INTERVIEW WITH SHANE JONES
Our first interview is Shane Jones, who has been working at On the beach for nearly 3 years.
On the Beach was founded in 1995 and is currently one of the leading online travel agency’s. With over 750,000 Customers annually.
We first met Shane at the Think Visibility conference back in September 2011. Shane will be moving back to agency side in November, so we’d like to wish him the best of luck with that. Shane has been working within the SEO industry since 2004.
How did you get into SEO?
I got into SEO by accident – I used to work for a company called Demon Tweeks, who is the market leader in motorsport and car modification equipment. I was on the web content team, which required me to churn out page content for all the new products, as well as updating any current products. It was only when I finished that role and moved to my first SEO role that I realised that what I was doing for Demon Tweeks was, in reality, On Page SEO.
How has the industry changed, if any, since you started?
It feels like it changes every other month! I remember the days when a simple title and meta change would change your rank. Now there are well over 200 signals that we need to consider when optimising a site. The industry as a whole still seems starved of SEO’s. I feel that SEO is not taught enough in education. It’s great to see the work that University of Salford are doing though – http://www.searchmarketing.salford.ac.uk/
Have you had any notable Clients?
Some of the biggest I have had the pleasure of working for was when I was at Bigmouthmedia. These included T-Mobile, Skype, Best Western, Warner Leisure, Carcraft and Topman. I also worked on many dating/profile sites, having the chance to to work on clients such as LoopyLove, Dating for Parents and Girls Date For Free. As you can imagine they were fun to work on
What’s the achievement you are most proud of and why?
Some people will expect me to put the video of Matt Cutts answering a question of mine, but it’s not that. My greatest achievement (in SEO) would have to be taking on a client that had been massively penalised by Google and working to get it to a better than before ranking.
Do you have any Tips for young SEOers?
Get some personal domains and play around, also get a small client base of freelance SEO work too. If your boss doesn’t approve then send them to this post by Judith Lewis http://www.seo-chicks.com/953/seos-should-moonlight.html
Connect with some more experienced people in the industry. It’s good to have them on an instant messenger almost like a mentor (http://www.seo-chicks.com/1754/find-a-mentor-or-some-mentos.html). I have a few contacts that ask for advice or even just bounce ideas off. It’s something I really enjoy doing, as it was something that helped me progress.
Keep your ear to the ground with industry news and blogs. Make sure you’re on twitter a lot. Follow the industry leaders and search engine spokespersons for all the juicy talk.
Get to grips with the technical side of SEO, I came to SEO with a solid understanding of web development. I think understanding development is really important to know as, in my experience, dev teams can, and will, accidentally break things.
Also Black Hat SEO… learn it and understand it. Knowing black hat tactics doesn’t make you a black hat SEO, but knowing everything about it can help you debug broken SEO.
How has social media changed SEO and is it here to stay?
I am actually moving to a role at a Social Media agency, that’s how much I think it’s here to stay. It’s not going anywhere if you look at the number 800 million Facebook users alone. Also, based on the fact that there are ways to optimise social content to rank higher within the networks themselves, I think the connection between search and social is far greater than it ever was. If anything, Facebook wants to be what people call the internet. You can now pull in entire websites as canvas apps. It’s only a matter of time before more people do that and increase the sites social engagement using the new Open Graph tools.
Where do you think SEO is heading and why?
I think SEO is heading to be more social. It will be good to see how much further into the SERPs Google uses Plus. It seems like the next logical progression from Personalised Web Search. I predict that social signals from the top networks will have greater significance in helping web ranks. Also, based on my last answer I would predict that helping to rank websites in Facebook could be new part of SEO. It’s currently something I am looking into.
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Five years, I’d love to be working a 4 hour week.(http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/). In reality I’d love for some of my side projects to be earning me enough money to fund working a 3 day week.