Have We Reached Awards Event Overkill?

Disclaimer: This post isn’t intended as a dig at any awards event organiser, whether mentioned in this post or not. On the contrary, I’m a fan of awards events and have submitted (and will continue to submit) campaigns to them, now and in the future, on behalf of myself and my clients. This post is simply an observation on the current status of the awards industry as a whole.

Trophies imageRecently I’ve been submitting one of the campaigns that I created for a client to various SEO/marketing awards events – the first time I have ever done so. While we sadly didn’t get through to the finals of Canmol 2015 (the Wales Marketing Awards), we were shortlisted in two categories in the UK Search Awards 2015, which took place in London last week. I also have my sights set on a few awards events taking place in 2016 – we’ve submitted the campaign to one of them (shortlist TBC) and there are at least two or maybe three others that I’m considering in the New Year.

One thing I’ve noticed though? I thought that there would be only one or two awards applicable to me. With this campaign alone, I have found at least half a dozen. And it seems that – in South Wales at least – a few more have sprung up really recently, only in the last year or so.

It has me a little concerned… Are we reaching a point of ‘peak’ awards do? Are there too many of them out there, which are in turn devaluing the status that a person obtains when he/she wins an award and becomes “award-winning?” Honestly, I don’t know – I don’t have the answer, but I thought that I’d air my views and potentially start a discussion on the topic…

The “new car” phenomenon in play?

I’ll happily admit that the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon could be in play here. You know when you buy a new car, and then you notice other people driving the same make/model more often than you did previously – maybe even in the same colour? As mentioned above, this was my first time submitting something to awards shows, so it makes sense that I’m simply more aware of them now. Let’s also not ignore the fact that many of my fellow Welsh ICE members have been up for awards recently, with multiple members shortlisted in the Caerphilly Business Awards 2015. Many of them were tweeting about it, so it could be the case that I’m seeing more tweets about awards, leading me to believe that there are more awards out there than there actually are…

Then again… New awards in just the last few months include the Entrepreneur Wales Awards, the Cardiff Business Awards, The Regional Awards (which includes Cardiff), the Cardiff Music Awards, and various offerings from The Drum, including The Drum Content Marketing Awards (in fact you can see the full list of The Drum’s different awards events here). And while I deliberated about writing this post over the weekend, I was casually browsing Twitter and noticed that the Business Growth Awards South Wales had just been announced. That’s a lot of new awards events all of a sudden – especially those originatining from and/or having a focus on the Cardiff/South Wales region.

Click to read more!

The Importance of ICE 50 – A Member’s Perspective

Disclaimer: In addition to being a Welsh ICE member, they’re also a client of mine – albeit they came on-board after I joined them. So I was a member – who benefitted from the funding – first and foremost.

ICE 50 logoEarlier this week, Welsh ICE (my co-working space) announced ICE 50, which you can apply to here. In short, they’re giving away 50(!) fully funded spaces in order for entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers, etc. to be able to grow their businesses in their business centre in Caerphilly (just outside Cardiff), South Wales. Membership is usually £250 (+ VAT) per month, and these bursaries are for the first year of membership, so you’d effectively be getting c. £3,000’s worth of business support, desk space, etc. for free.

It’s a fantastic opportunity. I should know – I was fortunate enough to be on a similar funding scheme when I started my SEO consulting business 2+ years ago. I thought that talking about it was worthy of a blog post, as there’s a few things people don’t realise about places like ICE, plus I wanted to give my perspective on it in the process.

Why this funding is a big deal

One of the biggest problems with starting a business is all of the upfront costs. When I started mine, I invested in a website, branding, contracts, software and much more, while still building up a clientbase and therefore not exactly earning a large amount of income in those early days in order to counteract it. Getting office space is important – whether it’s for professional perception, or striking a better work-life balance by getting out of the house, or both – but it is yet another expense, which is why you find so many business owners inevitably working from home, in order to keep costs down.

The beauty of the ICE 50 funding is that by the 12-month mark, most businesses are in a much stronger position financially, and therefore able to keep up with the costs from that point forward. So it’s great that so many businesses can receive the benefits of operating from such a space but in a low-risk (perhaps even no-risk) way.

Why it’s more than just a desk

Co-Lab at ICE image
The misconception of setting up shop in a co-working space is that… well… it’s just a co-working space. It’s just a desk, WiFi and coffee, right? No, it’s not. It’s more than that:

  • It’s a networking opportunity – fellow co-workers might refer clients to you, or even become clients themselves,
  • It’s also a collaboration opportunity – you’ll never know who you’ll meet and work with on projects (e.g. I hired an ICE-based comic book company to provide illustrations for a guest blog post, which you can read about here),
  • ICE in particular offers mentorship, by partnering its members with mentors who can help them in areas where they’re struggling (e.g. I met with an experienced sales consultant who passed on some cracking advice),
  • Funding is also available (location-depending) – as Caerphilly is considered a deprived and struggling area economically, various funding options are available that mightn’t be available otherwise.

Click to read more!

Penguin Sweepstakes! When Will Google Penguin v4 Land?

A harmless tweet from my friend and fellow SEO Andrew Isidoro gave me a great idea…

What if we did a sweepstake for when Penguin is going to land, and the winner can get prizes/freebies from various SEO people?

Google have announced that the very much long-awaited Google Penguin v4.0 algorithm update “will still happen in 2015,” meaning that (unless it’s delayed into 2016) sometime in the next two months, Penguin shall wreck its usual havoc on the SERPs.

The rules

Bling penguin imageWant to play? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Tweet me your preferred date. Please do not email it to me or leave a comment below – for the sake of fairness and making sure that people can (publicly) see who entered when (just in case there’s any disputes), I’ll only accept one means of entry: via Twitter.
  2. If a date is already taken, you cannot claim it. In other words: only one person per date. This also means that only c. 60 people can enter – as soon as all applicable dates are taken (from now until 31st December) then that’s it I’m afraid…! Please check the calendar below to see what’s taken and what’s still available.
  3. I’ll update the calendar with your entry, then we’ll wait and see when Penguin strikes.

For full terms & conditions, please see the bottom of this post. Yes… I have gone to the effort of providing full-on T&Cs, because knowing my luck, someone will kick up a fuss if things go wrong, so I’m just doing it to cover my behind. Overkill much? Yes. But better to be safe than sorry.

The prizes

Prizes confirmed so far:

  • A free one-year licence (worth £99) for Screaming Frog (thanks Dan!)
  • A free three-month Pro plan for Moz, plus a prize pack that will include the Roger figurine and a few other things (worth c. £200+ – thanks guys!)
  • A free one-year Pro licence (worth c. £200) for URL Profiler (thanks Patrick!)
  • A free one-year Multi Business package (worth £2-300) for BrightLocal (thanks guys!)
  • Two free Whitespark accounts (worth c. £500 combined!): an SEO Specialist account for the Local Citation Finder & an SEO account for the Local Rank Tracker (thanks Darren!)
  • A free six-month Pro plan (worth £2-300) for SEMrush (thanks Olga & co.!)*
  • A free one-year licence (worth c. £230) for AccuRanker (thanks Krystian!)
  • An Übersuggest t-shirt (Large) kindly donated by Chris Dyson of Triple SEO (thanks Chris!)
  • A couple of BrightonSEO t-shirts (thanks Kelvin!)
  • [More prizes announced soon hopefully!]

* Unfortunately the SEMrush prize isn’t applicable to existing customers due to the complications that would arise around their payment system. If a current user wins the prize, they’re happy to offer alternative prizes instead, such as custom reports, additional keyword allowances, an upgrade… that type of thing.

All amounts above that are usually in dollars (e.g. Moz) are rough, based on the current exchange rate.

The calendar

There’s probably better ways to visualise it (answers on a postcard in the comments please!), but I’ve used this plugin (IBS Calendar) to do so. Behold:

 Event List


Click to read more!

5 SEO Tips for Online Sellers – an Online Seller UK Podcast

Online Seller UK logoI recently appeared on a podcast for Online Seller UK – run by my friend Prabhat Shah – where I gave 5 SEO tips for online sellers / Ecommerce websites. I’ve previously spoken at an Online Seller Wales event (where I gave a list of link building tactics suitable for Ecommerce websites), so it was a pleasure to be asked to do a podcast as well.

You can listen to the podcast here, or below:

Here are the 5 tips (in quick bullet-point form):

  1. Get your own website (instead of only relying on a profile on eBay or Amazon),
  2. Look into implementing structured data – such as Schema.org – so that review/rating stars appear next to your listing in Google’s search results,
  3. Watch out for duplicate content issues (which can be notoriously bad for Ecommerce sites in particular),
  4. Try and write unique content and descriptions for all of your products,
  5. Get links from the websites of the brands that you sell, as many of them have Our Stockists or Where To Buy sections – I wrote about this in more detail for a recent State of Digital post.

MOM Shortlisted for 2 Awards in the UK Search Awards 2015

UK Search Awards 2015 shortlist bannerI’m delighted to announce that I’ve been shortlisted for two awards in the UK Search Awards 2015. The two categories are Best Low Budget Campaign and Best Use of Content Marketing, both of which were for my work with Computer Recruiter on their CR 25 campaign, which I’ve spoken about at BrightonSEO and for SEMrush.

CR 25 was a lot of hard work, so it’s great to get a bit of recognition for it. I’m chuffed simply to be shortlisted, but to win as well would be absolutely amazing. I guess we’ll have to see how it goes in 6 weeks’ time…!

EDIT: Thanks also to Welsh ICE for writing about it on their blog, too!