The Big Cheese: An Interview with SEO Expert Fred Sexton

Fred Sexton a.k.a. “The Big Cheese” has been a prolific designer of creative and cutting-edge websites and internet marketing campaigns for years. With this talent and burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit, Fred opened Steinbeck-inspired Mouse and Man, an online marketing company in 2003 (although he has admittedly been caught in the web forever). Boasting innovative, stylish design and out of this world execution, Fred is committed to translating a client’s vision into a final product that is smart, effective, demanding of attention and most importantly, fulfilling the client’s ultimate goals.

We were thrilled to interview Fred and gain more insight to the ever-changing world of SEO. Read on for more about Mouse and Man, Fred’s take on Google trends, SEO for businesses, what NOT to do with links and exclusive tips for our Sumer readers.

Why did you decide to get into the business of SEO? What do you love about it?

I was always interested in entrepreneurship and didn’t really get any job offers after college…and didn’t really try, either. I entered the field of web design, and I grew the business a bit before I ran into hurdles with my coding abilities.

I knew that in order to grow my career, I couldn’t continue with design/development so I pivoted into SEO and online marketing. I feel this type of business is also more scalable and valuable to clients. We help clients get a good return on their marketing dollar. The discussion now is drastically different: before it was all about pixels in the left sidebar and now the focus is the return on sales from mobile. The latter I feel is much easier and important for business owners and marketing executives to grasp.

Tell us about the origin of your company name.

It was inspired by Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Just an interesting name that I thought people would be interested in. My email is [email protected], too. It’s a great ice breaker in sales meetings.

Google has had a lot of changes in the last year. Would you highlight a few of these changes and what businesses can do to ensure their SEO is in line with Google standards? 

Yes, they keep continuing to switch up the “cat and mouse” game to stay one step in front of SEOers / spammers, depending on who you are asking. A big recent update was Penguin 2.0. I should note that this last major release didn’t seem nearly as vicious as the larger ones from last year. Before this update, Google kept saying “Don’t do this or that,” but they never followed through. After they decided to start pushing down, it negatively affected many sites last year, and everyone changed around their game and opinion of what Google was saying.

I’d say the biggest thing that businesses get confused about are links. You’ll see all kinds of services and networks that offer them. If Google finds out you buy links, you will quickly be punished. So, bottom line: don’t buy or trade with links. Any kind of automated system or algorithm can pick it up and single you out.

The best way to get links now I think is to get authentic, genuine and really good content…be it words, images, or video (or ideally a combination thereof). Another advantage to putting high-quality content on your site are presumably social metrics (i.e. Facebook Likes) that are increasingly driving relevance in the algorithm. 

What exclusive tip would you give our readers on staying ahead in the world of SEO?

Read my blog. Continue to test things. Hang out with people who are smarter than you. 

How do you differentiate your business from other SEO companies?

We charge hourly and provide proof of work completed via Worksnaps, so you know exactly what you are buying. We don’t offer packages either. Everything is customized to what we think will get you the results you are looking for. 

Share with us a few best practices to improve search placement through content.

Write stuff that people will like.

Everything else will fall in line behind this. It used to be all about keyword density yadda yadda yadda. For the most part, that’s useless now. And if you can get a really important and authoritative person and/or website to write about you that helps a ton as well. For instance, a large important site like Yahoo can be worth 1000 write-ups from a lesser known site. 

Do you have any predictions for 2014 as it relates to SEO?

We’ll see an increase in G+ (Google Plus) relevance in search results as more people start to adopt this network, and Facebook implodes from saturation.


About Fred Sexton

Fred Sexton, president and owner of Mouse and Man, has helped businesses successfully promote an extensive array of products and services online to strategically-targeted markets around the world. Fred’s passion for visual interpretation emanates from an appreciation of composition and form. As a photo-realistic painter he tries to capture the meaning of each opportunity, focusing on the ways visualization can impact, inspire and incent change – all the while appreciating Bob Ross style “puffy little clouds!” Fred is currently mastering the subtleties and joy in child portraits, acknowledging his muse: his 3.5 year old daughter Ellie, for opening this artistic medium.

When Fred is not pursuing artistic and online marketing excellence, he is a competitive amateur cyclist with an average of 250 miles logged per week.  Having biked across the state of North Carolina, Fred sheepishly admits a wish for more people to honk at him  (he later explained he is being sarcastic and that they drive him off the road, but we know he secretly just wants them to admire him in his stylish, tight-fitting spandex).