Rick Egan is Sr. Director, SEO and Social Media at The Search Agency
Q: Someone once told me, all smart people end up in search. How did you find your way to online marketing?
A: I first found my way in to search back in 1999 when search was really a search within the Yahoo, AOL or MSN directories. I had a small startup focused on helping parents find local daycare resources. I started the company with a friend of mine while we were in business school. Back then if you could rank well within those three directories, they would send you a ton of traffic. We did a good job of optimizing for those at the time. Although today’s acronyms of SEO/SEM were unknown at the time, many of same principles were still in play. After that experience I went offline for a few years and ran a retail weight loss company where my marketing efforts focused on direct mail and print. A few years ago I decided to get back into the workforce and wanted to focus on online marketing, where I felt I could use my marketing and startup experience. When an opportunity came around at The Search Agency I decided to jump on board. It was an opportunity to bring my experiences together in one place and help build the SEO practice. Since that day, one of the things I have come to rely on within SEO is that my diverse background has enabled me to take a very nimble approach to solving clients’ problems within the organic search channel.
Q: What are the key challenges that marketers face today in search engine optimization?
There are two big challenges facing marketers today. The first is continued evolution of the search page. As it continues to change, the real estate available for organic search placement continues to shrink. As it shrinks, higher placement becomes more and more important.
The other big challenge comes with the growth of social media. Users are becoming more and more fragmented, spending time on many sites. In order to be found online, companies need to be present in more places and taking part in more conversations. This also means that within SEO you can no longer just concentrate on Google. Instead, you need to pay attention to the entire landscape and be able to map the various paths users take to find your site.
Q: Mobile search seems to dominate the blogosphere these days. It’s even rumored to be the medium that could slow down Google’s astonishing success. What’s your take on mobile search? What should marketers be aware of?
There is a lot of buzz about mobile these days and for the fifth year in row many publications are touting this as the year of mobile. I think we will see more advertising opportunities within mobile this year, but search marketing’s share within mobile will still be small. What you will probably see is more mobile application-based searches. While the size of screens on phones has increased, it is still quite small in comparison with a laptop or desktop screen. Users are conditioned to larger screens and the ability to quickly navigate between links. On a mobile platform this is still quite cumbersome. However, apps like the Fandango Movie App, which enables users to quickly find movie times and buy tickets, are very convenient. Such applications allow users to solve problems quickly, while on the go. The more efficient applications are at solving these problems, the more successful they will be within the mobile sphere and the greater adoption they will find.
Q: Any interests or passions outside marketing?
I love to exercise, watch sports and spend time with my family, although my wife is also an online marketer so we can only get so far away.