I’m very excited in this 2nd part of this episode on Interview Fridays. I have great respects for this next individual.
He’s the chief of one of the leading digital agencies in the Middle East. He has been a strong figure in the online industry in the region. It was a privilege to have interviewed Mr. Yousef Tuqan of FlipMedia.
It’s an honor to have one of the most important names in region’s online media industry. Please tell us about your success story and your journey with Flip Media?
Thanks for the compliment. Flip’s had a trajectory of success over the past six years – particularly early on – enabling us to become the most successful digital agency in the Middle East. From a team of two, it’s now very well established, with an enviable portfolio of clients and a team comprising over 150 people in 8 countries, throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
I’m pleased to have been a part of this process, having joined Flip as an Account Director back in September 2005, progressing to CEO in July last year. Perhaps what I’ve enjoyed the most is guiding the overall business strategy, in terms of the work we do, the clients we take on and our resulting market position.
I credit the success I’ve enjoyed to a couple of factors: I’m naturally passionate about digital (OK, OK I’m a natural born geek; there, I’ve said it), with communications and marketing as founding skills. My dad worked for IBM, so maybe it’s genetic but I’ll never forget the time when he said he could show me how to build a website in 20 minutes, back in 1996. So we opened up Netscape Composer and the rest is history, really.
How does it feel to be the Chief of the region’s leading interactive agency? What are the challenges?
It’s a tremendous honor for me. Even before I joined Flip, I had always admired what the agency stood for, and the energy Flip brought to the industry. To be entrusted with its continued growth and success is an enormous responsibility, and one that I don’t take lightly.
Luckily for me, Flip has attracted the best people in the industry, and my job is a lot easier when surrounded by people who are truly dedicated to digital marketing, and to Flip’s vision.
It’s always great to know people within your industry. It’s even more interesting to share experiences with work with people who understand what you’re going through. Last week I’ve met an eMarketing Manager from Maktoob, one of the largest internet portal and Arab online community in the Mimddle East.
Ladies and gentleman, please help me welcome Ms. Mais AbuSalah.
Thank you very much for giving me the privilege for this interview. Please tell us about yourself and your current profession?
My name is Mais AbuSalah; I graduated from the University of Jordan – Computer Science as a major. I am currently the eMarketing Manager in Maktoob.com – Jordan.
How’s the online media industry of Jordan in the last 3 years, particularly that of SEO/SEM?
I believe that the online media (especially SEO/SEM) is still not on the basic checklist for many websites, not only in Jordan, but also in the Arab World.
From time to time, I check local websites (radio stations, newspapers… etc.) and most of them lack the basics of online marketing (especially SEO).
And if we want to talk about websites and forums owned by individuals, we will find that unfortunately most of them use black hat SEO. They also focus more on what brings traffic (series, songs, rumors… etc.) more than what brings value to users and online browsers.
Some people in the industry started as web developers, some as designers, while others like me started as content developers, what was your main background that helped succeed in being an SEO?
I started with Maktoob.com as a junior product/channel officer, then a project coordinator (still handling channels and projects including content deals and content management), then I started with SEO. So I guess being a coordinator among different teams helps understanding what should be done by whom and whether or not it’s doable, and how the flow of work should be especially with large organizations.
You’re a graduate of Search Engine College, a highly regarded institution for SEO/SEM certification. What’s your stand on industry certification? Would you recommend it be mandatory or is the industry not ready for that yet?
I believe SEO/SEM should start to be mandatory and by trusted institutes. You might find many people aware of bits and pieces of SEO, but many of them use black hat ways (especially in the Arab region). Online marketing in general is a rare specialty here. It’s very hard for example to find online marketers in Jordan with hands-on experience. It’s either that they have more than 7 years and very fresh and never had hands-on experience in online marketing.
The certification or training shouldn’t only be theoretical, but should also include actual implementation (and that was the case with Search Engine College).
I’m proud to announce that today is the official launch of Click-Dubai’s Interview Fridays and we have a very very special guest to kick things off with the program. So let’s forget about Jacko’s conspiracy or Sotomayor’s drama and let’s give our attention to one of the well respective names in the search marketing industry. Ladies and gents, let’s give it up for Mr. Kevin Gibbons of SEOptimise.
For those who are new to the SEO scene, would you be kind enough to introduce SEOptimise and a little background about you and your company?
Hey Dave, thanks for asking me to do this interview.
Well firstly, I’ve been involved in the search marketing industry (SEO in particular) since 2002. During this time I was working for a web design agency whilst still on a placement year from University and I began getting more and more involved in the SEO side of projects.
I then went back to Uni with my free .ac.uk webspace and quickly realised it wasn’t too difficult to dominate for competitive terms in Google! I actually had an assignment to create a website for a made-up driving school and within a few days the site was number one in Google for “Oxford driving school” and I was receiving several daily enquiries to take people out on driving lessons! I even managed to make some cash out of it by putting some AdSense ads up, shame they took the webspace away ?
Anyway, I graduated from Uni, built up a few of my own website’s (which I would thoroughly recommend as a fast-track to learning SEO) and shortly after decided to spend a year in Australia. Rather than getting a job out there, I found that my interest and ability in SEO allowed me to win a few clients and work as a freelance SEO consultant. I decided it would look more professional to set myself up as a company, which is how the early days of SEOptimise were formed.
You’ve been into search engine marketing since 2002, how did the industry evolve over these years? What were the notable changes in history?
In terms of search marketing 2002 seems so far away now it’s unreal. We’re obviously used to seeing the daily algorithm changes or clever new tactics on blogs and Sphinn almost on a daily basis.