SearchFest 2012 Mini-Interview: Dennis Goedegebuure
Dennis Goedegebuure will be speaking about “Advanced On-Site SEO” at SearchFest 2012, which will be held February 24, 2012 at The Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.
1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living?
My name is Dennis Goedegebuure (site). I’m a 35+ Dutch marketer currently working and living in San Francisco.
I moved in 2006 from The Netherlands to the USA while working for eBay, to take on a coordinating role for the global Internet Marketing efforts of eBay. In this role I focused on the SEO channel, where I coordinated global product rollouts and best practices.
After a large reorganization focused on centralizing the global Internet marketing programs, I took on a new role to lead the International SEO efforts. After just one year, I also got the responsibilities over the US SEO projects, which put me in chart of eBay’s Global SEO. For more than 3 years I’ve focused on getting specific SEO results for eBay.
As eBay gave my team a lot of freedom to experiment and test off the core site, we learned a lot about scalable SEO solutions, Internal link optimization and Raw PageRank flows using relevant keyword anchor text.
After 9.5 years, I left eBay and joined Geeknet Inc. as their VP of Internet Marketing. In this role I’m responsible for all traffic for the three main sites of the media group of Geeknet: SourceForge, Slashdot and Freecode. We are not only focused on SEO for traffic acquisition, but especially for Slashdot focus on social media to drive more traffic to the stories shared on Slashdot.
The business I’m working on right now is much different than an e-commerce website, and I’m learning a lot of new things. Slashdot aggregates interesting news stories, which see short term traffic boosts from when the story is in the news and relevant. The challenge is to increase the life span of every story. SourceForge is ranking very well on all project names, like VLC or FileZilla. However, the long tail keywords are currently missing from the referrals.
Still interesting are the traffic boosts you see whenever a topic is in the news for keywords SourceForge or Slashdot is already ranking on, like the recent attack of the hackers group Anonymous using the LOIC software; Low Orbit Ion Cannon. Every time media reports a coordinated DDOS attack by Anonymous, traffic increases by a couple of thousand percent for this project.
I’m trying to do more writing on my own blog about tests and analytics I see. I try to implement the Learning’s of these tests on all projects I work on. Recent posts you can read are:
- A test with Rich Snippets, using a Christmas specific profile picture
- A breakdown of HackerNews visitors on Slashdot
- Free Software alternatives for Mac Users
- t.co; Twitter Brilliance
A couple of years I did a guest post on Twitip; which was fun . For 2012, I would like to do more guest blogging on other sites as well, so whoever would like to host a post from me, just connect with me at Searchfest.
2) What are some important technical issues that prevent business websites from maximizing their SEO potential?
There are multiple reasons that prevent a business not maximizing their SEO potential. A couple I’ve seen over the years are:
- Not understanding the priorities what needs to be done from an SEO perspective
- Not taking SEO as a critical requirement in product design, which makes it much more expensive to go back and re-code specific parts of the website or infrastructure to enhance the SEO
- Politics. There might be other forces at work, which prevents the SEO team to get things done. Especially in large organizations, internal politics can have a big impact on the business reach its maximum SEO potential
I’ve written a couple of posts about certain SEO challenges my team and I were working on at eBay. Some of these got resolved on time, some still persist to this day.
These can be found here:
- W0QQ double encoding; it’s a legacy for which I presented the W0QQ removal case on SMX West
- eBay SEO and Page Titles; It’s complicated
- Couch Commerce; Why eBay should have bought IntoNow
It’s always a matter of prioritization and the estimated impact of a project to get funding and resources. SEO projects and the ROI are not immediate, where these need to compete with projects showing immediate impact. Having a top down SEO understanding in a large organization really helps getting things done.
3) People talk about “siloing” as an important SEO content strategy. Can you offer your opinion on this practice and please mention some other SEO content strategies folks might want to consider?
I worked with Bruce at eBay to do training for product-, engineering- and business teams. Sitting in the training multiple times, have made me realize siloing a website is more than just a content strategy. It involves much more than only internal link navigation updates, but also:
- Keyword research to learn how people search
- Holistic content strategy, creating quality content around the most important keywords from your research
- Information architecture based on Keyword research
- Build your content silo’s in pyramids, using cornerstone content
Also, from reading the Google Webmaster Guidelines, you can distil what is valued in the way you set up your website:
- Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links
- Make a site map for users with links that point to the important parts of your site
- Use text instead of images to display important names, content and links
Internal linking can get you powerful internal pages, which would be able to rank for competitive keywords if Siloing, quality content, external link building and social media sharing is combined. However, you see more and more larger websites adopting a strategy of Black Hole SEO. Examples of Black Hole SEO websites are:
Rather than linking to the company’s homepage the story is about, these websites link to their own pages, on which a company profile and all stories are aggregated.
On itself, I don’t see any problem with what these companies are doing, I would probably do the same thing if I was running the SEO team for these companies. However, the links in the stories are not giving the reader the best user experience. A little bid more shady is if a website is using hidden, through css, internal links to amplify the internal tag pages; which I described here: Black Hole SEO through Hidden Internal linking.
I expect the Black Hole SEO technique to diminish over the next couple of months, due to wider adoption and more shady techniques. If you engage in this technique right now, you might want to change your ways and start linking out again to high authoritative sites. As a lot of SEO’s already know, and now is being discussed in other industries, Out is the new IN