Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand on Making the Most of SEO

by Gil Zeimer on August 29, 2011

Renowned “search expert” Danny Sullivan leads the news and information site SearchEngineLand.com, which covers Google, SEO, pay-per-click, and just about everything else related to search engines and search marketing. We talked with the Newport Beach, Calif.-based journalist about building a Twitter following, setting up a search engine-friendly website, and gaining insight at the Search Marketing Expo.

ISBB: How did you grow your audience on Twitter to more than 172,000 followers?

Sullivan: I opened my Twitter account in 2007, and since then it’s grown steadily. About 18 months ago, Twitter changed how it listed suggestions, like LinkedIn does with recommendations, and that really accelerated growth. I know that people attend my conferences because of Twitter and that our tweets dive traffic on SearchEngineLand.com, so my Twitter use is all about maintaining activity.

You’re an expert on search engine marketing, optimization, and placement. What advice would you offer to small businesses with limited budgets?

For small businesses, I’d recommend the basic best practice of having a website that is search engine friendly. On my website, I offer some tips for optimizing your site. After that, I’d look at making sure I’ve claimed my business with the local search engines, if my business is local in nature. Then I’d perhaps experiment with paid search ads.

Should a business try to get higher rankings on multiple pages or start with one?

Each page potentially can rank for a different topic. It’s not really a question of trying to only make one work. Ideally, if you’ve done the basics of SEO, all your pages will serve as potential entry points for different keyword phrases.

If small-business owners are SEO savvy, can they help themselves, or should they work with an expert?

Small businesses certainly can help themselves. If you have the time, it can be worthwhile.

What’s the best takeaway for a small business from SMX?

SMX is our Search Marketing Expo conference series that delivers the most comprehensive educational and networking experiences — whether you’re just starting in search marketing or you’re a seasoned expert. SMX East will meet from September 13 to 15, and SMX West will meet February 28 to March 1.

If you were new to search marketing, the best takeaway would be to stay in the Boot Camp track and learn all the basics. You’ll come away with plenty of practical tips, from how to structure your site to making link requests. If you’re up to speed on SEO, you’re going to learn a lot about how to improve your business and work at a higher level to stay on top of the search rankings.

Any advice for small businesses who want to jump in feet-first on Twitter to build their audience?

I suggest that they get online and start with a few tweets, listen for a bit, read the answers, respond, and take it from there. I probably write 5 to 20 tweets on some days but usually about 10 daily.