How Increase Your Blog Traffic

Pouring time and effort into writing copy and creating content for a blog is pointless if no one reads it. Making great content can require serious time but as Rand Fishkin shows in this Whiteboard Friday there are many tactics out there that anyone can use to improve their blog readership.

Here are five more of the smartest tactics I’ve read recently around the web. None are hard to implement and all could have a significant effect on your traffic, links and shares.

1. Share More Than Once

This first tip comes from Garrett Moon, who suggests in a post on KISSmetrics that companies aren’t sharing their blog content nearly as much as they ought to. Many of us have the mentality of “share once and forget”. We publish something on our blog and distribute it across all our social media channels once. But what about all those people who missed that initial communication?

A much better solution is to share each blog post multiple times, depending on the platform, in a timely fashion. For example, you might tweet, Facebook share and Google+ you article as soon as you hit publish. Then a day later you might want to tweet it again. Perhaps the following week it’s time for another Google+ share, and so on.

In his post Garrett shows how you can easily double your traffic from social media in this way. Check out the handy visual they put together:

Image credit: KISSmetrics

Some marketers would call this spamming your audience, but I would say it’s more like giving them the value you’ve promised them. Even Rand in his Whiteboard Friday mentions how he will tweet a post he wrote months if not years ago, just to remind people that “this still matters”. No one notices every little thing you do online, and by sharing more than once you’re just making sure no one misses anything.

However, you should definitely make sure not to publish the same message on social media more than once, as this does comes across as spammy. Instead, deploy a range of different tactics to catch your reader’s attention. For example, if you wanted to tweet this blog post you could try…

Tweeting the title:

Posing a question:

Quoting the author:

Or citing a fact:

Happy sharing!

2. Get Influencers to Write for You

This is an excellent tactic from Matthew Barby. If you really want to grow your audience, the key is to get influencers to write for you. This means reaching out to the bloggers in your niche with the largest social followings and the ability to write consistently excellent stuff, asking them to become contributors.

By getting these guys and girls involved, you’ll not only be getting exceptional content for your blog (content that will hopefully earn you links and shares); you’ll also be getting access to a powerful distribution channel in the form of the influencer’s social network.

Of course, unless your blog is super prestigious you will probably need to pay these bloggers to write for you, and you should definitely specify as part of the arrangement that they share the posts on social media. That being said, I think this option makes so much more sense than hiring a “general purpose” content creator.

As well as payment, you could also offer bloggers the following perks:
Offer to share content on their own site (but only if you have a large social following)
A link back to their website from every post they write for you
Give them free use of your products or services

Working with influencers is a fantastic way to improve blog readership. A nice bonus is that often these guys write for other big media sites as well, so they may be able to link to something they have written for your blog from a third party site in the future.

For more information, check out Matt’s comprehensive guide to finding influencers using Social Crawlytics, BuzzSumo and Followerwonk: The Power of Authors and Content for Link Building.

3. Feed the Hummingbird

Out to Razvan Gavrilas of cognitiveSEO for this one. In the Hummingbird era, there are opportunities to optimise your content for synonyms that many bloggers are missing. For years now Google has been ranking synonyms in its search results. So, for example, if I search for “SEO agency” I will also see results for “SEO company” and “SEO services” highlighted in bold:

What is interesting is that since the Hummingbird update, a page optimised for “SEO company” can rank for “SEO agency” even if the keyword “SEO agency” doesn’t appear anywhere on that page (i.e. in the source code) or off the page (i.e. in anchor text, co-citation or co-occurrence). See Razvan’s original post for more detail.

However, the page optimised for “SEO company” would rank a whole lot better for “SEO agency” if it also actually contained the keyword “SEO agency” somewhere. What this means for marketers is that we can get some quick and dirty wins by making sure our content is optimised for important synonyms as well as for the main keyword.

For example, if I were to write about “New York coffee shops”, I might also make sure to include the synonym “NYC cafes” in the text. I’m sure I would rank for “NYC cafes” anyway thanks to Hummingbird, but by explicitly including this keyword I could give myself a cheeky ranking boost.

The simple process is as follows: find the synonyms of your targeted keyword (using if necessary); identify the ones with high search volume using Keyword Planner; finally, make sure to include them in your content. This isn’t keyword stuffing. It’s about helping people find our content who are searching using similar but not quite exactly the same keywords.

There will come a time when Hummingbird understands what we have written and there will be no influencing rankings. But it’s not quite there yet and for now we can help the algorithm learn to be more accurate by creating the correct semantic relations in our writing.

4. Get Your Tweet Text Right

Hat tip to Ross Hudgens for this one. It’s really important to make sure you have your default tweet text optimised to encourage users to click on the link and follow you on Twitter. A survey by Siege Media found that a massive 73% of company blogs weren’t taking advantage of this technique.

So what does optimised tweet text look like? A simple best practice solution would be to include the post title, URL and your Twitter handle like this:

Among the common mistakes people were making were including the entire title tag instead of just the post title, which takes up valuable space and dilutes the message:

Using a generic message like “Currently reading on the @VerveSearch blog”, which doesn’t give the reader any information as to what the post is about and doesn’t encourage them to click:

And mentioning a Twitter handle that isn’t relevant to the article, meaning that people probably won’t follow your account:

So optimise your default tweet text so it includes the post title, URL and your Twitter handle, and watch your Twitter referrals roll in!
5. Repurpose Your Content

In the Hummingbird era, I’m a firm believer in writing fewer longer posts rather than frequent shorter ones. I definitely think this is a better use of one’s time (in terms of getting links, traffic and shares) than blogging daily and simply regurgitating in 600 words what’s already out there.

In the SEO industry, for example, stand out content tends to involve case studies, new experiments, research and opinion pieces (take a look at what I’ve been linking to in this article). But how do you generate traffic while you’re researching your next big piece?

The answer is to repurpose your existing content by transforming blog posts into other content formats. Each of these new pieces could then be uploaded to its own separate channel, where it would be seen by a new audience and help to generate more traffic. For example, you could turn a blog post into:
a podcast: record yourself reading your post aloud and upload to iTunes
a screencast: record yourself doing something on-screen, add a voiceover and upload to YouTube
a slide presentation: create a slide show out of your post and upload to SlideShare
a ebook: turn a series of posts into an ebook, which is available to download as a PDF for a tweet

This is just scratching the surface. There are many other ways to re-skin your content and you will also find a host of niche-specific content formats. For example, in the travel space Jauntful helps users to create their own personalised maps containing their favourite things to do in an area and can be uploaded to its own dedicated platform.

It makes perfect sense to want to repurpose your content after all the effort you’ve put into creating it in the first place. Just remember to always add value by making each piece more digestible and easier to understand than its predecessor.

Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content by Kevan Lee

Obviously there’s no substitute for producing great content (yawn) but I hope this post has shown that there are many other ways to increase blog traffic independent of the content itself.

Most of these tactics are simply about squeezing the most out of what you have already. So in terms of sharing, you can make sure you post more than once and optimise your tweet text. In terms of SEO, you can ensure that you’re Hummingbird-friendly (in a natural and non-spammy way, of course). And in terms of strategy you can make sure that influencers write for you and that you come up with smart ways to repurpose this material.

If you’re currently running a company blog that no one cares about, I hope these tips can help put a smile on your boss’s face. But most of all, I hope you never have to see the tumbleweed or feel that lonely again.

10 Marketing Hacks

Here are 10 easy marketing moves, based on Satterfield's book, that you can do today to reach and win customers.

1. Offer something substantial for free.

Conventional business wisdom maintains that giving freebies to prospective clients is a dumb way to do business. However, if you're not offering at least something for free, you'll lose customers you otherwise might win.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in mobile apps, where nearly every product starts free and then becomes pay to play. However, the same tactic works in B2B. Many SMBs provide prospects with a free report or white paper.

2. Hone your marketing content.

Many companies have marketing materials written in boring corporate talk and unnecessarily complicated technical jargon. Here's a trick: Read your marketing content aloud; if you sound like Dilbert's pointy-headed boss, it needs rewriting.

To create content for your site that captures the ongoing interest of potential customers, aim for the tone you'd strike in a one-on-one conversation with a prospect or customer you already like.

Geoffrey's comment: Clear writing requires clear thinking, especially when it comes to removing biz-blab. I recently posted three exercises to train your brain to think and write without these verbal crutches.

3. Start a blog.

Blogging can bring customers to your site, provided you write well and actually have something to say. Each time you post, people searching for keywords it contains will be drawn to your site.

Write about things your target audience cares about, and include the words and phrases they're likely to use when searching for that information. When it's natural, include these keywords in your headlines, too.

Geoffrey's comment: Blogging regularly is not for the faint of heart. Many CEOs and busy executives hire professional writers who already know how to craft posts people want to read and share.

4. Target your social media presence.

People are increasingly using Facebook and LinkedIn as search engines rather than just for social media. Therefore, you must pay as much attention to your pages on these sites as you do to your official website.

As with your blog posts, make sure your bio or profile includes the keywords or phrases that potential customers would use if they were searching for the products or services you offer.

5. Tweet 10 times.

Twitter moves very fast, which means you can get immediate attention. However, to have a sustained presence on Twitter, you've got to commit to tweeting multiple times a day. The trick with Twitter is to find new ways to point at your great content.

For example, suppose your new blog post is "5 Surprising Ways to Reduce Your Taxes." You might tweet a question to tease the blog, e.g., "Which of these tax-saving ideas would save YOU the most money?"

Geoffrey's comment: Don't overuse the retweet function if your following has a big overlap with that of the original tweeter.

6. Create a simple video.

According to numerous studies, video is more effective than text in terms of SEO, lead generation, attracting prospects to your website, keeping them engaged while they are there, and ultimately converting them into customers.

Don't go overboard, though. Create a simple "talking head" video, in which you tell viewers what you've got, why they need it, and what you want them to do next. If you're camera-shy, use a PowerPoint deck and add an audio track.

Geoffrey's comment: Before doing your video, you should create a strong sales message consisting of: 1) a benefit, 2) a differentiator, and 3) an ask. This is easier if you've created your killer elevator pitch.

7. Reply to relevant YouTube videos.

A video reply is where you use your video as a comment on someone else's video. The trick to making this work is to find videos that relate to yours. In other words, would people watching these other videos also be interested in your video?

Start by searching under your keyword phrase to find appropriate videos to reply to. Look for videos that have tens of thousands of views. Avoid videos with hundreds of views (who cares?) or millions of views (you'll get lost in the crowd).

8. Send some direct mail.

Even in today's electronic world of email, texting, and social media, direct mail is still an effective workhorse, simply because so many companies have abandoned it as a marketing method. There is less competition in the mailbox than in an inbox.

Furthermore, with direct mail you not only can pinpoint your target audience, but, unlike email marketing, your customers look at only one envelope at a time, so there's less information overload.

Geoffrey's comment: If you decide to send some direct mail, don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll get a better response if you include more information. Stick with the short and sweet; use your sales message as the core.

9. Initiate a joint venture.

A joint venture is simply a collaboration with someone else with the goal of making money for both of you. Ask yourself: Who else has relationships with the types of people I want as customers or clients?

Find some way to jointly market your services. For example, real estate agents are natural partners for mortgage brokers. Ditto with financial advisers and estate-planning lawyers, or chiropractors and personal-injury attorneys.

Geoffrey's comment: While it takes only a phone call to initiate a joint venture, keeping them alive and active requires personal effort, just like any important relationship.

10. Write a killer press release.

For some reason, most business owners have the slightly crazy idea that the purpose of a press release is to tell people about their businesses and their products. In fact, nobody cares about any of that, least of all the reporters you hope will pick up your story.

The Best Data Visualization Tools - In my humble opinion

When creating data visualizations, there are two primary options: hiring a data visualization specialist/agency or using data visualization software.

We’ve compiled a list of the tools we know and like – the one that’s right for you will vary based on your specific project needs, but these will give you a start:
MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop

MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop is a fast and user-friendly software for visual data analytics. Quick to download and install, this visualization software allows you to get to work quickly. Included sample data and pre-built interactive dashboards further serve to lower the learning curve.

MicroStrategy allows you to connect any database you like, import Excel spreadsheets/CSV files and even import data from an online source. What’s more, you can blend multiple data sources and types to gain the exact insights you need.

The basic version is free and allows for simplistic, but insightful, visualizations to be created. If your project requires more advanced features, like Salesforce Reporting, Enterprise Information Integration or Mobile access, upgrading to “Analytics Enterprise” allows you to access to these features.

Learn more about Microstrategy Analytics Desktop…

Domo offers an online business intelligence tool that has a sleek UI and is specifically designed to allow users to build sophisticated dashboards with no IT involvement. Because the software is accessible online, Domo and the dashboards it creates, are available to your entire organization.

Their Domo platform is particularly well-suited for users looking to visualize data in existing cloud-based apps like In addition to cloud-based apps, Domo can take input from databases, spreadsheets and even social media platforms. The output is just as versatile – Domo created dashboards are designed to be viewable on tablets and mobile devices in addition to a traditional PC interface

Learn more about Domo…

Tableau offers a suite of tools that include an online, desktop and server version. All of these versions provide a easy-to-use drag and drop interface that can help you quickly turn your data into business insights. The online and server versions allow your entire team to build and work with the visualization tool.

Like many other data analytics and visualization tools, Tableau can connect to local or remote data of many different formats. Additionally, the Tableau engine can connect to live data for up-to-date visualizations (at the sacrifice of some speed) or warehoused data for much smoother-moving visualizations.

Learn more about Tableau…

The QlikView business discovery platform is one of a few visual analytics tools offered by Qlik. QlikView can’t create the same elegant visualizations that the other tools offer, but the software’s dynamic model means that you can quickly analyze your data in multiple dimensions. In addition, QlikView is able to work off of data in memory instead of off your disk, allowing for real-time operational BI environments (like monitoring financial transactions).

QlikView is able to work with a wide variety of data sources, including SAP, Oracle, and other legacy data files like Excel spreadsheets. What’s more, QlikView can combine these disparate data sources into a single visualization or dashboard.

Although there are some noteworthy challenges when it comes to creating scripting and troubleshooting data challenges, the QlikView tool is generally quite user friendly and offers robust filtering options.

Learn more about QlikView…

When you need the ability to quickly visualize your data or use a dashboard to watch for known, expected and unexpected circumstances, visual analytics software may be right for you. Choosing the best data visualization tools for your organizations needs is a process of trial and discovery. These four options are a great place to start.

When you’re looking for a data visualization that will have a high return-on-investment, a custom dashboard may be right for you.. A custom data visualization dashboard allows your organization access to data in real time, allowing you to quickly understand key business metrics and make decisions based on that information. Custom visual dashboards save time, improve decision making, and help save or bring in new revenue. Experienced data visualization firms like Boost Labs can build a greatcustom dashboard that is tailored to your company’s needs.

If you feel you’re not getting full value from your organization’s available information, Boost Labs can help you unlock the business potential of your information through visual content marketing strategies and practical information design.

How to Get More Email List Subscribers

Savvy online marketers will tell you “the money’s in the list!” but that’s not entirely true. What they should be saying is that the money’s in the quality of the list, rather than the quantity of subscribers. Lists with a few hundred dedicated customers can outperform lists of 10,000 or more generic “freebie seekers” when you focus on building relationships instead of counting sales.

So how do you attract the right kind of people? How do you get interested visitors to become eager subscribers? Keep reading for 10 outstanding list building tips you can’t afford to miss.

1. Make Your Submit Button Interact with the User

We’ve already discussed how red and green can affect perception. And yet, just about every conversion test you’ll see advocates the use of a big, red call to action button. But what if you made the submit button interact with and react to the user’s action?

One marketer did just that, testing a submit button with a red border that changed to green when the mouse was moved over it. His little conversion test resulted in a 40%+ opt in rate. The reasoning behind the color change is that it visually and subconsciously moves the user from “Stop” to “Go”, giving them the initiative to make that click. Learn more about the test and get the code for the button color change here.

2. Make it as Easy as Possible to Enter an Email Address

Have you seen those opt-in forms that already come pre-filled with instructions, such as Enter Your Email Address? Make that text disappear the moment someone clicks in that input field. A little extra scripting is all you need. Many times, the text will stay put, and you’ve got a submission that gets rejected by the autoresponder because it reads Enter Your Email Address

Here’s the script you can use to make your input field text disappear when the user clicks:

3. Encourage People to Forward Your Newsletter

Motivating people to forward an email to a friend can help you reach more subscribers, however it isn’t the same as adding a Tell-a-Friend button to your website, or getting people to share your message via Facebook or Twitter. When persuading people to forward an email on, make sure that they can click a link to compose their message online, since not all email programs let you forward images and attachments. Plus, by allowing them to send their message directly online, you can track how many people have actually spread the word.

4. Minimize Clicks to Subscribe

Most people have their opt-in form placed on the front page of their site – which is great. But what happens when people land on other pages? Make it as easy as possible to subscribe by putting your opt-in form in the sidebar of your site. If you’re using a WordPress blog, both Aweber, GetResponse and many other autoresponder systems have widgets that allow you to simply drag and drop a form into your sidebar.

5. Consider Using QR Codes

QR (stands for Quick Response) Codes are an up-and-coming way to engage the smartphone market online. These barcode-like symbols can be scanned and, if the information in the symbol includes a URL, the web page will open directly on the person’s smart phone.

The interesting thing about QR codes is that they can be distributed almost anywhere, including on business cards, postcards and even more unique methods of advertising like temporary tattoos or stickers. Here’s a detailed article from aWeber that shows you how to get one, plus some great examples of QR codes in use.

6. Get More Out of Your Opt-In Form by Offering a Special Deal to New Subscribers

Your opt-in confirmation page is a golden opportunity to present subscribers with an exclusive offer. Most opt-in “thank you pages” simply thank the user for subscribing and give them information on how to confirm their sign up. Construction handyman Tim Carter, of goes one step further by giving his subscribers an exclusive deal they won’t find anywhere else.

Keep in mind, this isn’t the time to up-sell, rather it’s a chance to introduce new subscribers to something small and beneficial, such as remodeling checklists in Tim’s case. Notice how he also leads them directly to the call-to-action button by giving it a noticeable red border. This one small step could represent a significant increase in profits just by editing your thank you page.

7. Let the User Be In Control of What They Receive (and When they Receive It)

If you’re getting an increase in unsubscribes – it may not be simply because people don’t find your newsletter helpful. It may be that they just can’t keep up with it. With new anti-spam measures and an increased push by email services like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo to help you prioritize what’s in your inbox, it’s more crucial than ever to make sure your name is on your users’ “Favorite Senders” or Priority Inbox.

Some newsletter owners simply ask “Why are you leaving?” but these days, it’s more of an irritation to a user trying to unsubscribe. Instead, ask the user if they’d like to change the frequency of emails or change the type of messages they get. Allowing them more control over what goes into their inbox helps reinforce your stance as a trusted sender who only wants to send information that’s pertinent to the reader.

8. Invite Subscribers through your Social Networks

Your email newsletter isn’t the only way to connect with subscribers, as one well known company learned. When was the last time you asked your Twitter followers or Facebook friends to subscribe? Now that Facebook has updated its API, you can also post your newsletter directly to your fan page – a great way to give non-subscribers a glimpse into what they could be receiving.

9. Craft Your Subject Lines Like Tweets

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen condensed tweet characters for maximum “share-ability”, going through five rounds of changes before settling on one that packed the most punch. How could you apply these same tips to your email subject lines? With more messages piling up our inboxes than ever, short, sweet and to the point gets our user’s attention (and subconsciously, their gratitude) more than ever.

10. Maximize Your Preview Pane

Many popular email programs such as Outlook and Gmail, as well as mobile devices like the iPhone, display the first few lines of an email as a snippet or preview before the rest of the message is downloaded. Each program has a limit on how many characters can be contained in this snippet, but the number of characters isn’t nearly as important as the content. Consider the scenario where the user wanted to forward your newsletter to a friend. What would the friend see in their preview pane?

Twitter’s New Buttons: Share your experience

Christmas is a time for sharing, but when it comes to Twitter, it’s no longer a time for knowing your share counts after the social media platform scrapped this stat on Friday (20 November) as part of an update to its ‘Tweet’ and ‘Follow’ buttons.

Whether you’re using that Twitter share count to measure the value of your brand’s content, or if you just like watching the numbers go up for an ego boost (we’re all guilty of that!), you will be disappointed Twitter has removed the count. But don’t worry, there’s a still a way to find this information – we show you how.

Why is Twitter removing share counts?

Firstly, it makes sense to explain why Twitter has removed this seemingly very important metric. Twitter has given a technical reason for the update, it has said this is part of the migration from its older Cassandra system to the new Manhattan “real-time, multi-tenant distributed” database.

But Twitter has also implied that it doesn’t feel this metric offers enough information about Twitter engagement around content.

Twitter said:

“This count does not reflect the impact on Twitter of conversation about your content — it doesn’t count replies, quote Tweets, variants of your URLs, nor does it reflect the fact that some people Tweeting these URLs might have many more followers than others.”

Furthermore, it has been noted in this post from Buzzsumo that the Share numbers were not always accurate. It’s an issue that Twitter had acknowledged too, so this update may actually improve the accuracy of your analytics. However, two other major possible reasons behind the update, as discussed on Social Media Today, have been raised:
To increase the value of this data through Twitter’s data service, Gnip, where information about share counts will still be available (more on how to get hold of this later)
To push users into Twitter Analytics to gain insight into how their content is being shared
What impact will this have on your business?

Twitter hasn’t definitively said whether developers will need to manually update the buttons. I asked our senior web designer, Ashley Hitchcock to shed some light on this:
“The most import bit Twitter has said is: ‘The Tweet button has displayed share count over the last five years by querying a JSON endpoint hosted on various domains. These private JSON endpoints have been used by third-party developers over the years to retrieve a simple share count of any URL. These endpoints will be shut down next month when the Tweet button removes its share count feature.’
“We use these APIs on some sites that we create custom buttons for, so this will require code changes; however it looks like if you’re using the official Twitter widgets you should be fine.”
But if you were using the share counts as a way to report on the value of your content, this update may have a bigger impact on your business. Being able to measure the social shares of your content can give you an indication as to how popular the content is with your audience. When creating a content strategy or working on campaigns, predicting how sharable content will be with the target audience is a key consideration for us and our clients.

Google Search Console: A Beginner's Guide

Since Google Webmaster Tools first launched around 10 years ago, its been the first port of call for webmasters diagnosing issues with their website. In 2015 that hasn’t changed. We may have sophisticated tools for monitoring web projects and software that shows us our data in a million different segments, but Webmaster Tools remains as valuable today as ever.

Webmaster Tools in 2007

I should mention first and foremost that as of May 2015, it is no longer called Webmaster Tools but in fact, Google Search Console. It’s essentially the same set of tools, just with a different name and a greater focus on making the data within more accessible and open to less tech-savvy people. It follows a couple of minor UI changes and an overhaul of the ‘Search Queries’ tool. Check out Google’s John Mueller reminiscing over Webmaster Tool below…

So what is Google Search Console?

It is a free and useful way for webmasters to view their own website the way that Google sees it. It features the following information:
How many pages on your site have been indexed
Errors encountered while crawling your site
The crawl rate of your site
Analyse your website’s performance in Google organic search via ‘Search Analytics’
Which domains link to your site
It also allows you to:
Submit your xml sitemap(s) to Google and receive feedback on how many contained URLs are indexed and any URL errors found
Test URLs against your website’s robots.txt file to ensure they are blocked/allowed
See how Google renders (views) your website with the Fetch as Google tool
Configure the use of parameters on your website
Check the implementation of Hreflang tags, via the International Targeting tool

Your input

Google Search Console allows you to report the actions you have taken to solve some of the issues you have diagnosed, for example:
Submit and update disavow files
Reconsideration request
Submit and configure new parameters
Remove URLs from search results
Search Console implementation and verification

Many of us who have been using Webmaster Tools for years probably don’t even remember how we implemented Google Webmaster Tools across our websites. Often we get invited by another owner who has already verified the site previously.

For new users of Search Console, the options for verifying your site are:
Adding a meta tag to your home page (proving that you have access to the source files). To use this method, you must be able to edit the HTML code of your site’s pages
Upload an HTML file with the name you specify to your server. To use this method, you must be able to upload new files to your server
Verify via your domain name provider. To use this method, you must be able to sign in to your domain name provider (for example, or or hosting provider and add a new DNS record
Add the Google Analytics code you use to track your site. To use this option, you must be an administrator on the Google Analytics account, and the tracking code must use the asynchronous snippet (all codes generated these days are but legacy ones may not be – it’s time to upgrade!)
Verify via the Google Tag Manager Container Snippet which should be placed after the opening tag of your page

For many, the easiest option will be verifying via your Google Tag Manager Account or via your website’s Google Analytics code. We recommend that you use the same account for all Google products and if it’s a business account, create a central account for the entire business.

Delegating access in Google Search Console

GWT allows the administrator of the account to provide access to multiple users by adding them to the Verification Details via the “Manage” link as you log in to the tool.

Once you have clicked the “Manage” link, you will be directed through to the Verification Details page, where you will be allowed to add/edit/delete the users who have access to the data via their own Google account.

To add a new user, click the “Add an owner” button and enter their email address. This will only work for users who have a registered Google Account, so if they do not currently have one please refer them to step 1.

If you would like to remove any users who have been previously added then just click the “Unverify” link.

What is Search Analytics?

Previously called the ‘Search Queries’ report, Search Analytics is still in beta (as of 16th June 2015) however, its definitely an upgrade in terms of data and segmentation. Whilst this feature still only provides the last 90 days worth of data, you can get quite granular in order to identify impressions and clicks across:
Landing pages
Date range

For full run through of how to use the data contained within the Search Analytics tools, see Google’s documentation here.
Finding this data in Google Analytics…

If you link your Webmaster Console account to your Google Analytics account, you can access this same data in the ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ section within ‘Acquisition’ in Google Analytics (see image below) This is helpful if you like to have all your data in one place, although it should be noted that this still only provides the last 90 days of data.

So there you have it, our beginner’s guide to Google Search Console. If you have any tips to share or questions on making the most of this excellent, free resource that we haven’t answered here, drop us a comment below.

SEO - The Future Beckons

For several years we have been hearing that SEO is dead, and I do get a little fed up of it. SEO isn’t dying, it’s evolving. It’s growing up, we are becoming a more mature industry that is looking for long term growth, not short term results that lead to failure.
89 major algorithm updates in 4 years

Since the start of 2011 Google has released 89 major updates to it’s algorithm with the aim of improving the results provided to the user. These updates include the following:

First released in February 2011, there has been over 29 recorded updates to the Panda algorithm. The initial update affected 12% of english speaking search queries worldwide, and led to well known brands suffering.

Panda cracked down on websites with thin content, content farms and high ad-to-content ratio. Businesses such as eHow were hugely effected, taking traffic levels down to 10s of thousands from 100s of thousands.


First hit in April 2012, the Penguin update aimed at reducing many spam factors and affected an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
Those websites that were keyword stuffing, participating in link schemes, cloaking and had lots of duplicate content were penalised.
During this time, people also started to receive manual link notifications through Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console). If you received these messages you were either going to be or were handed a manual penalty.


The first major rewrite of Google’s algorithm since ‘Caffeine’, Hummingbird was created to provided more meaning behind the search queries.

This change allowed more focus on understanding the billions of pages that are currently indexed through data markup and the expanded knowledge graph.


The Pigeon update focussed on looking at more useful, relevant and accurate search results.

This update bought the local ranking factors more in line with the traditional ranking factors. However, this update has made significant changes to the maps, location parameters and the local pack.


First announced in February, #Mobilegeddon launched on the 21st April 2015. With Google putting more emphasis on mobile users, the new mobile index put more weight on those websites that were mobile friendly.

This shouldn’t have been a major surprise to the majority of us, with over 2 billion smart phones used globally.

Although marketed as a huge change for the industry, the results were significantly lower than expected with only 4% of change recorded.
7 tips to stay ahead

Think like a brand

Regardless of the size of your business, you are a brand. So start thinking like one.
This can be done in a number of different ways including:
Dominating page one of brand searches
Encourage online reviews
Register social media profiles
Look after local search

Understand your audience

If you don’t know your audience type, then how can you market to them?
Using a mixture of surveys, persona information, social media and keyword research, you should be able to get a good understanding of who they are, and what they like.

Once you know this you can start to create marketing decisions based on user information.

Create content for each stage of the buying cycle

Content is an important part of any marketing plan. One key aspect from a search perspective is the user lands on the correct page for the search query that they have entered.

Although not easy, this can be done by understanding the intent behind the search and producing the correct content asset for that search. At White, we utilise the user journey flow below to identify the correct piece of content for each stage of the buying cycle.

This provides an easy to reference guide to what content is required based on the user’s intent.

Think about mobile

Mobile is more important than ever, and should be considered a must for your business. Although conversion continues to be higher through desktop, mobiles are a huge part of the research stage and are being used on the commute to work and in the evenings.

To check whether your website complies to the mobile requirements set out by Google, please visit the mobile friendly tool they have provided.

Invest in the marketing mix, not just SEO

It’s key that you supplement your SEO efforts with alternative marketing initiatives. You may create some really great content for your SEO campaign, but to get the very best results you should market it across all channels.

Methods such as email are still considered one of the best forms of marketing if you can get it right. Due to platforms such as MailChimp, email marketing has become an easy, yet cheap way of engaging with your audience.

Build for long term growth, not short term

People continue to want results now! That is the world that we live in, but we need to educate stakeholders that consistent and long term growth is a better way of building a business, than instant short term returns.

This means creating the right strategy, employing the right people, building and engaging with the right audience. This all takes time, but it will pay off with long term success, and not falling foul of search engine guidelines.

Twitter Polls Vs. Google Consumer Surveys

This month Twitter rolled out a polling functionality to all users. With just two options and running for only 24 hours, the polls are very simplistic and are very unlikely to set the world of market research alight.

But as proponents of more agile and nimble ways of conducting research we were intrigued to find out how and indeed whether this new tool worked. So we put it to the test.

We set up a poll from the FreshMinds Twitter account, asking our followers to vote on whether they preferred Halloween or Bonfire Night- a tough choice for many, myself included! And we decided to ask the same question on Google Consumer Surveys to see how the two tools compared.

Interestingly both surveys returned broadly similar results. Bonfire Night came out on top, gaining 59% of the vote on Twitter, 63.6% on Google Surveys. But in the course of the experiment we learnt much more than that consumers prefer Bonfire Night , we discovered some of the positives and drawbacks of both tools.

Twitter polls

The good: Twitter polls provide a means of engaging with and gaining feedback from two extremely valuable audiences. Firstly, consumers who are interested in and passionate about your brand i.e. your followers. Secondly, when when combined with popular hashtags, it enables you to reach and poll users who are interested in particular topics. A great example of this came from Marketing Magazine who just last week tapped into the hugely popular #onthemoon hashtag to understand reactions to the new John Lewis Christmas advert:

The bad: Twitter, by its very nature, encourages short-form communication. But this can be problematic when it comes to using the social networking platform to poll your audience. When making use of the polling feature, Twitter’s already small character limit is reduced even further to a mere 114 characters, meaning that questions have to be short, and as a result, simplistic. Likewise, with the ability to add only two possible answers, the polling feature has a tendency to be somewhat reductive.

The ugly: Did you know the life of a tweet is just 18 minutes? I didn’t but it’s a stumbling block I came up against as part of this experiment. Ensuring you can collect enough responses to your poll before it disappears, buried under the mass of other tweets, is really difficult! It requires a lot of time and effort, retweeting and linking to your original tweet, to secure participation.

Because of this, obtaining a large enough sample size can be difficult. Despite having a following of almost 6, 000, we were only able to secure 20 responses to our poll. Marketing Magazine also came up against similar obstacles with their John Lewis poll: only 206 of their 322, 000 followers took part. In contrast, Google Consumer Surveys, with its ability to recruit a far greater number of participants (reaching into the thousands) is far more robust.

Google Consumer Surveys

The good: When it comes to targeting, Google Consumer Surveys is streets ahead of Twitter. Whilst on Twitter you are at the whim of whoever chooses to answer your poll, Google’s tool allow you to target respondents by age, gender and location. What’s more, you are then able to analyse your results by these variables, which can prove useful. For instance, on our poll we were able uncover that a greater percentage of men prefer Bonfire Night to Halloween than women.

The bad: Whilst Google Consumer Surveys enables targeting, there are limits to this. The age and gender of respondents is not known, and instead it is inferred, based on the individual’s browsing behaviour and the location of their IP address, which is then combined with income and urban density data to make an educated guess. For me, and many other insight professionals, this means that the quality of the data Google provides is just not robust enough.

The ugly: Google Consumer Surveys are served up to two different types of respondents: the first are users of the Google Opinion Rewards App who receive Google Play credits in return for completing surveys: in this way working in a similar way to many research panels. The second group of respondents are web users who have to complete the surveys in order to access premium online content such as articles. And it’s this latter group of respondents that really worries me. I know that if I was in their position I’d try to click through the survey as quickly as possible, giving no thought to the questions or indeed my responses, which could seriously compromise the insight uncovered. Given our commitment to ‘keeping it real’ and trying to get to the heart of consumers’ actual behaviour, it’s this drawback to Google Consumer Surveys that really vexes us!

The verdict

Due to some of the complications we’ve discussed, I am yet to be convinced of the true value of either Google Consumer Surveys or Twitter Polls in their current format.

With an ability to reach a large, broad-based sample at minimal cost, Google Consumer Surveys does show at least some potential. Perhaps, going forwards it could have a role to play in helping organisations quickly poll broad audiences to ascertain attitudes towards particular topics? But Twitter Polls – at least for the time being – are limited to the novelty value of being able to survey a small proportion of your followers.

Whilst neither Google Surveys or Twitter Polls are yet able to provide big brands with insights that are robust, tailored and rich enough to form the basis of their most significant business decisions, we do need to avidly follow further developments in this space. Not only from Google, and Twitter, but from other new players looking to break into the market research industry.

Get Google Adsense Approval within 3 days – Top Tips

Google AdSense! One of the most easiest, trusted and professional way of earning money by showing your passion towards writing and sharing the knowledge. Google AdSense is trusted by many advertisers and publishers from the past few years, and usually they never accept anyone randomly who is trying to apply for an account. You need to show them the most professional approach of getting your account accepted, else Google will simply throw your application aside.

Statistics say that Google AdSense accepts only 3 accounts of every 1000 applications they receive each day. If you are trying to get onto the account or has been rejected earlier, follow these simple guidelines to get your own AdSense account in just 3 simple days. Though these below tips won’t get you the account approved instantly, but will surely work if you try inheriting each step mentioned below. I’m sure it worked for 60% of people who commented here and mailed me from the past couple of years.

Get Google AdSense Approval Within 3 Days:

So before getting started, make sure you follow these guidelines without fail, else your application will be rejected without any further pending approval. Remember that everything which I mentioned below counts. Don’t compromise on number of posts, own domain, good design and other metrics, else the chances of rejection is higher at your end. So here we go, the 15 most important guidelines to follow before applying to Google AdSense.

Minimum Posts/Articles/Pages:

If you are using WordPress, make sure your website/blog has at least 40 quality articles which are not copied from anywhere else. Your content on the articles should be extremely rich and make sure you use relevant images where ever required. Try to include two lengthy articles of 2000 words each, which should be absolutely stunning while anyone reads them on your website. If you are using HTML website or any other non CMS version of blog, make sure you have atleast 50 pages on your website in form or articles or landing pages.

If you miss providing this any of the above information on your website, Google might reject your application saying Insufficient Content or Unacceptable Site Content. So make sure they see enough content on your website before applying the program. The more the content, the better chances of approval.

Prohibited Website Niches:

Statistics show that your account will go through a faster approval process if you have more quality articles on Health, Internet Marketing, Business, Law, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Travel, Lifestyle and Social Media. Google will take your application as a serious offense if your website contain any of the prohibited content mentioned in this link here.

Some studies have also proved that Google AdSense might reject your approval if your website is on event blogging and micro niche blogging. In this particular blogging, you limit your blog content to only one particular subject and create a spam domain around it to rank higher. Eg: (Mayweather vs Pacquiao Match Online). In some cases, if you have observed Google Ads in these of websites, probably they have applied the account through an another account and placed the ads in this event niche blogging to earn quick money.

No Third Party Ads or Programs:

Before applying to AdSense, make sure you don’t allow or place any other third party banner ad code on your website. Google (employees) will strictly look into your website manually and they hate seeing some third party ads installed in your website. Stay away from Infolinks, Chitika, Yahoo Ads or any other third party network to get the first impression clean on your website. Make sure you put only the fresh content and some regular widgets on the website.

Also, stay away from affiliate links such as hosting programs, Amazon affiliates, Clickbank or anyother until your account is approved.

Website Design and User Experience:

Google always want their users to get the best experience while browsing through any website they refer. Maintaining a clean design with good navigation and user experience will boost your chances of getting AdSense approved in the first attempt itself. This is one of the major guidelines where lot of people miss the basics. Google believes that if you maintain professional color scheme on your website, the user might be willing to come back and click on the relevant ads which are displayed under your content.

So make sure you maintain a neat and clean design before applying to AdSense. I would recommend you to buy one professional template anywhere and get it installed on your website without effecting the loading speed or easy navigation.

Google Analytics Code:

Adding Google Analytics code on your website is a trusted factor for the approval. Adding Analytics onto your website show that you are actively tracking your visitors and is much serious about the statistics of your users who visit your website. If you haven’t created one, click here to register the program. Once registered, get your tracking code by creating new account under the accounts tab and enter your website name, URL and other required details. Place the code on each page of your website to track the data instantly.
Google/Bing Webmasters Verification Page:

Just like Google Analytics, you need to even verify with Google Webmaster program, which has the complete access to your website in search perspective. With Google Webmaster Tools, you can track your website critical errors and fix them on a daily basis. Click here to register and click on “Add a Site” to enter your website URL. Verify your website ownership through any of the recommended method and complete the process to keep your account functioning actively.

Also, adding the Bing Webmaster Tools to your website will add more credibility to your domain that you are serious about the website search visibility. Though this guideline is pretty easy to perform, many people will get comfortable without knowing the importance of installing these tools.

Adding these two verifications on your website code or server will show good results on search visibility as well.

XML Sitemap Page:

Creating a sitemap doesn’t take too much of your time. If you are using WordPress, I recommendGoogle XML Sitemaps By Arne Brachhold. And if you are using any other platform, I recommend you to checkout XML-Sitemaps website for more info. Installing a sitemap on your website can help search engine bots to index your website faster, which is again a trust factor to bots about the website trustworthiness.

Creating Robots.txt file on your website will get rid of indexing unwanted junk onto Google. I have written a detailed post few days back on how to write perfect robots.txt for your website. Else you can also check own robots.txt file and simply copy it to your WordPress website. I have restricted all the unwanted data indexation to search engines, which adds a lot of value to your SEO efforts of ranking the pages higher on Google. Plus, robots.txt file is another great feature to add it your website as a trust factor.

Alexa Rank:

Google AdSense considering the Alexa rank has always been a controversy, as many people disagree that Google doesn’t care about your global rankings. Trust me, I strongly believe that this is one of the most important checklist any manual operator checks before even opening your website statistics. How can anyone quickly judge about a website performance? The answer is simple, and its Alexa ranking. So make sure you install the Alexa toolbar and read my eBook onhow to boost Alexa ranking within 30days.

Note: Before applying to AdSense, make sure your website global Alexa ranking is less than 400K for faster approval process. Usually the website above this rank is considered to be new and underestimated that no much data is seen on them.
Important Pages:

Google wants to know your identity before you signup to their AdSense program. So make sure your create the following pages on your website as soon as possible.
Privacy Policy
Disclaimer Policy
Terms of Usage
Contact Us
About Us (Write your name and address through which you applied the AdSense account)

In the about us section, clearly mention who you are, and why is this website made for, what is the benefit people get out of your website. The more clear, the better the chances of your approval. Keep your spelling mistakes, grammar and punctuation clear when you do this.

Custom Domain and Email ID:

A lot of people get create websites through blogspot and free WordPress platforms to apply AdSense. Note that AdSense team will take a custom domain more seriously rather than the free domain name. Investing 2$ on a domain name is not a big deal when you have health chances of getting approval with other factors like mentioned above. So don’t give yourself a second chance to apply the AdSense program and get your own domain as early as possible.

Once you have your own domain, create an email ID with your name ( to apply the AdSense program. Eg: will get more attention compared to Note that your free website programs give you the privilege or adding your custom domains without paying any additional fee.

Decent Traffic:

Though a lot of portals, forums mention that Google AdSense doesn’t require any certain amount of pageviews to approve your account, I still feel and experienced the treatment if you have a decent traffic. Let your blog age a few weeks (atleast 2 months) before you rush to apply the AdSense program. I would always recommend you to stay until your website get a minimum of 50+ visitors per day. If your website is not getting enough traffic, the chances of rejection is much higher when compared to other guidelines.

Once your website is ready with all these above guidelines, click here to apply to Adsense, and make sure you have gone through the Google AdSense TOC for more information on the program.

Leave your comments to check if your doing good with the process. And if your AdSense was rejected despite of following all these above mentioned guidelines, shoot me a mail to and I will help you out with a free AdSense consultation. Stay tuned to SEOSiren for more such interesting topics!

Also, I have made a step by step video guide on how to apply Adsense if you are looking for more information. Check out the below video and let us know if you still have trouble in getting your account approved.

10 tips to build a successful e-newsletter

Email marketing has become a crucial activity for many small businesses. An email newsletter often is often their main mode of engaging customers, building loyalty and driving sales. It’s not rocket science, but email marketing the right way does require basic know-how.

And while we could have come up with a top 100 list, if you follow these 10 small business marketing tips, you’ll be on your way to creating an effective email newsletter to help build your business.

1. Only Send Email to People You Know

Emailing complete strangers is spam. Emailing customers and others with whom you have only a slight acquaintance is, at best, a waste of time.

“The stronger the relationship you have with a person, the more likely he or she is to respond to your email,” said Eric Groves, senior vice president of global market development at Constant Contact, an email marketing services firm.

“If you send email to people you don’t know, the first thing they’re going to say is, ‘Do I know you?’ and the second is, ‘Do I care?’ If the answer to the first is no, you’ve lost them already.”

2. Build Your Email Newsletter Contact List Slowly

Quality in a contact list is always more important than quantity, Groves said. Start by approaching your biggest fans — customers with whom you’re in regular contact who express support and appreciation.

Next, establish mechanisms for capturing contact information and permissions at the places where you engage customers — in your store, in their place of business, online. Present the emails as something that will extend the dialog you’ve begun with them.

The mechanism could be as simple as a guest book on a retail store counter where customers can sign up to receive emails, or a subscription or RSS link at your Web page.

As slow as it might go at first, if you do it right, your list will start to snowball as satisfied customers forward your email newsletter to friends and colleagues who also sign up. That’s if you do it right.

3. Resist the Urge to Sell, Sell, Sell

“There are a lot of great companies out there who — when you join their mailing list — they just bombard you with ‘Buy from me, buy from me, buy from me,’” Groves said. Nothing turns customers off faster.

“The best case with those is that they automatically delete the messages. The worst case is they hit ‘Unsubscribe’ – and now you’ve lost that connection with them.”

Email marketing should be about building relationships, Grove said. He suggests that you offfer information of value to your customers and present yourself as a trusted expert. Rather than simply advertising sale items, a landscape firm, for example, might send a newsletter article about the various plants that deer won’t eat.

The emails don’t have to be long or involved. “They just have to flick you on the forehead and say, ‘Remember me. Here’s a little nugget of knowledge. Do you need what I have to offer?’” Groves said. “Be brief, be bright and be gone.”

4. Become a Student of Email Marketing

It’s not hard to write engaging content that recipients will value, Groves said, but you may have to become a student of email marketing to get up to speed initially.

There are plenty of resources available, including his book The Constant Contact Guide To Email Marketing, as well as emails, webinars and live seminars his company offers, and e-newsletters from other experts such as Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development.

Go out and find your own examples of people in your industry who are having success with email marketing, and emulate them. Monitor your own consumption. Before you delete an email newsletter or hit unsubscribe, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Now you know what to avoid.

5. Let Customers Tell You the Content They Want

If you’re running short of ideas, and you’re not sure what you should be communicating to customers, let them tell you.

When a customer asks a question in the course of doing business with you, write it down, along with your answer, and stick it in a folder. When the time comes to write your next email, you have ready topics at hand.

Even better, said Groves, is having your customers provide content ideas. For example, if you answer an interesting question for a customer, name the person in your newsletter.

“Then say something along the lines of, ‘We gave him a free t-shirt for asking such a good question,’ and then include a link — ‘Click here if you think you can stump us for next month,’”

6. Use the Subject Line to Engage and Reel in Readers

Your email newsletters have to grab readers the minute they land in their inboxes. “It goes back to, ‘Do I know you? Do I care?’” Groves said. “If you look at the From address and it says, ‘Eric Groves, Constant Contact,’ you might say, ‘Oh yeah, I know him. But do I care?’”

Most recipients look at the subject line next. If it’s something bland and unappetizing like “Monthly newsletter,” they pass on. They might think they’ll come back to it later, but the chances of it happening are slim to none.

“Once the subject line goes from bold to plain text, it’s gone,” Groves said. “But if the subject line is, say, ‘Plants deer won’t eat,’ hmm, that sounds interesting– that draws them into the content.”

7. Make it Look Professional, Not Slick

If your emails look like flashy Web pages, you lose the personal one-to-one element in an email relationship. And many email programs won’t display HTML graphics anyway. Aim for inviting, consistent and professional, but avoid jiggling graphics.

Constant Contact — along with other email newsletter service providers likeCampaigner and iContact, to name just a few — offer a variety of simple marketing email templates. A Google search will also turn up tons of e-newsletters you can emulate.

8. Make Sure Your Email Newsletter Lands in Customer Inboxes

This is where it can get tricky. How do you prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from tagging your messages as junk mail, or prevent recipients’ email programs from filtering them out? This is the core expertise that email newsletter service providers service providers offer.

Groves claimed his company succeeds in getting clients’ emails into recipients’ inboxes 98 percent of the time. “We have a whole team working all the time with major ISPs,” he said.

Constant Contact’s automated systems track what its clients send and to whom. If messages are red-flagged as possible junk mail, Constant Contact talks to the client. In extreme cases, it will drop them. “We’re trying to protect email delivery for 350,000 other customers,” he pointed out.

9. Be Ready for a Response

Your email marketing campaign could fall on deaf ears, but if you do it right, you can pretty much count on getting a response. You have to be ready when it comes.

Groves recalled one client, a yoga instructor who sent out an email and then went off to teach classes. When she came back hours later, there were 15 responses waiting, some of them missed opportunities because she took too long to respond.

“When you write free content and send it to interested customers, your phone is going to ring,” he said. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a common mistake under-resourced small businesses make.

10. Measure Campaign Success

Do you know how often customers open your newsletter? Do you know which subject lines work? Do you know which articles they read?

It’s information you can capture if you run your own email marketing campaigns, but it’s something email newsletter service providers automatically feed clients and one of the significant value-adds they offer.

The information is invaluable for figuring out what works, what doesn’t and what topics and types of content resonate with customers. The likelihood that you’ll get it right the first time and every time is small. Talking to customers will give you some of the intelligence you need, but email marketing metrics also help.
Bottom Line

Marketing is not the same as selling. And email marketing is not, or should not, be exclusively about presenting offers. “At the end of day,” Groves said. “It’s all about building relationships, about establishing a two-way dialog where both sides see value.”

Bedtime stories: Why you should read to Children

One of the most pleasurable moments of the day for me and the wife is bedtime reading.

As any parents out there will agree, reading with your child is fun, and a great way to spend time together. Sharing books with your child helps open their eyes and minds to different people and situations, and stretches their horizons. And virtually every study shows that reading together increases children’s literacy skills, but also research also proves that children who enjoy reading do better at school in all subjects. Best of all, it helps to build a strong and loving relationship with your child.

I don't ever remember being read to, it may be that I blanked it out, but reading was never something my parents ever did for pleasure. And I do feel like I missed out. I only started to read, something more than a newspaper, when I started working in a bookshop. I was the stockroom guys, so I didn't really need to have a passion for travel writing or an interest in Evelyn Waugh to shift boxes.

But from that job, as a uni drop-out in the stockroom I became a bookseller, then worked for a book trade magazine and then finally working my way up to being a marketing manager for a book publishers. I don't know if my journey to where I am today would of happened sooner or if I may have taken a completely different path if reading was introduced to me at a younger age - but that one-to-one attention you get for reading together is hard to replace.  

Edward, my boy absolutely loves being read to, which come's in handy as my wife comes from a publishing background as well. It's about the only time of the day that Edward is quite and still, he is mesmerized by the pages and is seen a real treat. Hopeful this exposure to reading will lead him to great things, like getting a proper job, like a gas-fitter and not eking out a living on publishing wages. 

Day 2

Day 2 in my blog a day campaign. 

Today has been a long one. 

What ever happened to the NME?

I'm committing myself to write a blog post every day for the next 100 days.

No matter how long, or how short, something will be posted. Whether anyone reads it, that's another matter.

Today I picked up a copy of NME, it was sitting next to a stack of Time Outs.

What an age we live in now.

Newspapers and magazines, which once payment was demanded for, now they can't give them away.

NME holds so many fond memories for me, from the age of 15 I purchased it weekly, pouring over the pages, deciding which crappy band I would travel up to Camden to watch while drinking, over-priced watered-down beer.

Every now and again there would be a CD stuck to the front - these were the bands you could brag to your friends that  you "only liked their early stuff".

I picked a copy. It was printed on cheap paper. It was the wrong size. It was the wrong everything.

They was a review for the Justin Bieber album, and a page devoted to what people are wearing in Cardiff. This isn't the NME I remember, this is in-style magazine with a few guitars stuck in it.

I generally don't know much about the bands I listen to, that's probably a good thing as I've just discovered The Maccabees have members named Orlando, Felix, Hugo and Rupert.

Jessica Jones: Netflix's New Superhero

And why you should be watching it.

the character may not be as well known, but her small screen debut on the online netflixs has been heavily trailed and highly anticipated.

The reviews have been really positive reviews not enough and after watching a first couple of episodes I totally agree - Yes, Jessica Jones is yet another hit for Marvel Studios.

It's an actual 13 episode big budget, mainstream, female-led show! Seeing as both Marvel and DC have only one female led superhero movie on their current slates, it’s undeniably significant that Jessica Jones has happened.

After all, that didn’t look set to be the case for a number of years, with another version – A.K.A. Jessica Jones – in development at ABC alongside a Hulk project which was also scrapped. Jessica Jones now joins Supergirl as one of only two female led superhero TV shows, but they really couldn’t be any different.

They’re both great, but Jessica Jones is more grown up, dealing with mature content which ends upmaking this less of a superhero TV show and more of a drama which just so happens to include powers.

Full review to follow, in the meantime watch the trailer here

Comedy (fools) Gold

Now I have nothing against the old boy of British comedy, apart from him being possibly the most un-funniest man to ever grace film, TV, the stage. But as the news broke rent-a-quote talking heads were falling over themselves to praise him, claiming him to be the second-coming. He wasn't the second coming, he was a very  unfunny man whose one joke was that he fell down... a lot. 

We've got to remember that these were hard times for the British nation. Rationing was still in place following World War II, and an average family of four had to survive on as little as 7 jokes or 20 puns at week. This is the same quoter that Wisdom had to use in his films.

Perhaps its down to the fact that I never saw him in the prime. All I really knew of Norman Wisdom was him making an unfunny fool of himself on Pebble Mill or Aspel - looking confused and falling down a lot, which wasn't actually an act at all - that's what happens when old age sets-in. So to judge him on the previous work I checked youtube and yep, he's not funny on there either.   

It's true that comedy doesn't always stand the test of time. Steptoe and Son for instance, was a show my Dad loved and one that I was forced to watch growing up. Despite it not tickling my funny bone, I could still see the quality of the performances, the stoylines and, every now and again, the odd joke or two, but Dad even admitted it hadn't aged well.

A comedian who aged like a fine wine and not like an opened bottle of coke is the fanastic Phil Silvers AKA Sgt. Bilko. This guy wrote the book and laid the foundations of character-led sitcoms for years to come. He's like the Shakespeare and Sgt Bilko was his Hamlet. This is who I judge comedians of that era against and Wisdom isn't fit to suck the shit from the tread of Silvers' shoes. 

He was a man lucky to be born when he was. If he was making his way in the industry today, he wouldn't even get a BBC 3  sitcom. 

Master of None: Binge-watch time

The Oxford English Dictionary has published its list of new additions to our ever-changing language. This year's new additions included Vape, humblebrag and side boob - although I've personally been using 'side boob' for the last few years.

The stand-out word for me is binge-watch which has become more and more popular first down to DVD boxsets (asks your parents, kids) and then streaming services like Netflix.

Being able to consume a series, one episode after another, has now become the norm thanks to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Adverts are now a thing of the past and I find myself even unable to wait for the 10 second countdown between episodes. 

The latest show to get the binge treatment in my household is the Netflix original series Master of None. Written and starring Aziz Ansari as Dev, a 30-year-old actor who attempting to navigate his way through life in New York City. 

Ansari has great credentials - one of the highest paid comedians on the planet, with a string of sell-out tours under his belt, a role in Parks and Recreation and finally he's taken the leap to front his own show.

What becomes clear is Master of None could only be made by Netflix or Amazon, they don't conform to sitcom stereotypes, there's no zany fall guy - covering issues of sex and racism, not unashamedly, but just matter-of-factly.

Ansari on stage personae is that of a spoilt 21st century man-child. Someone you regards a "crisis" as not getting a decent-enough 4G signal, and he's taken elements of this into the character of Dev. Dealing the important issues of the modern age like finding the best taco "joint" in the city, only to discover there's no tacos left, because Dev spent 2 hours researching it. 

The opening scene involves a realistically awkward sex scene, a split condom and a trip to a chemists for a morning after pill. His best friends are a jew, a black lesbian and an american asian - but this doesn't feel forced to fill any diversity quota - these just happen to be Dev's friends.

Is Master of None perfect? no, but it's pretty close to it. The finds of the series are Dev's parents, played by his actual parents - yes there's a couple of nods to traditional Asian subjects, like the pressure of settling down and getting a "proper job", but Master of None highlights brilliantly the issue of our age - explaining how to sync to iTunes to the older generation. 

We're the on-demand generation, we're able to choose to binge-watch, burning through a series which has taken maybe years to create in a day, a then there's that void left. 

But then I suppose I can spend two hour search for the next best taco, show, on Netflix

Watch trailer now

Google Grants for Charities

An opportunity not to miss!

Featured imageIn the time I’ve been using Google Grants, I’ve seen traffic increased by over a third – This is a brilliant opportunity for everyone working in the third sector.
As part of its nonprofit programme, Google gives eligible charities $10,000 (£6,200) a month to spend on AdWords, Google‘s pay-per-click advertising system. Not only that, if you spend at least $9,500 (£5,920) in two months of the previous 12 and fulfil other criteria, you can also apply for Grantspro. If approved, that means that Google will give your charity $40,000 a month to spend. That’s a whopping $480,000 (£300,000) a year.
If questions such as ‘is my charity eligible?’, ‘how do you apply?’, ‘what is Adwords pay-per-click advertising?’ and ‘is this too good to be true?’ are popping into your head, please read on for the answers.

What is AdWords and how does it work?

– In Google’s words, AdWords is an ‘online advertising platform that can help you drive interested people to your website’. It is the programme you use to run a Google Grant
– The AdWords are adverts that appear above, below and to the right of the results when people search on Google
– As part of the Google Grants programme, you decide what keywords (words that describe what your charity does, the sector you work in, the fundraising activity you undertake) you want your ads to be shown for
– You decide the locations in which people will see your ads i.e. a city, country or worldwide
– You create the ads by writing compelling copy about your content
– You bid how much you are willing to pay Google (out of your grant money) when someone clicks through to your website (a maximum of $1).
There’s a useful video that gives you further info here.

Is my charity eligible for Google Grants?

To qualify for the programme, charities must be based in the UK and registered with the Charity Commission, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator or Inland Revenue.
In addition, the following organisations are not eligible: governmental entities and organisations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, childcare centres, academic institutions and universities, political parties, political organisations, and lobbying groups.
You can read more on eligibility here.

How do you apply?

Just visit this link and click on ‘Apply Now’:.

What happens after you’ve applied?

Your application may take three to four months to process, although some grants have been approved much quicker than this. Once your application has been reviewed, the person who submitted the application will receive an email. If approved, you’ll receive further information, such as how to create an AdWords account and guidance to help you make the most of your grant.
What do you do once you are approved?
You’ll need to set up your AdWords account, choose your keywords, create your ads, identify what actions you want people to take (i.e. donate, sign up, download) and then submit your account for approval – this can take up to six weeks.
Don’t worry if this sounds like a complicated business, Google take you through all the steps in this article.
What does Google ask for in return?
Not very much. The company asks that you ‘actively engage’ with the programme, which effectively means replying to any emails that come in and logging in at least once a month to see how your campaigns are performing. If you do not reply to emails or do not log in for three months in a row, your account could be paused or suspended, so it is worth doing what they ask on this one.
It shouldn’t be hard to meet these requirements as ideally you’d be logging in a lot more than once a month to optimise your ads and implement new campaigns.

Are there any restrictions?

There are a few restrictions compared with just setting up a paid-for account on Google AdWords.
You’re allowed a daily budget of $330, your ads can only appear on Googlesearch results (you can target other sites using a paid account), you can only run text ads and you’ll have a maximum cost-per-click of $1 (some keywords will cost more than this but you should be able to find plenty of things to bid on with your grant).
In addition, your ads need to ‘reflect the mission of your organisation and your keywords must be relevant to your programmes and services’. There’s more info on this and the other restrictions here.

How do you make the most of your grant?

To make the most of your grant will require time. Dedicate time to learning about AdWords best practice. Link your AdWords account to Google Analytics so you can focus on what it is delivering.
If you really care for and nurture your grant, my hunch is that before too long you’ll be using up all your monthly budget. And remember, if you spend $9,500 in two months of the previous 12, you’ll be in a position to apply for Grantspro. There are a few more eligibility requirements but if you are approved your monthly spending limit goes up to $40,000 a month.
Is this too good to be true?
It might still sound too good to be true but the Google Grants programme is very real. If you haven’t got one and you meet the eligibility requirements my advice is to apply right away.