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Interview with Roger Montti – Martinibuster on Links, SEO/SEM, Marketing and Life

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 8 years and 322 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Roger “Martinibuster” Montti was kind enough to give me a bit of his time to run through some of the recent issues on marketing on the web and it’s evolution. Hope you’ll enjoy the read.

Todd:It was nice to get a chance to hang out with you a bit and talk links and search at WMW X in Vegas. What were your major takeaways or confirmations from the conference?

I was way sick during Vegas so I missed most of the sessions except my own. But one thing I noted from speaking with others attending the session was the need for one way inbound links has grown a hundred fold since Jagger. Reciprocal link exchanges have started smelling like last weeks fish to a lot of people for many different reasons.

Strange because at the beginning of the year everyone from all shades of hats were loving reciprocal links, and when I posted on WMW that reciprocal links were not strictly white hat, nor were they approved by Google, I had to pull a NEO from The Matrix to dodge the pitchforks and kitchen sinks whizzing past my head.

So I would say the major takeaway is that a great many people, compared to the beginning of this year, are reconsidering reciprocal linking. Not necessarily giving it up, but being more thoughtful about it and being open to alternative strategies.

Todd:I get pretty tired of the “type X links are dead” discussions myself. Do you think there is still the opportunity to “game” the system with different types of links, and how much longer do you think that will last?
There is definitely wiggle room for self-promotion. Some of it is hard to trace, while the other part comes simply from designing a site around a niche chosen around its ability to gain links. Then there are proxy sites built expressly for collecting links and good old website buyouts or takeovers.
Todd:How do you think SEO/ SEM will be different one year from now?
Every year we have fads that burn out. Article directory submissions are marching toward a peak right now and should reach critical mass sometime next year when everyone including your grandmother is doing it. Directories in general seem to be out of fashion and should continue to be out of fashion until those creating directories wise up to the value in lead generation. There are a handful of quality directories out there right now, but I would say that the days of visiting your friendly neighborhood list of directories and bottom feeding the cheapest directories are over.

I see the price of obtaining good links going up as it finally hits home that the usual way of doing business isn’t working anymore. And while the days of the low paid link monkey are maybe drawing to an end, hopefully it’ll give rise to a smarter monkey, even if it costs more, although at that point why not hire someone locally off the college campus?

I tend to see link development now as an alternate form of advertising with less direct correlation to results (when purchased mainly to increase rankings). Do you still buy links for their value to search engines, or just for the clickthrough?

I think many people buy it for their search engine value, though there are always those who like to measure the value of their investment. The metrics can be how high your site gets bumped up to traffic to conversions.

Todd:What is your favorite approach for buying links?
Attaining them outside of usual channels.

Todd:What effects do you think personalized search will have on SEO?
No effect in the near term. People just want to find stuff and Google’s search box on the home page of their Earthlink start page or the Yahoo’s main page will do fine. I just don’t see people finding value in Google’s homepage thing or Yahoo’s 360 where someone is going to go out of their way to register for that stuff and then take a half hour to figure it all out. Yahoo’s approach is closer to the Web 2.0 ideal with the collaborative aspect of it, but I think that kind of community has to be built from the bottom up, like MySpace.com. That is where tomorrow’s wallet is spending their time.

My brother’s teenage daughter was IMing me the other day asking how to hack her high school’s firewall to get to MySpace.com. Now that’s a community member! I don’t think anyone’s hurting to get to Google or MSN’s start page, lol. So I’m not convinced, despite Yahoo’s head start with my.yahoo.com, that personalized search is going to go anywhere in the near term. It’s too top-down, you know what I mean? Nevertheless, there’s still some innovation to be done in terms of Vista and OpenOffice, etc. so the book isn’t closed on personalized search.

Yahoo just snagged delicious which is something you’re probably going to see more of in the future, instead of building to compete with them. As those communities are brought together then maybe we’ll start to see more of the personalization. But you have to remember that depending on user generated content and signups can be subject to manipulation…

Todd:What would be your 5 minute advice to a prospect with a new site?
This will sound boring, but it’s about offering community, deep information, user reviews, user interaction… that kind of thing. CitySearch, Amazon, and TripAdvisor are all over that. It’s a good model.

Todd:I’ve been saying a lot of the same lately. I still feel like I sound as though I’ve been drinking the web 2.0 kool-aid. Do you think Google has set the barrier of entry for new business on the web too high, or is it the right decision for low value add ecommerce and affiliate sites?

If a local auto repair shop throws a site out there hoping to get some business, he may be out of luck because Google has no way to gauge, at that moment, that the site is legit. He’s just out of pocket for site design fees until his site meets Google’s criteria for a legit site. That’s sad and too bad for Joe Repair guy.

Of course, there is another way and that’s to proactively market the site, which they should have planned on from the beginning anyway. So part of the problem is a sense of entitlement regarding free traffic that is getting in the way of making viable, and realistic, marketing decisions.

Even if you’re bumvertising, do whatever it takes to get the job done. Look at that Golden Palace and the streakers they sent to sports events. That’s an extreme example, but there are other things people should be looking at apart from search to get the job done, including online classifieds, news releases, cultivating deals with other site owners.

Todd:What are the 5 most important considerations for an average site for improving their SEO?
No SEO.
Make your site a destination. This is more important than many people realize.
Think viral.
Add community
Get some press, get the ball rolling on notoriety

Todd:Do you think the Whitehats have won?
Building a site for users with quality content and all that is a great thing. Anything that can pass a hand check and represents a step forward in giving something of value to site visitors is cool. I am 100% into that.

But where some Whitehats fall down is in the idea that certain methods for promoting a site can be considered Whitehat. A lot of these people, most of what they ever stood for was along the lines of what they didn’t stand for, what they didn’t do. They would say things like reciprocal linking is good, as long you exchanged links with quality sites and never used software and did it mostly for the traffic- without ever considering that Google’s guidelines never explicitly (nor implicitly) recommends reciprocal linking.

Some of the Whitehat arguments remind me of statements like: you’re not a slut if the guy you’re humping is your steady boyfriend, that kind of silliness. But here’s the line in the sand: Almost anything you do beyond making your site spiderable and making sure your keywords are on the page is going to be spam.

Todd:That’s a very good point. I’ve always considered myself a “lighter shade of grayhat” because I couldn’t really identify with either side. I agree with a lot of what whitehats have to say, but it seems to be taken to an extreme for sometimes.

Todd:Will Google consume us all?
Didn’t they say that about the Roman Empire?

Todd:What new technology are you most excited about?
Ajax! It’s the Dynamic HTML of the new century! …Actually, I don’t care about technology. I’m more focused on trends.

Todd:What trends are you currently most concerned with or excited about?
User generated content, building communities around an old idea presented in a fresh way. Local search. Viral blogs. Things that bring people together. If there’s a way to tweak your site to bring people together, that’s interesting, if it can be done profitably.

Todd:What are your favorite blogs?
Webguerrilla’s blog is exciting. You never know what he’s going to maim or praise. His logo is blood red for a reason, lol.

Graywolf’s blog is the product of a mind on the prowl, good stuff.

Your blog has some cool tool stuff. Why bookmark them when I can just go to your blog?

Added post interview by Todd – Thanks for the plug dude!

Pizzadeliverydrivers.org is great for a reality check.

Adverblog.com is cool.

Tech Confidential over at http://blogs.thedeal.com/ is interesting, too.

Todd:How’d you get the name Martinibuster and where can folks find you?
My blog can be found at martinibuster.net. If you need a site review/hand check, consulting or whatever, you can email me at RogerATMartinibusterDOTCOM.

As for my nick, I wanted to ask a question over at WMW and had to pick a name quickly because it was getting close to happy hour and I was anxious to run out the door for a martini at my favorite dive. So martinis were weighing heavily on my mind at that moment.

Thanks for a great interview, and the chance to swap some memes in Vegas. Cheers to your continued success.

More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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