Cardiff SEO Meet is Back (Already)

Cardiff SEO Meet at Bierkeller (Prisma)

Well that really was a brief hiatus… 😂

Less than a month ago I blogged saying that Cardiff SEO Meet was going on hiatus until after my son’s operation. Well between then and now he’s had updated scans and the doctor thinks he no longer needs his op any more, as everything is improving nicely, which is fantastic news. It means that I can carry on with Cardiff SEO Meet without the worry that I may have to cancel/reschedule the meetups to fit around the op.

(Also, sorry for being so open about all this, as I know it makes people uncomfortable… I just wanted to explain my reasoning in case anyone thought I was postponing events and taking a break from it for weak or unimportant reasons.)

Anyway… with that in mind, I’ve gone ahead and booked the next three dates at Cardiff Bierkeller, which is where we were for the last event. Here they are:

  • Cardiff SEO Meet #8 – Thursday 19th July
  • Cardiff SEO Meet #9 – Thursday 20th September*
  • Cardiff SEO Meet #10 – Thursday 22nd November

* For this event we’ll be in a different area of Bierkeller to usual, as our usual room is unavailable for this night. I’ll post more about this on the event’s dedicated Meetup page when the time comes.

There’s also a few minor/subtle changes that are being made going ahead:

  • You’ll notice above that the dates are 2 months apart instead of 3, which is something that I floated in the hiatus post. It means that we’ll be running 6 events a year going forward instead of 4. I also have some really exciting speakers in mind for the next few events (including an international keynote speaker)!
  • Instead of RSVPs on Meetup being open 2 weeks before the event date, RSVPs will open straight away, as soon as the event page goes live (usually 4-6 weeks before the event). I just think this’ll make it easier for people – I liked the idea of having a scheduled ‘ticket release’ time/date, but I always worry that the people who see the Meetup page as soon as it goes live forget about it by the time the RSVPs open, and therefore that we’re missing out on potential attendees.
  • Site reviews are continuing to happen, however whereas they used to be free for the site ‘volunteer’, I’ll now be asking for a fee – this is only because I’ve been messed around a few times in the past, with people cancelling last-minute or not having their website ready in time (e.g. if it was going through a launch or redesign). It’s £100, however half of it is a deposit that you get back after the event (so £50 really), and the money goes to charity as a donation. Want to be considered? There’s a bit of a waiting list but feel free to email me expressing interest. A few rules and terms apply though, so I can’t promise that you’ll be accepted (it’ll make more sense when we discuss it).

So keep an eye out for the Meetup event pages for each one in due course. Want to make sure you’re kept updated? Join the Meetup group and follow @CardiffSEOMeet on Twitter.

Cardiff SEO Meet is Going on a Temporary (& Hopefully Brief) Hiatus

Cardiff SEO Meet logo (Prisma'ed)I love running Cardiff SEO Meet – but it’s a lot of hard work.

Each time I run one of the events, I think to myself “enh, it’s just 2 speakers, and they’re 3 months apart – it’ll take no time to sort out!” – but then I inevitably forget about finding and liaising with the speakers; sorting out the site review volunteer; sorting everything out with the venue (which takes infinitely longer when we change venues – which has happened twice); hiring a helping hand; double-checking that the sponsors are happy with everything; scheduling a ton of tweets; and all the other stuff that goes with it.

The last couple of events have been especially tough to organise because since last summer my youngest son (who recently turned one year old) has been in-and-out of hospital due to an on-going health issue. He had an operation scheduled for January just gone, so at the time I booked the next event for March (the 7th event) because I thought that the op would be well and truly out of the way by then and that he would’ve also fully recovered by then, too. But I didn’t consider the fact that the op may get rescheduled… which it did. A lot. First to early February, and then there was talk that it’d take place in March… Uh-oh.

It’s now been rescheduled again, this time in May (and there’s talk that it may move yet again). The next event should take place around then (May/June) if I want to keep it true to the quarterly formula. But with the op looming and its date still possibly TBC, I’m reluctant to book the next Cardiff SEO Meet date only to have to cancel/reschedule it if they end up clashing…

So I’ve decided to put Cardiff SEO Meet on temporary hiatus until the op’s done-and-dusted and my boy’s seen a full recovery.

It’ll hopefully be brief… Heck, it might work out that it’s only a couple of months longer anyway (a gap of 4-5 months instead of 3).

Anddd… No promises but I might start to make the event every 2 months instead of every 3 months when it returns. So there’s good news in the pipeline.

I just wanna take the time to say a big thank you to Zoe at Cardiff Bierkeller (who was great to work with – especially when we had to reschedule the most recent event due to the snow), the speakers and site review at the last event (Rhydian, Francesca and Jacqui), and the five sponsors for the last couple of events: Tom of Ghost Marketing, Peter of Xanthe Studios, Brett & Kim of Traffic Jam Media, Gareth of Made Clear and Rakesh of Escentual.com. And everyone else who’s supported the meetup in one way or another. You people rock.

Don’t Panic, SEOs! The Whisky-related Zero Result SERPs are a Bug

Update: Google have since put this experiment on hold (source).

Zero-result SERPs have caused a bit of a stir in the SEO industry this past fortnight. For time-related searches, instead of showing a variety of results, Google shows you the answer and… that’s it. Unless you click the ‘Show all results >’ box at the bottom, all you see is Google’s answer. Here’s an example for "time in cardiff":

"time in cardiff" search screenshot
The situation went into panicky overdrive when I checked Twitter this morning and saw tweets from overnight suggesting that whisky-related SERPs had been affected. Rightly so, if you searched for "lagavulin 16" – as in Lagavulin’s 16-year-old single malt bottle – it would show the time box, Google Shopping results, Google AdWords ads (if applicable) and that’s it:

"lagavulin 16" search screenshot
The time box was a particularly bizarre inclusion – what’s the time got to do with a search for a bottle of whisky anyway? There was also chatter that other bottles of whisky with numbers after them (as in their age) were producing similar results.

And that’s when it hit me: what if Google was thinking that people were searching for Lagavulin the place and that the number was the time, as in: “what time is it where I am if it’s 16:00 (i.e. 4pm) in Lagavulin, the Scottish village?”

I tagged Danny Sullivan (who now works for Google) in a tweet and he’s confirmed that it’s an “edge case” (interesting choice of phrase, Danny – not “bug”?) 😉

So there you have it, folks. No need to panic (yet). They’re not after our whisky SERPs – phew! Breatheinbreatheout breatheinbreatheout. Why not pour yourself a glass of Lagavulin?

…Too soon?

The Launch of TechEvents.Wales

TEW logoBack in 2015, I created a side-project website for my parents’ IT recruitment agency (Computer Recruiter) called CR 25, where we published 25 blog posts in one month to coincide with their 25th anniversary in business. It was a ton of fun, and I was chuffed that it earned me a couple of UK Search Awards shortlistings.

Since then (given that the main CR site doesn’t have its own blog – I know, I know…), I’ve been wondering what else we can do on the content front, beyond CR 25 and our occasional guest blogging efforts. On Twitter (@ComputerRecruit) we follow a lot of meetup/event organisers (check out our Twitter list!) and also RT a lot of their tweets about upcoming events, which got me thinking: what about a calendar of all the tech events in South Wales, all in one place…?

And voilà – TechEvents.Wales is born.

TEW homepage screenshot
Its homepage features a list of upcoming events from a ton of different meetups covering a ton of different topics: AWS South Wales User Group, South Wales Agile Group, Swansea Software Development Meetup, Digital Tuesday, PyDiff, South Wales Cyber Security Cluster and Cardiff Blogs, to name a few… even the horrendously run, joke-of-a-meetup that is Cardiff SEO Meet is on there. 😉

Its blog is going to include:

  • Interviews with local meetup organisers,
  • An analysis of 2017’s meetups in the area,
  • Writeups and reviews of local meetups, etc. etc.

Find out more in our intro post.

Got any ideas? Want to get involved? Feel free to drop me a comment below or tweet me. I live off feedback (so long as it’s constructive, obvs!) and would welcome people’s opinions on the direction of the site and its blog.

Also, a quick thank you to Peter of Xanthe Studios for helping with a few frustrating WordPress issues when setting up the site.

Google Reviews are Broken (and Google Local Guides Aren’t Helping)

Basketball points illustrationGoogle has a review problem.

When I help clients with SEO, if they already have – or could benefit from having – a Google Map listing (a.k.a. a Google My Business listing), I help them with the presentation and optimisation of that, too. One element of that is the ability for customers to be able to leave reviews. For a business that works hard to give its customers a good service, it can be a fantastic way to stand out from the competition. I often encourage clients to try and get Google reviews from their happy customers – in a way that abides by Google’s guidelines.

However something that I’m finding is becoming more and more prominent is the phenomenon of fake – maybe even ‘incorrectly-given’ – reviews. This blog’s most popular ever post is about how I managed to remove a fake and libellous review from my parents’ business’ Google listing. We (mostly) got lucky because the review’s text said some very nasty things that were very obviously against Google’s review guidelines, but where the whole Google review removal process gets messy is when the text is ambiguous (i.e. it could be a customer or it could not be, and it doesn’t conflict with Google’s review policy either way) or if no text is left against the review at all.

‘Cold’ reviews

One of my clients (and also my business’ home) – Welsh ICE – gets fantastic reviews. They consistently get 4- and 5-star reviews from people who we know are members and have used their facilities.

…But then, all of a sudden, a few months back, they got a 3-star review with no text against it.

And then another one – 3 stars, no text.

And then a 1-star review with no text.

Two things were weird about these reviews:

  1. When I asked Jamie & Rachel – who are involved with running ICE and looking after its community – if they knew who these people were, they said no. The reviewers (to the best of their knowledge) had never used ICE.
  2. They all had the ‘Local Guide’ tag next to them.

Google Local Guide review examples screenshot

Introducing Google’s Local Guides

I’ve been in SEO (and Local SEO) for a while, and while I’d come across Local Guides before, I hadn’t really paid much attention to it – so I did some research. It’s a way to contribute to Google Maps – most likely rising from the ashes of the death of Google Map Maker, which I’d used previously (with limited success – but that’s an aside). What’s more is that it’s gamified: contributors can earn points and badges, and can ‘level-up’.

Google Local Guides points screenshot
At first I thought it was just a prestige thing, but then I came across something quite interesting: at one point (fairly recently), they offered a Google Play perk, whereby “Local Guides who reach[ed] Level 4 and beyond by 31 August 2017 [had] a chance to receive 3 months of Google Play Music and 75% off a movie rental on Google Play.”

Google Local Guides perk screenshot
…Which I’ve screenshot, just in case the page gets taken offline in the future.

Of course, Google’s Maps User Contributed Content Policy states that “contributions must be based on real experiences and information” – but here’s the thing: how can anyone prove or disprove that a review was based on a real experience? Given that Google are incentivising Local Guides by offering them a Google Play discount, what’s stopping Local Guides from randomly leaving random reviews/ratings in order to get points, including businesses they’ve never even dealt with and/or places they’ve never even visited?!

Click to read more!