Thanks to James Agate of Skyrocket SEO for sharing his mentor story!
My name is James Agate, I live in Chester, UK and I run Skyrocket SEO a link building company that works with digital marketing agencies and in-house teams at big brands.
How did I get into SEO?
I built my first website at the age of 13, I used MS Front Page and the site was an encyclopedia for ringtones back when it was cool to sit there trying to recreate chart tunes using your phone’s keypad.
Since then I have had a variety of online projects and a whole host of jobs in different industries including telecoms and publishing. I “fell” into SEO after getting involved with it where I was working and then experimenting with a couple of my own sites (building my ‘network’ up to close to 300,000 unique visitors per month) and incorporating some client work into the mix before eventually launching Skyrocket SEO and growing it to the company that it is today.
Who was my mentor in the world of SEO?
I think it would be unfair to say just one person really helped me get to grips with things because in fact there have been a number of people who taught me all about SEO (many without even realising it I suspect just because I devoured every post they’ve ever written). There really are some great minds in SEO, let’s not forget there are a few idiots as well but that’s the same as any industry I guess so don’t go believing everything you read, even if the person seems to have the credentials.
I’ve learned a fair amount from the big names like Rand Fishkin, Bruce Clay, Eric Ward, Aaron Wall but in truth I think I have learned THE most from those individuals that are living and breathing the stuff they talk about when they blog and speak. The kind of content where you can say with some degree of certainty that they could probably have just transcribed their day’s work rather than plucked a fancy theory out of thin air just to look like a thought leader and impress peers. I’m not suggesting that Rand, Bruce, Eric or Aaron do this but I know plenty of people who get speaking gigs all the time and in actual fact they are more CEO than SEO.
So if I were to narrow it down to a handful of individuals and my favourite posts, they would be…
- Joost de Valk - This post (which gets updated all the time) is the definitive guide to SEO for WordPress sites http://yoast.com/articles/
wordpress-seo/ and let’s face it, most of us will end up working on a WP site at some point or another.
- Ted Ives - Ted only really appeared on my radar in 2011-ish but he has put out some excellent posts which I refer to on a regular basis when dealing with employees and clients, this being one of them >http://www.coconutheadphones.
- Paul Madden - always an interesting guy to talk to, he’s dabbled (well a little more than dabbled I think) in the darker side of SEO in the past and he’s a machine when it comes to so it is always useful to know about the other side of things even if you have no intention of doing that kind of thing for your clients. I read and re-read a post he wrote a while back on scaling a link network (it was fascinating stuff) but sadly he seems to have taken it offline now. Oh well, he’s a regular on the speaker circuit so if you get the chance to listen to him, definitely do so.
- David Naylor - I think Dave taught me the importance of a sense of humour in this business, he used to put out gems like this http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/
tosser-of-the-week.html sadly now I guess he’s too busy but there’s plenty in the archives . Dave is a frequent speaker and I think the most can be learned from the Q&A sessions that he does e.g. http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/ q-a-seo-session-with-dave-at- a4uexpo.html
What one page would I point SEO newbies to?
That’s a really difficult one, the obvious answer is to head to the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide because it is frequently updated, offers the basic grounding and to be fair is quite comprehensive. The better answer would be to try something for yourself, you’ll learn more in 10 hours of buggering about on a site of your own than you will if you spent 30 hours reading.
Do you have a mentor story you want to share? I’d love to hear it!