Eric Enge on Growing & Selling a Successful Digital Agency, SEO, Content & More
“Don’t tie yourself up in knots worrying about who’s accomplishing what around you and whether they’re perceived to be better than you or not. The only challenge you need to solve is how you make yourself better every day.”
Eric Enge describes himself as an introvert, which can come as a surprise to some given he is such a prolific speaker at so many of the biggest industry conferences.
As a child, he dug into things in more detail than other people would – and that might have been a clue as to how he goes about learning things.
Building a Heathkit computer from scratch while he was out of college sparked his interest in technology where he would eventually find success as an SEO professional and agency owner.
In this episode of Search Engine Nerds, I’ll be highlighting the career journey of Eric Enge, an SEO pro who’s got expertise, authority, and trust – the real deal, triple threat.
About Eric Enge
As one of the most prominent figures in the SEO industry, you’ve probably already heard about Eric Enge.
Enge is currently the General Manager for Digital Marketing at Perficient Digital. He founded Stone Temple Consulting back in 1997, which was acquired by Perficient Digital in July 2018.
He is well known for significantly contributing to the knowledge base of the industry, having produced countless digital marketing studies over the years. You can check out his latest research at the Stone Temple website.
Enge has spoken and keynoted at major conferences including PubCon, SMX, State of Search, Next10X, Digital Growth Unleashed, IRCE, and so many others.
Together with Rand Fishkin, Stephan Spencer, and Jessie Stricchiola, he also co-authored “The Art of SEO”, which is widely used as a textbook for many university courses.
He’s been involved in the internet since the early 1990s when he played a role in AOL building up its subscriber base.
During our interview, Eric talked about his 20-year journey as a digital marketer – how he started a career in technology, the struggles he’s faced and overcome, the lessons learned along the way, and why he decided it was time to sell Stone Temple.
Listen as he shares how his early SEO days looked like (hint: it involved some link schemes) and why he owes a great debt to ex-Googler Matt Cutts.
Eric also offers amazing advice on operating and expanding an agency, hiring employees, communicating the value of SEO to potential clients, and investing in thought leadership.
- Eric shares that he was gregarious as a child (but took a sharp turn into being introverted at age 10), joining the high school swim team, his Norwegian roots, and growing up in Massachusetts. [05:24]
- By junior high school, Eric got into history and within two years had read about 200 different books from cover to cover. [7:50]
- How building a Heathkit computer at home while he was out of college served as Eric’s first foray into technology. [8:15]
- Eric reveals why he ended up going to three different colleges. [10:31]
- On working as a hardware designer after graduating from Northeastern and his experience installing the Loran-C control center at a naval base in France. [21:40]
- Eric on moving onto Phoenix Technologies (the dominant provider of BIOS software worldwide), running his own start-up ventures within the company, and getting involved in America Online – helping the company become the largest ISP on planet Earth at that time. [27:26]
- When and how Eric transitioned from doing business development consulting to “getting traffic from some search engines.” [34:33]
- How he learned to drive search engine traffic and generate leads in the early days of SEO. [39:00].
- Eric shares how Google’s permanent ban on his education online search site led him to attend his first conference, SES Chicago, and plead his case to then-Googler Matt Cutts. [41:24]
- On being given a chance and the importance of paying it forward. [46:00]
- We learn where the name “Stone Temple” came from. [48:12]
- When Eric decided to expand Stone Temple and started hiring people. [49:34]
- Growing pains and takeaways when expanding an agency. [54:05]
- What were Eric’s biggest challenges in operating an agency? [56:33]
- How do you communicate the value of SEO to potential clients? Eric shares the best approach that he’s learned over the years. [59:25]
- Eric talks about how he managed to stay up to date with search while building a successful company at the same time. [1:02:15]
- If Eric could redo one thing about how he built Stone Temple, this is what he would change. [1:05:17]
- What made Eric decide that it was time to sell Stone Temple? [1:07:52]
- The challenges of integrating Stone Temple with Perficient and how the team reacted to the news. [1:10:52]
- On letting go of the Stone Temple brand. [1:13:16]
- When and how Eric really committed to consistently writing and blogging. [1:14:41]
- What is Eric’s philosophy on writing and sharing content? [1:18:09]
- Eric discusses how the “Here’s Why” video series came about and its evolution over the years. [1:20:18]
- Here’s why the Mythbusters episode is Eric’s favorite video from the series. [1:23:51]
- The best piece of professional advice Eric received was from Colonel Potter of the TV show “M*A*S*H”. [1:25:14]
- The worst piece of SEO advice he’s ever heard. [1:27:23]
- What Eric is most excited about in SEO right now. [1:29:34]
- What’s next for Eric Enge? [1:32:14]
Links from the Episode
How to connect with Eric Enge:
- Eric Enge on Search Engine Journal
- The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola, Rand Fishkin (Amazon)
- I Don’t Buy Links (Moz)
- Stone Temple Pilots
- Eric Enge on the Stone Temple Blog
- Eric Enge on Search Engine Watch
- Eric Enge on Search Engine Land
- Eric Enge on Copyblogger
- Eric Enge on Forbes
- Eric Enge on Moz
- Web Analytics Shootout – Final Report – a 2011 Perspective (Stone Temple)
- The Analytics Project is Complete – Tons of Cool Data & an Interview with Eric Enge (Moz)
- Here’s Why Videos (Stone Temple)
- Eric Enge on YouTube
- M*A*S*H (IMDb)
- Harry Morgan (IMDb)
- AMP Case Studies (Stone Temple)
- Mobile vs Desktop Traffic in 2019 (Stone Temple)
- Links as a Ranking Factor – Still Going Strong (Stone Temple)
- Steve Case
- Ron Fisher
- Steve Kalman
- Mike Grehan
- Matt Cutts
- Hamlet Batista
- John Biundo
- Adam Humphreys
- David Iwanow
- John Leo Weber
- Elizabeth Dill
- Stephan Bajaio
- Mark Traphagen
- Dixon Jones
- Tony Wright
- Adam Riemer
- Rand Fishkin
- Greg Jarboe
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita