E-interview with the SEO Don of Cheapflights.co.uk, Richard Baxter.

In The Digital Marketing Blog, Training, Working In Search by Zac2 Comments

Richard Baxter is the UK SEO manager at Cheapflights.co.uk. He has nearly a decade of experience in marketing for small, medium and enterprise level websites and spanning a variety of highly competitive industries, including travel, engineering and recruitment. Richard’s expertise lies in SEO friendly web design, link building strategies and search engine accessibility.

Richard Baxter is examining the intricacies of dynamic web design on Thursday February 19th at 3.45pm.

We caught up with Richard before the SES conference for a quick Q and A.

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1)      What does your role involve at Cheapflights.co.uk?

As UK SEO Manager at Cheapflights.co.uk, I’m responsible for all traffic to the site from organic search. I’m part of a great team who are all passionate about search engine optimisation and online marketing as a whole. My day to day role includes monitoring the site using our performance KPI’s and communicating the progress we’re making across the company, while keeping an eye on the search engine industry and how it’s developing. I spend a lot of my time working inside project teams to make sure that changes to the site are good for search engines and users, or that SEO development in the technical production line meets the needs of the UK SEO team. There’s a lot of work in analysing trends in the travel industry, understanding user search behaviour and managing our site through the in-house SEO tools we have.

2)      What are the most important elements in making dynamic websites search engine friendly?

I look at dynamic site optimisation from a few different angles. Technology, research, and the organisational set up behind your site are all vital elements of making dynamic websites search engine friendly. Fundamentally, you’re looking to achieve a technical architecture that supports the best possible coding practices and a physical (internal link) architecture that represents a “best fit” to known search behaviour. Building in SEO from the “ground up” should make it possible to build with search engine friendly URLs and not create any nasty spider traps with duplicating pages or things like pagination problems. The more you understand your users through a solid keyword research methodology, the more success you’re going to have too. Creating a useful, content rich experience is vital and the final (and arguably the most important) element is an organisation that understands and embraces good SEO principles in their everyday activities.

3)      How do you deal with different search patterns by job hunters and holiday makers?

Not that differently! By that I mean my research methodology is the same, regardless of any industry I’m working in. What’s important is understanding how to categorise those search types. I covered keyword categorisation and how this process translates to a sitemap architecture on a blog post on recruitment SEO, which I wrote back in June 2008 and I’m going to be covering it in a lot more detail at SES. If you have any questions, come and say hi.

4)      What’s the most successful SEO project you’ve delivered?

I really enjoy getting strong results back on any SEO project I’m working on. There are a few projects that really stand out in my mind, most of them large site redesigns where the site architecture, technology platform, url structure and sometimes even the domain url were all changing. We launched a redesigned site for Cheapflights back in July 2008 and kept all of the rankings and traffic high all the way through. I felt pretty relieved about that! Sometimes, the small projects are the best though. I did a small consultancy for a friend’s Stone Merchants website about a year ago and he’s doing really well from SEO referrals. I feel quite proud of that.

5)      Where do you see SEO heading in 2009 and beyond?

We’re entering into difficult times for many industries. Most SEO’s will be finding it harder to generate the same traffic and may even be seeing differences in the way their users are behaving. More emphasis on “shopping around” and finding the right price for items may mean important revenue metrics are adversely impacted. With issues like the recession in mind, I believe more focus will be placed on improving keyword research and making sure that search behaviour is truly understood to get maximum potential traffic. I also feel that now is a good time to truly understand the value of the “long tail” and to hold SEO more accountable for revenue generating activity.

6)      What advice would you give to an aspiring SEO blogger?

If you’re going to start a blog, find a unique angle on your content that allows you to add value to a conversation. I see lots of “SEO” blogs out there that are just re-writing old content on more authoritative sites. Write simply and clearly and present your content nicely. If you’re genuinely unique and people like your ideas, they will link to you. Also, remember that it’s ok to write about a few subjects that interest you. SEOgadget.co.uk is mostly about SEO, but I’m really keen on using an open source operating system called Ubuntu, so I write generally about that too. My how to install Ubuntu guide gets a lot of traffic and having topics away from SEO to write about can be a big source of inspiration when you’re suffering from writers block. If you blog regularly and authoritatively, it doesn’t take long to build up your traffic and links! As soon as you have some decent content, submit it to Sphinn and see how the SEO community react!

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