The Lead-off - Chris Sherman, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land

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I’m very pleased to present you with our lead-off interview in this series; Chris Sherman, the Executive Editor of and President of Searchwise:


Q. How long have you been working with Internet Marketing ?

I started a company building web sites in 1992, and though banner ads and search marketing were in the future, I marketed my clients’ sites primarily by link building campaigns, and trying to get the attention of “what’s cool” sites that were the Google’s of the day.

Q. You’ve spoken at many conferences around the world, and interviewed a broad variety of guests. Which stands out as your favorite?

That’s a hard one! The recent London SES conversation I had with Matt Cutts was fun. I’ve known Matt for years, and even still learned some things about both him and Google that I didn’t know before. The conversation I had with Yahoo China CEO Jack Ma last year at SES China was also fun - he’s not one to pull punches, and several times got right back in my face when I asked him about controversial topics.

Q. With the transition for yourself and Search Engine Strategies, what’s your biggest challenge?

Keeping up with all of the email! Seriously. I spend so much time responding to email that it’s hard to find time to focus on the various other projects I’m involved with. To protect my time, I tend to only check email a couple of times a day so I can have blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on the important projects we’re trying to move forward.

Q. If you could get an engineer at Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask to each answer just one question about their algorithms, what would it be?

Why can’t you understand me?

Q. What do you foresee as the biggest change coming to the search industry over the next 18 months?

Personalization. It’s going to change everything, and I don’t think most search marketers will realize how big an impact it will have. Gord Hotchkiss has written some great columns on the coming impact of personalization on search results for SEL, and as good as his analysis is, he’s just scratching the surface of this massive sea change.

Q. There’s quite a debate on the value of personalization in search. Some argue its easier for the habitual users, whereas others believe it makes search less relevant. What do you see?

It’s one of the holy grails for both search engines and searchers. Who could say that personalization makes search “less relevant?” If a computer understands your needs and wants (even if only on a basic, limited level) it can find stuff that you wouldn’t have a prayer of finding, no matter how skilled a searcher you are (and I teach people how to search, so I’m not just taking the devil’s advocate position here). Personalization is something that’s going to benefit everyone — even search marketers who are frightened of it now. It’s simply going to raise the bar on relevance, and make it harder for spammers to pollute our experience.

Q. What’s one tip you give all your clients about Internet Marketing / SEM / SEO / Email / links, etc.?

The most important thing is to understand your goals before you do anything else. Search marketing needn’t be rocket science, but it can seem that way if you’re not sure what you want to accomplish. That said, there are no formulaic approaches even when you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. You need to find the approaches/techniques/services that help you achieve your goals, and then work at making them happen, day after day. Listen to advice from gurus and the search marketing community, but don’t be afraid of charting your own course if that will help you get to your own goal. And don’t get discouraged - search marketing takes time and effort - but if you’re clear about what you want to achieve, it will pay off in the long run.

Thank-you Chris.

A short bio on Chris Sherman -

Chris Sherman is the President of Searchwise, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. From 2001 through 2006, Chris was Executive Editor of and is the Conference Chair of the international Search Engine Strategies events in Canada, China, France, Italy, Sweden and the U.K. With over 25 years experience in interactive technologies, he is frequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Business Week, USA Today and other publications, and has appeared on CNN, NPR, CBS and other television and radio networks.

Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, and is a Web Search University faculty member, and is an honorary inductee of the Internet Librarian Hall of Fame. He is the author of “Google Power: Unleash the Full Power of Google” from McGraw-Hill. His previous books include “The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can’t See” (with Gary Price) from CyberAge Books; The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook, and The Elements of Basic, The Elements of Cobol and The Elements of Pascal from John Wiley & Sons.

Chris holds a master’s degree in Interactive Educational Technology from Stanford University and has been unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade Stanford to strip his degree so he can join the founders of Yahoo and Google in boasting about *not* graduating from the university.

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2 Responses to “The Lead-off - Chris Sherman, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land”

  1. [...] Enquisite CEO Richard Zwicky has conducted a series of email interviews with several search marketing specialists known for their strong opinions. The first of these interviews with excecutive editor, Chris Sherman is published on the Enqusite Search Metrics Blog. [...]

  2. The Lead-off - Chris Sherman, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land

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