One of the most visible SEO pundits on the web is unquestionably, Aaron Wall. Aaron is a very unique individual in the SEO world since he is exceptionally knowledgable and networked but until recently, has not overtly offered search engine optimization consulting services.

Aaron is one of those people who has been great about sharing and exchanging good information about SEO tactics with those fortunate enough to be on his IM list. But he does not limit his advice giving to a personal network. He's written a very popular book on SEO, plus you'll see him at many SES and Pubcon conferences as well as on industry forums, discussion threads and blogs handing out excellent advice that other SEOs charge big bucks for.

Not one to melt back into the fold, Aaron also gained quite a bit of visibility by getting sued on questionable grounds by a questionable organization for comments made on his popular SEOBook blog.

On top of all this, Aaron has developed or commissioned many excellent tools found at Link Hounds.

I sent this interview to Aaron initially the day it was announced he was taking over Threadwatch, which certainly made him very busy. Eventually he let me guilt him into finally doing the interview, so here you go!

How did you get involved with search marketing?

I created a site that did not deserve to rank because it was garbage. Almost immediately after I created it I wanted it to rank so people would see it. It was a bit easier to rank back then.

I also took down search related notes on a site and when I did not yet realize I was selling a service someone contacted me and wanted me to work for them.

What's up with the purchase of Threadwatch?

I think Nick sees lots of opportunity in Performancing.

There are some kick ass people that go to TW already though. Since it was my home page for the web it is not a lot of additional time reading it all since I did that before. The only differences for me will be doing the posting more.

Other than TW, what other projects are you working on?

I am co owner in a few other sites. Regularly blog at Also setting up a vertical blog network or two and maybe even an SEO firm or two. Want to learn how to do automated content, but am still wet behind the ears on that front.

What do you think has been the biggest change this year affecting SEO or SEM?

Duplicate content filters and the reemergence of natural links. Seems to me all the blogs and whatnot make it to where a good viral marketer will typically be able to outperform most strictly search marketers. Search marketing is becoming more about traditional marketing.

What kinds of trends are you seeing or that stand out in search engines as far as functionality for users?

Google tends to do many UI tweaks so it is hard to read them other than saying they want to try out many things. Just today I saw them putting links to many Google Base items in the regular search results.

What trouble spots do you see for search marketers?

MarketingSherpa recently reported that affiliate marketing commissions this year will be greater than the amount spent on search marketing, and about 89% of what is spent on search marketing goes to the paid (non organic) side. To me that means that if you have an SEO service business model you really need to focus on keeping costs uber low or build a hell of a brand so you can charge out the nose. Otherwise your better off creating content for contextual ads and affiliate programs.

The value of owning original useful content and a channel that has good share of market attention goes up daily. (emphasis added)

What are some improvements you'd like to see in the major search engines?

Trust all my sites is really hard to say what I want them to do better because I am both a searcher and a person who makes money from trying to manipulate search relevancy.

What are some of the resources you rely on for information on search? Best practices, news, industry information.

The conferences are great (SEW and WMW). Lots of friends via IM give me juicy bits as well. I still read forums a bit but much of the market attention has shifted from forums to blogs. But now blogs are getting noisy now as well because we all scratch each others backs and there are like 1,000 blogs on search and seo.

Recently SEO by the Sea and Jim Boykin both have great blogs. Some of the other older ones that I always read are SEW, SEO Moz, Stuntdubl, Traffick, Search Engine Blog, TopRank Blog, Matt Cutts blog, Oilman, Dave Naylor, and Web Guerilla.

What's your favorite search engine?


If I really crank out a boat load of spam sites I may grow to like Yahoo! and MSN more since they are easier to manipulate.

What's your favorite brand of peanut butter?

This is weird, but Reduced Fat Peter Pan. Also I like some of the stuff from The Peanut Butter Company (like smooth operator) but its like 4000 calories a I could get to 300 pounds if I became too akin to it :)

I'm with you on the reduced fat peanut butter thing Aaron. My fave is Reduced Fat Skippy Chunky.

Thanks Aaron!

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

March 14, 2006

Lee Odden is a 9 year internet marketing veteran and President of TopRank Online Marketing, a leading search marketing agency that helps companies increase sales and brand visibility online. Lee has worked with hundreds of companies to develop and implement winning online marketing programs with particular expertise in search engine optimization, online public relations and blog marketing.

Search Engine Guide > Lee Odden > Interview with Aaron Wall of SEOBook and Threadwatch