Scott Offord - Milwaukee SEOHowdy! Today I’m talking with Scott Offord, the Director of Internet Marketing at Orion Group. He’s certified in Google Analytics and Google Adwords, and we met him at WordCamp Milwaukee this year. This was the 1st ever WordCamp in Milwaukee, and Scott was one of the good folks who planned it!

In Scott’s Own Words:

My focus is on improving the visibility of our clients’ WordPress websites in the search engines. I have a background in designing and developing websites using various content management systems. As the organizer of the monthly, Milwaukee WordPress meetup, I recently the planned the 1st Annual WordCamp Milwaukee 2012. When I’m not optimizing websites, I enjoy walking my large Great Dane, Squiggles, with my short, Asian wife, Stephanie.

On to Scott’s Answers:

When was the first time that you really got excited about WordPress and at what point did you decide to make it your career?

I first got excited about WordPress back in 2002 when I made a website for my band. I think I was using version 1.5 or 1.6 at the time. I had to hack the hell out of the core files to get it to work like a content management system and not just a blog. I’ve been enjoying WP more and more everyday since then. There was a period of time where I made some awesome Adobe Flash websites because it was rad, but along came SEO and also the iPad. It has been many years now since I’ve had to manually create a website in HTML. Now, I shutter every time I open up an FTP program and see .html files!

Where do you go first to get your WP news, insights, and updates?

Twitter, where else?! Actually, there isn’t one resource I rely on more than another. Which ever site comes up in the search results of Google is the site I’ll look at. Usually I’ll see something interesting come in via Twitter and I’ll read through the content I find. Other than that, it is usually individual WordPress developers’ personal blogs that I find more relevant.

What WP consultants deserve more love than they get? Who should we be paying attention to?

I don’t think there’s enough room on this page to include them all, but I’m sure after a year of scouring, we could come up with a big list. Is “Yoast” considered a consultant? Joost de Valk is a developer of many popular WordPress plugins. I use at least two of his plugins on every site I run.

What performance tips would you give to other pros (as related to speed, scalability, security, plugins, backup, etc.)?

Come on… back up your [email protected]#$%ing site, would you!? I’ve used many backup plugins in the past, but recently have come across a service that connects all of your WordPress site’s dashboards into one central place of management. That service allows us to pull regular backups of both the database and the WordPress files. It’s a life saver if you have a site that is not managed by WP Engine.

Confess to us your biggest moment of WP fail?

You know… that time I upgraded another web developers WordPress site for a new client and didn’t back it up before realizing they hacked the core WP files?? Ya. That! Really though, like I said earlier, so long as you backup your files and your database before touching anything, you should be fine. Working with WP Engine make this part of the process easy.

If you were going to spend this weekend creating a plugin that doesn’t exist, what would it be?

An automated randomized external link long-tail anchor text keyword generator plugin. Seriously! As a web company, I like putting that “Designed by” link at the bottom of the client’s site, but with the recent changes to Google’s algorithm, it is now more important than ever to vary the anchor text of your external links from site to site so you don’t get penalized for over-optimizing a particular phrase. Also, this automated randomized “external link long-tail anchor text keyword generator” would only put the link on the home page of the website and not all of the subpages so as to avoid the issue that having too many sitewide links can cause.

Do you use Themes & Child Themes, Roll your own, or both?

I hate child themes. I don’t often roll my own, but I’ve found that working with an existing premium theme can certainly help speed up the design and development process. Not only does it save time, it can also save the client money because a lot of the basic work in the structuring of the theme code and layout is already done. Sometimes, for the right client, just a few tweaks here and there does the trick.

What’s your favorite theme or theme framework? Why?

I’ve edited the hell out of Twenty Eleven in the recent past. I’d have to say, at this time. Twenty Eleven is the way to go. You can make it do anything. The code is well structured and it opens your eyes to understand the capability of WordPress.

Favorite plugin?

Google Analytics for WordPress by Yoast is one of my favorite plugins. Because my focus is mostly on generating and analyzing traffic for our clients, the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin comes in very handy. With this plugin you can track external link clicks as events in your Google Analytics profile, which is one of my favorite features.

Least favorite plugin?

That one that the developer abandoned back in 2003. I can’t remember the name of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Actually, a lot of people rave about contact form creation plugins like Gravity Forms, but as a web marketing company we’ve decided to standardize on Wufoo for our clients because of its ease of use and extensibility.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done with Custom Post Types?

First, I’d like to know if the “Finely Tuned Consultants” posts on wpengine.com are taking advantage of Custom Post Types. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do you think is the biggest challenge that WP consultants will face in 2012?

WP is getting so good at making it easy for the end user, that it is causing the role of the WordPress consultant to shift. We will need to include the client in even more of the development process. We will need to be there to support the client at all times.

If you could change one thing today about WP, what would it be?

I would deactivate all of those Perry Marshall Get-Rich-Quick WordPress Affiliate Marketing sites in a heartbeat. For instance, those mile long squeeze pages with titles like: “Using Google AdWords and the Power of Guerilla-Marketing to Attract New Customers 24/7/365” that force you to sign up for a newsletter with your email address before letting you in on the secret.

Where do you see WordPress going in the next 2-3 years?

In the near future, WordPress will take over the world. The functionality of WP will be extended and become more of a standard framework for web publishing rather than a forgotten open source CMS.

Tell us a story where you saved the WP day for yourself or on a client project. What made the difference for you?

We built two additional WordPress websites for a client and optimized them for the search engines, resulting in a 100% increase in leads within one month. WordPress allowed us to roll out the additional websites in no time. Literally, it took us two days to enter the content and tweak the theme to look “custom” and we had fully functional websites up and running and starting to rank in the search engines just a couple of weeks later.

What’s the biggest misconception you encounter about WordPress, and how do you clear it up for your clients?

The biggest misconception about WordPress is that it is not powerful enough for large corporate websites with a large volume of traffic. To clear up that misconception, I show neigh-sayers one website I run that get 5,000,000 pageviews per month with no problems in its busy session.

If you were interviewing another WordPress developer for a job, what is the first question you would ask and why?

Because many “developers” have used WordPress, but not as many actually have the experience of developing with WordPress in its fullest, I would ask “Do you know how to create Custom Post Types?”

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Thanks Scott!

Y’all can mosey on over to Scott’s website, to check out his work and see what he’s blogging about these days. And if you need some SEO work, you can hire him!