Category Archives: SEO

An Appendix & The Rapid Rise of G+

It’s the end of my first week back after a bit of a shock a few weeks ago when I found late one Sunday night that all was not as it should have been with my appendix.

Whilst it was fairly dramatic at the time, what with morphine, paramedics, ambulances, late night hospital visits for my family etc, it was taken out the next day and that was that.

We had the op Monday afternoon at about 4pm, I came around briefly that night but then promptly passed out again until about 4am the next morning, at which point I jumped out of bed, pulled the tubes out of my nose and wandered down the hospital ward with my drip, much to the bemusement of the sisters that were on hand. Despite clearly not knowing where I was, what with more drugs in my system than Hunter S Thomson on a stag weekend and having had nil by mouth for 36 hours, I still managed to argue my case with the nurse for wanting a shower, who eventually caved. Fortunately for all concerned, I didn’t collapse in the shower and, moreover, felt instantly better as a result of washing away the leavings of a brief stay in a hospital bed.

From that point it has all been fairly plain sailing – I particularly enjoyed listening to The Orb and The Chemical Brothers whilst clearly still feeling much of the effects of the general anaesthetic, which was humorous, even at the time. Then I was kicked out of hospital, presumably because I was bouncing off the walls by that point, later that morning – and the only subsequent hangover has been my heightened ability to fall asleep given minimal prompting for the subsequent three weeks. Still, every cloud…

So, I’m now back and have had a full week at work, albeit in the office throughout and with no travel.

In the intervening three weeks G+ seems to have set out its stall and looks like it has the potential to really shake up the status quo within Social Media – which itself is something of a constant of course. What appeals most to me about the service, based on what time I have had to play with it to date, is that it seems to take the best of services such as Instagram (one touch photo upload), Twitter (follow rather than befriend), Delicious (the sparks social bookmarking tool), Skype (hangouts for multiple video calls) and of course the design and layout owes much to Facebook. This feels both considered and appropriate – and what’s more, the fact that G+ links are denoted ‘do follow’ rather than the typical ‘no follow’ links of social networks (although some, like Digg, started out with the former and switched to the latter, presumably to avoid the service being used for SEO spam), coupled with the obvious association to the benefits of ranking in Google’s search results, is likely to incentivise users such as myself to frequent the service more than they otherwise would.

There are already some great third party services – I’ve used Gplus.to to create a ‘vanity url’ (which is really a redirect) to be used in email footers etc and Export.ly allows users to import additional fans and followers from Facebook and Twitter.

What is most interesting is that unlike many other services – including GoogleWave – there is a genuine and palpable excitement about the potential of G+, which might well move the social media sector in an entirely new direction.

If nothing else, one thing is clear, social media and search are becoming ever closer and, if one agrees with the general premise that PR skills are the ideal basis for any external communication, then our integrated PR, Search and Social Media approach looks to be a good bet for the future.

Here’s my Google+ profile.

UPDATE: Please see a post on the Punch site about the rapid rise of G+.

Social PR

It’s been a monster of a week – spent monday with a bunch of social media agencies, PRs and brands at the excellent Social PR event, arranged by Luke at Influence People, where I both co-presented a great case study of our work with Sony Ericsson over the last year and then a panel.

Also this week, We’ve won a couple of new pieces of business since, have hired two new team members and now have a couple of other speaking opportunities lined up over the next few weeks and months.

Whilst I don’t mind speaking at all, it’s not something we’ve ever done as a company, preferring instead to keep our heads down and focus on client work, rather than self promotion. Nevertheless, I guess I recognise that the time has come to start this kind of activity a little more – and it’s great to be invited of course.

Anyway, if you want a good laugh, the above event was filmed and is live here.

Cavos

I had a great night last night – visited Restaurant Cavos in Munich – which is apparently famous for Bayern Munich WAG wannabees, particularly on Thursdays (for some reason, best known to people locally). The greek food was great and then they crank the music up. It took a little while for them to decide to turn of the NOW 45 compilation and play something half-decent, but then it kicked off.

Weirdly, the general age was a fair bit older than I’d expected – lots of grey hair on show (including my own). Still, everyone was having a good time.

Despite having nothing harder than orange juice, I still thought it best to bail by about 1am. Nevertheless, it was still a school night – and I’m not as young as I was…

Pour Some Sugar On Me (In The Name Of Love)

I’ve realised that Copenhagen has quickly become my favourite airport. It’s clean, hassle free and, on a good day, I can now go from walking into the building to getting through security in about ten minutes.

Possibly my favourite aspect of the airport though is the Danish guys that await the other side. There’s an airside coffee shop which has put a smile on my face every time I’ve been to date.

The Baristas are a group of young guys that are a weird combination of hip young things with edgy haircuts and throwbacks that look to pay homage to Tom Cruise in Cocktail, circa 198x.

On going through today, the music was fairly modest, merely a recent Michael Jackson album – which those behind the counter still seemed to great with a little more gusto than it merited, in my opinion. However, I mentioned in a tweet a few weeks back, last time I went through they opted to crank out Def Leppard (which, I’m assured by people more groovy than I, are currently enjoying a renaissance – although I confess that I’m struggling a little with that conceptually).

Whilst I, like many others, rocked pretty hard to ‘Animal’ when I was about eight, it’s fair to say I haven’t heard it in a while – and I greeted it with a snort of derision. However, I was completely unprepared for the Baristas’ collective response, which was to meet the opening track’s strains with whoops, high volume vocals and throwing coffee cups/smoothie ingredients to each other across ever greater and more perilous arcs.

It was all a little Salvador Dali for me – up until the classic moment when ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ was let loose and even I had to crack a smile at that point.

Lunatics they may be – but I now make a point of going back every time in passing through (which seems to be pretty frequently at present) just to see what they’re up to.

Advanced Web Rankings

I’ve just found a terrific keyword research tool which looks like it might save us a good deal of time and hassle moving forwards – www.advancedwebranking.com.

We have been put onto the service by an industry contact and I’m always a little sceptical about using automated services, not least when we currently take a great deal of time and effort to manually measure and monitor on a weekly basis. But then that’s the point really, are we willing to sacrifice a little accuracy in the name of saving a great deal of time that could be usefully employed elsewhere on the same account? And is a client?

The argument is made a little more interesting when you consider that actually the search engine ranking results which are served up are arbitrary anyway – what one of the team sees at one desk can be markedly different from either the same machine at a different point in the day, or a colleague sitting next to them at exactly the same time.

The accepted standard therefore amongst SEM pros seems to be that where measurement is undertaken manually, provided it’s done relatively consistently – ie at around the same time from the same machine, in the same location each week/month, then that provides at least some level of assurance that the findings are based on solid ground.

What all of this means of course is that what we take for accuracy is actually only the best attempt at accuracy given the number of variables – and therefore the argument about whether to move from manual monitoring to automated monitoring of SERPs becomes far easier for me.

For sure, in the short term, we’re not about to simply stop manual monitoring overnight – and to a certain extent it’s currently unknown whether the clients (Punch included) will accept the auto generated reports or whether we will still need a degree of manual intervention to extract the relevant information from the automated version in order to create reports in our preferred formats. Yet given the acceptance of the way that Google analytics reports – I have ours set up to automatically generate and send an overview report once per week – I suspect that this will be absolutely fine.

One interesting and potentially beneficial point about the ranking tool is the fact that the information can be dynamically analysed, which is a distinct improvement on our manually generated versions, with the ability to generate pivot tables etc.

Another key benefit is that additional search engines can be added to the results. Historically we’ve only really regarded Google, on the basis that Google and Bing’s results are relatively closely matched for many searches given the engine’s respective alghorithms. And given Yahoo’s declining market share I think it’s only a question of time before the recent deal with Bing results in Yahoo results becoming an irrelevance to a greater or lesser extent. However, we now have the ability to know, without tripling the workload in the process.

As with the first time any user views photoshop, it’s hard to know where to look first, an initial attempt to login is a little bewildering – but the Advanced Web Ranking wizard is simple enough to plug the relevant information in and set running. Then, as with any relatively sophisticated programme, the key is to fiddle around the with information in a quiet moment, in order to develop an understanding of what the key components are and where to find them. Personally I’ve always found that I use a relatively small portion of any software’s overall functionality – particularly when there is a great deal of complex functionality – so I’m in no doubt that once we have had a little more time together, maneouvering around the interface will become second nature.

One area where I’m not currently 100% clear is the extent to which the results given are IP tracked and/or geographical location specific. Certainly it’d be useful to have greater visibility over this as a definite flaw in the manual reporting process is the fact that, by default, someone reporting manually has to be physically based somewhere, whether in one country or even, like me, moving around a little. Again, this ties in with the above point that consistency is the only way to provide some stable basis for reporting – but I’m hoping that with a little more play time, I’ll be able to run so geo locational searches, which will be a great additional layer of data to analyse and provide.

Finally, I should mention that I’m also playing with the web ranking tool’s sister product: www.advancedlinkmanager.com. We’ve been using a backlinks tool for some weeks, which provides a good level of information on link popularity – however I’m keen to run some comparative tests to see whether either one fares better than the other. With just a few clicks it’s easy to see where your competitors have backlinks and you can therefore target those locations. You can view the information pictorally or in lists and it’s pretty easy to use.

As with all time and labour saving tools, the key is to find the time to be able to give them the attention they deserve initially. The issue of course can be that it’s impossible to know in advance whether that time has been well invested as it’s impossible to make a sensible judgement about whether something represents a better alternative to whatever current process is in place, or not. Whilst it’s very early days in my use of both tools, common sense suggests that given the number of SEO campaigns that we now run, it will be well worth making the time to use these resources in the long term.

Disinformation

I’m taking perverse pleasure in withholding information this week about our forthcoming team day out. Current guesses range from white water rafting to working at a soup kitchen. None are close.

The process of disinformation is particularly satisfying – I’ve casually asked how people feel heights a few times, which has resulted in lots of scurrying and debate.

So, my current story is that we’re going badger hunting with pitchforks – and that’s how it’s staying until five minutes beforehand…

Hit Pause

The last week or so before holiday is always berserk – and this week has been no different. With three new joiners in the last few weeks, a leaver today and a couple of major new projects onboarding right now, the adage that ‘it’s never a good time’ is perhaps more applicable than normal at present.

Still, for all the passion and effort that gets poured in the rest of the year, most people are really good about recognising that we all need to take a week or so at some point, even when timings aren’t ideal.

So, I’m leaving my laptop at home, turning off the wifi and roaming on my phone (although I suspect if I find wifi I may be looking at weather reports, as March is a little early to guarantee good weather on the Med) and bracing myself for the 4am arrival of the cab tomorrow morning.

If I get to wear flip-flops, play with my kids and just catch up on my sleep for a couple of weeks, that’ll be just fine…

Shooting Up

The first two months of the year have shot past – baby Goold is now steaming around everywhere causing trouble, mini Goold is halfway through her second term at school (as a result of which I’ve had to endure the emotionally-charged prospect of her first two school discos) and once again, England are being hopleless in the six nations.

Work-wise, we’re flying. In the last two weeks we’ve hired an unbelievable three times, part of which compensates for a couple of recent departures but also it’s partly new growth, which is genuinely exciting. Indeed despite having hired a new account director and two new members of the digital team, we’re still looking for another account manager or director.

Morover, recent finance and HR additions mean that Punch is now a fundamentally different entity than it was even a few months back – and hopefully much more robust as a result.

Yesterday (Friday) morning, the team and I seized the opportunity to make some physical changes around the office, effectively to make better use of space but also to do a bit of a spring clean and ensure that the new joiners move into their new roles in the most welcoming environment possible. Having done so, I think the physical changes made a real impression on the team – myself very much included -as it’s a tangible result of the changes that we can all see happening within the company but at times may seem a bit remote from each of us as individuals.

I’m shortly taking the girls on holiday – which is much needed – but which I’m sure will be an interesting marker when coming back, to see us as we now stand, rather than what I’m used to.

Still, I can’t forsee any delusions of grandeur just yet.

Besides, baby and mini G got me up at 5am this morning – and as a result I have some very important business to attend to regarding pink horsey Lego and dressing up as a princess.

Over & Out

I’ve been pulling back for the last few days and although there are still a few emails to be answered, Christmas is looming – and for the first time in 6 years I’m taking a full two weeks off with the family.

Personally I want nothing more than time – spent with the girls and perhaps even to read a book or two. Certainly I’ve got the last 3 issues of Wired that remain untouched.

2009 has been remarkable – a year of consolidation in many ways as the second full year of growth. On top of which we’ve expanded internationally with clients as far afield as San Francisco and Dubai in addition to projects in Germany, Romania, Belgium, France and Israel.

2010 is looking like it could be incredible based on a number of superb conversations that have taken place in the last six weeks or so. More to follow but we’re certainly moving in the right direction.

Right, off to play with the girls – now where did I put that sledge…