02 5 / 2013
14 4 / 2013
Results, Results, Results!
I hope everyone’s having a great day. It’s currently 17 degrees Celsius, where I live, which is a major change compared to the last few months here in the UK. I’ve just moved into my new place, still unpacking after two weeks! But, hey at least the weather’s looking up!
Back to the topic! After few months of working, I’ve finally begun to make real changes on the brands I’m responsible for. Believe it or not, it’s not easy to make changes, with big organisations SEO is the last priority. You have to work against the wave to achieve anything. This is not due to upper management not liking SEO, it’s due to business priority and resource alignment. Anyway, for the last few months SEO has been getting some priority, and things have started to change in the SERPs, for the better.
When you are one man band, you have to utilise every resource company has available, from developers to PR, Marketing and other useful stakeholders (even if they don’t like it). You have to squeeze every little bit of link juice out of all the assets you have. Meaning, your on-site optimisation needs to be spot on. The changes I’ve made are having positive impact on our keyword group. This can be measured by using a Click Share formula, which calculates the overall impact rather than just one simple ranking change i.e. it quantifies the changes into nice percentages. This is great for upper management, because they don’t have to go through the entire keyword group and see what has changed. It also allows us to benchmark against our competitors for the keyword set we are targeting for each particular market/location using the same data set with ranking being the core catalyst.
March is looking good overall! Things will go up and down over the months, but that’s expected. However, they shouldn’t go down too drastically e.g. row 6.
22 3 / 2013
22 3 / 2013
Who Took a Chance on me?
I’ve read this great blog post over at Bijan Sabet’s (http://bijansabet.com/post/44870687156/who-took-a-chance-on-you) blog, which was very inspiring in many ways. The blog post instantly got me thinking, who took a chance on me?
I was born in a country called Bangladesh, a very poor country, but a country with a great heritage and vibrant culture. Now, Bangladesh is in constant political turmoil and violence breaks out every week, you could even say every day. Indeed, it’s constantly rated top of the most corrupt countries in the world, actually its number 144 on transparency.org Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 (http://www.transparency.org/cpi2012/results). Nevertheless, I am proud of my British Bengali identity.
My parents moved to UK over 10 years ago. They moved to UK because they wanted to give their only son a fighting chance in life. They wanted me to have a better life than what they had. Indeed, when my mother fallen ill due to diabetes complication, I asked her “mum, why don’t we move back to Bangladesh? You could spend rest of what is left of your remaining life being happy” she said “you are my happiness”. My father was an old man, but he never receded from his duty as a father and a husband. Indeed, my father took care of my mother and me when we needed him the most. My parents are no longer with me. But, I am indebted for the love, care, and the chance they gave me. I am who I am today because of them.
Before my first proper job, SEO was just a hobby for me. I am thankful to my first boss Adriano (and Osman, my work colleague) over at TUI for giving me a chance. They gave me the job I wanted when I needed it the most. I am also thankful to my current boss and the director for believing in me and my vision.
Finally I want to thank my wife for supporting me. She loved me when I had nothing, and still loves me when I have nothing! I am who I am because of everyone in my life.
22 3 / 2013
On To The Next One!
I wasn’t just doing SEO audits, I was busy getting married! After I did all the SEO audits I took a month long holiday to Bangladesh. Where I got married to the girl of my dreams! We have to enjoy life and not become salve to it. I love doing SEO, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying life. Before I left for Bangladesh, I was reading lots of blog post about people doing small things to improve their work-life balance. So, I decided not to take my laptop with me, and I turned all my emails off! During my stay I didn’t even turn on the TV, I was totally detached from the world, and it felt great! Not caring about Facebook, Twitter, or reading the latest SEO news, was awesome! I disappeared into my own little world. I can definitely see myself detaching from digital world in few years’ time! The experience I had was just amazing.
22 3 / 2013
It has been a while since I wrote a blog post. I have been busy doing SEO audits for 13 websites. That’s a lot of websites if you think about it. The hardest part was getting the methodology right. As I needed to have a clear standardised file for all the websites, covering all the uniqueness of each individual website.
When you have different brands with their own local stores/branch and multiple brands within one location, you need to make sure the data you have is accurate and the work you are doing is correlating and matching with the existing data. Let’s say you have over 500 unique branch and they all have unique URLs. It’s very time consuming to audit every single branch and optimise everything from URL, title, meta description, H1 tags. You have to also import existing data from GA and Webmasters Tools for analysis. Also, not forgetting updating the sitemap, robots.txt file and all the existing/new redirects along with new meta robots instructions for those brands.
After you have done the audit you need to log the changes i.e. someone actually needs to update the requested changes (usually the IT people!), which sounds easy, but it’s not. This primarily depends on what the IT people are currently doing. Some tasks are easy to get done others for example updating and creating new pages will take time. There’s always some red tape involved i.e. you need to get approval from the right stakeholders, which is necessary if you think about it. You can’t just go around changing things on the website! They need to be logged and the results analysed, good or bad.
So, this has been my life since my last blog post. I can happily say the changes I’ve requested will hopefully be completed over the coming months! Its great working on theoretically stuff and assumptions, but in the end all it matters is the result. Stay away from theoretical people!
One of the website I’ve worked on, which I’ve used as a test base, has improved radically in SERP. What has worked with this website will now be rolled out to bigger brands. This is one of the advantages of having mixture of bigger and smaller brands to play with. Smaller brands get new updates quickly with limited risk to the overall business. If the update improves the bottom line then it gets rolled out to rest of the brands. This is a win-win situation for smaller and bigger brands.
SEO is all about testing. I test everything before its rolled out to bigger brands. It’s one of the way a SEO can learn new things. Testing new things should be proactively encouraged in any organisation where organic search is important.
In SEO we have lot of people shouting bullshit like social signals and Author Rank. I tend to use common sense, and I want to encourage others to use common sense. Social signals don’t exist outside time sensitive events or Author Rank. They are not used as one of the signals (I believe). Do they help improve SERP? Of course they do. If your campaign goes viral on Twitter or Facebook of course you will get few links, because people will be talking about the campaign on their blogs, websites etc. We shouldn’t be misunderstanding causation with actual factors/signals. Same goes for Author Rank, it’s a nice theory. But, I doubt it’s big enough to be used as ranking signal. It’s just really, really tiny at this moment to provide any tangible data for Google to use in their Search Algo. I see lot of people trying to sell the Kool-Aid rather than doing their day job. Unfortunately we don’t live in dream/theoretical world, and SEOs shouldn’t quit their day and start thinking like Aristotle.
12 12 / 2012
29 10 / 2012
There is non-other I admire more than Steve Jobs, having just finished reading his autobiography I have even more respect for him.
He was not a pleasant man by any means, he was a visionary. He chose to see and do things differently. Now that he is gone Apple will be vulnerable to “business as usual” mantra. As Steve mentioned in his autobiography Tim Cook is not a product person, he is an operation person.
However, Steve really believed in the notion of doing things differently. This is the best possible quote that defines his values “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I think everyone can learn something from his autobiography especially those who are starting a company in spare time from their bedroom.
For me, the book helped me to understand the meaning of minimalism and creating a product from a design point of view. It has to be useful inside and out, it has to show craftsmanship especially in small details. This is what I’m taking from the autobiography, and of course how to be a less dick!
29 10 / 2012
Microsoft Surface: A Failure in Making
So I’ve been looking at the Microsoft Surface very closely from its announcement. The Verge has reviewed the Surface quite well, saving me from writing a lengthy post on pros and cons.
Having read the review, I would not buy a Surface. I am an iPhone and iPad (soon to be iPad mini) user, perhaps that’s the problem.
We all have to make choices in life, some are difficult, and some are easy. But, we all have to make them. I think Steve Jobs said it best“technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing”.
The Surface is an abomination, and quite clearly a Frankenstein device. It’s neither a proper tablet nor a proper computer or laptop. So, WTF is it? I guess the Surface is Microsoft’s “third device”. This may have worked pre iPad era, but in my view it will not work now.
Consumers have already been engineered to believe how an iPad, Tablet or Ultrabook should look like, to consumers it neither of these devices. And to top it off the Surface doesn’t have many apps.
The Surface is a poorly executed device, which shows how desperate Microsoft is to have a winner and break the mould. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of an overlay bureaucratic organisation failing to overcome its momentous shadows of its past success (Windows XP) and failing stock price.
As I wrote before, Microsoft needs a new leader one that understands what’s going on and someone who can make radical decisions.
One more thing… having finally finished reading Steve Jobs autobiography, I think he would summed Microsoft Surface to few words “it’s a piece of shit”.
17 10 / 2012
Thoughts on Google’s Disavow Tool
For the last few months we have seen seismic shift in SEO world. Google’s number one priority for search always has been relevancy. However, before Panda update Google was facing real problem with its search results, as they were mainly full of spam. We have seen the updates, and the effects it had one many prominent websites. Everything that has happened including the manual penalty saga has led us to this point. The disavow tool.
By establishing fear with manual penalty Google has harnessed the biggest spam fighting algorithm, us, the SEO industry. Its human spam fighting bot. Google will now have enough data to categories what is spam, perceived spam and reinforce what the algorithm has already done. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more low quality websites dropping out of SERP in near future.
Google has very cleverly played us all, and I’m ok with that as a SEO and a user.