I’ve done an email interview with Russian SEO expert and popular blogger Mike Shakin. I found out about Mike, while doing an online research into website development specialists in Russia. Mike has more than 3000 visitors to his blog per day and is an active member of forums relevant to his area of expertise. From this interview I’ve learned about the particularities of running an online business in Russia. Mike lves in Omsk, located in southwestern Siberia, breaking out of the stereotype that major web development experts in Russia are based in the capital city. Mike does an amazing job with his blog. I always find his posts very informative and easy to understand.
How would you describe your occupation?
I work on the internet, focusing on websites development and promotion.
How many visitors do you get to your blog Shakin.ru a day?
On the average, I get more than 3000 visits daily.
Is there a difference in the Internet usage levels in various regions of Russia? Which cities have the highest internet penetration level?
Sure, there is. The amount of Internet users depends on its affordability and availability. Moscow and St. Petersburg are the most Internet advanced cities. For example, in Omsk everybody knows about the Internet, but not everyone is fully conversant with it. Usually, people don’t go beyond social networking sites and emails.
Are you an active member of any social networking websites?
I registered in Odnoklassniki.ru long time ago, but haven’t visited it for a while. Recently, I’ve joined Vkontake.ru and Facebook, but don’t use it actively.
Do you consider creating profiles on social networking sites and adding lots of friends is essential for any online business?
In my opinion, it is essential to know people running Internet resources relevant to your website, rather creating profiles on social networking sites. You can win from mutually beneficial cooperation. Obviously, it should be always give-and-take relationships.
Which Western blogs do you read to enhance your professional skills?
I always find a lot of useful information on Western online resources. Here is the list of blogs I read http://shakin.ru/seo/foreign-seo-resources.html.
Which blog is the best in covering SEO optimisation topics?
I would say Loren Baker, the founder of the SearchEngineJournal.com. He gave me an interview published here http://shakin.ru/interview/loren-baker.html.
Do you read any textbooks about SEO?
In the very beginning of my career I read the book of Ashmanov ‘ Optimization and Promotion of Sites in Search Engines’ . At present, I prefer to learn on practice. If I have to find out about particular topic, I conduct experiments.
Are there any textbooks about SEO written by Russian experts?
I can recommend only Ashmanov’s book.
Do you attend any conferences or seminars on SEO in Russia?
No, I don’t. The distance from Omsk to Moscow is 2000 kilometres. It’s too far to travel.
What is the attitude of Russian business owners to online advertisement and SEO? Do they realise the importance of the Internet promotion?
In bigger cities more businesses appreciate the importance of the Internet for their development, in smaller ones many haven’t realised it yet.
Do you have a favorite Russian blog?
I like many blogs in Runet and can’t name the only one.
Which websites in Runet are the best sources of information about digital marketing, PR, social media?
The best way to keep abreast of the news is to subscribe to RSS feeds of leading in this area websites. Then I use the Google Reader to filter and look through information by search. Also I receive breaking news from following interesting people on Twitter.
What is the main difference between the Russian and Western blogoshperes?
On the English-Speaking Internet there are more advertisers and opportunities to make money blogging comparing to the Runet, where the majority of bloggers find it difficult to make money on blogs. Therefore, many blogs get abandoned after a while. However, those who keep going overcome any obstacles.
What is your advice to Western companies doing online business in Russia, for example Ebay, Facebook, Google? What should they consider not to lose money and avoid unpleasant situations?
It is desirable to integrate with the Russian online payment systems – Yandex Money and Webmoney. For any foreign companies starting working on the Runet it’s essential to open regional representation offices and get the Russian-language technical support. As soon as I get the news that a foreign company opens a representative office in Moscow, I start to believe that this company has serious intentions on the Russian market.
Do you consider the possibility of a state-imposed censorship on the Russian blogosphere?
It’s hard to to say. Either way, certain rules must be applied, so fewer people would suffer from fraud and unfair services.