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...

LEGO SEO Avatar DennisG by SEOBook

I'm totally amazed and humbled Aaron Wall, of SEOBook, has made a Lego SEO Avatar of me. This is awesome and I instantly changed my Twitter avatar already with the Lego Avatar. Why? Because I love Lego, I can't wait my boy is at an age we can play together and build super structures made out of Lego. But more important, I'm totally grateful of Aaron he took the time and energy to have one made for me. Aaron is one of the smartest people in the SEO industry, and every month when his SEO training Newsletter drops into my Inbox, I instantly stop with whatever I'm doing and scan the topics, learning's and articles I must read.

Here is the Lego Drawing of DennisG SEO! See here all the other Lego Drawings of Google's & SEO's

Dennis Goedegebuure Drawing.

Dennis Goedegebuure graphic by SEOBook.com

SEO Job Description

As I wrote a long article about the top SEO positions available right now at eBay and at Amazon, I've seen a couple of relevant search referrals bringing traffic (the ones not obscured by Not Provided!). And curious as I am, I did a couple of searches where I stumbled on something interesting on the search for SEO Job Description.

Crap Answer from eHow on SEO Job Description

There is an eHow article ranking on the first page (at least for me) about the term SEO Job Description. The content on the page is as expected, pretty shallow and not really helping anybody how to write a smashing SEO Job Description! What is more interesting is the following paragraph (link to article nofollow as I don't vouch for eHow):

There are no set-in-stone qualifications for careers in SEO, in fact, many employees in the field are self taught. Qualifications an employer may seek include experience with search engine optimization and a degree related to the job, such as computer or information science.

So essentially the article does not give any value, but is just fluffing the page with words containing the keywords. What eHow could have done here, is take notice for the job openings at Demand Media, where the company is looking for a Director of SEO. In this job description more qualifications are described (link to job description no-follow as I don't vouch for DM):

Qualifications

  • At least 7 years significant product management and SEO experience. At least 2 years direct management experience
  • Advanced understanding of the search engine industry, SEO best practices, search engine algorithms and ranking strategies. The ability to communicate these items to colleagues and management teams
  • Exceptional leadership skills with a successful track record leading projects end to end
  • Must establish credibility within teams as an SEO expert, a knowledgeable, effective leader that knows where projects are today and where they need to go
  • Working knowledge of the product development stages and process, and the technologies being applied to implementation of products
  • Exceptional communication, prioritization, and problem solving skills
  • Familiarity with programming languages including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and web technologies including online video, AJAX, RSS
  • Sound understanding of how websites work and user experience for the web
  • Must be a committed team player, able to work both independently and interact with management and other staff members
  • Knowledge of Omniture web analytics a big plus

Even worse, the eHow article continues to make itself ridiculous by describing the tasks of an SEO as:

The tasks involved in SEO include submitting web pages to social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Reddit. Additionally, the employee will enhance the content of web pages to include targeted keywords and keyword phrases.

Really, that's all we do all day? Post links to Reddit and Digg, after which we spam our own content with some keyword stuffing...? Something tells me the Director of SEO at Demand Media is going to be bussy!

One last point, I wonder how the shareholders of Demand Media look at the Benefits an SEO position might bring according to eHow. Demand Media stock has not been a winner since their IPO!

A career in SEO will give you a deeper knowledge of how the Internet works behind-the-scenes. The field is constantly evolving due to the frequent algorithm changes by search engines, providing a challenging workday.

You Want Links: Be Helpful for #HappyDance

As an SEO, I'm still always happy to get a link thrown at one of my sites (#Happy Dance when linked to). Building links for better rankings can be hard, and is a specific skill set I'm afraid I have a black spot in as there was not a big need in my former job at eBay to master this. A large brand like eBay, with all the wonderful long tail auctions, gets links thrown at its website every day. I remember vividly the auction of the hair from Justin Bieber being sold on eBay, getting more than 1,400 links easily! And I don't mean any links, but juicy ones from the BBC, The Guardian or The Huffington Post and a long al of smaller, less authoritative websites. One great SEO told me in a speaker room this was probably $1M worth of links, IF you would be interested in buying links.

Two weeks ago, when presenting at the SNAP conference, I actually spent around 20 minutes discussing ways to get links to your website. With the limited experience, I doubt I touched on all the ways you can build links. I just discussed the obvious ones, guest postings, remarkable content, presenting on a bloggers conference (you see what I just did there) or just being helpful where you can!

Just be Helpful

questions on Google+Overal, I'm just trying to be helpful to others, and here and there pick up a link when people decided I have helped them in the right direction. The objective is not necessarily to build links, I'm just paying it forward for all the help I've received in the past, and most probably will still receive in the future. But getting a link is always nice!

Sometimes you just have to be in the right place, at the right moment, and have the right information. Like the other day when I was strolling on Google+ to see what was going on. I stumbled on the following question with a picture if anybody could help with the origin of the statue displayed in the picture (see the picture here in the right).

I instantly recognized the monument; the Holocaust monument in Miami Beach. Back in 2010, I visited the monument which has been an experience hard to forget as the monument is so impressive, capturing a very dark time in Europe.

At first, I thought this was one of my pictures I took at the time, but as the background showed more of the monument, it actually was different than my photo.

Immediately I posted a comment on the site with links to my pictures on flickr explaining the origin of the photo, and where you can find the statue. Quickly after that, I received an email with a thank you note of the editor of the site, and attribution to my pictures on Flickr. As I had these pictures up on my own site (see Holocaust monument in Miami Beach pictures), I politely asked if the link could be pointed to the post. Within a short timeframe, it was done.

Building links by being helpfulSometimes it does not take that much to get a link to one of your sites, just being helpful can get you a long way.

 

BTW> I highly recommend to visit the holocaust monument in Miami Beach when you get the chance if you are there. It's a very impressive experience, where there are even Holocaust survivors present to ask questions.