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April 2, 2007

An Interview with Jason Dowdell of MarketingShift

Jason Dowdell has been a participant in Internet Marketing for many years. Today he is best known as the principal behind Marketing Shift an entertaining and informative Internet Marketing blog. I’ve known him for a few years, first encountering him just after a Kelsey Group conference, and were introduced by Greg Sterling
How long have you been working with SEO / SEM ?

Since July of 1997

What’s been your favorite technique that you can no longer use due to algorithmic changes at Google?

I’ve never had a technique deprecated due to algorithm shifts. I’ve build my career on a very simple model, helping the search engines find good content. The biggest changes have come in the area of dynamic web site development and poor development practices in that area account for more seo issues than any single algorithm shift.

What percentage of your SEO / SEM work uses tools vs. manual work?

If only it were that simple. In the beginning of a project I place heavy demands on automation (probably 80%), but most of that is in setting baseline metrics for the client and their industry. Once a baseline has been set and the major changes have been implemented automation is only used for Quality Assurance and competitive research. That’s when things get fun because you can focus more on improving the client’s business rather than just their seo. The best seo clients are the ones that focus on conversion ratios rather than dissecting seo penalties.

Has Google (or any other engine) ever made an algorithm change which made you very happy?

Every algorithm change makes me happy. Algorithm shifts are one of the best ways to measure what’s happening offline. Take for instance the last Google update in late February. The overwhelming sentiment among seo experts is that Google is favoring the little guy more in serps. That can be tied directly to the social networking movement (Think MySpace, YouTube and blogs) and the fact that Time Magazine’s person of the year for 2006 was “Bloggers”. Google and the others aren’t trying to reinvent search, they’re just trying to give people what they want and you better believe offline behavior effects those algorithm shifts.

If you could get an engineer at Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask to each answer just one question about their algorithms, what would it be?

Does it bother you that algorithm is spelled with an “i” rather than a “y”?

Why analytics are important to you?

Because I don’t have to rely on what other people tell me is important, I can see what’s important to my users and make my own decisions. I often tell my clients that I’ll never know their business as intimately as them, nor will I have as much of a vested interest in it’s success as they do and that’s why I help them fall in love with their data.

How often do you look at them?


How do you suggest your clients use them?

As gospel.

What do none of the analytics tools do that you would want them to for you? (yes, this question is self-serving)

None of the current analytics solutions are custom tailored at a particular market. I think MyBlogLog is close because they focused on what’s important to bloggers and Enquisite has made a good stab at a horizontal… But none of the stats apps out there are dedicated to a single niche or vertical. They give you all the customization options you want but you have to “customize” them to the nth degree and when you’re done customizing, you forgot why you were doing it in the first place.

What’s one tip you give all your clients about Internet Marketing – SEM / SEO / Email / links, etc…?

Bake best internet marketing practices into your applications and development processes so you can focus on making your clients happy, you’ll sleep better, guaranteed.

Thanks Jason 

Auhtor:  Richard Zwicky is the CEO of Enquisite Search Metrics, a state of the art system that offers detailed search engine traffic and search engine positioning reports, for free. He is also a founder of Metamend Search Engine Marketing.