A few quick questions with Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki Photo

Guy Kawasaki is a founding partner and entrepreneur-in-residence at Garage Technology Ventures. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Interview Transcript

Eric Enge: You blogged recently about HomeTips.com. You mentioned the focus on “content for homeowners”. What is the lesson for other potential web site publishers?

Guy Kawaski: The message is that the key to traffic is creating good content. I don’t think the keywords in one’s H1, H2, and H3 headlines is nearly as important. My theory of SEO is this: Create great content and Google will find you because that’s what all those PhDs at Google are making their crawlers do.

Eric Enge: Do you have any opinions on the value of Alexa v.s. Compete v.s. comScore?

Guy Kawaski: Alexa is free but as far as I know doesn’t count Firefox and Macintosh owners, so it’s fundamentally not representative of the world. Compete is also free, and I think has a much more sophisticated algorithm that doesn’t require a download and installation. I usually depend on Compete much more because Alexa’s lack of Macintosh coverage morally offends me.

However, the way I use both Alexa and Compete is this: If I’m “buying,” then I use the one with the lower numbers. If I’m “selling,” then I use the one with higher numbers. It’s my PEO (Price Engine Optimization) strategy.

I never use Comscore because I don’t have a subscription to it. For all I know it’s the best source of info, but it’s not something I’m willing to pay for.

Eric Enge: Then do you believe SEO is bull shiittake?

Guy Kawaski: I truly don’t know. If Neil Patel suggests something for my sites, I do it, but as I said, my focus is on good content and sprinkling holy water on my Google doll.

Eric Enge: What are your plans for promoting Truemors and Alltop?

Guy Kawaski: Truemors will either spread because it has good content or it won’t spread. If you search for the stories that we cover, we are often in the first page of Google results. I wish I could tell you that’s because we’ve figured out how to crack the Google SEO nut. No can do. We find good content, post it, and pray.

Alltop is different. When we launch an Alltop category, we contact every site and blog owner in the category and tell them we included the feed. Most of these folks then write a posting about Alltop. This has generated a lot of inbound links. Also, I am amazed by the number of people who put up Alltop badges. That’s helped a lot too.

I just wish that I could tell you that I planned the success of inbound links and badges. No can do! The Internet gods were just looking out for me.

Eric Enge: You wrote recently about how much you liked Website Grader. Why do you like it?

Guy Kawaski: I like Website Grader because it aggregates many metrics. As you can tell from Alltop, I’m into “aggregation without aggravation.” It’s great to go to one place and get everything done. Everybody with a site should get a Website Grader grade.

Eric Enge: What did you learn from the web communities panel that you moderated and the panel with Internet entrepreneurs?

Guy Kawaski: Both panels taught me that these entrepreneurs created cool things and let it rip. There wasn’t a whole lot of analysis and cogitation. I like this theory very much. It’s probably responsible for more successes than the advice of venture capitalists.

The great thing is that it’s so much cheaper to try stupid ideas these days because of products like MySQL, Rails, PHP, and WordPress. Life is good for an entrepreneur these days.

Eric Enge: Can a company form a committee and create a successful innovation?

Guy Kawaski: It’s possible, but not probable. I can’t think of many examples right off the top of my head. As a company gets more “professional” and has “committees,” it gets harder and harder to innovate especially as more and more clueless people who are out of touch with technology rise to management positions.

Eric Enge: How does this compare to the potential success rate of a very small number of people (maybe even 1) pursuing a personal passion?

Guy Kawaski: If I were a betting man—and in a sense that’s what a venture capitalist does, I would always bet on a small team. That’s why my firm is called “Garage” Technology Ventures not “Commercialization” Technology Ventures.

Published: October 14, 2008


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