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Craig Kilgore (@ckilgs) Interviews SEO Manager & Rapper Mike King (@iPullRank)

If you are ever looking for a go to source for SEO, UX, link building or development information, Mike King is the man. Mike, aka iPullRank is very well known throughout the SEO community and is looked at as an expert to many, including myself. Mike is an SEO Manager with Publicis Modem and a Global Associate at SEOmoz. He is also a recording artist going by the name of MiC K!NG aka iCON the Mic King.

I started following Mike on Twitter about 6 months ago and since then have been overly impressed with the quality of his work, his opinions, tips and the creativity found in all of his publications especially after reading “Just How Smart Are Search Robots?” which was featured on SEOmoz back in November of 2011.

Craig Kilgore (@ckilgs) Interviews SEO Manager & Rapper Mike King (@iPullRank) image smx preso4

(Mike speaking at SMX East in 2011)

Mike was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions I prepared for him. See his answers below:

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Craig: How and why did you get involved in SEO?

Mike: Aww man, I wish I could somehow make this story cooler. I started doing SEO in 2006 after I got into a bicycle accident and had to pay my medical bills. I was a full-time rapper at that time and I didn’t have any health insurance. I’ve been building websites since 1995 and coding in various languages since 1992 so it was pretty easy to make the jump into a technical analyst role. From there I went in-house for a company that makes basement waterproofing products. After that I went to Razorfish and now I’m the SEO lead at Publicis Modem. I’m really excited for what the future holds.

Craig: With the growing importance of creative content marketing strategies and community building, who is more valuable in your opinion, a creative content marketer/SEO strategists or a more technical oriented SEO?

Mike: Well, you can’t teach imagination. If I had to choose I’d rather work with a creative strategist than a technical strategist. However luckily I am both so I don’t have to choose! I was on a panel at SMX West and we talked about how SEO needs to be sexy and make cool shit and I think a creative strategist is going to be much better at that than a technical strategist. Technical stuff can easily be learned, creativity not so much.

Craig: As I stated in my intro, I am a follower of yours on Twitter. A tweet of yours caught my attention rather recently. You tweeted — “all the link building strategy you’ll ever need. You Ready? Make news and make friends. Good night.”

For emerging digital marketers and link builders, what is one piece of advice you would give them to getting started with this process?

Mike: People tend to think of link building as a numbers game. Really link building is about getting people to take a real world action on the web that benefits you so unless you’re doing a bunch of link dropping or paying for links all of these tactics are essentially ways that you are making news or making friends. Making news is your content-based link building, making friends is your outreach. My one tip would be to use social media for both things to be more effective. Social will quickly allow you to get ideas for the content that you’re creating and also make your outreach easier because it’s the space where people are expecting to hear from people they don’t know. Context is King.

Craig: As I mentioned in my intro, you are also a rapper, and a very talented one in my opinion. How do you find the time to balance two highly demanding careers and do you feel that your music background gives you an edge when it comes to creating creative content?

Mike: Thanks Craig, I appreciate that! Honestly, I don’t. People oftentimes ask me how I came out of nowhere in the SEO scene and the reality is I have been doing it for about 6 years. Early in my SEO career it was just a job to me because I was a musician first. I hated how my day job occupied so much of my mind and how I couldn’t turn it off because I wanted to be able to leave work and then go jump in the studio and create. I don’t really have that ability to fully shift gears so it’s either one thing or the other. Since late 2010, I’ve been more focused on Search and as a result I have only done things here and there for music. Somehow in 2011 I still put out 14 songs due to guest appearances I’d recorded prior. All that said I’m actively trying to achieve a better balance and work on music regularly now. It’s pretty cool that since I’m no longer a full time musician I only take the gigs that I really want to do since I don’t have to worry about paying my bills. The next thing I want to do is make it so whenever I go somewhere for a conference I do a concert around the same time.

Without further ado, I present to you, Dinosaur’s Anthem by iCON the Mic King:

Check out some more iCON the Mic King videos.

Craig: When did you start rapping and who inspires you musically?

Mike: I started rhyming when I was 14. I’d bought a copy of Method Man’s first album and decided I could do it too. So I’ve always been very inspired by WuTang, Organized Konfusion, and a bunch of independent rappers that are what me and my circle call “playground legends.”

Craig: What is one piece of advice you would give to emerging professionals (doesn’t have to be an SEO) who are looking to make an impact within their organizations or community and ultimately make a name for themselves.

Mike: I’ve got two. 1. Be authentic and original.  2. Always be learning.

Craig: For those that would like to watch you speak, where can they find you in 2012? And to follow up on that question, what is the best SEO conference you have ever attended (whether as an attendee or as a speaker)?

Mike: Well unfortunately you might have already missed me at SMX Israel and SMX West but as of now I’m speaking at SES New York, LinkLove London and SMX Sydney. Not sure if I’ll be speaking at MozCon, but I’ll be in attendance either way. It was easy the best conference I’ve attended so far with SearchLove NY being a close second.

I would like to thank Mike for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions and for sharing some advice for up and coming digital marketers. For all of you SEOs, marketers and web developers, if you’ve yet to read any of these posts by Mike, it’s worth the time:

The New SEO Process (Quit Being Kanye)

The Cat in The Hat Teaches SEO

8 Tactics for Defending the SERPs when Synergy is not an Option

Throw Away Your Form Letters (or Five Principles to Better Outreach Link Building)

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