Have you Defined your Relationships with Google?

Most business relationships involve some level of parasitism, wherein one party derives benefit from the resources of the other. Ideally, there is benefit to both sides, which would be described as symbiosis. Sometimes, however, one side is simply providing support to the other, getting nothing in return. The relationship that we have with Google can sometimes become a classic example of such a parasitic relationship.

Most of us recognise the potential for mutual benefit from our relationship with Google, but some feel that Google gives very little in exchange for what it takes. From a high altitude viewpoint, I think Google offers quite a lot… but not on a silver platter.

Furthermore, I think that site owners, users and marketers that look realistically at their interactions with Google will acknowledge that there are really several different relationships at play. Each of those relationships should be evaluated independently, even though they usually overlap.

Benefits Google Offers to Us


This can be somewhat vague, as it involves many factors. A site’s ranking for a specific search term can vary dramatically, due to relevance, personalisation, location, temporal issues and more. But all else being equal, Google offers the opportunity to have a page displayed in the SERPs. This is a very complex process and Google’s resources enable them to do for us what none of us could accomplish for ourselves on such a scale – open the door to targeted users. Continue reading “Have you Defined your Relationships with Google?”

6 Tips For Avoiding Content Creation Burnout

It’s something every content creator will suffer – but few people seem to talk about: Burnout. Those moments where you’re stuck, staring into a monitor (or maybe at your ceiling), feeling like you just can’t possibly input one more keystroke. Sometimes you just get stuck trying to think of what to write about (or videotape, or record or… well, you get the picture). Other times, you’ve simply drained all your creativity and feel like a bit of a zombie.

How can you avoid finding yourself in this place again? Here are 6 tips to help you avoid frustration.

1. Ideate in Advance

One of the most frustrating parts of the content creation process is trying to come up with great ideas to create content about. I recently wrote a quick little guide to content ideation that might come in handy. The key is to spend a lot of creative energy at the beginning of the process, brainstorming ideas that will last you months down the road. That way, coming up with a topic will be as simple as choosing from a list, instead of staring into a keypad and wishing you were at Disneyland or on a beach somewhere.

2. Repurpose Content Whenever You Can

Wouldn’t it be great if just one idea could last you multiple pieces of content, without getting stagnant or old? That’s the whole idea behind repurposing. I also wrote about this a short while ago; but the key tenets:

  • Work around one big idea that will make sense in a lot of different formats (it can be broad or specific).
  •  Be deliberate, intense and organized with your research, as this will be the core of your pieces
  • Start by creating one big resource (a “cornerstone” that your other content will point to. Usually a guide, eBook or whitepaper).
  • Create smaller pieces across multiple formats (video, blog posts, images, social shares, whitepapers, slide decks, etc.) that capture the core message but in a different way or with a slightly different angle.

If you can turn your one big piece of content into many little ones, you’ll save time, money and creative energy while still producing things worth reading. Continue reading “6 Tips For Avoiding Content Creation Burnout”

Classing It Up Like It Actually IS Your Job

Being a proper Southern lady (which I totally am so just ask anyone who’s never met me in person please, as otherwise this charade won’t go on for much longer) I am always very impressed when someone takes the time to say thank you, but when they take the time to actually do something to indicate their thanks? I’m devoted to them forever.

There’s too little of this in the world today as simple gratitude keeps getting replaced by more and more entitlement. For example, I am a big door holder. I don’t mean that I hold big doors, although I would, but if I have the chance to hold the door for someone even if this person is 50 feet behind me, I’ll do it. The other day I held the door for some total bleached blonde cow with a baby carriage and she pushed past me, smugly staring me down without saying a word. She’s lucky I had my daughter with me or I’d have gone into a hillbilly rage where the Muzak suddenly turned into the music that played on The Dukes Of Hazzard when there was a fight scene. Why couldn’t she just say “thank you” and not make me wish I’d brought my cast iron skillet with me as I shopped? (I usually do.)

thank you Continue reading “Classing It Up Like It Actually IS Your Job”

Yes – Leave WordPress Automatic Updates Switched On, It’s For Your Own Good

secure vaultSo I read with interest Marj Wyatt’s post recently on this very site where she spoke of her dislike of the WordPress Automatic Updates. For those of you who are unaware – WordPress as of 3.7 (which was launched at the end of October) now automatically upgrades WordPress should a release be available. The post highlighted a discussion topic featuring a number of viewpoints on this subject, many of them were against the opt-out format of automatic updates, and Marj herself was against it.

As a WordPress evangelist, and somebody fascinated by it’s ecosystem, I thought it’d be a good idea to post a rebuttal, clear up a few misconceptions, and also try to explain some functionality behind it. I should point out that – besides sharing the odd conference room and beers with the odd core contributor – I am an outsider looking in, so don’t know exactly why things are done that way.

Automatic Upgrades Are Only For Minor Releases

Here is the thing first of all. WordPress’ automatic updates are only activated for minor releases. Minor releases are when you go – for example – from 3.8 to 3.8.1 (which was the latest update). Major releases will be when WordPress goes from – say – 3.8.1 to 3.9. The minor releases – whilst minor – are important, as they often fix security issues and bugs that have arisen. These minor releases should not break any functionality of themes and plugins, as no functionality is ever removed or changed, but rather to fix bugs. Whilst Marj’s post did seem to suggest that minor updates had broken functionality, I cannot recall a time when such an issue arose (in fact, the only issue I could remember from my 8 years in using the software was when functionality changed that broke a lot of lazy coding – and yes, it broke some of my plugins too). The only issue I could see with minor upgrades causing grief would be when core files (everything that isn’t in the WP-Content folder) would be changed. Continue reading “Yes – Leave WordPress Automatic Updates Switched On, It’s For Your Own Good”

Two Thousand and Late – 10 Online Habits That Should Remain in the Digital Past

People have so many annoying online habits, but a lot of the time, it’s things that can be stopped. We’ve all done them in the past, but we’re into 2014. Add these bad boys to your New Year’s resolution list. It’s no longer 2005, no-one is going to think you’re cool.

N.B. This article could coincide with the fact that I’m getting old. I no longer want to spend every Saturday morning waking up with a colossal hangover, and I no longer want my whole life broadcast across social media. So either these things really are well and truly dead, or I’m just past it.

That's annoying!1. Fictional Names

Apart from on Twitter, where a made up name is almost mandatory because someone in China who never tweets has taken yours, there’s no need to make up a name. Don’t add a ‘quirky’ middle name to your Facebook profile. We all know your real middle name is Alan, and that your real surname is Smith, not Smithington-Brown III.

The only time this is acceptable is if you’re under the age of 18 and you don’t know better.

2. Photos from Every Night Out

The novelty of uploading photos on Facebook has seriously worn off. No-one wants to see every single photo that you took of you and your three other friends on a night out. How have you had time to take 203 pictures anyway? Shouldn’t you just concentrate on having a good time? Continue reading “Two Thousand and Late – 10 Online Habits That Should Remain in the Digital Past”

Applying Strategic Business Thinking To Outreach

If you have done even the smallest amount of outreach, you will know that there are a few things that are true:

  1. You will be ignored by a good number of the people that you email
  2. You will receive a lot of rejection

You can write some of the finest crafted emails of your career and the person on the other end won’t even respond. In my experience, this can lead to frustration and then on to despondency. Before you know it, you can find yourself in the loop of producing sub-standard emails that are even more likely to get ignored than the first batch.

You don’t want to find yourself in this position.

Don’t let yourself get bogged down by rejection. Figure out ways to improve your success rate. You need to adjust how you think. When you adjust how you think, you can develop tests, you can try out multiple subject lines, you can bucket prospects and batch your emails.

You also need to ditch those templates that you stole from a blog post that someone wrote on searchwatchmozland.com a year ago – you’re all using these. Stop it. Please.

So what do I suggest you do? Apply some actual business strategy to the process. Get smart about what you are doing. This isn’t going to be a list of things you need to do like:

  1. Find the name
  2. Find an email
  3. Know whether they like to play polo
  4. Know the name of their first born before they even have it
  5. Pretend to be a woman ‘cos someone mentioned it once somewhere in a blog post 3 years ago and people still believe it’s a valid tip…

Continue reading “Applying Strategic Business Thinking To Outreach”

Horrible Ways To Sell Bad Internet Marketing Products

Once upon a time, I wasn’t happy in my work. The reason was because I was tasked with making good on promises that often couldn’t be made good on.

Those experiences taught me a bit about myself, but also a lot about other people.

snake-in-oilLet’s look at how some of those other people appear to be (mis)selling (bad) internet marketing products.


This is the old “Guaranteed Page One within 24 hours” trick.

The setup is that a prospect is not happy their website isn’t ranking or is taking a while to rank, and the slimeball shining knight of a business development manager tells them they can have exactly what they want, as quickly as they’d like it. That’s how life is, right?

Opaque Statistics That Don’t Reveal The Full Story

This one’s a little less clear-cut.

The setup is that “previous success ensures future success”, with a twist.

Previous success can indicate pedigree, experience and a fairly-earned reputation. But if success isn’t success, then there’s a pyramid of lies being almost-cleverly constructed. Continue reading “Horrible Ways To Sell Bad Internet Marketing Products”

We Should Just Change SEO to "S" for Strategy

The acronym SEO equates to Search Engine Optimization, which is a facet of SEM, Search Engine Marketing, but SEO is NOT SEM without PPC.

searchIn the end we are talking about “Search”, and what are we really optimizing, a search engine? Not Really.

We optimize text files, (Robots.txt), XML files, (Sitemap.xml), websites, which contain webpages which contain .html files which can contain body copy, images and videos, all CONTENT, which can be “optimized” for advantageous retrieval in a search query.

So What should you optimize? Where are the customers you want to reach in their research process?

They are on their smartphones, this is Mobile, Tablets are also mobile devices, is “optimizing” content different for Mobile and Tablet?

That depends, are they on their couch, in their car? On foot? What are the LOCAL needs of the user?

How do their purchasing and searching behaviors differ?

SEM = Organic AND Paid. – Should we buy ads on Google AdWords? Should we participate in “display” advertising? Should we attach that paid media campaign with behavioral retargeting?

Search really is Simple (notice another S?) Continue reading “We Should Just Change SEO to "S" for Strategy”

Professionalism for Fun and Profit

Barrie and I were sharing a rant in a hangout a couple of days ago and it seems like a good time to share it with others. I’ve gone off a few times before about some of these, but since many of them still keep popping up with annoying frequency, I think they’ll bear repeating.

Town cryer

1.      Just because you think you have something to say, doesn’t mean you should.

Most of us have opinions on just about any topic. In my experience, the people that are most worth listening to are often those that have the least to say. Not always, obviously, but often.

In the SEO world, there’s a lot more that’s unknown than known. So when you’re talking about things that have no definitive answer, it makes sense to qualify your statements as opinion or conjecture. Stating wild-ass guesses as fact not only misleads others, it points you out as the wild ass you are. Decidedly unprofessional.

2.      Proclaiming yourself to be an expert, ninja or guru only impresses YOU.

Want to impress people? Try making some sense. Try presenting an intelligent analysis or discussion, looking at all sides of an issue. Billing yourself as some sort of “expert” won’t impress anyone but you. And if you’re doing so, then you’re obviously already quite impressed with yourself. Too much so, in all probability.

What impresses people about others is when other respected professionals refer to them as an expert. And that’ll happen after they earn it with deeds, rather than empty, self-serving words. The “Look at me! Look at me!” approach is a quick way of making people look the other way… permanently. Unless being a professional ass is your goal, avoid this rookie mistake.

3.      Don’t beat someone else’s dead horse.

Continue reading “Professionalism for Fun and Profit”

5 Proven Ways to Get Out of Your (SEO) Silo in 2014

The majority of digital professions require us to be experts in our fields – and we often are. We surround ourselves with our peers on Google+, Twitter and read various industry online or offline publications.

We even dress similarly (the dreaded plaid shirts)…

To be truly effective and expand and improve in our great jobs and advance in 2014, I believe we have to step out of the silo and go cross-vertical (apply different services to different niches – single service agencies and single medium campaigns are dead).

Part of our jobs and the new threshold of success will be approaching topics in new ways, being creative and doing things differently.

Here are my proven ways of getting out of the silo, which allowed me to look at day to day things from a different perspective:

  1. Get out there

We spend way too long in front of our screens – both the large static ones and the ones in our hands. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you’re an Android or an iPhone user – you probably, like myself, check Twitter and Facebook way too much. I even have different sounds & different LED colours set up for different notifications…

Thanks to my friends at DontBelieveTheHype and DigitalBinx I was invited to the TuneUpFestivals concert in Brighton – an event aiding the War Child charity – which helps children who are victims of war. Continue reading “5 Proven Ways to Get Out of Your (SEO) Silo in 2014”