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Online Interview with Ann Smarty of SEOSmarty

INTERVIEW NO. 9 in INTERVIEWS WITH TOP BLOGGERS series

Ann Smarty is the CEO of SEO consulting blog, SEOSmarty. She is, also, Director of Media at BlueGrass Interactive and is the Editor at Search Engine Journal, amongst other things.

NewsDrillDigital: What do you prefer about SEO now compared to when you first started off in the industry?

Ann: I am not really sure if that’s me or the real evolution of SEO. When I started it was all about “minor” links: bookmarking services, directories, article distribution. Even “dofollow” comment spamming! Even high-authority SEO resources would discuss strategies like that. It was all about mechanical work of “cheating” search engines into thinking your site is great and worth a high position.
With social media boom, SEO has matured (or maybe it’s me who matured really). Now it is more about making websites usable and useful. It’s about creating “popular” content people would love and share. The process requires much brainstorming and creativity. It is also more about networking and cooperating. It’s much more exciting now than it used to be like 3 or four years ago.

NewsDrillDigital: What are the most important things you do to get value out of blogging on trending topics?

Ann: Funny enough, I have just blogged about trending topics recently.
I am not an expert here but some essential tips to bear in mind here are:
- Try not to just re-blog some popular news but offering your own opinion, insight and perspective;
- Always link to official sources (which may make your coverage easier to notice);
- Use creative sources of keyword research inspiration. Google Insights, Google Suggest AND Google NEWS Suggest – are the three top choices for me (because they provide fresh data).

NewsDrillDigital: How big an impact can web hosting have on SEO?

Ann: Actually, the impact is fundamental: it’s what your website is based upon. Hosting accounts for the website performance and functionality. No one (including search bots) likes slow websites, or websites which are often down or hacked.
I used to host my personal website at GoDaddy – it was hacked a couple of times there and has been struggling to revive its high ranking ever since.
Reliable hosting is what you need to take care about in the first place – it should be your priority. Don’t try to save too much money here or you’ll lose more than you ever managed to save.

NewsDrillDigital: What are your favorite keyword research tools?

Ann: Wordtracker used to be my favorite one for in-depth keyword research. Now that my projects are live I tend to use my own internal search referral tracking (Google Analytics) and less advanced tools like Google Suggest for new content inspiration.

NewsDrillDigital: What skills do you need to create SEO tools?

Ann: It’s not really about the skills, I guess. It’s rather about the experience. Developing tools requires a profound understanding of how things should work to make it a useful and usable utility. You need to first use different tools to understand what lacks and what would be needed. You can’t just enter the niche and create a successful tool (even if you have a budget for that). You need to be an expert to be able to.

NewsDrillDigital: How do you best use social media for SEO?

My way to use social media is pretty straightforward: I use it to build and maintain contacts with various people within a niche and beyond. Next time I need a coverage or a link, I always know where to find one.

NewsDrillDigital: What are the most important things to look for in selecting an SEO consultant?

Ann: It is so hard that I cannot even imagine how people are doing that! SEO is such a complex thing in terms of measuring, reporting and evaluating. You really need to trust your SEO consultant to let him do his job properly and there are so many scammers in our field.
While an SEO consultant’s visibility is a poor metric, it’s at least something. Well-known SEO consultants value their reputation – so I suggest trying one of those you see now and then (after some Googling and maybe asking around).

(at the time of this interview, NewsDrillDigital.com was spotlightideas.co.uk)

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