Monday, November 26, 2012

Understanding SEO: How Google searches and indexes data.

Lovely Infographic which explains what happens when you search Google and some of the statistics behind the amazing feats of engineering they've cobbled together to give split-second search results from a 100,000,000 GB database.

Most of Google's search results are based on Indices. Each Index is a list of keywords, locations and pages that they relate to. When you search using a keyword (keyword is plural in search lingo - and a keyword can be one or more keywords, also known as a keyphrase), Google returns the results of an index or the results of pages in the indices your phrases matches.

So in essence, the index is pre-built. Google just applies rank order and geo-location to filter the results. So in most cases, if you're searching from Ireland, pages from the same country are given higher priority. Results priority are given in the order that suits the query, not necessarily the site or page with the highest PageRank.

To assemble this index, Google stores all of the relevant data with the keyword and web address. This is what makes it tick so fast. It doesn't really have to search, most of the computational mathematics have already been performed.

When Google processes each page, it determines what keywords on each page are strong or relevant enough. It also looks to see how popular it is and then gives it a score. It also decides which countries that its relevant to.

Google also has to then do the same keyword matching with its AdWords database as well as its Google Local (Zagat/Places) database. It also pulls relevent data from its news feed (especially for QDF) and from YouTube and Images. This data is then compiled into the search results you see.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a marketing term to describe a day of discounted ecommerce trading, and comes after Thanksgiving Thursday and "Black Friday." Black Friday is one of the biggest consumer discount retail days in the US and is similar to post-Christmas Boxing day sales in the UK and St Stephens Day sales in Ireland. Coined in 2005 as a way to convince people to spend online, #CyberMonday is due to see a $1  billion splurge online.

Essentially, its a marketing gimmick - not unlike creating Valentines Day or De Beers' famous "A Diamond if forever campaign" - which created a market for diamonds that didn't previously exist!

This figure though is massively overshadowed by the recent news that Taobao, the online Chinese retailing behemoth, closed $3 billion in sales in one day!

If you haven't taken advantage of it - its probably too late. A quick Google search reveals that hundreds of online marketers already have a head start, which included securing EMD for cybermonday2012.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hello Blogger - its an end to 2012 but not to Blogger!

I set up this blogger blog in 2008 and I've been an avid blogger ever since. As we saw the greatest expansion and growth in 2012, we decided to move the blog to our WordPress version on Primary Position, to consolidate our traffic and web infrastructure in one place.

This was a mistake. A big, big, big mistake.

This is the complexity of the times we live in. The right decision isn't always the best one. The correct decision can also be wrong. Blogger is free - much in the way are hosted sites. And with that, comes the inability to move away properly. You can ditch it. But you can't move it easily.

I picked Blogger, not because its free, but because its fast. And I found myself in a catch-22. First off, I'm a big fan of multiple domain name strategies and I always have. I have more domains than almost anyone I know, bar Michele Neylon for example,  and a few other serious domainers. I also have a number of websites. They act as backup plans, reputation managers and displacement ranking sites.

But backup mostly. You see, most companies have just one domain - and that's dangerous. What happens if your hosting goes down (for multiple reasons, which I'm not going into) or you accidentally ban yourself from Google (for example, by blocking your site in Robots.txt) or if you "steal" your own content.

When we wanted to move from here to there because we wanted to be on WordPress. There were lots of reasons, and they were good ones, and here are some:

  • Better control of the theme
  • Its our content on our domain
  • It gets harder and harder to leave here
  • More control over hosting, technical configuration
  • We'd be all grown up and 'using' a 'proper' blog cms
  • Traffic and SEO effect to our own domain would work harmoniously
  • Except it didn't
I take full responsibility for the decisions and the support I got from our team was unanimous. It was the right decision and we all had a role to play.

Why I didn't want to move:
  • The SEO authority in this blogger was legendary. We could rank for anything in seconds
  • This is where we started, where people knew us
  • Do you know how long it takes to build that many links and to build that much Kudos?
  • Blogger gets better and better all the time
  • I'm a Google Fanboi (but I own an iPhone and I still love Dell!)
So here's what we did
  • We found a 'hack' to sort-of '301' this blog to our blog
  • We found a way to import all of the content to our own
  • We even got all of the comments and user data! Yay!
  • It was epic
But Google doesn't really provide a way to move. You can stay, leave, abandon. But you cannot 'move'

Google does a lot of good stuff...and a lot of bad, dumb stuff that is the product of becoming the enormous giant that it is. Bureaucratic. Stuff like how it polices (or doesn't) AdWords and Brand name infringements, libel and flouts laws on Advertising and Trademark protections. Fair play to Australian courts for dragging Google to task. Fair play to Google for rolling out some of these worldwide.

Yes, Google gave a free tool. And Google believes, that it can provide limited support, warranty etc as a result. Except there's no pay-for option. And that's kind of sucky.  Because what happened next is exactly why I evangelise to people to move away from free services ASAP.

My reason for hosting on here wasn't because it was free. I couldn't care less. I spend 1000's on hosting, because I'm in the business. In fact, just 5 years ago, my total online hosting and domain ownership bill was in excess of €900 per month. We have a technical team of two engineers who spend all day every day managing sites we work on. The cost is frightfully negligible.

One of the things Google does, which is great in principle, is that it remembers. It remembers pages you put up and take down and it remembers them for a very, very long time. Months. Years even.

Many websites get taken down for a multitude of reasons. Missed billing. Wrong billing. Hacks. Forgetful webmasters. Malware. Try ticking the wrong box in your CMS (try the Privacy Option in WordPress if you're bored and hate getting free traffic from Google - it'll soon dry up)(actually please dont!). So Google doesn't drop pages automatically. In fact, getting it to do so ranges from tedious to downright annoying.

Well, moving our content AND using our 301 was a disaster and cause a multitude of problems that made it look like had copied (and it had) from Blogger - large scale. And that caused massive issues. Even though we set everything here to draft, there's no real way to move. There's canon settings and everything but ultimately, if Google thinks you're bad, you're done for until you fix it. And no, there's no helpline or support....!

So, if you're hosting here or, then stay or go. But if you're going to go, go soon :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Google Now - available on iPhone and better than Apple's Siri!

Google Now
Google Now is a new type of everyday computer aid for those that struggle to disconnect from the web. It will tell you when to leave your house for your appointment and if you are going to meet traffic along the way. It will even give you a route to avoid traffic if necessary. Google Now is always one step ahead of you to make sure you don’t trip up.

At a new restaurant and can't decide what to eat?
Google Now is like having a personnel assistant round the clock in your pocket. One of its great features is that if you’re in a restaurant and Google has access to their menu, Google Now will help you choose what you want from preselected preferences. What makes it even better is as you wait for your meal to be cooked Google Now can keep you updated about your favourite sports teams in real time. I can imagine those functions being pretty handy when lost in Japan as the super bowl starts!

Google Now decides which is the most important or most relevant with regards to you location, the time or what your friends are up to. For example if you are in the subway Google Now will realise this and select the public transport card to appear first this way you will know what train is next and how long it will be. This new feature which was only released on the 29Th of October has made it into another great technology that makes living so much easier.

Google Now has 3 different genres to select your cards from Manage your day, Stay connected and Be a local anywhere. Under each genre there are different cards you can choose from:

Manage your day:
1.       Next appointment
2.       Weather
3.       Traffic
4.       flights
5.       Hotels
6.       Restaurant reservations
7.       Events
8.       Packages

Stay connected

1.       Sports
2.       Movie Listings
3.       Concerts
4.       Stocks
5.       Public alerts
6.       Developing story and breaking news

Be a local anywhere with data on

1.       Public transit
2.       Places
3.       Nearby Attraction
4.       Nearby photo spots
5.       Translation
6.       Currency
7.       Time at home

With all these different cards to choose from you can almost guarantee that you will never be late, miss a train or go hungry. Like all the other Google products I presume the older it gets the more it will become integrated with other Google products and into our own lives.     

Friday, March 30, 2012

Somebody that I used to know: Gotye's YouTube hit by the numbers

Gotye is having a bit of a good time right now showing the value of virality and the power of producing really great content. It's created all kinds of value for him and I'm delighted for him, if a little jealous.

What his success cements in place is youtubes place as the number 2 search and discovery tool on the internet. Yes, it is a video platform, but a lot of content from slides to songs are being converted for the purpose.

Lets have a look at the current state of Australian (Belgian born) artist Gotye's massive viral hit. Here it is if you missed it.

Posted in July of last year there are now over 133 million views on the original official video.

Amazing! What a story, right? Only half the story really though.

Here's what else is happening form a quick glance at youtube and only counting videos that got over 500,000 views the song has spread around by another 117 million views via other users. Those extra views include covers, lyrics versions, parodies and live performances.

Here's the breakdown (Original song posted in July last year)
133 million views
117 million secondary views of the song
630 thousand likes on youtube
170 thousand comments on youtube
7 million likes on Facebook
185 thousand shares on Twitter
7 thousand Google +1's

Just using our very basic counting method that pushes Gotye's total viral spread to over 250 million on youtube. That is a vast reach and it cements youtube as top of the pops in a range of categories.

It's the second biggest search engine in the world after Google.
It's the winner in content sharing and virality across the entire social spectrum.
It's the winner in content discovery.
It had over 2 billion searches per day 2 years ago
Arguably the biggest music search engine with the music from the second largest video property VEVO syndicated into it's platform too.

Why is it the winner?
Not only is it the second largest search engine on it's own. It also integrates seamlessly with Googles universal search operating since 2009 so videos often end up on page one. In the social sphere it is almost unique in it's ability to not only use it's own network to spread content virally but also every other social network as well and drive that traffic back to itself or control the content viewing experience and the measurement thereof.

Seriously though, 133 Million views on a single video since last July is impressive right? But what if I told you that I could show you a story almost as impressive and immediately related.

Remember that 117 Million extra views for the song? What if I were to tell you that over 81 Million of them were for a cover version posted in January this year. What if I told you that over 3.5 Million of them were for a parody, not of the original song, but of the cover version and that the cover had triggered a series of parody versions that are all well into the hundreds of thousands in views and still growing? Interesting right.

Here's the breakdown (Remember this is a cover version posted in january)
81 million views
5 million secondary views of the song
760 thousand likes on youtube
135 thousand comments on youtube
4 million likes on Facebook
247 thousand shares on Twitter
12 thousand Google +1's

Some interesting take aways here
100 thousand more people actively liked the WOTE version on youtube.
100 thousand more people shared it on twitter.
5 thousand more people +1'd it. Almost twice as many.

It's clear to see from a distribution and reach perspective that this cover version of the original song added value to the original. It also added value for Walk Off The Earth but then value from content isn't a zero sum game.

It's also important to remember that none of this would be possible without youtube. Where's your content? Is it good enough to compete for your audience in this global market?

I do love Gotye's version but I actually prefer the WOTE cover version so I'm posting it here.

Oh and before I forget Here's that parody. Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bees with Guns (and Electric Fences)

My post about shooting bears a few days ago has seen a pretty big response. And a few emails asking me to explain myself. So here goes..

Bees aren’t sexy and they aren’t big and powerful. A bee contributes. A bee is by default part of a community. A bee works hard to build supply and defend that community for his own sake and for the sake of others.


A bear is a solitary predator who looks out for himself and only has interactions with others when he wants something. Bears are only interested in what something can do for them. They are not interested in contributing or in building.

The contrast between these two is the most stark when you consider that honey is one of the things bears like most. They love it but they produce none of the honey they consume.

What if we rename ‘honey’ as ‘value’. Bees work hard in a community to build up all the value and a place to store it. Bears don’t contribute and they don’t build value. They not only take the value built up but have absolutely no problem in destroying the place that holds the value either.

I doubt that bees, if they were asked, are terribly enamored of bears.

Think about the market
A lot of traditional marketers and many business people are bears. Bears don’t understand contribution. Bears don’t understand concepts like giving value first, customer service and caring about things outside yourself.

Both these models work by the way. Bears and bees both survive well and will continue to. It’s worth remembering though, that bears can only continue to do this because the bees can't stop them and they can't warn the next hive.

With the interconnectedness of communities these days, does the same apply to your brand or business? Is being a bear sustainable for brands?

In the bad old days no one could stop the message, no-one could warn the next community or group to build an electric fence, now they can and do. Information about who you are as a digital citizen is available to everyone. As many big brands brands and companies are discovering, stealing one group's honey can lead to fences being built for you all over the digital landscape.

Of course being a big bear meant something once. It meant you didn't have to care what people thought. But when the bees have guns and electric fences, however tiny, it all starts to add up.

Reputation and it’s affect on the bottom line have become so important that no one is big enough to steal someone's value and get away with it any more?

Don't be a bear, bees are much harder to shoot...

Bonus Update: If you don't want to shoot the bear you could always take the advice of Dwight Schrute. :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

SEO in Dubai

Dubai Internet City - UAE
I'm over in Dubai in the UAE doing bits and pieces and also enjoying the amazing city landscapes, architecture and gorgeous food - and since the start of planning my trip, I can't stop thinking about how Dubai is marketing itself online.

Firstly, the properties are fantastic, and while prices for some things seem high, others are quite cheap.

You can book a 5-star hotel (apart from the resorts) with over 130 to choose from for between €50 and €100 a night (about 250-500 AED). We found that affiliate and visitor information sites (like,, and YouTube) were by far the best sources to determine our budget for hotels. The worst were the actual hotel websites.

Our first hotel, located in Bur Dubai, was really suitable for Business travellers and was close to the airport. When contacted directly, they quoted amounts about 4-5 times higher than the hotel comparison sites for the same hotel.

So, when approached by someone who eventually found their hotel online, and could have made a direct booking with no commission they chose to instead accept 75% less via a hotel reservations site and pay a commission. This makes no business sense to me at all.

The hotels we did book were based on what we could find out about them on Trip Advisor (discounting any blatantly "I've a bee in my bonnet" negative posts), but mostly on what we saw on YouTube. Good quality information, showing guests about what they offer, what they can do and where the hotel is located costs considerably less than handing over 75% of your projected turnover from internet-based sales.

It's a remarkable lesson for business owners - when you underinvest in your website and web assets (like your website, YouTube Channel, twitter, Facebook page) - then it will have a direct and potentially fatal cost to your business.

SEO adds value to your business by bringing the end customer with the product developer. Affiliates add less value and more cost to the transactional business.

Ultimately we found the best value via a travel agency in Kerry - who gave us the best advice and value on our second hotel, which was just unbelievable.

Some of the Global Companies in the DIC

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Simple and Easy

Great ideas, great marketing and even greats music is usually (not always) simple.

Beautifully magnificently, awesomely simple.

There is a habit, in our lazy use of language, of confusing the idea of simple with the idea of easy.

Making a point in a long rambling discussion is easy. It requires knowledge but because you have an engaged (or captive) audience, it doesn't require hard work to deliver that knowledge. It might be "long" work but it's not hard, it's not difficult. Anyone can do it with enough time.

What if you don't have a captive audience? What if you don't have time? What if you need to grab them as they drive by, digitally or physically.

The message you see or hear is often simple. Trying to make it simple is the hard work.

Don't think it'll be easy, don't do long and don't do complex. Don't be lazy

Do the hard work to make things simple.

Inspired by the guys at the #imuroadshow today :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just shoot the bear

Bee's are a community that work together to produce food in the form of honey for the next generation. Bears don't add value and just take it for themselves

If you're adding value and someone is just taking it then fire (shoot) them.

Don't let them spam your blog, advertise on your facebook, add you on Linkedin or suck up your time.

Bonus Update: The video below considers some other options if you choose not to shoot the bear (and have time on your hands). Enjoy. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grass Growers and Grass Cutters

A problem that is common in modern business and particularly in marketing is applying old thinking to a new situation, product, technology or problem and not realising that in the information age consumers can get informed and inform each other.

Football pitches through the ages
Once upon a time before pitch technology improved the average amateur teams pitch would get a bit bare. The solution offered to this was always “leave it alone and let the grass grow a bit” and all would be well.
The problem of course was that it never was and we perpetually had poor playing surfaces for our field sports. This is the old thinking.

Since the 90’s though the number of purpose built pitches has increased dramatically. The dissemination of knowledge about pitch care has too. So on our modern pitches we now expect good surfaces. An important thing learned along the way is that it’s not just about the grass it’s about the roots and the soil too. The more roots we have the stronger our pitch surface is, the more blades of grass we have the less likely we are to have pitch wear. So cutting grass shorter more regularly and aerating the soil is the best way to maintain a pitch.

So it bemused me no end recently to hear an older groundsman dictate on how he was leaving the pitch be and letting the grass grow to help restore the pitch. I didn't have much hope of an improvement in the quality of the playing surface. Old thinking, new era, informed customer.

Dangerous thinking
That’s the danger of applying an old way of thinking to a new situation and with this new generation of informed consumers, brand marketers especially need to be wary of the trap.
Remember these 3 things always before assuming that what you learned in a marketing or business degree course is relevant to the current situation.
  1. The old wisdom, while accepted, may have been wrong even in the old world but we never had the means to test it.
  2. It may not produce the effect or results you were hoping for (and perhaps it never did)
  3. Do you want to run the risk of alienating a customer who is better informed than you about:
    • The problem itself
    • How easy it is to be informed about it accurately (If I know, why don’t you?)
    • How you ought to communicate it
    • The value of what you do
And you better believe that they are more informed because in this new connected age the information is here at their finger tips and communication is baked in.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Limerick Local Heroes - Town Hall Success

Last night saw the first main event of the Limerick Local Heroes event - the town hall meeting. It was, by all definitions, a complete success. Many thanks to all of the co-contributors and a big round of applause to Tony Frawley for getting everything going, keeping it going and for standing up and introducing everyone!

It was chaired by Aonghus McAnally - who gave up so much time for us - and was a superb presenter and speaker.

It was hugely inspiring - there was so much feedback - and everyone was positive. It was everything we as a group wanted, and it was great to see that there was only a message of solidarity and support. We had no idea that so many would turn up - but we're pretty glad we planned for it. With about 160 people pre-registered, we still had no idea of how many others would turn up but we were so happy to see the Strand Hotel fill up so quickly!

Support from the Strand and Absolute Hotel has been superb. The Absolute has been "housing" the many meetings that the event organisers have held to prepare and plan over the past 3 months (and I've only been a small contributor) - and the Strand generously and similarly donated the fantastic Shannon Event Suite.

Fair play to everyone and all of the volunteers who got involved - anonymously and without self promotion - it's so good to see community/altruistic spirit at times like this. And to many the people who gave up 3 hours of a Monday night in January on a whim of a chance at watching something happen to make a difference.

Also - super to see so many people who have moved to Limerick become so involved. Limerick is as diverse and as friendly as it is historic and traditional.

I think we all loved the Monorail idea - who couldn't but be reminded of the classic Simpsons Episode featuring the town hall meeting to propose a monorail? Absolutely brilliant - and with all of the colleges and skilled engineers we have, a chance to revisit an idea that has become a worldwide obsession since the 1800's - cheap, easy to build transport for everyone.

Thank you to everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Public Town Hall Meeting for Limerick Local Heroes

Limerick Local Heroes are inviting the people of Limerick to attend a townhall meeting to discuss the project and how people can get involved. The meeting will take place on Monday, the 30th of January at the Strand Hotel in Limerick. More details here.

Tony Frawley, spokesperson for the Limerick Local Heroes Steering Group, explains
“Limerick Local Heroes was born out of a frustration amongst genuine Limerick people drawn from the arts, business, sporting & community sectors who believed their voices haven’t been heard in developing a future vision for Limerick, particularly in terms of job creation."
The Limerick Local Heroes initiative is not for profit and the steering group behind the initiative is made up of individuals from all sections of Limerick society, business, sports, arts, community, education all of whom are giving their own time to developing an environment for job creation.

Those who are interested in attending can pre-register at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Limerick Local Heroes | Be the change

I've always thought it was important for local citizens to support their city - take pride, responsibility and get involved in whatever they can. Limerick has been an employment black spot for a very long time. In fact, it seems like it's been that way forever. But something is afoot to change it - Limerick Local Heroes

It struggled to get a University - and only when an American entrepreneur philanthropist decided to back (read: fund, pay, do it) and it struggles to get other things - like developing citizens who can believe in themselves, their city and their county. Limerick is the underdog of the underdogs. The National media pour scorn on Limerick - as if to point out that living in the overpriced, traffic choked capital isn't so bad because it could be worse - you could live in Limerick, where presumably people are shot dead just for trying to go outside to find water or charcoal.

Its a city that struggles with itself. When your own government tells you can't then you begin to believe it. The best leave. And then come back and find that the people who stayed behind now demonstrate a feeling of collective abandonment.

But those are just feelings. The thing is that Limerick is a terrific place in my opinion. And I grew up in the place that was just voted as the top destination on the planet: Cape Town.

There are fantastic things happening in Limerick. And Limerick is made up of lots of really smart, interesting, talented and lovable people and includes people from all over the world who now call it home.

So lets highlight this a bit by supporting the Limerick Local Heroes Initiative, based on the incredible success of "Can Do" recently exhibited by Dundalk on the RTE show, "Local Heroes - a town fights back".

Great to see many of the faces from Limerick Open Coffee and Bizcamp Limerick there (mainly Gabriela Avram, to whom this city owes a huge debt of gratitude and high praise for her tireless efforts in promoting the city, educating the city and creating so many positive events that include the very successful 3D Camp amongst many more).

The problem with blaming the government for the lack of progress in dealing with job creation and economic success is that holding them responsible for something that they know nothing about is frankly, absurd. The government needs to create the right conditions for economic activity to take place: Infrastructure, Education, Security, Enabling Trade. There are some interventions that are super necessary - enterprise ireland, the IDA, regulators. But frankly, entrepreneurs have to be the small in SME. Nobody is going to do it for us.

What makes America great, in my opinion, is Americans. They take pride and responsibility. They've believed in the unbelievable and made it happen. Now its our turn: after all, where did most Americans come from?

Some of the many success stories in Limerick include: Analog Devices, Dell, Vistakon, Cook Medical, LIT, The LIT LEAP Programme, The University of Limerick - which includes Leroy, Aughnish Alumna, Wyatt and so many more.

Follow the Local Heroes Limerick campaign on Twitter via the hashtag #limerickurmylady and on Facebook:!/localheroeslimerick