Time-saving Hack: Listen To Audiobooks During Your Commute

Commute image

Just a quick post detailing a time-saving hack that I discovered recently thanks to George Savva (@GeorgeSavva1), my effectiveness coach, who deserves full credit.

For years I’ve wanted to read a few business books but I’ve found that I’ve never had the time to do so – sure enough I’d buy them, but then they’d simply sit and gather dust on my bookcase shelf. I work all week, and then in my spare time I’d rather blog and spend time with my family than sit down and read a book. It’s simply an issue of allocation of time.

With my freelance SEO business I’m based at Welsh ICE in Caerphilly – from where I live it’s about a 15-20 minute commute each way. And as much as I used to enjoy listening to Radio 2 during the drives, George made me realise that I could put that time to better use. If I haven’t got the time to sit down and read books, why not buy them in audiobook form and listen to them in the car instead? I try to work four-day weeks (as I try to take one day per week as paternity when workload allows), so that’s 30-40 minutes per day and potentially 2-3 hours per week that could be utilised listening to audiobooks. In fact, in just a few short weeks, I’ve listened to multiple books that I’ve wanted to read for years, including:

…And coming up I’m planning on reading listening to:

(Please note: all of the above Amazon links are affiliate links.)

If anyone has any other suggestions of books/audiobooks, please let me know (either by comment, by email or by tweet). I recommend Tom Buckland’s marketing books post – at least one of its suggestions you’ll spot from my to-listen-to list above.

So whether your commute back and forth work by car, bus, train or tube, you might also find that spending the time listening to audiobooks to be really useful.

Update: I wanted to share a few great responses that I received via Twitter when I first published this post, which offer further advice:

[Motorway image credit – Highways Agency]

A (Long Overdue) Theme Change & New Logo for SEOno

SEOnoOver the weekend I finally got round to implementing a new WordPress theme on SEOno. The last time I did so was nearly three years ago (October 2012) and while the previous theme – SmartOne – had been an absolute pleasure to use over the years, it was starting to look and feel a little dated, so inevitably I felt that it was time for a change…

I’ve always liked the idea of using a plain, minimalist theme, so the new theme – Emphasize – mostly retains that feeling. In fact, I’ve gone as far as editing the theme’s colour scheme to mostly match the previous theme…! I’ll probably keep tinkering away and making the occasional tweak here and there, so what you see now might not end up being the finished product.

I also decided to get an official logo for the blog – the first time that I’ve done so. Previously I simply took a screenshot of the previous theme’s title (which was basic italic text in blue) and called that my logo, which was… naff. When I was asked to give a logo to the UK Blog Awards last year (I was shortlisted in a category), it felt a little embarrassing. So now I have something proper. Well, I say “proper”… It was generated using the Hipster Logo Generator. Say what you will… I’m happy with it. Besides, having a hipster logo kind of fits with the often tongue-as-cheek-as-f*ck style of the blog, don’t you think? πŸ˜‰

What’s interesting is that I was recently chatting to a designer that I know via Twitter and it seemed odd to him that I was going the cheap/DIY route with this and not investing in it properly. I guess that I’ve always liked going down the DIY route – especially with the blog – even at the risk of aesthetics. I’m certainly no designer (saying so would be an insult to the design community!) so I know that it probably could be better, but for now I’m happy with keeping things simple.

I welcome any and all feedback – good or bad. Feel free to email me, tweet me or drop a comment below.

Have Your Cake & Optimise It Too – My Design Stuff Cardiff Talk

Design Stuff Cardiff logoOn Thursday 23rd July, I spoke at the 14th Design Stuff Cardiff event. My talk gave SEO advice aimed at the design community, covering SEO basics while advising on the SEO tactics that are most suited to designers: e.g. image SEO and link building tactics such as ‘web design by’ links, showcase websites and by finding non-credited images via reverse image search.

Here are the slides…

…And here is the video, which can also be watched on the DSC website:

At the end of the talk, Dan (DSC’s main organiser) asked the crowd if they’d learnt something new from my talk and virtually the whole room put their hand up, which was great to see. (Just don’t ask me how the book giveaway went…!)

I shared the stage that night with friend and fellow ICEr Warren Fauvel (@WarrenOF), who did an incredible talk about why design is doomed as it becomes more automated, and the ways that designers can adapt accordingly. I recommend watching it, whether you’re a designer, an SEO or if you work in another related creative/tech sector – it’s one of the best talks I’ve ever seen.

This has been my fourth speaking gig in as many months (actually, I’ve done five talks in four months, as I haven’t counted one smaller, more informal talk), with nothing else lined up now in the near future. To be completely honest though, I’m quite thankful to be taking a bit of a break from it, which will give me chance to concentrate on my SEO consultancy business as well as a few other side-projects that I’d like to work on. Stay tuned for some exciting news coming soon…

Beware: Asterisks & Other Symbols Can Ruin Your Tap-To-Call Phone Number Link

Smartphone in the dark imageWhen someone gets to your website, it’s important that your contact form works, your email address and phone number are written correctly and your checkout process is working correctly (if you’re running an Ecommerce website). After all, you’ve worked hard to drive traffic to your website – you don’t want them bouncing at the final hurdle, affecting your conversion rate.

Clients/customers are one thing. Imagine if your visitors were contemplating suicide…

The other day, I noticed that the Samaritans’ phone number on their Contact page wasn’t working properly if you were on a mobile device and you were trying to use the tap-to-call function.

Their phone number is 08457 90 90 90. However, due to the asterisk immediately after the third “90” (which references a bit of small print talking about the cost of the call per minute), my iPhone wasn’t processing the number fully when using tap-to-call. Instead of the full number, it was picking 08457 90 90 – an incomplete and incorrect version of the phone number.

As you can see above, I tweeted @samaritans to let them know, as I was worried it might stop people needing help getting through, and – to my delight and relief – they let me know the following day that they had fixed it.

So I urge you all to check that your website’s phone numbers are working correctly from mobile devices. It might be worth checking from multiple devices – it might be the case that it’s fine on an iPhone but not working on an Android, so don’t just check one and assume that it’s fine across the board. Check them all if you can.

[Smartphone image credit – Japanexperterna.se]

5 Ways That Bloggers Can Get Links Back To Their Blogs

This post is a repurposed HARO request – to find out more about this process, check out my post on State Of Digital all about it.

Linking diagramAs bloggers, we often get very fixated and carried away with our blogs: making sure that the content that we produce, the blog’s design, etc. are all absolutely perfect. SEO often enters the mix as well (in a do-it-yourself capacity), but it’s not simply a case of adding the WordPress SEO plugin – which is, admittedly, great – to your blog and thinking that that’s all you need to do on the SEO front…

On the contrary… On the link building (a.k.a. off-site SEO) side of things, the possibilities are endless and the fun never ends. It’s not a quantity game, but the more high quality, relevant and natural links that you get pointing to your website (or your blog, as is the case here), the better that it’ll perform from an SEO standpoint, resulting in a likely increase in visibility from organic search – i.e. when people are Googling content relevant to your blog, they might stand more of a chance of finding it, resulting in more traffic to it. So while you can tinker and tweak your site’s internal workings to improve its on-site SEO, you can also improve its off-site SEO by acquiring inbound links.

But how do you go about getting links? Where do you start?

As an SEO who’s also a keen blogger, here are a few ways of getting links back to your blog that have worked for me:

1) Guest blogging

StOD guest posting bio screenshot
Although this tactic has lost some of its impact due to people spamming it too much (although it’s not all bad – you can read my views here), there might still be some good opportunities to guest blog on other bloggers’ websites in your niche, so it’s worth looking into. In addition to the link back to your blog, the hosting blogger is likely to promote it via their social media profiles, too.

It’s worked for me. Beyond recently becoming a regular contributor on State Of Digital, I have also written posts for Moz, SEMrush and other industry blogs. In addition to getting some good industry exposure, getting links from such high profile websites to my blog has helped with its SEO.

2) Attending blogger meet-ups

Going to local blogger meet-ups simply to get to know other local bloggers and to offer advice can be a good way to get links. I’ve seen people get links because someone’s published a write-up of the event and they’ve included links to all the bloggers that they met there. I’ve even been added to a few bloggers’ blogrolls simply due to taking the time to get to know them.

Cardiff Blogs used to be the big player a few years back, but they run less events now than they used to. Despite this, there are a few blogging-related events that seem to crop up every now and again in the South Wales area – so it’s worth keeping an eye out.

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