SEO

Industry Insiders – Interview with Michelle Robbins

Welcome to the kick-off interview of Industry Insiders! As much as I’m getting to know more people through Twitter, I’ve found that because we all have our own lives and only communicate in 140 character tweets, or when possible, at conferences, that there’s really so much yet to learn.

So it’s my hope that through these interviews, I, and you, my readers, might get to learn just a bit more about some of the people many of us see and know a bit about, but where we have yet to get to the TMI stage.

MichelleRobbins150x150 Industry Insiders   Interview with Michelle RobbinsSeveral people have been kind enough to agree to interviews, for which I’m most appreciative. I decided to start this series by interviewing Michelle Robbins, Director of Technology at Third Door Media. Many of you know Michelle for her involvement at Sphinn, as well as SearchEngineLand.com and the SMX conferences.

I chose Michelle as the first person to interview because while she’s so directly involved and embedded in our industry, she offers a unique point of view from the technology side of Internet marketing, something I personally feel doesn’t necessarily get the attention and acknowledgment that aspect of our craft deserves.

So here goes – Search Industry Insiders, an interview with Michelle Robbins

Alan:
Your bio at Third Door says you’ve got two bachelor degrees – but not what they’re in. While my stellar psychic abilities tell me that one is surely in computer science or engineering, the other must be in marketing communications. But since I’m really no more psychic than the Flokati rug in my living room, would you care to say what they’re in, and what motivated you to go after two degrees?

Michelle:
My degrees are actually in Criminal Justice, and Psychology. I had intended to go to law school and practice criminal law. I double majored because I believed understanding the criminal mind (most of my psych studies were in development and deviance) would enhance my skills as a criminal prosecutor. Then I worked at a law firm during college, and interned at a criminal defense investigation firm, and was cured :) I pursued my other passion instead – music – and went into the music industry after graduating.

(Alan’s after-note – so much for my Flokati-rug-like psychic abilities)

Alan:
Prior to your involvement with the Internet, you were on the marketing management team at Walt Disney’s record label. Do they require only Disney label music be played in the office, or could somebody blast a little AC/DC if the mood struck?

Michelle:
LOL – I didn’t work for the children’s label :) I ran national alternative radio promotion for the Hollywood Records imprint. We put out the soundtracks for the (non-animated) films, had artists/bands (Queen, Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Dead Milkmen were a few). No rules on what we could listen to, though I forbade my assistants from playing Morrissey if I was within earshot.

Alan
Seriously – what was it like at Disney? I can only imagine everyone being led in a sing-a-long during company meetings, so I need some help here…

Michelle
My experience in the music industry and at Disney is better discussed over cocktails.

(Alan’s after-note on that one: damn-I don’t drink cocktails so I’ll have to figure another tactic to get the inside scoop on THAT one!)

Alan
How did it come about that you’re now so involved in the technical world after your earlier marketing experience?

Michelle
Serendipity really. I left the music biz at the same time (1995) that Ken Spreitzer (currently VP at TigerTech and Danny Sullivan (both fellow UCI alums) were growing Maximized Software/Maximized Online. As it turned out, I had a proclivity towards technology, and was fortunate to be mentored by both – learning programming from Ken and search/internet marketing from Danny. Ultimately, I went back to UCI and took programming courses there (C++, VB, ASP, etc.).

Alan
Could you share with us how you came to be connected with Third Door and what are arguably three of the most significant properties in the Internet Marketing field?

Michelle
I had been consulting (my own web dev co.) for about 8 years, when late in the summer of 06, Danny called, and I answered :)

 

Alan
Okay – let’s get to a real question! Have you ever experienced the fine art of drifting while behind the wheel of a Shelby Cobra, or is that still a “yet”?

Michelle
I’ve been behind the wheel of one of these (a replica) and in a passenger race at Willow Springs.

Alan
How long have you had a passion for Mustangs, and have you pre-ordered a 2011 5.0 V8 limited edition Boss yet (since only 50 are going to be built)?

Michelle
No pre-order…yet! I’ve had a passion for racing/driving for about as long as I can remember. As a kid, the arcade/video games I most loved to play were always the racing/driving games. For Mustangs in particular? Probably since I first saw Charlie’s Angel Jill Monroe driving a Mustang Cobra II. My sister wanted her hair, I wanted her car.

(Alan’s after-note on that one: THAT is getting priorities right!)

Alan
Okay! Back to Internet Marketing, not because I want to, but well, this is who our audience mostly is, and they probably don’t all share our need for Mustang speed…

When it comes to melding the needs of ownership, marketing and technical all into a unified result, what’s the number one thing you can recommend to our readers as far as how to actually achieve real goals given such sometimes diverse vision?

Michelle
Communication and being willing to work with everyone involved is the key. I so often see, at our conferences and others, speakers talking about “getting the IT dept. under control” and “watch out for what developers and programmers will do…” etc. And when they say those things, what I hear is a failure on their part to work with that group, and be able to effectively communicate the needs, strategy and potential solutions. If you’re really “all in this together” you have to walk the walk, and engage at the same level. Issuing (often technically incorrect) orders from on high? Let me know how that works out for you.

Alan
Given that Google “dropped a hint” about speed maybe being a factor in their algorithm at some point, then went on to create an entire resource for it, do you think tech is going to either be called upon more or be given more value/credit in the coming year, for it’s roll in this ever-changing game we play for positioning?

Michelle
I think it’s ill-advised to a) accept everything Google says as fact and b) use their own toolset to then troubleshoot and test. But it’s clear that SEO/SEM and IT are going to be working more closely together as the way Google measures and then ranks a site becomes increasingly dependent on factors not directly involving content. Though I believe it has always been the case that these two groups should work together, and I’ve always worked that way. Having a marketing background has of course, given me a leg up – I can speak both languages. I realize this isn’t the case in most circumstances, however, so efforts need to be made for each group to better understand how the other operates, and how both can work together to achieve goals.

Alan
What’s the one thing you wish you could change about the cost of attending Bondurant driving school? Oh – uh… I mean, about our industry?

Michelle
The one thing I wish I could change about this industry would probably be it’s dependence on Google. I firmly believe that if your entire business model hinges on page one of Google – you’re doing it wrong.

Alan
Well, that’s about all the questions I have that don’t relate to Bondurant or Mustangs. I have a feeling I’ll need to ask Michelle for another interview at a later date, but for my own blog where I can stick to the really important competition driving questions and just skip all the Internet and business nonsense!

Thanks Michelle for taking the time to do this. I really do appreciate it…

Michelle
Thank you Alan, for including me in your piece Happy the help out anytime!

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Industry Insiders is an interview series where Alan Bleiweiss attempts to learn a bit more about some of the people who make up our industry. Asking both serious and humorous questions, it’s Alan’s hope to emphasize the human aspect of Internet Marketing. You can follow Alan on Twitter, read his SEO column at SearchEngineJournal.com, or read his blog at SearchMarketingWisdom.com.

 

 

12bcd73262dd3dcb8597e6d4f9884119 64 Industry Insiders   Interview with Michelle Robbins
Alan Bleiweiss is a Forensic SEO audit consultant with audit client sites consisting of upwards of 50 million pages and tens of millions of visitors a month. A noted industry speaker, author and blogger, his posts are quite often as much controversial as they are thought provoking.
12bcd73262dd3dcb8597e6d4f9884119 64 Industry Insiders   Interview with Michelle Robbins

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4 thoughts on “Industry Insiders – Interview with Michelle Robbins

  1. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this glimpse into Michelle. Coming from a mixed business, psych, computer science/tech background, I look up to her more than I already did before! Michelle, I’d love to have a copy of your iTunes Playlist! :-)

    Now, I want to know more about the race car stuff… “It’s on me” if you’re going to SMX Advanced again this year! I attended Skip Barber Racing School at Laguna Seca in 2001. One thing about this industry, if one is going to be in it and stay on-top of the game, one must have the “need for speed!”

    Excellent kickoff to this series! Well done Alan. Michelle, thanks for sharing more of your life!