Interview with Jan-Willem Bobbink on SEO

Jan-Willem BobbinkWith less than a week until SMX Munich one of the final speakers to be interviewed was Utrecht based marketer Jan-Willem Bobbink. Jan-Willem is a well known European marketer who focuses on international search campaigns but also a MajesticSEO brand ambassador.  I reached out to Jan-Willem via email with some questions about his views on SEO but also some insights into some topics that he will be covering during his two presentations at SMX Munich next Wednesday 26th March 2014.
1. Do you mind giving us a short background on yourself and what your current role is?
In 2004 I got addicted with online marketing since I build my first international webshop. During the years I have developed hundreds of websites and had numerous affiliate concepts running. In 2011 I made the step towards the agency side. After three years working at Internet Advantage I just decided to leave the company and have a look around and search for a new challenge.

2. Your session touches on Microdata, Schema & Rich Snippets but which do you love more?
The first thing I want to make clear is the following: there are websites with data points, there is data markup on your website and there are websites wanting to use that data. Because every website is different, there have been developed standardized formats how to markup your data. You can do this by using Schema, RDFa, Open Graph etc. for example. Rich snippets on the other hand, are a way of presenting the crawled data, in a functional way. By using Open Graph tags in your HTML, will make it more easy for Facebook and Google+ to display the right information about your website. Back to your question, you cannot say there is a favourite markup language, since everyone is making use of different data structures. Google can proces GoodRelations, Microdata, Microformats and RDFa. For Facebook you have to use OpenGraph markup.

The implementations that I like the most, are the situations which create the best results as fast as possible. I would advise every website to add Schema markup of your reviews, which can be picked up by Google fast and this results in an increase of your Click Through Rates from the search engine result pages.

3. What Google Knowledge graph widget do you think will have the biggest impact in 2014?
Google giving direct answers based on common questions! (for a fun example, check this).

Websites that get most of their traffic because the solve problems based on people searching for answers, will definitely lose traffic. Have a look at “Google’s Knowledge Graph Boxes: killing Wikipedia?” which will not only have an impact on Wikipedia type sites, but Google is increasing the number of queries in which they add additional information rapidly.
4. Based on MajesticSEO data what link tactics do you think are being over-used still?
Link exchanges, directory linking and blog networks. With the help of MajesticSEO data is not that difficult to detect networks, let alone Google can’t figure that out. Once Google declared the war on spam, directories are used less and less so the market moved towards setting up private blog networks, just to create content (co-occurrence) around links but that’s not the way you want to do marketing for your company.
5. What EU business do you think is leading the charge in Schema and Rich snippet implementations?
I do not have specific companies, but what you see happening in the market once there are new opportunities to increase results, are affiliate websites that are always the first websites to start testing with the additional possibilities. Besides that, for companies like Google, Yandex et al, it requires flexibility to implement the changes in their systems. Especially with new techniques, there is always a risk that people are going to use it in a way it was not meant to be used. After the launch of rich snippets in Google, lot of people spammed Google with the yellow stars. I actually was one of the first to implement review snippets without having actual reviews on my website.

6. Who are your favourite people to follow on Twitter to stay current with Schema & Rich snippets?
I’m not really following specific people, but some websites you should definitely add to your feeds are:

7. Do you think websites in more competitive industries are more likely to use Schema & Rich snippets?
As I noted above, dedication and understanding for online marketing as a major source of revenue makes it more important to keep up to date with the latest techniques you use. Good example are affiliates, which most of the time are completely depending on search as a source of traffic. Especially in competitive niches, it is always a key question, how can you be noticed between the other nine websites in the SERPs. So yes, the urgency of adopting new techniques is always higher in challenging markets.

8. Have you had any experience working with websites that have implemented Facebook Open Graph? Any advice or insights?
First thing I tell clients is to implement the correct OpenGraph markup and add Twitter cards, because it is not difficult at all but will generate more traffic easily. Nowadays most weblog plugins have built-in functions to add the markup to your pages. On tip, don’t forget to verify and approve your Twitter cards at

9. What is the most interesting data point that you have found with MajesticSEO?
For me that was finding out which clients made use of a press release distribution system. All links where redirected through their URL, so there link profile consisted of links, redirected to their clients. That was not something they thought of so they had to change their privacy policies. I think a lot of people underestimate the power of having access to the link graph as a whole. You can analyse a lot of things that have nothing to do with SEO or online marketing. Dixon Jones shared some interesting cases last year during SMX Stockholm:

10. What is the main ideas/points that you hope people to get from attending your session?
To get educated on the possibilities of the semantic web, what the quick wins are for their websites or clients and how you can determine which structured data you should use in specific cases. One of the things you should consider is the fact that you are making it really easy for Google to scrape all your data and let them built specific services around it.

11. What are some of the other sessions/speakers at SMX Munich 2014 that you are looking to see?
That would be the sessions “Large Scale SEO” and the Webmasters on the Roof All-Star Panel, which are always inspiring. If your interested in International SEO, you should attend the session by Dave Sottimano and Andy Atkings-Krüger: SEO-Must-Haves for International SEO.

After my session about the semantic web I will go back to the basics: together with Malte Landwehr I will discuss SEO Patents. How do you have to read patents, what can you learn from that content and considering the recent developments (BrightEdge versus SearchMetrics) what is the power of patents.

So if people want to follow/engage with you online where can they find you?
On Twitter @Jbobbink and on Google+ and you can read some articles I publish on my personal blog (Not provided)

SMX-MunchenThank you Jan-Willem for your time in answering these questions and I hope everyone enjoys your SMX presentations which is on day two in panel 2 from 1:30pm “Microdata & Schema to Rich Snippets” and also in Panel 5 from 2:35pm “The 10 most important SEO patents”.

So if you want to catch Jan-Willem Bobbink speak and save €€€ on tickets for SMX Munich 2014 you can use our discount code LOSTPRESSSMX and you can register and find out more here.