The Search Agency: I’ve heard it was a colorful path. How did you find your way into online marketing?
Erik: In my younger days, I was enamored with the idea of a contemplative life. I spent time in monasteries both in the U.S. and abroad and even considered the seminary. Through my wanderings I spent time with monks, Rinpoches, saddhus, yogis, and priests, and learned that there were two distinct Ways. One was an inward journey and one an outward one. Because my tendency was toward the internal and the contemplative, I decided that balance could be achieved by pursuing the opposite, a life “in the world.” At that time, I became fascinated with the booming Internet, and realized that if I wanted to truly branch out, and in extension live my life, that the Internet could be a great asset. I spent time learning to build websites following a job as a marketing director. Through the merging of these two ideas, I found my way into the online marketing space.
The Search Agency: You recently co-presented on SEO and Brand Building with David Waterman at the AMA’s SEO A to Z webinar. Could you briefly explain why online marketers today need to incorporate brand building as part of their SEO strategy?
Erik: The web is a living vibrant space. Gone are the days of a brochure type website. Gone are the days of impersonal marketing. A website today should be in a constant state of growth and becoming, and a SEO strategy should take advantage of the incredible social venues that exist today in order to humanize and personalize consumer engagement. The vehicle for this intersection between consumer and product is your brand. It is interesting that the word we use for the pictorial representation of brand is logo. The logo is the Word or spirit, and your logo and brand should speak of the spirit of your offering. Your website should demonstrate and represent your brand, and your overall web presence should embody it.
The Search Agency: There’s been a lot of talk as of late about Google’s campaign against “artificial” links and linking networks. What do online marketers need to be aware of in terms of their linking strategies and what is an “over-optimized” link profile?
Erik: First off, this campaign of Google’s is nothing new. They’re just getting better at it. The landscape has been changing rapidly over the last couple of years and the hammer is coming down now. Google is a link-centric engine and links will always be important to its algorithm, but the days of throwing up a profile of over-optimized targeted anchor text links is over—at least if you want to be in the game for the long haul. Google’s stance is that if you provide great, engaging content, people will come and they will link to you, like you, share your content and send Google the “trust” and “quality signals” they’re looking for. It’s getting tougher for the little guys out there who don’t have the resources to sexy up a brand that sells a product that people might very well need, but aren’t necessarily going to talk about or share. When it comes to link building, just make sure that your backlink profile is natural. Find out what a natural backlink portfolio looks like, and make sure that yours looks that way too. That’s not to say that brand and link building aren’t still critical. They are, but links, and the signals those links give, have changed and you have to adapt or die.
The Search Agency: Moving away from online marketing, what do you like to do out of the office?
Erik: After living overseas and sustaining myself on locusts and honey (kidding), I’ve become rather domestic. I spend my free time cooking, playing the guitar and growing food. I’m into wine, art and still have an interest in subculture, alternative thinking and comparative religion.