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Interview with Michel Leconte CEO of SEO Samba - Part I
Monday, February 09, 2009
I had the chance to catch up with Michel Leconte, CEO of SEO Samba before he headed off to SMX West 2009 this week. Michel has a busy month of February so it was nice of him to take time out to chat with us. Michel is a great interview and provides some fascinating insight. So much so that we've broken up our interview into two parts. Enjoy!

[Jody]: Michel, can you start out by telling us a little more about yourself and how you got started in SEO and some of your motivations for creating SEO Samba?

[Michel Leconte]: I started to really work in SEO in 2001. At the time, I was working full time at an IT firm hit pretty hard by the dot-com bubble burst. SEO appeared as an interesting investment for us and our clients. In the meantime, my partner David Culot was helping travel and car search engine aggregators build their applications. As we grew in sophistication, so did our client size and over time I realized that the process was unduly painful, lengthy, and prone to errors. SEO is sold by professionals as a process that requires an ongoing effort from web site owners. However, there's no life cycle management built into what SEO experts deliver. As a result, the execution is a hit-and-miss game that generates an awful lot of delays, frustration, and, ultimately, lost revenues for both client and experts. Furthermore, SEO is time consuming to research and test for experts, costly to execute by hand for end-users, and takes very little advantage from the scale of the SEO agency or its customer business size.

[Jody]: Is this what motivated you to start SEO Samba?

[Michel Leconte]: Pretty much, yes. After a stint as CEO for a search engine specializing in business data, I was ready to focus on developing SEO Samba. With an increasing number of applications built in the cloud, development of social networks, progressive deployment of custom and universal search, and a maturing SEO services marketplace, we thought the industry was ripe for a change towards higher value-added services, and that "smart SEOs," as Matt Cutts call them, would crave additional bandwidth to focus on strategy and business development, both for them and their clients. We invented the first organic search management platform to facilitate systemic execution of best practices, adoption of "free-to-play" marketing channels, and enable professionals to scale their practice through software instead of payroll.

[Jody]: Due to the ever-changing nature of the industry, managing SEO best practice implementation can be difficult. Explain how SEO Samba can help streamline this process?

[Michel Leconte]: SEO Samba is built with the ever-evolving SEO landscape in mind. SEO Samba maximizes web site performance with search engines and other "free-to-play" digital marketing channels. It enables SEM firms and SEO experts to manage an unlimited number of organic search clients, projects and web sites from a single interface, and change SEO best practices across them all with a single click. Web marketers and professionals deploy and enforce best practices from a single point rather than manually coding these evolving best practices into each of these sites while hoping that end-users will not gradually undo these practices. SEO Samba facilitates execution and maintains the integrity of best practices while letting expert users adapt their best practices to changes in algorithms.

[Jody]: Very cool. The Internet is a quick way to find information. It's also a quick way to communicate information. As a result, there is a ton of information that online marketers, site owners and Webmasters must sift through. How does SEO Samba find the "best of the best" in terms of best practices for SEO?

[Michel Leconte]: SEO Samba provides a set of default best practices. However, the platform is flexible enough to allow experts to pick, fine-tune and add their own best practices prior to making them available to a select pool of their clients as they see fit. Web marketers and SEO experts are able to try different things and adapt their strategies as required. SEO Samba focuses on the needs of small and medium business, web marketers and giving additional ammunition to our SEO firm partners. We see organic search as a field increasingly going beyond text results.

[Jody]: We agree entirely.

[Michel Leconte]: Social applications, news, blogs, video are all "free-to-play" marketing channels but are costly to research, select, manage and integrate with other marketing endeavors. We address the manpower challenge faced by SMB by providing a high level of integration and minimizing web marketers' content creation efforts. For example, our first universal search module (provided free of charge) is a news module that provides a Google News-ready structure, news articles that are search optimized according to your chosen best practices, search friendly scrollers, automated RSS feeds creation, integrated with email newsletter platforms such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response etc. You can publish news across all your sites with a single click then aggregate news items across web sites to create unique newsletters and market to a cross segment of your email list and, finally, save these newsletters with one click to any of your web sites. Each of our upcoming modules will provide the same level of details to ensure web site visibility, while expanding the least time possible from users, content writers, marketers and SEO experts' perspectives.

[Jody]: SEO Samba will be at SMX West in Santa Clara (booth #321) and you will be discussing SEO automation's challenges and progress. Can you give us some insight into what some of these challenges are and how SEO Samba works to overcome these challenges?

[Michel Leconte]: It's quite easy to imagine how SEO Automation resolves issues endemic to providing services in general, such as a hit and miss execution processes through systemic implementation and the lack of lifecycle management of optimized web sites through appropriate historical data management such as automated 301 redirections and such. However, it is important to keep a set of simple-to-follow rules when designing a platform that touches on so many elements and factors. The number one engineering rule we set for ourselves was to design a platform that would leave zero footprints on published web sites. A seamlessly simple rule such as this one, however, brings a number of technological challenges every day to our team as we develop and integrate new components into SEO Samba.

From a practical standpoint, this means that web sites produced with SEO Samba are fully independent from our platform once uploaded to their publishing web servers, and that web pages do not include SEO Samba's specific code. In other words, web sites published with SEO Samba are W3C html compliant. This rule was set for its far reaching impact and benefits, including retaining full confidentiality for our SEM firm partners using SEO Samba on a white label basis, maximizing end-user web sites' availability and performances by not placing calls back to our servers, and optimizing hosting options for geo-location, response time, and SEO cross-linking value.

[Jody]: Great stuff! You'll also be at SES London in mid-February participating in an Organic Listings Forum http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/london/agenda-day2.html. Can you talk a little more about this and what attendees can expect to learn from this session?

[Michel Leconte]: This session is free form, attendees will bring up their challenges, and between Jill, Brett, Chris, and I we’ll try to bring answers on the spot, point resources, and generalize best practices from our analysis of these specific cases. So, if after a couple days of SES conferences in London, you still have unanswered questions, and need down to earth, practical advices about your web strategy and properties, this is a session you don’t want to miss out.

[Jody]: Yeah those open forum sessions are usually pretty good. It's always great to see that our peers are on the same page.

See I told you that Michel gives a great interview! We'll have part two of our interview with Michel tomorrow!

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posted by Jody @ Monday, February 09, 2009  
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