Michael Marshall is the lead instructor and owner of the Search Engine Academy of North Carolina. He has more than 24 years of experience in information technology, covering a wide range of specialties including web design, software engineering, ecommerce solutions, artificial intelligence, and Internet marketing. He is a member of the World Association of Internet Marketers and of SEO Professionals. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.
MO: You have degrees in linguistics, philosophy, and theology. How did this background contribute to your interest in search engine optimization and software development?
Mike: My interest in software actually preceded my interest in the subject areas of my academic degrees, but my interest in SEO sprung out of my software experience working as a backend Perl programmer for a web design company. During college, though, I found that there were relationships between linguistics, philosophy, SEO, and even artificial intelligence. All these areas inform both the way I develop software and my overall approach to SEO, especially in the area of competitive intelligence.
MO: What are you passionate about when it comes to SEO?
Mike: The elements of SEO consulting I enjoy most are planning, strategy, competitive intelligence, and data analysis. My favorite activities related to SEO actually come from speaking at conferences or doing small group trainings or consulting sessions.
MO: You are the lead instructor and owner at the North Carolina Search Engine Academy. What made you want to start this program, and what has been the most rewarding about it?
Mike: I really enjoy teaching, and my experience with John Alexander and Robin Nobles, who founded the Search Engine Academy, is what prompted my interest in getting a license to run my own local academy. The most rewarding parts of running the academy are getting to know the students, seeing them experience “a-ha” moments, and watching how they make a positive difference in their companies as a result of the training. In some cases, this becomes their launching point into the field.
MO: If you could give only one tip in the realm of search engine optimization, what would it be?
Mike: Make sure that decisions are driven by relevant and reliable data, and that they are focused on the needs and behavior of your target audience.
MO: When people are starting to develop software, what is one important step you believe all successes remember to do?
Mike: One important step that leads to success in developing software is making sure each item in your intended feature set actually meets a specific need of the end user.
MO: Out of everything you have accomplished thus far, what are you most proud of?
Mike: Out of everything I’ve accomplished so far professionally, I am probably proudest of helping a client save his family business from ruin. A close second is the course I designed and taught on search engine technology for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
MO: Where do you see your future taking you?
Mike: Professionally, I would like to gain more opportunities to speak, train, and coach individuals, SEO departments, and companies to solve specific SEO problems and succeed in their Internet marketing efforts overall.