel Johns is the Sr. Marketing Associate of Organic Search at Vistaprint. Samuel is from Australia, and has a strong Australian accent. My only regret in life to this day remains not having been born in Australia so that I could have his accent. I bet it pulls in ladies.

Samuel is a highly respected Marketing leader in Boston. The man drops SEO knowledge like Little Boy on Hisoshima. Total destruction. He's a great guy to have by your side.

I asked him recently to help craft a blog post aimed at helping young people in Boston who were interested in learning about SEO. And without further adoo... Samuel writes:

It’s the question Ryan asked me and it is the question I get from a number of people wanting to learn more about SEO: 'Where is the best place for me to get a basic understanding of SEO?' The question gets asked so often that I’d created a stock standard email of the resources to send out to people. Below I’ve taken the standard contents from the email and elaborated on each of them a little bit. Hope you find it helpful.

1. Google: The big brothers of search

  • Google Guide to SEO: A guide to follow and easy to understand for any novice. A great place to start, in combinations with the SEOMoz guide listed below.

  • Google Webmaster tools: With anything, you only learn by doing. Google Webmaster tools allows you to start getting your hands dirty and will provide great insight into how your website is performing from an SEO perspective.

  • Google Webmaster Blog: Provides education and updates related to Webmaster tools.

  • Google Inside Search Blog - Worth checking out to learn about the history of Google’s changes to the algorithm and keeping up with new features they are launching. They’ll post every so often about a number of the updates made.

  • Youtube Videos: Matt Cutts is the Search Quality Specialist at Google (SPAM Police). He often answers common questions through some really simple and quick YouTube videos. Well worth looking through and seeing which ones are relevant to you.

2. SEOMoz: The founders of SEO education and thought leaders in the space:

  • Web Version or PDF of the SEOMoz guide to SEO. It is quite possibly the best guide to SEO for any beginner. The original version of this was written 2 years before Google even published their first version. Hence why the Google version has a lot of the same elements as SEOMoz.

  • SEOMoz Learn SEO: In the right nav of the “learn SEO” page on has some of the best and basic gems related to setting yourself up for success by building the base.

3. SearchEngineLand: The one stop shop for SEO news and industry updates:

  • SEO Table of Elements: To get a quick snap shot of the elements and various functions within your company that can affect SEO. SearchEngineLand has created a periodic table of SEO elements. The table will help give you an overview of a number of SEO elements to think about.

4. Blogs to follow:

How was that? Do you now consider yourself an expert in SEO, or soon to be expert?

Feel free to ping across any questions you may have and remember to share any other helpful tools to get you find on getting started in SEO. Twitter: @samuel_johns


Top 10 Questions To Ask People in Interviews

May 6th, 2012

I'm really happy to see a number of young men and women who I have been working with over the past two years since moving to Boston starting their companies, making money, and growing their teams. It's really, really cool to see young people discover their first couple of AH-HAH moments, catapulting them into making their hobbies legit businesses. I love it. And with graduation right around the corner for many of them, they have begun focusing their attention on taking their products and building teams around them. Many of them have been asking: "What questions should I be asking people in interviews?"

Great question. And to answer that, I have put together a combination of questions that I like to ask, and questions that I think are really interesting that I picked up from a recent recruiting event put on by Scott Savitz and a number of other entrepreneurs in town. Just remember that of all serious things within a company: managing your board, building your user base, closing deals, etc, there is one that trumps all, and that is BUILDING YOUR TEAM. Interviewing is one of the first steps in the process, and it will end up affecting your life and everyone else's lives in the company more than anything else.

So, let's rifle through them with a twelve gauged shot gun, shall we? Right!

  1. Tell me about you, from as early as you'd like to go. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? (Simply to learn about the person, make them feel comfortable, and make you feel comfortable.)

  2. Why did you apply for this job? (This is really telling with regards to motivation and why the person is on your doorstep. Where they pushed to you? Or drawn to you like a magnet?)

  3. Why this company? (Ask this. I've found most people don't. I think it's important to see if the person buys into your vision here. Can they even relate the purpose of the company back to you?)

  4. What do you like about work? (Do they like the people they work with most? Do they like the actual work? Do they like the competitiveness? Do they like things structured? Loose? What else can you learn?)

  5. What do you like to do for fun? (Simply to learn about the person.)

  6. How did you do in high school? (I've never asked this, but I was recommended to try it because it might show me how people view their prior selves.)

  7. Tell me about something you are proud of. (My favorite question to ask people.)

  8. Do you like to win? (Very telling from someone's response how competitive they are.)

  9. Do you like to hit deadlines? (See how quickly they respond with the word "yes." Find out why they like hitting deadlines. Is it because you want them to, or because they do?)

  10. What is your current compensation and what are you expecting? (The easiest way to find out if you are going to be able to afford someone is to ask.)

Beyond these questions, I've learned it is always best to try to focus on competency based interview questions (also called situational or behavioral interviewing). These are questions like: "Tell me about a time when X happened and tell me about how you handled it." Instead of reinventing the wheel and listing out 20 behavioral questions you could pick from, my recommendation is to google behavioral interview and check out questions. One simple rule I always have though: never ask someone an interview question that you're not prepared to answer yourself. Good luck!