Eric Enge, Penguin Lover? Sharing Pre- #SESSF SEO Tips

Posted in SES, SES San Francisco

Eric Enge, Founder & CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, has been working in the industry for more than 30 years. Specializing in SEO, PPC, web analytics, and social media, he’s a regular contributor to Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land, and known for the “Ramblings About SEO Blog,” featuring in-depth interviews with industry leaders. But, does he love the little SEO bird that some marketers love to hate? Read on…

Next week at SES San Francisco, Eric will share insight into the evolving world of SEO during his session, Recovering from Penalties, Penguin, and Panda. We caught up with him for a take on the direction SEO is heading and to ask questions regarding recent industry developments. We hope you enjoy the interview!


aimClear: Tell us something about yourself. Who are you? How did you wind up in the industry?

Eric Enge: Who I am in a few simple bullets:

  • First generation American with Norwegian parents. Yes, I am a Viking.
  • Family man with 3 children aged 17, 18 & 20
  • 1984 World Champion in Foosball for the event known as Goalie War.  1985 US National champion as well
  • Hard working athlete that has run the Boston Marathon 3 times (though it has been a while now), and still works out every day
  • Entrepreneur through and through.  In addition to founding Stone Temple Consulting, I have also co-founded 5 publishing companies, 3 of which I have successfully sold.  The other 2 are still developing!

I am by nature an opportunist, and that is how I ended up in the industry.  I was doing business development consulting back in 2002 when a friend of mine asked to me to help with Biz Dev for a DVD e-tail site.  I said sure!

Two months in, I realized what they really needed was search engine traffic, and I told him we should figure out how to do that.  So I set off to figure it out.  A year later, it was doing $3M in revenue from SEO, and I said “darn (or a word like that), I should do more of this type of work!”, and that is how it started.

aimClear: Nice. In your recent interview with Matt Cutts about linkbuilding, you say SEO is returning to its true marketing roots: create a great product, make people want it, and your reputation (and rank) will build naturally. If you could offer linkbuilders one piece of advice, what would it be?

Eric Enge: Understand the importance of true differentiation with content.  At the end of the day, no one wants to link to your shameless money page, so you need to give someone a reason to link to you.  No one wants to link to your article on “mortgage tips” either a search on this phrase [intitle:”mortgage tips”] (without the [ ] returns over 7,000 results), so why are they going to link to you?

What’s so special about your stuff that lots of people will want to link to it, or share it on social media? There is an important incremental piece to this tip though.  It is not actually enough to add value.  The added value must also meet two other standards:

  1. Can a user recognize the presence of the added value on the page in 3 seconds or less?  You will not get links unless it meets this standard.
  2. Can a search engine that does software driven semantic analysis recognize it as something different?  You are ripe for Google to rank you poorly if you don’t meet this standard.

aimClear: Thanks. We all know how Panda and Penguin have changed the way we do SEO in recent years, and things continue to change every day. Tell us, how do you remain knowledgeable and informed to remain an SEO master?

Eric Enge: Staying on top of all the changes in the world of SEO can be very challenging.  In my case, I am constantly studying what is going on in the market, the articles other people write, and doing the interviews that I publish on the Stone Temple Blog.  In addition, we have a large array of clients that we work with, and we get tons of lessons and feedback from the things that we do with them.

It’s a tough road for any one individual to keep their arms around, especially since it is getting harder and harder to segregate the things you do in social from SEO, and with the increasing focus on content marketing as a discipline, and an awesome way to build links and social presence at the same time.

Being part of a larger team is a big advantage, and staying in contact with all the awesome, and open, people in this industry is also key.  We all help each other get better and stay current by the way we share information.

But, it’s a great time to be alive as a marketer because there are SO many opportunities.

aimClear: On Day 1 of SES San Francisco, you’re speaking. The session is called, “Recovering from Penalties, Penguin, and Panda.” Can you give us a sneak peek at the goodies you’ll be sharing?

Eric Enge: We will be helping people learn all about how they can recover from the three “P”s.  The situations are all very different, so let me illustrate one key point that most people have not picked up on – that is that in my opinion, Google has made a shift from using Panda and Penguin to remove poor quality sites from the index to using Panda and Penguin to improve their search quality.

What’s the difference, you ask?  You can have a really good quality site, but it might not help Google’s index to have it rank highly simply because it shows no new information to the user.  I.e. if it has the same information as other sites that have stronger brands, it becomes redundant.

Google will drop that site way down in the results in favor of showing other content that is more differentiated.  Think of this as Query Deserves Diversity on steroids!

aimClear: Thanks for the interview, Eric. One last question: What’s your favorite comedy movie, holiday, and animal – go!

Eric Enge: a. Sadly, I don’t get to see to many movies these days (perils of running a business AND having 2 teenagers and a 20 year old!), but a movie I saw recently which was awesome was 42 (not a comedy, but a GREAT movie).  The story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey is an amazing tale.

b. Christmas. Way too many great childhood memories of family times that were very special in my family.

c. Penguin.  Seriously, it’s true.  Calling a Google algo by that name does not change my love for the little butlers a bit. 🙂


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  • Chris Mayhew

    It’s always great to read advice from someone who has been in the industry for so long.I especially enjoyed reading how Eric stays on top of such an ever-changing industry. Thanks for sharing.

    • Erica Melchior

      Glad you enjoyed it, Chris!

  • Shahzaib K.

    Thanks for sharing a walk-through of terrifying 3P’s of Google. I am on the continuous lookout for upgrading myself for anything that can help me combat with them.I got two 2P’s i.e passion and patience to discover them more. Thanks Erica for interview!