Interview with Andy Beal, MarketingPilgrim

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March last year, I conducted an interview with Andy Beal of the SearchEngineLowdown blog (now of MarketingPilgrim). Here is the transcript of the interview:

SY: Hi Andy! Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us, its great to have you here.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your experience being in the Search industry?

AB: I’ve been “online” since 1989, way before Al Gore invented the Internet, and have been solely focused on the SEM industry since 2000. While others have been optimizing web sites since the mid 90’s, I’m a relative newbie (if you can call nearly 5 years of experience, “a newbie”) but I have found that I love SEM with a passion. On July 1st, 2000, I moved to the U.S. from England and shortly after that joined WebSourced with the task of helping them to make their KeywordRanking.com division the leader in search engine marketing, it is today.

SY: Why did you choose the search industry as a career? What future did you see in it?

AB: I have been involved with sales and marketing for over a decade and love talking to people and helping them meet their needs. I’ve always said that search engine marketing is just that, marketing. Sure there is technology involved, but when you work in this industry, you are a marketer first, a tech person second. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed work as much as I do today!

Turning to the future of search engine marketing, I am extremely excited about the future of this industry. The search engine industry is still very much in its infancy, heck; the Internet is not even a teenager yet! I love the Internet and believe that the arrival of Google has done nothing but improve search engine technology and make the entire market extremely exciting.

SY: When did you start Search Engine Lowdown? What’s its history?

AB: SearchEngineLowdown.com was started less than a year ago, in July 2003. I had two reasons for starting the site. First, I had heard of all the hype surrounding Blogging and wanted to know what it was and how it worked. Once I become comfortable with the technology, I realized that using a blog would be a fantastic way to share information about the search engine industry with our more than 80 employees. Once I started the site, I soon realized that it wasn’t just the KeywordRanking.com staff that found the information useful, other people were visiting the site each day. Very soon the site started attracting thousands of people who were interested in search engine marketing.

I think the key to the site’s success comes from the conscious decision to only focus on search engine news; hence you’ll rarely see “how-to” guides or tips on actually search engine marketing techniques. I also try to update the blog a number of times a day and add my own personal comments to the interesting articles I find.

SY: How do you do it? Every time I visit Search Engine Lowdown, the last post I saw (the day before) is always at the very bottom. Working for a very diligent, active company (KeywordRanking.com), writing articles for newsletters like SearchDay, and I bet there are thousands of other things you do in a day.

How do you do all this? I mean, I can barely spare sometime to write one article in a three days at Internet Explained with all the work load!

AB: I get asked that question a lot. A lot of people can’t believe that it is just me that keeps SearchEngineLowdown.com updated, especially as I am also tasked with directing search engine marketing strategies for KeywordRanking.com as well as marketing and public relations in general for WebSourced.

I guess you could say that I am obsessed with the search engine industry. I absolutely love it and very much enjoy sharing news and my own insight to anyone that cares to listen. I’ve also found that Search Engine Lowdown is a fantastic way to ensure that I keep my knowledge fresh and my skills up to date. Forcing myself to read and publish all of the latest news is a great way to ensure that I keep all of our employees updated as well as myself.

SY: What do you think is the future for search engines? With Yahoo trying to conquer Google’s domination, and MSN planning to surprise the world with its yet-to-launch search engine, who do you think is going to be the ultimate winner, in the so-called “search engine wars”?

AB: That’s a great question, and one that I have been asking a lot of people in the industry. I personally believe that there will not be a clear winner to the “search engine wars”. The whole thing reminds me of the Star Wars story, where the balance of power keeps tipping back and forth, but there is no clear-cut winner. I guess that’s what makes the search engine industry interesting. I think you will see Yahoo, Google and MSN sharing the majority of search engine traffic for the next few years, with search engines such as Ask, Feedster, Eurekster and Mamma tapping into specialized niches and doing very well as second-tier, alternative choice search engines.

I also see personalization of search results becoming the next step in search technology. I’d love to have the option of letting my favorite search engine remember what type of results I prefer, where my location is and how does my search relate to the other tasks I have been doing on my computer. Some people get nervous about letting the search engines know too much, but I personally want a better experience. If that means giving the search engines more information, in a secure way, why wouldn’t I want to do it?


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