Eternal SEO Staples, Brewskis, & Kitty Cats: What Makes Todd Friesen Tick

Posted in Interviews, SMX West

“Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things.” Says so right in his Twitter bio. That should be all you need to know about Todd Friesen, right? Well, let’s dig a bit deeper. Who is Todd Friesen? He’s an SEO strategist, consultant, and straight up pioneer, kicking it in cyberspace for well over a decade. He’s a familiar face at mainstream online marketing conferences and known in the far reaches of the Interwebz by one truly enigmatic alias, Oilman. He likes cats and beer, but it is yet to be seen in which order.

Todd’s worked with some A-list brands, most formerly as Director of SEO at Performics. He’s also been on the rosters at Webmasterworld.com and Search Engine Watch Forums as former administrator and moderator, respectively. If you’re heading to SMX West in a couple weeks, you’ll find him there, set to take the stage for Ask The SEOs – Open Q&A Forum on Day 3. Prior to the conference, aimClear had the fun opportunity to share a virtual fireside chat with Oilman himself. Read on for full roundup of our titillating Q&A.

| aimClear: Mr. Friesen, enlighten the readers at home – tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you ended up in the online marketing industry.

Todd Friesen: Many moons ago in the late 90s I decided I wanted to learn how to build websites, just for fun, so I asked a friend of mine to teach me. As we were going through all that he came across a piece of software and emailed me a link to it with the note: You might find this interesting. I did indeed find it VERY interesting. That software was the first version of Webpostion Gold. It had never occurred to me that search engines could be manipulated. About 30 seconds later I knew this was something I needed to learn more about and that was the beginning of an obsession. A legacy of blueline.jpg pages and phentermine and viagra sites followed, along with a smattering of other affiliate projects. Ultimately, I saw the error of my ways and became a, pure as the driven snow, whitehat corporate search strategist and have worked at several agencies since that time.

| aC:
Enlightening indeed. In 2008, you were coming with tips like claiming abandoned Blogger accounts for decent authority link building, no muss, no fuss! What’s your radically hot tips or link building hacks for 2012? Are there any?

TF: There was a day when there were lots of tips and hacks that professional SEOs would share freely from the stage and in articles. Those days are long past at this point. The hot tips and tricks get shared on IM between trusted colleagues and long time friends in the business. Don’t take that to mean there are all these secrets flying around in dark smokey corners of the Internet. There aren’t. Google has become very good at detecting most of the sneaky link building tricks that used to work in the past. Somewhere along the way SEO became real work :) . I honestly spend more time as a project manager helping clients do the things I tell them rather than spinning my wheels trying trick after trick.

Well, there may be a trick or two out there but, pardon my selfishness, I need to keep my edge over all these young’uns somehow
right?

| aC: Right-o! Speakin’ of which, ya old’un, you’ve been at this forever – what about SEO has changed the most over the last five years? What remains the same eternally?

TF: The biggest change in the past five years is all the social stuff: like this, tweet that, friend me, blah blah blah. Sure, it’s new but it’s still all about link building. Link building is what hasn’t changed in years. Links are the currency of SEO – how we get them has changed to a certain degree. The old 3-way and reciprocal linking systems have gone by the boards in many respects. Now we publish infographics and pay the right people to get them tweeted, liked, dugg, reddit-ed and so on. We write fun/controversial blog posts on our blogs or as guest authors on specific popular blogs. I’m hoping to write one for aimClear one of these days, for example (hint hint).

The biggest change is that SEO has become more than just leading the horse to water. SEO is traffic, conversion, analytics, and inbound marketing (the newest buzz phrase). This is good for us. The one-trick pony SEO will not survive much longer just doing SEO.

| aC: A guest post for aimClear? Let’s make it happen. Prerequisite: Must incorporate an average of two proverbial horse puns per paragraph. I’d say you’re off to a good start. Now- tell us the top 5 SEOs or blogs you look up to the most, and why.

TF: Search Engine Land: Danny Sullivan is the Dali Lama of Search and helped give me a real leg up in the business years ago. I will always support his efforts. He’s also recruited some of the best in the business to write for his blogs. There’s lots to learn there.

BlueGlass: Once again, this is great minds and great friends.

The rest of the blogs all merge together in one big blurry glob of content to be honest. There are so many good writers with great ideas that are cross pollinating the Search Marketing Blogosphere that it’s hard to pin point the specific blogs. I generally check out what’s getting passed around the most on twitter and let my friends do all the filtering so I can follow the highlights.

| aC: Alright, I gotta ask- since the days of SEW forums, your handle has been Oilman. You don’t seem particularly greasy… so what’s the scoop? Inquiring minds want to know.

TF: Haha. Everybody wants some kind of really cool story about how I grease the search engines or some crazy stuff like that but it’s actually not an exciting story at all. Back in the day when I signed up at SEW forums I was working as a Joint Venture Accounts Receivable Analyst for Chevron Canada. So oil company = oilman. See? Boring.

Also, a Joint Venture Accounts Receivable Analyst sounds much more glamorous than it is.

| aC: Aw, that’s not boring. <shifty eyes> SO! The afternoon of Day 3 at SMX West will find you on the Ask The SEOs – Open Q&A Forum. What’s one piece of go-to tried-and-true advice you find yourself sharing with SEO n00bz time and time again?

TF: Cover your fundamentals first. No point in building links to an un-optimized website. Also, I don’t care what you think. You probably don’t deserve to be #1.

| aC: Touché! Last but not least, favorite adult beverage, constellation, and are you a dog or a cat person, GO!

TF: Beverage: Gotta be The Abyss from Deschutes or the Black Tartan from The Harmon. Constellation: meh – is there a beer shaped one? Dog or cat: I have a cat. His name is Reggie. He’ll eff you up!

| aC: Duly noted. Steer clear of Reggie. A great big thanks for your time today, Oilman. Safe travels to sunny San Jose!

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