Meet your marketer: Julia Logan aka IrishWonder

Welcome back everyone. Hope everything is good on your side.

So…a new episode of Meet your Marketer is beginning, but for those of you who always appreciated this series, I’m announcing the end of this series. Like Meet your SEO came to an end , I decided to stop even this series. I had a lot of fun, and I really want to thank all the people who were kind enough to participate , and I truly enjoyed to know more about few people out there.

But when it starts not to be exciting anymore, there I know I need to stop. As I told already, 2013 is going to be the year where new things are going to happen and where I need and must focus on something else to fly higher. And so, I need to stop some projects, like these interviews because basically changement requires to break some schemes. Many of you followed these two series like real fans, and read them all, always commenting and giving me suggestions. And I really appreciate this, I cannot even describe. So, thank you!

I will write some posts maybe in the future about my future choices, or maybe not. Anyway, thanks for being here and support me and all my posts!

Allright….enough. Today I have the pleasure to talk with Julia Logan , better known as IrishWonder (now, how many of you learnt about her real name for the first time??). Julia is a well-known SEO and online marketer, and you can read more about her thoughts on twitter or on her blog. She is also the CMO and project manager at Content Mango.

Ok Julia, let’s talk about a lot of stuff!

Julia Logan

When and why you enter the SEO world?

Back in 2000, that’s a long long time ago, I had my first IT job as some third assistant of a web designer. My boss approached me one day saying, “We need to submit this client’s site to some directories”. I didn’t know the first thing about it and started searching for info and reading, and came across SearchEngineWatch, Danny Sullivan’s site back in the day. I can therefore say that Danny is my Godfather of sorts in SEO. I got very interested and never looked back. By 2004, SEO became my full time job and I’m happy things worked out this way.

In social media, you are using the nickname “IrishWonder” and it’s difficult to find an image of the “real” you. Is it some privacy issues you have in this crazy world where everything is public? Moreover, what is the best use of social media?

These are two questions in one so I’ll answer them one after another. The thing with IrishWonder, and not only in social media but everywhere online really, is that I wanted a well identifiable nickname, and I felt everything else (personal stuff) was not really relevant to what I’m doing, so I stepped aside and let my online persona do the job. This is my brand. A lot of people who have known me for many years don’t even know my real name. This is not even my alter ego, this is me – only online. I like to keep my offline life (I haven’t got much of it tbh) separate from that. I hardly ever mention online my kids and cats, or anything else to that matter. I’m not even friends with my daughter on FaceBook. This could be seen as a precaution in a way, too – should anything of what I do online ever backfire, innocent people will likely not suffer because of an obvious connection to me because there is no such connection.

As for the best use of social media – I’d say it’s branding and building relationships. That’s something social media platforms are best fitted for. This is their nature, and going against nature rarely results in much good. Go with the nature, learn how it works and use it to your benefit within those limits.

You are going to talk at BrightonSEO (congrats!). Why do you think BrightonSEO is one of the best SEO conference? What are you gonna talk about?

I love Brighton and this will be my third BrightonSEO conference. This probably sounds weird, given how long I’ve been in SEO, but I only started going public very recently. BrightonSEO, in my view, is the closest to those informal “unconferences” that our industry was starting from, and I love that format as it allows for the most networking, direct communication, and this is where the most value of any industry gettogethers lies. Also, unlike many other events, BrightonSEO is free to attend but you have to hunt down the ticket so it’s a very willing and determined crowd that ends up going there, people who are really into SEO. Besides, Kelvin is doing a great job running it, it’s invariably good quality and it’s one of the biggest UK events and hence the ideal place to get the most exposure for your launching product, for example.

You are not afraid of black hat SEO and you have no problem to talk about it. Could you please define what is for you “black hat” SEO and why a company should NOT be afraid of it?

I believe that as an SEO professional, I should be familiar with the complete picture, rather than a one-sided view on things. I believe search and SEO is not about ideology but about understanding the internal logics of how the search engines operate and applying this understanding to what you do, working inside the system rather than fighting it and going against it. This may sound unusual coming from somebody like me but yet, this is what the best blackhats have always been extremely good at. I have no problem talking about it because, whatever you call it, this is just one of the possible approaches. I only object to calling it “unethical” – what’s really unethical is charging clients money and selling them snake oil and riding the high morals horse when infact you haven’t got a clue about what you’re doing and saying. As long as you understand the risks, and disclose these risks to the client, it’s all fair game, but you need to understand these risks yourself, and you can only understand them if you are aware of blackhat SEO, know what works and how and can run things instead of them running you. It’s all a question of economic viability and choosing the most tangible business model – if blackhat fits in it I see no problem. I’d be much more afraid of clueless people posing as SEOs rather than blackhat SEO. There have been some pretty disgusting attempts to criminalise blackhat – but it really isn’t about breaking the laws. Search engines are not the state or police – they set their own (commercially viable to them) rules but not the laws.

Blackhat is only about pushing the boundaries just a little but further and testing how things work – you don’t learn that from reading webmaster guidelines. As a blackhat, you get to learn things even before the search engines themselves are aware of them, and you are demonstrating the search engines how they really work – I find this pretty fascinating and rewarding as an intellectual experience. These days people sometimes call things blackhat SEO even if they are not blackhat SEO really, like a clueless button clicking script kiddie running some tool they bought or more likely, stole, without really understanding what they are doing an why. That’s not blackhat SEO, that’s not even SEO of any kind at all. Using techniques hat used to work ages ago but no longer do is not blackhat SEO either. I think people need to be educated about these things and become a bit less dogmatic about them. There are two kinds of SEOs: those who know what they are doing and those who haven’t got a clue and are just following whatever’s being touted as the ultimate trick to ranking sites, and it all has nothing to do with blackhat or whitehat. But there is just a bit too much politics and fear mongering and PR going on. Somebody has to say it as it is, why not me.

What is your relationship with the fear of doing something outside your comfort zone?

There is no fear really when it comes to things outside of my comfort zone – but the first thing to ask myself is why they are outside of my comfort zone. Do I have a gut feeling doing these things will result in nothing good? Doing stupid things is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve done my share of them, much like anybody else, and this just happens and you realise later you’ve done something stupid, not much you can do about it but it’s part of the learning curve, if you see this is stupid and never do it again you’ve learned your lesson. My biggest fear really is not having enough time to do everything I want to do, I have more ideas than time to implement them, I wish I could have a few clones hehe 🙂

You are the CMO at Content Mango. What’s the most difficult challenge you face in this job?

Besides being CMO, I’m also a project manager, and that’s the toughest part of it. Being CMO for such a fantastic project is easy – people want to hear about it, there is a great deal of interest in it, and I feel really passionate about ContentMango and just keep talking about it. Now, making things and people behind the project work together and seeing to everything coming along smoothly is indeed a challenge!

Education. Important topic for me. I would not be an SEO if it wasn’t for some SEOs out there always willing to help me and give me advice. What are you doing to educate future marketers?

I tell them stories 🙂 and because SEO is a topic I really love and I’ve spent so many years doing it, my stories can be endless. I also try to make people think as no amount of mentorship will ever replace a person’s ability to think, and without thinking you won’t get very far in this industry.

Music. Tell me three bands/singers/albums I should listen to and why.

You should listen whatever you fancy really, I wouldn’t impose my tastes on you, in my/your case they are pretty close though so this might actually work 🙂
So, in no particular order, although it’s difficult to come up with just three:

I like some Tom Waits every now and then, though I had an argument with a friend not long ago as to whether it is possible to SEO while listening to Tom Waits 🙂

My favourite album to listen to on the plane while going through some mind numbing job like sorting a long list of keywords is Takk… by Sigur Ros.

My favourite band of all times is the Beatles although the Rolling Stones come pretty close as well… Ok I cheated here and sneaked 4 in 🙂

Books. Name 3 books everyone should read and why.

You probably expect me to name some industry related titles here, but I won’t do it. If I name something now it will probably be outdated by the time somebody reads this, this being such a fast paced industry.

For years, Aaron Wall’s SEO Book has been the must read, being a really solid work with balanced outlook and regularly updated, but it’s not around any more. For now, Paddy Moogan’s Linkbuilding Book seems to be the thing, he did a very good job with it, I’v eyer to finish reading it to be honest but what I’ve read so far looks very balanced and adequate. Heck, I myself tried writing a book a few years ago, it’s just been a 50-page ebook on directory marketing, I even tried keeping it up to date for about two years, then at some point too many things changed at once and I just gave up seeing as it would be easier to write a new book than update that one.

All in all however, it’s not about what you read, it’s about what you get out of it. Read Orwell’s 1984 and hope and pray that we don’t get to that. Read the Snow Crash that’s been the inspiration for Google Earth, who knows what else it might inspire. Read Alice in Wonderland and imagine Google being Wonderland – that should be fun.

What is the thing that makes you extremely proud of you, as human being?

I don’t think I have achieved anything to be extremely proud of myself just yet. Achieving results in what I do does make me happy though.