Before Search Marketing Day – interviewing Andre Alpar

1 SMD 2012 logo

For our Search Marketing Day conference due in May we have succeeded in inviting Andre Alpar, a renowned German practitioner and theorist of the broadly defined performance marketing, working for the Berlin-based AKM3 Agency. Andre is a truly versatile man – he develops SEO-plug-ins for popular search engines, engages in activities related to SEO and affiliate marketing, writes books and a blog, produces his own podcast, and co-manages several Internet enterprises. Who is Andre and why should you attend his presentation at SMD2012? Here are his answers to our questions:

Maciej Janas: You’ve been into Internet marketing since 1998. You’re a shareholder of several Internet start-ups but an important part of your activities is related to performance marketing. You could have become anyone but you have decided to engage in SEO and affiliate marketing. What is so attractive about them? :-)

2 andre-alparAndre Alpar: When you look at online marketing as a whole there are other channels like SEA or display that can drive more traffic, but SEO and affiliate marketing are always the most efficient ones. Also, I think they are intellectualy creative and they develop really fast. You always have to stay up to date.

MJ: Among other things, you develop popular plug-ins for Firefox, Chrome and WordPress. What do the plug-ins do and why use them?

Andre Alpar: All the software we have published arose from our own needs when doing SEO. When you do SEO for large companies and their corporate websites, one of the most important things is checking which of the pages / URLs you want indexed and which not. We used to do this by often looking into the sourcecode. SeeRobots is a way to see this important information very fast in the status bar of your browsers. LinkParser emerged from a similar need. You often want to look at what kinds of links are on a certain URL clustured by different aspects. This is exactly what LinkParser helps you with. For example, it can highlight only external “do”-follow links (the valuable links from a SEO perspective).

MJ: Google is changing. Lately penalties for over-optimized websites have been announced, some time earlier penalties have been introduced for websites that contain too many ads or are of “poor quality” (Panda). At the same time, the visibility of organic listings is deteriorating, semantic search has been announced, and websites of big brand names are prefered. How will Google’s policy affect the condition of the SEO industry?

Andre Alpar: SEO has been constantly changing since I got in the business. I doubt this will ever change. I feel most of the latest changes stem from the previous weaknesses of Google. Google used to love results that are as specific as possible. Then came lousy affiliate sites and content farms. Then came Panda and suddenly authority / trust is more important than beeing as specific as possible. Same with “over-optimizing” in my opinion. Actually, the term “over-optimizing” does not make a lot of sense I think. If something is “optimal” you can not do too much. Too much is not optimal … Back to the topic. Some people did lazy and greedy linkbuilding, focusing too much on monetizing keyword anchortext and now this shortcut is gone. Googlers always say they want quality. Well, that’s what you have to deliver. Less shortcuts, more real work ;-)

MJ: Will those changes be beneficial for Google itself? And what about Internet users?

Andre Alpar: Google will never want SEO to be deterministic. If it was, it would harm their Adwords income I think. So constant change is good for Google. But the changes they make are very often focussed on user experience. So users do benefit a lot.

MJ: I’ve learnt that you’ve analysed Google’s patent portfolio. Based on that, do you have any guesses as to what direction the development of the search engine will take?

Andre Alpar: Some part of the patent portfolio has to do with how software patents are delt with in the US. Basically, companies are sueing each other trying to get money or else threaten to stop innovation. They are trying to help to reform laws around software patents but it is not that easy. So I think some of the patent activity has to do with precautions in that direction. Others are clearly already used today. But it is a long way from a patent to an effect in real search life …

MJ: With G+ social network, Google seems to be offering webmasters a kind of package deal – “help us animate G+ and we will help you promote yourselves in SERP”. This option is not yet available in but you’re involved in a number of international projects. Do you use G+ as a SEO tool in your projects? Can you see any effects?

Andre Alpar: I think G+ is the central innovation at Google in the last 10 years. All other of their innovations will later seem small compared to this. If they get the information about the social graph, they will be finally able to build a search product that is much better than what they had 10 years ago. Individualized SERPs enriched by what your friends like and use will be a much better result than they have ever had.

MJ: You take part in many SEO conferences around the world as a speaker. If my calculations are correct, in 2011 you have given talks at 19 different conferences, and before our SearchMarketingDay in May you have presentations planned at three German conferences. Have you noticed any striking differences in the nature of SEO activities in the different countries, for example based on the questions you’ve been asked following your talks?

Andre Alpar: Besides the US and UK, Germany is in the lucky position of being quite in the front seat when it comes to SEO. Usually, it is the first non-English country that gets Googles innovations. I think anyone doing so many speaches has to have some kind of teacher / preacher syndrom. I enjoy helping/ educating and directing people toward the right thoughts/ ideas. Take it as an investment in your karma bank account. It will all come back :-)

MJ: You have already seen the tentative programme of the SearchMarketingDay organized in Poznań. What do you make of the conference? :-)

Andre Alpar: I am very much looking forward to it. Great choice of international speakers. I am a conference organizer myself so I know how hard it is to get that many speakers aboard. You guys are doing an amazing job. I hope everyone in Poland recognizes that and gives you props for the great work!

MJ: You’re also engaged in actively spreading knowledge of Internet marketing, not only in the form of conference presentations, but you also write a blog in German and produce your own podcast. Sometimes you also publish longer manual-like texts. What motivates you to share your knowledge with others?

Andre Alpar: I am a strong beliver that it all comes back when you share. Also: I love to try new things. I am having a hard time saying “no” to something I haven’t done before. Right now we are finishing our first online marketing book. It will be 1000 pages long. :-)

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