Gillian (aka as @SEOMom on Twitter!) is, with her son (Rand), the co-founder of SEOmoz. Originally a simple blog, SeoMoz has become over the years one of the most respected Search Engine Optimisation companies and now serves as a global hub for search marketers, providing free and subscription-based tools and analytics, guides and Q&A support. Her friends will describe Gillian as passionate (as indeed will she herself) and, having met her a few times, I personally concur with this adjective!
NC: Tell me how you first got involved in SEO?
Rand Fishkin (CEO) wrote the SEOmoz.org blog before it became a company. When he wanted to monetize the blog, he shepherded the company through the early days of development. I learned SEO the way more than a million people have learned it – from the SEOmoz blog.
NC: What has surprised you most about working in this industry?
The joy and hope that pervades the industry despite the economic storms of industries all around it.
NC: What do you find most challenging about this industry?
Managing an ever-expanding network of colleagues in multiple countries, languages, and economic states.
NC: What’s the best/worst thing that happened since you started working in search marketing?
Best: Taking $18mm in funding on May 3. Worst: Leaving SEOmoz on June 30, 2012.
NC: If you could change one thing about this industry, what would it be?
I wish there were fewer people who looked at the opportunities of the web as said: “How do I scam the system to be number 1?”
NC: When your friends/family find out that you are in SEO, what do they say or ask?
When people know the industry I am in, they are generally delighted to see a middle-aged woman playing a game of young men out of college. It seems to delight them.
NC: Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work in this space?
Michelle Goldberg of Ignition Partners provided the first funding for SEOmoz and has been an inspiration in the world of finance ever since.
NC: What do you think will change about search marketing over the next five years?
As the web accompanies us through more of our day (becomes mobile for more people), we will see a deep integration of technology into our lives. From offers and coupons to becoming our personal assistants and memory banks, the mobile web will change how we interact, transact business, and connect with each other at home and around the world.
NC: What sorts of trends do you see more generally in the digital space? And what do you think the next big thing will be?
Gamification of learning and daily functionality will incentivize the next generation to become accomplished digital natives, healthier, and more productive. I see, for example, that mobile-device-delivered incentives will encourage more exercise and better grades. It will also provide a better way of learning. I see the current school system disappearing altogether shortly.
NC: If you weren’t in SEO, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
I’d be a motivational speaker for entrepreneurs. It’s a hard row to hoe. When I speak, I seem to be able to shore them up, encourage them, show them light at the end of the tunnel and give them strength as well as wisdom to carry on. I’d do that around the world.