High Growth SEO
Maximising your impact when you’re short on time or money
VC backed Hyper Growth Travel Start-up
+200 Staff, +250,000 holiday properties to rent
+4 Million nights sleep booked to date
One of Europe’s fastest growing Travel Tech companies
A little about me
I’m not active on Twitter (@simondance), Google+ or Facebook (more
on this later), but you can find me on Linkedin
We’re going to move FAST. So come and have a chat if you have any
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 paid links and guest posts.
• This deck centres on high growth tactics, even if you’re the underdog.
You’re in an SEO space race
• We want high visibility, traffic and revenue
• Across all of our categories/ destinations /products
• Across all our major markets
• Better than anyone else
• Faster than anyone else
• With a small team
• With less budget
• Future proof*
You can either accept mediocrity
Or you can get in the ring
• Understand the pillars of SEO growth (content, technical, links)
• The make up of search demand
• Conversion, Traffic, AOV and the output of revenue
• Clusters keywords together
• Understand WHERE the volume is
• Focus on WHERE the revenue is
• Create a framework around “States”
Understand Demand & Revenue
• Understand HOW demand is made up
• Think ‘categories’ not ‘keywords’
• Choose WHERE you’re going to compete
• Use PPC data to model revenue ‘value’ of keywords and categories.
• Build an ‘opportunity index’
• Build a pivot table. The output is REVENUE focused, not keyword obsessed.
• Layer in as much data as you can.
• Then GO.
• Take markets not just keywords
Understand Demand & Revenue
• Clusters keywords together (by landing page)
• 50% of revenue = 25 landing pages
• 30% of revenue = 180 landing pages
• 20% of revenue = 2500 landing pages
• Balance big revenue chasing with taking low hanging fruit.
• Don’t be penny wise, dollar stupid.
Mine. Mine. Mine.
• Mine SEM data.
• Obvious but rarely actioned
• Systematically take SEM keywords with conversion
• Bubble these into the SEO workflow
Build a framework of focus
• Revenue not rankings
• A, B, C category landing pages
• Top 10, Top 50, Top 250 keywords
• Red, Orange, Green states
• $ Opportunity vs. $ Actual
• Keywords in striking distance
Build a framework of focus
• Understand the opportunity index
• Look at your ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ categories
• Understand what revenue you’ve achieved
• Understand what’s left on the table
• Continue to validate your data model
• Use visibility scores to understand if you’ve capped out
• Create a compounded weekly growth %
• Commit to it
• Suggest 1-2%
• Compounded growth = +52% YoY
• Every week challenge yourself
• Create a weekly task list centred on the %
• Ask yourself every morning:
“Is what I'm doing going
to grow the percentage”
• Ruthlessly focus on SEO
• We have The Working Time Directive
• We know about work life balance
• Or the work/wife balance (as my wife says!)
Parkinson’s law states
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
• I hear excessive working time is cited as a major cause of stress,
depression and illness
I say: “Success takes TIME”
I needed to make time for success, and work twice as
fast as my competitors.
• Leave the house at 8am
• SEO reading during the commute.
• Work by 8.45am
• Stands up
• 10-20 minute lunch breaks
• Meetings must have agendas
• Dashboards focus on driving insight
• Batching emails (usually on my phone)
• Maximising my effective time.
• Focused on the growth %
Success takes time
Maximise your effective time (and your impact)
How do my competitors spend their time?
How much effective time do they REALLY have every
day? 2 hours? 3 fragmented hours?
• Output = 6 effective hours per day.
• I’m 3 times more impactful than my
• If you can save 30 minutes per day, think
where you could invest this time to grow
the SEO percentage.
• Don’t forget. A burnt out SEO is good to
• Focus on the growth % every day. And
leave on time.
• Relax. Then return to the race the following
• You can also take this further through
automation, delegation and education.
• Empower others to maximise their own
Always look to accelerate velocity
• Speed to market is vital
• Keep accelerating velocity
• Hire smart graduates or students.
• Hire a sidekick not an intern
• 4-8 week placements
• Focused on growth
• No busy work. No tea making
• Supplement low salary for HIGH motivation
• Challenge your ‘link’ velocity.
Are you at your ceiling? Or are you playing it safe?
• 5 links per month? 30 links? 100! How many landing pages can you
Understand cause and effect…fast
Traffic is up:
• Which page?
• Which page type?
• Visibility improved?
• Which keywords improved?
• New landing page or old one?
• New feature release?
• Google Update?
• Link powered growth?
• Content powered growth?
What caused the uplift?
Cause & Effect:
• Winners & Losers
• Traffic by page type
• Visibility scores (%’s)
• Daily ranking reports
• Log of ‘new’ pages driving traffic
• Change Log (Internal & External)
• Link Master Sheet (links added by date)
• Link monitoring (removed/ added)
• Google Analytics Annotations
• Server log analysis
This makes it easy to look back at deployments, initiatives and activities particularly when you're
running at full speed..
Also investigate: Robotto.org, Buzzstream, ahrefs & GA Intelligence Events
Mine server logs
• Understand crawl patterns from Googlebot
• Pivot chart server response codes by pages crawled
• Identify crawl issues, and errors.
• Monitor crawl by page types (Products or Categories)
Mine your logs for links
• Go and do this tomorrow. Easy links
• Extract referring URLs pointing to non 200/301 status codes
2. Referring domain
3. Referring URL (full referring URL)
4. Page/ URL/ file requested
5. Server response code
Output = Links to repoint, pages to recreate or old URLs to 301
Don’t build links. Build a following
• Who is the most authoritative person / publication / site that you’d like to target?
• What do they already share? like? read?
• What would THEY (not you) find incredible?
• What would they share?
• What’s in it for them?
• Challenge yourself. I’ve pitched 125 slide decks.
• Output = incredible. AIM HIGH
• You get: Links with referral traffic and conversion
Don’t BUY links. Buy access to audiences
Ask yourself. What is more potent?
• A paid for (anonymous) guest post or links?
• Or a high value (branded) piece of marketing, as a result of a collaboration you did
with a blogger?
Paying for links fuels a terrible economy. So instead of buying links, invest your time and
money in creating ‘stories’, ‘assets’, pieces of ‘marketing’ which will resonate with their
audience, and then leverage bloggers to amplify those stories.
Buy access to ‘their’ audience.
Bloggers win. You win. Plus, you build your brand/influence (not just links).
Make growth part of the product
• Think bigger than technical, content and links.
• Think less like an SEO, more like a marketer
• Build a Product you’re proud of
• Build features your users will love
Make growth part of the product
• Invest in assets which will get pick up by target publications that resonate with your audience
• Share data you uniquely own
• Tell a story only you can tell
• Monocle Magazine
Centre the business on SEO growth
• Alignment between Product + Marketing is like Semtex for Growth
• Influence the Product roadmap
• Attend weekly Product meetings
• Be a stakeholder in EVERY release
• Exploit synergies between departments (biz dev, customer service)
• Open up SEO metrics
• Share internal success stories
• Challenge the PR team to deliver incredible links
• Take a DEV/PM to a conference
• Influence hiring
• Demonstrate SEO profitability
• Champion its importance to the business
You are NOT an SEO.. You are a marketer that happens to work online. (You’re also a
Start a movement
Alignment about things we ALL care about:
• Our customers
• Metrics that matter
• Projects we collectively want to deliver
• The company WE want to build.
I started the Inbound Academy:
Monthly session with Product, PR, Business
Development, Business Intelligence and the
Go further. Train staff and start an SEO
Cake, beer and respect
• One of the single biggest wins is to centralise the Marketing, Product and Development team.
• I've bought bottles of wine, national flags, lunch, biscuits and coffee.
• Build a culture which races toward milestones
• A culture where everyone can see their part in building something meaningful.
• Use (non SEO) brain power to solve SEO issues.
Panda. Thin Content. Nightmare.
Solve challenges with creativity
• You want content on your category pages.
• You want to nurture/qualify your customers
• You want to maintain (and ideally improve) conversion
• You want to hoover up longtail traffic
• You want this content to attack the head
• You want a solution which has scalability baked in
• You want to distance yourself from spun content (which is getting
clamped down on)
• You want to put it on auto pilot
With a little creativity, you can solve a lot of these challenges
• Incentivised reviews. Discount codes.
• Gamification tactics to encourage action
• Leverage reviews from deleted/noindex’ed products
• Comments on category pages
• Category Q&A
• User curated lists / Expert guides
But don’t forget: Scalability can lead to standardisation
People don’t share ordinary
Bake Technical SEO into the Product
• Write redirection rules to solve errors at scale
• Read Ian Lurie’s post on Levenshtein Distance
• Set rules governing when pages are created, indexable, linked to, added to XML
• Set rules for page states (“email me when a page is upgraded/downgraded”…..
• Don’t LOSE ‘out of stock’ product opportunities (cross selling, conversion, SEO)
• Explore data driven approaches to your internal navigation (BAKE scale in) plus
push extra links to pages in anticipation of seasonal peaks.
• Bake SEO growth in (UGC = comments, reviews, articles, Q&A, user guides)
• Leverage site search data
• Set up a GA advanced segment for ‘questions’: Keywords
“Who|what|why|where|how” – are their content opportunities?
• Build a process.
The land is shifting
• Paid links
• Guest posts
• Press Releases
• Article marketing
• Targets as well as Tactics being exhausted
• Site consolidation, mergers, acquisition
• Top 1000 sites dominating SERPs
• Google pushing into verticals
• Increasing pressure on Organic results
• Decline of desktop, growth of Mobile
How do you cut through?
How future proof are your rankings?
How can you become entrenched?
Take the market.
Ranking for keywords isn’t enough. To win, you’ve got to take the market.
• Critically review the match between the keyword category your targeting and your landing pages/site
• You not only want to create the ‘BEST’ match for the query, but you want to align yourself as the BEST
site on the internet
• Influence up. Champion NPS, Branding and the BIG push on INBOUND (not interruption)
• Craft the best page, which qualifies prospects (comprehensively covering the keyword set) and has the
potential to earn links (and coverage from publications respected by your audience)
• Post hummingbird, explore bolstering existing or creating new landing pages
• Think BIG
• Don’t just be driven by data…. Be driven by vision
• Don’t let anything get in the way of the company you want you build.
• Google Authorship and the push on ‘verified’ links (as opposed to anonymous citations) hints at the
future. So centre yourself now.
Ask: “How do we pour petrol on the idea?”
• Challenge ideas. Move from good to great.
• Then move from great to incredible.
• You want to build SEO, links and content that you’re proud of.
• You should want to build competitive defence. A moat.
Get a second set of eyes
• Hire consultants (one off)
• Hire the best people in the world
• Call them on Clarity (call me clarity.fm/simondance)
• Buy them a coffee
• Solve their challenges
• Attend conferences
• Validate and accelerate your vision
More important than all of this:
Than all of your knowledge, your experience and
your ideas, is your ability to EXECUTE.
Thank you for your time
SEO Director, HouseTrip
Tel: +44 (0)7724042350