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

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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