Monthly Archives: November 2012

Dave Trott - CST

Beating Your Competitors

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Brighton SEO on Friday. If you are not familiar, Brighton SEO is a free SEO conference that is based in, you guessed it, Brighton. The conference is a one day affair and is jam packed with speakers from around the SEO world and related fields.

The first presentation of the day came from the impressive Dave Trott. I had not heard of Trott before but was so impressed with what he had to say that for me, he outshone all of the other presentations on the day, and there were some very good presentations let me tell you!

Trott’s message was simple, you don’t have to make the most successful advertising (or creative) project ever, every time you start working, you simply have to beat the competition. He explains how this is a simple truth and that if you beat your competition you win the customers. He started with an old story, one you may have heard before:

“Two men are walking through the jungle when they hear the approaching footsteps of a tiger. Realising they are in danger, one of the men whips out some running shoes and proceeds to lace them up. ‘You wont outrun a tiger’ proclaims the other man, with that, his sneaker sporting companion explains, ‘I don’t need to outrun the tiger, I just need to outrun you'”

If it was me, I wouldn’t even bother with the running shoes, I’d just run, but that’s not the point. The point here is that this clever jungle explorer realises that he doesn’t need to set the 200m record, he just has to beat his friend in a sprint for life. If his friend loses, the tiger eats and he wins.

With this in mind, Trott explains that in order to be successful in your creative ventures you simply need to beat your competition and in order to do this you need to turn a problem you can’t solve into one you can.

He went on to give an example of changing a problem you can’t solve into one you can. The example surrounded and advertising job he had to work on. The client was the fire service who were keen to stop people having problems with chip pan fires. Trott explained that year in, year out, advertising campaigns went out to explain the dangers of chip pan fires and how throwing water onto them can cause more problems. Trott explained how this type of advertising joined the majority 90% of advertising that is either missed or ignored and that people already knew the dangers.

The problem was this; Trott needed to reduce the number of chip pan fires. Trott explained how this was a problem he couldn’t solve and so in order to make a success of the campaign his team needed to solve a different problem. It was here that he identified the cause of the fire service’s issues; calls from chip pan fire sufferers. This gave them a new problem that they could solve; reduce the number of calls to the fire service because of chip pan fires. With this new problem in mind, Trott and his team were able to come up with an advertising campaign that told people how to safely put out the fire, thus reducing the number of calls people needed to make to the fire service. A new problem that could be solved.

All in all an inspirational talk and an introduction to a man who clearly can teach me a lot. I will be ordering his book, Creative Mischief and would certainly recommend you take any opportunity to hear him speak.


A Simple Way to Improve Your Keyword Research

Out of all of the SEO tasks that fill my to-do list on a regular basis, keyword research is the one that I most love to see. Keyword research, as I am sure you are aware, is an important part of running an SEO project. It is so important that if it hasn’t been done properly I insist that a project stops until it has been carried out in a comprehensive way.

Keyword research has a very simple aim: to find keywords that have a high amount of searches are relevant and have a low amount of competition. All too often the keyword research is stifled by a lack of time and budget forcing SEOs to carry out half-baked work that causes them to miss one or more of these requirements. I want to present a new process that I believe can be as quick as any other but yields vastly more reliable results that always take into account the fundamental aims of keyword research.

The current keyword research process goes a little like this; log into a keyword gathering tool, enter a search using some keyword ideas, export the resulting list into Excel. The list is then looked over and with nothing more than subjective opinion and local monthly search volume a shortlist is chosen. Sometimes this process works but when it does I would wager that it was pure luck rather than SEO expertise that brought success.

Simple Keyword Research Process

The new process I want to present is designed to take all of the guesswork out of keyword research. Let’s go back to our list of aims that keyword research should focus on. Number one is to find keywords that have a high search volume. Taking care of this part of the process should be very familiar and it does involve simply using the keyword tool of your choice. Use the tool to gather as many keywords as you can handle, search and re-search using different variations and by all means use more than one tool. Don’t get bogged down by duplicates cropping up when you export lists, this can be easily filtered out in Excel. The aim here is to gather as many potentially relevant keywords as you can, from as many sources as you can. The key thing to remember is that the list of keywords you have need to have a localised search volume associated with them. You should only limit this stage of the process by the amount of time you have to play with.

The next aim of keyword research is to find keywords that are relevant. Normally the only way to judge relevancy is to go down the list of keywords and use your opinion to say whether a keyword is relevant or not. This binary approach does not work because some keywords are more relevant than others. This means we need to quantify the process to give each keyword a fair chance. It is here that I like to use the following method: imagine we are doing SEO for a pet supplies website – take a keyword, for example ‘dog house’ and give it a relevancy score of 1.0 – now for every other thing that the keyword can describe remove 0.1. It may be that there is a local pub called ‘The Dog House’ so remove 0.1, then there is a film of the same name – remove another 0.1. So that leaves this keyword with a relevancy score of 0.8, make a note of this in a new column within your spreadsheet next the local monthly search volume.

The third and final fundamental aim of keyword research is to find keywords that have low levels of competition. To quantify the level of competition we need to use a search engine and a bit of basic maths. Carry out a search for the keyword you are analysing. Again you must start this process by giving your keyword a competition score of 1.0. Once the search results are returned you must remove 0.1 from the competition score for every result that has the keyword you are analysing in either the title or description of the results. In the case of ‘dog house’ there are two organic results in that have the keyword in their title and / or description. This means the competition score for ‘dog house’ is 0.8. Add this to another column within your spreadsheet.

The Final Keyword Research Formula

We now have in our spreadsheet a list of keywords, their local search volumes, a relevancy score and a competition score. The information is all numerical which allows us to combine all of the data to score each keyword fairly. To combine the data you must simply complete the following formula:

Local monthly search volume X relevancy X competition = keyword opportunity score

In the case of our keyword ‘dog house’ the formula might be as follows:

2500 X 0.8 X 0.8 = 1600

What is the advantage of this method? Let’s consider that you also have the keyword ‘cheap dog house’ in your list. This keyword may have a local search volume of 6000 and on the face of it seem like an excellent keyword choice. Then imagine that we carry out the research and find it to have a relevancy score of 1.0 but a competition score of 0.3. The formula would look like this:

6000 X 1.0 X 0.2 = 1200

When we take into account all factors we can immediately see that this keyword ends up with a lower final score and that optimising for ‘cheap dog house’ could be a bad move because the high levels of competition on this keyword are not made up for by the relevancy or search volume. This is invaluable information and can turn a mediocre SEO project into a winning one.

I would strongly recommend that all SEOs employ this keyword research method on future projects when time is tight, it certainly isn’t as advanced as keyword research gets, to see what else can be done I would point you in the direction of Richard Baxter, however it is certainly a robust and fair way to test all keywords and end up with a reliable list.

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The Age of Endless Notifications

I have just returned from a three month trip around the ‘other side of the World’ which has meant that my laptop has also had a holiday of its own, in my cupboard at home. My iPad, due to often sketchy internet connections has also been on something of reduced hours.

The break from these tools of the modern age has been liberating at times, but it is the effect the break is having on my return that is most awakening. Upon firing up my laptop I was greeted with a barrage of notifications. Don’t get me wrong, I usually welcome notifications because they can signal some sort of electronic human contact which means that despite my fears, I am still a member of the social race.

These notifications however were of the other kind; they were notifications of updates. Apparently Apple has launched an updated OS – OK, that is an interesting one, but Adobe have also been up to something and so too have Apache and so too has almost every one of the makers of the apps that I use.

Now I am not complaining directly for these updates, heck it is a good thing that Apple and Adobe and everyone else with a degree in computer science is working so tirelessly to make my user experience so much better all of the time. The problem comes when you want to do something whacky, say such as use your computer to do some work.

I don’t like clutter or unresolved items and that is precisely what a notification is, it is a tiny message saying: “oi, you…you need to do something about me otherwise your computer probably wont be performing as well as it might do, and don’t forget how much cash you laid out for me, what a waste of money it would be for me to not be performing to the best of my ability”. Despite this I sometimes have to forgo the immediate update and continue with work.

This leaves me in a difficult position, because now my computer becomes a little like my mum, reminding me that I still need to clean my room or tell me that my car insurance is due – things that I know I should resolve but just can’t find the will to right now.

So, I am now left in the current situation – Adobe are telling me there is a new version of Flash and that I have to close both of my web browsers as well as my music app, not a good start. Then the Mac App Store is telling me three apps are ready for update, not the most distracting however I do keep mistaking the little red reminder as an email notification which is most distressing. Then there is my iPad which has a record thirty app update reminders which is at such a volume that it actually induces a true headache everytime I swipe the unlock button – just imagine the effect this is having on my spontaneous email checking.

I must admit that this is much more of a rant than a useful article because after some considerable thought I cannot really offer any real solution to the issue other than counselling on my part. Let’s face it, the computer wizards need to update things and I would rather them ask my permission than kick me out of Firefox at will to update something I need to use. I will get round to ushering in the next generation of software updates at some point this week, right after I have just done that thing that I turned the computer on to do…