Mike Levin SEO

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The Time I Impressed Myself With My Own Bio

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 08/16/2010

I just created a bio on myself for a sales pitch I’m going on. It provided me a unique opportunity to see my bio lined up against a number of others. Sheesh! It’s friggin’ time for me to stop being so modest, especially in light of this study that found out how much the odds are stacked against modest men. I guess that would explain a lot about my life. Ha ha!

When I write my bio, I get to say I have over 20 years experience in technology and marketing. This does count my co-op time with Commodore Computers, while I was a student at Drexel University, but I think it’s totally fair. I went with them on trade-shows, I visited college campuses, I did artwork and programming for official sales demos, and the like. It was completely valid work experience, and “dates me” back to the late 80’s. But, now I’m up to TWENTY years, counting my college co-op experience as only two. Technically, it all started in 88, but I subtract 2 years, due to the part-time nature of Commodore.

These days, when I describe my current job, I can no longer just say that I merely oversee SEO accounts as a director of strategy, because for awhile now, I’ve actually also been doing product development again, albeit in stealth mode–thank goodness–development is food for the soul in SEO, because it’s the only way I can have integrity anymore. Search engine optimization has always been a field of snake-oil salesmen and lack-of-accountability that drives me crazy. My entire career has been the gradual move away from all that is subjective, such as graphic design, to all that is objective, like… well, definitely NOT like SEO… but then, that is the reason I’m always led back to product development.

Without it in SEO, you’re firing blind, plain and simple. Sure there are best practices, and you can spend a lot of time teaching a client how to choose a keyword-per-page, and make sure that the chosen keyword evaluates to some traffic, and occurs in the title tag, headline and URL, and then is linked-to from a few other better established pages on the Internet you control. But that’s about all there is to the field of “white hat” SEO, and even that is subject to sudden disruption from the constant tweaks and changes to the search engines–especially now, with local and universal search. Without unique NON-best-practices, you’re just kind of stuck there pushing on a rope. This has always led me to creative solutions WHERE I CONTROL the tracking-gif, WHERE I CONTROL the site-crawl, WHERE I CONTROL the content management system. And so, I kept developing and kept inventing, because you’re rarely get the control, the insight, the nimbleness you need by becoming an expert on someone elses product, you don’t control.

It’s always interesting when it gets up to the point of listing my previous experience in these bios. Even though I never really “made it” in the sense of the Dotcom founders and cashed-out millionaires, I still can say that one of my tools made BusinessWeek’s best ideas of 2006 with one of those systems to prevent you from firing blind. That is HitTail, of course–an on-again/off-again endeavor of mine carried out for a previous employer, from which I can’t seem to escape. It’s one of those tracking systems like Google Analytics, but specifically for SEO. It’s a testament to how well I designed it, that it’s been mostly self-running for the better part of 4 years, needing only occasional server maintenance. I am currently thinking through how to handle it, and really only stay involved because my reputation has gotten wrapped up in it. I must either distance myself from it, or fully embrace it. This middle-ground is no good.

But thank goodness, my online reputation is NOT ONLY HitTail. For example, when you Google me, my LinkedIn account has risen above all the other MikeLevin websites I’ve created, due to the 50 recommendations I received during the one and only time in my adult life that I was unemployed in my career, and happened to reach out. Wow, did I have some karma built up. Thanks, everyone!

So now, here I am, agency-side in the field of search engine optimization in New York. My professional advantage comes from the actions I take in response to the very contempt I feel for many of the practices and characteristics of my field, that drives me to develop accountability-systems. I frequently run into people who think they know better, and tell me so. Modesty and giving the benefit of the doubt often encourages me to keep my mouth shut, but I always make a mental note to “test that”… and more often than not, I sort out the truth from the bullshit, extending my personal capabilities, and having a better idea about what to take with a grain of salt.

Mike Levin