Brent Csutoras, Todd Malicoat and Chris Winfield are the three musketeers of social media, if you will. Through their years in the trenches of SEO they have become each other’s support systems, offering business and SEO advise whenever a comrade is in need. Together they sat down at SES New York 2008 to reflect and reminisce about how they began and developed their SEO careers. The one piece of advice they all have, build a network of experienced and trusted friends in the search industry. That has made all the difference to them.
Brent Csutoras began his SEO career while seeking to diversify himself as a consultant in 2005. By reading online forums and experimenting, Brent began to educate himself about the basics. He admits that his main objective was to drive traffic by get links, even if it meant plastering a little spam.
By listening to Webmaster Radio and attending his first conference, Brent discovered Digg and social media. In the process of trying to get links from any and every site he heard of, he ended up on the front page of Digg and became so bombarded with traffic that his server company actually kicked him to the curb. The high of social media blew Brent away, motivating him to begin specializing in social media marketing.
Brent’s social media career hasn’t all been the front page of Digg though; he admits that he was banned numerous times from all of the major social media sites. By begging his way back into the platforms he was able to work the system but today he says you have to start from scratch when you make a social media misstep. His advice to people entering the social media space is to play around, make mistakes, take the knowledge gained to new personas and work on it all of the time.
After college Todd Malicoat dipped his toes into web design, IT and programming. He described himself as a Jack of all trades, master of none. In 2001, while working at a hospitality company he got his big break when the graphic designer left the company, leaving him ownership of the website. As long as the printers were working and the website was updated, Todd could do whatever he wanted to so he began educating himself through Webmaster World, Search Engine Watch and other online forums about SEO.
Todd, having no fear, left his 8 to 5pm position soon after, stepping out on his own as a SEO Consultant. His advice to everyone is: call yourself an SEO Consultant, charge a fair rate, provide good work and get out there. During his early years he had a tough time explaining to people what he did but his success with getting himself and clients number one rankings was a rush that continues to motivate him today.
His first conference, WebmasterWorld’s PubCon Orlando was an eye opening experience. Todd was able to meet people in the industry and learn new tricks and get leads. He also got involved in a local SEO group that was invaluable to him for bouncing questions off of. Currently his only obstacle is getting work done with his demanding conference schedule.
Chris Winfield got his start at a web design company that was created during the dot com era. He was brought on as the sales guy and describes it as The Boiler Room and he was the boiler. Chris met his now wife while at the web design company, both came to the conclusion that there was no value in what the company was offering because they didn’t care about marketing or SEO.
By the time both of them quit the company Chris was burned out. He decided he no longer wanted to work on the web. But a friend of the family requested his help in starting a recording studio. So Chris went to work building the website. During this time he was avidly seeking information about search engine optimization and spending a lot of time on Search Engine Watch. He began building links and doing other basic SEO, almost instantly the site was ranking number one for any recording studio term imaginable. The recording studio couldn’t handle the demand so Chris had to take the phone number and the street address off the site. Before Chris knew it, recording labels were seeking his services.
To meet his demand, Chris started 10e20 (the location of his first office) in 2002. From the beginning, Chris decided to differentiate his company by getting involved with public relations. The first time SEO was mentioned in the main stream news was in a US Today article where his name was mentioned, bringing him a slew of new business. Since then Chris has been a regular at SEO conferences and says the only thing he struggles with is concentrating and prioritizing because there is so much that he wants to do but has a limited amount of time.
Brent, Todd and Chris have made a name for themselves in the SEO industry through hard work and dedication. They expressed a feeling of luck to be doing work that they love and that keeps them on their toes. The money isn’t bad either they claim. Their outlook these days is best expressed by Brent, “It’s a great feeling to actually have that much love in something and then making a lot of money from it. “