Ever Seen The Northern Light

My buddy Marcel, a colleague here at Airbnb went to Alaska to take pictures of the Northern Light. Apparently the Aurora is extremely beautiful this and next year due to the 11 year cycle of the Sun storms. Check out his write up, awesome pictures..
Best Kept Secrets to photograph the Northern Lights in Alaska- Aurora


Now that sounds like an adventure I would be looking at for the year 2014, I wonder if Marcel would like to accompany and teach me his tricks of the trade!

eBay’s Paid Search Study Alternatives Motives for Publishing Ineffectiveness

I couldn't hide from all the chatter around the white paper about eBay's paid search campaigns today. All kinds of people with little knowledge on internal optimization within eBay are jumping on this story to give their perspective. The overall message they are so loudly shouting into the world is how bad eBay really is in PPC advertising, trying to win a little bit more authority on the subject themselves in the hope to win new clients.

I won't go into the details of the article, as I've never worked on eBay's paid search campaigns. Reading the research white paper eBay published is interesting though, and I know that some of it holds up, other parts not so much.

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Skeptical on the eBay Report

I'm somewhat skeptical on the actual outcomes of the research in the eBay report.

First of all, every site is different. So what would work for eBay, might not work for anybody else!

Second, you could use Paid Search campaigns in so many other ways, cross channel objectives, which has not been taken into account in this study.

Third, although the study looks at conversion to sales ratio's of the campaigns, the real ROI is hardly discussed.

Fourth,You should look at the fully loaded ROI to understand the complete impact on eBay's eco-system. This does not only incorporates the eBay fees, but should also include the Paypal fees when an item is being paid through Paypal and advertising revenue. And with Paypal penetration rates at a high double number, and advertising on almost every pageview, the campaigns ROI is highly influenced by multiple revenue streams.

Fifth, if the research holds true, can somebody explain me what happened end of Q3, beginning of Q4 last year, where SEO traffic for eBay tanked, and suddenly Paid grew out of the normal trend:

eBay SEO visibility tanking end of Oct 2012

Where Paid Search Campaigns for eBay are ramping up immediately

These graphs are made with Searchmetrics

Sixth; conducting a test on non-branded keywords, like Cell-Phone might be giving interesting outcomes, if you keep the way Google looks at sites from a SEO perspective into account. Keyword Cell-Phone is a head term for electronics, where eBay is not represented well in SEO. From the human rater documents which leaked from Google, there might be more obvious reasons why eBay is not ranking well:

How to rate eBay landing pages?

Alternative Motives for eBay to Publish Paid Search effectiveness Study

What most people commenting fail to take notice off, what are the real motives of eBay to publish such research? You really think a large, for profit company would make their direct competition smarter just to get some feathers stuck somewhere..? Below here I describe possible motives for eBay to publish this paper. These are all hypothetical, and not based on what really happened as I don;t have the internal information what has happened. Read these more as thin foil hypothesis for my enjoyment, and for you to think further than just the optimization of Paid Search campaigns.

Large Companies F*** each other over

eBay has had a long history of working with Google on a Frenemies status of their relationship. eBay gets a tremendous amount of traffic through SEO, and have worked with Google on several fronts to make the Internet a better place. However, there are well documented instances which shows the underlying relationship, which is one of stiff competition.

  • Google Dark; Back in 007, eBay shut down all Paid Search at Google to run a test. The black out period gave some interesting insights in the effectiveness of Paid Search at Google.
  • eBay sued Google over the launch of Google Wallet and trade secrets

For obvious reasons, I can hardly go into too much detail here, but imagine the drop in eBay spend over 2012, while Google is ramping up their efforts in the payments industry AND making Google Shopping pay-for-play, after killing off the shopping comparison vertical completely!

Internal Politics Kill Real optimization

In a company like eBay, there is a power struggle at the top on a continuous basis. The one with the bigger budgets control their own destiny, and can become very successful empire builders. With a change in C-suit players, the power struggle can become more aggressive, where studies to proof ineffectiveness of campaigns could destroy the power base of the existing rulers.

You've got Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics...

It has happened that one group proofed with analytic proof, that the advertising on eBay was cannibalizing the  conversion rate of items on the site, and had an impact on site speed. 4 months later, the VP of the group moved to the business side, became responsible for the P&L, and with 3 weeks into the quarter and a $20 million hole in the budget, made the executive decision to move the ads back on the site. Just make a check on the eBay site, it's full with ads right now, even on the View Item page which had always been a sacred page for sellers!

This Paid Search campaign effectiveness study could very well be a power play from inside groups to take control of the advertising budgets. Objective: proofing incompetence to replace and take control

False Information for Competitors

What happens to the overall marketplace if the research is adopted by more large advertisers? Right, less demand for the impressions out there will bring CPC's down in the marketplace.

By spreading this information, under the umbrella of statistical research, could very well have an effect on the ROI of existing eBay campaigns.

Be Careful What You Wish For

So when I read an article like this, where the writer is challenging the CEO of eBay to give him a chance to proof what he could do for eBay with Paid Search, I cannot help myself to think: "Be careful what you wish for" as the truth of the matter might not be as cookie cutter clear as you think, and you might find yourself in a situation you are not set up to succeed in the first place, even if you are the best Paid Search consultant in the world, there might be forces out there which want you to fail at it! (furthermore I don't think the writer did himself a service to build his arguments on 6 year old screenshots...)

The people who have managed the eBay paid search campaigns are good friends of mine, which is why I won't go deep into the criticism if the campaigns have been working for eBay or not, just to stay objective here. What I can say, is that the majority of the people commenting on the quality of the creatives, the supposedly fail to optimize these campaigns on a ROI positive manner, might not be so right at all. They probably have never managed a budget of the size of the eBay Paid Search budget, while optimizing for 170 million keywords, while landing the budget within 1% of the amount, each and every quarter and showing incremental ROI improvements time and time again. The teams who manage these campaigns are very smart and creative in doing new tests, which you can hardly judge upon as an outsider!

Disclaimer: I worked for eBay for 9.5 years in different positions, last 6 years of my tenure focused on Global SEO for all eBay sites cross the world. I cannot disclose all information I have, and do not claim to be an expert in Paid Search! These view do not represent the views of my current employer, nor eBay's!

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;

If you like this, why not Tweet this post

 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!

You've made it this far, why not Tweet this post

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

Will You Integrate Google+ Sign-In?

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Google+ Sign-In functionality mimics Facebook connects, but calls Facebook sharing Social SpamWow, with Google+ Signin launching today, and the news that Google wants to launch a music subscription, Google just walked onto a new battlefield: competing with Spotify & Pandora. Here is some of the official announcement, with the emphasize mine:

Whether you’re building an app for Android, iOS or the web, users can now sign in to your app with Google, and bring along their Google+ info for an upgraded experience. It’s simple, it’s secure, and it prohibits social spam. And we’re just getting started.

From the last sentence it is clear, more is coming down the Google+ pipeline to capture more signals what users do on the web, and where they spend their time. With the FTC freeing the way for Google (official statement from FTC), I bet a large number of integrations is now ready to be launched onto the public for the big G to capture even more data and use it! It will become harder for any company to build their search presence with more Google Vertical products crowding the SERP's.

With the bundling of Google Sign-In with Google Play Services for Android Apps, the lock in is complete for a large part of the smart phone OS market. Almost all the building blocks are in place for Google's Evil plan on world domination.

And calling selective sharing with your circles a better way to share on social networks is directly pointed at Facebook, with the term social spam. Luckily there are a few people who do pick this up, and question these practices.

Sometimes you want to share something with the world (like a high score), but other times you want to keep things to yourself (like fitness goals). With Google+ Sign-In and circles you decide who to share with, if at all. In addition: Google+ doesn’t let apps spray “frictionless” updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant (like when you’re actually looking for it).

You almost start to root for Microsoft with their Scroogled campaign to level the playing field.

The Fight Against Link Spam

For years now, Google has been fighting the war against manipulative links. Paid links, Paid Advertorials, (i-)relevant Infographics, you name it. Any link which has not been given editorial, and is only there with the intention to give the linked-to page a boost in the search rankings, should be avoided.

Just recently, I received my first link take down request for a link I posted completely editorial, but was exact match anchor text. Possibly the brand got in trouble for the heavy usage of the exact match, and tried to clean it all up now.

With the SEO drama in the UK surrounding Interflora and their penalty, it is clear to me Google still hasn't figured manipulative links out yet. Especially as the left hand of the company doesn't know what the right hand is doing... Just read through more of the info on this case here and here and here. Sometimes the guidelines are just for the common man!

What is Google Going After

With the Google+ Sign-In launch, Google is obviously attacking Facebook in one more field. From experience at work, I can see how important the Facebook connect function is for any web developer. You get instant access to people's profile, and can showcase social proof for your products using people's network. With a direct integration of Google Play in the search results, Google can capture the drive by traffic immediately as people search for certain music. And the integration at the launch with Shazam & TuneIn. Services like Spotify & Pandora are under direct attack now.

But there is more Google is after. With Links being manipulated for higher search rankings, social could be a great new signal for search quality and rankings. Very smart SEO's have already pointed out the launch of Google+ Sign-In is one step closer to Agent Rank, or we should start calling it Author Rank.

(Agent Rank is actually a search engine for real estate agents. The site AgentRank.com does not longer rank high for their own term, just because Google has used the term in their patent applications, which triggered all kind of SEO blog posts using the term agent rank)

The social signal could be a blessing in disguise for Google Search Algorithm. disguised as increased competition for  existing social websites and music services there might be less scrutiny from consumers on the data capturing by every Google product.

We Live in a Google World

More and more, we live in a Google world, where there is less room for small, vertical oriented initiatives. Habits are hard to break, and with no government interest in regulating dominant positions in one industry being abused to enter new verticals, Google has no reason to change its way. You better get on it, adapt or die, and take advantage of the new world!

The question is, will you adopt the new sign-in functionality for your site, or is this going to be a long way for Google, where they will have to start enforcing mandatory usage of the Google+ Sign-In? What do you think..?


If you made it this far, maybe you would like to share this post on Twitter:

Google+ aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. Check out Circles, Events and Hangouts, just a few of the things we've been working on.
Brand: Google

Ultra Local Breaking News; Opportunity Knocking

I know there have been a couple of companies trying to break into the Ultra Local News market, and I wonder how successful these claim to be. Seriously the biggest problem must be scalability, as for the local breaking news you need to have millions of people on the read, willing to work for next to nothing or just for free. I guess the closest Ultra Local Breaking News company I would find successful is Twitter.

What triggered this short rant tonight, other that I'm just too tired to do more serious work, is that I saw an outbreak of traffic on one old post on this blog about the bomb squad of the San Jose police on Blossom Hill Road I wrote about years ago. Seriously old news, as at the time I was living just around the corner, and snapped some pictures of what seemed a serious situation. This post, however, is still ranking on several combinations for the title. To name a few:

  • Police Blossom Hill Road
  • San Jose police activity blossom hill rd
  • blossom hill rd San Jose CA closed today by police
  • etc.. many more long tail combinations...

Here is just one screenshot of the post Ranking #1 for the above keyword!

Ranking #1 for Blossom Hill Road Police

So when there is a traffic outbreak on such an old post, off course I'm interested in what actually happened....

From an article in the Mercury News:

SAN JOSE -- A man who was killed when he plunged a stolen SUV down a ravine after trying to run into officers during a high-speed chase Sunday night has been identified as Adrian Gamboa, 20, of Morgan Hill.

Police said the pursuit started shortly after 11 p.m. when Gamboa, driving a dark-colored Ford SUV with the lights turned off and accompanied by two teenage girls, careened toward an officer who had made a traffic stop near Capitol Expressway and Towers Lane. The officer had to dive over the hood of a car to avoid being run down, according to police.

The officer chased the SUV onto Highway 101, then off the freeway at Hellyer Avenue, where police said the driver made a U-turn and drove directly at the pursuing cruiser, attempting "to play chicken with the officer," according to San Jose police spokesman Officer Albert Morales.

After re-entering the freeway, the driver took Highway 85 to Cottle Road where he tried to ram another patrol car, and did so again on Blossom Hill Road, police said.

He lost control of the SUV on the 5400 block of Monterey Road and plunged into a roadside ravine after bouncing over the center median, police said.

The girls in the SUV were taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening. Gamboa, who had not been wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators found that the SUV had been reported stolen in San Jose.

Tragic news!

But this makes you wonder, where do people first go to learn why Blossom Hill Road had been closed? Right, the habit is hard to break, but first Google is consulted in the search for knowledge. The current state of the newspapers won't allow to have an article up there while its happening. (With current state I mean these old media type companies are almost dying, and seriously cutting in their budgets for real time reporting). The Mercury News is just not fast enough...!

With the lack of a scalable model nor real way to make money on these kind of news opportunities, I don't see this hole in the Ultra Local Search space filled fairly soon... or will it? What do you think..?


Genie Unpacking, expect more Time Lapse

Over the last months, I backed three projects at Kickstarter. Overall, I've been so excited about the projects and couldn't wait for the product to arrive. Today, one of the projects I backed came through, and a package out of Hong Kong was delivered.

But first, here are the three projects I backed:

  1. The Genie - Motion control time lapse device
  2. The Kick - A pocket size lightning studio for photo & video
  3. NanoLight - The world's most energy efficient lightbulb!

Genie - Motion Control Time Lapse Device

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know I have lost my heart, and a lot of time to photography. You can see some of my best pictures at DPictures.com.

So naturally, I was drawn to some great photography gear projects on Kickstarter, like the Genie. And who wouldn't want to be able to make great time lapse video's of a series of photo's? My first attempt ever was a project I could have used the genie, the Equinox at Chichen Itza Mexico. And just check out the appealing video of the Genie by the team of Syrp.

A simple, affordable and extremely easy to use device used for motion control and image capture for Time Lapse Photography + more. The Genie is an all-in-one device used to combine image capture with motion control, capable of either panning or linear movement that’s commonly used in Time Lapse Photography. Simply attach your camera to the top of the Genie, plug it in, and program it to move and shoot to your desired needs.

I hope I can soon be able to start with more time lapse photo series, and make some interesting video's!

Genie Unpacking

So today, I took the special moment to unpack the Genie, and document the moment...(BTW,  as part of the backing of the project, my name got printed on the box, see picture below)

Syrp Genie in a BoxName mentioned on the Box of the GenieGenie by Syrp Genie in the Box by SyrpThe Genie all unpacked

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


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.


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


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

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

GMail Advertising Targeting

Wow, I just spotted a scary relevant advertising at the top of my inbox in Gmail. For a couple of years, I've completely ignored these ads, as the targeting was so bad. You would see totally un-related advertising on this position. Probably because of the large amount of spam which would weasel its way into my inbox. But it is kind of scary the following ad was served to me today, just 2 weeks before the due date of our baby...

Gmail advertising targeting

It has been made well known by Google that Gmail would be free, but that Ads would be targeted based on the content of your emails. You know it, if it's free, you're probably the product being sold. Even with a limited number of emails about our new little bundle of joy, you see how the Ads are targeted at Baby & Kids clothing...
I guess the targeting has only improved with the consolidation of all the data Google is collecting about me, across Gmail, Search, Browser history and mobile check ins. Talking about an advertisers wet dream...!!!
What do you think? Time for a new email provider..?