Joe Drury is the Senior Manager of Search Marketing at Vacasa, a technology-enabled vacation rental property management company based in Portland, Oregon.
Vacasa’s digital marketing team is tasked with improving local search visibility and revenue for over 7,000 global locations (and growing) along with providing customer insights to teams throughout their org.
Charity Stebbins: How’d you get into search marketing? Was this a childhood dream?
Joe Drury: Hah – I think, like most people, I ended up there accidentally. I got my Masters in Labor Relations and I was doing research and data analysis for labor organizations. But marketing was just a better fit… and it offered health insurance. I had a friend at Yahoo, and they were hiring search marketers. The rest is history.
What’s your marketing team structure like?
I’m on the digital team. Our digital team owns what I think of as the main three aspects of digital marketing: getting people to your site, optimizing the experience when they are on your site, and measuring performance so their experience is better the next time around.
Within the digital team, I run our search marketing department. That includes all of organic search efforts including content and technical SEO, along with paid media.
Why put paid and organic search on the same team?
It makes a lot of sense to manage paid and search holistically. We know we should invest more in paid if we have a gap in organic visibility, or we can cut paid costs when we’re ranking well. We can reach more people and drive more revenue when we look at them together.
As team lead, what’s your vision for organic search at Vacasa?
We need to act like a local company all over the world.
Organic search can really drive that by showing us what’s working well in existing markets and enabling us to canvas demand in new areas.
For example, in Nevada, we discovered that Las Vegas was not the ideal market for us – people tend to stay in hotels. There was significantly more opportunity in surrounding areas.
In a specific resort town in California, we found that people are looking for pet-friendly rentals, and cabins in particular. We share those insights with our sales team, market launch team, and content teams. They use those insights to focus their time, hone their strategy, and indicate the right content to create.
Do you get those insights by tracking your keywords? Is that still an important part of SEO?
I’ve heard some SEOs say that keywords don’t matter now. I couldn’t disagree more. Keywords matter immensely – it’s how people interact with the web; it’s how they express what they think. And it’s how marketers can get into their minds. It’s important to track your performance against that. I look at my tracked keywords just about every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
For example, we’ve been trending really positively in Tahoe recently. I’m able to look at that to find out what we’re doing well in Tahoe that we can replicate in another region.
What kind of technology do you use?
The Conductor platform.
Haha. And we use the Conductor integration with Lumar. Lumar is really the foundation for our technical SEO, and Conductor is the foundation for our strategic and content-driven SEO. We use some other tools too, like Google Search Console.
How often do you crawl your site?
We crawl Vacasa.com and our partner sites every weekend and take a look at the data every Monday and fix any issues that have popped up like duplicate pages that our site automation can produce, broken links, canonicals…that kind of thing. Then every 3 months we do a deeper technical audit.
It’s harder than it sounds to have a real understanding of what your site is when you’re a global company.
When I started here, people told me that we only had about 5 templates on our site….but nope, Lumar showed us that we had more like 30 different templates. We were able to really trim down and focus our site with that data.