Greg Boser (aka WebGuerilla and half of the SEO Rockstars duo) is known for telling it like it is. His website comment policy is, “Don’t be a dumb***!” You get the point. So how did Greg get his start in the industry and how did he go from “squeaky clean” (according to Greg himself) to one of the industry’s rebels?
In 1995, Greg was watching CBS news’ coverage of the Malibu fires. During the broadcast there was an aerial shot of three guys foaming down a house and running inside. Greg was intrigued. It turned out that it was a company in Boulder, Colorado that sold protective foam equipment to people living in fire prone areas. As part of their marketing strategy, they chased fires to demonstrate their product. Greg contacted the company and said, “Hey, I want to work for you.” They hired him and Greg became their Southern California sales rep.
Greg started using AOL and CompuServe because it was a good way to connect to fire fighters to recruit them for commissioned sales positions. Greg calls it his “first foray into internet marketing.” After a while Greg decided that he wanted to be a dealer for the company and sell other products instead of working with them directly as he had been. Sometime in early 1996, Greg started his own company, Wild Fire Defense Systems and started building himself a website. Greg built it but no one came. So he began looking for all the information he could get his hands on. That is when he stumbled into Danny Sullivan’s white paper, Webmaster’s Guide to Search Engines. Greg became one of Danny’s first subscribers. He recalls, “You used to have to fax him a paper fax of your credit card number because there was no online billing.”
After applying what he learned from Danny, he began seeing an increase in traffic. So Greg borrowed some money from his dad and locked himself in a room for six months to learn everything he could. Greg confessed that he “used to stalk Danny.” He would find out what email discussion list Danny was hanging out in and join those lists. Greg was introduced to John Audette and Marshall Simmonds through I-Search. Greg says, “You didn’t really have any clients so everyone would sit around and write these brilliant posts and submit them.” During that time Greg didn’t have any clients either so he worked for free, gaining experience by doing SEO for his daughter’s karate instructor’s website.
It was pretty hard for Greg in the beginning because he had to convince everyone why they needed SEO. But even though they were difficult times, Greg feels that they were good years where he met a lot of people that he is still friends with today. In those days Greg would make a change to a page, submit the content and in five minutes he would have a new rank at InfoSeek. Greg said “You would submit, refresh, [say] oh I went down to seven, that didn’t work, change the page, submit – it was insane – pots and pots of coffee all night long.”
By 98’-99’ Greg was dabbling in cloaking and by 2000 Greg says, “It was mainstream” and “a defensive mechanism so people couldn’t see what you were doing.” Greg used cloaking for many different reasons but maintains that the cloaked pages were “always a legitimate match.” Greg doesn’t really understand the whole white hat, black hat controversy. He feels that almost all of the so-called black hat stuff is not done for clients. The affiliate space is highly competitive so anyone working in that arena is going to have to break the rules, according to Greg. The other side is that many clients ask for black hat techniques knowing that they are “so-and-so brand, I’ll just call Google and get it fixed” said Greg.
Today Greg says, “I look at it like I’m a weather man. I think I’m a really good weather man, but there are times when you say it’s going to be 75 degrees and sunny and somebody’s party got rained on. That’s because we don’t control everything.” Greg’s company does a lot of work with clients that have in-house SEO teams. He says that they bring him in to guide the ship. He doesn’t write people’s title tags but he explains the basic strategy and taxonomy structures to them. Today Greg’s time is filled with software development projects, finding quality venture projects and doing traditional SEO consulting.
For new up and comers, Greg advises them to “Shut up and work.” He believes that doing work is the way to learn and do well. Greg recommends SEOmoz as a resource that does a great job at teaching new people and getting them up to speed on more technical concepts. Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, WebmasterWorld and SEO Book are his other top recommendations. Greg recalls that those sites meant something very special to the SEOs that have been around. He said, “We just worked at home by ourselves and that was just like our water cooler.”
The industry has come a long way and so has Greg Boser. From a sales rep for a wild fire equipment company to a highly respected voice and consultant in the SEO community, Greg has impacted a great number of people with his work and ingenuity.