Meeting Jill Whalen

Jill and KalWell after nearly 8 years of communicating online, I’ve finally met Jill Whalen in person.

We’ve always talked about meeting up at one of the search engine conferences in the U.S. but I can never quite get my act (or budget!) together to make the long trip. When I heard that Jill was speaking at Webstock 2008 here in New Zealand, I figured it was my best chance to catch up with her so I registered and booked my flight from Christchurch to Wellington.

Originally I was planning on surprising Jill by just turning up to her session and tapping her on the shoulder, but then I thought that if I didn’t tell her I was coming, her schedule would be booked out and we wouldn’t have the chance for a major catch-up. So I emailed her to let her know I was coming. Turns out that she didn’t have any plans apart from the speaker’s dinner and was glad to find a playmate!

The day I arrived we had a brief chat over a drink at her hotel (The Museum Hotel) and then on Thursday night we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. We originally planned to go to Restaurant 88, a well-known Vietnamese place but being Valentine’s Day, the place was booked solid and turned us away. So we went next door to a little Chinese restaurant instead. The photo above shows us at the restaurant Thursday night. As you can see by the empty chairs behind us, we stayed way longer than any other patrons and I think they were about to kick us out! Apologies for the grainy photo but my digital camera was playing up the whole trip.

It was great to chat to Jill and gossip about this crazy industry we work in. We talked quite a bit about the personalities in search and about the generation gap that is developing between SEO experts of our era and the new generation of SEO young guns climbing the charts. We also talked about the opportunities that conferences and events can provide for people in this industry and how it can make the difference between an SEO and what I call an SEO Rockstar. While talking to Jill, I realized that I had probably let quite a lot of opportunities for Search Engine College and my consulting business slide in the past because I haven’t really embraced the conference scene.

Anyway, it was just fantastic to meet Jill and be able to give her a real hug instead of a virtual one. She’s always been an inspiration and it was great to pick her brain and have a good old gossip. Maybe the next time we are both on the same continent we can meet up again eh Jill?

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Final installment of Hide and Speak series now live

Jennifer LaycockYou’ve got to admire Jennifer Laycock. She’s a total powerhouse mom, writer and marketer, not to mention an impressive bento designer! Within 24 hours of emailing me in response to my post Jennifer finally opens the door to Google, she’s posted the long-awaited final installment of her article series about building an online business without the benefit of search traffic. It’s called : Hide and Speak: Letting the Spiders Back into Bento Yum. Thanks Jen

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Jennifer finally opens the door to Google

Remember earlier this year when I blogged about Jennifer Laycock’s challenge to kick the four major search engines to the curb and prove you could launch a business online without them?

Well I just noticed that the site she launched, BentoYum has now opened the doors to search engines again. There’s no bot restrictions in the robots.txt, it’s got a healthy Google toolbar PageRank of 4 out of 10, Google has indexed 284 pages and it was last cached on December 3.

So I wonder when this happened? The last installment of the Hide and Speak series that I can find is Develop Very Thick Skin published at the end of July. Did something happen to prompt opening the doors to search engines? Did Jenn make a post about it and I missed it?

I’m guessing that Jenn and business partner Abigail decided that their point had been made, that you CAN launch a successful business online without search engine help and they’ve moved on. But clarification would be nice!

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