Robert Wright, aka Mr. Web Guru

If you’re gonna call yourself Mr. Web Guru, you oughta know what you’re talking about. Luckily that indeed is the case with Robert Wright. For nearly 20 years he’s been an expert on search engines and SEO, and now his expertise has extended into the realm of social media. Mr. Web Guru offers a wealth of services for anyone looking to boost their online presence. Once we learned how to refer to him, our interview went great. 

1. First off, how do we address you?  Do we call you Mr. Web Guru, Mr. Guru, Webby, Mr. Wright, Robert, Robby, or — our admittedly dark horse of a guess — Vladimir?

I may have lost track of all my nicknames over the years. My clients and associates call me Robert, my old musician and activist friends call me Peace. Children enjoying my magic shows know me as Mundane the Grate. Mr. Web Guru is my business brand.

2. You’ve been involved with Internet design and marketing since this whole thing got going in the mid 90s. How does that history help you with clients today?

I’d suggest that my experience online is very helpful and useful to my clients. My first computer was a Windows 360 (with a dual monochrome monitor) back in 1991, my first laptop was a black and white Jetta Jetbook. About ten computers later and thousands of hours online I’m feeling like a seasoned veteran.

3. We noticed the term “Keyword Forensics” on your site.  Please tell us what this is–and please tell us you wear a Sherlock Holmes hat when engaging in this practice.

I wear a white hat when doing this work. Let me start with what keyword forensics isn’t. Opening Google’s keyword suggestion tool and entering some keywords to look for the best phrases to target and settling for the data you receive is not keyword forensics. “Keyword Forensics” is a phrase coined by one of my mentors, John Alexander (Search Engine Academy). Forensics takes things way beyond traditional research, incorporating several tools and resources to not only identify good “money” phrases and worthy long-tail phrases, but to ascertain the true value of those phrases such as what you could expect in ROI for using those phrases in PPC and how likely it is that you can get into the fold of page one search results for them. In providing keyword forensic services I also utilize some stealth tools that less than 1% of Internet marketers even know exist, which I share knowledge of with my clients.

Would Sherlock Holmes be stumped by SEO?

4. By now it seems like most businesses recognize the importance of social media, and many business owners might think they have a good grasp on marketing through Facebook, Twitter, etc. based on their personal experiences with those sites. Are they right?

Social media has become critical to Web marketing strategies for nearly every type of business that wishes to do well online. Social media reaches out to your existing customer base and allows them to introduce your brand to their networks. By producing share quality content and running it through social media, businesses improve reach, build community, and increase traffic and conversions commercially on the Internet. Many of the big social platforms are worth the time invested regardless of how they help your business improve in search, they are worthy on their own merit, that is, a well run social campaign could build and sustain many businesses even if there were no such thing as a search engine. However, search exists and social media has proven to provide good links, traffic and clicks, as well as new page one listings for brand searches. Thanks to social media, it is now possible for companies to own page one results for their company name and product name searches. Social is here to stay and has become crucial for businesses who really want to be players and compete in their market niches.

5. Predicting the future is always tough, but we’re talking to someone with “spiritual mastery over the Internet” here. Can you see any emerging trends online now that might be huge in a few years?

I am not a prophet. As for emerging technologies that can be exploited for marketing I am as eager as you to see what develops and then engineer ways to incorporate new innovations into marketing strategies. But one thing has proven to be time-tested and true, that is, content is king and quality is queen. The businesses that are able to consistently produce quality content will find themselves on the throne of leadership well into the future.

6. What do you mean exactly when you ask a business owner “Does your site convert?”

Every business has goals, objectives and benchmarks. These usually vary from one business to another but there are several conventional and universal conversion metrics. Perhaps you want to capture newsletter signups, have a form filled out to generate a lead, sell an item, or just get the phone to ring. First you need to identify what is important to you and what you would like prospects to do while they are visiting your site. When visitors engage with your Website and do what you’d like them to while they are there, these are conversions. The ultimate conversion is that a prospect becomes a customer. If this isn’t happening then you have room for improvement regarding your sites conversion.

7. For many people SEO is a necessary evil, but you downright admit it’s your favorite field!  Why? How? Talk to us here.

I don’t see how SEO is evil. What is evil is that companies take money from others claiming that they can perform SEO when in fact they are not qualified to do so, lacking the experience, tools and finesse that is needed to apply it safely and earn that income. More than half the clients who hire me have previously had a bad experience, a flopping failure with another supposed “SEO.” Since 1999 I have witnessed that when SEO is applied properly there is a measurable effect to the bottom line of recipients business. White hat efforts are consistently rewarded. But SEO is evolving constantly, so much so that SEO history has become a moving target. Therefore, the only companies that should be receiving money for this service are those that have a proven track record of success providing it. But today the whole SEO industry has a black eye in the public view because there has never been any regulation, so any yahoo with a computer can claim they are an SEO expert, which obviously is problematic to the consumer. I enjoy SEO because I’ve seen its benefits again and again over the past decade, not only for my clients but also for my own business as well. I don’t even advertise myself as an “SEO.” I am a “Web Strategist” and expert optimization is one of many services I provide.

8. You’ve spent a lot of time deeply rooted in Alaska and now Colorado. Besides building up a Yeti-like resistance to snow, have your different locations yielded any unique experiences that benefited you wisdom-wise?

Aside from a great appreciation for rural and wilderness lifestyle, working from these locations has allowed me to become a specialist in the ski, travel, tourism and hospitality industries. These marketing niches have provided some of my greatest successes.

9. Are there any industries that are guilty of overlooking social media marketing more than others? Who’s really out of step? Name names!

Social media has become so prolific that I would venture to say that any industry not participating in it is out of step, that is, they are missing out on their true potential by neglecting it.

10. Is video still important for companies that seemingly have very little visual appeal to them? For example, an imaginary friend store—should they have a video on their site?

Videos have always provided great emotional content for a Web site. Video marketing has proven it’s worth and value to nearly everyone that has taken it seriously. It is a key component to true success online for nearly all types of companies. I am a huge proponent of promoting a site using video channels. If your business does not have good visual appeal you can make very useful and informative slideshows and format them as videos. As for the example you inquired about, an imaginary friend store, perhaps some imaginary videos would be helpful. On a serious note, let’s just look at one video channel: YouTube. YouTube is the second most used search technology in the world. To suppose that your business will not benefit from a strong presence in YouTube is almost tantamount to suggesting that it is not important to be found in Google. Videos are social, emotional, useful and visual and they have proven to provide a solid value for just about any type of online marketing effort.

Robert Wright was born and raised in Las Vegas. He enjoys spending time with his son, playing chess, and of course, spending quality time as his alter ego, Mr. Web Guru. Thanks so much for a smidge of your time and expertise, Robert!