I don’t need to introduce Ruud Hein to those of you in the business of SEO, but for those of you in other areas of joy:
Ruud works at Search Engine People and is a programmer, developer and knows a thing or two about SEO. He is known for his many interviews, he always has some interesting questions for those in SEO. I figured it was about time he was interviewed. Who is Ruud Hein and what does he have to share with us?
Ruud, what background do you come from and how did you end up in this crazy business of online marketing?
Uh <reinvents himself> I come from years but years of Fb-API: face-based applied practical interfacing <sound of record coming to scratching stop>
Nah, I come from Amsterdam, from Mokum, a metropolis small enough you can walk its center in half an hour. Livable enough so you actually do that too. It’s where of old on the Waterlooplein you could have the mazzel (luck) to make jatmoos (hand money, the first money of the day).
It’s here that I’m born into a family with a mother as genuine and real a person as possible and a father who in his free time was an Evangelical street preacher, founder of a street preaching ministry. Talking, selling, I picked up from him; how to keep it unconditionally real I learned from her.
My father was never the type of person who bought “a cassette player” or even a “Philips cassette player”. My father would, after a sufficiently lengthy intro which might have started with how he had woken up that morning, introduce that he had bought the Philips AX8-Z — emphasis on the “Z”. And he would place that emphasis in such a way that you couldn’t help but be impressed that it was the Z and not in God forbid the X or Y even though you had A) no clue how this model’s features might differ from others because B) you had no specific idea of what a Philips AX8-Z was. Never the less, you secretly hoped for one too. The Z of course, not the X or Y.
I’ve seen my father demonstrate his new unbreakable glass coffee mugs by wrapping up his story at about the same time as he took the last sips from the mug, to then *throw* the thing against the wall centimeters (that’s inches for you US folks) away from the head of whoever had been presented with the story.
I’ve seen such a demonstration gone wrong too of course, with the mug splintering into thousands of tiny pieces and my father, not missing a beat, saying “and if they do break you won’t find a thing and there’s no clean-up”
<shakes head, laughs> ah, just talking about it “breek me de bek niet open” don’t get me started Queen’s Day with its huge for-all flea market; I’ve made many a kid’s buck there selling whatever it was I had and wanted to get rid of The “fight” for commercial broadcasting, from sea based pirate radio to land based
Anyway <sip> in the Netherlands secondary has you do Dutch, English, German and French ñ and you get to drop one foreign language per year until you’re left with one, right? So, me, I was the guy who dropped French as soon as I could. Smart move; Germany was and is Europe’s big economic motor and every Dutchie in business is doing work with Germany. Gotta have German in your package. Which is why when I arrived in French speaking Quebec in ’97 I had a vocabulary of about 5 words and the job prospects of an illiterate librarian. <laughs at God’s sense of humor> It was the ‘net or die. eBay, own web site, dabble in meta tags and keyword stuffing, start reading about this mystery called SEO and before you know it, you’ve crossed over into the twilight zone.
What interests you most about it, what’s the hook for you?
Emotions. <puts down mug of coffee and makes big gesture>
Pure emotion. <shows it using both hands>
Sales are about emotion, about The Experience.
Pure SEO is about pure emotions; basic SEO is about tech stuff while complex SEO is about scale.
In essence it’s about the *click*; that connection. You crying during that scene, those shivers down your spine with that song and you know damned well which one I mean, right? — and of course the way that one image struck you in such a way only weeks later you suddenly understand how it triggered a sequence of images, evoked a story, meant everything and the world just to you.
<puts on Andre Hazes featuring Ali B.> See, now I’m talking to 16 million Dutch folks. <bobs head to the beat waits for a break> OK and so now <puts on U2′s 2002 Super Bowl half time show> now I’m talking to 300 million folks in the US …. and to everyone who like me was there hitting F5 that day and then to anyone who reacts to those amazing guitar chords .. <turns up volume, gets shivers> K?
Good SEO is about getting to the gut of things. Good sales are about gut feelings.
That’s the easiest, cheapest, simplest, most complicated, most expensive way to do SEO, marketing, branding, sales or advertising: get out on that ledge by being real, connect, and get feedback in either tears, links or dollars.
If you ever bobbed your head to a beat or moved your hand to emphasize a note , I can get you to link to my site or enthusiastically promote it to friends.
Those folks above they can get me linking to those tracks in an interview by paying me or by connecting with me. Guess what’s happening here? Rrright.
So that awesomeness is much, much cheaper to cause than to buy.
Trying to just link the <beep> out of a client until the Google thinks they’re awesome? Mind numbing. Effective? You bet. You. Bet. Add links to a well done <title> tag and you’re in business.
But efficient? <shakes head, looks at ceiling> That’s how one thing can be cheap and expensive at the same time while the other is expensive but cheap. Start with the basics, invest in getting links but invest more in causing people to crave to link to you.
You read over here at SFS, what is it about the science that you value?
When I first visited Cre8asite Forums I did so to figure two things out; why was what I did working and what else works?
See, SEO was black magic, voodoo science; actions applied to assumed algorithms backed by theories based firmly on thin air. Yet when I applied some of the basics it worked. So obviously there was more to SEO than “let’s throw some stuff at the page and see what works”; some folks knew what they were doing.
Now, having done what I was told to do what would come after? What else could I do and, much more important, how do I or anyone else figure out what to do to begin with?!
Testing is one thing. It’s the first and the last thing newcomers are recommended to do: test. Test, then test the test results, then test the test ñ test, test, test.
But at either side of a test, knowledge, information, helps. To figure out what to test it helps to understand a bit of what might be going on. And to interrupt the test results it certainly helps if you can free associate with things you’ve read.
And I read here about it because A) I need a filter, a guide, a teacher, and B) I may be smart but I don’t consider myself sufficiently educated to make sense of all this <waves hands> science stuff <goofy grin>.
What message do you have from planet marketing for the computer science world?
<laughs out loud> Take me to your leader? We come in peace? <laughs some more> What a funny question
<Takes a moment> Uh nothing really springs to mind. You won’t hear me pushing marketing as a religion or a blessing. Don’t want to convince people of anything like that.
Maybe <hesitates> maybe that marketing is a descriptive term, as is almost anything we humans come up with, right? It’s not prescriptive; we don’t prescribe that things should be this or that way, work this or that way. Marketing seeks to describe and use those patterns and collections of actions and ideas that are associated with successfully exposing a product or idea to “the market”; to people.
But seriously, I guess these people already know this “stuff” <waves in the air again> and don’t need me to state the obvious.
We share some professional history: we’ve both been teachers, in fact we’ve both taught English as a second language. How does that experience feed into what you do now?
It’s where I learned two things: how to communicate more effectively with people ñ and that whatever you think is “common knowledge” in whatever area of life or expertise isn’t.
The latter is of course especially important for those of us who have so-called black box jobs.
What book would you recommend to all marketing and computing people and why?
Hm <smiles> Normally I would recommend the Book of Ecclesiastes: now that book rocks. It’s written by a king who wonders what the heck there is to life then anyway. The rich die, the poor die the wise and the fools the preacher man and the most depraved sinner; it all adds up to a whole bunch of nothing. So he pursues a life of wine and partying and one of wisdom and deepness ñ and in the end concludes one might be better than the other but that neither one is it. In the end he recommends a middle road of being not too holier than thou and not too far out there either. To walk the middle road.
It’s an awesome book: my favorite.
But OK, well, more within the subject matter Paco Underhill’s “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping“. I love that he was one of the first to seriously look at how we buy to determine why we buy. A lot of what’s in that book is what’s in your stores and other commercial environments right now but a lot of what’s in that book can also be made to apply to the web. Anyway, I love reading additional trivia on the subject but for me, this book is still the beginning and end.
Other recommendations? “Getting Things Done” by David Allen so you can have a framework, a process, for going from “I should do” to “this is done”. Be sane about it: it’s a productivity process, not a religion. “Just do it” “First Things First” by Stephen Covey to have someone show you why other things than getting things done matter ñ and how to strike a sane balance.
If you weren’t a web professional, what would you be doing?
Working towards becoming one
But if I couldn’t work on the web at all you mean? Anything, really. I bring the fun and enjoyment with me wherever I go so it’s not really about the job itself. To simply have a job is already great.
There is no such thing as a “mind numbing” job. True, some types of work give your mind more leisure time but that’s rich! Imagine, you get all this time to think, focus, plan, imagine, prepare ñ and they pay you for that! So right there you get to provide for you and yours and prepare for the article you’re going to write that evening for your Adsense site, the review for your affiliate site, the chapter for that book or a 1000 other things.
What’s your favourite equation and why?
What is 6 x 7 ?
It’s my favorite equation because the result is 42 and 42 in turn is the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything. But if 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything than just what the hell was the question anyway?!
What’s your favourite word and why?
My favourite word? <wonders where she gets her questions from but takes notes for his own interviews>
Words strong like an old oak tree: patience, endurance.
Words rich like a fresh, deep well in an oasis: love, joy, compassion.
Words soaked in good times: Christmas, book, evening, and coffee.
Words tender in love, all encompassing life: wife, mother, daughter.
Words of men: father, brother.
What does the world need more of?
The world will be richer with a lot more of you and you who’s reading this.
You have so much to give and can mean such a lot to so many people.
Approach the next stranger you need to talk with as if she is your sister or he’s your brother you like so much; approach them as you would your best friend. Talk from that base; just pretend for a moment You’ll see how nice you can make people’s world.