Articles for April 2011

My intentions for the SEOno blog

I started the SEOno blog a month ago now and an SEO worth their salt should be able to quickly and easily identify that the blog itself hasn’t been very well optimised as of yet. The usual on-page suspects (page titles, META data, etc.) are basic and – in some cases – not unique, while the template I’ve chosen has a ton of errors in the code because of the chosen font.

I’m fairly new to WordPress and I guess I’ve been a little na├»ve when it’s come to setting it up. I went ahead with WP’s own hosting (.com, not .org) and didn’t realise that I wouldn’t be allowed to use plug-ins. The plan is to change the hosting, from WP’s own to another alternative, opening up the use of plug-ins and allowing me to have greater control over the feel and aesthetics of the blog.

I’m waiting for a colleague at Liberty to show me how best to go about this, as he’s more experienced at using WP and doing this type of thing, at which point I’ll apply it to the SEOno blog. Hopefully this will happen sometime in the next few weeks.

Until then, I may limit or restrict the amount of blog posts that I write. I’ll want to go back and make changes to the previous posts (only 3 at this point, 4 including this one), so I’d rather do it while the number’s low than continue to add to it and create more work for myself in the future.

Don’t worry… I have some great ideas for future blog posts, covering many topics, thoughts and ideas that have not been covered anywhere else. Stay tuned…

A surefire PPC brand exposure tactic for AdWords advertisers

Yuri Gagarin logo

What’s a search term that – for one day only – will have a massive surge of search volume in Google?

Whatever the Google Doodle’s linking to.

“Google Doodles?”

Readers who aren’t familiar with the term are bound to be familiar with one of Google’s quirky and clever branding traits. Google Doodles are Google’s reworks of its famous logo. Yesterday’s was a tribute to Yuri Gagarin, the first human being to journey into outer space, 50 years ago.

Some Google Doodles aren’t obvious straight away. For those wanting to find out more about its presence, Google provides a link to a relevant search term, which will then give searchers an idea as why that particular topic is being paid tribute to. In yesterday’s case, the search term the Doodle linked to was “yuri gagarin.”

How AdWords advertisers can take advantage

I clicked on the logo, and here’s what I noticed when I clicked through:

Yuri Gagarin in the SERPs

Notice the PPC ad on the right-hand side of the SERPs? It says:

Out Of This World Deals
Whether You’re Building A Rocket Or
A House We Have The Tools You Need

That’s a clever little exercise in brand exposure.

Using PPC advertising and AdWords to advertise on a search term that’s not relevant to a business or website but is very topical is not a new tactic, but it’s certainly not a widely implemented one. I’m reminded of the brilliant Ann Summers PPC campaigns on searches relating to last year’s UK Elections and this year’s Chinese New Year.

To quote the latter article, iCrossing – Ann Summers’ PPC agency – “knew that hanging paid search ads off the back of popular news-based searches would drive a lot of awareness, with relatively few clicks.” I bet this was Screwfix’s intention, too. A few people might click on it while a few people might not even notice it at all, but I bet more people were thinking about Screwfix more than usual yesterday.

Google Insights for Search indicates the impact of the surge:

Yuri Gagarin on Google Insights

Interestingly, it’s showing the rise on the 11th April, not the 12th (the actual day of the Doodle and the anniversary of Gagarin’s achievement). Whether this is due to the freshness of the data or the fact that the logo would’ve shown earlier in the UK than in the US, I can’t say. Either way, if you look at the Insights data for “harry houdini”, you will see that the rise takes place on 24th March, the date of Google’s Harry Houdini Doodle (note: refine the search to the last 30 or 90 days – I’ve linked to data showing the whole of 2011 otherwise the link will become obsolete for future readers).

The downside?

Surely the pros outweigh the cons: huge brand exposure, a low advertising cost (due to high impressions but low clickthrough rate) and a chance to be cheeky and funny and possibly throw in a pun or two – surely that’s a win-win scenario for a lot of advertisers! However I can see AdWords’ keyword Quality Score being negatively affected, unless an advertiser is actually a Gagarin biographer or has any other close connection to him, but what’s the harm if it’s only for a maximum of 24 hours?

Advertising for the quick thinker

I have to say that I am amazed that there aren’t more companies like Screwfix and Ann Summers jumping on opportunities like this, unless I’m just not aware of them. Compared to other topical events, the Google Doodles in particular will be difficult to predict, unless it’s a really obvious anniversary (although there’s nothing to say that Google will Doodle it), or perhaps a yearly occurrence, such as St. Patrick’s Day, which is usually a yearly tradition of the Doodle, this year notwithstanding (outside of Ireland).

I can see quick-thinking advertisers benefitting from this type of strategy, while those who aren’t so much on the ball or with too much red-tape to go through not being able to implement anything within the short 24-hour period. But for those who do, the result should be a nice – albeit fleeting – exercise in brand exposure to a large number of Google users.

The future of music and search?

Love music

Two of my biggest passions in life are music and search engine optimisation. However, one thing that’s always left me a little gutted is the fact that the two really aren’t compatible. People may use Google to look for merchandise, instruments, gig tickets or info on bands they already know and love, but they don’t really tend to put “acoustic music cardiff” into Google to find new local music to check out (at least not many anyway, and certainly no one I’ve ever talked to about it). When I first got into SEO, I experimented with my own music site, the now defunct (which currently redirects to my MySpace page, until MySpace inevitably goes under, in which case I’ll probably then redirect it here). But of course nothing really came out of that work, except for the realisation that SEO is utterly no good at all for people trying to find new music online.

Well why is that? It’s no mystery how people find new music, and there’s plenty of ways to do so: word of mouth, recommendations from family, friends and colleagues, the radio, TV, magazines, support acts at gigs, all-day gigs/festivals, open mic nights and other showcases, film and video game soundtracks… and that’s just offline. Musicians can certainly optimise their presence online via other alternatives to search: music forums for chatter or Twitter and Facebook (and MySpace, once upon a time…) to broadcast news and attempt to win new fans. But a few things recently have got me thinking. Is there a future for music and online search? Is there a way musicians can optimise themselves in order to be found by searchers? I certainly don’t condone or recommend any of them, but here are a few thoughts I had…

Track/band/album/label name optimisation?

Recently, I’ve been trying to get my music onto Spotify. Supposedly it’s in the process of getting added within the next few weeks, so every few days I do a vanity search to see if it’s on there. There’s already another Steve Morgan on there, whose most popular song on there by quite some margin is called “Ballad for Forest Gump,” which I’m assuming most people have come across when searching for “Forest Gump.” Notice the misspelling as well: a search for “Forrest Gump” brings up a much bigger list, including the official soundtrack, but drop an “r” and the searcher is only presented with a total of eight tracks. Incidentally, I have no idea if Steve #2 has intentionally misspelt the name, or whether it was a typo when it was uploaded, but I bet it’s been found more as “Forest” than it would’ve done as “Forrest.”

Forrest vs. Forest Gump

Admittedly, the searcher was looking for something else, but who hasn’t fallen in love with a band or musician they’ve stumbled across by complete accident? Who knows, maybe my namesake has won a fan or two this way, people who have listened to that one track and then the rest of the album.

Alternatively, what about those who don’t optimise enough? I’m guilty of this firsthand. When I released my second EP, I included a live cover of the traditional Irish song “Whiskey In The Jar.” What did I label the song as? “Whiskey (Live).” I’m a big Jane’s Addiction fan, who once covered “Sympathy For The Devil” but just called their version “Sympathy,” so I did something similar. Of course this wasn’t a particularly smart move on my part, because people looking for “Whiskey In The Jar” would never find my version, even though it is that song. The interesting thing as well is the spelling of “Whiskey,” as it can be spelt with or without the “e.” The spellings generally differ depending on where you live, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some people have considered one variation over the other depending on its accessibility and popularity more than its geographical preference. They’d certainly think about it in the business world, so why not in the music industry?

It doesn’t just end with track names, either. What’s stopping someone calling their band something that somebody might be looking for? Or their albums? Have any record labels ever tried it?

Lyrics “optimisation”?

Lyrics pages are like weird word goldmines, where a random mixture of usual and unusual words can trigger all sorts of off-topic long tail search terms. Like the “Forest” example above, it can be another way a musician is found completely by accident.

I saw absolute strangers land on my music site via the lyrics page for all sorts of crazy search terms (I didn’t have Google Analytics installed but Alexa has its own Top Search Queries list). My site once had a few people coming in who were asking Google: “can i go on holiday on parole,” because one of my songs had the word “holiday” in it a few times and another song had “parole” in one line. Aside from alerting me to the fact that travel-loving convicts were finding my website and probably leaving confused, disappointed and with their question unanswered, it highlights the fact that lyrics pages – particularly when lots of songs are all listed on one page – are like goldmines for the accidental long tail.

Length optimisation – shorter songs (but longer albums)?

Not strictly search related, but looking beyond the usual means of getting noticed would be appealing to the likes of, which documents the tracks people listen to on their computer, and auto-tweet charts such as, which tweets a listener’s Top 3 most listened-to artists on a weekly basis. They work on the basis of number of songs listened to, not the length of time listened, so short pop and punk songs are going to be counted in more volume than 10+ minute progressive rock and post-rock songs.

In other words, if a band decides to write 60 minutes of material, the twenty 3-minute tracks are going to fare better in this instance than six 10-minute epics. It’d be a bit ridiculous if a band decided to base their “strategy,” style and way of songwriting on the off-chance that they’ll be on, et al more often, but it could work to generating more notice.

Optimisation for the listener – the killer of creativity?

Music is about creativity, emotion, feeling. You give a song a name because it means something to you or your listeners, not because it has more chance of being found. At least that’s what I think, and I bet I’m not alone. But then I was hardly a Gaga or a Bieber in my more regular gigging days (then again, maybe that’s a good thing).

However, in a day and age where thousands upon thousands of bands and musicians try so hard to get themselves heard (pun possibly intended), I wouldn’t be surprised if some budding musicians cotton on to a few of the ideas mentioned above, perhaps come up with a few new ones, and try to get fans by tailoring their music and lyrics to maximise exposure more than through the music itself. Anything to stand out and get noticed.

…Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to form a band called The Lolcat Funny Picture Orchestra and release an album called “Whisky Or Whiskey?,” containing thirty 2-minute songs including “Winning Tiger Blood From Mr. Sheen,” “Lady Gaga’s Latest Crazy Dress” and “(Rebecca) Black Friday.” Keep an eye out for us…

[iPod/keyboard image credit: billaday]

My previous posts for other blogs and sites

Welcome to the first blog post on the brand new SEOno blog.

Although this is a new blog, I have previously written a few blogs posts and articles for other sites, primarily for Liberty Marketing’s blog but also for one or two other places.

Here’s a list of my personal favourites…


My most recent post was a guest blog post for How Not To Write A CV, based on the experiences and observations of the IT recruitment agency Computer Recruiter.

My latest blog post for the Liberty blog looked at the implications of the possible ruling in the Interflora and Marks & Spencer court case. I caught Interflora out at their own game (bidding on a competitor’s name, albeit one that probably isn’t trademarked) to highlight how easy it is to accidentally bid on competitors using broad and phrase match keywords. The potential ruling could have a big effect on the PPC and AdWords campaigns of big brands but will also affect Google itself.

I also wrote a theory on how Google Instant hasn’t killed the Long Tail, but has instead changed it. Depending on the industry, long tail search terms can just as important as head terms. In summary, the first few words searchers type into Google will lead them select certain keywords based on their demographics and requirements due to Instant and Suggest/Auto-Complete. Therefore businesses need to think about the psychology of their target audience – what are they likely to type in when starting their search? “cheap?” “best?” “how to?”


Probably my absolute favourite to date: I came up with a customisable search query to help people use Google to find jobs online. Searchers could simply put the words in depending on their desired job type and location and search many jobs in one go, without the need to constantly tweak their search query. The post fared well and was even picked up and republished by

Should Google have to reveal its algorithm? looked into the argument that Google could manipulate its results to benefit itself as well as what would happen if Google made the details of its algorithm public knowledge.


Some of my first posts for Liberty include the third part (O-Z) of the blog’s series of jargon posts, as well as a follow-up post taking a look at the more unusual SEO jargon.

At the moment, the Liberty blog doesn’t have a way to sort blog posts by author. This is something that we’re hoping to change ASAP and as soon as we do, I’ll edit this post to include a link.

From now on, I’ll probably mention if I’ve posted elsewhere in a post on here. Or I’ll tweet them. Stay tuned…