Streko! You either know the name, or you don’t- and odds are, if you’re been hanging around the online marketing conference circuit for any appreciable amount of time – you know it. Michael Streko is the co-founder of KnowEm, a gargantuan directory of social media sites leveraged for everything from competitive intelligence to brand reputation monitoring and trademark protection. He’s also longtime professional and fishing pal of aimClear (and a fellow New Jerseyan, I might add!). Streko’s an awesome blend of smarts and saltiness, a down-to-earth dude with over a decade of hands-on SEM experience. He knows a ton, pushes the envelope, and sugar-coats nothing. (Children not permitted to attend his sessions).
Speaking of sessions, Streko’s heading up the Garden State Parkway to NYC next week just in time for SMX East
, where he’ll share his expert insight on the SEO Beware: Black Hat Tactics To Avoid & Be Wary Of
session. Expert insight indeed
. Before the show, Streko shared a virtual fireside chat with us, complete with make-believe boardwalk fries and ice cold rum and cokes. (Mmmmm.) Read on for the full transcript.
| aimClear: Señor Streko, may I call you that? Tell the readers at home a bit about yourself. Where do you hail from? How did you end up in the online marketing industry?
Michael Streko: No, no you may not. I keed! I keed! Call me whatever. But usually I go by just “Streko”. The SEO/SEM community treats me as if I was on their football team.
Straight outta Jersey, born and raised. My Internet days started when I left the Navy back in 2001. I was released for an injury that they deemed made me “not fit to be on a ship.” They gave me the option to either stay in and work a shore duty job, or they’d let me out early and allow me to collect my Montgomery GI Bill to pay for school. I attempted to stay in, but working in the Audio/Visual shop for the school on base was a bit boring. So I wrote a letter to the base commander and he granted me a full honorable leave. When I got back to New Jersey, I opened an online store and started selling mod chips
, when mod chips were legal. The store was successful, but I had begun school and didn’t have time. From there, I bounced around the U.S. and took a break from the Internet. It wasn’t until after I was married and had a child in 2005 that I was pushed back towards the Internet. I was working for a ticket broker, this really cranky dude– he came in one day yelling and smelling of cheese doodles at 8:30 am, and yelled that my new job was to: “Make my site get found on the Google, because everyone else is there and we should be #1.”
After a lot of reading, link building, and other tricks I picked up, I had the company website ranking 1st for “Atlantic City Shows”. Six months later, I left to work for an affiliate marketing network in New York City when I was picked up by a recruiter. During that time, I met Mr. Barry Wise
and started doing some consulting side work with him. When it was my time to leave the company in New York, I had built up a large amount of affiliate sites and started kicking around the idea for KnowEm with Barry, so I felt comfortable leaving. Two months later in April of 2009, KnowEm launched– and it’s been my main project since then.
KnowEm has evolved into multiple platforms since its inception. We have some launched, some in beta, and some still in the works. The site and company are doing great and we continue to expand and evolve our ideas and plans. We have some amazing new features that are going to be launching around SMX East and we are VERY excited for them.
| aC: “Make my site get found on the google,” boy if I had a nickel for every time I heard that… and really looking forward to the new Knowem features. It’s been a while, but any news– what’s new in badass affiliate marketer land?
Streko: I couldn’t tell you, I have been out of it for a while. I hear of some people doing really well with lead generation for local services, but the one thing you will learn about affiliate marketing is the affiliates who are making money in a vertical or on a product will never talk about what that vertical or product is because they fear over saturation.
| aC: Makes sense. You used to have a blog called I Hate Your SEO — or something like that… I can’t find it anymore! — in which you swore a lot and generally ranted to the online marketing community at large. Do you still hate my SEO? Why don’t you swear when you blog anymore?
Streko: Yes, that used to be my blog. But I decided to retire it. I removed the content for a few reasons. For one, there is my cousin, who is a dentist (http://drstreko.com). I would get weird links from dentist lists and directories, and feel bad that when they came to my site (http://streko.com), they would find a picture of a massive golden toilet bowl or Photoshopped pictures of random people in the SEO world doing not the most kosher of things…
One day I want to relaunch the blog, but for now I am focused on KnowEm and also a new project site that KnowEm is going to be launching.
| aC: Fair enough. Top three reasons that fishing is like new customer acquisition, go:
Streko: LOL sure.
- At times, if the person you are speaking with is resisting using your service, you gotta give him a good jerk to make sure you land the hook in him.
- Sometimes the client (a.k.a. fish) you’re reeling in is a lot bigger than it seems. Make sure to treat all clients with equal care when trying to land them. The small ones could turn out to be massive and the large ones could turn out to be minnows.
- Not all clients (fish) like shiny objects, some times you need to switch up your gear and try just a good old fashion worm and hook (a.k.a. data and case studies).
| aC: Wow. That was pretty freakin’ brilliant. Okay– on the morning of Day 1 at SMX East, you’ll be speaking on the SEO Beware: Black Hat Tactics To Avoid & Be Wary Of session. You better believe I’ll be front and center to live-blog that baby, but in the meantime, can we get a sneak peek at what you’ll be sharing with the crowd?
Streko: Some case studies that hit home personally. KnowEm works with a lot of pharmaceutical companies making sure their trademarks are secure across social media. We find countless amounts of drug names being squatted on, with profiles that point to counterfeits or sites selling “Safe Russian Alternatives.” I look forward to showing some interesting data and educating the audience of what can and/or can’t be done to prevent and stop this.
| aC: Super. Last but not least, all-time favorite: A) adult beverage B) Jersey shore boardwalk chow C) horror movie.
MS: A) Captain & Coke. B) This is a tie between fresh cut fries with malt vinegar and Tacos from Pop’s Garage in Asbury Park. C) This is a tough one…. So I will name three:
- Black & White: Night of the Living Dead
- 80’s/90’s: Pet Sematary
- Recent: 28 Days Later
| aC: Yes! Oh, definitely – ya know, you named some of my fav spooky flicks there. Brava – and thanks so much for your time today See ya in the city, Streko!