Vlog #39: Mike Grehan – The Search Industry Pioneer Who Sees The Future
Mike Grehan (@mikegrehan) is one of the first people I looked to for guidance, knowledge and education when I first began my journey in the SEO industry. His write ups on patents, how search works and his perspectives on SEO are legendary and at a different level and have been for as long as I’ve known him.
He started in the industry in 1995 and as a single parent at the time, he needed to find something to do where he could work from home. He started an internet marketing consulting company in 1995, it was visionary but back then, no one wanted it. He started in search so so early, and fully into search in 1997. We reminisced about the early days of search, even pre-Google, there were tons of search engines, mostly using text to rank pages. Those early days there were only a few people, literally a few people, in the space.
He shared some amazing stories about the early days and even how those early days, he was able to see where everything was headed today. We discussed some specific examples of machine learning, mobile, voice, structured data and schema, etc. Google’s reliance on structured data is not surprising to him because the web grows so fast that the task for Google is huge. He discussed the topic of depth first versus breadth first in search.
Mike said we shouldn’t worry too much about zero click because of how people search. He said for conversion related queries, you probably do not need to worry much – for the informational queries, you are getting branding out of it. Google will help you create that brand affinity early and then hopefully during the conversion stage, it makes that part easier. Mike’s advice, learn how to optimize for zero clicks just like we did when the snippet came out ages ago.
Artificial intelligence is a hot topic and Mike explained how Google and Bing use AI in search and search ads. He said using AI for optimizing around the dollar is easier. But when it comes to organic search, it is a different thing. The problem with organic search is that the users are subjective in their tastes and machines are not good at being subjective. We then talked about debugging machine learning in search.
Mike has been so instrumental in the creation of the SEO industry and the community in a massive way. I asked him the hard question about picking one experience, one company, he helped. He said that one thing was helping out with Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Watch and his newsletter. He loved to watch the community come together around then. It was 20 years since the first SEO conference, SES 1999. He was very involved in speaking and running the events in the early days and it was so nice. And then he took on a role later when Danny left Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Strategies to lead those two properties, it was a dream he said. He loved that period and it was so exciting he said. But he said in his heart, in his blood, he is an agency guy and came back and works at Acronym.
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