Meet your marketer: Wayne Barker

Summer is coming here in Auckland, and it’s totally weird to see Christmas decoration when there are 30C and plenty of sun outside. I’ve been enjoying every minute of my new kiwi life so far (thanks for asking I suppose).

Since I’m in New Zealand, I feel more english in a way, and that’s why I decided to have a chat with Wayne Barker, head of online marketing at Boom Online, based in Nottingham, UK. He is one hell of a guy and marketer, and he is always keen to talk about SEO, marketing and music.

Ok mate, it’s your turn! Rock on!

Wayne Barker

If you have to introduce yourself to my italian mom asking me “who’s this weird guy”, what are you gonna say?

“Hey there Mrs Madeyski, sorry hasn’t Alessio mentioned me before? It’s understandable; I only met him in real life about ten minutes ago, just before we met up with you. I know him online. Sorry? No not like dating, just friends.

You want to know about me? I’m not that exciting to be honest. I help people improve their businesses online. I spend a lot of time pretending that I know what I am talking about when really I don’t have a clue. I once had a pet goat called Malcolm. I have a penchant for offending people (all in the best possible fun) and have no idea when to stop drinking.

When it comes to work I like getting stuck into anything that gets the creative side of my brain moving. When I’m not doing that I’m trying to figure out ways to make the more boring stuff more exciting and quicker.”

You have a client who’s running a dentist practice. You are gonna help him as digital marketer. What are you gonna suggest in terms of linkbuilding?

As with everything in life its going to come down to budget – what are we playing with here Alessio? We are working with less local based clients just down to the cost nowadays. SEO seems to have priced the little guy out of the field somewhat. Years ago it was a level playing field but things move on. Google is reflecting the real world more and more now; the guys with the budgets and the ability to think long term are going to come out on top. That doesn’t mean that the little guy can’t sneak in through the back door and get himself a little bit of the apple pie whilst the big dog isn’t looking.

I’ll assume that we are working with a limited budget here.

I will also assume that the site is in good shape technically, no major issues with technical SEO and has not been spammed to death with shitty links from the underbelly of the Internet.

I am also going to assume that they have claimed their Google + Local page (or whatever it is that Google is calling it at the moment).

I am also going to assume that we are in this for a year?

Spend your time figuring out the landscape. Who ranks? Why? Where are their links coming from? Could you snag a few of those with little to no work? Are there blended results? Are videos showing? Who is in the maps and where are their practices based? More importantly:

How are you going to differentiate yourself from the competition?

Get working on your citations – not link building in the strictest sense but would fall into that category for a local business IMO. This of course is the kind of thing that you can build the list for and then outsource to keep the costs down. You could of course use a service like BrightLocal and their Citation Burst and let them do the leg work for you.

Everyone needs a dentist. Fact. People come into dentists offices all the time. Fact. Dentists chat to patients to keep them calm. Fact. Educate dentists and staff to keep an eye of link opportunities. When you get the client on side and thinking about what you need to be doing it makes life so much easier. Drill it into them. Pun Intended. Sorry.

Call in favours. Why this seems to be missed by so many people will always remain a mystery. Get the practice to call in any favours from people they know. Get links. Simple.

Local directories and resource pages. Old school.

Got a sense of humour? Local Prostitutes Eagerly Await Dentists’ Convention

If you can get clients on board there are also a wealth of local opportunities – from sponsoring a local sports team to speaking at the local university. You will be surprised how many local businesses already do these. Your job will just to be to educate the client in asking for links.

If you are working with a local client like a dentist there is nothing wrong with calling in on the obvious – the guest blogging and the infographics. At local level (in the UK at least – sorry US readers) the local space isn’t that competitive. Some quick win cheap techniques can and do work. Just don’t get reliant on them 😉

Got a semi decent budget? Broken link building. Check out this resource.

Create content that is useful for their patients and don’t be scared to shout about it. Make a website that you can be proud of.

I can’t really go into more without this turning into a post of its own.

Personally I’m a big fan of content. What’s your take on statements like “content is king” or “you need to create awesome content”?

Drives me insane.

Not because it is wrong but because it is so vague. Also people let that roll of their tongue and then forget that you actually have to market said content.

I’m not bothered how you do it, with outreach, with paid social, unpaid social, via your email list. If you don’t shout about what you do then nobody in the world is going to hear about. You just aren’t that lucky.

I’ve been to some SEO conferences. It’s good for relationships for sure, but I feel like there is an invisible distant between what speakers are saying and people who are running small/medium companies. Thoughts?

I assume you are talking here about the level of the content and what a small business can actually do?

With the conferences that I have been to (some of which I am still allowed back to) it has been a mix of people in the industry and the in house teams from big companies. I do wonder how many people put into practice what they hear about and which people go back to work and then pump out the same old shit.

What I do find frustrating is that I see some really cool stuff whilst I’m on my Internet travels that blatantly hasn’t been promoted. In these situations you are going to end up with companies that are dissatisfied with results or can’t see the ROI. It’s almost as bad as some of the low level crappy SEO that gets all of us a bad name.

I also get a little frustrated when examples are being shared across industry blogs that I know have been seeded out through the online marketing/SEO niche. Let us say that company X creates this great piece of content (probably tech related). Their staff seed out to their followers and its goes on to do really well – loads of links, plenty of social shares. I have no problem with this but get concerned when these same pieces of content are then used as examples of being incredibly successful. This is not how it is likely to go in the real world.

You recently wrote a megapost for Hitreach about outreach (get the joke?). Why SEOs are now talking about outreach and no more about linkbuilding? Don’t you feel marketers are avoiding the word “linkbuilding” ?

It does seem to have taken a bit of a back seat recently doesn’t it? It’s nothing to be ashamed of, its not a dirty word, it doesn’t have sexual connotations in other dialects. It is just the result of Google going FUD all over the place with links, the over hyped fear of negative SEO and thought leaders within our community that have made a conscious decision to stop using it.

You throw things together and I can see why it is disappearing from our vocabulary. Links are very much still alive. Link building is very much still alive. Creating content to get links is nothing new – stop pretending it is.

Also if you think it is all about the links then go read this and then go and cry.

Our industry seems to be in a pickle 6 days out of 7 (SEOs go to the pub on Sundays) over what we call ourselves. For what? We do online marketing and there are several well defined specialisms within that. Do some work and prove your worth. Earn your place at the table.

Name five blogs you consider a must follow to learn about digital marketing.

Any 5 that don’t appear on the top 10 must follow SEO blogs posts. Dig around, go out of your comfort zone and then just keep all that you find to yourself 😉

I don’t think I can take it down to 5. Different strokes for different folks.

I like personal blogs.

If you want to be getting technical then head over to Bill’s place. If you want some link building advice with no BS then Dyson is your man. If you want creativity then talk to Revell. If you want a company blog that is trying interesting stuff then head over to Gilchrist’s house.

There are still good general sites out there, if you want keep abreast with news then I prefer Econsultancy. I also love sites like 99u and FlowingData. There are so many places you can learn from if you take the time digging them out.

I’ll stop there.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Always doing SEO? You are allowed to dream here, because dreams are vital for a good life.

I’m not much of a dreamer mate. 5 years ago I was painting walls for living, 5 years previous to that I worked in a restaurant. Just under 20 years ago I was at university, waiting to be thrown out but also thinking I would spent my life as a sculptor.

Go figure. Serendipity.

You lived in Nottingham. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher are from there. Do you prefer to listen to heavy metal or synth-pop?

Well I didn’t know that either of them where from Nottingham, my lack of local knowledge is disgusting. Now I haven’t recently discovered a love of Iron Maiden that I didn’t know I had. I will have listened to them in the 80s a little bit but they had dropped of my radar. I’ve been blasting them out in the office when everyone has gone home to have fun.

Having said that I’m going to go with synth pop. I have been buying up a lot of the old 80’s vinyl recently so at home my daughter has been putting up with Gary Numan, OMD, Japan, Depeche Mode and all that jazz.

You are using twitter a lot, and I guess you mostly talk with people in the SEO community. I often have the feeling SEOs are bitching and whining about every Google move and to me this is a bit boring and worthless. What’s your take on this?

Man, I try to ignore it to be honest. Moaning doesn’t get you anyway really. What are Google going to do? Turn back the clock because a bunch of SEO nobodies are struggling to rank at the moment.

Block it out of your stream is my take 😉

I’m giving you this space below to write something you never managed to write because you were afraid it wasn’t the right moment or the right site.

“Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.” Joss Whedon.
Because I have nothing smart to say myself.

What do you think of

Well, I went there quite a lot in the early days, then I got a bit busy and now don’t go there so much. I quite like digging through the incoming section but it does appear that they have been infiltrated by the karma hunting whores.

It’s there and its good that it exists and there are some smart people on there, I just don’t pop in as often as I used to.

Ask yourself a question and give an answer.

Are you a bit of dick? Yes, Wayne, yes I am.