Instagram SEO, This is How You Boost SEO Traffic Through Instagram

Say what Instagram SEO?, Yes you can use Instagram to boost your SEO traffic. However, not in the traditional way of boosting your SEO rankings or visibility, but in a much smarter way; boost the search volume of your #1 rankings! Let me explain;

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 I'm Topsy Turvy

Two years ago, I spoke at a conference called EVO, the evolution of women in social media. I got the opportunity to help a bunch of successful bloggers refining their SEO strategy. The workshop I did, ended up being 3.5 hours, just 30 minutes over the planned time. It was a great session, as all the attendees were sucking up the information we as SEO's live on a daily basis.

Here is where I met Ashlee from I'm Topsy Turvy. Ashlee has been blogging for a 6 years now, and decorating cakes for over 7 years. Guess what she is blogging about, right, cake tutorials. And not easy, simple cakes! No, these are works of art! Check out the following cakes I spotted on her website:

Over the course of the last two years, I interacted with Ashlee a couple of times on Twitter, we met again on different conferences, and I interviewed her to speak about the success she had seen on her blog. Over the last two years, the traffic to her site has exploded. I wish I could take some credit for it with the SEO workshop, but fair to say is that Ashlee creates truly exceptional content, and makes magnificent cakes for people to celebrate birthdays, weddings or anniversaries.

Where I hope I have played a role in her success, is creating a certain mindset on how to market this exceptional content, and put it to work towards her business. If we talk about a long term strategy that works for SEO using content like cake tutorials, you would need to think about how you are able to get your content in front of the right people, so that they will link to it, place citations in other media, and use you as an example for successful ideas. (see this post!)

As SEO's we often only focus on getting more, pages in the index, and rank higher with these pages to capture the existing traffic. But what if you would be able to stimulate more people to search for a certain phrase. What if you know you already rank #1 on that phrase? Than you don't need to worry anymore about your rankings, you can just reap the benefits from the increase in traffic, as more people search for your #1 keyword phrase.

Pot Of Gold Cake Tutorial

Imagine my surprise when I opened my Instagram stream last Sunday, and the evidence of genius was staring me right in the face. Her I saw a picture of one of Ashlee's cakes innocently shared on her Instagram stream. And not some ordinary cake, it was a Pot of Gold Cake.

Using Instagram as an SEO traffic booster

Let me explain why this is genius:

  • Ashlee wrote a tutorial on how to make a Pot of Gold Cake. She published the tutorial on February 27th. Weeks before St. Patricks day is actually happening. This means the post has enough time to start to rank, and be the first one for people to find if they are searching for inspiration on what cake to make for St. Patricks day. 
  • Apart from using the normal social media channels to market this tutorial, Ashlee also uploaded pictures of the cake onto Instagram, where she made sure these have her logo watermark in the right corner.
  • But here comes the kicker: Ashlee also added the title of her tutorial as text on the picture being shared on Instagram. As Instagram does not allow you to add a link in the description, this is a great way to get people's attention. And what do you think people will search when they would like to know how to make a Pot of Gold cake...? Right...

If you know you rank No1 for a search phrase, why not stimulate the interest, and boost the volume of searches!
If you know you rank No1 for a search phrase, why not stimulate the interest, and boost the volume of searches!
Well done Ashlee, you can count on me to use this as an example on how to use Instagram as your marketing tool to boost your SEO traffic!

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What Happened to Interflora SEO Posts

And just like that, Interflora is back in the search engines. What would it take for a mom-and-pop site to come back so quickly after being penalized? But I just wonder, where has Martin McDonald post on Interflora SEO penalty gone?

Interflora search results. No Martin McDonald anymore..? Where has this post gone? Really weird, as with all the number of links pointing to Martin's post, you would expect it to rank as high as last week still. Especially as a number of articles in the top of this search result are linking to the site from Martin.

Martin Flowers post

 

EXIF Data the Next Step in Images & Local SEO?

On a couple of my personal websites I do some testing what works or what doesn't work for SEO. If you read a couple of the Google Search Ranking Patents (mostly through the great write ups by Bill Slawski at SEO by the Sea), and experience how Google is pursuing more structured data, I tend to start thinking and looking for new ways to optimize my content so that it will rank better.

Image SEO

So, in the past, I've had some good results on my personal websites with ranking images and drive a reasonable amount of traffic. To rank images and drive some traffic, I would recommend you need to, at least, check your boxes on the following best practices;

  1. Include descriptive keywords in your filename
  2. Use a descriptive Alt Text on the image, something which best describes the scene in the image
  3. Text and headlines around the image

Additional factors which might come into play are;

  • Size of the image
  • Number of directories in the URL path

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If these last two really make a difference, I have not tested yet, but I assume short URL paths will help in higher rankings, and large images can help when people are searching for high quality images.

Image SEO domination through the One Box If you play this correctly, you could dominate the page with all four images, even ranking these above the official manufacturing website for the product through that one box integration in the SERP! See the screenshot of my 4 images of the Dell Latitude Wireless Switch.

New Image Search Layout

So apparently the new search lay out for images does have an impact on traffic to the site where the images is from. No Sh*t, that's what my gut feeling was saying to me as well as soon as when I saw the new Layout!

It has been a month and some folks are posting how the new image search design impacted their traffic from Google Image Search.

Gregory Karpinsky posted an image of the traffic to his 99% image based site in a Google+ Community thread showing an 80% plus decrease in traffic but his other engagement metrics are all up.

Why would anybody interested in the image still visit the website it was originally posted on, when you got all the information right there at the Google search result?

Why would anybody still click through to the site of an image in new Google Image search layout?

Well, those that do click on the link to the website, must be really interested in the product other than just copy the image to steal use! And with engagement metrics up, as reported by the article on SERoundtable, you have a chance here to get ultra targeted traffic which converts.

Mixing Local SEO with Images

Having done SEO for almost a decade, gives you a very strong feeling where things could go. One aspect of Image SEO, is that the determining factor for an image to rank high, is to a large extend influenced by how much information of the image you can give to the search engines. This should come in either structured data or meta data.

Luckily with the advances in digital photography, we are able to store much more information of a picture into the file of that image. Now days you can add different types of tags into the EXIF data of an image. (EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Data).

A couple of months ago, while researching for my hobby photography, I stumbled on a great post explaining the Exif data your camera automatically stores in the image file of your picture. Only, the one interesting tag not discussed in that post, can be found on the Wikipedia page about Exif; the Geolocation tag!

The Exif format has standard tags for location information. As of 2012 a few cameras and a growing number of mobile phones have a built-in GPS receiver that stores the location information in the Exif header when a picture is taken...The process of adding geographic information to a photograph is known as Geotagging

And look here if you research Geotagging (emphasize mine):

A geotagged photograph is a photograph which is associated with a geographical location by geotagging. Usually this is done by assigning at least a latitude and longitude to the image, and optionally altitude, compass bearing and other fields may also be included.

In theory, every part of a picture can be tied to a geographic location, but in the most typical application, only the position of the photographer is associated with the entire digital image. This has implications for search and retrieval. For example, photos of a mountain summit can be taken from different positions miles apart. To find all images of a particular summit in an image database, all photos taken within a reasonable distance must be considered.

WOAHA, it has become common knowledge that Mobile & Local are two major focus points for Google?

Prediction: You should focus on including more meta data in your images for Image SEO, which will include local data in the EXIF data!

So, based on this, I decided to do a little testing, while I'm practicing my hobby. I bought myself a Canon GPS Receiver for easy recording of Long-Lat data automatically stored into the image when I take it.

GPS receiver for easy updating long-lat data in EXIF

And with some promising results so far... Check out my pictures of the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum I took in January already ranking pretty well..!!

USS Hornet carrier pictures ranking in SERP

So far, I have no proof of the Long-Lat data in the EXIF pictures helping pictures to rank. At this moment it's just a hunch, but how easy it is with an automatic GPS receiver to add more meta tags to your pictures and be ready for the future of Image SEO with a taste of Local!

What's Next

New types of camera's can actually add even more information into the Exif data of every image. The Canon 5D MIII can add copyright data straight into the Exif information of your photo's. Guess what I've been testing with...? Right, adding the URL to my photo website

Adding copyright information into the EXIF data

More tips on how to look at SEO for future success can also be found in my write up on SEO in 2013 here.

If you made it so far down the page, feel free to share this article on Twitter:

 

For simple and accurate recording of time and location information, Canon's compact GPS Receiver GP-E2 is the perfect complement to the EOS System. The GP-E2 records location information such as longitude, latitude, elevation, direction and Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) as EXIF data, while also serving as an electronic compass on camera or off.
Brand: Canon
Manufacturer: Canon
Model: GP-E2 GPS Receiver
$242.95 New
Newly designed 22.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, wide range ISO setting 100-25600 (L:50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400) for shooting from bright to dim light and next generation DIGIC 5+ Image Processor for enhanced noise reduction and exceptional processing speed.
Brand: Canon
Manufacturer: Canon
Model: EOS 5D Mark III
$3149.00 New

SEO in 2013 – Meetup at Airbnb SF Office


What's going to happen in the world of SEO in 2013? I'm not going to write you a list of predictions, you can read a number of these by other people who live and breath SEO for a living. No, I would like to highlight my thinking what will be necessary for SEO moving forward, and what has been presented tonight at the first ThenSome SEO meetup in San Francisco in the HQ of Airbnb, organized and planned by SEOgadget & SEOmoz.

Presenting at Airbnb HQ for the SEO meetup ThenSome

SEO Themes for 2013

For this presentation I looked at a number of recurring theme's in SEO. More and more you hear from people that the way you would rank sites in the past does not work anymore. The cycle for black hat SEO is getting shorter, where the rinse & repeat of a trick is becoming almost not profitable anymore.

In general, when SEO's find a new optimization technique which works, they tend to overuse it in a way that the search engines quickly write a fix for it. Remember Exact Match Anchor text, right. That stuff can kill your site right now.

Unless you are in the PayDay Loan vertical in the UK. Just look at the stuff that is ranking on PayDay Loans, and do some backlink checks. Don't be surprised if you see ~75% exact match anchor text for these sites!

How about that for Exact Match anchor text

No wonder SEO got a bad reputation. Spreading false information, spamming the search engines with links, all in the name for profit!

Dilbert SEO false information in Search

Source: Dilbert

Big Game Changers in SEO

I see three important changes on the web which have an impact on how you would prioritize your SEO strategy.

  1. Local
  2. AuthorRank
  3. Social

Social

As more people share content on Twitter and Facebook, which have closed off their streams for certain search engines, it becomes harder to get a signal through the Link Graph, as its dissapearing. The disappearing link graph forces search engines to search for another authority signal. A social website you can control being a search engine can become a great signal how to rank the content and websites being shared.

AuthorRank

As Eric Schmidt so elegantly said:

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance

The ease of publication & monetization of web content has deteriorated content quality, and false information thrives online. G+ as an identity layer to prevent spam and attribute content to authoritative sources

Local

Mobile is taking over Desktop. Location matters for relevance of Search Results. Where you are, will determine  your intend and what you are searching for to great extend. You will just have to pay attention to this space if you are serious for SEO to succeed.

My SEO Success Formula for 2013

Over the years I've had enough time to really think some concepts through.

  1. Build an Awesome Product
  2. Success in SEO Requires Dedication & Commitment
  3. Have all your Technical Ducks in a Row
  4. Build More Real Relationships

Build More Real Relationships

I remember I first met Joost de Valk, from Yoast.com, through Twitter. It was kind of odd that our paths never crossed before, as we are both from The Netherlands and do SEO. But only 4 years ago, we started chatting, and when I came for a visit to Amsterdam, Joost took the train, and we met up for Coffee.

Now Joost is one of my SEO & Online friends, and we help each other out where possible. This is the value of building a real relationship. I have a tremendous respect for Joost, as he has built some really good products, while being there for his wife, kids and family.

The way you can build up relationships as a company can resemble your personal relationship building. When Airbnb was still a young company, Paul Graham gave the following advice to the founding team:

Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like

So Brian, Nathan & Joe, the founders of Airbnb, took a plane to New York to personally meet up with all their hosts in the Big Apple.

Have all your Technical Ducks in a Row

So many technical best practices to share...

A great website can only have great SEO if you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to the technology. So many new advances have been made to mark up your content using rich meta data, html5 or including the Facebook Open Graph or Twitter Cards tags. These make it super easy for more awesome sharing online.

Presenting the SEO aspects of the Airbnb Annual

Check out the tweet from this morning, which includes the picture we had specially made and a short summary of the new Airbnb Annual report.

Tweet with a Twittercard of the Airbnb Annual report

Oh, and BTW, did you notice the Schema data at the bottom of this post for the SEO Meetup?

Success in SEO Requires Dedication & Commitment

Slapping a piece of content on an authoritative domain with loads of backlinks won't get you anywhere in the near future. Real SEO success comes with hard work, lots of research and dedication for a great end result in the product. Just check out these examples:

  • The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources; Jonathan spend more than 25 hours researching the complete list he could find on the topic. The time was spent over the course of 2 weeks, where writing the post took another 2 hours or so. And he is not done yet! Expect more to be added to this post.
  • The Advanced Guide to SEO; Sujan & Neil spent 6 months planning, writing and designing the content for this guide. The end product is a wonderful example of the work you will have to put into a product to make it awesome. They furthermore invested a large amount of money into the product. Sujan actually told me they spent 2-3x the amount they originally had planned.

If you're an in-house SEO specialist, commitment from your executive team is also very important. They will need to have a similar vision for what you would like to build, and should not be afraid to take a leap of faith in the strategy. SEO takes longer to show lasting results than $10K in Paid Search, but at least you don't have to cough up the money every day.

Take the Annual Report for the year 2012 at Airbnb. There is a print version, for which the plans came from the founders, and was in the works for months.

Airbnb 2012 Annual report in print

Build an Awesome Product

Ultimately, you won't succeed if your product sucks. Check out this tweet from my friend Laura:

The Best SEO is a product that doesn't suck. Otherwise it's just manipulation

That's right, I expect companies to step up their game, and raise the bar for everybody. If you would like to rank in search engines, you would need to delight your costumer in such a way that they are starting to expect your site to rank at the top of the search engines for their queries. That is the ultimate goal, have such a high Net Promoter Score, that it makes Google look stupid if they don't put you at the top of their results! And who wouldn't like that to happen.

So build a product people would like to share, talk about and which will get media attention without having to do any PR outreach!

Or even better, build a product kids will find even better than their Christmas presents! My daughter made this drawing after the Holiday Break at school; the tree house adventure was the best part of the break, trumping her Christmas presents! As a father, that's what it's all about..!

Building lasting memories

Get them young.. and build lasting memories of your brand!

The rate of change in SEO has been accelerating over the last couple of years. What do you need to focus on these days in SEO? Who should you hire and where do they sit in your organization?
Starts: 02/07/2013 06:00 pm
Ends: 02/07/2013
Duration: 3 hours:
99 Rhode Island Street
San Francisco, CA
US

Some great SEO's came out for the meetup. Among them, Jordan Koene and Jonathon Coleman, both chose Obama O's over Capt'n McCain's

Jordan Koene at the Airbnb HQ office

Jonathon Coleman with the Obama O's at Airbnb HQ

Gaming Author Rank, Buy Yourself to #1 in SEO by Paying for G+ Circles

Friday night, wanted to kick it back with the busy times coming. However, this one I cannot let go..! Dan from DejanSEO published a post just now, where he exposes Google+ Ads to gain more followers. Read it here: Google+ Pushes Ads for Pages. So here is a thought...

Buy Your Way to the Top of the SERP's?

What if rankings are influenced by your authority on Google+, through the number of people who have you in their circles and their authority on the web, and you can now pump up your authority by buying ads to make people follow you. That is simply genius, as you can go out buy a bunch of followers, and dominate the search results!

Then, when you are spamming too much, Google can just dial down the visibility of your Google+ profile, while you are still paying for more followers to get the same rankings. Get out your checkbook people..!

It even gets better... What if you can target really influential people on Google+ with your ads, and pay a premium to get their attention? At that moment, Google has a money printing machine on Google+! Listen to this...

Influential people would like to stay influential, so they set up their Google+ profile to get the benefits from Author Rank. Brands would like to pay for the influential people to follow them, so they will pay more for the visibility of their ads. Now do the influencers receive any of the advertising revenue...NO! Google pockets all the advertising revenue.

Nice.. Well Played Google...!!!

Unfortunately, there is only a handful of people in the world who would understand what is actually happening here, and what implication this will have for Google Search results, the Internet and online reputation in the long run. If you have a thought, feel free to drop it in the comments below here...

Feel free to tweet this if you like it!

Google+ advertisement source by DejanSEO

Source image: Dejanseo

About Author Rank

Proclaimed as the next best thing after sliced bread, Author Rank has made its way into the jargon of the SEO consultants; now you can actually proclaim real authority in the Google SERP's by showing a little image next to your ranking article, which would build more trust with the searcher as they might recognize you as the editor and a trusted source of information.

Especially SEO's have proclaimed Author Rank as the next big thing in SEO. If you have visited conferences in the past year, you have seen an increasing number of slides dedicated to getting your picture showing up in the SERP's through the implementation of Rel=Author on your site. (see here how to set up Rel=Author on your site) Heck, I even presented about creative ways to use the real estate next to your result to increase the click through rate on Search Marketing Expo West last year. Here is a post I wrote about it.

Here are a couple more from colleagues of mine:
Google Confirms Hidden Benefit Of Authorship: Bonus Links After A Back-Button Click
More emphasis on Author Rank by Google: More Author results
Author Rank: A Step-by-Step Guide to Dominating Search with Content Marketing
AuthorRank could be more disruptive than all of the Panda updates combined

And more mainstream:
How Google Author Rank could change content marketing… and journalism
Google Author Rank: The Next Big Thing In SEO

Fool SEO's for Fun & Profit

So once again, The Google has all the SEO's working for their enjoyment, fun and most of it, profit..! SEO's at agencies have been telling their clients not to miss the train on authorship, and build up their Google+ profiles to take advantage of the land grab in the SERP's. Now they can start telling their clients they will have to start paying for that authority in the forms of increased circles.. which does not even happen on their own site.. something they don't control..

Genius...!!!

Google Adwords ExpressImage source: Dejanseo

 

Carte Blanche – YouTube Auto Generated Pages #FTW

(Updated Jan-3-2013; since I started writing this post, a lot has changed. I initially began to write about the Auto-generated pages by YouTube back in Oct 2012. Only being able to finalize the post after the FTC closed the negotiations with Google on their behavior)

For an SEO workshop at First Round Capital, I collected a number of new screenshots of changes in the way Google is displaying results in Search. I stumbled on a YouTube page, which is, after re-reading the guidelines, is in clear violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. More and more you see Google taking an aggressive stands towards implementing their own domains into the results, either as Universal search boxes, or as normal results. But who cares, not the FTC: see here! After all, it's Google's index, Google's website and Google's Audience, right..?

Auto-Generated Pages by YouTube

In Google Webmaster Guidelines you can find the following Technical Guideline:

Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don't add much value for users coming from search engines.

For years, Google has been advocating the prevention of crawling of search results for any website. How many in-house SEO teams have been scrambling lately with the removal of Search-in-Search. I know one large eCommerce company was hit really hard late October this year. How convenient, with Google Shopping Pay-for-Play and Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner.

If you are large, and spend sufficient Adwords budgets, you might get an answer like:

"We believe the changes are best for our users, where we optimize for the user experience. We cannot disclose the details of the changes made to our algorithms and the way we rank websites. Google publishes Webmaster Guidelines recommend you go through these. Are you familiar with our webmaster Guidelines?  

(Not an official quote, more my best recollection of what was the answer to our questions)

And with that, the discussion is closed. Even the biggest budgets don't give you access to what is happening in the Googleplex with regards to the rankings. Trust me, I've been on the receiving side of that message!

But do you expect action will be taken against YouTube...? See this Auto-Generated YouTube page, filled with Michael Jackson video's...

YouTube auto-generated pages ranking great in Google Search results

Search Bias

As you can read from the final decision (or negotiation, it's however you would like to look at it), the FTC does not see any 'Search Bias' in Goolge results.

First you read:

Under the same commitment, Google also has promised to provide all websites the option to keep their content out of Google’s vertical search offerings, while still having them appear in Google’s general, or “organic,” web search results. The FTC investigated allegations that Google misappropriated content, such as user reviews and star ratings, from competing websites in order to improve its own vertical offerings, such as Google Local and Google Shopping. Some FTC Commissioners were concerned that this conduct might chill firms’ incentives to innovate on the Internet.

But then...(emphasize mine)

The FTC conducted an extensive investigation into allegations that Google had manipulated its search algorithms to harm vertical websites and unfairly promote its own competing vertical properties, a practice commonly known as “search bias.” In particular, the FTC evaluated Google’s introduction of “Universal Search” – a product that prominently displays targeted Google properties in response to specific categories of searches, such as shopping and local – to determine whether Google used that product to reduce or eliminate a nascent competitive threat. Similarly, the investigation focused on the allegation that Google altered its search algorithms to demote certain vertical websites in an effort to reduce or eliminate a nascent competitive threat. According to the Commission statement, however, the FTC concluded that the introduction of Universal Search, as well as additional changes made to Google’s search algorithms – even those that may have had the effect of harming individual competitors – could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product and the experience of its users. It therefore has chosen to close the investigation.

Now, I came to the auto-generated page on YouTube by doing a simple search on Google for the query: Michael Jackson. Check the screenshot, where all Google properties are in the red boxes, with the knowledge graph content in the green box (also linking to other Google pages)

Google SERP for Michael Jackson. How many Organic results do you count..?

 

The big blue arrow is pointing to the page on YouTube which does not have an embedded video in the SERP. This initially caught my attention, as normally, YouTube video's are integrated through a Universal Search One Box.

Now, the questions is, how many 'real' organic results can you count..? Right; 6! It's what we call a 7-SERP, as there are only 7 results organically ranking for the query. But with the Auto-Generated page from YouTube at #3, you can bet Google is raking up the pageviews on their own site.

Expect the worse is yet to come

With the News on the FTC arrangement with Google today, they have carte blanche from one of the only government institutions which could have stopped more integrations in the search results.

Maybe 2013 will become the year SEO dies...SEO is Dead, Long Live PPC (and Google Revenue growth!).

 

Disclosure: because I expected the outcome  due to what I believe could be called a lack of understanding of the government officials, I went long in Google back in December. It has paid off so far... :-)

Postscript: Don't get me wrong, I live of the fruits of the changes made by the search engines. SEO is constantly evolving, and there is a growing need in corporations to understand the direction and best practices. I wrote the post for my entertainment, and to be able to get my thoughts in order of where it's all heading.

Pied a Terre Shoe Ads

While doing some research for KW/Page rankings for Airbnb, I came across an un-related paid search advertisement by my former employer, eBay. It's kind of funny that I used to know how keywords would flow into the paid search systems for those targeted ads, and sometimes completely unrelated ads could have massive Return on Investment. Here, I was looking at the keyword Pied a Terre, where a lovely room in Philly ranks just on the second page for me. Rittenhouse Squared Pied a Terre, $80 per night!

According to the all knowing Wikipedia, a Pied a Terre is

The term pied-à-terre implies usage as a temporary second residence, either for part of the year or part of the work week, by a person of some means.

It looks like the Ad generated by the eBay Paid Search system is based on the French word Pied, which means Feet.

Pied a Terre eBay Ads
In the past, there have been plenty of strange eBay paid search ads shared. Over the years, the systems used to optimize those ads had become much better to filter out the obvious wrong keywords to bid on. I heard eBay is moving away from their internally build system to an outsourced solution, where we probably can expect a learning curve again around what keywords are relevant, which creative needs to be served for those keywords, and how to optimize for conversion and ROI. What a waste...

Another Day, Another Drama in SEO Land

Sometimes you wonder if we, SEO's, should all come together and just start ignoring these kind of link bait posts. I'm talking about the article from Paul Boag at Smashing Magazine today with the title: The Inconvenient Truth about SEO. To avoid playing into Paul's cards, I'm not linking to his article, but instead linking to the fantastic response from my buddy Joost at Yoast.com; SEO Paul Boag.

So Joost is really smart, not only a quick and snappy response, he also managed to upsale his SEO for WordPress Plugin into the post. And see what he did there with the URL, yes, it would be awesome if this post will start ranking #1 for the name of Paul Boag in combination with SEO, pointing out how clueless Paul actually is.

I didn't spend any time in the Drama. These days I rather keep my head down, and show those people who dismiss and who are ignorant to the need to have good SEO's my back and get ahead. Just recently I came across the following picture, which I think is very accurate of how I think about all the drama:

50 Fat Diabetic Ahead of YouFoto credit: TrexRunner.com

 

Google Dance 2007 T-Shirt

Back in 2007, at the SES San Jose, I picked up the T-Shirt I was wearing today. I believe it must have been the last Google Dance at a large search marketing conference. The SES in San Jose in 2007 has gone down in history as the point Google brought down the hammer on Paid Links.

Google is not the Government

To make sure you know your history, make sure you read these posts, and understand how we got there. Sometimes it's just important to understand your history to know what will be coming next..So for those who were not there, here are the links to some great readings:

This was also the last SES where Danny Sullivan was working at the SES conference before he started Searchengineland, Third Door Media and the successful SMX conferences.

T-shirt Google Dance at the SES San Jose 2007
T-shirt Google Dance at the SES San Jose 2007

At least I can say, I got the T-Shirt...

A couple of observations;

  • It's been 5 years since the war on paid links started, and there is still no end in sight
  • Paid links have gone underground, even more off the radar all SEO's thought would happen back in 2007
  • Paid links now come in disguise; AKA guest posts; content marketing or sponsorship
  • After 5 years, I still fit this T-Shirt.. (really!)

Honestly, link-building is a blind spot on my SEO resume. First I worked for eBay, getting links thrown at pages left-and-right. My job was just to not shoot ourselves in the foot and let the link equity go to waste. Second, Slashdot and SourceForge, the sites I've worked at for 14 months, both have Billions of links. Yes, Billions with a B! Now, at Airbnb, I can see where we are going. This will be a link printing machine if we play our cards right. Why.. Because the product doesn't Suck!

Which brings me to a quote of a good and wise SEO friend of mine:

The best SEO is a product that doesn't suck. Otherwise it's just manipulation.

The best SEO is a product that doesn't suck. Otherwise it's just manipulation.

 

Local SEO Travel Guides or Great UX

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post of my move to join Airbnb. Then I got a major shout out for a new product of Airbnb launched just a couple of  weeks ago, the local travel guides for Neighborhoods. I wish I could take that much credit, but these Neighborhood guides were already in the works prior to me joining the company. And although I did reviewed the code, content set up and site structure and worked on the Richmond District guide and the Noe Valley Neighborhood, all credits should be shouted at the team who pulled long evenings, worked weekends and crashed after the launch party, satisfied with the great press we got!

Credit Where Credit is Due

As the SEO community has embraced the concept of Content Marketing, or any name used for the way to put engaging, link worthy content on the web, the Airbnb Neighborhoods have been given a warm welcome by those SEO's recognizing the value of content for driving traffic through search engines. I got these tweets in my SEO stream on Tweetdeck;  after which my buddy Matthew pointed some fingers;

Seriously Matthew, you give me too much credit here. I just started 4.5 weeks ago, and although I had seen the concept and given the chance to give SEO input a couple of weeks ago, even before I officially started at Airbnb, all credit should be going to the team who had worked on the Neighborhood project for weeks.

And I'm happy to see these pages will be used as an example in presentations by SEO professionals; and have put Airbnb on the map as a great product! Will make my life much easier to get quick wins in SEO!

My Vision for In-House SEO Engagement

So I changed the way I chat with people about SEO a little. Based on the experience over the I'm taking a new approach. Years of researching how Amazon has build an SEO powerhouse, listening how Googlers would answer questions, testing and walking the fine line of technical SEO, here is how I will get teams in gear to get SEO "right"!

The Key to SEO success is to make your brand, product service so relevant for people, that they expect your site at the top of the search engines when a search is made.

Wow, that sounds really simple if you say this out loud like this, but essentially it's what is described above here. These neighborhood pages will function as a great resource for people who travel to a certain destination to find out for themselves in which area they would like to stay. And with the recent Economic Impact Study of Airbnb in local communities (TC link & AllthingsD), you can find a great place to stay and support local businesses.

So, get your ducks in a row with the technical parts of SEO, because every site still needs an SEO friendly technical infrastructure, and start building products better than average. Success in the search engines will follow...