Meet your marketer: Cyrus Shepard

Hi folks,

today we are going to have a new “Meet your marketer” episode. And it’s different from the other because it’s going to be shorter, and right to the point. It’s a new formula, because I know you have less time today, since it’s Valentine’s day, and your woman / man is waiting for you, at home, with a big box full of sweets. And it’s not you can say: “Oh sweetie, sorry I’m late, but there was a new awesome episode of my favorite interview series in the world”.

I know, so here we go.

Today I had the pleasure to talk with Cyrus Shepard, freelance SEO consultant and SEOmoz associate. You can read more about him on his Google+ profile and on his blog, called Above the Fold.

Actually, I don’t know so much about Cyrus. I just follow him on twitter and I’m always reading what he writes about online marketing and SEO, and he is one of the people who taught me a lot of stuff through his posts.

So, bando alle ciance and let’s talk with Cyrus!

Cyrus Shepard

Could you please introduce yourself stating something that is NOT true but you always dreamed to say in an official interview?

Hi I’m Cyrus Shepard. Most people know me in Hollywood as the director of the upcoming film, Ender’s Game. I also jump out of airplanes.

You are associate at SEOmoz. What does this mean for you?

One of the best ways to learn is SEO is to teach it to others. When I started at SEOmoz I worked on the Help Team, which meant I looked at dozens of websites a day and wrote between 50-100 emails each day as well. Now, as an associate I spend a lot of time in the Q&A section of Moz, helping folks figure out their SEO questions. Each associate (there are many of us) has different areas of expertise, so questions are assigned appropriately. What’s fun is, I don’t always know the answer! (any SEO who knows all the answers is lying) This gives me a tremendous opportunity to evaluate the SEO efforts of multiple websites every week, and keeps me up to date with what most SEOs are struggling with. This also helps me determine what to write about in blog posts.

In your site, in the about page you say: “SEO changed my life”. How?

For many years I struggled in jobs not matched up to my skills and interests, surrounded by uninspired individuals. (waiter, actor, wildland firefighter) Now, SEO presents this huge combination of fun, profitability and goodwill that I can’t imagine in too many other industries. I’ve never witnessed an industry where folks shared so much, even competitors, between themselves. It’s hugely rewarding.

You went to University of California. What are your thoughts on the state of education in 2013? Do you think the education has to take a bigger role in training new SEOs?

This year I finally got serious about learning to code – my favorite sites are Udacity and Treehouse. I know a lot of devs scoff at structured learning, but it works for me. Right now, if you want to be a good SEO, you start by learning on your own, or you learn in-house. The best agencies all have in-house training programs. DistilledU has taken the best shot of putting this knowledge online that I know of, and other agencies are using it for their own in-house training. Hopefully they do more in this direction. There’s so much misinformation and bad practices out there, it would be nice to have better training options available.

Let’s say you are going to take Wil Reynolds out for dinner and you can choose 2 topics to discuss about. Which ones and why?

Fitness and positive psychology. I would actually NOT talk to Wil about SEO (if I were limited on topics) because I don’t believe that’s where his success comes from. Wil is a great SEO, but there are a lot of great SEOs who are not successful, or don’t make a positive contribution to the world. The most successful people I know all excel both in people skills and their positive, can-do attitude. Wil keeps himself in great shape, both mentally and physically, and that probably plays a larger role in his success than most of us realize. So that’s what I would discuss with him.

From an user point of view, which is the biggest mistake you see big ecommerce sites are doing?

Cookie-cutter, mass produced product descriptions. Yes, it’s hard to scale across 100s of thousand of products, but if you don’t care, why should the customer? Why should search engines?

Music moment. Which was the first record you bought with your money?

Violent Femmes. The year was 1986.

How do you define “art”?

Art is whatever my wife makes. (she’s a graphic designer) (note: link offered by yours truly. Cyrus did NOT put any link here, but I like his wife’s work!)

Last question. Which is the “Meet your” interview you like the most? Why?

I really like the one with Aleyda Solis. I met her for the first time at MozCon 2012, and aside from being one of the most generous people you will ever meet, she is the smartest SEO you should follow.


thanks Cyrus. and thank you all for reading! See you upstairs!