Posts about: search

Are you User Experienced?

24 November 2011

Illustrating User Experience Design

Illustration: Leah Buley, 2009

The term ‘User Experience’ was first conceived in the 1990’s by Don Norman, while he was Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple. User experience as an emerging trend essentially describes how a person interacts with a product, system or service.

The practice of developing and improving the user experience is referred to as User Experience Design, which considers the emotional response and how a user feels about, perceives and interacts with a product, system or service. The decision to become a regular user or visitor will depend on answering key questions such as “does it give me value?” “Is it easy to use?” and “Is it pleasant to use?

“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose it’s meaning… user experience, human centred design, usability; all those things, even affordances. They just sort of entered the vocabulary and no longer have any special meaning. People use them often without having any idea why, what the word means, its origin, history, or what it’s about.”

Don Norman, 2008

Who creates the User Experience and how does UX translate to the web?

The User Experience Designer’s role is to impact the overall experience a person has with a particular product, system or service. They are enablers who define and improve existing systems in order to enhance the experience for the user. UX Designers come from a wide range of disciplines, and often have a focus in one particular area of UXD. Usability guru Jakob Nielsen’s focus for example, is almost exclusively on web usability. The User Experience Designer will cross a range of disciplines to develop an optimum experience for the end user. This can incorporate any or all of the following:

  • Information Architecture (IA)
  • Search and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Usability
  • Accessibility
  • User Interface (UI)
  • Design
  • Systems Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Digital Marketing

SEO and the User Experience

Having a high ranking site amidst the endless lists of search engine results pages (SERPs), particularly in Google, is of paramount importance to the online User Experience. Your site may be a dream to navigate, well written with lots of useful info and look like it was designed by Apple, but unless it instantly appears when a user searches on one of your keywords, the User Experience can be destroyed.

The Search and Social Media Marketing course here at Salford is a mine of information on all aspects of the SEO journey to help you in your quest for search engine domination and improving the user experience for your customers. Sessions cover:

  • Keyword Research
  • Understanding how Google and other search engines work
  • Using Google Analytics to learn from your website visitor’s behavior
  • Integrating social media into the mix

Speakers from industry attend the sessions every week, to give a commercial perspective on SEO and how it’s being used by business for competitive advantage.

Why does User Experience matter and why should we care?

The way a user feels about, and interacts with a product, system or service is of growing importance to the organisation as well as the end user. The ever-increasing complexity of technology and the role it plays in our lives, coupled with the rapid expansion of the web and the vast number of sites continually being created, simply perpetuates the demands of the highly discerning consumer who is only ever one click away from exiting your site.

The Internet has evolved from the early days of Web 1.0, which provided an extremely linear process where the author published to the web and the reader received the information. Now that we have reached the heady heights of semantic Web 2.0 and beyond, users can read and write to the same space enabling the mass multi-linear sharing of data, and creating an environment where networking online is taking collaboration to an unprecedented level.

The rapid growth of social networks and online communities reflects this huge change in the way the web is evolving, and the canny UX Designer can tap into this wealth of collateral to provide a comprehensive user experience not only through their corporate web channels, but also across a range of online media, networks and applications, in order to:

  • Increase conversions, turning visits to sales for their customer
  • Increase the early adoption of new technology by the end user
  • Enhance customer satisfaction through a sublime user experience
  • Act as a key differentiator in a crowded market

Illustrating the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0

Illustrating how the web went from the old 1.0 system of one to many, to the more recent 2.0 environment of many to many, exposing the web to unparalleled levels of sharing, interaction, collaboration and community building.

Developing the Online User Experience – what’s involved and where to start?

The UX Designer will find themselves involved in a variety of tasks and processes at the beginning of a UX development project, and may need to wear many different hats when dealing with a diverse range of people and practices. This could include exploring all the areas below, or focusing more in-depth on one aspect such as User Research for example:

  • Discovery phase
  • Competitive analysis
  • User research
  • Information Architecture
  • Design
  • Usability testing
  • Prototyping/Wireframing
  • Documentation

Identifying business objectives and the target market are primary steps in the process. It’s also imperative for the UX designer to gather a project team of associated professionals within the organisation, and also to look further afield towards additional staff who although may not be UX or Design professionals themselves can still have a creative and positive input into the process (in 1987 Peter Gorb and Angela Dumas termed this phenomenon ‘Silent Design’). The User Experience Designer always sees the wider picture.

Illustrating the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0

Cartoon by Tom Fishburne, illustrating the ‘Silent Design’ phenomenon found in many organisations. This can be of particular use to the UX Designer in helping to develop the ‘bigger picture’ of the User Experience.

Challenges to the User Experience Designer

Often UX Designers work within organisations as a single practitioner, sometimes with a lone voice, which can present huge challenges in terms of engagement with those who have a non-design or digital background. San-Franciscan Leah Buley presents her experience as a self-styled UX Team of One and all-round UX Superhero, offering tricks and techniques on developing the user experience and overcoming some of the issues facing the UX Designer.

How was your user experience?! I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on my post, and your own personal stories in making the online user experience and ultimately the web a better place to be for all of us.

Connect with me on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @Mandsiii
Add me to your Google Circle
Visit my website
View my work on Behance

And don’t forget to follow the conversation! #SSMM and @SalfordUniSEO

Offsite Optimisation Gave Us A Little Insurance

22 November 2011

When you have no access to a site with a Content Management System (CMS) and you’re trying to build awareness and visibility of a business there are limited routes to go down when it comes to Search Marketing.

Why I Decided To Do Offsite Optimisation?

I am currently a Marketing Executive for an insurance broker in Manchester which does have it’s challenges when it comes so search and social media as insurance is not something people generally have light-hearted conversations about with friends or peers or tend to want to get involved with unless absolutely necessary. As we have a new site currently under development and or existing site is static with no CMS I decided to take on offsite optimisation in order to increase awareness until the new site was up and running and fully optimised.

One of the insurance products we provide is very specific; cover for those training within the conflict management and physical intervention sector. In laymen’s terms, people who train professionals in the security industry; security guards, door supervisors and so on. So what we have to offer is for a niche audience making our product unique.

I was up against two main problems which lead me to offsite optimisation;

1) Because the product is niche it was not visible on many platforms so few of the necessary audience knew us.

2) The site itself had and still does have little to no SEO, impacting even more upon the first problem as it was rare that our site appeared in any relevant Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s).

What I Wanted To Achieve With Offsite Optimisation

I wanted to make us noticeable and known within the conflict management and physical intervention skills sector in order to generate more enquiries and hence new clients. Due to the lack of knowledge we had of the existing web developer the easiest and quickest route seemed to lie with offsite optimisation.

How I Used Offsite Optimisation

Optimising the existing site as much as possible before getting a new fully optimised one built took a lot of time and work. In order to get out name out there and build product awareness I began by setting up a twitter account specifically for the product (because the audience is niche and a world apart from our other clients and prospects) this allowed for all messages to be specifically tailored to the industry, their interests and their needs. We follow prospects and clients, keep up with industry news, network with industry press and generally do what we can to get to know everyone.
In tandem with this I was busy working on getting us up Google rankings, still with no on site optimisation. I felt this best way to do this was via web business directories both general and insurance industry specific in order to increase the chance of conversions plus gain credibility and the conflict management training industry. Some of the directories are very helpful as they allow keywords to be entered and so on, if used properly a free listing can be maximised. The web directory listings are updated on a monthly basis depending on how we are performing on each key term, determined by my own weekly monitoring.
Along side this press releases we sent out to industry press, associations and posted by myself on forums this too helped to generate link building.

What Have I Achieved With Offsite Optimisation?

offsite optimisation physical intervention trainer insurance

We now dominate the first page of Google on many key search terms not only with business directories but our site itself has also been pushed up the rankings due to the number of and the quality of the links, this is crucial to gaining offsite optimisations as suggested by Revisions Media Group, as you can see above and below.

offsite optimisation conflict management insurance

Due to our increased visibility the number of enquiries on a daily basis has increased as has the number of prospects previously deciding not to take cover with us now getting in touch and deciding we are the right choice for them.

As a number of our prospects know us from twitter they are receptive to e-shot campaign material which having not known us may have been deleted without even reading the title of the email, figures show that a large proportion are being read and images clicked on. Social media has also resulted in both prospects and clients approaching us with more ease and on a more regular basis.

The outcomes above have given us a good platform to build upon when the new and more interactive site is launched.

Have you had an experience which has limited you to offsite optimisation? Leave a comment or follow me on Twitter.

How Can an Online Golf Store Benefit from SEO and SMM?

1 November 2011

Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag is my Online Golf Store that has been in operation since 2004, selling items such as Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag.  When we started out on the internet, I expected to have a website built, and that people would come and buy.  A lot of time, and a lot of money invested, I now know that getting the right people to the Online Golf Store is the key to making it work.  So I decided to take on the challenge, and instead of paying out for the so called “SEO Specialists” every month, I would do it myself.

Golf Equipment Categories

When operating an online store, there are a number of factors to take into account when marketing.  Am I going to go for traffic from broad keywords such as “Golf Clubs”, “Golf Bags”, etc etc, or am I going to go for better converting product specific keywords.  With Golf equipment, there are a lot of categories to choose a product from,  such as golf balls, irons, etc etc.

Well I chose the section Golf Bags and from that, I decided to work on the product Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag.

Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag Ranking

For our online golf store, we have found that people searching for the exact product are by far the highest convertors, so the keywords I am going to work on are “Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag” and “Adidas AG Strike Stand Bag” ranked the Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag page 13th and 16th for the key phrases.

On Page Optimization for the Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag

The first part of the challenge to increase the rankings of the Golf Stand Bag in question, was to change a few things around on site, and as we are always told, “Content is King”.  So first thing was first, get the description redone to be unique.  After following the guidelines, (not giving all the tips away) the onsite changes were made.

Off Page Optimization for Adidas Strike Ag Stand Bag

Next I needed to get the off site work done.  A blog post on the Adidas AG Strike Stand Bag and a few little bits here and there, and we were waiting for the results to flow in…


Within a few days of starting to make the changes, I had noticed results.  I had increased in the Google rankings from 16th to 9th, and from 13th to 7th.  This was quite a change already.

After a few more tweaks here and there, and a few more tricks thrown in I had learnt, and i had a look again.  Pretty much 10 days since  starting to work on the item, and I was quite shocked by the results.  The main search term I was focusing on was “Adidas Strike AG Stand Bag” and for this term, I was first in the search results and so far up to 6th for “Adidas AG Strike Stand Bag”.

Well just another 600 or so products to work on; and get them to the top of the SERPS… and i’m looking forward to your comments below or via Stuart White on LinkedIn !

Social Media be part of the Marketing Revolution!

26 October 2011

Social Media Marketing Revolution

Social Media – So where did it all begin? Do you remember ‘SixDegrees’ in the late 1990’s, I can’t say it was really that popular but the concept was ‘six degrees of separation’ on the basis of linking people together in terms of who knew each other, but the bulk of credit really comes down to a site called ‘Friendster’ that was launched in 2002, (this site is still active as a social gaming site after it was re-designed). Then sites like MySpace and LinkedIn followed. It was however the launch of Mark Zuckerburg’s Facebook in 2004 that really set the social media world on course.

Today Facebook and Twitter dominate the social space with other social media net working sites creating a buzz as social networking is constantly on the move. Recent trends also mean that cross platform networking has become an essential part of us expanding our social networking online. The landscape is also changing with social media application based sites like ‘Foursquare’, where they enable you to use the GPS location to ‘check in’ and show your friends where you are on the map!

This video, if you haven’t already seen it is well worth watching as the facts really hit home the enormity of social media today for instance if Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest.

Facebook penetration in the world

Some social media interesting facts for you:

  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • The average Facebook user has 130 friends
  • People that access Facebook via mobile are twice as active than non-mobile users (think about that when designing your Facebook page)
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
  • There are more than 1 million entrepreneurs and developers from 180 countries on Facebook
  • Twitter gets more than 300,000 new users every day.
  • Twitter receives 180 million unique visits each month
  • Twitter started as a simple SMS-text service
  • LinkedIn is older than Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, having been created on May 5 2003
  • The very first video uploaded on YouTube was called “Me at the Zoo”, on 23rd April 2005

Social Media in Business

Two years ago social media was very new for companies to know really what to do with social media in their marketing strategy. Today it is still very new but we are embracing it more and we are not being so scared of it. No longer are we saying ‘Quick our competitors are doing it we must do it! NOW!!’ We are asking questions of why we want to do it and what we actually want to gain from this. Eg –

  • What are my social media objectives?
  • Do I just want to create brand awareness?
  • How do I show my ROI in terms of time and resource spend on social media?
  • How do I measure the effect of social media marketing in my business?
  • How do I integrate and manage all of my social media marketing activities?
  • How do I effectively find my target audience with social media?

These are only some of the questions that you should be asking yourself when it comes to social media in marketing and if your not – start asking!

Have a plan, build a strategy, even if your strategy is something as simple as – I want to gain more ‘Likes’ then that’s fine as a short-term strategy. This is still a brand building exercise and then once you have your followers you can build your longer-term strategy around this. Once you have a plan in place monitoring is essential to see what your customers are saying about your brand, there are lots of tools out there for monitoring social media, (not just Google social media monitoring). Radian 6, Hootsuite & Tweetdeck are just a few, this article on social media monitoring tools has reviewed some and is worth a read.

Make sure you keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, just because they are doing certain things within their marketing social media plan doesn’t always mean they are doing it well, or that that is the path for you. Keep on brand your competitors might be doing competitions or social exercises that just don’t suit or fit your brand?

The Shape of our World today and tomorrow…

These articles below are not about social media but I wanted to include them as they really made me think about the way the world is changing and how the future is shaping up in how we interact and go about our daily lives. Companies are getting smarter giving us less to do and less to think about, devices are also doing more for us – technology is going beyond anything my gran could have ever imagined! She used to be too scared to even touch the ‘Betamax’ video – incase she broke the buttons, (the buttons were bigger than the first mobile phone by the way, it would have taken a tank to do any kind of damage). All amazing stuff and where will it all end? That’s the point.. it won’t as long a we are evolving, so will social media and technology, lets not be scared of it lets get on with it! Maybe one day we will have one site that we login to that will hold every piece of information about us from medical records, our DNA to our family tree and we will login with our eye’s or finger print being scanned?

Vodafone lets customers use their mobiles to pay taxi fares.

A fingerprint reader on the Motorola Atrix allows you to unlock the phone with the swipe of a finger, ensuring can only be used by the owner, read the full article.

Have you found anything new in this blog that was useful? Please comment below, add a link to it or send the link to a friend – Many Thanks!

Linkedin: Find Angela Todd on LinkedIn

Website Marketing Companies In Stampede For University SEO Course Backlinks

21 April 2011

social media boosting website marketing at University Salford, Manchester

Internet and website marketing companies from all over the region have turned up en masse at the University of Salford as part of an initiative to combat recent cost cutting announcements.

Under the guise of an intensive training course in SEO and search engine marketing, the University of Salford is selling backlinks to companies for £2000 a pop!

Enduring several 4 hour gruelling sessions, companies specialising in SEO in Manchester and the surrounding areas are holding out until the bitter end to bag one of these highly prized links and, while complaining about the amount of homework, have been happy to part with their hard earned wonga in order to jump on the backlink bandwagon.

One Leeds SEO firm camped outside for three days to make sure of a place on this so called course and told me . . .

“We really need high quality inbound links to complete an internet marketing assignment for a company specialising in van hire Leeds and also a well known mens shoes brand so we’ll do whatever it takes”.

I have to say that I enthusiastically enrolled to ensure that I wasn’t left behind by my colleagues and competitors but very soon began to forget the prize which was waiting and became engrossed with the excellent content of the SEO course itself.

Top SEO training tips and techniques

From the ground rules for keyword research and selection through advanced link building techniques to the latest thinking in social media marketing, both the superb core team and their excellent keynote speakers really managed to get their ideas across and moved my understanding and my ability to apply my learning right across my client base immensely. High end benefits for my clients and a more effective approach by my team will really mean more business and a more enhanced reputation for my company in the dynamic and competitive world of internet and website marketing.

Not sure how ethical this backlink sale is, although I do think the Search and Social Media Marketing Course is actually extremely good and I would definitely recommend you enrol for the next sessions. Hats off though to the guys at the University of Salford, Search and Social Media Course for thinking outside the box with this innovate if somewhat extortionate way to plug the funding gap and keep themselves and their mates in a job.

As a post script I would urge you to register early for this university SEO training course as places are selling like hot cakes and there are only a limited number of backlinks available – Good Luck and Bon Voyage!

Atommedia branding marketing search

Effective use of Social Media in business

30 January 2011

Presentation slides at the “Effective use of social media” themed open evening of the Search & Social Media Marketing course held on 20th January 2011 at the Hive.

Special thanks are due to the #SSMM panel: @Psychobel
@SmartRich @Alastairw99 @alexmossSEO @and TimTheGuest

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) jobs Manchester – an industry overview

Search engine optimisation job – what SEO Jobs are there in Manchester?

26 January 2011

What are the prospects of a career in Search and Social Media in Manchester? Is it worth my time re-training? How much can I expect to earn? These are some of the typical questions faced by many of us thinking of a new career move or those thinking of employing us too!

My name is Tim Guest, @TimTheGuest on Twitter, and I’ve been invited to write this Blog post based on my recent presentation – “How and why to get a job in SEO and Social Media” – at the Search & Social Media Marketing open day, organised by the University of Salford, on 20th January 2011. I run a Digital recruitment business called Quantica Technology, @QuanticaTech Quantica Technology on Twitter, and Digital Marketing is one of our specialisms:

Stats on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) employment in Manchester:

Four years ago 3% of ALL IT jobs advertised contained the term “SEO”, today over 10% of ALL IT jobs contain the term “SEO” – This shows how important SEO is becoming in all areas of technology.

There are currently 90 jobs containing the term “SEO” advertised within a 30 mile radius of Manchester here are some of the main themes and average salaries:

  • 30 of these jobs are SEO Executive, SEO Consultant, SEO Account Exec. Average salaries are £23,000 – £25,000 and up to £28,000 dependent on experience.
  • 9 are SEO Manager, SEO Account Manager, Senior SEO Consultant. Average salaries are £30,000 – £40,000 dependent on experience.
  • 14 are Head of SEO, Head of e-Commerce, Head of Digital. Average salaries are £45,000 – £60,000 dependent on experience but could even be higher for top people.

The remainder are a mixture of front & back end web development jobs & general marketing roles.

These figures are from:,,,,

What skills do employers look for in an SEO or Social Media employee?

The generic SEO skills are a mix of social and technical and you need to see the specifics of a job. Dependent upon the company, your role can be more focused and be primarily based on optimised content development or on the technical implementation of the content: 

  • Knowledge of Google Analytics / Webtrends
  • Ability to speak “non technical” to sell to board members
  • Knowledge of White, Grey & Black hat SEO techniques
  • Knowledge and experience of Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
  • SEO link building
  • Creating monitoring & improving Google Adwords campaigns
  • An online presence, minimum Twitter / Facebook / Tumbler / Posterous
  • A portfolio of work even if done for “free” to show interest and ability
  • Knowledge of Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML)
  • Knowledge of Content Management Systems (CMS) like Drupal / WordPress
  • Understanding of server software and technical elements of websites
  • Involvement in out of work groups like SMC Mcr, SEO Manchester etc

How to get a job in SEO / Social Media?

Have a strong Social Media presence; let people know WHO you are and WHAT you do. What to post / not to post on Twitter & Facebook is a debate for another time but a good mix of industry stuff and personal (not too personal) posts works best!

Get to know who’s who in top agencies and end clients by doing research on LinkedIn etc. Follow them on Twitter, interact with them so when they are looking to hire they already know you.

Keep an eye on job boards,,

Register with SPECIALIST agencies like Quantica Technology

I’m happy to speak impartially to anyone if you want more advice on this

Tim Guest
Quantica Technology
07798 634538  

What are your five most effective link building strategies?

17 November 2010

Well, compiling effective link building strategies is just one area of what can only be described as a minefield when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. PJ Web Solutions are a company for whom I currently work. Whilst they have always known how important link building is, PJ Web Solutions are only now attempting to become more proactive in their approach rather than being reactive and look for a source of information that separates the "wood from the trees" when looking to develop an effective link building strategy. It is for this reason why this blog post was born, it will separate the mindless array of junk that is posted on various websites and spam emails detailing ways of building links and will focus on what I regard as the ‘Top 5 effective link building strategies .

5) Effective Link Building Strategy : Internal Links

When a lot of people think of link building strategies they tend to always think about links that link back to their website. Which is fine, however it is integral that the way your own website links to other pages within your site, are structured logically and create content silo’s which ensures that new pages you create are crawled by Google and indexed correctly.

4) Effective Link Building Strategy : Manual Link Submission

Manual link submission is important when developing an effective link building strategy, especially, if you can use non-financial methods of persuasion. It involves manually navigating to relevant websites in your industry and finding a point of contact to request a link to your website. A good starting point is to search for your targeted terms and choose non-competitive websites to request a link from.

3) Effective Link Building Strategy : SEO Directories

Mindlessly submitting your website to as many directories is not a good element of an effective link building strategy and it can be argued that it could even have harmful effects on search rankings. Unfortunately, I am very much in agreement with the idea that if the directory is free then it is not likely to be worth submitting your website to. There are, however, directories worth submitting your site to such as Yahoo and Dmoz.

2) Effective Link Building Strategy : Linkbait and Viral Campaigns

Viral content, if done properly, can be a powerhouse in creating an effective link building strategy. It attracts links by other sites referencing the piece of code which provides the back links to your website. For example free code such as calendars etc that people like to embed on their websites can create links back to you! Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc increase the effectiveness of link viral campaigns, as if people like the piece it will be ‘retweeted’ ‘liked’ and discussed gaining more and more exposure.

1) Effective Link Building Strategy : Content

My opinion is that whilst there is no doubt there are many ways to attract links to your site, some free, others paid for, the most effective way of building links is to prepare good, relevant content that people want to read. Content is king and if written well, it will appear on sites such as Digg, it will be retweeted and cause discussions amongst communities and social media channels. If content is written regularly and well, you can build a kind of social empire that people talk about and look forward to reading. Good ways of generating discussion could be, being slightly controversial, or playing devil’s advocate about a topic in your industry.

Always remember that building an effective link strategy takes time and is very much an ongoing process. If you dedicate the time to do things right there is no doubt you can succeed. Make link building fun, enjoy what you’re writing about and rather than it being a marketing chore, you can enjoy building links and driving your site up the search engine results page rankings (SERPS)!

Film festival marketing, social media and adopting the right approach

17 November 2010

As an experienced copywriter and media enthusiast, I’ve long been aware of how search and social marketing are changing online journalism. In my day job I see first hand how each serve clients looking to improve their web presence, but I was keen to know more about the mechanics of both.

While strengthening my knowledge in this area would undoubtedly give me more to offer in my role as an SEO copywriter, I would also have the perfect playground to test out the things I would be learning. As the person in charge of online marketing for the Grimm Up North movie weekender in Manchester, I was already using social networks for film marketing and festival promotion – but now I had the chance to see if I was doing it right.

Firstly, I addressed the ‘conversion versus branding’ debate, deciding that our event would be better using an optimised website to sell tickets, with social media creating a brand identity and greater awareness. Starting with Google’s AdWords, Analytics and Webmaster tools, I began a process of keyword research and site monitoring. In turn, this led restructuring the site to improve navigation and revising all on-site content to reflect a more search-friendly approach. Off-site, I began targeting some of the industry’s most influential bloggers and building a relationship that would trade ‘exclusive’ information and festival access in exchange for content and links on their pages.

Naturally, this external content began to feed into the existing Facebook and Twitter campaigns, allowing us to grow our list of followers and create a #GrimmUpNorth hashtag that would be monitored using Social Mention. Visitors to the main site could see – thanks to an integrated widget – the level of engagement we were having and join the conversation, which in itself became an incredibly useful tool for feedback during the weekend itself. Finally, an event listing was set up on Foursquare to reward users for checking in, with a special prize awarded to the Grimm Up North ‘Mayor’ at the closing night ceremony.

Once the film festival was done, I turned my attention to my own website, which would be where I would continue to publish my own film writing, but would document my adventures in film marketing, festival promotion and social media. Once again, I redesigned, restructured and optimised the site, using guest blog posts for linkbuilding and revitalising the existing Film Rant social networking channels. 

If there’s one thing I’ll take as a hard lesson learned is that online film festival marketing – like any other search and social media campaign – requires careful planning. With this knowledge and much more, I will now approach future tasks with confidence, but with the readyness to adapt and grow in a field that changes every day.

SEO for All: a Journey into the Missing Link

17 November 2010

SEO for Developers…

‘SEO for All’ will explain why web pages – all online material, in fact – should be optimised to make them findable and that – much like web accessibility – this optimisation will not be too great a burden. Online material that has been optimised for findability has a great deal in common with accessible material: it tends to feature tightly focused content built on well-structured foundations. Findable and accessible sites tend to feature appropriate and focused architecture, supported by logical navigation and rich links. Findability works for the standardista and for the consumer.

…and the Rest of Us

Why all? Why not just web developers? The world of Web 2.0 is a world in which audience is author, the wisdom of the crowd authoritative. ‘SEO for All’ has it that anyone who writes for the webdo you tweet on a a particular subject or interest? have you reviewed Call of Duty online? – can apply simple guidelines to focus their message; focused messages are good for Google, reach readers and….well, you get the point.

‘SEO for All’ then, not just all webbies, all designers or all developers. Why ‘the missing link’, though? What’s missing?

The Missing Link: Me!

Or what I learned from Salford Business School’s course in Search & Social Media Marketing

What was missing was a personal awareness of the reality of SEO. I’m writing this at the back end of a 10 week, 4 hours a pop, ‘study when you’re bushed and the kids have gone to bed’ course in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media Marketing run by Salford Business School just down the road from Manchester City Centre. From the general to the particular. Background and details. Beginner to professional. Well, not really. No one gets to be professional in anything after a mere 40 hours.

Principles, Real Professionals & Sandwiches

What you do get though, is a thorough grounding in the principles behind SEO and SMM (the course is acronymed as SSMM – Search and Social Media Marketing), the detailed techniques used in increasing findability and encouraging buzz and exposure to the various tools of the trade. You also get exposure to the real professionals, in the form of a weekly guest lecture by some of the most influential commercial SEO/SSMM organisations in Manchester. The likes of Latitude, MEC Manchester, PushOn and MediaVest. You also get access to SEMPO (international search engine marketing professional organisation) material and certification; the course fee includes 3 separate SEMPO Institute courses and awards. And sandwiches.

SEO: Corporate Fascism?

For me – and, I suspect, a great many experienced web professionals – my interests and professional development over the last 10 years have included CSS, XHTML, PHP & MySQL, JavaScript, design patterns with a smattering of Apache and other server technologies. SEO was mentioned in hushed tones, if at all: text hidden by CSS, Google queries producing pages of link farms, source code which is 90% keyword tag…SEO was, like, working for the man, man, while we worked with flowers in our hair. SEO, then, was the blackest of black hat. Don’t sell the roses, smell them…

SEO: Absolutely Ethical

So what’s changed? Well, other than the stunning insight that the vast majority of SEO techniques – and practitioners – are absolutely ethical, the last 10 weeks have shown me that optimising web material so that it is easily findable (or, as appropriate, rises to the top of a search engine results page, or SERP as they are known in the trade) involves processes that, quite simply, complement the whole gamut of web standards.

Why SEO Matters or Here Come the Numbers

Earlier in the year Royal Pingdom reported that in 2009 there were 234 million websites, of which 47 million had been created in that year.

Here are some numbers from Blogpulse a couple of days ago:

  • Total identified blogs: 150,389,988
  • New blogs in last 24 hours: 45,126
  • Blog posts indexed in last 24 hours: 778,260

Almost a MILLION new blog posts today. Clearly it’s not the material that’s not there. Sure, the numbers are at best a rough guide. A blog post can be a single line. There’s no quality control. And no one reads it.

Ah…no one reads it.

Does that matter? Well, yes, it does if what you’ve got to say is relevant, reasoned, reasonable and just plain right! Without going down philosophical back-alleys, common sense tells me that most of us write for an audience. Most of us work for organisations that seek to promote themselves. This is not simply a matter of persuasion; in many (most?) cases, our organisations have an audience that are actually looking for the material we publish.

Let’s be clear about this: ‘our stuff’ is better than ‘their stuff’ (if you dont’ feel that, do it again) and we owe it to the public to make sure that when they want information, they get it from us! When statistics show that almost three-quarters of searchers click on a result from the first page of results, you’d better make sure that’s where your stuff sits.

Just as separation of style, content and behaviour are elements of standards-based, scalable, future-proof websites, findability achieved by Search Engine Optimisation is a vital ingredient in the toolbox of anyone who writes or develops for the web.

SEO for All: What to Do Next

Surf: 10 SEO Techniques All Top Websites Should Use (blog: 2008);

Study: Do the Course – Salford Business School’s Search and Social Media Marketing, designed and taught by University of Salford academics and industry professionals;

Read: Building Findable Websites (it’s a book by Aarron Walter – New Riders, 2008). The website also features a Findability Checklist.

Play: 10 free tools for Web and SEO Analytics.

Thanks for reading…


Mark Sanders

Twitter: @mark_l_sanders