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):

[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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The Business Of Web Design Conference 2014 – An SEO’s Perspective

Yesterday I attended The Business Of Web Design 2014 (#tboWD), which was held on my doorstep in Cardiff. Although I am not a web designer, I could see from the conference’s talk topics that a lot of it would relate heavily to SEO freelancing – and I was right.

The question “how much does a website cost?” is so similar to the question “how much does SEO cost?”, when you’ve not even been told the prospect’s industry, their goals (e.g. whether they want to rank for a really tough keyword or a few less competitive keywords) or even the URL of the site. Determining how to price yourself as a consultant – whether it be on a basis of time or the potential value/ROI offered to the client – is applicable across both industries. And getting a client to say “yes” to things can be just as tricky in SEO as it is in web design.

In addition to eight fantastic talks, there was a panel Q&A at the end, and to my terror (but also delight), the wonderful world of SEO was debated. I spent the first few minutes of my recent unified.diff talk tackling the subject of SEO’s terrible reputation – especially in the eyes of the web design/development community – and have previously blogged about how one of the best compliments I’d ever received was from a highly-respected local developer. Fortunately, while there were some stirrings of the typical “SEO is evil” type talk that we’re so used to seeing, I was really surprised and pleased to discover that the debate was handled really well. I’ll go into more detail below.

(Note: for those where it says “[Slides TBA]” for now, I’ll update the post with the slide deck embeds as-and-when they all become available.)

1) How much does a website cost? – Sean Johnson

[Slides TBA]

Sean Johnson photoSean (@seanuk) kicked things off with the question from prospects that often causes the most chagrin: “how much does a website cost?” Why? Because the answer is always: “it depends!”

What’s your industry? What are your goals with the website? Do you need eCommerce functionality? Does it need a blog? This applies to SEO so, so much: What’s your industry? What are your goals? Is the site brand new? Is the site even live yet? Has SEO work been carried out before, and if so, were spammy tactics involved? How can a web designer or SEO quote effectively without knowing that type of info first? The answer is: not very effectively. Not very.

Click to read more!

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3 Things I Learnt Muting 50 World Cup Twitter Hashtags

Deflated football imagePeople who know me well know one thing about me: I’m not a fan of football. So much so that one time, when I guy I didn’t know for very long asked me over Facebook if I’d be keen to join him in a game of 5-a-side, an old school friend of mine joined in in the comments in what can only be described as “hysterical laughing”…

With World Cup fever taking over these past couple of months, I got in the habit of muting WC-related hashtags on Twitter. I did the maths following on from the final and found out that I’d muted 50(!) of them altogether (you can see the full list below). Looking back, I learnt 3 things…

1) Football fans love their consistency

It irks me when you go to an event and people on Twitter use 2 or 3 different hashtags for the same thing – e.g. #EventName, #EventName2014, #ENAbbreviated, etc. etc. It sucks because it’d be good to have all the event-related tweets all in one place, assigned to one hashtag. Well, with football, that ain’t gonna happen…

The Germany vs Brazil game saw #BRA, #BRAGER, #BRAvGER, #BRAvsGER, #BrazilvsGermany and #GERBRA all in use as once. Football fans: WTF? Seriously, you guys needs to decide on a consistent hashtag and go nuts on that one.

2) Muting some hashtags is a tricky business (if they overlap with other topics)

The mighty #CRO… Conversion Rate Optimisation or Croatia? Suffice to say I left that one unmuted (or thinking about it, I could’ve just muted it for a period of time – e.g. one month, instead of forever – but never mind)…

3) No matter how much you mute…

…You’ll never be able to stop some tweets – especially those where people don’t use a hashtag.

Click to read more!

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HARO Hurrah – A HARO Case Study, Guide & Tips

Reporter with "polar bear" image
A few months ago, I finally signed up to HARO (Help A Reporter Out), after hearing good things about it (e.g. it’s listed in Jon Cooper’s mighty Link Building Tactics post) and getting a glimpse into how it worked during my last agency role (the marketing manager was signed up to it and used to pass SEO-themed requests onto me).

HARO logoFor those of you who aren’t already aware of HARO, it works like this: basically reporters sign up to it and submit request for comments and opinions from experts (more info here). For example, someone from an employment blog may be writing an article on the most embarrassing faux pas recruiters have ever seen on a CV, and they’d like half a dozen recruiters to chip in with their comments. Those who are successful get their comment published in the article, getting a mention and (sometimes) a link, resulting in brand exposure, potential social media exposure (if it’s tweeted, etc.) and – of course – a boost in SEO. So if you’re a freelancer or an agency, you can administer the process between the reporters and your clients (a bit like guest blogging – just replace “guest bloggers” with “reporters”)!

HARO may have gotten a bit of bad press (oh the irony!) in the SEO industry a little while back (although it was pretty much dismissed immediately),* but just like with anything, if you abuse it, you may get in trouble with Google (akin to the whole guest blogging debacle), but if you do things properly and legitimately, you’ll be fine.

* EDIT: The author of the “bad press” link above – Bill Hartzer – has left a comment at the bottom of this post elaborating on what happened…

Oh and obvious disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with HARO. In fact, I nearly gave up on it (until I finally started to see results for clients). So there we go.

Don’t be put off by the emails…

When you first sign up to HARO, it can be a little overwhelming and even make you think that it’s a little… spammy (even though you yourself signed up to it). You get three emails a day (morning, afternoon and evening in US time) and sometimes they can be looong…

My advice is to login and change your preferences so that instead of being sent the ‘Master HARO’ list (i.e. everything), you tailor it to only receive the stuff that you’d like to receive.

HARO Preferences screenshot
I only get ‘Business & Finance,’ ‘General’, ‘High Tech’ and ‘UK’ – I currently don’t have any clients in the travel industry, so it doesn’t make sense to receive any ‘Travel’ requests. There tends to be overlap (i.e. a request appearing in two or more sections, e.g. if it’s general and also UK-specific), so don’t worry too much that you’re missing out if you restrict it (if in doubt, keep a few boxes ticked rather than just one or two).

Depending on your industry, it can be cracking…

One of my clients is a recruitment agency. The amount of job/recruitment-related requests that come through HARO is almost ridiculous. It. Is. Incredible. I end up sending them a few a week, and sometimes more than one a day.

Click to read more!

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