Joost de Valk is Web Development and SEO expert whose clients list is ranging from large corporates, such as eBay, Conrad Electronic and Salesforce.com, to smaller web based ventures. He has written over 20 plugins for WordPress which, combined, have had more than 3 million downloads. In 2010 Joost developed QuixApp.com– a powerful browser tool that has been featured on hundreds of websites including Mashable, Lifehacker and Web Worker Daily. He is one of the hosts of the WordPress podcast, where he interviews luminaries of the industry and discusses ways for bloggers to improve their blogs. Recent guests have included Pete Cashmore of Mashable and Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google. Joost regularly shares his knowledge and experience via his blog at Yoast.com. You can follow Joost on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.
G: I know that you will be speaking at Fusion Marketing Experience event organized by our friends at Social Marketing Forum. Can you give us a sneak preview of your presentation at Fusion Marketing Experience?
J: I’ll be talking about content marketing and SEO and how these two fit together. My own background (I studied Theology, though I didn’t finish it) has taught me a lot about how good stories help sell products, ideas and services. You see, story telling as a marketing strategy isn’t some new fad; it started thousands of years ago. Why it works, and how it works is what I’ll talk about in my presentation, showing people how blogging has allowed me to do work as an SEO consultant and strategist for companies like eBay and how other companies effectively use very old strategies without being aware of it.
G: Where do marketers still fail in terms of SEO and Content strategy most often?
J: They’re telling a story they want to tell, instead of a story that resonates with their customers. A story should touch on their daily lives. It should either evoke real emotion or offer real help. As is often said, advertising is the cost of being boring. Good SEO can come cheap, if your product rocks and your story is solid. If you have a “me too” product, you’ll pay the price.
G: What are your favourite content strategies?
J: My most valued content strategy is still the “long form” – “give it all away“ tutorial. I basically have given most of what I know away on my blog, and keep getting more back. I’ve done this for clients too with amazing results. The only thing that becomes hard is to find ways to give more away so you can get more back.
G: What is your opinion about the on-going discussions over Creation vs. Curation?
J: While both are valuable tactics, to become a real leader in your field, you need to create. The most valued people will always be those that come up with new strategies, ideas, tactics & tools. The people that help you find these new things have a role, and they could make a very decent living through that role, but they’re far more easily replaced. Take the roots of the Christian church: Jesus created the story that Paul spread. They both had an impact, but I think nobody would argue Jesus was the bigger one of the too. Also, creation in itself is mostly curation, as creation is the re-organization of existing – though sometimes deprecated – ideas making them relevant in a new context. There are very few really new ideas, if any at all.
G: What SEO/Content strategy trends are you following at the moment?
J: Taking it from the more philosophical below straight down to the trenches: I’ve recently been dabbling a lot in Google Shopping Search for some clients and am very interested in how more and more companies seem to be using reviews and review data effectively in their tactics. Having people rank & rate products and stories and using their own words while doing so allows us to understand what they like and dislike and in which words we should talk about the products or services we want to sell them.
G: Will the growth of new media platforms (mobile, tablets) effect SEO strategies?
J: It’ll change some tactics, but it won’t change strategies. In the end SEO is about reaching people where they search. Whether that is Google or Bing or the Apple App Store: I don’t care. Of course though, different tactics are needed for the different venues.
G: How and why did you get into social media?
J: I’ve been on the web since 1994, and just moved with the different social structures out there. I started out on IRC, Internet Relay Chat, back in the day, and basically adapted new social networks as I saw them come along. I’ve always been a bit of a slow mover for my own stuff, checking out where the crowd goes and then moving that direction too.
G: What are your favourite social media hang-out sites? (Other than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)
J: IRC, it’s still a valued communication / network tool amongst developers and geeks worldwide. There’s a bit of a barrier to entry because it’s not that easy to use for non-geeks, which is probably what makes it work too. G: IRC – is clearly a father of Twitter
G: What are your favourite social media campaigns and what do you think was the secret behind their success?
J: My all time most favourite ad is Apple’s Think Different ad and I’m basically an Apple fan boy all the way, they’re bold enough to create a cult around their product in a way that get’s people to buy everything they create, and then time and time again offer a product that is much better than people dare expect.