Christine says, “I’ve probably got one of the most bizarre backgrounds in search.” When she says it, she means it. Christine was a missile officer in the military. Her daily activities consisted of running computer simulations of missile trajectories and deployment sites. She was part of the team that selected deployment sites for Desert Storm and other targets in the Middle East. Due to the nature of her job she became known as the techie geek by her co-workers. So when her boss needed a website for an upcoming conference, Christine was who he came to. Christine had never created a website before and she only had a month before the conference to do it. She found some resources and built a “pretty hideous site” she reflects, using frames. What’s more, to Christine’s horror, the site is still in use today. She’s taking the URL to her grave.
One of Christine’s favorite aspects of SEM is the psychology behind it. She believes that search engine marketing is an art. While obtaining her Masters in Business, Christine took many psychology classes and has found great success in applying that insight into keyword research and other elements of SEM.
From missile deployment simulations to search engine marketing, Christine says “it’s all targeting, just a different kind.” In a world where it is increasingly common to change careers, Christine definitely came out of left field and ended up stumbling into her passion.
The conference website made her the “web designer” at work and before she knew it, web design became her full time job. Christine learned that maintaining web sites was labor intensive – change one link and you might have to manually change nearly every page on the site. Fortunately her programmer-husband and another programmer friend helped her out by writing software tools to reduce the burden of maintaining a web site. These tools turned into a company in 1996 when the Internet startup NetMechanic was formed. In the beginning much of the programming was done by Christine’s husband in their guest bedroom. They had little money for marketing so Christine added search engine optimization to the lists of hats she wore. “It was like instant love” Christine says. The game was invigorating to her.
Net Mechanic provided free tools for web designers. Eventually they started selling the tools for a small price which helped the notoriety of the site even more. Christine was also editor of a twice a month newsletter that was a great traffic driver. Before long the site was a PR8 (Page Rank 8) and was ranking at the top of the search engines for all their terms. Angel donors and investors started coming. They sold NetMechanic to Keynote Systems in 2002. She and her husband relocated to Dallas to work for the company that acquired them.
In 2003, Christine decided to start her own company, KeyRelevance. She said, “Once you sell your baby that you helped raise, it’s really difficult to stay there” in reference to NetMechanic. She was scared because NetMechanic was a group of friends and Key Relevance was all by herself. Today Christine’s company employs ten core people and several consultants. KeyRelevance is a full service search engine marketing company. “We’re not a huge company and my intent is never to be the biggest” says Christine. She is very happy with the clients she has and feels privileged to work with companies that truly are a best fit for KeyRelevance.