Looking Back on Your Achievements

Celebratory whiskey image
We all sometimes get that feeling at the end of the working day where you just sit there are you think to yourself: “enh, it feels like I didn’t get anything done today…”

One of my favourite ever blog posts (which annoyingly I can’t find for the life of me now) offered a great tip on this: actually write down what you did that day. That way, despite feeling like you might’ve accomplished nothing of note, you’ll actually see for yourself what you did and therefore realise that you managed to get a fair bit done.

When you’re engrossed in the day-to-day, it can also be easy to forget what’s happened in the bigger picture – such as during a year-long period. As we enter December, take the time to write down your achievements over the past year. Here’s mine from 2016:

  • MOM‘s income increased for the third year running – an increase of around 60% on the previous year
  • I started work with a company that I’d considered a potential dream client for years (Target Group)
  • I continued to get good results for clients… In one instance I helped to increase a client’s organic traffic by 300x in one year (from c. 30 visits per month to over 10,000 visits per month)
  • I spoke at the mighty brightonSEO for the second time (link to talk info, etc.)
  • I was a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for the second time
  • I’ve continued to write for State of Digital, and continue to receive great feedback from my editor
  • I launched Cardiff SEO Meet – we’ve had three meetups so far with turnouts of around 30-40 each time
  • I did a lightning talk for charity and raised over £300 for Climb (Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases)
  • I was invited to give a talk on SEO at the Big Ideas Wales Business Bootcamp (an event which made national news), which was a huge honour
  • SEOno – this very blog – turned 5-years-old, a heck of a milestone in my eyes

And the best bit? We still have a month to go.

Don’t get me wrong – there have been problems, hassles, frustrations and probably an epic fail or two this year, too. But why fixate on that? Learn from it and move on.

How have you done this year?

[Image credit – Heather Anne Campbell]

Fundraising for Climb: My Upcoming Lightning Talk for Charity

JustGiving screenshot
On Thursday 17th November I will be doing a ‘lightning talk’ at Cardiff SEO Meet.

Why? Adrian Harvie – one of my clients (The Abbey Cleaning Service) – has been raising money for Climb via the Children’s Hospital Challenge, when he and a group of other cyclists rode around the UK delivering toys to children’s hospitals last year. During a recent catch-up meeting, I suddenly had an idea: I could raise money via a speaking gig. Yep… There’s a first for everything.

So how does it work? Well, the more money people donate, the harder/funnier/sillier my talk becomes: it becomes shorter, plus other ‘challenges’ get thrown into the mix. It’s already challenging enough, given that it’s a lightning talk (i.e. 20 slides that each auto-rotate every 15 seconds – see Ignite), but why not make it harder eh?

As I type this, I have already hit my target and have raised £200+. But I’d like to raise more…

  • If we hit £250, I’ll include 5 phrases in the talk from this SEO bingo card (ignoring the Brighton/conference-related ones)
  • If we hit £300, instead of 5 phrases chosen by me (see above), 5 SEOs will choose the 5 phrases, and I’ll have to say those instead
  • If we hit £350, I’ll wear my Halloween costume (Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy) during the talk
  • If we hit £400+… Well, I guess we’ll have to see (and I’ll have to come up with more ideas!)

Because we’ve hit £200, my 5-minute talk is now 3 minutes (i.e. 9 seconds per slide instead of 15), and… I have to wear a Christmas hat during the whole thing. Hey, we’re in November now – it’s ok to talk about (finally). To be honest, I think it’d be funny to try and shoehorn in some random SEO buzzwords, so if we hit £250-300 then I’ll be absolutely delighted.

If you want to contribute then please donate here. Even if it’s just a couple of quid, I – along with Adrian and Climb – would really, really appreciate it.

If you’d like to come to event itself, here’s the link to all the details – we also have two other talks lined up as well as a live site review. Tickets (which are free) become available from 10am this Thursday. If you can’t make it, do not fret: I’ll be live-streaming the talk (via Periscope), so the magic will be viewable from afar and then retained forever… You lucky people you.

Hope to see you there. And once again – please donate!

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UPDATE: You can watch the video here (I start introducing it around 3:40 in and the talk starts properly around 7:40 in) and see the slides here. I’m pleased to say that I raised over £300!

Applying the Pixar Pitch to Modern SEO

Toy Story Jessie cosplayer image
I recently listened to Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell is Human (having previously listened to the also excellent Start With Why), which is a great book if you don’t particularly like sales but have to do it (e.g. you’re a freelancer/consultant).

One part of the book introduces the concept of the Pixar Pitch, which was thought up by former Pixar employee Emma Coates. It is so simple it’s beautiful. It goes like this:

  1. Once upon a time there was ___.
  2. Every day, ___.
  3. One day ___.
  4. Because of that, ___.
  5. Because of that, ___.
  6. Until finally ___.

The idea is that every Pixar story is told in this way, in six simple steps – and that’s why their storytelling is so effective. In the book (and this blog post), Finding Nemo is used as an example:

  1. Once upon a time there was… a widowed fish, named Marlin, who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo.
  2. Every day, … Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away.
  3. One day… in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into the open water.
  4. Because of that… he is captured by a diver and ends up in the fish tank of a dentist in Sydney.
  5. Because of that… Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, enlisting the help of other sea creatures along the way.
  6. Until finally… Marlin and Nemo find each other, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.

Oh, spoiler alert…? Sorry! Moving on…

I wondered if this formula could be applied to what I’d call ‘modern SEO’ – i.e. a collaborative approach (something that I preach at MOM, especially on the link building side of things) in the current post-Penguin, content-focused, let’s-break-down-the-silos digital marketing climate…

Click to read more!

Getting Detailed Keyword Planner Data via My Client Centre (MCC)

Keyword Planner (Prismafied) imageThis is probably really obvious, but it fooled me, so I thought it was worth blogging about.

TL;DR – To get detailed data using the AdWords Keyword Planner when managing multiple accounts via MCC (My Client Centre), make sure that you click on the ‘Jump to account’ drop-down at the top of the screen, select a ‘big spender’ client, and then do your keyword research as normal. The priviso is that you have to have at least one client in your MCC that’s a ‘big spender,’ otherwise you may not get the detailed data. If you leave it as the default – probably your own/agency account – you may not get the data, especially if you don’t use AdWords yourself, which is what fooled me originally.

Google’s changes

Back in June, Google started combining data for very closely-related keywords in its Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. For example, the keywords "personal injury claim" and "personal injuries claims" suddenly had exactly the same search volume and suggested AdWords bid data, despite the latter being grammatically unfriendly and therefore less searched-on:

It was either a mighty big coincidence (unlikely), or their data was being lumped together (likely).

At first there was talk that it was a bug (even DMs that I had back-and-forth with the @adwords team showed that they didn’t really have a clue internally what the heck was going on), but eventually – weeks later – it was revealed that it was a permanent change. They also started to show data in ranges: e.g. “100 – 1K” instead of, say, “390”.

Ugh.

Initial confusion

It was also revealed that you had to be an active user – i.e. spending moolah on actual AdWords clicks – in order to get the detailed data, and also potentially have an account that’s been running for at least a couple of months. However, as it stands, no one’s currently sure how much you have to spend in order to see detailed data vs. the generalised ranges.

My question was this: what about people who have access to other AdWords accounts via My Client Centre (MCC)? How does that factor into it?

Well, from a recent post about it on the SEM Post:

“So needing to have active campaigns running for at least 3-4 months, with an unknown spend requirement, will mean many SEOs will have a hard time getting the detailed data unless they are able to MCC an active AdWords account that is seeing the data.”

This confused me, as I had a MCC account with at least 3 or 4 active AdWords campaigns in it (i.e. client campaigns), but whenever I tried to use the Keyword Planner, I was still getting the rough data ranges instead of the detailed data.

…And then I realised what I was doing wrong.

How to get detailed data

Whenever you access the Google AdWords Keyword Planner normally, e.g. if you visit it via Google Search or have the direct link to it bookmarked, you are taken to your AdWords account. In my case, it was Morgan Online Marketing’s AdWords account:

Keyword planner data ranges screenshot
Now I only have an AdWords account for My Client Centre purposes, so that I can manage other clients’ AdWords accounts. I don’t run AdWords ads on the MOM site itself.

And that’s why I wasn’t getting the data: MOM isn’t an active advertiser.

Click to read more!

SEO & Civil Law – My brightonSEO Talk

brightonSEO Sep 2016 imageOn Friday I spoke at brightonSEO for the second time. I spoke there 18 months ago back when it was in the Brighton Dome, but this time it was in a brand new venue, right on the seafront: the Brighton Centre.

My talk was basically a Civil Law 101 introduction for freelance and agency SEOs. I’ve worked with dozens of clients since going self-employed as a solo freelancer 3+ years ago, and while the vast, vast majority have been happy, healthy and positive, I unfortunately had one client who refused to pay me, so I had to go through the small claims court procedure. I initially wrote about my experiences for a State of Digital post, but after a chat with Kelvin (brightonSEO’s organiser), we decided that it’d make a good talk as well. It’s a bit of a dodgy, nerve-racking topic (after all, I don’t really want to go around advertising that this ever even happened, as it doesn’t look great!), but also I think that it’s an important topic for self-employed SEOs to learn about and be aware of. The feedback I received afterwards seemed very positive, so that’s good.

Here are the slides:


I believe that there may be a podcast (audio recording) of it as well – I’ll update the post once I have access to it.

[Image credit – Briony Gunson via Twitter (and then run through Prisma)]