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.
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...
Almost 7 years ago, I moved to San Francisco while working at eBay. The first summer living in the US, I hosted a BBQ for a group of Dutch Internet entrepreneurs at my house who were visiting the Valley. Part of that group Dutch Internet entrepreneurs were Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zanten & Patrick de Laive. At the time they were looking for funding for one of their startups, Fleck. Boris & Patrick were always in for some fun which could generate the attention from the right people. Eventually they didn't got the funding for Fleck, and sold the assets. Maybe better, as they continued to work on other great concepts, one of these the technology news website and conference: The Next Web.
Over the years The Next Web has been growing in audience, exposure and breaking stories. It will just be a matter of time for the team of The Next Web to become the #1 Technology blog on the Techmeme leaderboard. A position taken for years by Techcrunch. So with that in mind, it's always nice to see how Boris and Patrick has been able to keep their feet on the ground, and make the time at the last moment to catch up over beers at the Airbnb office today. It's always great to keep good relationships alive and kicking!
The way Airbnb is taking care of its employees is amazing. What is even more fun, is that I just participated in the best interviewing of a candidate ever. How about you're being asked to be part of the last round of interviews of a candidate for the position of Sous Chef at Airbnb, and the interview round consist of eating a specially prepared dinner by the candidate. Obviously, the interviewee would like to be hired, so will be pulling all the best tricks out of his/her book. This just happened to me today, where you can see what I just had for dinner below here. The names of the candidate have been changed to protect the innocent.
So tonight I had a California/Asian Dinner with:
- Arugula Salad, with Shaved Carrot, Pine Nut, Candied Coconut with Miso Dressing
- Korean Style BBQ Beef; Beef, Garlic, Tamari, Sugar, Sesame oil and Green Onion
- Curried Quinoa; Sauteed Onion, Black Bean and Butternut Squash
- Sauteed Nappa Cabbage; with Rainbow Carrot & Ginger Sauce
Doesn't it look wonderful? It tasted delicious. I immediately volunteered to be on the interview panel for the next candidates. I was feeling like a judge of the TV-Show Top-Chef.
But even the Popcorn at Airbnb is great!This is Popcorn Airbnb style!
I explained before that we take our food program really serious! Today we had Truffle and Nutritional Yeast Popcorn, and Chili and Lime Popcorn.YUM!
Last Sunday I learned there is a specific Neighborhood in San Francisco with a big Hellenic Heritage. It's a part of SOMA where Greek immigrants settled in the early 1900's. I learned this by paying attention to the signs and plagues placed on the sides of the streets to remind people what has happened in the past. I happened to see the following sign at the corner of Third street & Folsom, which is at the south-east corner of the Moscone Convention center, right next to the Yearba Buena Ice skating & Bowling Center.
San Francisco Hellenic Heritage at Folsom & Third street
San Francisco's Hellenic Heritage
An Affirmation of the Promise of America
In tribute to the Greek immigrants who settled in the vicinity of Third and Folsom Streets in the early 1900s
And in Commemoration of their pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit, patriotism, faith and pride in their Hellenic Heritage.
We, the beneficiaries of their vision, recognize and acknowledge the significant and vital economic, social and political contributions Hellenes made to their beloved adopted city, San Francisco.
The Hellenic American Professional Society of California
Dedicated in the year 2001
Just two weeks ago, I listened how Dr. Mike presented at BlueGlassX how he liked to take pictures of local signs of historical events or things to remember about the history of a local neighborhood. I had never expected to learn so much new stuff about the area's in San Francisco. Opening up your eyes, and take pictures of the signs and plagues around the city can educate your kids about why there are a large number of Falafel and Mousaka restaurants around Folsom & 3rd street.
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:
Foto credit: TrexRunner.com
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:
- Matt Cutts’s comments and slides from SES
- Michael Gray’s slides from SES Google is not the Government
- SEOmoz: The Paid Links Debate Rages On
- Search Engine Roundtable: Are Paid Links Evil?
- Update added: Slides by Capt. Todd Malicoat; Why I'm a Link Libertarian
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.
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;
— Matthew Brown (@MatthewJBrown) November 14, 2012
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.
@thenextcorner Whole team deserves one big collective pat on the back from SEO industry. I’ll be pointing to it many times in the future.
— Mike Pantoliano (@MikeCP) November 14, 2012
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!
— Matt Bowers (@itsmemattb) November 14, 2012
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...
I really like your product, and Instagram is my preferred way of sharing pictures with people who have chosen to follow me on their mobile smart phone. I love your filters, I love the way I can follow what my friends are up to, leave comments and like their pictures real easily!
However, with you rolling out the public web profiles, I would like to make a feature request; Can you please build in a way I can protect certain pictures from the public eye. I simply don't want to share all my pictures with the whole world! More specific, I have made a conscious decision not to publish any photo's of my kids online. At first, I was ok with sharing pictures of my kids on your service as these were only seen by people who follow me on a mobile phone. But with the easy copy paste online on the web, I'm about to rethink how I will use Instagram. Let me explain...
Identity Stealing Made Easy
Back in 2006, just after my daughter was born, I set up a blog for us to post pictures and stories for my family back in The Netherlands to follow how she would grow up as a little girl. I was able to capture a great domain for her, as her name is really special: Bo-Jools.com. Now we only post her art work here, as the story takes an ugly turn.
After a couple of months, posting a lot of stories about our adventures in San Francisco with a new born; my wife was contacted by a woman in The Netherlands with a strange story. She had been communicating with a mother of a little girl for 6 months, who had built up a profile on a baby site.
Long story short, the woman had used our baby pictures stolen from our daughters weblog to fabricate an online fake profile of a woman with a young baby girl, who was suffering from an early stage of cancer. The story was about hospital visits, fear of loosing her baby, and steep hospital bills. It would make every mother sad to read the full life story of a 6 month old baby, and feel nothing but empathy for the young mother, all alone with a sick baby.
We filed a complaint with the Dutch police, where I was very lucky I had direct connections with their special Internet Crime department through the legal team of Marktplaats, eBay's Dutch Classifieds site. In the end, we were able to get the police team taking up the case due to the fact the baby profile site offered the ability to sell pictures through the site, which made it an official "crime". The initial thoughts of the specialist was that we could not prosecute as there was "no crime committed".
The police did a search on the address of the IP the profile was managed out off. It appeared there was an under age girl behind the profile, who got carried away with her imagination after researching the baby profile site for a school project. Thank god it was not a worse outcome, where our minds were thinking about fake money scams or even worse.
We learned a valuable lesson online. Pictures of our family, our kids or maybe even of myself should not always be posted publicly, as these can be copied, stolen and used by anybody with good, bad or mal intentions.
As our kids are still little, they have not given permission to us to post their picture online, so we removed all their pictures from websites and public profiles. We get many times suggestions we should have our kids model for advertisements. But we don't want to, as they should make up their own mind if they would like to do that. Maybe when they are older...
Even on networks like Facebook, we are extremely careful about privacy settings, and who would be able to see the pictures. And still then, we are not posting all of our family pictures there, as you never know how Facebook will change their privacy settings, or make changes to their Terms & conditions you have opted in to. It would not be the first time...
Instagram Public Profiles
Which brings me to Instagram sharing, mobile smart phones & Public Profiles.
At first I started using Instagram to share funny pictures using the filters. But as more people joined, and started to connect with me at the service, it became a new way to share moments of joy with the people I like, but not online where all people can see and copy my stuff. Off course I knew that every picture on my Instagram feed could be accessed online, but it was way harder to find and copy/paste these pictures than somewhere else. I did had a feeling I could share some of the pictures of my kids with my Instagram followers, but I was wrong!
With Instagram Public Profiles (mine here), you can see all my pictures from my Instagram feed, up to the early ones. Fun stuff, as I can see 2 year old pictures from my kids, but so can anybody else. And what is more, Instagram does not give you the ability to shield off certain pictures from the public eye. You only have the ability to hide your full stream from the public. It's either all or nothing!
Individual Picture Control
Which is why I ask you Instagram, build a new feature which would allow me to set the permissions on each and every picture I push into my stream. A simple setting when you take the picture will do. Something like: Share with the world or only on Instagram mobile stream (not on public profile). I believe Facebook has done an awesome job in this, so with the sale of Instagram to Facebook, you should have access to that snippet of code, which would make it extremely easy to adopt the feature!
Otherwise, you leave me no choice. I will either;
- Delete the pictures of my kids and have a boring stream of photo's of everyday live scenes or marketing ideas
- Set my stream to private, and limit my own ability to use Instagram how I have been in the past 2 years
I'm looking forward to see how you evolve and grow up Instagram. I really love your service, and would hate to abandon you!
Sometimes you just need new head shots to use on all your social profiles. These two shots were taken during the Raven Poker tournament at Pubcon in Las Vegas. You will see the top picture coming back on all my social profiles.