Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Latest Testimonial Received

We like testimonials at All Things Web - they show our skill in achieving Google page one results for our customers. If you want your site ranked on Google organically on the first page why not give us a call on 01793 729326.

"SEO is quite a complex area of marketing, perpetuated by the many, truly
understood by the very few. From the lay person's point of view, marketing
geeks can easily bamboozle us with jargon and bullshit. Our SEO
optimisation plan is at a very embryonic stage, but the results thus far
have been significant. For a concise plan you need to consider using
All Things Web, even if you can get cheaper - results are everything!!!!"

S Alcock
Managing Director
Alpha Online Trophies - Supplier of Engraved Brass Plaques, Corporate Trophies & Quality Glass Awards.

Isn't it about time your website got it's act together for ranking on Google?


Monday, April 20, 2009

SEO takes time people

Why oh why do some think that SEO is a short term wonder pill they just have to pop to get instantaneous results?

Yes I can get sites ranked in 3 weeks - I've seen ranking in under 13 minutes once which surprised me (courtesy of Digg) but if you ever choose a web optimisation company I'd recommend you should wait for 6 months before being able to acknowledge if it has been successful (in terms of increasing your website visitor rates to your site).

I rank for some pretty competitive phrases that sets me apart from my competitors (most who seem to think its challenging to get ranked at a local level). Not one of these took less than 9 months to achieve with research and application of that research in measured SEO doses.

Patience is key so if you're looking for a web optimisation company that achieves results try to ignore the ones that make the claims of ranking in the next, so many, hours and work with an SEO that understands the process can take longer.

As this sector hots up its going to get even more cut throat and difficult to rank so making spurious ranking claims is NOT the way forward...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Addicted to Twitter yet?

I'm loving and loathing Twitter all at the same time, I love it as I can keep up with the herd but loathe it as it can be highly infectious and at times distract me from what I do best.

If you want to follow me on Twitter go here:



Saturday, February 28, 2009

Top 20 Free Search Engine tools

For reference:

Top 20 free search engine tools

Good but Paid tools are sometimes better! Use at your own risk.


Volkswagen Cirencester: Making fake marketing offers like this SUCKS

My wife plonked a letter in my lap today that she had received from Leo Lucey, Sales Manager at VW Northfield Cirencester. This is what it said (I've taken appropriate excerpts from the letter):

It starts

"We want your Golf"

Great, this has grabbed our attention as it should do. Next:

"It is not often you receive a letter that brings you good news, but that exactly what this is! We are writing to make you an offer, which you will find very hard to refuse."

I like offers like this and being from VW we were both quite excited about what was about to be offered:

"Over the past two weeks, we have received numerous enquiries for vehicles of the same specification and colour as your own."

Ok our car's in demand, we're not really sure why but its a funny old time right now so we can always find out why later but heh thats positive isn't it?

"... is great news for you as we are now in a position to offer you a very generous amount for your Golf registration number VN07 XXX against any new '09 registration or Approved Used Volkswagen."

Ok the letter's stating a "very generous amount". Perfect, we're onboard and we decide to head to the local showroom - VW Northfield Cirencester around 10 miles away to enquire about their offer. The letter continues:

"However, as demand for selected models can change at any time, we can only offer this enhanced part exchange offer until Saturday 15th March 2009, so the sooner we can discuss how you can benefit, the better for you."

Great, they want us to react quickly so give us a time limit to act upon. Exactly what I would do in any marketing campaign either online or offline. They seem to be honest talking about "discussing" rather than "selling" or "buying" which is all positive.

The letter continues:

"Should you have any outstanding finance, please remember that you are entitled to take up early settlement, saving you a considerable amount of money."

Words like "saving" and "money" always get my attention. :)

The final sentence:

"Hurry though, as I have people who want your vehicle, and it would be unfortunate for you to miss out on this opportunity to maximise the value of your current vehicle."

Brilliant. We're convinced this is a fantastic time to trade our 2 year old Golf GT in for the new version on an '09 plate. Everyone wins, sounds good, lets go head to the dealers.

On arrival we wait 15 minutes before anyone approaches us. I admit I am known by the staff already there for driving a hard bargain so I wander off outside and advise the wife to engage a salesman in conversation.

On my return I find her chatting to one sales employee and we head off to his desk to go through what this great offer is going to be.

The figures are put into the computer and we're told that not only can we get a great deal today its "only" going to cost us a £4000 deposit and the monthly payments are "only" going up by £60 a month.

My visions of VW's great offer disappears and once again I am sat here thinking why is it the general car buying public are treated with such contempt by dealers?

So we mention the fact that the letter states we've been offered "a very generous amount for your Golf" at which point the salesman scoffs and mentions the thousands of letters like that which have gone out to customers.

We're offered exactly the price in the Glasses Guide, as mentioned by the salesman for our Golf, not the "very generous amount" we were told we would be offered in the letter we received from VW Northfield Cirencester.

We were told that this was the best offer on the table and at that my wife and I both refused to take up that offer and left the VW dealership extremely disappointed.

I fully intend to pass the letter to Trading Standards and the Advertising Standards Agency and will do my utmost to bring this to the attention of VW's head office. If this is the way VW customers are tricked into VW Dealerships then VW UK needs to look long and hard at the way VW Northfield Cirencester, part of the Inchcape Group, operates.

If anyone else wishes to complain about other VW dealers behaviour then let me know, I'd be interested to hear what else is going on.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

So you want to diss Twitter now do you?

Its funny, I mention Twitter and everyone in my local business network kinda groans, moans, rolls their eyeballs skwyard or just plain old sighs.

Yes, its been hyped up out of all proportion to the point most non marketing business people are likely bored of hearing about it.

Yes Wossy and Stephen Fry are on it and no I am not interested in what they have to say.

Yes it will be a fad till the next addictive internet junkie fix for the masses comes along


I just used twitter to put a call out for a company to be recommended to me for web hosting.

So what you say? Well let me fill you in.

I have a friend in Nevada. An electrican, a state licensed electrical contractor if you will. I've agreed to help him in his hour of need and build a simple site with optimisation.

So do I know which American web hosting company to use?
Do I specifically know a Nevada based web host?
No but I do now.

I put a call out (a tweet) for a recommendation on Twitter for that type of company (yes it helps as I have Americans in my network). So potentially 130 people will see my "Tweet". Regrettably not the 6000 some Twitteraho's have...

Guess how long it took to come back from 2 different people with 2 different companies, one publicly and one via email privately? Less than 90 seconds.

Think about that for a minute.
90 seconds to get recommendations on 2 companies thousands of miles away.

Is that not powerful stuff? How useful is this to me (hint, lots)

Before "online social media" like this where would I have started? How many people would I have to go out and find to get me that information instead on Twitter they'd already found me.

(ok ok in the old days I could have asked on a forum....)

So when you hear about Twitter, think about it as a way to get recommendations, feedback, comments and likely find referrals for you or your clients businesses.... maybe its just a new way based on an old theme?

Pause on that thought.

Have a good weekend.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Local Search... oh I see what you did there...

Looks like lots are jumping on the bandwagon talking about "Local Search" is going to be the next big thing (seems like conversions are slightly higher according to some, its highly possible).

I'm still going to suggest you also target phrases on a national or even global basis if you can cope with potential demand. Ranking for local search is easy but for some cities you may be barking up the wrong tree (especially if margins are low and demand is fierce) so make sure you cover off national search...


Thoughts on SES London 09

I only managed one day - Thursday - at SES London. It was super to see Lyndon Antcliff, Lisa Ditlefsen and also be introduced to Will Critchlow of Distilled and meet a somewhat jetlagged Dave Synder.

I got to see some of the "experts" in session and have to admit even though the event was worth attending it wasn't what I thought it would be. I kind of thought more advanced SEO/Social Media would be discussed but that appears that was held behind closed doors in private meetings (damn I missed out on those!)

Keeping up to date with my own clients needs for SEO and online marketing leaves with me less time for "schmoozing".

This became evident at SES. I felt at times like a noob which quite frankly pissed me off a little seeing as I have been optimising websites for 7 years and been around the bushes. Just 'cause I don't appeal to big blue chip companies but still rank small/medium sized businesses for competitive keywords doesn't make me any less of a SEO!

I've decided I have 2 ways to take this... I either start blogging more and building a profile making more contacts with prominent SEO's or stick my middle finger up and get on in my own little SEO world.

I'm tempted to do the latter but that seems like quitter behaviour (which as most people know I am not a quitter, more just a stubborn sod). So here's to seeing me blog more, call more people and see if this makes a difference... I'll give it another year, we shall see...


Monday, February 16, 2009

My first Golf Course website to SEO

I took up golf last year and spent the year cursing my way round the local Wiltshire golf courses as I consistently topped the ball around the fairways.

I also found I have a natural affinity to play into water whenever its around on a golf course, as they say if you stare too hard at it you'll play into it.

Anyway its been fun though at times annoying and now I am looking forward to getting out farther afield to play more challenging golf sites. I've found a great website that can help me find out more without having to wade through loads of search engines results pages - that website being www.want2playgolf.com

The other great thing is that they are now a client too so I am expecting great things for them in terms of ranking for their keyword phrases. What I also plan to do is to create a case study in a series of articles taking readers through what was carried out and why.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Forget Local Search, Go National!

I meet a lot of business owners that think of Google as a directory almost in the same sense as the old offline Yellow Pages and forget the whole world is available to them not just the little piece they inhabit and operate in.

Today was one example. I met a lovely fellow who wanted to have his site optimised for local search across multiple towns and cities in the UK. I guess if he had just wanted to be found say some place once i.e. X Y Services Bristol then fine but I educated him that he was missing a far bigger search i.e one at a national level i.e. XY Services UK or even just XY Services.

We did some quick analysis on traffic and I was able to prove a point by showing Google roughly had 20 searches in one particular large UK town for his particular service. For the same XY service nationally there had been 2500+ searches.

Now it could well be that local search converts higher but I said to the client he would be better off having national coverage seeing as he was capable of servicing that demand. It's too easy for good SEO's to optimise for companies looking to be found at a local level on Google. If your SEO is any good he/she will do that AND get you ranked for searches nationally too.

I wondered if his other SEO company had provided him with the figures on local search, they had not and price wise we were both in the same ball park. Thing is they were prepared to charge money for a SEO service they could have provided at a far lower cost.

I'm just pleased I like working in a challenging SEO environment (i.e national) at a competitive rate rather then turning out no better than doorway local pages at extortionate rates!

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Monday, January 26, 2009

7 quotes and 3 enquiries today....

Not only did I make it up to London and meet a potential new client I got back to find 3 more enquiries for SEO on top of the 7 detailed quotes I have to send out. I am predicting 5 out of 7 take up my services which always puts a nice big smile on my face.

Bring it on I say!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why be a wannabe SEO Rockstar?

I've been optimising websites for 8 years now and I've seen many people new to the SEO and internet marketing world immediately wanting to be treated like a world class guru or SEO Rockstar by others who already have an established and fantastic profile for these types of services.

The mistake most wannabe's make is that they jump straight into forums, blogs and other types of social media stating facts that everyone's known and discussed about years ago or stating such way out comments in an attempt to attract any kind attention.

So you want to be an SEO Rockstar then wannabe?

Let me tell you something, you've really got your work cut out and I think you would be better off chasing paid SEO work from clients and making money than attempting to try and stand out in a very saturated (and becoming increasingly so) market.

If you do decide that SEO and web marketing is where you want to carve out a niche, be respected and "famous" amongst your business peers then let me suggest you start at a local level. Build up a relationship with people local to you.

Get some word of mouth advertising about your ability to get websites ranked in Google. Trust me do this right and people will talk about and recommend you.

Ensure your own website shows up organically on Google's first page for competitive targeted keyword phrases of your own, basically put your money where your mouth is when you say you can SEO.

Maybe visit SES or SMX London or turn up for drinks at London SEO parties and quietly and confidently (not arrogantly there's a fine divide) build up contacts there.

Make sure during any of your networking activities you are looking out for the other person's interests you are talking too, help them and trust me karma will come round and give you back some.

Might take a while but it will work.

But please, please don't go online straight into the nearest forum making out your the next best thing in SEO, social media or PPC when no-one has a clue who you are. Trust me do this and you'll quite simply look a) desperate b) clueless c) ignorant d) very likely all 3!

I get results for my clients by positioning them on Google. I spent years building up a loyal customer following in the city I operate in. I regularly participated in forums to do with business and SEO. I slowly got to know people in the web marketing industry. I never tried to make out I am the best in business when liasing with people in this industry who I hold in the highest respect, though that's not say I'm pretty good mind you. ;)

The common theme for a lot of us successful in SEO is that we've put the hours in and we continue to do so. We do our own research to ensure clients achieve high rankings. We formulate our own thoughts and processes for SEO tasks. We build successful businesses knowing they won't very likely take off overnight. Do this and you too can be successful in the SEO world and make a very good living. Want too much fame too soon and unless you are one of the very, very lucky ones you'll end up potentially envious, bitter and twisted of others success.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

5 simple things to lift the conversion rate of your website

Some of you may have seen this type of thing before but for others looking to CONVERT more of the traffic that reaches your website then this is for you!

People arrive at your website and in this day and age a savvy user expects more than just a basic online shop front (whether consumer focused or B2B service orientated). Having a simple brochure website, especially in a recession forcing everyone else to lift their game, may as well say "don't bother with us, we don't respect our online visitors so go look at another website that will be more use to you."

So to help here's a brief list of 5 things you really should add to your website (and other pages where possible) to take that visitor and make them believe in your business and what good you are going to do for them.

They really are real simple and can be implemented at next to no cost.

1) The Power of Calls to Action

You've sold your product or service, listing its features and benefits to enhance someone else's life so now you have to make the visitor to your site do something. What thing do you want them to do? Buy in? Download a white paper? Ask for more details from you?

You'd be surprised how many business websites let/make the user figure out where to go next, this is frustrating to some, even more so if your navigation system is awkward to use or figure out.

Some examples of calls to action:

FREE Download Here
Buy Now
Add to Basket/Cart
Contact us here for more info
Sign up here for even bigger savings
Buy Today - 50% OFF Click Here

These are great but next to useless if your site is heavily laced with text. What you'll need is to create some buttons to stand out from the page - try this free button generator here

Make sure the text leading upto the button really solidifies what it is you are trying to promote, to reinforce to the user they really should be getting ready to do something (that "thing" being in your favour and not lactually eaving the website).

2) The Power of Testimonials

I built my first ever commercial website way back in 2000 and advised the client a few testimonials would be great. He did one better and sent through 3 pages worth.

The more testimonials you can incorporate on a page, the better. I believe users buy in from third party comments, so ensure you place testimonials prominently on your website's pages. The more people see what others think of you the more they are prone to wanting in and taking up your product or service! Its really that simple.

3) The Power of the Return Visitor

You will need analytics software such as Google Analytics (its free to use and simple to deploy in a basic format) to understand how many people return to your website.

Why do you want return visitors?

Because they are easier to convert into new business, they already have visited your website so know what to expect to a degree, trust what they see and are beginning to trust you as a business with some potential integrity.

I solved a business owners website in a matter of minutes last year due to him only wishing to focus on new visitors to the website. Sure they are important but we had set up goals on analytics tracking percentage of spend and the following figures came out:

In one month £10,000 was spent online by visitors to his website.

Roughly 10,000 to 12,000 people visited his website. For ease of calculation lets be conservative and say average 10,000 visitors per month.

8000 visitors were new to the website.
2000 visitors returned to the website.

£8000 was generated by 2000 RETURN visitors to the site whereas only £2000 of sales was generated by new visitors. For months this business owner had targeted new visitors to the website, only wanting people to buy from him "without going elsewhere"... I advised he was wasting energy as his thoughts were not consistent with web usage patterns generally (i.e. comparison shopping).

By ensuring he used better calls to action (with time limits) and making regular use of offers to entice people back to the website, increased that sales figure even further. Yes, new visitors are important to your online venture but make their visit to your website a positive, memorable one. This will increase the likelihood of leading them back at some point in the future, increasing your chances of a sale or enquiry.

4) The Power of Sticky Content

How do you make sure people stick around your website when most people's attention spans are traditionally very low when surfing the web?

A few things you'll need to consider:

  • Is your text too small to read?
  • Is it too closely spaced together making it difficult to read?
  • Is the content suitable for your audience's reading style?
  • Do they want in-depth content or just an overview with the option to delve deeper into the website?
Make your content easy to read, entertaining and on topic. When required use imagery to enhance the page as this tends to slow a readers pace down. Refer back to the Calls to Action section above but do remember to place CTA's strategically in your content, though do not overdo it as this can be tiresome and annoying for a reader.

Other ways are to place offers on your web pages and keep your content updated. If possible announce that your website has new content and if you keep a list of emails to market to then let them know. You want an offer that will really get people talking. These days too many businesses seem to offer such mediocre offers that float no-one's boat so with a little creativity you will be able to stand out from the crowd.

News items are great but unless you are dedicated you soon will have a website looking out of date especially when your last news item is showing as posted over 4 months ago!

5) The Power of Social Media

Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Delicious and more like blogs such as Wordpress and Blogger... you can waste hours or even days on these types of Social Media websites however they need to be reviewed as potentially useful tools for your website to generate interest from the online public.

It's best that you start by building a up a network of like minded folk who can help you promote your pages from a third party basis and you'll need to take care as too much self promotion is frowned upon.

If you can think of a social aspect to your business and apply leverage in the correct manner (i.e useful information pages, blogging, interesting or funny images) this can all help increase overall exposure to your website (and the number of links to it).

In Conclusion

These 5 relatively simple things you can do will all bring dividends, whether direct sales, more phone enquries or even greater brand exposure (i.e. with users spending more time on site). The principle activity your website needs to consider is monetizing every visitor to your website.

Let us know how you get on!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Optimisation doesn't always have to mean traditional SEO

Welcome to 2009!

I've been away for Xmas in the exotic location of Peterborough enjoying the company of my in-laws and putting on the pounds even more usual. But now the festive season is over I'm back and raring to go. I've already had 3 SEO enquiries in my first day back so its not all bad, apart from the New Year diet the wife's put me on! But then again I've 2 stone to lose (28 pounds) and I'm sat here pretty much starving, which will continue until my body gets used to it or I succumb to a pint of beer and a pie.

The upside today is that one of those enquiries asking for SEO lead me to discuss with the owner of the site to consider implementing a professional visual design first BEFORE the SEO takes place. The chap was adamant he would prefer web optimisation but my professionalism lead me to advise him that just because a website is optimised doesn't always have to mean it shows up organically high on Google.

My main concern is that having a properly optimised website that only offers a poor user experience is not going to help convincing a website user that your compamy is the one to do business with.

Yes it is a numbers game but if you are receiving 30 to 50 visitors a day and getting no conversions into sales then what are your chances if you increase to 300 or 500 (or more)? I'd say it will stay at 0%.

Better then to take those 30 visitors and impress them enough visually to convert say 3?

So if you are thinking of SEO I would recommend you consider the Visual and User based aspects of your website design (i.e. optimised web design) before you spend your money on potentially expensive Web Optimisation that leads to little or no conversions.

Its not always about the traditional SEO activity that will make you the pennies you're after.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Why building a website does not mean they will come

I'm pretty speechless. I just got off the phone from the owner of a website who wanted professional SEO Services so ther social website could be found on Google. I asked how they intended to generate an income stream or what kind of business model would they use to generate sales from this type of website and received the reply "We don't know".

I'm not fond of working with people who decide to go down the route of building a website with little thought on how it will bring them $$ (or £££) and how they will differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd.

I'm getting "JAW ache" (Just Another Website ache) when I look at the site, its generic, looks templated and doesn't inspire me.

The industry is full of people who have these types of websites that typically have little invested in them and then go nowhere. The individual then thinks they have been taken for a ride by people in the web industry tarnishing our reputation. Sure the web designer responsible (if there was one) might have wanted to point out that building a generic website and jumping on the social networking bandwagon to hopefully make a few dollars won't likely work without careful forethought, but its not their responsibility ultimately is it?

I'm thinking I will be seeing this a lot in 2009 as people either with redundancy money or those without funds but desperate to take a chance will start coming out of the woodwork for poorly thought out websites that they think having ranked in Google's SERPS will change their lives. For most I fear they will be seriously disappointed. I am so hoping I am going to be proved wrong.

Royal Mail Automated Phone System SUCKS

I had the postie stick a Royal Mail "while you were out" card recently through the door and thought I would phone the local office to arrange redelivery. I wasn't convinced why Royal Mail wanted me to go online and hand over personal details I didn't think they needed (i.e. my email!!)...

So I rang the number they provide on the card and spent over 15 minutes in a continuous loop - each time the automated operator stating (after some longwinded advertorial nonsense) "press 1 for redelivery over the phone".... had to admit it gets frustrating, especially when I am busy, but made worse by a stupid automated phone system that sent me loopy.

Eventually I did what anyone else would do and chose the "Press 2" option to speak about a redelivery thats been booked already which got me through to a somewhat helpful phone operator, who then tried to convince me I should be the one to go into the centre of Swindon a week before Xmas to pick up the mail cause they were so busy. No wonder I get cross.

Why does the Royal Mail hide its poor levels of service behind the "its Xmas, we're busy" facade?
Especially when all we hear is how they are struggling to compete against competitors like TNT and email and demand for their service is dropping to an unprecedented level. Seems like the directors should pull their fingers out from somewhere dark and deep and get their act together, it might just give them that valid reason to be overpaid....

I'm told to expect the packages on Monday but I'm not holding out much hope....


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You're a "Cock", if its "Out of Stock"!

Online shopping should be our saviour from ignorant and greedy crowds, exhorbitant fuel costs, crappy parking and nightmare traffic but I increasingly find it frustrating that many online retailers when they run out of a certain item to sell slap "Out of Stock" in the product description.

To a degree I also blame the search engines, they are after all supposed after all to bring us relevant results. Yet time and again whilst searching for Xmas presents I use search engines to help me find what I am looking for, see the snippet in their SERPS, hit the link and reach the online retailers website page.

I then check out the description, image and price only to find at the bottom of the page the online retailer has entered into that product's details "Out of Stock".

If that's the case then why not suspend the product in your database, delete the page so that you can allow another retailer (who actually bothered to invest in enough stock) to achieve a high listing and make a sale?

I've looked around and it seems the general feeling on the way out of this with a search engine is to list other relevant, related items you feel the user might want to see if the product is out of stock.

I disagree. I don't want to see other products, in "Andy's" immortal words "I want that one"....

Yes, yes it means that the search engine will remove your page or reduce its ranking but why should I bother with your website when your items for sale are listed as "out of stock"?

I emailed one website owner who said that he didn't plan for such demand (even in this credit crunch) and that being a small operation (likely from his garage) he didn't have the space to store everything he wanted. What, you not heard of drop shipping?

Yes its more expensive but at least the customer gets their product with the minimum of fuss. Downside of doing business with a mom and pop operation I suppose. And I always try to go out of my way to support the small retailer so it gets tiring when you consistently reach a website to find the product you want at the price shown is not available. I feel somewhat cheated.

I suggest the search engines deal with this in the following way:

If a spider crawls and spots "Out of Stock" then in some way this is used at the start of the snippet shown in the SERPS or in the Title tag if possible.

That way it might attract less clicks and perhaps reduce in ranking. Once the S/E bot returns and finds the product no longer labelled out of stock then perhaps its ranking can be increased.

Only downside of this is where a retailer then decides not to label products out of stock for fear of losing ranking....

But something's got to give... so if you're running an ecommerce website please don't have half your products as "Out of Stock", it looks unprofessional and wastes so many peoples time, including mine!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

All SEO's need a little creative. breathing space

Its that time of year again. Nope not Xmas, that's still to come (bah it just gets in the way of work!), nope, my wedding anniversary weekend, which the wife and I always head away for.

This year we were a little late - it should be back in mid November but what with the number of projects on in both of our careers we held off. Which was good as it meant we found a hotel we wanted to stay at rather than have to take the first one we found for fear of losing to someone else wanting to make a booking.

So we headed off for deepest, darkest Pembrokeshire in West Wales... as per usual I left the house with a million ideas/SEO things to do in my head and worrying about not enough time to do them all in... and this carried on all the way into Wales which left me quite tense and snappy. The wife being my only passenger bore the brunt - sorry honey!

But as we arrived at the hotel something strange happened.

I relaxed, my heart rate slowed down and all my worries were reduced, a great feeling don't you think?

Now we all like to find those great, little, romantic hideaways that we tell our friends about but never really share... and I could do this to you but that would be unfair to all you other SEO'ers maybe wanting some quality time with your partner or someone special.

So if you really want to find a luxury country hotel in Wales with gorgeous surroundings and attentive (and very hard working) owners Neil and Zoe then I recommend to you The Grove Hotel, near Narberth.

The welcome we received was positively warm, the John Pollard Seddon room we stayed in was of the highest class and the view from our bedroom window was most peaceful and serene - especially on a frosty Sunday morning, one which I regret not taking photos of for this blog. My wife also enjoyed the fresh flowers in our room and all around the hotel in fact, for me it had to be the log fires. Its the little things that always make the difference, including experiencing Calvados for the first time ;) (thanks Neil!)

We'll definitely be going back in the near future. I think we've found a hotel we'll revisit often to help soak the stresses & pains of SEO and life in general away. I thoroughly recommend it.

Enjoy the photos of Pembrokeshire below!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Hidden Text, Its Still Out There

I started work on a potential client this morning and looking over the vast number of pages I discovered that their previous so-called SEO outfit (who had promised to get them listed on Google) had used the mystical art of hiding text on the page.... I have to admit I was highly surprised, I really cannot believe people were still using this technique to place keyword phrases.

Heres a screenshot (client details removed to avoid embarrassment):

I'm astonished that some people still think that adjusting text to a similar shade (so its not obvious) on a web page is good SEO. I thought this type of SEO Spamming went out of fashion in 2001!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Improving Acceptance Rates on Emailed Link Requests

Everyone's at it and so am I.

Link building, for themselves or for clients.

But how many emails do you receive that you ignore because its an automated email link request or the request for a link is far more in their favour than it is in yours?

If thats the case then ask yourself how many of your email link requests are ignored because of the following:

  • Your Link request email is not personalised... you've emailed "to who it concerns", "webmaster" or worse not bothered at all
  • You did not even spend 60 seconds perusing the website you wish to have a link from so you have no clue to its quality
  • Your email did not provide your full contact address details
  • You did not specify the page you wish to have a link from (i.e. they have a links page then ask for it there, if not then why not suggest somewhere they can place your link for their website visitors benefit)
I have, over the years, figured out how to write an email requesting a link that right now is generating a 50% acceptance. It is written to demonstrate to the person I am contacting that I have viewed their website in detail, I honestly believe they offer an online resource that will be of use as a link on my (client's) website and that if they would like to link back to my site then for them to feel free to do so.

I do not assume they will link back because I "subtly threaten" to remove their link if they do not respond to my request. I detest this reciprocal link blackmail.

I am polite, courteous and respectful, I totally believe there is a person (aka the business owner) with emotions and feelings at the end of that website. Treat them in a decent, HUMANE way and they will respond and engage in a more positive manner.

Not all website owners will respond to my email, let alone link but this is just one example of an email I received this morning which shows that my request for a link via email can work:

Dear Darren,
This email makes a change from simply ditching link requests into my spam file! Thank you for the link which is appropriate and interesting. I will add your clients website to my links page.
Thank you for your courteous and practical approach.
If you are an SEO carrying out linkbuilding then remember the person you contact may well be impressed enough to actually ask you to work on their behalf for their SEO.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

20 Most Hated Cliches

Here's a link to a list of the 20 most hated and reviled cliches.

Hated Cliches

I must hear these cliches EVERY week in business and network meetings. Honestly you'd think that the fact of the matter (to be fair), we'd all be going forward with something else in the pipeline...

Its just so easy to fall into the trap of using cliches... we all need to try to be a little more original with our verbal language.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

This Recession WILL hurt SEO Companies

I've avoided using the R word these past few weeks as everyone I seem to talk to is extremely busy - could be the tidal surge before the financial storm, hard for me to answer right now on a personal level as I'm no money expert to be honest. But it is still slightly concerning.

I think, though, that we small SEO's with good and long enough experience, are in demand right now because company owners have to do something. This will continue for at least up till Xmas to help maintain business levels for clients who now realise that they HAVE to do something to keep their companies cashflow flowing.

For this reason I am being extremely careful with who I choose to work with and ensuring all deposits are paid BEFORE I start any SEO project. It's not an easy decision to come to and some business people have got a little frustrated that I am not budging (much) when in negotiation. As a businessman myself I have to ensure my time is covered and that I am not left out of pocket by some other business that is willing to take one last gamble before they go broke.

I have recently had one project go on hold due to the client having to chase a bad debt. Until that debt is paid the client is not able to invest in their SEO. I think this is going to b a recurring event in the next few months and one which is going to be a frustrating experience that's going to be a test of patience (for both mine and clients).

Redundancies are now showing in the web industry too, Yahoo, Yell and Ebay are all reporting that staff will be cut.

Yahoo Staff Cuts

Ebay to cut jobs

Yell cutting jobs

As well as those companies listed above I also fully expect to see some of the larger SEO companies letting staff go in the next few months. This will probably cause an influx of small SEO businesses to be set up, creating more competition for the likes of one man SEO bands like myself. Bummer? Maybe.

But on the upside I think that some people on being made redundant will utilise their redundancy payouts and invest in setting up their own alternative businesses. This could result in the need for more experienced SEO people to get involved at an affordable rate.

Which is where the likes of small SEO's can thrive as we can charge out at a lot less than the SEO giants, yet still achieve site rankings for businesses who want to take on the big guys in their own fields.

Hard one to call and we will have to see how it plays out. Hopefully working in this industry will still remain fun AND a challenge, rather than just a frustrating scary challenge (a place I was in when I started out all those years ago).

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Guiding the Blind to a Good Landing

This is just such an amazing piece of news:

Blinded Pilot Guided to Land by the Royal Air Force

Some of you may know I do go soaring in gliders so to read about this event is just amazing and shows the skills of the RAF team involved in bringing down the pilot who had gone blind WHILST FLYING HIS CESSNA AT 15 THOUSAND FEET.

I'm just sat here thinking I'd have been so terrified and then so mightily relieved to have had the RAF help me down to a safe landing. Good one guys.

Still its sad to see the old fella had a stroke and is seriously unwell, lets just hope he makes a significant recovery soon.