Interview with Ross Hudgens

Craftsman

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Something we wanted to do on Serperture was reach out to SEOs and Inbound Marketers who are Internationally recognised for their incredible work. If you follow events like SMX, Link Love, Mozcon and others, you’ll quickly see who the big shots are and these are the folks we want to interview, not only to get to know them, but to ask them some interesting questions and see what insight we can extract.

It is with great pleasure that we present you with the first interview, with none other than Ross Hudgens – round of applause please.

Ross Hudgens works as the SEO Manager at a Seattle-based Lead Generation and Management company called Full Beaker Inc. He’s known for his innovative Ross Hudgensideas around link building as well as speaking at industry events and contributing to websites such as Search Engine Land and SEOMoz. We caught up with Ross a few days ago and asked him if he’d be interested in answering some questions and he happily agreed – thank you, Ross.

We’ve been following you on Twitter for quite some time and greatly appreciate the advice you share with us and your 5,000+ (and growing) followers. Out of interest, which social network do you put most of your effort into? Where should we be following you?

I spend most of time on Twitter, and do so almost exclusively. That’s where I see the most value – LinkedIn, Quora and other networks are too spliced and do not offer the combination of value-adds that make hanging out there constantly something we should do. I also frequent Hacker News a lot, and comment occasionally. But most of my time is spent browsing there, because the comment required to contribute well is in depth, and I frequently don’t have the time (or knowledge in many cases) to do so. But of the websites I spend the most time on, for sure, Twitter and Hacker News are near the top in terms of value and also enjoyment derived.

Thank you for sharing Hacker News with us.

One of the most pressing topics at the moment is Google’s implementation of Penguin. We’ve seen blog post after blog post after blog post about the algorithm change and our experience shows that if you’ve been careful with your link building strategies there isn’t too much to fear. As a scalable link building expert, do you believe that this is an accurate statement or do you think there’s a bit more to it than just the white hat approach?

There definitely is – I’m not sure anyone wants to be caught doing too much grey stuff today, though. It is my guess – noted in bold, guess – that it has more to do with your overall link profile in terms of aggressiveness with anchor text ratios or lack thereof that got smacked. But for sure, the number of “grey” opportunities out there continue to get dried up by the day, so it would behoove you to invest in those channels as much as you can, because it’s very possible any remaining opportunity could get blanked by Google as well in the future.

We’ve been experimenting with Link Detective and have seen that the distribution of links across profiles, in terms of weight, is definitely playing a large roll. In an interview with Jon Cooper from Point Blank SEO, you mention that you’re doing less and less link building. When it comes to Inbound Marketing, what do you put your efforts into?

I’m still very link building focused – I meant more that other people on my team are doing the link building itself while I do strategy and the like. The link isn’t dead – I’m heavily relying on it and will continue to. That said, I’m also exploring other ways of generating traffic like paid channels and also Twitter/Facebook as avenues to generate some additional signals and better diversify income streams for our business.

Ah, our apologies, thank you for clearing that up for us. We see that you’re enjoying Ahrefs; Every SEO has a Mary Poppins-like bag of tools, which tools can you not live without at the moment and why?

I really am liking Ahrefs – it’s just so fast. I’m so ADD with my SEO that I jump from thing to thing, so Ahrefs is great because the data is has can be quickly accessed, pulled apart and utilized and timely fashion. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s a great addition to the toolset. That said, I’m still relying and loving SEOMoz (mostly OSE), Raven Tools, Check my Links, Screaming Frog, Citation Labs, and Scrape Similar as constants in my bag of tricks.

Nice collection you’ve got there in your bag – We didn’t know Citation Labs and will be looking into it right away. There has definitely been a lot more chatter around SEO and the future in 2012, care to predict what the next big thing in SEO will be? We won’t hold you to it, promise!

Hmm – not really sure where it’s going to go, but I know that the recent Penguin update’s most important lesson to the world is diversity – SEO is a portion of the pie, but if you’re relying on it as an exclusive channel, Google can wipe you out at any time. And plus, turns out using those secondary channels probably helps Google as a primary channel, so you might as well build them.

Everyone starts somewhere, what would be your advice to someone who is just starting out with SEO and has stumbled across the term, “link building”?

Read Michael King’s recent Noob Guide to Link Building – it’s a great start and also will bring you to several other good resources to get going.

Ah yes, we read that guide, excellent work by Michael!

What device do you reach for in the morning when you wake up?

My phone! Must check all my communication inputs. Healthy, I know.

Haha, we’re suckers for sleeping next to our phones as well!

Apart from Crossfit and Seattle summers, what gets your blood boiling outside of the work environment?

My friends, girlfriend, family and really, little else. I have an unhealthy healthy reliance and love for what I do.

Good priorities! Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us, we appreciate it and hope to catch up with you again in the future.

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  1. Rep: 86
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    Really nice interview. Some interesting tools in his bag there. Will definitely be checking them out. It always seems that SEO’s have so many different tools for different jobs though. Tough to manage a big list including everyones tools. Maybe that can be the next post on the Serperture blog?

    • Rep: 149
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      I agree with you @jamesm – There was a recent post outlining all the SEO Tools available and Michael King did a slideshare at SMX London (http://www.slideshare.net/ipullrank/smx-london-tools-for-pulling-rank) with all of his tools – goes to show just how many there are. With that in mind, I find myself sometimes using different tools to do the same thing as I move from project to project, which is never the best way to do things. So, over the past few months I’ve made a big effort to carefully note down which tool has performed which task best and then I use the tools in that regard as I take on a new project. I must say though, the cost of having registered tools is incredibly expensive, you’re looking at $500+ per month for a couple of tools and when you become dependent on those tools, the costs will never go away.

      Screaming Frog and Ahrefs have definitely received a huge amount of publicity lately, I’m really enjoying Link Detective (http://www.serperture.com/blog/link-building/link-profiling-your-competitors-websites).

      You know that I love WebCEO and I doubt that’ll ever change. Any other tool that you’re very attached to?

  2. Rep: 722
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    Thank you very much for your comments @james and @ChrisM.

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