Welcome to another session of our SEO expert interview series where we talk with some of the most brilliant mind in the industry.
Today, we are pleased to feature Tad Chef of Onreact. As a prolific writer ( we once joked about him being called “Mr Blogalot”, Tad has written for most of the leading publications in the industry. He recently featured as a guest during the last Linkarati twitter chat.
Having followed his writings for a while, I think it is important that we get into the mind of our guest and let him share his thoughts on SEO and the industry at large.
So let’s get started.
Question: Welcome to our expert SEO interview session where we chat with some of the most
brilliant minds in the industry. Before we go on, can you tell us a little bit about how you
got into the SEO industry.
Tad: Thank you for calling me “most brilliant” and for featuring me here! I’m really delighted to see that professional SEO spreads in Africa as well after Asia has become huge in recent years. I’m especially connected with the people of Nigeria because my best friend’s father is Nigerian.
It was more than a decade ago. In 2004 I was a struggling front web developer looking for freelance work. One job advert said they needed someone who was knowledgeable about Google SEO. I thought I was but I wasn’t. It took me a month of hard work to find out but during that time I learned the basics of SEO. I loved the work and stayed with it ever since.
Question: If there any other career you would love to try and why?
Tad: Oh my. You got me! I guess I’ll need to rebrand as a hellbound marketer one day! No, just kidding. In reality I’d love to teach kids and older people parkour. It’s the art of natural movement around and above obstacles. It takes o a lot of strength, agility and fearlessness. That’s why mostly athletic young men excel at it.
I’m training park our for 4 years now. I lost my belly fat and fear of heights ever since but I’m still no stunt man. Nonetheless I’d love to teach other weak people like me to master it. It’s incredibly empowering. Obstacles become opportunities. On the streets and in life in general.
Question: Take us through your typical working day?
Tad: OK. I can’t give away all my trade secrets. Let it be said that I start my day with Zen meditation, walking the dog and 1,5 – 2h workout outside. No matter the weather. I train even in winter during frosty conditions.
Then I check out social media first for inspiration (Pinterest), to keep up with industry developments (Twitter, Google+) and to curate content (Inbound.org or Topsy or Prismatic). I also check some analytics tools.
After lunch I walk my dog again. Then I do my most creative work. It’s usually blogging for clients (currently mostly datadial.net) or my own blog (seo2.us). After that I do the SEO work like keyword research or blogger outreach. This is less hard for me these days after a decade of practice. In the evening I check my messages on social media and by mail.
I split up my tasks into hour/half hour slots. I try never to work longer than an hour on one task to prevent one-sided exhaustion.
Question: What SEO tool or app do you love most?
Tad: I try not to depend on tools too much. To paraphrase one of my favorite writers, Dustin Verburg: my brain is my favorite tool. Other than that Firefox, WordPress and DuckDuckGo are probably my most important tools.
Question: Can you tell us something about you that your team would love to know?
Tad: I don’t have a team. I’m very keen on staying independent. That’s what the world needs to know about me. While many SEO “rockstars” usually are full time rockstars I really do my hands on work myself. When you pay me for services I really do the work not some underpaid wretch in Asia or junior SEO trainee.
Question: Today’s SEO landscape is different from what it used to be when you first started. What
trait do you think an SEO today needs to have?
Tad: Creativity, versatility and humility are the most important qualities now.
I may be considered an SEO expert by some but I know that I have no clue about App Store Optimization for example (humility). Either I need to learn it then or call someone I know, like Umar Khan for ASO.
You need to do all kinds of things at once. When I perform a website audit I don’t bother clients with the industry identity crisis or some acronym gibberish. I just include every issue and improvement I know of be it SEO, UX, CRO, LOL or WTF (versatility).
Some things work one day then everybody starts doing them and they stop working either because Google bans them or people are tired of low level SEO practitioners spamming them. Thus you need to be creative and come up with new solutions and techniques all the time (creativity). Brian Dean is my idol here. He’s a genius when it comes to combining and improving upon existing strategies.
Question: You are able to blog a lot? In fact I remember one of our discussions where we gave you
the title “Mr Blogalot”. How are you able to do this and how do you come up with your blog post ideas?
Tad: Did you mean Sir Blogalot? Like the infamous old school rapper? Yeah, I really blog a lot. Sometimes I blog for three client blogs at once. It’s particularity hard as I do all of my work myself with the exception of finance and accounting which is done by my wife! I love you! I love writing. I love sharing my knowledge. It makes me feel like an important part of this universe. Nobody trusts selfish people who keep everything for themselves.
Thus blogging ideas just come to my mind all the time. Every problem I face is triggering a headline my head and I already write a teaser for the post in my mind. Then I just need to write them down. For example I received your interview request and two others within a few days. I instantly came up with a post idea on that: How to Choose Which Interview Requests to Accept and suggested it to Rand Fishkin: https://twitter.com/onreact_
Question: Can you tell us about a project or campaign you like to do over?
Tad: At the end of 2012 I’ve written about “How Link Building Really Works These Days”. The post was very successful. It was an honest look at my failure with a big client from the quite competitive tourism industry. He really gave me not enough time (just three months to improve rankings for 3 main keyphrases others optimized for a decade for) and options (no content on site, almost no budget). So after three months only one of the keyphrases improved significantly. I’d love to start this project over with a decent time frame, content creation and a budget.
Question: What keeps you up at night?
Tad: Ever since I get up early train regularly I sleep quite well.
Question: You were practically the first person to shut Google out of your website. Looking back at it,
do you regret making that decision? If No, why?
Tad: To be honest I wasn’t the first. Many large media publishers have experimented with banning Google before me. Ruport Murdoch of News Corp for example. I just made a fuss in the industry about it. Yet nobody really cared. Certainly not Google. It’s a good timing for that question. I have just unbanned Google search on my blog after 2 and a half years. I will write a post on why and why it took me so long.
I don’t regret the decision. I knew what I was doing and why. I got banned by Google anyway, as I most probably got slapped by the Panda update and lost most of my Google traffic. I wanted to prove that I can survive without Google and that I’m not dependent on the search traffic monopolist.
It worked for so long. I get most of my clients via referrals these days and content or social media activity. Now I have finally enough time to fix my site. I am in the process of updating 8 years of content. Starting with broken links. I already reviewed and fixed like 50 to 100 of 500+ posts I think.
Question: If you were to sit down with the Big G and ask one question. What would it be?
Tad: Are you nuts?
Adegboye: Thank you for taking part in our SEO Expert interview session. We look forward to having you
Tad: Thanks again for inviting me! I’d love to see more people from Africa get involved in the international SEO (or whatever you like to call it) industry! Keep me updated!
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