A Small Change in a Big World… My First Edit on Google Maps

(This may seem a lame and OTT post, but y’know what? It’s my blog and I can write what I want and I don’t care la-la-la I’m not listening to you…)

Google Map pin badgesWorking in SEO and PPC, a lot of what I do revolves around Google. Be that as it may, I’m usually the first to have a moan about them, as anyone who’s ever spent five minutes reading my tweets can most likely attest to. Usually it’s because I just get annoyed that their Help sections aren’t helpful or their UX isn’t up to scratch, and business owners are the ones who end up suffering as a result.

But let’s face it. Where would we be without Google? How handy is Gmail? And when you’re figuring out where to go, how much do you rely on Google Maps?

Doing a lot of ‘Local SEO’ for clients, i.e. the process of optimising a Google My Business listing (formerly/also known as Google Places, Google+ Local and about 50 other things…), I recently had to sort out a fundamental issue with Google Maps causing one of my clients a bit of grief. Google were adamant that their address – let’s say “101 High Street” – was 100 yards down the road and on the other side of the road, so they thought that our map marker/pin location suggestion (the actual location) was inaccurate. The only way to fix it was to delve into Google Map Maker and make the change myself. Once it was done, they started to rank really well not long after.

I’d never really touched Map Maker before that, and to be honest, I didn’t realise that Google took user data into such strong consideration. I made a few Local SEO-related tweaks to help out a client, but nothing ‘proper’, if you get me.

…Until I noticed some woods near my house were missing a footpath…

Map Maker edit screenshot

(Click to enlarge)

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Doing SEO For Your Clients’ Clients

SEOception!
Yep, you read the title right. No, it’s not a typo. In this post I’m going to talk about a novel idea I had for a client of mine that may be applicable to yours: doing SEO for your clients’ clients (indirectly, sort of). That said, I imagine that it may only be applicable to a very small and narrow niche of client types, so apologies in advance if it’s not something that you can utilise – although if it is, this could be worthwhile to you…

With that in mind, I’ll cut to the chase… I do a bit of work for Welsh ICE, a co-working space and startup hub/community based just outside Cardiff. It’s also where I’m based as a freelancer. As part of the work, I’ve been keeping an eye out for HARO* requests (something that I’ve previously written about here) about entrepreneurship in general, co-working spaces, etc. I get the HARO updates daily and noticed that there is a steady stream of requests aimed at entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.

Then the lightbulb went off – what if I were to pass on relevant HARO requests to ICE’s members/residents as well?

* For the record, just in case you don’t click that link above but you don’t know already know much about HARO (Help A Reporter Out), it’s a free service that hooks up writers/journalists looking for comments on articles. So if someone needs a bunch of entrepreneurs to tell them about their experiences for their next article, willing entrepreneurs can express their interest and get involved.

How we went about it

ICE uses the system of another ICE-based startup – Noddlepod – as a sort of intranet and project management system for members. I realised that I could upload HARO requests to Noddlepod, and if an ICE member wanted to contribute to one, they could leave a comment and I’d send it over to the requester on their behalf.

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Renewal Marketing Done Right – Rewarding Repeat Business

Walking away imageWe’ve all been there. Every year, renewing your car/home/whatever insurance, you’re hitting the comparison sites because your current provider’s 2nd+ year quote has leapt up a notch. One year, instead of ‘renewing’ the traditional way, it was cheaper for me to leave my car insurance provider and rejoin the same company immediately(!) than it was to straight-up renew. Absolutely absurd.

Too many companies focus on rewarding new business, not on trying to keep what they have. Bearing in mind that it’s supposedly 6-7 times cheaper to keep a current client/customer happy than to win a new one, you realise just how crazy that is. I always used to laugh whenever I received direct mail from BT… the new customer/crosssell/upsell materials would be nicely printed, colourful and on nice glossy paper, while your bill would be printed on rough paper and look cheap (in the days before they went paperless/online).

So it was a nice treat to be wowed by a genuine exception to the rule recently…

I own am a slave to three cats and we use VetProtect as our pet insurance provider, which also includes check-ups, jabs, flea treatments, etc. at our vets (Heath Vets, who run VP) for free on top. I recently received a letter thanking me for continuing to use VP and I was offered a thank you gift. When I read that the thank you gift was worth £160, my jaw hit the floor. A company rewarding loyalty, and by doing something like that? What the hell, right?

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The Rise & (Supposed) Fall Of Google Authorship – My Port80 Localhost Talk

Burning books imageOn Wednesday evening I spoke at Port80 Summer Localhost 2014 in Newport, alongside three other excellent talks on the subjects of product launches, intellectual property and the power of using emotion in UX.

When @Joel_Hughes (@Port80Events‘ organiser) and I first discussed my talk topic earlier in the year, which was going to be about Google Authorship (a.k.a. rel="author"), it was before Google’s John Mueller announced the changes to Authorship in late June. Rather than to ditch the talk topic entirely and talk about something else SEO-related instead, I decided to stick with it, talking about its past, present and potential future.

Here’s the slide deck on Speaker Deck (an alternative to SlideShare, which seems to upload decks at a much higher quality):

UPDATE: As you can’t click on the links in the above slide deck, here’s a link to the deck as a PDF, where the hyperlinks – such as the list of ‘References & Further Reading’ near the end – will work.

UPDATE #2: Just over a week after my talk, Google kills Authorship altogether. Oh well, so that’s that then…! (Although some speculate that it may live in the form of AuthorRank…)

[Burning books image credit - LearningLark]

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Offline (Face-To-Face) Networking For SEOs: My #maximpact Guest Slot

#maximpact Hangout screenshot
#maximpact Offline Networking logoI’ve been a huge fan of Max Minzer’s #maximpact series of Google+ Hangouts On Air ever since I first discovered and joined in on one back in August last year. Since then, I have become a regular attendee, alongside the likes of the mighty Steve Webb (a.k.a. US Steve), Barrie Moran and Tony Dimmock.

43 episodes and nearly a year later, I was delighted to be asked to be the main speaker on a topic close to my heart: offline, face-to-face networking for SEOs. The Hangout took place this past Thursday (24th July).

During the Hangout we talked about:

  • My networking approach, which is not to sell – just getting to know people, listening to them and answering any questions that they have. “Anti-sales is the best kind of sales.”
  • Going to events on your own. What’s best to do? Try and go where you know someone is going, or bring a friend with you.
  • How networking doesn’t have to be seen as your traditional business networking events. Networking is what you make of it. You can network at social meetups (just so long as you don’t just sell, sell, sell – that’s sleazy). Just give people help and advice.
  • Researching events before you go – e.g. finding out who else is attending.
  • Networking at events where you’re also speaking, especially in terms of keeping calm or not acting too aloof or egotistical!
  • Networking at conferences, of both the SEO and non-SEO variety.
  • Not being one of those networkers who tries to leave a conversation the moment they realise that the person they’re talking to isn’t a potential customer/client – it’s not about selling to the person in front of you, it’s about getting to know them and vice versa. “You have no idea who knows who.”
  • Using social media (especially LinkedIn) for following up and keeping in touch with people after you’ve met them in person.
  • How to handle ‘hecklers’, i.e. people who have a negative impression of SEO when you meet them.

Here’s a link to the event page on Google+, which contains a few comments as well as a video embed, which I’ve also included below:

I also have an interview with Max in the works (similar to some of the interviews I’ve done before), which I hope to publish very soon.

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