SEO Interviews #6 – Gary Beal from StickyEyes

Distinct is still going with their pro-SEO interviews. We’ll eventually post a top-ten or whatever list of the major items of importance per our respondents, however, we still have more interviews for your SEO enjoyment.

We want to welcome back Gary Beal to Distinct Many of you have read his exceptional article on Long-Tail Applications to SEO and PPC campaigns, now see what Gary has to say about the web marketing industry as a whole.

Name: Gary R. Beal (GaryTheScubaGuy)
Your Web site:
Shameless plug about Gary: 10 Years as an SEO, Gary speaks at many conferences internationally like SES Conferences and Gaming and Casino Conferences. Gary is a Moderator on SEOChat and a Staff writer for DevShed.

1. Defining SEO should be more than ‘on-page and off-page’ components. If you had to describe the industry to someone new what would you say?

SEO is more becoming SEM or Search Engine Marketing because it encompasses many more elements than just search. In the past, optimizing sites was simply changing a few lines of code. After this became a well known technique, Search Engines started looking for other ranking factors such as back links. Today proper Search Engine Marketing encompasses various sorts of off-page marketing such as back links within a body of text from a trusted and relevant sites, blogs, forums, video, press releases and what has been come to be known as Viral Marketing, Guerrilla Marketing and Web 2.

2. Many managers, webmasters, and web owners have heard horror stories about the SEO industry. In your opinion what’s the biggest problem preventing SEO from becoming a mainstream component of business marketing?

I feel it is already there. Any company that is not utilizing SEM or recognizing the importance of optimising for search must have been asleep the last few years. I think as with anything you are going to get horror stories to some extent. Unfortunately it’s bad press that gets all the attention.

3. How can we solve/address this issue?

Getting a quality SEM company isn’t any different than hiring a company to do a commercial for you. Look at their work, call their references and get things in writing. In 10 years I have never had a client take money from their online marketing budget to put it into some other form of advertising. Once they see the value (higher conversions and lower costs to obtain them), they typically scramble to find more money to direct that way.

4. What’s more important to you? On page optimization or off-page optimization.

Off-page optimisation such as viral marketing and back linking from trusted sites are big right now, but unfortunately if you look at the registration dates in a competitive market, this plays a large part as well.

I think you control the contributing factors that you can control, which is both on and off-page optimization, and paying attention to the small details is crucial. A good example is a test I ran to weight social bookmarking in a competitive field (casino). Within 2 weeks of running the test the key words that I tested had jumped exponentially. Taking the extra time for your clients or your own website and testing things like this will give you an extra boost.

5. Name two web markets you believe are not yet saturated and have relatively higher than average ROI potential.

There are many sectors that are loaded up with good sites and good SEO, but I think there are at least 10 times more that have excellent potential. If you have a website that gets a lot of traffic, the opportunities are endless.

6. In your view, what are the top 5 must haves (if you think there are 5) for on-page optimization?

1) Unique Titles
2) Minimum 350+ words that are relevant to the page and consistent with the website and written using phrased based indexing which is Google’s spin on LSI (latent semantic indexing)
3) Anchor text that is keyword heavy and links to internal relevant pages
4) Outbound link to a trusted site (preferably a .edu or .gov)
5) Header tags (H2 – H4) that mirror your page title and keyword/keyword string

7. Same question, only this time off-page optimization.


  • 1) Links back to internal relevant pages from trusted sites using keywords in anchor text that is included within a block of content on a relevant site, which preferably also holds a high page rank.
  • 2) Valid press releases that are syndicated across established PR companies such as PR Web in the States, and Source Wire in England.
  • 3) Back links via third party social bookmarking sites such as Now Public, Digg, BlueDot, Stumble Upon, Blinklist and so on.
  • 4) Join forums relevant to what you are promoting and give genuinely beneficial results. This will get you back links relevant to your products or services. For example I am a moderator for SEO Chat and a Staff Writer for Dev Shed. This gets me multiple backlinks that are very valuable.
  • 5) Backlinks from .gov and .edu of any kind.

8. Web 2.0 is here and alive, where do you see Web 3.0 (Web Cubed) heading?

3.0 will be a mix of several elements. I think that video will soon play an even larger role in viral marketing and social sites such as YouTube and FaceBook. Streaming video of any kind will become more main stream with increased bandwidth, download speeds and accessibility increasing globally with WAPs and similar drawbacks of the past. Human nature is the path of least resistance and watching an ad, or watching a program on their ipod that has a commercial embedded will become as accepted as the commercial content on television programs.

Pod casts will become huge, penetrating the dating, real estate, vacation, education, retail and gaming, as well as many, many other markets.

TV, phone, Blackberry, palm, camera, camcorder and GPS will emerge as one handheld unit that you can watch the news on, surf the web, make a video call to your child, or even find out the location of your teen. Much like a mobile phone has become as popular to carry 24/7 as your identification, so will this unit.

So my idea of Web 3.0/Cubed is a mix of many elements working together and complementing each other, as well as providing accessibility to a wealth of media and information at your fingertips…24 hours a day…while in transit.

9. Is it true that just about any web-savvy person can do SEO?

If you are passionate and love what you do, yes.

Anyone can develop high-tech gaming software and make a “Second-Life” and retire. The question is, do you have the commitment and time, and can you obsess over something so intensely that you check rankings at 4am when you wake up. SEM is no different than leaning anything else that you don’t know, you just have to love what your doing.

10. Case scenario: a strong web programmer (short on business skills) and a strong businessperson (short on programming skills) enter the SEO industry at the same time. Who has the advantage?

In my honest opinion I think the businessperson does. I was a businessman before turning my hobby into a career as a freelancer, then as Head of Search and Training at Stickyeyes, but I have also done my share of programming.

A strong businessperson knows people and marketing, where a programmer knows coding.

Knowing marketing and dealing with people first-hand gives you a more usable skill set that can be used in everything from usability issues on a website to delivering better creatives and advertising.

I also think that as a programmer, I tended to look more at functionality issues rather than end-user experience, and these days the trend has already been favouring the latter.

That wraps up this edition, thanks again to Gary for his input, be sure to post your thoughts and visit Gary over at StickyEyes.

[tags]seo interview, gary beal, sticky eyes, stickyeyes, garythescubaguy[/tags]


  1. Digg recently hit 1 million users and Delicious hit 2 million over the last couple of months. For the time being is social bookmarking become the next “human edited directory”? Power gained through the number of individuals who bookmark the page?

    I own/operate an ice cream and coffee shop with free wireless, I get a lot of web users :) I have only talked to one person so far that even heard of social bookmarking so at least in the Memphis area there is much room for growth. Also during my unofficial poll of customers I find their intial search habits to be regional for products and services and worldwide for media/socializing/”playing” and general surfing (not setting out to make a purchase). In the end each webmaster must of course know who their demographic is they are attempting to target but I see a benefit for any product/service site to ensure they say where they are based, I think it also adds to the credibility of the site and makes them more real to the searcher (I know where you live! Well, at least I think I do…)

    On to Web 3.0 and your observations/predictions. I have maintained, even blogged about it a while back, with the advent of the image and video search the optimization of the media will be a next step. The days of “header_logo.gif” should be over for those who want to compete. My question is, much like a pdf file, do you see the engines starting to read the build data of jpegs? Do you see the same for wmv, mp3-4 and so on? Should all, from a webmasters point of view, be in flash until they do? I have a gif currently that I have on my website that is used by about 700 sites – I am hosting the image without benefit except the fact I rank well for it – the html page gets no credit, just the image itself does. Im not worried about the bandwidth but would love to see link credit, if the SEs read the file and gave credit to the copywrite url in the file that would be great…is it a dream that may come true someday?

    I enjoy reading the interviews as each one brings another prospective. Hope this post makes sense, I typed on it between customers. I am learning something new everyday!

  2. I think multimedia is to complement user experience and not search. For search it’s still the descriptions and title tags ranking the stuff.

    Social media is still in its infancy. I bet if you were to approach your users from Memphis and ask them about a social web site in their niche market they’d know. Digg is for geeks, Reddit for a different audience, bluedot for news and Canadians, etc. Make up your own for SEO and make a million bucks :D

  3. Mobile and more real time video is certainly where we’re going. Natural progression really with the increase in technology.