Articles Tagged with SEO

Become Cardiff SEO Meet’s Site Review Sponsor and Have Your Software Demoed to a Room of Digital Marketers…

Cardiff SEO Meet has some fantastic sponsors, including food sponsors and – as of the next event (our 8th one) – a website sponsor (website coming soon!) and a photo/video sponsor.

Recently however I realised that there’d be a great opportunity for someone to be a site review sponsor too, who’d get all the usual perks (listed below) and – if they’re an SEO software/tool provider – a really good added extra…

What is a site review? How do they work?

Our site reviews are essentially live SEO audits, where we quickly audit a volunteered website in 20-30 minutes, running it through a few different SEO tools and trying to give the website volunteer as much ‘quick win’ info as possible – whether that be related to keyword research, technical SEO, inbound link building, Google Maps optimisation, ecommerce SEO or whatever else is applicable to them/their business/their site. The volunteered site is announced privately to the Meetup group a few days before the event, giving them time to do some homework (if they want to) and come to the event prepared. We take suggestions from the audience on what might be wrong with the site and what they could be doing to get the most out of SEO.

Wanna learn more? I wrote about site reviews in more detail over on State of Digital.

We’ve run site reviews since the 2nd event, so we’ve done 6 in total so far. Only one has been filmed, which I’ve embedded below if you want to get an idea of how they go…

Notes on the video: a) you’ll have to forgive the filmed-on-an-iPhone quality; b) the first one we did was a bit clunky and we ended up veering away from SEO-specific topics in parts – they’ve run a lot more smoothly since then; c) it starts about 3 minutes and 25 seconds in

What do you mean “demoed to a room”…?

Cardiff SEO Meet Bierkeller stage photoWell usually we jump into a variety of tools: so I might run Screaming Frog, take a look at the site’s links using Majestic, etc. etc… and even get some random suggestions from the audience (the best one we’ve had to date is Keyword Shitter – LOL). There’s no particular reason why I choose these tools – I just go with what I already use and know.

But then it hit me: with the site review sponsor, we could showcase an SEO software tool for 5-10 minutes of the site review, giving it extra attention and focus during the audit. So if a technical SEO tool takes the slot then we spend longer looking at technical SEO; if a link analysis tool takes the slot then we spend longer looking at link analysis; you get the picture. And if someone takes the slot, I’ll make sure that we don’t use any of the sponsor’s direct competitors – so if it’s a link analysis tool, we won’t use any other link analysis tools – just the sponsor’s.

Click to read more!

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?

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!

Getting the Most from Yoast – My Cardiff WordPress Talk

Cardiff WordPress Prisma pic
Yesterday I did a talk at Cardiff WordPress, my first speaking gig in close to a year (you can see a list of all my past speaking gigs here).

Held at the fabulous Tramshed Tech (where Cardiff SEO Meet is also held!), I presented in front of 20+ WordPress designers & developers as well as fellow digital marketers.

My talk? Getting the Most from Yoast, giving details and insight into the Yoast SEO plugin, showcasing its features and settings, explaining how and why certain parts of it affect your website’s SEO, and how to make sure you’re setting it up to get the most out of it.

It was a good, attentive group, who were a pleasure to present to. After my talk, there was a general roundtable Q&A session where individuals could field their WordPress problems to the group, which was pretty cool. We also talked about SEO a bit more (something that I ain’t complaining about)!

Here are the slides, which I submitted to Speaker Deck (because they looked terrible when uploaded to SlideShare):

[Image credit – Davey Brown via Twitter (and then run through Prisma)]

Blow Your Goddamn Trumpet

Trumpet image
A few weeks ago I received an interesting enquiry from a local designer, who does a lot of design work for musicians. Given that I’m a proper music fanatic, I was really excited at the opportunity to potentially work with him and his clients. He asked me for my hourly/day rate, and although I stressed to him that I quote on a per-project basis depending on what I think is required to do the job, I gave him a rough idea of how much I usually charge. We discussed a potential small one-off project (which sadly fell through shortly after discussions began, as his client backtracked on wanting SEO work done), and then he suggested that I work on a pet project of his instead. However when he brought up the latter project, he explained that when he told his team about me, they “freaked out slightly when [he] mentioned [my] rates!” Hmm.

I replied saying something about how we could price it based on their budget rather than my fee, if that was easier – and I left it at that. It was quite a weak and timid response, looking back at it now. I’ve yet to hear back.

Ever since I sent that last email, I’ve been kicking myself.

Sure, the “your prices are high” reveal could just be a ruse to try and get me to lower my prices. Or it could be the case that his team doesn’t value or ‘get’ the cost of SEO. I don’t think I charge exceptionally high prices (I know a few SEOs with less experience who charge about the same), and given that he’s a designer – and probably gets people raising their eyebrows at his prices – I’m surprised he’s surprised (if that makes any sense)!

Whatever the case, I later realised that I didn’t give him any reason to realise why I charge that rate, whether it’s perceivably high or not. I just said “oh I can probably match your budget if you let me know how much that is.” What a mistake. I could’ve/should’ve used it as an opportunity to sell myself a bit more…

I could’ve told him that I’ve been doing SEO full-time for over 8½ years (since early 2009). And that I’ve worked at two agencies locally as well as for Confused.com as part of their in-house team. And that I’ve been blogging for over 5 years and that this humble SEO blog has been a finalist in the Wales Blog Awards as well as the UK Blog Awards for three years running. And that I’ve written guest posts for Moz’s blog, which is widely considered to be one of the best SEO resources in the world. And that one of my campaigns – which I spearheaded single-handedly – was a finalist in the UK Search Awards 2015 for two awards (and that I believe I was the only solo consultant/freelancer to get shortlisted that year). And that I have a bunch of very happy clients on MOM’s testimonials page, many of whom are also on my Linkedin profile as recommendations, meaning that they’re genuine and not simply made up. And that I’ve spoken at one of the biggest SEO conferences in the UK – not just once, but twice – and have a bunch of other speaking gigs under my belt as well.

To be fair, I hate to brag – and the paragraph above feeling like one full-on braggy braggathon. Ych a fi!

…But I could’ve left it with him to think about. Did he think my rates were too high because he didn’t know too much about me? Would he still think they’re too high now that he knows all of the above? I guess I may never know – but next time I’m gonna try this approach instead.

The moral of this story? Don’t be afraid to blow your trumpet once in a while. The next time I get chance, I’m gonna blast the hell out of the damn thing.

[Image credit – Tom Mrazek]