SEO

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.

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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!

Applying the Pixar Pitch to Modern SEO

Toy Story Jessie cosplayer image
I recently listened to Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell is Human (having previously listened to the also excellent Start With Why), which is a great book if you don’t particularly like sales but have to do it (e.g. you’re a freelancer/consultant).

One part of the book introduces the concept of the Pixar Pitch, which was thought up by former Pixar employee Emma Coates. It is so simple it’s beautiful. It goes like this:

  1. Once upon a time there was ___.
  2. Every day, ___.
  3. One day ___.
  4. Because of that, ___.
  5. Because of that, ___.
  6. Until finally ___.

The idea is that every Pixar story is told in this way, in six simple steps – and that’s why their storytelling is so effective. In the book (and this blog post), Finding Nemo is used as an example:

  1. Once upon a time there was… a widowed fish, named Marlin, who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo.
  2. Every day, … Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away.
  3. One day… in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into the open water.
  4. Because of that… he is captured by a diver and ends up in the fish tank of a dentist in Sydney.
  5. Because of that… Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, enlisting the help of other sea creatures along the way.
  6. Until finally… Marlin and Nemo find each other, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.

Oh, spoiler alert…? Sorry! Moving on…

I wondered if this formula could be applied to what I’d call ‘modern SEO’ – i.e. a collaborative approach (something that I preach at MOM, especially on the link building side of things) in the current post-Penguin, content-focused, let’s-break-down-the-silos digital marketing climate…

Click to read more!

Getting Detailed Keyword Planner Data via My Client Centre (MCC)

Keyword Planner (Prismafied) imageThis is probably really obvious, but it fooled me, so I thought it was worth blogging about.

TL;DR – To get detailed data using the AdWords Keyword Planner when managing multiple accounts via MCC (My Client Centre), make sure that you click on the ‘Jump to account’ drop-down at the top of the screen, select a ‘big spender’ client, and then do your keyword research as normal. The priviso is that you have to have at least one client in your MCC that’s a ‘big spender,’ otherwise you may not get the detailed data. If you leave it as the default – probably your own/agency account – you may not get the data, especially if you don’t use AdWords yourself, which is what fooled me originally.

Google’s changes

Back in June, Google started combining data for very closely-related keywords in its Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. For example, the keywords "personal injury claim" and "personal injuries claims" suddenly had exactly the same search volume and suggested AdWords bid data, despite the latter being grammatically unfriendly and therefore less searched-on:

It was either a mighty big coincidence (unlikely), or their data was being lumped together (likely).

At first there was talk that it was a bug (even DMs that I had back-and-forth with the @adwords team showed that they didn’t really have a clue internally what the heck was going on), but eventually – weeks later – it was revealed that it was a permanent change. They also started to show data in ranges: e.g. “100 – 1K” instead of, say, “390”.

Ugh.

Initial confusion

It was also revealed that you had to be an active user – i.e. spending moolah on actual AdWords clicks – in order to get the detailed data, and also potentially have an account that’s been running for at least a couple of months. However, as it stands, no one’s currently sure how much you have to spend in order to see detailed data vs. the generalised ranges.

My question was this: what about people who have access to other AdWords accounts via My Client Centre (MCC)? How does that factor into it?

Well, from a recent post about it on the SEM Post:

“So needing to have active campaigns running for at least 3-4 months, with an unknown spend requirement, will mean many SEOs will have a hard time getting the detailed data unless they are able to MCC an active AdWords account that is seeing the data.”

This confused me, as I had a MCC account with at least 3 or 4 active AdWords campaigns in it (i.e. client campaigns), but whenever I tried to use the Keyword Planner, I was still getting the rough data ranges instead of the detailed data.

…And then I realised what I was doing wrong.

How to get detailed data

Whenever you access the Google AdWords Keyword Planner normally, e.g. if you visit it via Google Search or have the direct link to it bookmarked, you are taken to your AdWords account. In my case, it was Morgan Online Marketing’s AdWords account:

Keyword planner data ranges screenshot
Now I only have an AdWords account for My Client Centre purposes, so that I can manage other clients’ AdWords accounts. I don’t run AdWords ads on the MOM site itself.

And that’s why I wasn’t getting the data: MOM isn’t an active advertiser.

Click to read more!