Don’t interrupt it’s rude…

Interruption Is The Prelude to Engagement

“Don’t interrupt, it’s rude” at least that’s what I’d hear when I was little.

So eventually, you learn how to interrupt in a way that isn’t rude. You do so with timing, with skill and grace that reads the right moment and has the most impact. No point barging in all guns blazing, you’ll be heard but you won’t be really, people will switch off and carry on. You’ll get no engagement.

So, most of the time, I really don’t like ads. It’s mainly me, a little cynical at times. It’s an over 40’s thing.

I’ve been known to sit there and curse when they interrupt my favourite TV show, or when they stemmed a flow of really good tunes on some cool radio station or on my Spotify cheapo account when I had one.

If I had a list of pet hates they might go something like this.

  1. Happy Background Chirpy Builder Whistle tunes as some mellifluous sounding voice actor does the whole reasons to buy this product schtick
  2. The Hijacking of a great old tune I love to promote a product I don’t really care about.
  3. Charity ads that play mournful music as the next sad deserving case is rolled out full of desperate imagery of a life painted extreme
  4. Ads that use ringtones or factors of technology I own that make me reach for my phone or look door wards thinking the doorbell has rang
  5. Ads that use stereotypes to reinforce a perception via accents for example
  6. The John Lewis Ad.
  7. Ads that prey on the vulnerable – Loans, Insurance etc
  8. Ads that tell big fibs
  9. Ads that promote controversial products and use sex and style and the desire to be exclusive as part of their appeal – Vaping ads being one very recent type that makes me snarl.
  10. Quit smoking ads and their disgusting visuals

Of course, many of us seem to like them, I’ve heard friends sing renditions of  Go Compare adverts, I’ve had a friend mimic the Flake ad in humourous mockery and who hasn’t had a friend use the word “Simples”!? Crikey, I myself have been guilty of singing the We Buy Any Car ad in a Nelson Mandela accent. Any, any, any…

There’s no getting away from them really.

You can turn off the tv or switch over (like many of us do) or watch stuff on catch up and FF the ad breaks, make a cup of tea (that’s four cups in an episode of Jekyll and Hyde or Homeland) yet unless you’re profoundly hard of hearing then their ear worms will continue to get through to your brain. Sheer volume and weight of numbers over time means they’ll find a way through.

They certainly work else, we wouldn’t see them anymore.

Look at the analytics packages of a big brand that uses TV or Radio and you’ll see little spikes in web traffic. Look at the social media platforms for ads that the ad lovers like and you’ll see #tags and reposts and poses and skits and all sorts.

I’ll even confess to having a soft spot for the Malteser cup cake ad, but only because it’s genuinely funny and I fancy the lead.

And I guess that ultimately, that’s the thing isn’t it? Interrupting people sufficiently to gain their attention has to be packaged in all manner of ways to suit different styles and tastes. One man’s meat is another man’s poison after all.

I’m certainly no great ad creator but I do have an inkling for the processes that are at work. It isn’t so difficult to work it all out if you stop to think about the ads and what they are trying to do.  And if they aren’t funny or interesting or visually and/or audibly appealing or  sexy or ear wormy or shocking or endearing or otherwise noteworthy then they’ll have no impact.

A good ad will of course be memorable for all sorts of reasons – they’ll have impact and make a mark and leave us with an impression of the brand and the message that will linger. It’s a whole lot easier to achieve with a well thought out tv ad and that’s probably why they’re usually the preserve of big brands with the scope and budget to monetise them. They get to interrupt us when we are at our most pervious, when we are at home relaxing, watching our favourite things, off guard.

Online marketers do get to do the same of course.

They get to interrupt people virtually 24/7 via desktop computers, tablets, watches and phones via app alerts, emails, well crafted headlines and snippets that appear in the SERPS, content shared across social media, retargeted ad creatives that follow users around the web.

Those that do it correctly, get an engagement, get that all important piece of attention, that opportunity to convert the user and encourage a repeat transaction – but it all starts with an interruption of sorts, if it’s annoying, then you’re doing it wrong or they’re just not your audience.

Hat tip to Mr Trott for the thought train.







New Year – New SEO Products – Links, Audits and Reviews

Hello – I’m excited to announce the release of some really useful SEO products for 2016.

The products are aimed at marketers and business owners and lazy SEO’s who’d rather not do the work themselves.

Presently, there are three four to choose from but I’ll be developing more as time allows.

It’s a bit of a departure from the usual SEO product suite announcement in that none of these products are produced via automation or some clever backend api integration.

The reports created will of course use a suite of the best tools in the business. For starters most will use a combination of Kerboo, MajesticSEO, SEMRush, Google, Bing and Moz – we also use a few other top-secret ones too but if we told you what they were then we might have to tickle you to death.

The nature of the type of reports produced means that you’ll have to wait at least a few days for whatever you buy. Sometimes you’ll have to wait longer dependant upon what you’ve ordered and the number of others waiting for the same. Look for the status update on the product pages for the latest turnaround times.

As I said, there are 3 4 new products.

A manual link report product, an seo site review , a content marketing module and a bells and whistles audit and strategy report.

The products are all different and tailored to the specific client that requires them. There’s no template, no fluff, no sausage machine in action.

To go too much in to the finer details of each would be to spoil the surprise and delight of your purchase.

What I can say is that I love what I do and have been doing it for quite some time now (20 years OMG).  I’ll provide you with actionable insights that will make a difference to your understanding of your business and niche. I’ll give you ideas and inspiration and will show you how to fix any general silliness you’ve managed to find yourself doing. I won’t tell you about anything you know already and I won’t kill you with charts and lists and intangibles.

You’ll find phraseology like – “This part of your site is sub optimal and my recommendation is that you change this line of code to this line of code” or “An analysis of your market shows that you have some major content opportunities at hand, my advice is that you do X Y and Z as a priority…”

I hope not to have to write stuff like “The majority of your backlinks appear to come from a suburb of Afghanistan, whereas you aspire to rank in the bustling community of NYC…” I’d prefer not to work with numpties if I can avoid it, so if that’s you then erm…sorry.

There are rare occasions when it’s clear that there’s very little to say or add.

If you are one of these fortunate people then accept my apologies in advance as I decline your request. Why not go spend your cash on nice holiday or give it to charity instead?

That’s it! Happy 2016 to you!

Ps For the referral minded among you, there’s an affiliate program full of half decent commission for completed sales.

PPs. For a limited time, enter BoxMeUp at the checkout for an additional 20% off

How Important Are Marketing Conferences and Events to You?

Marketing Conferences – which ones matter to you?

In an age of information overload – marketers and techies have to choose wisely in their choice of which conferences to attend. If you are a speaker or product promoter, then it’s vital to get your voice heard before your prospects and potential new customers.

If you are looking to broaden your knowledge, network or understanding, then conferences and events can be a great way of achieving this.

Of course, you have to draw the line somewhere.  You can’t spend your life attending conferences week in week out. Your liver won’t think too highly of you and your pocket could become considerably lighter as a result.

Be it adtech, pubcon, SES, SMX, Blogworld the list could go on….What are your must see’s for the remainder of 2010 and 2011?

Would love to hear your views!

[poll id=”2″]

Update: Marty and Amrit were kind enough to respond to a tweet I asked earlier. Thanks guys! – New Domain

I have a new domain acquistion .

Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, ideas thus far are:

  • URL shortening service – a likely outcome
  • An affiliate website for biscuits, namely shortbread – not very likely
  • A random website for people in shorts to post photos online of themselves in um…shorts – even more unlikely
  • A blog type thing with short stories. from budding wordsmiths – perhaps
  • A website for people to buy stuff for little people – um, you just never know

That’s it, for now I can’t think of any others – maybe you can in the comments

London SEO Beer and Heep Hop thang a microformat SERP test

London SEO Geek fest

A night on the lash with search dudes and colleagues and friends and a lil beta heep hop and spinning of the wheels

SEO isnt dead, it just evolved a little

The online space never stands still – keep raising the bar

The great thing about online marketing is that it never sit stills it’s constantly evolving, constantly shifting. Today’s billy big bollox is often tommorrows has been. Sites that don’t step up are often swept away in whatever algorithmic or quality rater review so happens to contribute to their demise.

The simple thing is this – “If you want to succeed online, then you have to make a good site” it really is that simple – add value and you’ll stand the test of time, fail to do that and you’ll perish.

I wrote a strategy document for a client about 9 months or so ago. The client happened to have a site that was related to travel.  They were for all intents and purposes, a bit of a thin affiliate.  To be honest at the time, I groaned about this client, in fact I sighed deeply, as I’d been there before in a past life. I’d built many a thin affiliate site adding limited value and been a little naive to think they’d all last forever.

I guess looking back, as painful as it was to see my little spam babies die a death, it taught me an important lesson about search and marketing and what’s required to keep something alive online in 2008.

I was the archetypal technology driven code solutionist,  the challenge of ranking in SERPs was and still is in lots of ways all about creating the write kinds of signal, be they on the page on the domain or off the domain. My view or approach was by and large relatively simple. Create a domain and attack the aspects of the search engine systems that decided what sites lived and what sites died.  The methodology was simple, look at who is there in the space and do what they do, albeit better.

Of course, that’s a simplistic overview to what is a multifaced problem – companies invest thousands of pounds paying people like me to win in the SERPs. Winning in the SERPs today on the face of it, may still appear to be a  simplistic route of  change the code on page and get a few links, yet when you get under the hood you realise that of course, it’s a little more sophisticated than that.

You need a site that is technically competent, that also engages your audience, without an audience you have no base, no visitors, no sales.

Create conversations get people talking

Here’s a big secret no-one knew ;0) …online marketing today is very similar to offline marketing!

You want to create a product that people want to both buy in to, and that people will keep coming back to too. You want to have products that are recognised for the value they add to the space and that stimulate debate and conversations.You want to be known in the marketplace as a leader in that field, recognised for what you give to those who buy into you.

Advertising agencies use traditional old style media  to tap into our emotions and stimulate conversations and help us identify when we are out shopping in stores. Billboards, posters, leaflets all help re-enforce that familiarity created by that image of the  sexy female pouting or husky hunk posing to some chilled tune in an idyllic  setting using that laptop or driving that car or lounging on that new leather 3 piece suite. The idea is that we want to be those people, and that by buying those products we can. It is of course a symptom of a fucked up existence that a lot of us  feel the need to do this, but it’s how it is.  It’s the way society works, it drives consumerism and helps keep things ticking over – heck, why shouldn’t people get to live out their dreams, what’s wrong with a little artificially induced self actualisation, be anyone you want to be right? A huge topic in itself, yet like it or not, it’s a part of this conversation, people talk about things that are good or cool or interesting, people want to be associated with these and as a result will talk about them, be it over coffee, over a pint, at home, on the phone, the list could of course go on.

Online, it isn’t too dissimilar. Search engines are organisations run and administered by? Bingo, you got it – people. The old school way of SEO was simply about get your onsite code right and you’d rank. It then changed a little and required lots of links from wherever you could get them. It changed again and was reliant upon the quality and type of links, today it’s evolving further still.

Do search engines want to mirror societies needs and wishes?

Search engines have access to lots of metrics that tell them different things – toolbars,  analytics, clickthrough rates on ads, ISP data, link graphs, bounce rates etc all contribute in one shape or form to how a search engine see’s a domain.  It’s fair to conclude that a search engineer would be far more inclined to find ways to rank good content that was more difficult for SEO’s to get in and meddle with or manipulate. Only a fool would ignore the fact that search engines have accessed billions of documents and have performed numerous studies into what is a natural link graph versus what isn’t.

Whitelisting aside, you’d be a fool not to try and develop a site so that it has a natural link profile rather than one that is overtly manufactured, yet you’d be a fool if you tried to manufacture it especially when you don’t need to!

It’s not a contradictory thing, it’s simply a case of there being an effective way and a not so effective way. One way is just about links and links and links, whereas the other is about the right types of links generated in the right types of places in the right kinds of ways.

No one wants to hang in a crappy neighbourhood

If your site is shit and you really believe that you can keyword stuff or shitty productise yourself  to page one of a SERP through technology and guille alone, then you are a big nutter who is wasting not only your time, but the time of every other person who lands on your sorry arsed excuse for a site, stop, build something worthy of the people who you are trying to pull. No one likes you, you are Millwall, you may not care, but others do.

People like good haunts and will tell others

If you have a good site in a niche, then you are probably adding value to that space and are already on the road to creating a good user experience. You probably already have your social share buttons similar to those you’ll see at the bottom of this post, you might already have your facebook page, your myspace page, a Bebo page – maybe you’ve gone the micro blogging route and dipped your toe into the twitter, perhaps you have a seesmic or 12second thing going on, a youtube channel, a presence in the Google Universal search serps – maybe you podcast them and stick them on itunes…

Getting down with the masses and talking with your customers

If you haven’t then what are you waiting for? Why aren’t you out there engaging with your audience? Don’t you want them to talk about your product and what it is you do? Don’t you want to develop relationships with your consumers and have them come back to you time and time again? Do you really want to be reliant on Google and the ever escalating costs of PPC for ever and a day? No of course you don’t, you want these people to come back and tell their friends, which is why you should give them the tools to do so.

Companies like DELL have bought into social and are reaping the rewards.

Less altruistically, some businesses have discovered that Twitter is an effective way of communicating with consumers. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) says Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company’s Home Outlet Store. They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.

Tools like Radian 6 are used to identfiy pinch points and conversation nodes. Opinion formers are identifed and enaged with. If a problem with a new product is identified then rather than let it grow legs and become some uncontrollable monster the social graph of the web can be quickly identified.

Companies like Google use social media in similar ways. (They aren’t just about algorithms) Matt Cutts more commonly uses his blog but also uses his Twitter account as does a colleague of his John Mueller who on occassions has reached out to users of their product, engaging with people who are having issues.

Many companies experience reputation management issues on the web, these could so often have been nipped in the bud had the companies affected had a social media plan in place. Blogs, forums, social accounts all enable for engagement with ones online user base, I’d argue that they are fundamental for any orgnisation or individual doing business on the web today.

But back to search and seo and using these signals, what do search engines get from these and why are they important?

Search Engines  Signals and Social

Very recently, Google introduced a search wiki element to it’s SERPS. Lots of people have moaned and groaned and theorised so I won’t do too much of that. The point is that people can (if they so wish) change aspects of their SERPs. Personalisation has been given one more additional option.

If people like a site, they can vote it up. If a site is voted up, it’s less susceptible to any algorithmic shifts (for that user) and will therefore (for that user) have a little more stability (for that query).  It’s reasonable to suggest that enough people from a diverse enough set of ISP, IP, OS and Geographical variances vote up a site on a given query then maybe, just maybe that Google too might see this as an additional signal of quality and do the same in its non personalised results. Ignoring the fact that it seems odd that people would vote up a site in a result before they clicked it of course, and you begin to see how quality really can make a difference.

Taking all of this a little step further, we only have to see the power of some sites and their ability to rank to begin to appreciate the value of social in an algorithmic sense.

If people are talking about you (linking) on platforms that are regulary spidered, then if the engines so chose to, these could be interpreted as a powerful set of social signals. That is, real people talking about real products that offer real value or the obverse as the case may be.   If sites are regulary cited in social spaces be it via making the front page of  social bookmarking sites like digg, or appearing in hundreds of favoutited social profiles of stumbleupon users, or via a sudden flurry of tweets from hundreds of tweeters on then you can pretty much bet that the site being referenced has stimulated something that is discussionworthy. be that good or bad is up for the engines to determine, however the important takeaway is that it’s a safer signal of something that hasn’t been artificially manipulated by some savvy SEO,and  even if it has, then the effort required to do so, is a signal in itself that the people who decided to push it so hard, felt it relevant to the queries that the site will seek to target, and subsequently rank for.

Anyways, that’s enough – thanks to David for getting me thinking about this stuff , thanks for reading, maybe you learnt something. 🙂

Online Marketing Show Islington London

I’m at the Online Marketing show at the business design centre in London Islington, doing.SEO Consultations.

I just so happened to attend a Universal search aka Blended search presentation by Neil McCarthy CMSO of Latitude Group.

Neil’s presentation was entertaining, Neil had a good take on what it is that is required to do well in search in 2008, that is, a knowledge and awareness of what it is that is making SERP front pages in 2008 – rich media, social media, news content etc.The message to the unconverted being that search engines today are trying very hard to give users diversity and choice within the search results. Knowledge and awareness of this is an obvious asset in any online marketing strategy.

I’m being introduced to all manner of people as I sit and type. Just had a nice conversation with a woman named Nickie who works for a Media agency. It’s surprising the number of people in Nickie’s industry who have a fab knowledge of the off line world and the various channels available to enagage yet when it comes to online have very little knowdledge around what is required to do the very same.

I’ve also just talked with someone named Liz from a recruitment company. Liz has worked with a search agency for some time it seems but just isn’t being returned for her target search terms. A cursory glance at her site revealed all manner of problems relative to on page and off page factors. It truly is astounding that so many companies are making these big online pushes from such relative positions of weakness. Companies, it would seem, are offering them the earth yet failing to provide the right guidance and help from the off. it seems that somethings never change. Still, maybe we can help her out there. Sales guys, we got a hot one for ya!!

Talking of hot, damn, it’s uncomfortably hot here. Why don’t these places use aircon? What is it with conferences and dome like greenhouse type buildings ?

Interesting day so far. Just off to listen to a competitor talk about…yup, you got it, search!

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