Emulating Gang Culture to Accelerate In-House SEO


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A deck I delivered at London's SEOBarCamp on Wednesday 24th July 2013.

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  • Marketing is about communicating value
  • - "Respect"If people don’t like you, good luck getting them to work evenings and weekends to drive forward your SEO project.Respect has to be earned.
  • ## Communicate.-Stand ups with devs- weekly product meetings. Understand the product roadmap and how you can influence it.
  • Emulating Gang Culture to Accelerate In-House SEO

    1. 1. Emulating street gang culture to accelerate in-house SEO
    2. 2. HouseTrip.com VC backed Hyper Growth Travel Start-up 200 Staff, 230,000 holiday properties to rent 4 Million nights sleep booked to date One of the fastest growing Travel Tech companies
    3. 3. HouseTrip.com The opinions expressed here are my own, and not that of HouseTrip SA. contact: sdance@housetrip.com or on Google+
    4. 4. SEO is turf war • In many verticals, including holiday rentals, it‟s head to head. • It‟s In-house vs. bigger in-house team vs. bigger spending player vs. mega agency pumping out links. • This deck centres on how I‟ve been building SEO into the heart of the company
    5. 5. More important than all of this: More important: • Than all of your knowledge, your experience and your ideas, is your ability to EXECUTE.
    6. 6. Drive-by shootings & Smash and Grab SEO • Drive-bys and 'smash and grab' approaches to SEO. work, but don't build your whole empire on this approach. • Look for the MVP. • Look for the small test. Prove the concept and then scale. • Don't spend months planning the perfect rocket ship. • Chances are, you'll not get a chance to build it.
    7. 7. • In-house SEOs have a tough job, to coordinate what is often a huge task of technical, analytics, content and links (broadly speaking). • On top of this you've got to stay abreast of changes in the landscape, keep an eye on deployment logs, server errors, traffic and rankings. • To grow... I mean, to REALLY grow, you'll need support. You're not going to get there on your own
    8. 8. Start a gang
    9. 9. I started a gang Alignment about things we ALL care about: • Our customers • Metrics that matter • Projects we collective want to delivery • The company WE want to build. I started the Inbound Academy. • Monthly session with Product, PR, Business Development, Business Intelligence.
    10. 10. Alignment between Product + Marketing is like Semtex for Growth.
    11. 11. Bring together the East & West (side)
    12. 12. Don‟t hold Analytics hostage • Open up dashboard • Share Custom Reports • Share Advanced Segments • But don‟t automate reports • Spend time to give different teams the detail. • Educate. Give meaning. • Fire people up about data.
    13. 13. Metrics that matter • Conversion matters to everyone • Educate WHY (accelerates profitability, scales SEM, drives growth. • Stress the strategic importance of non- paid channels • Understand THEIR metrics (Net Promoter Score, Downtime…) • Work to collaborate on solutions which solve both of your problems (surprisingly effective)
    14. 14. • Reporting a 55% WoW growth in Traffic is great.. But it provides little context. • Not everyone cares for traffic as much as you do. • Everyone cares about their job security. • Everyone cares about profitability. Compare this with: • We made £1million gross revenues this week. • The SEO team made a profit of £350k this month. • That‟s universally understood… and that‟s powerful. Report in Cash
    15. 15. Strategy & Tactics • In a meeting I heard “tactical (seo) is another word for chaotic” • I‟d failed in educating this stake holder about our strategy. • They were misinformed. • Align everyone (even the office manager) about your overarching strategy. • Make it BIG. • Don‟t let anything get in the way of you delivering it.
    16. 16. Share the riches • Celebrate success • Celebrate milestones (in a memorable way) • Take stakeholders to lunch. • Take developers; PMs and suppliers for lunch. • Motivated workaholics are great for hyper growth.
    17. 17. Get out of the hood • Get out of the office for innovation time. • Take your smartest creative for breakfast at 7.30am. • Discuss your problems, then concept for an hour. • Return to the office at 9 am with a killer idea and execute on it.
    18. 18. Ask: “How do we pour petrol on the idea?” • Challenge ideas. Move from good to great. • Then move from great to incredible. • People don’t share ordinary. • You want to build SEO, links and content that you‟re proud of. • You should want to build a moat,
    19. 19. Require Gang member initiations • Require all new gang members to complete an initiation • Ask for a case study, presentation or research project as part of the Interview • Cast the net wide for recruits, and filter filter filter. • Ruthlessly raise the standard of applicants and hires. • Work to influence the hiring of other teams. • Raise the „average‟ of your current employees. • Do you hire factory workers or rock stars? King pins or henchmen?
    20. 20. Respect rules • Start a pilot: Prove it. Prove yourself. Start a movement. • If people don‟t respect you. They‟ll never work for you. • You have to earn it • You have to prove your credibility • You have to be liked.
    21. 21. Brotherhood This goes for your suppliers (writers, external developers, designers, freelancers and even your agency). You can directly influence their output: • Motivation is key • Communication is key • Respect & likability are essential • Weekly catch ups. Minimum. • Demand face time with the agency CEO/SEO Director (not just the Junior SEOs). • Make it a contract condition.
    22. 22. Communicate. Regularly. • Daily stand ups with developers + PMs • Weekly Product meetings. • Understand the larger roadmap. • Capitalise on opportunity. • Influence up. • Practice inception….. Seriously do it.,
    23. 23. Get rich or die trying • Move from dealing in the street (petty traffic, poor rankings and business insignificance), to running the whole block... • And then taking over the whole dam neighbourhood. • Sell the „SIZE‟ of the opportunity UP • Budget what you need to get there. • Build a pilot. Prove the case. Scale.
    24. 24. Take territories.. Incrementally • You‟ll never take a territory by spreading yourself too thinly. • Focus on a territory at a time. • Land an idea. Execute, and take one territory at a time. • A territory might be a keyword, a cluster of keywords, a bigger cluster of keywords in the same theme, a language… before you move onto taking a continent. • By all means, have multiple gangs in taking multiple territory simultaneously… providing you can resource them.
    25. 25. Thank you for your time Simon Dance SEO Director, HouseTrip Email: sdance@housetrip.com Tel: +44 (0)7724042350 Skype: s.e.dance