Kim Krause Berg – SEO Pioneers
Kim Krause Berg – SEO Pioneer
Kim Krause Berg is known as a usability expert and pioneers in the SEO industry. She is also best known as the founder of Cre8site forum which was a hub for SEOs in the early days with moderators such as Ammon Johns and Bill Slawski.
In this episode, Kim talks about:
1:28 How she got started in the industry as a stay-at-home mom
06:07 How she discovered she had an eye for usability
18:36 When she began to connect usability and SEO
21:20 The resistance she experienced from other SEOs
25:32 The connection of neurosciences and computer interaction
25:03 When Cre8site started
30:19 Other SEOs who were active on Cre8site
33:16 Forums, social media and how the community has changed
40:14 What she would do differently
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Shelley Walsh: and welcome to SEO Pioneers. Today I’m speaking to Kim Krause Berg. Kim is best known as a usability expert. And she established herself in the industry from 1995. She’s probably best known for being the founder of Creative Site Forum, which is the forum that the majority of our SEO pioneers have cited that they were involved in in the early days.
So I’m very much looking forward to speaking about Kim’s early days and creative site forum. So Kim, hi. Just to begin could you give me some background please as to what you were doing before you came into, I say online marketing? Cause I know you are, you are very much a usability expert, which is slightly tangential to seo.
But if you could just explain what you were doing that led you into the online world and inter usability.
Kim Krause Berg: I fell in completely by accident, unexpected. I was a stay-at-home mom and going through a divorce and needed to support myself and a, neighbor showed me America Online on the internet, and it was like a course in the background.
I was like, da, da, and I thought that, that is my life. That’s my future. That’s exactly how it happened, and I just saw the whole world was right there. And I wanted to know all those people and, and how do you do that? And and then of course, I, the first thing was like, okay, what’s a webpage? And when I started, we didn’t have colored backgrounds.
It was all gray. That was a long time ago, but that is how I started literally in my kitchen. And teaching myself HTML. And from there everything just kind of step by step took off. And I, and I was hired for a job very quickly as a web designer, and I got into SEO because I was asked to get the, the websites that I built for them into search engines and directories.
And so I had to teach. And so my history is, is starts out as I taught myself and just kept on going and didn’t stop.
Shelley Walsh: sounds like a very familiar story. I think too, most SEOs, they all came from something else and they all taught themselves. I mean, with it being such a nascent industry there, there was no instruction manual.
Kim Krause Berg: right? None. None. And it was interesting because back then in the really early days, everything was an experiment.
Everything was testing and you and there were people already, like, Fantomaster and Black Knight. They were out there in the the, the chat rooms. And like preform days, we had Ezines and Listserves and Dejanews and that sort of thing. Like you, you joined these discussion areas through your email and my email was just, would just be popping with conversations from all these different places that I subscribed to and everywhere I went there was Ammon and Ralph.
One, one was talking about black hat way back, back then, and but that was where it started, was just, okay, you tried something, it worked, it didn’t work. And other people tried things and then they, when Google came along, It was, okay, how does this work? What’s the math that goes into it? And everybody kind of argued over the mathematical side of it.
And I just kind of stood back and went, okay, I’m gonna watch them argue about this and test it. And, and I did a little bit of that, but there was already really, really smart people tackling SEOs and direct. And and I was writing about it. I was interviewed by my local newspaper, I think 1997.
And what caught his eye was, I said, online somewhere. I said, if somebody tells you that they’re submitting their website to Yahoo and ranking high and stuff. And I was like no, that’s a directory. It wasn’t a search engine When I wrote that. It. They literally interviewed, came to my apartment and interviewed me and said, well, who are you?
And you know, how, how could you say such a thing? And I said, well, there is a difference. And already, what was it, 1997 There was a lot of baloney out there. There was a lot of really bad information. And I think part of my early years was busting myths. Right. Becuase I just always wanted to know the honest truth and the honest way to do our job, which was not the way a lot of people wanted to do it, but
Shelley Walsh: So just tell me about, you said you started out with web design, is that right? Where did the usability, how did you sort of come into working with UX.
Kim Krause Berg: That came later. I was laid off from the first job and I was, I had built 13 websites for them and managing the SEO and all that for them. And then but they laid off everybody.
So there was like an interim period of time there where I did some, like various things, like for UNISYS, I worked on an intranet. And that was interesting. I didn’t have to do anything with search engines, but I still had to understand how to build websites. And, and back then it was just still HTML , PHP, none of that was around.
And I was a hand coder and very proud of it. I didn’t want any help from anything. So, but anyway, I got a job at a company called Vertical. And they had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of websites on in different verticals, and they had an SEO department who I would sneak over. I was hired and I would sneak over and I would help them because I think I knew more than they did.
But I was in the UI engineering section of the company and somebody figured out that I had an eye for the human experience. The Webs websites that we were building. I didn’t know I had that. That was something that somebody else figured out and they decided that they were gonna get into software development.
And again, still nothing that I didn’t know. I knew nothing about that. But they put me in the software QA department and they said, okay, you’re going to do the usability for all of our websites. No idea. But they said, go forth and. And so I continued that self-teaching path. They did have somebody there they had a human behavior or human computer behavior, PhD on staff, and she was my mentor while I was there.
And she kind of guided me and taught me some of the disciplines. So while I was learning how to test, like do QA testing for software dev, My job was to approach it from the human side, not, not the backend and the function, although I had to learn all that, it was my job to say, okay, how are they going to get from point A to point B?
And when they couldn’t, I had to figure out why I fell in love with it. That was the other big shift. And because I was already doing SEO. I began to put together, oh, okay, we’re trying to rank websites that suck. Like I knew they were bad, and so I wanted to find out how we could improve them and how did that affect rank and brand reputation.
So that’s kind of where I fell in love with it.
Shelley Walsh: Just, going back to this obviously was in the, what, late nineties, when this was going on. So at that time, I mean, web design was, you know, very, very early days itself. There wasn’t a big usability industry back then, I presume.
Kim Krause Berg: Not really, but there was, there were like, Jacob Nielsen. He was already writing about it. And Don Norman. And everybody fell in love with, don’t make me think by Steve Krug. That was a big one. So there were, and also I’m Jared Spool, so there were people already doing the work, and it was them that I reached out to for, like, I didn’t know what a heuristic was, so that’s, I had to find out what that was.
Yeah. And then I used all that to test our designs and, but I could tell just from, it was like an instinct that I had and I could tell that, like a project manager would say, I want this color and I want this link and I want this picture here. And I didn’t have the power in initially to say, that’s a really bad idea.
So when I finally got the power to say that I didn’t make any friends that I, mean, yeah. In the company I developed a reputation for, you know, like, Hey, it’s gotta get by Kim. And the only reason was that I knew that what they were telling me to do was not gonna. For, for people tech,
Shelley Walsh: what areas were you feeding from?
Apart from people like Jacob Nielsen and Don Norman were you bringing in any other sort of skills or areas, did you look to traditional design or anything
Kim Krause Berg: Probably the neurosciences and the human computer behavior was huge. There was a book Alan Dicks and a couple others.
I have it, I still have it. I have the first edition was from 1994, I think, and it was human computer interaction and it was, you know, that thick. There was so much information and that was when I realized that there was a lot of behavioral studies being done, how people do things and and conversions were related to that, like the color.
One of the color theory stories that fascinated me was that the color red meant mentally we interpret that a stop, but it increased the heart rate in men. Who the heck knows this stuff? Sowhy do banks use red? I never could figure that out. I was like, that’s dumb. But in any case, color theory was one of the areas that, that I got started in, and then the neurosciences and the brain and from there, accessibility, just, it just all sort of fell into place. And information architecture, that was the other piece that came in. And that was my connector to SEO.
Shelley Walsh: So did you, did you were you experimenting yourself with any testing, with sort of live testing with people just to get some live feedback on variations you were working on?
Kim Krause Berg: Yeah. The I used to use and find people that I could watch, but there was also things that we could use, like eye tracking software Based a lot of my decisions on studies, I spent a lot of time just, I, was sort of like Bill Slawski. It’s like, okay, where’s the next paper? I wanna know that and I wanna memorize it and I wanna, you know, apply that.
And maybe even I caught that from him. I don’t know. But I spend, and I still do read study after study after study. And that alone was mind blowing when I realized how much. How many studies there are of how, why, when we do anything, how we search, why we search, what we look for, what our brains are doing while we’re searching how we understand the content that we’re seeing.
And then once I got all that in my head and began to kind of put together those pieces, then the accessibility piece came in because then I, I was. Lot of people cannot see what we see. What does that mean? And that was the last rabbit hole. I think that I began to go down later. And, but that’s where I am now.
The SEO side has a benefit from the accessibility side becuase a lot of it’s in the code. I think some people are still figuring that.
Shelley Walsh: You, you touched on conversion. You used to do conversion rate optimization as well. Is that right?
Kim Krause Berg: Yeah, I still do. I’m not hired for that to do that anymore, but I spend a lot of time still like coaching people and writing about it because.
In fact, I have a client right now who’s who they rolled out a new website and all that tanked by an enormous drop. And so I was hired to play detective. What happened? And I spent probably the last 10 or 15 years doing the detective. And because I can see the UX and the SEO and the IA and little bit of the accessibility depends on, on, you know, what they’re, they do have to kind of be, meet some accessibility regulations.
But it’s my job now to find out what broke. What they’re not seeing, what’s not working, and I get a real big kick out of that. I just, if I don’t find the smoking gun, I’m not happy until I find that smoking gun. I know that there’s something broken and most of the time they just literally did not put a conversion link or something to follow.
That’s huge. A lot of the designs that we do nowadays do not guide us to start somewhere and finish somewhere and have a revenue generation task. Those things we’re hiding and that’s been going on ever since, well over 20 years. To me it’s like logic.
Shelley Walsh: But in the early days when you, got into usability, I mean, what, what was the state of the usability back then?
We were looking at much more simple interfaces and we were much more restricted on what we could actually do with web design. Do you think that made for better usability back then and better conversion?
Kim Krause Berg: That was where the conflicts. In the beginning because the SEOs had their ways of I hate to use the word manipulating, but that’s what we did.
Keyword stuffing, throwing a whole bunch of keywords into the alt text. Oh my God. There was like so many things that we did. The, the title tied the meta information, just, just the way things were structured and. They didn’t want anybody coming along and saying, well, you need to do something different.
And that was where the design changes kind of interfered initially. You know, like one of the very first things was no, you can’t stuff your alt text with 15 repetitive keywords. I mean, that’s just, you know, why would you do that? And, but unless. Like did a demonstration with a screen reader so that it, you could, you know, they could hear that they didn’t understand why we were pushing back.
I didn’t understand it either until I heard it, and it was actually an SEO who gave a talk. Matt Bailey stood up on stage and brought Jaws and he said, okay, this is what your stuff sounds like to people who are listening. To, to the webpage, and everybody in the audience was like, whoa. Because it was just with keyword, keyword, keyword, robotic keyword, keyword, keyword.
And the SEOs were like, wow. And they were putting it there for the search engines without ever thinking that a blind person’s hearing it like that. Nowadays we do a lot of audio work. I listen to code all the time now, and if, if it doesn’t make any sense the way I’m listening to it, I know that something’s wrong, that it’s not coded correctly.
It’s got to be logical for us to hear.
Shelley Walsh: At what point did you start to make the connection between usability and, and SEO. Atwhat point did you start to move into connect with SEO and connect with other SEOs, with, with the work you were doing?
Kim Krause Berg: I think I just talked about it and that was where Crea8site site forms kind of came in.
As one of the things that we did. Look, there was a lot of forms back when I started. And Web Position Gold was really popular. That was an experimental playground and Ammon hung out there and a couple other people. It was, Hey, I tried this. What do you think about that? And, and people would start these discussions. I don’t think it was ever just me, it was me saying, asking a million questions and testing things and determining what felt ethically correct to me, because that was something about SEO that, that I began to pull away from. I felt that we were just not being a hundred percent honest in what we were doing.
I was hired by I did a lot of work for a company where I was the one who was doing the web design, but I was also doing the SEO and I, they pushed back all the time on the design side, the decisions that they made had to do with rank, and if I suggested putting a button somewhere or moving the content somewhere that didn’t fit with the SEO goals that they had. I was overruled. SEO always won and eventually I couldn’t. I just, I couldn’t because I couldn’t ethically agree to it anymore, but because the websites were ugly and I thought, how are you try, they’re, you’re trying to sell a product or a service to people who, when they come to your website, yeah, sure.
Maybe it ranked, but they can’t figure out where to. They don’t understand who you are, how to get your product or your service. So what they did was they began to spend like $10,000 for links. And that was my exit when that started. I, I didn’t want to play the game anymore. To me, I just, if you couldn’t design a website that works for people, it, I didn’t wanna be there.
So that was where I kind of did the break and I began to write about that, and people were like, yeah, you know, we can do them both together. And how do you do that?
Shelley Walsh: I can imagine that you probably got quite a bit of resistance from other SEOs. I can’t imagine it was particularly popular. Especially what, late nineties, early two thousands?
Kim Krause Berg: Yep. Certain people began to figure it out and make the connection and see that what I was saying was like, oh yeah, that she’s right. Because people refer websites that they enjoy using, that they’re motivated to use, that they feel satisfaction from.
A search engine’s job isn’t to decide what is good or bad. It’s not a decider. The people are the deciders. And so I guess that was where I just kept coming and going. You do know that humans are using this. What do they want? What are their needs? And then the, and one of the lessons I learned from and marketer was show the, that value proposition.
To be honest. It’s gotta be real. Show them how they benefit. And that’s hard to do with just SEO. You’ve got to be able to have the content in the right place when they want it. I’ll give you an example, links and we, we do so much link work with SEO. What happens is somebody’s reading along and. It used to be a paragraph, I’d have like 10 links, which was overwhelming, and the point was to keep bringing them inside all those freaking inbound links.
But people stopped going, it was too much. They weren’t thinking about all of those 10 different things as they were reading one paragraph. So what I said was, okay, if you’re going to take a chunk and introduce an idea, And you have a page that expands on that idea, that’s your link, and you don’t say, click here, learn more, read more, and all that.
You link the, the, the topic, the subject, the word that describes where they’re going to go. But that’s just, and you take them there when you’ve motivated them to go learn more instead of throwing everything on the page, which is what we were initially taught to do. I don’t know if you remember some of the early websites, but we had like everything was on the homepage.
Everything, the information architecture was a zoo and because we didn’t trust that people were ever going to find what we had, so we put it all there. And so when as usability and eye tracking and all that began to be tested, we were like, okay, we can control this. And guide people and search engines where we want them to go.
And so that’s what we’ve been testing and playing with all along.
Shelley Walsh: You just remind me actually of a story and I’m just trying to think who told me, and I can’t think who told me this, but apparently in the early days when Google was first launching, and obviously as you know, Google was quite a radical design because it was very minimal. If you remember, Yahoo was just an absolute cluttered mess.
And Google came on with this kind of almost blank white screen. In the early nineties apparently people were just sat there and watching and waiting. And the people running the test were like, well, what’s going on? Why, why did you not do anything? Well, we were waiting for the page to load.
We just thought it was waiting for everybody to load on it. So in the early days, people just thought Google’s just really slow to load. It’s interesting how things have evolved now, and obviously today usability is, are much more integrated and accepted in SEO.
Kim Krause Berg: Right. Especially when Google said mobile, mobile first, that that was terrifying because we went from having the ability to design for wide screen and you could do more and put more content on there to stacking and, okay, where’d my sidebar go? Oh my God. Is that the bottom of the page?
Shelley Walsh: When do you think that usability started to become more accepted. What, kind of year do you think?
Kim Krause Berg: I’m thinking about Between 2002 and 2005 and 2008. By that time I was entrenched in it and Ammon picked up on it. So did Bill Slawksi. The campaigns, landing pages. Split testing all that. It was just this progression of learning how humans interact with webpages that they find in search engine and direct and directories. And if they don’t like them, they’re not going to rank. That was other people beginning to figure out that the design mattered.
And why? And then we got into the whole brain and the neurosciences, and human computer interaction. I think when you, when that light bulb goes off, that opens up a lot of doors and insights into behavior. And, and information architecture. Shari Thurow and I would do these workshops at SEO conferences and give these talks.
She was more academic. I was more put things in layman’s terms that the rest of us can understand and, but we spoke about SEO and UX and, and IA and how they all blended together and it was a step by step and we always started with found. Get your foundation down your, which is your information architecture.
Becuase everything follows that. Your link structure, your navigation, all that. If humans can’t follow it, search engines can’t follow it either. So the two of ’em go together.
Shelley Walsh: And what kind of reactions we getting at the SEO conferences?
Kim Krause Berg: We always had packed rooms for those discussions.
I hate to use the word logic, but all of the advice was just logical. If you understand what motivates us to make decisions, you’re 90% there. You, you know, everything else is, is a fill in. So
Shelley Walsh: What year did you start Cre8site?
Kim Krause Berg: 1998 was its birth as a club in Yahoo, and by, I guess it was 2002, Bill Slawski had already joined me in in the club version and Ammon.
And Jill Whalen was like, ah, she’s got something kind of cool here. They helped me launch Cre8site forums in 1998. In like 2002. In that era there was Webmaster World. Brett already and there is other SEO forums as well.
There’s a lot and you, you would enter them and be intimidated. And that drove me crazy. I needed to create a place that was for everybody else who might not know a whole lot and didn’t really feel like arguing about it. And so that was kind of the basic underlying theme of Cre8site was no question too dumb, safe environment. Nobody’s gonna challenge you and say, well, you’re stupid. Because there was a lot of that in the early days. The SEOs were so competitive.
Shelley Walsh: So tell me about the early days of Cre8site. What kind of discussions did you have going on there?
Kim Krause Berg: So I would say marketing, design, business support were the three main ones.
And then we had the website hospital, which Bill just loved it. He was so proud of that thing. And that. If you have a website and you need help, you put your website on there and you say, okay, I need help with my website. It, this is my problem, this is my issue. And people would chime in and say, okay, well, did you try this?
Like a live site audit. And in return for getting the help, you helped others. So help me help you. And that was a really popular place in creative site.
Shelley Walsh: What other people were hanging out on Cre8site were you interacting with back then?
Kim Krause Berg: Well, we had John Mu who joined Google, and Rand Fishkin came through. We had Ammon Johns, Jill Whalen, Miriam Ellis who was with now with EIMZ And we also shared resources as well, like people were in Webmaster World and some of the or other forums and some of them moderated at Brett’s forum and were moderators at Cre8site which was nice.
I liked the fact that we had that open door, so different environments, becuase they were definitely different environments. Had a more technical community and ours was, I don’t think we were as technical, but we could go there if we wanted to, and I would go to Webmaster World. If, if I didn’t find an answer or if I needed something that was super duper technical, I went there and got help.
Shelley Walsh: How long did Cre8sitre run for? When did you, when did it start to wind down?
Kim Krause Berg: At one point, all of the forums began to fall apart and Cre8site just kind of fell in line with that. Jim Boykin from Internet Marketing Ninjas, he bought a whole pile of them. Including webmaster role. He bought Brett’s.
He purchased mine. He did a whole pilot, bunch of them. It didn’t quite work out the way I think Jim had hoped. I got mine back and Brett got his back. But I I never truly understood what happened to the community. Either there was just too many of us by then. There were too many websites too many other places to go, but YouTube, you know, kind of, kind of kicked in.
There were other places to learn and other places to get information. And the community side just kind of fell apart by the time I closed it down. There was like no traffic anymore. Yeah. You know, the moderators, the really good ones, they had gone on and started their own businesses. They were famous.
A lot of them just got their feet wet and then went on and like Rand is one of them. But there’s a whole pile of other people who just learned and then started their own businesses and they didn’t need the community anymore, but they’d put in their time. I mean, 20 years is a really long time. To, you know, be helping people and learning and sharing information and, and all that.
Shelley Walsh: Do you think, do you think a lot of them transitioned over to social, to Facebook and Twitter?
Kim Krause Berg: Yeah, initially, but Facebook has changed so much. I don’t even think there’s much of a community aspect to it anymore for knowledge sharing. There are some, but then they, they don’t last.
But there’s something about the community aspect that is gone now. I don’t truly understand what happened there. I wish I knew, social media changed the game for a lot of people. And I think at Cre8site, we had what was called the back room. And so, and I had a huge staff of people of admin.
And Joe works for with WordPress and Donna Cavalier is another one, an author and works for at WordPress and a couple other companies. But anyway, The really good people got picked up and they’re working for companies now. And there’s no time for them to teach, there’s no time for them to be in these communities.
And nobody has moved up to take their place. And the communities are kind of gone.
Shelley Walsh: Yeah, I still see quite a lot of action on some of the closed groups on Facebook. I know Amon is, is very active and spends a lot of time contributing. And I think John Mueller still is. I know John Mueller famously got his job at Google off the back of contributing so much in sites like Cre8site.
He still contributes considerably, you know, Twitter and now Masterdon. I think there’s still some closed groups on Facebook where I almost feel like there’s been a little bit of a resurgence of and that it feels like it’s recreating that forum atmosphere rather than it being out in the open, say on Twitter.
I feel like people have now started to go into these more closed groups. How much do you think the forums contributed in the early days to the SEO industry? How integral do you think they were for developing the industry?
Kim Krause Berg: Huge. Yeah, huge. There was too much to know and too much to learn. And you had to know it yesterday, so if you weren’t there every single day, you were already behind that.
That’s how fast everything. Developed the code, how to do it. How to do it right. And the pace was just, it was very fast. The other thing I just started to think that the networking side of communities like Cre8site, a lot of the people there through the networking picked up clients.
I wrote about this yesterday becuase I didn’t realize that there were that many, so many lurkers who had an emotional attachment to the communities. And I belong to a couple places where I read the data and I read studies and those were still collecting data on how people do what they do. And the one I was like, well, they studied the emotional reaction of people.
Whose community isn’t there anymore. And I just really never thought about it. The vocal people will be vocal. They’re out there, they talk about everything, you know how they feel. But, this study was about the lurkers and the people who you didn’t know you were impacting and they were in pain.
And when Cre8site shut down, I, people were like, can’t we save? And we actually do have, we’ve got backups of backups, of backups of it. And just for the history and the historical value, and oh my God, there’s so much content.
Shelley Walsh: Have you considered going through some of the threads and actually distilling them down and perhaps including them in a book or compiling them somehow? Some of the best
Kim Krause Berg: I have. But time in, you know, I figured that’s a retirement project becuase there’s so much.
Especially like Bill and Ammon, the things that they wrote. Bill didn’t write or respond to a question with a paragraph. He wrote a book. There’s a lot of stuff in there and really, really good content. If I compile it, I also want to guard it because you know how everything gets ripped off and, and reused somewhere else.
Understanding like the history is there. I’m sure Brett has all that stuff too. The history of how we started out and all of the studies and all the things that we learned as a group of people. That’s all there in databases just tuck away, hiding. And sooner or later we can bring it back out and say, oh my God, remember.
SEOs love to reminisce. Remember when we did this? You know,
Shelley Walsh: I often think that could the SEO industry have developed. Or even developed as quickly as it did without the forums which brought everybody together and provided that central place for the learn for everybody to learn off each other.
I believe that SEO flourished so quickly because key people were actually working together and feeding each other with their learning rather than working against each other. Everybody worked together which was kind of quite unique and I do feel that the forums were just so central to.
Kim Krause Berg: That and the conferences, the being able to go to the conferences and meet the people you were talking to. Online, that was huge. Some of the moderators that joined Cre8site came from some of the other communities because they needed to be somewhere they needed to help. And I, I enjoyed that about the industry that they wanted to help people and some of them still do.
Shelley Walsh: If you were to go back now do you think you would do anything differently? Do you think you would do anything differently with Cre8site?
Kim Krause Berg: No, I think my path was set the first time I saw access to people through AOL. I wanted to be there with them, learning with them and teaching them wherever I could. And that still exists in me, but now that I’ve entered corporate land, I don’t have as much time to, to do that anymore and I miss it.
If I ever retire, I can go back and either write or join communities and be able to talk and share again. I’m still making the connections. That’s actually the next phase that I’m moving into and I haven’t quite coined how I approach it other than the holistic approach.
But accessibility’s the new piece. I’ve been talking with Shari Thurow, she gets it, but the way we plug together all of these pieces into a website or a mobile site or a native app matters. You can’t focus on one.
There’s a whole lot of other cars on that train and that make the thing go successfully, that you know you want to be the success story, not the middle of the road, and definitely not at the bottom of the pile. What makes that happen? And there’s a lot of pieces. And the inclusive and the accessibility side, is uncharted territory for a lot of people.
That’s just another branch of UX to me. And you’re just reaching more people. Who are they? That’s the big question is who are these people? How are they getting the information? And that’s where you get into the technology. And how do they search? What kind of questions do they ask? Do you know that? Like if you need assistive devices to access the internet world, where is that experience? Where do you go? And a lot of companies are not asking that question. I do. And if, if I’m hired, I, I’m like asking that question like, okay, do you know that you cannot turn your website sideways?
Do you know how many people in wheelchairs need to turn that website sideways instead of portrait? They need landscape. Nobody’s thinking about that, but if they can’t use your website in the way they need it to be used, they’re gone. That’s a lost customer.
Shelley Walsh: What percentage of the market do you think has accessibility issues?
Kim Krause Berg: I think it’s like 25%, maybe more globally. People don’t understand. They think, oh, accessibility is for blind people. Nope. It’s a whole long list of impairment. Do you know the diabetes is a disability? It’s in the list, but it’s the visual hearing brain, the cognition, they’re, they’re the big ones for the web.
Which is why Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, all of them are asking you to use your alt text, you know, describe the image and really describe it, like what the heck is happening. Because that information, instead of throwing a pile of keywords in there, just describe the freaking picture, what is happening there.
Because people who are listening and the audio side, they want to know it’s helpful information to them. And yeah, you can put a keyword in there and do that all the time, but it’s got to make sense to the overall page itself and the topic of the. There’s logical ways to do it without hurting anybody.
Shelley Walsh: So we’ve been talking quite a while now and probably about time to just start to wrap up.
So looking back, what has it been 25 years now? What do you miss about those early days the most?
Kim Krause Berg: I definitely miss my friends. I have more friends from the SEO industry than UX and accessibility because of Cre8site forum. Those connections were made and they’re still there. And those connections are locked in, they probably will be for life.
That was the other fun part, was that Cre8site, we got to know each other outside, you know, we would talk about our kids and our lives and, and share that kind of information. We had what we called the back room, and that was the liveliest place of cre8site. That was where we all hung. And you could talk about anything there.
We even did politics. I learned a lot from Bill on how to communicate in the written way so that he didn’t offend people. That was a really big lesson, and he was very good at it. That ability to listen and you don’t always have to be right.
Shelley Walsh: Was there anything interesting that came up in the backroom that hasn’t been shared before that you can share with me? Any SEO secrets?
Kim Krause Berg: Well, I don’t know about SEO secrets, but I got in trouble all the time because I let everybody make decisions as a group, and if you weren’t used to that kind of freedom, it was a little hectic, but I never viewed anything as Kim’s going to say how this thing is going to work.
I wanted to hear from everybody and I think that was maybe like how I did my work in general. I guess those are just some of the things that I missed was the community side. And if you disagreed with something that was okay, there were like, you’ll, you’ll hear that argument about there’s not enough women in SEO and women in SEO are treated like, you know, whatever.
I never bought into that either. I was treated fine, so, you know, it, it was never a gender thing.
Shelley Walsh: Well, Kim, I’m going to just wrap up there and thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it and it’s been great speaking to you. And thank you for sharing your stories about the early days.
Kim, thank you very much.