Blogger Interviews: Tom Shivers – The SEO Guy from Capture Commerce

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tom Shivers a few weeks ago, and you can listen to the audio podcast of the interview, on his SEO blog Capture Commerce in this post How to Blog Successfully – Tips from Ileane Smith. Now I get my chance to ask the questions and in this interview we get the inside scoop on Tom, as he shares his blogging journey with us.

Introducing Tom Shivers – SEO Guy from Capture Commerce

1. Tom, please introduce yourself to the readers here and tell us a little something about your offline life that most of your online audience might not know.

I’ve been an SEO consultant for 11 years now – yes, I got started in this space a long time ago when Yahoo was the most popular search engine until Google eclipsed them and has remained the dominant player. My philosophy of SEO is what makes me different from others.Tom Seo Guy

One thing most of my online friends don’t know is I’m addicted to racquetball and play 3 or 4 times every week. It’s a great sport to get involved in because it’s fairly easy to learn, and there are always challenging players to hone my skills. I enjoy it because I can unload stress, it’s good cardio, I’ve made lots of friends and I win a lot.

2. How many blogs do you have right now and what got you interested in starting a blog?

I run three blogs of my own in addition to my client’s blogs. I got interested in blogging around ‘06 because I was writing business articles for both my clients and prospects and saw that Google indexed blog posts rather quickly. My goal with the articles I write is to get in the conversation that is already on the web or in someone’s head to build up a following for the brand. But it was two years later that I setup my first blog for my business – one of my employees pushed for the blog and helped get it going.

3. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see bloggers and internet marketers making that might be causing them to fail? Have you made similar mistakes in the past yourself?

The number 1 mistake I see from businesses and individuals who want to be found in search engines and social media is they are not intentional about building relationships. You may laugh but it’s true; for some reason people think they can manufacture relationships without doing anything… ummm, no. Here’s some advice:

Build relationships both online and offline

  • Do what you say you will do even if it hurts
  • Stop doing things for the sole purpose of getting higher search rank, instead do things to help others… like your target audience
  • Link out from your own blog posts to other sites and blogs
  • Provide helpful, interesting comments on other people’s blogs, rather than just trying to get a link
  • Get involved in social voting and social media sites where other bloggers and marketers participate – pick one or two and invest some time there
  • Reach out to other bloggers with a phone call
  • Invite others to guest post on your blog
  • Give, give, give before expecting to receive – the golden rule of building relationships

I’ve noticed that people trying to build links in particular can be so task oriented that they often lose out on a relationship opportunity that could supply them with boat loads of links, but instead they settle for one or two. Oh well…

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in building relationships, but I’ve also learned how to do it by watching those who are great at it. I might drop a few names in the comments if people want to know who I follow.

4. I know that you enjoy podcasting as much as I do and you are using it to conduct interviews for your blog. Tell us about how you got started with podcasting and give us some insights about the process that you use to produce your show.

I got started podcasting a year ago with one of my businesses where we sell an information product that comes with a weekly Q&A session with the expert. I got us setup on so I could record the session. It has worked out well.

Sometimes I edit the podcast before publishing it using Audacity. Sometimes I add music to the podcast to make it more interesting and professional; I use royalty free music for that. Then I mix it all together and out comes an in stereo podcast that’s great for downloading to your ipod or smart phone. If it makes sense for the podcast, I create an iTunes channel to add a little extra exposure.

5. Right now, we are starting to see a shift from traditional marketing in terms of direct mail, and newspaper or magazine advertising. How has the impacted your marketing efforts, for example are you doing more email marketing these days? Where do you think offline marketing is going away – or is it still a viable option for small businesses?

Offline marketing won’t be going away, but it has been significantly impacted by online marketing for a number of obvious reasons. Magazine advertising is still interesting for many niche markets because the publishers are so tuned into what their audience wants. One well placed magazine ad can more than pay for itself, but it may take some trial and error to get there.

I do very little offline advertising for my own businesses, but I’m definitely into email marketing so I do a few things to build my lists up.

6. Let’s talk more specifically about social networking and the role it plays in your online life. What’s your favorite social network and why? Also, can you mention some blogging communities that you support like BizSugar, Blog Engage or Blokube.

LinkedIn is my favorite of the big social networks because it is truly the business network. For instance, company pages on LinkedIn are far better than Facebook pages because you can showcase products, recruit, offer specials all within a network where people want to communicate about business rather than the latest movie. A couple months ago I interviewed Sherry Hyle on how to use LinkedIn for business intelligence gathering. Check it out.

I’m involved in BizSugar, Blokube, Blog Engage, SerpD, fwisp, NewsMeBack, Triberr, and others, my handle is tomshark so vote for me please :)

7. People are always asking the question – Blogger or WordPress. I’m assuming you like WordPress over Blogger, but why do you feel that way? Have you ever had a Blogger blog before? In general do you think Blogger blogs have lower quality or authority on the Internet?

I’ve not tried Blogger or other free-hosted blogs because most of my clients need the versatility and power of a self-hosted WordPress blog. I setup WordPress blogs to complement business websites. When they are setup and fed properly, WordPress blogs become a powerful machine of influence that can reach out across the web and tug at the target audience it is intended to reach. I feed mine ravenously.

Most of the free-hosted blogs I’ve seen tend to be run by individuals who are writing for their friends or family rather than for business. I wouldn’t say they are lower quality blogs, they just have a different purpose.

8. Moving over into the topic of SEO, give us your top 5 SEO tips that you’re seeing results from.

Tom’s Top 5 SEO Tips for Bloggers:

5. Utilize your RSS feed. Register your feed with RSS feed directories like and; make sure your RSS feed is on your social media profiles. Get involved with the ComLuv Network which utilizes your RSS feed when you comment on blogs with the CommentLuv plugin installed.

4. Use SEO plugins properly. One of my pet peeves about SEO plugins is that many think their rankings will improve just by activating it and that’s usually not true. The plugins that actually do help with SEO can so easily be abused that some users end up doing more harm than good. So, I’m not comfortable sharing my plugins that help with SEO publicly here, but I’ll offer some tips to those who contact me with a good question about them. Having said that, one plugin that can make a difference is WordPress SEO by Yoast, but again this plugin is complex compared to most and if you don’t understand how to use it then get some help first.

3. Publish killer content. Great content is the currency of social media and the reason people link to blog posts today. Put a content marketing strategy together that complements your strengths so you can “Wow” your audience more consistently.

2. Build up an audience who become raving fans and cheerleaders for your cause or organization.

1. Focus more on conversions than on rankings.

9. Lastly Tom, I want to thank you for doing this interview and find out what your plans are for the future. What would you like to accomplish in 2012?

Thanks Ileane for inviting me, it’s been fun.

One of my goals for the new year is to find a few new partners with whom I can form a mutually beneficial business relationship with. Sometimes I find that web designers, social media consultants and conversion optimizers make great partners for me, but I like influential bloggers too.


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  1. Amrik Virdi

    can you please correct the first line of the article. You have repeated “the” word twice by mistake.

    Thank you!

  2. Thank you for getting the interview from the SEO guy. I was looking around for some information about his marketing success.

  3. The philosophy of giving makes sense to me, and for some time I’ve been trying to apply it to my life both on and off the Internet. The personal-relationship part of giving, however, is hard to understand with respect to relationships on the social-media sites. Successful blogs attract thousands of visitors per day. Even if you develop several hundred personal relationships (not a mean feat), the effect it will have on your blog traffic is miniscule. This may be different for business that sell high-dollar items, but for blogs and websites that need high-volume traffic to get clicks on ads, the social-media-site method seems like an uphill battle. Thanks for the insights!

    • Hi Doug! I agree and some social networks can be more challenging than others. I’m glad that many people know they can connect with me here on the blog and via email or Skype. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Hi Doug, glad you liked it. Getting traffic from social media sites is not really what I’m after and that’s only one piece of the puzzle. What I like to do is build relationships with people who have lots of influence with my target audience on the Web and it doesn’t matter to me if they have a few or many followers.

  4. Excellent tips from someone in the know.

    I suppose none of it was new, but it’s nice to hear some advice without hype and someone trying to sell me something.

    I’m toying with the idea of adding commentluv to my blogs, it’s just so luvly :)

    • Hi Iain, if you do decide to purchase CommentLuv, please use one of my affiliate links, like the one on the sidebar. I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

  5. HI Ileane, Its great to meet Tom because I work as an SEO specialist too here in India in a company. SO its good to get few nice tips from a senior SEO. Thank you very much for the interview Ileane. You are always great. :)

  6. Hey Tom, I didn’t know you were a racquetball player. I play twice a week myself. Great sport you can play at pretty much any age. If you ever make it to Philly let’s get a game!

  7. Great interview. I hope a lot of SEO’s could read this article. Nice insight from the expert. Building relationship rather than just building links is not a funny one, rather true. How would you gain something you don’t deserve, I mean you don’t work for it.

    Thank you for this.

  8. Great interview Ileane, it’s great to meet Tom, the guy sounds like he has a wealth of knowledge in SEO. Loved his answer to question three, quote ‘people think they can manufacture relationships without doing anything’ which is very true and must be realized.

  9. Danny

    Interesting interview. It’s great to be able to look into the mind of such an experienced SEO consultant. Your tip about focussing more on conversions than on ranking is great. It’s something I should do more. Why try hard to get more traffic if they are not buying anyway. Better get a higher conversion rate on the traffic that is coming in now.

  10. Hi Ileane, Your interview with Tom was very astounding as you have gave good questions that your readers would benefit. Tom’s blog is very informative with realistic SEO guides and I’ve seen this guy all over and one of my SEO head staff have encountered him in a conversation.

  11. Thanks for these 5 SEO tips. I don’t focus or worry for rankings so much, working on #2.
    Can you please suggest some SEO tip for Blogger blogs? I cannot install plugins, really worried for my blog’s SEO just because it’s on Blogger. (

    Moreover, I’d be so grateful if you’d read the post linked below and, if you enjoyed it, leave a comment to let me know!

    • Abhi, SEO for blogger blogs is no different than SEO for a website; self hosted WordPress blogs can make the work load lighter by using plugins properly. That still doesn’t mean plugin and forget it. Some of the things I like about WordPress SEO plugin: it handles duplicate content from archives, author, tags and/or category pages easy, it adds links to my RSS feed referencing the source, it allows easy modification of the title for any page or post and more stuff. Most of these can be done manually in a blogger blog and most plugins are just programs that make a manual job automatic.

      • Yes, these plugins are especially to make the work easier. And, some of that can be done in blogger manually but I think only SOME of that.
        To be very true, I really feel very bad when I see some tiny blog with negligible useful content with better SEO than my good enough blog with not so good SEO.

        Thank you for your kind reply.

        • Abhi, I’ve seen before via some of the social voting sites I’m involved in and it looks like you are publishing useful stuff and trying to build relationships in multiple ways. If you keep going in this direction, I promise you will be rewarded. Don’t give up my friend, you are on your way to better search rank.

          • That is really a great compliment. That you have already visited my site, and appreciating me for what I am doing. I am feeling proud this time. Thank you, Sir.

  12. Tom,

    I am doing a blog post on building relationships online and offline. It’s in a draft form, I was about to edit it and post it tonight when this interview caught my eye, I read your comments about the biggest mistakes bloggers make. You said it is building relationship on and off line.

    I had the same thoughts also. I will include this spinet of your comment with a link back to you comment. You confirm my thinking, and give me more credibility in my post. Thanks a lot. I am going to check out you blogs……


    Mike Cleveland

    Who are the bloggers you learn from?

      • Tom,

        It me again. I wanted know the list of people who taught you how to build relationships. I think I found one on you blog “David Leonhardt’s Social Media Networking Secrets”, this is a excellent post. You might make it on my newly annual list of top ten blogs to read. I have not written it – yet! I am still compiling blogs…..

        I must be impetus because I did not wait, and I published to my blog the post on the need for building relationships. You can check it out here. I hope it meets your approval.

        Let know what you think.

        Mike Cleveland

  13. Illeane,

    That was a quite long but interesting interview.. (I guess it is long because it is written, in fact, by “real” interview, it wouldn’t too long)

    One point that hit me is the “link to other websites” because honestly, I rarely do it, because I was afraid it would hurt the site.

    But sooner I learn that it is greedy, and linking to sites which are not spammy are really okay.

    Learn alot from this SEO guy, great interview. Is it the first interview on your blog?

    Best wishes,


  14. Great to read this, Ileane. I met Tom a few years ago. His SEO philosophy is both ethical and gets results. He’s a genuine guy online and offline and the kind of friend you want to have. Not sure about his raquetball playing though :)

  15. I agree with his points. Especially about linking to other websites and following through with what you say. Social Media is very important as well. However, there is nothing wrong with trying to rank high in the search engines by backlinking.

  16. Hi,

    This is really a wonderful activity to get the Interview of the bloggers.and Tm is the most oldest and first SEO I was seen.I’m really Appreciated Tom you are best SEO in the bloggers world.I always bookmarked the links of the Tom.Have a wonderful Interview Tom.I hope you continue this bloggers life and doing the great job always.Thanks for this great Interview posting.

  17. Good interview and great information on the correct focus for SEO. This is a huge topic and the more I read, the more I realize how little I know. I appreciate the advice to focus more on conversion than search engine rankings. The fact is, more focus on giving the visitor what they want will eventually lead to a longer lasting ride in the rankings anyway. It’s easy to build crappy links to push your site up the rankings but it will be very sad when Google figures it all out and everything comes tumbling down.

  18. Tom, thank you for emphasizing relationship building online and off. I am realizing the power of doing so and the support has been great. Also, I am really focusing on giving, giving and giving because I know the return will be so much greater.

  19. Building some sort of relationships is important as well and needs to be blended well with the other strategies.

    The interview was very interesting. I do so much agree with conversion and how they visitors will act on your site. So many forget about this. When you do focus on this, you will have knowledge to produce money, which thrives on conversions.

  20. Great interview. My blog is all about interviewing successful people. For whatever reason SEO experts such as Tom Shivers gives the best interviews – very detail information a lot of thing to learn.

  21. Vivek

    He have 11 year experience in the search engine field. I means its great, 11 year back I was of 7. Ms. Ileane your interviews are just awesome. Actually its the first time I got into this place ( in this category ), but reading the interviews with such great peoples are very inspiring and helpful for us.

    And thanks for two sites : feedage and, they both are new to me, and will surely help me a lot..

  22. Hi Tom, you manage 3 blogs. Wow, I’m impressed. How many hours per week are you putting in managing your blog? Another question… are you applying SEO principals to each article you write? I find that hard and just want to get my ideas out as soon as possible. Thanks!