YEM SEO is a consulting company founded by me, Jeff Smith, so that I could help more companies benefit from the experience I gained primarily working HomeAway, Inc. and RetailMeNot, Inc. Through YEM SEO I will provide custom analysis and product, content and marketing recommendations to help you achieve your business objectives via organic search. This website is a vehicle to enable people to learn more about my approach and experience and to contact me for help.

About Jeff Smith, President of YEM SEO, LLC


I consider my SEO training to have started in 1999 when I took a job as a copy editor at a small newspaper covering rural parts of Vermont and New Hampshire. No, I didn't work on the website (there wasn't one). The paper was just transitioning away from its mainframe and terminal system (I believe it was acquired by the Newseum) to using bright, shiny iMacs and QuarkXPress for editing and layout. 

That role was highly relevant to my future experience because we were focused on creating or choosing the content we thought would be most valuable for our readers, packaging it in a way that made it easy or entertaining to consume so that we could keep readers engaged to keep circulation numbers up to support ad revenue and all with a daily deadline to deliver a physical product. 

The physical product and the daily deadline had inherent constraints that forced intense focus and fostered creativity. Consider the printed page as roughly the same as your screen size or resolution. You had to write a headline for a story that fit a certain number of pixels, was accurate AND engaging, choose which stories would be above the fold, whether to use photos (and which) to tell the story at a glance and pull people in, where to cut a story and where to continue it on another page (the "jump to", much like an internal or anchor link). 

Content and engagement were the name of the game even if we weren't talking about our work in that way. To have a story picked up by a wire service or cited by another news organization was much like getting a link from another website. These core qualities are the same for SEO today, but with a lot more technical detail and with a time to effect change of seconds rather than days.


In 2003, I was hired at CyberRentals.com largely because of my editing experience. CyberRentals, launched in fall of 1995, published printed catalogs of vacation rentals along with its website. Here I learned the basics of SEO by engaging in forums to learn from others and by my own trial and error. Link building were fundamental skills to develop at the time.

In 2005, CyberRentals was acquired by HomeAway, Inc., and I relocated to Austin to keep working in the vacation rental industry (and because Austin seemed fantastic when I visited during SXSW in 2004). HomeAway's global ambition and scale provided excellent opportunities to encounter and solve all manner of challenges related to SEO, as well as building and leading teams and working in cross-functional initiatives. Here my focus on technical SEO and user experience increased. 

At RetailMeNot, where I led SEO from 2011 to 2016, my team and I focused intensely on content quality, user experience and understanding searcher behavior. The coupon affiliate space was incredibly competitive and search was highly transactional with a scale of tens of millions of revenue-driving visits per month and daily fluctuation of search results. In an environment where most of the content is commodity and many search competitors are willing to play dirty, I learned a lot about the importance of having truly differentiated content, UX and how earning users' trust can affect organic-search performance. 

All of these experiences have brought me to a point of view that in order to be truly successful with SEO, you need to have the same components in place that you would to be generally successful with your business - a unique and clear value proposition, a differentiated experience, dedication to understanding and building relationships with your existing and potential customers, and a plan to promote and drive awareness of your offering. SEO tactics implemented in isolation can generate some results, but for long-term success I find a more holistic approach that's integrated with your overall business is the best approach. My preference in working with clients through YEM SEO is to take the holistic approach whenever possible. See more about the SEO services I offer.