Awesome SEO: Meet Dan Petrovic
If you are a star trek fan, this guy, Mr Dan Petrovic ladies and gents is the Captain Jean-Luke Picard in Australian SEO
This is part of my new series Awesome SEO People and I decided to start with a BANG! So I contacted Dan trying to learn from one of Australia’s top SEO companies.
You know there are a lot of “SEO companies” right… but these folks are the real deal. Although I love SEO, Dan eats, sleeps, breaths SEO. And trust me, at Dejan they know every time the Algorithm even sneezes.
So no more intros… let’s get started:
Who is Dan Petrovic?
Let me tell who I was going to be and how my plans changed. I think that would be a story worth telling.
Growing up in a socialist country meant I had no concept of how the rest of the world’s economy functioned. Also I was a kid. Career in business had never occurred to me – I was going to be a scientist. From very young age I had affinity towards both science and arts. My main interests were biology, archaeology, synthesizer music and painting. Thanks to my dad I got hooked on science fiction and futurism as well.
When I was eleven, civil war was brewing up – right in my hometown. This changed my plans a bit. I lived in Serbia as a refugee for one year and then returned to a completely destroyed town. Life after the war was a matter of staying out of trouble and staying alive. This however, was where I discovered the link between work and survival.
I started my first ‘enterprise’ in 1992 when I was 12. Metal was abundant in the ruined town, particularly copper and brass. All you had to do was find the sniper gun nest or a mine-free cannon field. Metal trading eventually lost its momentum so I resorted to more creative approaches including smuggling empty disposable bazookas and similar war memorabilia over the Croatian border and selling them as souvenirs in Serbia.
And then, suddenly and out of the blue – our refugee visa was granted.
In May 1998 I came to Australia, bought a computer and connected to the internet.
Give us a brief recap of the history of Dejan SEO as a company.
In 2001 I started a company called Communication 1 to 1 Pty Ltd with a bunch of other students from Griffith University. I decided that business was not for me and got a full-time job in an agency. During that time I had a couple of hobby websites which ended up ranking really well in Google. This success had really driven my passion for SEO even further. I also made a lot of money.
I quit my job and dedicated to my own projects. Work was overwhelming and money plentiful so I employed one of my best friends in Croatia. That year we literally tripled in assets.
Soon after that, a rather large company asked me to do their SEO. I hired my cousin and a good friend, this time in Serbia. I united the two enemy sides from the civil war in Yugoslavia. Nice!
One thing led to another and I had no choice but to open an office in Australia. This is when Dejan SEO started as a brand. This ‘manoeuvre’ brought on excessive amounts of sacrifice, pain, stress and stupid financial risks. I was poor again, but we kept going.
Now there are nearly 50 of us in six offices in Australia and Europe.
We seem to be on the right track.
Running such a big company can’t be easy, what are the challenges of being the Director of an SEO company.
The problem is similar to what was believed to be the case with large dinosaurs which had to have two brains, one serving as a signal repeater, enabling quick reflexes and movement. Although this is a myth as far as biology goes, it is true with many corporations. They are slow moving beasts not in synchronised control over all its limbs.
What you instruct your people is not always what they do. As you grow in size, quality control becomes more of a challenge. We’re not too big still so I align my vision with execution through constant and consistent training, coaching and mentoring.
When you are an SEO company like you guys, everyone is watching you… not only they are reading your blog, following you in twitter, but also looking at your work / link building.
Yes, we are not only “looked at” but also consistently copied in everything we do. Take for example the home page CTA element we pioneered. Many of our rivals now use this technique on their own websites, even internationally. This is frustrating, but also kind of flattering.
What upsets me though is when others not only copy our link ideas but also ruin the linking page with their spam. For example, one company scanned my backlinks and spammed a genuine discussion I had about my favourite scientist – Nikola Tesla. I call this linkstalking.
Copycats are good in a sense; they push us further and drive innovation. Our best strategies are the ones that our competitors will be too lazy to replicate. And we’ve got some fresh ammunition in our arsenal.
We’re well-aware that Google is looking at us closely too and have been busy cleaning up all the funny links we created in the early days when there was nothing to lose. We expect to complete our internal quality audit and clean-up in the next few months. I’m pretty excited about that. It will be a liberating experience.
We really are working hard to lead by example, but these things take time.
How important is for you to have a quality control over all the SEO that is done with your clients sites?
It’s a top priority. In fact, I get upset, emotional and yell when I see spam being generated by a member of our team. It makes me look like a fool – talking one thing and doing the other.
What is one of the most common SEO mistakes companies do?
Bending to every demand client makes. We want more links; we want cheaper links and such. We decided to say a big fat “NO” to those people we know are pushing it too far outside Google’s guidelines with their demands.
There are plenty of SEO companies to choose from – it doesn’t have to be us that penalises them.
SEO in Australia… where are we heading? How do you see the future?
We have only one option. Clean up our act and educate our clients on best practices. Once SEOs in Australia stop scheming and focus on best practices we can all be proud to call ourselves SEO professionals. I’m very keen to restore the reputation of our industry and have made my move by being transparent with Google about what we do at Dejan SEO and problems we’re running into along the way.
Dan, you know I consider you part of the “chosen ones” that have direct line to the SEO Gods , where do you see Google heading… do you agree with the conspiracy theories that any algorithm points to more PPC revenue? or are all these changes in fact trying to bring more “quality” in their results?
Thanks, however, I have very little “direct line” with anybody. Most of the conclusions I draw are either from my own experiments or the work and writing of others already available online to everyone else, including works published by Google.
Algorithm being driven to favour AdWords revenue is a not what Google is trying to do. I really don’t feel it’s worth discussing at all.
Everything Google does is geared towards answering our questions. Yes, sometimes this means that a dictionary website or a price comparison engine will be made redundant. When I type “What’s my IP” in Google they tell me my IP address. Thanks, that’s all I wanted to see. No need for AdSense loaded pages which put you through hoops until you actually get to see your IP address.
This can sometimes be interpreted in a wrong way.
Awesome SEO: Skills? Team? Resources? Money? Or just originality ?
- Awesome people write awesome content.
- Awesome content attracts awesome links.
- Awesome links cause awesome rankings.
- Awesome SEOs know this.
Plus a splash of creativity and technical ingenuity.
When you are not watching SEO videos, SEO seminars, or analysing data you are…… ?
When I’m not working I listen to my sci-fi audio books, compose music, draw or simply learn stuff. I am like a sponge and like to absorb knowledge. My wife wishes I spend more time with her then online.
Where can people contact you and how can we follow up what Dejan SEO is doing…?
Some cool Photos
Dejan SEO Not-so Super Sexy Team
About the author
I'm an SEO professional living in the South Coast of NSW - Australia. SEO is what I do... I'm not a web guy, or a webmaster, or a designer... I just do SEO ;) Love it. Enjoy it and I still have fun doing it.