SEO

The 3 Biggest Takeaways from Kelvin Newman’s Reddit AMA

Yesterday, the mighty Kelvin Newman (@kelvinnewman) of brightonSEO fame did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

Kelvin Newman's AMA on Reddit screenshot
I’m a big fan of Kelvin, not only because he runs an incredible conference and has been crazy enough to let me speak at it (not just once, but twice), but because he’s a great guy as well. And as an SEO event organiser myself, I’m always curious to know the thinking behind brightonSEO, how he runs the event and where he wants to take it in the future.

To be honest, whether you’re an event organiser yourself, or just a big fan of brightonSEO (who isn’t?), it’s probably worth reading the whole AMA from start to finish, as there are tips and insights sprinkled throughout. But if you’re a busy guy/gal then here are my three biggest takeaways:

1) On starting a conference: start small and scale up

Kelvin Newman Prisma imageA few new SEO/digital conferences have sprouted up in the UK in recent months, which is fine, but to aspiring conference organisers, Kelvin’s advice is to start small:

I’d always start with something small and then scale rather than launching big. If gives you a chance to test and learn and make mistakes when not very many people are watching. Think of your first event as an MVP.

I can relate to this, as I’m not sure where to take Cardiff SEO Meet at the moment (an all-dayer event does sound tempting…), but at the very least, it’s good to know that small beginnings are the sensible way to go anyway.

2) On hiring speakers: seek out speakers (not vice versa)

It’s very easy to simply accept the speakers who approach you as an organiser, but Kelvin’s method is different:

Keeping an eye on blog posts people are sharing is a key one but I love scouring through our attendee list and looking for people who might have a good perspective and then stalking them online a bit.

Only giving slots to people who put themselves forward can lead to only attracting certain kinds of speakers.

I like this as it naturally leads to a variety of speakers, and perhaps those who aren’t even ‘natural’ speakers. And there is the risk that the people that approach event organisers offering to speak and doing so all over the shop – not just for your event.

However, if you do approach Kelvin and ask to speak (which – to be fair – is how I got to speak at brightonSEO both times), at least have a talk idea at-the-ready:

In terms of pitching to speak, have a talk idea ready to go. Much easier for me to say yes to a interesting talk title than a vague “I’d like to talk”.

3) On what talks to have: some SEO topics are important, but variety is good

This is an interesting one as I’ve always admired Kelvin for booking non-SEO talks at an SEO event, or at least talks that closely align with SEO (such as UX, etc.). But it’s still really important to have some types of SEO talks:

People expect decent technical talks and link building talks. If we don’t programme those people won’t come back.

However Kelvin argues that some of the non-SEO talks are the ones that stay with people – the problem with SEO talks (as is the case with some elements of SEO) is that there’s a ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ feeling about them:

Talks from people like Dave [Trott] and Rory [Sutherland] are the kind that sit in the back of your mind for years to come, whereas the learning about the latest SERP feature you’ll use immediately but it’s value will go down over time.

Our job is to get the right mixture between the practical talks and the inspirational/theoretical ones. Which is something I know we and other events have been criticised for in the past.

Kelvin’s clearly not backing down with this way of thinking, given what’s coming up at next month’s event:

Got three different academics talking this time round about machine learning that might not be mass appeal but pretty sure will get a great receptions.


Read Kelvin’s AMA in full here!

If you’re going to brightonSEO April 2017 then let me know – I’ll be there. 🙂

[Image credit – my own creation using Prisma]

Moving SEOno to HTTPS: How Using Cloudflare Caused a Duplicate Content Issue

HTTPS Secure badge image
A few days ago, I moved this blog to fully (and only) HTTPS. I’d been on Cloudflare for a few months but I didn’t realise that it was inadventently causing a site-wide duplicate content issue (between HTTP & HTTPS URLs). In this post I document the discovery of the issue, the process I took to fix it, and the potential knock-on effects of the change, such as needing to set up a new Google Search Console profile, ‘mixed content’ issues and more…


A few months ago, I moved SEOno to Cloudflare. The site was getting a ridiculously high number of malicious login attempts, and while none of them got through (thankfully), I looked into it and the volume of them suggested that it was slowing my site down. I moved onto Cloudflare – a fairly quick, painless process – and not only have the login attempts ceased, but the site is tons faster. Job done.

At the time, I noticed that HTTPS URLs were working on the site, in addition to HTTP URLs. In other words, https://seono.co.uk/ loaded the homepage, as did http://seono.co.uk/, whereas only the latter had done previously. “Cool,” I thought, thinking nothing of it for ages – I figured that the rel="canonical" tag of the HTTP URLs would take precedence, and at some point I’d sort it out properly.

Then, a few days ago, I was chatting to someone at my coworking space and did a very specific Google search that only brought up seono.co.uk results. And that’s when I spotted it: Google was indexing both HTTP and HTTPS URLs separately…

SEOno Google SERP screenshot
Uh-oh. This full-on flummoxed me for a few moments, until I checked the canonical tags of both versions. Here’s the one for HTTP…

SEOno HTTP canonical screenshot
…and here’s the one for HTTPS…

SEOno HTTPS canonical screenshot
Bollocks.

Rather than having the same canonical tag (and therefore one ‘version’ taking precedence over the other), they were each referencing themselves separately. This meant that the introduction of the HTTPS URLs had resulted in a duplicate content issue site-wide, with every page of the blog having two URLs showing the exact same content. Given the fact that Google was indexing some URLs of one type and some of the other (rather than all of one and none of the other), it was looking as though Google was struggling to understand which version to show predominantly. And worst of all? I hadn’t noticed for months, despite picking up on issues like this when I do technical SEO audits for clients. D’oh.

Click to read more!

It’s 2017 & I’m Still Seeing “SEO is Crap” Discussions…

Angry face art“The world is on fire,” the mighty Ed Harcourt recently sung.

2017 has begun, swirling from 2016’s turbulent aftermath of Trumps and Brexits – and yet here I am, publishing my first post of the year nitpicking about what someone said about SEO.

“In the name of SEO”

I regularly check and contribute to the Cardiff Start Facebook group, and got a little excited when I saw someone asking for advice on content marketing. While I didn’t contribute myself, SEO got mentioned – although in a way that got my back up a bit:

Cardiff Start FB group comment screenshot
Mike offers some great advice – the only problem is that very first line. The pertinent text (with emphasis added):

“First. Prioritise quality over quantity – pumping out volumes of crap in the name of SEO helps nobody – times have changed.”

Aside from one other teeny-tiny mention, this was the only mention of SEO in the whole thread. A whole thread about content marketing and SEO is seen as the bad bit. “Don’t do it” is essentially what’s being recommended.

I’d usually roll my eyes at comments like this – like I’ve done so many times in the past – but my concern here was that people who are new to content marketing may be new to SEO, too. And now their whole experience of something that could be so crucially beneficial to their website/their business/their livelihood has been tainted. Also, a few people Liked it, suggesting agreement.

So what’s the alternative? Later on, Mike goes on to say that content should provide three things:

a. build trust with existing and potential customers
b. develop your own unique, tailored, audience
c. create demand for your service or product with that audience

Here’s a question for you: why can’t content fulfil that criteria and have an SEO focus?

SEO doesn’t have to be a dirty word

One of my clients has done insanely well creating content with a bit of an SEO focus. With my help, he’s grown his blog from 30 organic search visits a month to 10,000+. That’s an increase of over 300x – in other words, 300 times more people are visiting his website through search engines (through SEO) than they were previously.

So, is he “pumping out volumes of crap” in order to do this? Is that the secret? No. He’s writing good quality content, which helps to build trust with existing and potential customers, that’s unique and tailored to the audience, and that helps to create demand for his service with that audience. Hey, does that sentence seem familiar? Look up a couple of paragraphs.

Click to read more!

3 Events Down – What Cardiff SEO Meet Has Achieved So Far (& Future Plans)

Cardiff SEO Meet May crowd banner
After teasing the idea of running regular Cardiff SEO events this time last year, in March I introduced Cardiff SEO Meet. We had our first event in May, and we’ve run two more since then: one in August and one in November.

A while back in a post on State of Digital, I argued that running events is a good way to get inbound links, which can help on the SEO front. Running the event has been a good way to practice what I preach – and not only has it helped in gaining links, it’s helped in numerous other ways, too.

The benefits of running a local meetup

In this post I wanted to talk about what Cardiff SEO Meet has achieved so far (links or otherwise), and tease potential future plans…

It’s helped me to get links

When I launched the meetup, a couple of local publications covered it:

TD screenshot
In addition to linking to Cardiff SEO Meet’s Meetup group page, they linked to MOM (my freelance site) as well – a nice added bonus, which I wasn’t expecting. Even if they’d only linked to the former, it links to the latter, so I would’ve got some ‘link juice’ anyhow. But a direct link was even better.

At least I wasn’t talking rubbish in my StOD post eh? Hehe.

It’s helped me to meet potential clients

Another pleasant off-shoot of announcing the meetup: someone I knew at my office location (not a part of Welsh ICE, but based in the same building) got in touch saying that they saw me announce it, that they didn’t realise I was an SEO, and that they’d like to have a chat. So simply announcing the event got interest from a potential client. Nothing came of it immediately unfortunately, but we’ve kept in touch, so something could come of it in the future – “never say never,” as they say. They’re a pretty sizeable, £1M+ turnover business, so a nice client if it does come on-board.

It’s resulted in a potential shadowing/secondment opportunity

For a while now I’ve considered hiring staff and growing MOM into a full-on SEO agency. I’d been considering a few options – such as Jobs Growth Wales, GO Wales, etc. – when a low risk, dip-your-toe-in-the-water opportunity came up. One of the attendees of the first few meetups is a junior SEO working in-house for a local company, and he suggested shadowing me. It’s win-win: he learns more SEO tricks of the trade from a more experienced SEO (and takes that back to his employer), while I get a taste of being an employer. It’s still in-the-works but we’re hoping to work something out early next year.

Click to read more!

Fundraising for Climb: My Upcoming Lightning Talk for Charity

JustGiving screenshot
On Thursday 17th November I will be doing a ‘lightning talk’ at Cardiff SEO Meet.

Why? Adrian Harvie – one of my clients (The Abbey Cleaning Service) – has been raising money for Climb via the Children’s Hospital Challenge, when he and a group of other cyclists rode around the UK delivering toys to children’s hospitals last year. During a recent catch-up meeting, I suddenly had an idea: I could raise money via a speaking gig. Yep… There’s a first for everything.

So how does it work? Well, the more money people donate, the harder/funnier/sillier my talk becomes: it becomes shorter, plus other ‘challenges’ get thrown into the mix. It’s already challenging enough, given that it’s a lightning talk (i.e. 20 slides that each auto-rotate every 15 seconds – see Ignite), but why not make it harder eh?

As I type this, I have already hit my target and have raised £200+. But I’d like to raise more…

  • If we hit £250, I’ll include 5 phrases in the talk from this SEO bingo card (ignoring the Brighton/conference-related ones)
  • If we hit £300, instead of 5 phrases chosen by me (see above), 5 SEOs will choose the 5 phrases, and I’ll have to say those instead
  • If we hit £350, I’ll wear my Halloween costume (Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy) during the talk
  • If we hit £400+… Well, I guess we’ll have to see (and I’ll have to come up with more ideas!)

Because we’ve hit £200, my 5-minute talk is now 3 minutes (i.e. 9 seconds per slide instead of 15), and… I have to wear a Christmas hat during the whole thing. Hey, we’re in November now – it’s ok to talk about (finally). To be honest, I think it’d be funny to try and shoehorn in some random SEO buzzwords, so if we hit £250-300 then I’ll be absolutely delighted.

If you want to contribute then please donate here. Even if it’s just a couple of quid, I – along with Adrian and Climb – would really, really appreciate it.

If you’d like to come to event itself, here’s the link to all the details – we also have two other talks lined up as well as a live site review. Tickets (which are free) become available from 10am this Thursday. If you can’t make it, do not fret: I’ll be live-streaming the talk (via Periscope), so the magic will be viewable from afar and then retained forever… You lucky people you.

Hope to see you there. And once again – please donate!

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Thanks!

UPDATE: You can watch the video here (I start introducing it around 3:40 in and the talk starts properly around 7:40 in) and see the slides here. I’m pleased to say that I raised over £300!