“…Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.” The Beatles

Sphinn has certainly changed the social and professional dynamic of search marketing. Each Sphinster has a different perspective on the Sphinn impact and to best illustrate this, I thought it would be instructive to interview several people about Sphinn who I’ve either met via Sphinn or got to know much better through Sphinn. These folks are:

Marty Weintraub
Shana Albert
Rhea Drysdale
Tim Dineen
Brian Wallace

    Marty Weintraub

1) Please give us your current company / job title and let us know how you got involved with search engine marketing.

aimClearBlog is a publication of AimClear, a search engine optimization (SEO) Internet marketing firm in Duluth and Minneapolis , Minnesota . We offer website promotion, organic optimization, Social Media consulting, and paid placement (PPC) services to local and national clients.

President

I first found my way onto the Internet through a famous early Minnesota musician BBS Internet gateway ISP called Digital Bitstream Underground. I could interact with other musicians, download cool MIDI files, meet cool ladies, and get on to the Internet using a very early version of Netscape. It was this generation of ISP’s that spawned Prodigy and AOL which evolved conceptually from these WAN dialup networks initially not laid over the Internet. Some characteristics of early BBS’s are evident in today’s blog software.

My first Internet “marketing” experience came in 1995 when, as the Creative Director of a Minnesota CBS affiliate television station my team had the privilege of crafting the first “media” outlet website in the DMA. We promoted the site in newspapers, email, and on the air. We read primitive web log stats and though t we were in heaven. Those were heady times. Between 1995 and 2001 I must have had a hand in creating over 200 websites for agencies, businesses, musicians, and others. We got a hold of meta tags and helped RUIN IT for everybody. 🙂

2)            What role can Sphinn play as part of an overall social media strategy?

Sphinn’s “Hot Today” page rewards valuable content with highly focused traffic resulting in very relevant and high quality links and new industry  friends. Sphinn is an extraordinary opportunity for young blogs (like ours) with fledgling authority to leave the nest. I stumble Sphinn story pages and Sphinn SU profiles. Honestly I’m happiest when interacting with SEM professionals. I love search marketing conferences. Though aimClear has gained some visibility among consummate search marketing folks, I’m in it because I love the people . SEO is Like Music  and Sphinn is like playing keyboards in a great band.

3)            What makes a story “Hot”?

It’s the same as it ever was. Look for headlines which are both classy and appropriately hyperbolic. I personally am drawn to short descriptions , like Lyndon’s, which engage and titillate. Most importantly, if the article is Sphunn by someone who has many friends, it will probably go hot. Of course, the way you get friends in any community is to participate fully by bringing valuable content to the group. It’s a big happy circle of friendship and content.

4)            How can a search engine marketer leverage Sphinn to increase his/her visibility within the search community?

Sphinn is Like 5 Hungry Lions Feeding in a 10 Foot Square Cage. Seriously though, you’ve never met a nicer group of people. Sphinn is a place to make friends all around the world. I’ve met at least 10 people who are now really valuable SU friends. Just bring yourself honestly to the community and network. My SU profile really took off from participation in Sphinn.

Sphinn is just one component of SEM industry growth . You have to read blogs like Search Engine Land , StuntDouble, CopyBlogger, SEORoundTable, Online Marketing Blog, go to 6-8 SEM conferences a year, and hang out in Sphinn. Sphinn is just on one part of staying tuned in to what’s going on out there in the big search world.   Because of Sphinn’s wonderful friend-making propensity, I literally now have “dates” @ SMX Denver, SMX NYC, SES Chicago, etc…Because of Sphinn I have many more industry relationships.

5)            Can you tie your Sphinn participation to changes in website metrics(e.g. increases in traffic, links or leads)?

Yes. I attribute over 60 feed subscriptions and thousands of visitors to Sphinn. Even better, I know that “gone host posts” I’ve Sphunn have helped send traffic to a number of worthy bloggers. That’s what it’s all about anyway . Oh yes, aimClearBlog has probably received 10 very good links directly from Sphinn and dozens from bloggers who found us on Sphinn.

6)            How has Sphinn changed since its launch and how do you expect it will evolve?

It’s already much busier and takes an ever increasing number of Sphinns to go hot. I hope for more email integration like alerts for messages and posts gone hot. There are still some basic programming things that remain to be worked out. That’s why it’s a Beta.  J For now, some of my favorite bloggers bookmark content from other of my favorite bloggers and that’s good enough for me.

I’m sure Danny has a cool vision. I’m grateful that he and his team gave us Sphinn. When I checked a couple of weeks ago there were 1072 members. It might will take a while to get much bigger because there are only so many search marketing pros right now. However, over time it could become massive as the whole of the advertising, marketing , and PR industries fold into the Internet.

    Shana Albert

1) Please give us your current company / job title and let us know how you got involved with search engine marketing.

I am self Employed. There is no Official Company name at this point. My business is under my name, Shana Albert . I am a Web Designer and Webmaster. I have one eCommerce Website, www.ABCHomePreschool.com . And, a handful of other Websites that are based around my interests, such as work-at-home , bookkeeping , and diet and fitness . I also have a bunch of Domains that I own, but I haven’t done anything with yet. My plans are to do so. I recently started a Preschool Education blog . I really enjoy blogging and plan to put together a Blog for my Work-At-Home site. I only started getting into Search Engine Marketing in July of this year. My eCommerce site is crazy busy. I run the whole thing myself which takes up a lot of my time. Specifically, the business end of it, i.e. production, customer service, bookkeeping, etc. It takes up so much of my time that I haven’t done much as far as SEO in the past 2 years. ABC Home Preschool had been ranked #1 in Google for the Key-phrase “Preschool Curriculum” for 3 ¾ years and then this past Spring it began dropping. I was a mess. But, it was completely my fault. I took for granted that I was #1 in Google and didn’t keep up-to-date with SEO. So, to answer you question, a couple of months ago I went on a mission to get all the information I could on SEO, but I wasn’t prepared for the change it has gone through…. I discovered there was Social Media, Networking and Link Building changed big time!!

2) What role can Sphinn play as part of an overall social media strategy?

For me Sphinn was a source of information in SEO, SEM, and Social Media. I was there to learn as much as I could. And, I did…. Todd, I have learned so much. And, the Sphinn Community was amazingly helpful. I was nothing short of impressed. In the past when I had questions and posted these questions to certain SEO Forums , I would rather not mention the names, I would get some really mean comments back. I was made to feel like an idiot asking questions to people who I admired. Which put a really bad taste in my mouth…. I only posted two questions on that forum in the 4 years that I have been using it. But, Sphinn became something to me in addition to the knowledge I was getting from there…. I began Networking without realizing I was doing it. Even though my Blog is a Preschool Blog and has nothing to do with SEO or SEM the hit count began to rise. I believe that by using Sphinn and becoming more knowledgeable in Social Media it gave me the confidence to network successfully on StumbleUpon, MyBlogLog, and FaceBook.

3) What makes a story “Hot”?

Posts that are interesting, compelling, and cause me to have an ” Ah Hah Moment”. A story like this I will read it and then read it again until there is nothing left to absorb. But, I also like reading posts with humor. Give me a Post with SEO or Social Media, add in a bit of humor and I’m a very happy Sphinner. For example, there was one post that had the perfect combination of SEO and Humor. The post was Hitchhikers Guide to Linkless SEO by Patrick at SEOish . I had a couple of “Ah Hah” moments while smiling the entire time. And, you know what, that post was the highest rated Sphinn I ever submitted.

4) How can a search engine marketer leverage Sphinn to increase his/her visibility within the search community?

Bottom line, they have to participate. You can’t be quiet to get anywhere in social media. I believe a Search Engine Marketer needs to earn respect from the other Sphinners. In order to earn their respect and to be deemed trustworthy is to

  • participate proactively. And, by Proactive I don’t just mean participate… anyone can participate. But, I mean participate by submitting Sphinn Worthy Stories,
  • Sphinn other compelling stories that have already been submitted.
  • Leave comments on Sphinns. And again, be proactive. No fighting in the comments. I am all for leaving an honest opinion… it is our right to have our own opinions and to share our opinions. But, I also believe that there is a way to do this without rudeness and fighting. There is no need for this and remember we are talking about trying to increase visibility within the Search Community. Being rude is not going to get you the visibility you are looking for.

The Sphinn Community is generally very active in other Social Networking Sites. Earn their respect at Sphinn and you will find an easier time at befriending them on other Social Networking Sites. For example, If you feel that their story is Sphinn worthy, well maybe you should Stumble, it as well.

5) Can you tie your Sphinn participation to changes in website metrics (e.g. increases in traffic, links or leads)?

Oh, yes. It might not have been directly from Sphinn, but it was a “Butterfly Effect”. My Sphinn participation dominoed into other areas.. I made friends at Sphinn, but found these friends also participated on other social networking sites that I used. They found me or I found them at these other sites. I think the biggest impact for me was the combination of Sphinn and StumbleUpon. Together these two social media sites have increased my traffic and links, but more importantly I’ve met some really wonderful people. I’m enjoying it more than I can possibly describe. I’ve always enjoyed my Business, but Social Media has taken it to a new level.

6) How has Sphinn changed since its launch and how do you expect it will evolve?

I wasn’t at Sphinn when it first began. When I discovered Sphinn it was already a couple of weeks old. However, I still see have notice changes since I started.

  • There are more people now in the Community since I started. The Community is growing quickly which is great, but at the same time in the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed one or two comments that were a bit hostile. This could be as more people use Sphinn the more opinions you will have. Everyone deserves to state their opinion… I just think this can be done without unneeded rudeness. And the majority of the time at Sphinn this is the case…. The comments have been proactive. One of the many reasons I love Sphinn is the community and the amount of respect I feel the members of the community have for each other. Even if people there don’t agree with a post or comment I make I have never been made to feel stupid. Unfortunately, there has been a couple of forums and social media sites that have made me feel that way and it gave me a bad feeling for a long time until I found Sphinn. There is a positive and negative vote button on each comment made at Sphinn. Viewers can make a positive vote or a negative vote for each comment. I believe that this keeps people from leaving rude comments.
  • Most of the bugs have been ironed out. By the time I got to Sphinn I didn’t notice too many at all. And, most have since been fixed.
  • There has been talk of a possible vote-down button. This should not be confused with Digg’s Bury-It button. Unlike Digg’s Bury-It button, Sphinn’s vote-down button would just subtract sphinn’s off the total sphinn votes, I believe. Don’t quote me on that. Danny had asked a couple of weeks ago for the community’s feedback on the vote-down button and many people commented. There were so many suggestions and views on this button. I’m not sure what direction Sphinn will decide to go with. But, I think it is wonderful that Danny cares how his Community feels about it.
  • I see the Comment section changed yesterday (9/22). The comments section is now a WYSIWYG comments editor. Which is really cool, however there are some minor glitches with it that Danny is working on and will be fixed shortly, I’m sure.
  • What hasn’t changed since the beginning is Danny’s constant communication with the Sphinn Community. Danny has been so good about keeping the community up to date with anything related to Sphinn and its community. Including improvements to Sphinn. Instead of just making a change he will post and let the community know and ask for feedback. I like that… a lot. It makes the Community personal and isn’t that what’s community about? Being Personal. Sphinn is truly a great place to be.
    Rhea Drysdale

1)Please give us your current company / job title and let us know how you got involved with search engine marketing.

I work for the MPS Group as their Internet Marketing Manager. I first got involved with search engine marketing in my senior semester of college when I was hired as an SEO technician for an online hotel marketing company. I thought I was being hired as a designer, because they didn’t know how to advertise for an SEO at the time. I had a rudimentary knowledge of meta tags, HTML, design and copywriting, and I was trained on the job. After just a few weeks, I fell in love. I’ve since been an account manager, an e-commerce analyst and now an Internet Marketing Manager.

2) What role can Sphinn play as part of an overall social media strategy?

Sphinn really only fits into a social media strategy for search marketers, social media gurus and companies spotlighting a successful online marketing initiative. I don’t know for certain, but I would wager the majority of contributors and readers are intermediate to expert level search or social marketers. With that in mind, it’s important to contribute high quality articles, relevant news or intriguing comments. If you fit the demographic and contribution mold, then you will likely find a nice bump in subscribers and traffic. Most importantly, you’re targeting a very tech-savvy and vocal group of marketers who will (if impressed) link to your story contributing both link juice and more traffic to your site.

3) What makes a story “Hot”?
Hot stories typically go hot because they come from a credible source, are topical or carry a bit of controversy or humor. Sometimes you also get fresh faces with well-researched or unique concepts, but those can be few and far between often involve a little networking behind the scenes.

4) How can a search engine marketer leverage Sphinn to increase his/her visibility within the search community?

1. Write a solid article.

2a. Submit as yourself and network like a mad person (respectfully of course).

2b. Ask a top or well-known Sphinn user to submit it for you.

3. Watch as the sphinns and comments come in and monitor the results.

If the content is strong, you should see a traffic boost, increased subscribers if you have an RSS feed and because most Sphinn users have their own blogs, you’ll likely get some backlinks from authoritative sites recapping the day in search and standout articles.

If you don’t have anything to say for yourself, be the first to break new stories or quality articles. If you hit the homepage frequently, people will begin to recognize your name and avatar and will subsequently pay more attention to future submissions. I should warn marketers that sometimes being recognizable isn’t a good thing if you abuse the site and submit spammy or poor quality articles and post obnoxious comments. So, try to make sure your name is synonymous with high quality submissions and you will be build a solid personal brand.

5) Can you tie your Sphinn participation to changes in website metrics (e.g. increases in traffic, links or leads)?

Yes, my site is still relatively new and I don’t do much marketing for it as I’m busy working for others, but the few times I’ve submitted a post of mine or had one submitted, I saw a nice increase in traffic and subscriptions. To date, Sphinn is my third largest referrer.

6) How has Sphinn changed since its launch and how do you expect it will evolve?

Well, there are certainly less kinks now than there were in the past! I’m glad they added a messages feature and those are now appearing on the homepage if you have a new message. I also really like the Sphinn Live area where you can follow comments, upcoming and recently published articles. Much like the sorting features on Digg, this makes it easier for me to shuffle through quality articles and authoritative sources. Hopefully, we’ll be able to sort by time, sphinns, category and sphinner in the coming weeks, too. Also for the future, I want to second Andy Beard’s sentiment for an “Upcoming” area. I find it incredibly frustrating that it takes so long for articles to hit the homepage. That’s the downside of having such a highly targeted network, but the positives far outweigh any negative.

Overall, I think the team has done an incredible job!

    Tim Dineen

1) Please give us your current company / job title and let us know how you got involved with search engine marketing.

I’m the Online Marketing Manager at Indeed.com – the job search engine . Indeed indexes jobs from around the web and provides job seekers with an easy way to find the most jobs from one search.

I’ve been involved with SEM in one form or another since getting into the business in 1997. At that time, I started a business called Exposure.com to help small businesses and organizations promote themselves on the web. Eventually the things I was doing came to be called SEO, SEM, etc. It’s been a long but enjoyable process – I couldn’t imagine another more interesting field to be a part of.

2) What role can Sphinn play as part of an overall social media strategy?

In my situation, I don’t think it’ll be an intentional part of any strategy but I hope that topics regarding small search engines and verticals will get coverage and that interesting topics will turn into discussions there. When that occurs, I’ll try to make sure my niche or company is well represented.

3) What makes a story “Hot”?

It seems to me that “hot” stories are those that tend to be controversial or have funny or well-written headlines. I guess this is the nature of social news sites so we shouldn’t expect any different at Sphinn – in fact, this may even be more true since some of the participants are the best-of-the-best at making use of social networks.

But I also hope that boring but important topics will also rise to the top. There is nothing sexy about most of the things that SEMs do on a typical basis like analyzing HTML and site structure, or identifying click fraud and quality score concerns, but those topics are especially important to us practitioners in the field. So I hope all well-written and topical articles will get the same attention that the controversial or funny items do.

4) How can a search engine marketer leverage Sphinn to increase his/her visibility within the search community?

For me, Sphinn is a way to communicate with folks (like yourself) interested in the same topics that I am. Since I’m an In-house marketer (not agency and not a consultant), I don’t really see Sphinn as a fit for promoting my company on a regular basis and I’m not looking for self-promotion. I’m just after some great and hopefully intellectual conversation about the topics of the day and maybe when I go to a conference I’ll already have made a few connections via Sphinn so we can continue that communication in other ways.

5) Can you tie your Sphinn participation to changes in website metrics (e.g. increases in traffic, links or leads)?

Since my intention with Sphinn is networking, I don’t really feel the need to attract traffic, links or leads from it. I don’t run a blog (or agency) that relies on traffic or leads so I’m going to try to only point links in a particular direction when I want to raise a topic I don’t see others communicating about in the same way.

6) How has Sphinn changed since its launch and how do you expect it will evolve?

Sphinn seems to evolve every day with new people joining and participating. The community will decide and I only hope it’s not a “mob rules” environment. I’m thrilled to see so many In-house marketers participating in ways they never have before. I’m looking forward to seeing where Sphinn’s leaders and developers can take this and hope they’ll be able to tackle some of the issues that other social sites haven’t like squashing excessive baiting or duplicate topic posts. Sphinn is itself an evolution from news sites, blogs and forums to a user-generated community with discussion, so I think it’s yet to be understood what this can grow into.

    Brian Wallace

1) Please give us your current company / job title and let us know how you got involved with search engine marketing.

I am the President of NowSourcing, Inc., a Louisville based Internet Marketing firm. As far as getting involved with search engine marketing, I’ve been involved professionally with the web for over a decade, and remember getting excited reading the early days of Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Watch. So, things just came into place. Plus, the advent of social media in SEO has really piqued my interest.

2) What role can Sphinn play as part of an overall social media strategy?

It’s a great place to exchange ideas with fellow SEM’s / SEM junkies. Reading the Hot Topics and What’s New can save you a lot of time instead of glazing over different blogs and RSS feeds.

3) What makes a story “Hot”?

About half of the stories that I’ve submitted have become “hot”. Here is a partial list of traits that these stories had:

Catchy headlines, Interviews, Social Media, Domaining, Comparisons / Combining 2 normally unrelated concepts , Tips and Tricks, Breaking News / Rumors.

Simply writing a catchy headline about interviewing your pet groomer probably won’t cut it. Make sure it is a quality article. Also, articles that are heavily commented on / voted on by well known SEM figures seem to do well.

4) How can a search engine marketer leverage Sphinn to increase his/her visibility within the search community?

By taking full advantage of what the site has to offer. At the least, put in an avatar (all of the top sphinners except one have one). It is a good idea to put in your websites, blogs, and other social network id’s in your profile. Submit regularly, but this is a choosy bunch. If you are submitting your own content (it’s fine to do so here, by the way), make sure it is relevant and that you know what you’re talking about. Same goes for submitting someone else’s site.

5) Can you tie your Sphinn participation to changes in website metrics (e.g. increases in traffic, links or leads)?

Yes. I’ve received some daily traffic from Sphinn, and have made several friends there. Made some friends along the way, too, and got to know others better that I already knew.

6) How has Sphinn changed since its launch and how do you expect it will evolve?

It’s getting more crowded (there appear to be approx 3,200 registered users at the time of this interview). I’ve been on there for 2 months now, and that’s longer than most.

Expect Sphinn to continue to grow – and when it does, people will probably try to increasingly abuse the system. Spam, poor quality articles and links in comments are likely. Hopefully, the admins will be watching for this diligently.

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon’s Search Engine Marketing Association.

Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association. He is a Senior Account Manager for 3Q Digital and is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association, and he can be found here on Google+.
Share This