SEO Migration Checklist

seo-migration-checklist

Thinking of changing your business name and in turn your website URL? Then you’ll want to preserve all of the hard work that you’ve put into your current website. Here’s a simple SEO migration checklist to follow that will enable you to maintain your ranking and traffic.

Note: website migrations normally result in a short term traffic drop as it takes Google a while to process and make sense of the migration. So it’s advisable to perform a site migration during a quiet period of business.

Pre-Migration

  • Perform an automated site crawl of your current website to ensure that you have a record of all URLs and assets. Later you’ll be able to use this as a point of comparison.
  • Generate an XML sitemap for your existing website.
  • Create a spreadsheet that maps all old URLs from your current website to the most appropriate destination on the new site.
  • Factor in the need to create new content to ensure your redirects have a suitable place to go.
  • Agree on bench-marking metrics, these could be: rankings, pages indexed, organic traffic, organic conversions, organic revenue and bounce rate.
  • Register your website (if you haven’t already) in the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).
  • Create a custom 404 page with a targeted link – this will help keep users on your website if the content they’re searching for no longer exists.
  • If you have business critical pages that already rank well organically then it may be worth creating some paid ads to have on standby just in case there are any major issues with the migration.
  • Ensure Google Analytics and other tracking software is switched on and tracking data.

 

During Migration

  • Annotate the launch in Google Analytics and other analytics programs.
  • Take your URL map and implement as 301 redirects.
  • Avoid redirect loops by updating internal links manually (don’t just rely on 301 redirects).
  • Test URL redirects and check indexation. It’s worth automating this with a tool like Screaming Frog. I like to back this up with a manual check of the SERPs (site:www.yoursite.com).
  • Generate a new XML sitemap for your new domain.
  • Submit a change of address only for the migrated website in Google Search Console. Do not do this for the domain that isn’t moving.

 

Post-Migration

  • Monitor and resolve errors daily.
  • Keep crawling the site and checking the SERPs to ensure that the redirects are working as intended. Do this daily for a month.
  • Update social share buttons to contain the new domain.
  • Reach out to sites linking to you (top tier sites first) and ask them to manually update their links to you. Don’t rely on 301 redirects for this.
  • Re-submit your link disavow file.
  • Check benchmark rankings to ensure organic visibility.

Following this checklist should result in a pain-free website migration and provide an excellent platfrm upon which to build a great local SEO strategy for your business. If you need any help with this feel free to get in touch.

World Cup 2014 Predictor

fifa-world-cup-brasil-2014

The 2014 FIFA World Cup begin on Thursday 12th June and runs through to Sunday 13th July 2014. Hosted by Brazil this will be the 20th World Cup and the second time Brazil have hosted the tournament; the last time being in 1950. Predictor Game On this page you’ll find rules of the game, prize money allocations, a downloadable spreadsheet showing everyone’s predictions and the league table. Downloadable spreadsheets for future rounds will be provided towards the end of the group stages.

Thanks to everyone for playing and congratulations to the winners. You can download the full tournament sheet by clicking here.  

League Table

  1. John M ( 76 ) – £100
  2. Andrew ( 71 ) – £50
  3. Paul H ( 70 ) – £35
  4. Paul M ( 69 ) – £15
  5. Craig ( 67 ) – £10
  6. Matt ( 67 ) – £10
  7. Vishal ( 66 )
  8. Gerard ( 63 )
  9. Wassel ( 63 )
  10. Aaron ( 61 )
  11. Rak ( 59 )
  12. Mark ( 59 )
  13. Luis ( 58 )
  14. Simon ( 56 )
  15. Jim ( 55 )
  16. Steve ( 55 )
  17. John O ( 54 )
  18. John K ( 54 )
  19. Jonny ( 52 )
  20. Pete ( 52 )
  21. Danny ( 50 )
  22. Blow ( 49 )
  23. David ( 46 )
  24. Josh ( 43 )
  25. Jason ( 17 )

Rules

  • 1 point for each correct prediction in the group stages.
  • If there’s a tie then number of correct predictions in 3 games involving Cameroon (lowest seeded team) will be used to decide the winner. If there’s still a tie then proceed up the draw seedings (Australia, South Korea, etc) until a winner is determined. This applies to the group stages only. Source.
  • 2 points for a correct prediction in last 16.
  • 3 points for a correct prediction in last 8.
  • 5 points for a correct prediction in semi-finals.
  • 2 points for a correct prediction in the 3rd & 4th place play off.
  • 7 points for a correct prediction in final.
  • All bonus points are applied at the end of the tournament.
  • If there’s a tie for final prize money then correct predictions of bonus outcomes will be used to determine a winner in this order Tournament winner, followed by, tournament runner-up, then golden boot winner, then bonus both African and Asian furthest finishing teams. If there’s still a tie then lowest seeded team from group stage results will apply up the tournament rankings until we have a winner.

Prize Money There will be 2 opportunities to win prize money: Group Stages:

  1. £15 – Andrew
  2. £10 – Jim
  3. £5 – Gerard

End of Competition:

  1. £100
  2. £50
  3. £35
  4. £15
  5. £10
  6. £10

Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim 2013 – British Heart Foundation

Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim 2013

Yesterday I completed the Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim in 45 minutes, raising £461 for the British Heart Foundation (BHF). I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who has supported me and donated to this excellent charity. If you’ve still to make a donation you can do so right up until 13 October 2013 by clicking on this link: www.justgiving.com/ssoneil.

The annual pier to pier swim is the largest charity swim in Europe and requires participants to swim 1.4 miles in the English Channel between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier. At this time of year water temperatures are 14°C on average.

My Experience

My training for this event began 3 months ago just after my registration. I had always wanted to do an open water sea swim and this event offered up the perfect opportunity to fulfil this ambition, raise money for a good cause and get in shape for my upcoming wedding.

Training consisted of weekly swimming sessions at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre in Stevenage, whereby I would aim to complete 100 lengths of their 25 metre swimming pool without stopping or touching the sides / floor. I built on this with trips to the gym, working on general fitness and endurance.

My preparations were going well until a few days before the event my wetsuit flooded. As there wasn’t time to find, test and acclimatise to a suitable replacement I made the decision to brave the open waters in my shorts.

 

During my training I had read several blogs about open water swimming, technique and this event in particular. By far the best blog I read was Swim Smooth which helped to improve my technique considerably. Most blogs mention how cold the English Channel is and this coupled with my wetsuit issue became a source of worry for me.

On the day of the event, the build-up to the swim could not have gone any worse. I got caught in a traffic jam, was then given incorrect directions to Bournemouth Pier and on the way to the pier cut my leg on a railing (Great White Sharks can sense a drop of blood from a mile away ;-) ). This meant that I only just arrived in time for the swim, had no time to test out the water temperature or adequately prepare.

As the swim started I ventured into the water in my shorts, swim cap, goggles and ear plugs. I stepped into the water and my first thought was that this was one big mistake and how on earth am I going to manage to swim to Boscombe? However, after submerging myself I decided to keep swimming, rather than jumping out, which is what I really wanted to do. After about 20 minutes of swimming my body stopped stinging from the cold, I started to relax and thought to myself if there are any sharks then they can go ahead and eat me as nothing’s going to stop me reaching the finish line.

Throughout the swim I used landmarks on the shore as a guide to let me know how well I was progressing. I primarily swam breast stroke and occasionally switched to front crawl if I needed to overtake another participant or gain speed.

There were 4 buoys dotted along the route and after what seemed like no time at all I approached the last and began to head for the finish line; increasing the speed of my breast stroke and finishing with some front crawl.

Upon exiting the water (in the usual Daniel Craig fashion) my Dad informed me that I had completed the swim in 45 minutes. I felt a mixture of pride that I’d completed the challenge without the aid of a wet suit and relief that I was now warm and could enjoy a wonderful day sunbathing with my Mum, Dad, Brother Josh and Fiancée Debbie.

Josh O'Neil & Stephen O'Neil

Josh O’Neil & Stephen O’Neil, The Finish Line, Boscombe 2013

If you’re considering participating in this event next year I’d recommend that you sign up and give it a go.

One final thought: as I exited the water I felt that if I had completed the swim in a wet suit then I would have missed out on a wonderful experience; I’d also be £150 down. Considering swimming skins? Go for it!

Link Love 2013 – DiNOSEsaurs, Zombies & Actionable Insights

Stephen O'Neil, Wil Reynolds, Rand Fishkin & Will Critchlow at Distilled Link Love 2013

Yesterday I attended Link Love, a link building conference hosted by Distilled at The Brewery on Chiswell Street in London. The venue, hospitality and content of this year’s conference was superb and I even picked up a dinosesaur for Comic Relief.

All of the presentations were excellent and my favourites were: Ian Lurie from Portent, Ade Lewis from Teapot Creative and Distilled’s Will Critchlow. Ian’s presentation on Enterprise Link Spam Analysis appealed to the geek in me; Ade’s Small Business SEO for £350 per Month helped provide some much needed answers to questions that I had about local SEO and Will’s presentation about The Future of Link Building was certainly the most inspirational.

Below I have provided an overview of each presentation along with the key points that I picked up, a link to the speaker’s deck and their contact details.

I’d appreciate it if you could share my write up and look forward to any feedback.

 

Head Smackingly Simple: Post Conversion Link Building Tips

Head Smackingly Simple: Post conversion Link Building Tips

Wil Reynolds / SEER Interactive
@wilreynolds / Wil on Google+ / View Wil’s Deck

  • When it comes to link building, there’s no finish line ever. In fact acquiring the link is just the beginning.
  • Companies have been writing content even before the term ‘Content Marketing’ was coined. #RCS
  • Businesses that lose money on the first purchase are obsessed with the next step.
  • Buy the book Nudge. A nudge is a small thing that leads to something; in this case it could be a link. Examples of a nudge might be a newsletter subscriber, a new Twitter follower or even a mention on Twitter.
  • What are you doing that with a few small changes you can turn them into link building opportunities? For example, after a newsletter signup, ask customers to follow you on Twitter and provide a link.
  • Blogging about your vendor’s new features is a great way to build a relationship and may lead to the acquisition of a link.
  • Share what you do! Lose the mentality that if “…we can make money from you, we’ll help you” and just help people anyway. Helping people does more than building links and as the number of people you help increases, so too does the number of people who are willing to help you.
  • Take a look at Full Contact and use it to check for content marketers in your company database. Segment this list and use it to greater effect.
  • Perform some social proof to demonstrate your product / concept to new customers using existing customers. Social Proof + Conversions > Links.
  • Analyse what your link targets link out to and then create content to target this interest.
  • Use GPlusData.com to find the details of company employees. If you’re already paying these people, utilise this and get them to link to you.
  • Check out CircleCount.com it’s a great tool for helping you to better understand Google+.
  • Twtrland is an excellent tool for helping you to analyze a user’s engagement. Using this tool makes it easier to get involved in the conversation.
  • Use Little Bird to discover emerging influencers and connect with them before they become famous.

 

How Do I Get Them To Link?

How Do I Get Them To Link?

Lyndon Antcliff / Cornwallseo
@Lyndoman / Lyndon on Google+ / View Lyndon’s Deck

  • The problem with link bait is the attitude of the creator.
  • It’s easier to pick-up knowledge than change attitude.
  • Remember that content should be created for people, not bots. People do linking, not websites.
  • It’s far better to acquire one link from ‘the leader of the tribe’ – the influencer than 1,000s of links from un-influential people.
  • Our brains have evolved to be receptive to imagery.
  • Use social media to your advantage; don’t get sucked in and become a junkie. There’s a war going on at the moment, a war for people’s attention. In publishing you either get attention or you don’t.
  • The human mind can be categorized into three sections:
  1. Primal. Wired to keep you alive, this part of your brain responds to basic stimuli; it loves a cracking headline.
  2. Mid-level. This is your sub-conscious and it’s irrational, impulsive and loves things that make us feel good.
  3. High-level. This is your conscious and responds to auditory and visual input. Most decision making is not conscious.
  • In terms of producing link bait the article headline should target the primal part of our brains; the body content should satisfy the sub-conscious and the conscious should feel like it’s making the decision.
  • Ultimately when producing link bait you need to think like the Economist and create like the Sun. Get attention and get engagement!
  • Creating content that delivers great links costs money, investment and risk, but the rewards are worth it.

 

23,787 Ways to Build Links in 30 Minutes

23,787 Ways to Build Links in 30 Minutes

Hannah Smith / Distilled
@hannah_bo_banna / Hannah on Google+ / View Hannah’s Deck

  • Don’t buy links from Fiverr – you really don’t want them.
  • Crappy link building is not sustainable. You cannot get away with manipulative link building anymore. There are a number of sustainable ways to build links.
  • Use Zemanta for outreach by delivering quality content to bloggers who are looking for references to link to. It’s worth paying to have your content promoted.
  • Make photos embeddable so that when people attempt to steal them they are presented with the option to embed an image credit back to you.
  • Upload images to Flickr and licence them under creative commons.
  • Stop referring to image credits as attribution links, non-SEOs don’t know what these are. They’re image credits!
  • Check the statistics of your YouTube videos, reach out to people who have embedded your videos and ask them for a link.
  • Rapportive is a nice tool for visualising your outreach target’s contact details inside Gmail.
  • Build something and then offer to write for the company whose tools you used. They may link back to you.
  • Add a ‘by line’ to each article you write and link this back to your Google+ profile.
  • Become a regular contributor to related blogs, not just a one night stand.
  • The Guardian published lots of high quality data; use it to create infographics that attract links.
  • Leverage existing assets and create new assets to leverage.
  • Do stuff that attracts links, rather than stuff for links.

 

Enterprise Link Spam Analysis

Enterprise Link Spam Analysis

Ian Lurie / Portent
@portentint / Ian on Google+ / View Ian’s Deck

  • When conducting enterprise link spam analysis you need to discover all of your links. Use Google Webmaster Tools, SEOmoz and Majestic SEO to ensure that you’ve captured everything.
  • Start by removing URLs that have spammy looking names or poor anchor text distribution. Filtering must be perfect otherwise you risk being shut off by Google. Next, analyze each link’s moz rank and domain authority score.
  • This process presents two difficulties: the first is that you must identify every bad link; the second is that you must communicate to your clients why the offending links must be removed. This can prove tricky if they’ve invested heavily in these low quality links.
  • Ian built a piece of software to help accomplish this and has integrated a machine learning algorithm to assist.
  • Machine learning can be divided into the following areas: ‘training set’ – data related to high quality and spammy domains; the ‘algorithm’ – supervised or unsupervised. Supervised means that the system is given the training set, whereas unsupervised indicates that the system learns on its own. Finally the result is a ‘classification’ – this is the answer, was the system correct?
  • Check out Google’s How Search Works. They’ve become very sensitive to the context of a link. They’re spam tolerance is declining and what might have been acceptable last year, will certainly not be accepted this year.
  • Clean up your link profile now or get buried.

 

How to Build Agile and Actionable Link Data Reports. With APIs. (Live Tutorial)

How to Build Agile and Actionable Link Data Reports. With APIs. (Live Tutorial)

Richard Baxter / SEOgadget
@richardbaxter / Richard on Google+

  • It’s incredibly easy to use APIs to create client reports and develop prototypes.

 

How to Transform your CEO into a Link Building, Social Sharing Machine

How to Transform your CEO into a Link Building, Social Sharing Machine

Rand Fishkin / SEOmoz
@randfish / Rand on Google+ / View Rand’s Deck

  • A CEO sets the mission, vision and strategy in an organization. They should live, breath and spread the core values. Amongst other things they should be the brand’s evangelist.
  • Why would a CEO do the marketing themselves? No one else will know the business as well as they do. No one else has the CEO’s reach or coverage. No one else has the CEO’s authority.
  • Much of what makes leaders great is also what makes them great marketers.
  • There are 3 kinds of great CEO marketers:
  1. The Richard Branson. He leverages the celebrity of himself and his position to benefit his brand.
  2. The Danielle Morrill. She’s an active blogger and social user.
  3. The Jeremy Stoppelman. Personally passionate about an issue.
  • What if you can’t be that CEO? Delegate to an internal marketing leader, rely on your product or be good at other stuff.
  • CEOs should:
  • Understand and evangelize how your funnel works.
  • Be proactive in their industry.
  • Leverage the press wisely. For example, paid, paid vacation – link building through policy.
  • Empower their marketing team.
  • Get good at one or more forms of content.
  • Recognize marketing accomplishments the way that product, engineering and financial milestones are recognized.
  • Optimize your online bio and update it regularly.
  • They amass favours and then ‘cash them in’ – possibly for links or shares.
  • They leverage their contacts to amplify messages.
  • They embrace authenticity.
  • Authenticity is winning over the old corporate world.

 

Small Business SEO for £350 per month

Small Business SEO for £350 per month

Ade Lewis / Teapot Creative
@Teapot_Ade / Ade on Google+ / View Ade’s Deck

  • Small business SEO relies on a strong relationship with your client. You need to understand and aim to be an asset to their business.
  • It’s not about doing everything, the budget probably doesn’t allow for that. It’s about doing enough to shift the needle and make a difference.
  • Stay away from spammy activity!
  • A small business is any organization comprising 10 people or less. For example, plumbers, mechanics, builders, hairdressers, fitness instructors, coaches, etc.
  • Start with some realistic goals to aim for. What can reasonably be expected within the budget.
  • Educate the client. A poor website is unlikely to convert new business leads and will reduce credibility; upgrade the site as a priority. Help your client to have a website that deserves to rank.
  • To be successful online the client must be credible online.
  • Within 15-minutes someone in your team should be able to look at a client’s existing website and come up with a whole A4 page for initial improvements.
  • Run your client’s site through the SEOmoz optimization tool and ensure that the key pages have ‘A Grades’.
  • Target local search, there are some big wins to be had.
  • Analyze target keywords using the Google keyword tool. Look at the number of local searches with an exact filter.
  • Ensure that your client has a blog and teach them how to curate content. They should be blogging about things that interest their customers and not just their business.
  • Blogging about local topics and issues is a great way to accumulate backlinks. If you’ve made someone look good, let them know.
  • A good idea is to add the local area to the blog as a category.
  • Finding and fixing orphaned links, such as 404s is a great way to approach small business SEO.
  • Combine existing pages. A bigger site is not always better; a smaller site with fewer pages that add real value is preferable.
  • Ask your client for a list of everyone that they know personally or through business who has a website. Now call each person on this list and ask them to link to your client. Offer them a free link check on their website. If you explain why links are important and tell them how to fix it you may well acquire another new client.
  • The goal is to place 5 links each month. To do this use the link prospecting tool to identify domains with domain authority 30-60. Send 25-30 outreach emails per month in batches of 10 emails.
  • Once you have your prospects, use Buzzstream to build a relationship.
  • For content creation on a budget use textbroker.co.uk or .com (.com’s cheaper). Always go for 4 star quality authors and build teams of writers. Give them a 1-day deadline and set out a rough structure for them to follow when writing the article.
  •  Identify tactics that could work for your client and breakdown into chunks.
  • Be creative. Information will get you from A to B but imagination will get you anywhere.

 

Out of 5 million infographics only 1.3% will give you an orgasm in 0.3 of a millisecond

Out of 5 million infographics only 1.3% will give you an orgasm in 0.3 of a millisecond

Claire Stoke / Mediaworks
@killer_bunnie / Claire on Google+ / View Claire’s Deck

  • At the heart of every infographic are the statistics used to create it.
  • Find data, sort it into useful chunks and then arrange it into a presentable and intuitive format.
  • An effective infographic should have a journey.
  • Infographics are nothing new; they’ve existed for hundreds of years. Even Florence Nightingale created one in 1851.
  • For an idea to work well as an infographic it must be well researched, well presented and well placed.
  • There are a number of types of infographics: statistical, geographic, training / timelines, opinion pieces and sourced data.
  • When creating infographics always have 3 target audiences in mind, that way if it doesn’t resonate with one, you have the others to fall back on.
  • Go to highly shareable, high PR sites so that it’s easier to acquire links from smaller site afterwards.
  • It’s worth using LinkedIn to engage with the owners / decision makers behind these high PR blogs. Get an introduction by joining a LinkedIn group.
  • Everyone should be creating seasonal infographics and aiming to win.
  • Save your creativity by understanding the community and developing your social accounts.
  • Every infographic needs an effective header, a hook, a path through the infographic and must be arty but simple. Consider typography, icons over text, colour palette (check out Colour Lovers) and promotion.
  • Reference your data well and add a creative commons to protect your own work.

 

The Future of Link Building

The Future of Link Building

Will Critchlow / Distilled
@willcritchlow / Will on Google+ / View Will’s Deck

  • Link Love 2013 will be the last; the focus has now shifted to content and social.
  • The question asked by most clients used to be – why don’t I rank? The answer was you need links. Fast forward to 2013 and the question has remained the same, but the answer has changed to – not those links.
  • The best ways to build links nowadays involve more than just the link.
  • Aim to build flywheels over the unsustainable.
  • Learning is greater than training.
  • Everyone hates SEOs because we have broken: directories, comments, forums, infographics and guest posting.
  • A quote from Eric Schmidt: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
  • Worry about how slow your site is or how few journalists you know. Stop worrying about nofollow and start worrying about whether anyone will actually click the link.
  • You need to be good at content, technology and fame. Your strategy needs to cover all three. Try to earn attention instead of shares. Measure links based on engaged users.
  • Want to improve as an online marketer? Make yourself uncomfortable and push yourself!
  • Pitch a journalist who will run a story based on your tip. Make sure you stay in touch with that journalist.
  • Present to a crowd or board of Directors.
  • Negotiate with a salesperson and get 10% off.
  • Record a webinar.
  • Reach out to a hero.
  • Debate a business case, there are some good ones here.
  • Sell something door to door.
  • Make 10 cold calls.
  • Run a live usability test. For example, go into Starbucks and ask someone to look at or search for your site in exchange for a coffee.
  • Answer 3 customer calls.
  • Read to a child.
  • Install a web server, break it with too much traffic and then fix it.
  • Contribute to an Open Source project.
  • Make something and sell it online.
  • Film and edit some videos.
  • Make a graphic and get 20 shares.
  • Make an interactive infographics in a day.
  • Build a wireframe.
  • Remove someone from a photo.
  • Rewrite and/or redesign a landing page.
  • Write for a publication you’ve previously bought.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my write up. Feel free to leave me a comment below or connect with me on Twitter or Google+.

Article by Stephen O’Neil.

Responsive Website For SimplyLED At The Ideal Home Show 2013

Responsive Website For SimplyLED At The Ideal Home Show 2013

This year’s Ideal Home Show at London’s Earls Court runs from Friday 15th March to Monday 1st April 2013. Top of most people’s lists of things to see will undoubtedly be The Prince’s House – an eco home built in a contemporary country style.

Supplying the lighting for The Prince’s House is SimplyLED, one of the UK’s largest online retailers of LED lighting and inventors of the NxtGen LED lighting series. Click here to view their range of outstanding LED lighting products.

To assist in building brand awareness SimplyLED approached me to design and develop a responsive web app that will adapt to a user’s mobile device. This web app will be accessible by scanning a QR code on t-shirts worn by the SimplyLED team at the event and the information leaflets that they will be handing out.

The responsive web app is intended to provide a talking point to engage potential customers and features links to all of SimplyLED’s social media handles, video testimonials streamed live from their YouTube channel and mobile enabled clickable telephone links to connect the customer directly with the dedicated SimplyLED customer service team.

Interested in viewing the SimplyLED web app? Click here to view on your Smartphone and be sure to say hello to the SimplyLED team at the Ideal Home Show.

New Responsive Website Launched For Care HR Solutions

New Responsive Website Launched

I’m proud to announce the launch of the new Care HR Solutions website featuring an integrated Content Management System (CMS) and a responsive website design. This approach was selected to ensure that the website’s layout adapts to deliver the ultimate user experience and to satisfy the requirement for a cost effective mobile solution.

The CMS guarantees Care HR Solutions complete control over their website, enabling them to manage their site from one easy to use CMS. Updates to text, imagery, social media accounts, web pages and blog posts can be managed from within the CMS and delivered to the user on any device.

Care HR Solutions are a specialist HR and care advice consultancy based in Oxford. Their services include:  Personal & Team Development, Conflict Management & Mediation, Discipline & Grievance Handling, Incident Investigation and Job Evaluation & Reward.

Why not head over to their website, take a look around and be sure to load the site up on your smartphone to witness the responsive layout in action.

Hong Kong, Matadors & Chinese Factories

Hong Kong, Matadors & Chinese Factories

After a 12-hour overnight flight from the UK the words “Welcome to the Langham Sir” were music to my ears. I’d just arrived in Hong Kong on business and would be staying in this magnificent hotel for one night before crossing the border into Shenzhen, China.

The Langham is a beautiful hotel, in fact it doesn’t feel like a hotel at all, more like a home away from home and despite being at the heart of the busy Kowloon district and seconds away from stores featuring some of the world’s leading luxury brands it’s actually a very peaceful place.

As you walk through the front doors the smell from the Flowers of Langham shop permeates the reception area; this coupled with the sound from the grand piano only adds to the feeling of luxury one gets from being present in the foyer.

After a glass of champagne and a few beers in Palm Court with my colleagues Jon and Stuart we headed out for a walk around the Kowloon district, ending up in a sports bar showing Sunderland vs. West Brom. We stayed for a while, enjoying the beer more than the game, before heading back to the Langham for a Chinese themed buffet.

Having not slept for 31 hours I was in need of a rest and so headed back to my room. Here I had one of the most luxurious baths I’ve had in a long time whilst watching the television from the comfort of the bath; a little bit of this always helps too.

The Bathroom In The Langham, Hong Kong

The Bathroom In The Langham, Hong Kong

After a morning of sightseeing around a very foggy and rainy Hong Kong harbour we began our journey to China. It took us approximately 1 hour to arrive at the border crossing and then we waited for what seemed like another hour before we were eventually let into the country. Chinese border control is a thorough but drawn out process.

Eventually we arrived at the Intercontinental only to discover that this particular 5-star hotel had a Spanish theme. If anyone knows of the link between Chinese and Spanish culture that inspired this then feel free to leave it in the comments below.

We were greeted by concierge dressed in matador costumes before being escorted past a miniature 15th century Spanish galleon and onto reception. The bedrooms at the Intercontinental in Shenzhen are exactly as I imagined they might be; the bed was very comfortable, the bathroom luxurious and I even had a Bose sound system.

A Spanish Galleon in Shenzhen

A Spanish Galleon in Shenzhen

The weirdness starts when you enter the hotel lobby and observe your surroundings. Could this hotel have employed two interior designers, both with very different views on what the desired outcome should be? That said, the hotel was very clean, well maintained and certainly had an abundance of character which made my stay all the more enjoyable.

The Lobby @ The Intercontinental, Shenzhen, China

The Lobby @ The Intercontinental, Shenzhen, China

On the Monday and Tuesday we visited 4 factories that specialise in the production of LED lighting and actually had the opportunity to have a traditional Chinese lunch with the management from one of these factories.

Lunch was an interesting experience and when the chicken feet arrived at the table I new that this was one item I had to tick off my bucket list. My colleague Stuart remarked that this dinning experience was similar to a bush tucker trial. I only tasted a small part of the chicken’s foot and have to say that it is similar in consistency to the end of a chicken drumstick. We tried a Chinese sea vegetable that looked rather like a piece of liver, but when tasted was actually very sweet and quite nice.

Traditional Chinese Lunch

Traditional Chinese Lunch

The experience of witnessing a part of the real China was one that I’ll never forget. The whole time I was in China I did not see a single house, only rows and rows of dark, run down tower blocks. Perhaps this is the result of over population and something we in the west have to look forward to?

Shenzhen’s factories were not what I had imagined either. They certainly did not fit in with the Victorian style scene with thick smoke polluting the atmosphere above a large metropolis that I had imagined. In reality, Chinese factories resembled run down tower blocks centred in residential areas.

The temperature in China was quite cold and it did not stop raining the entire time I was there. I also wondered whether the residents of Shenzhen ever witnessed the sun’s rays as it was quite a grey place and although brighter on occasions I did not see the sun the entire time I was in the far east.

After our final factory visit we headed back to the hotel for some relaxation before heading back across the border for one last evening in Hong Kong. I took the opportunity to have another bath and catch up on the Man Utd vs. QPR highlights before packing my suitcase and getting ready to leave.

A Wonderful Bath @ The Intercontinental, Shenzhen, China

A Wonderful Bath @ The Intercontinental, Shenzhen, China

The journey back to Hong Kong seemed shorter than the journey to China. When arriving back at the Langham the concierge greeted me: “Welcome back to the Langham. How was your trip to China? Did you enjoy it?”. I couldn’t help but notice the cheeky grin on his face as he said this, as if somehow hinting that he knew it wasn’t as good as Hong Kong; and as if by his own design, coinciding perfectly with his comments, there was an Aston Martin and a Ferrari parked beside us.

As it was getting late we visited the Bostonian restaurant and indulged our desire for western food. Monster burgers, with Coca-Cola, Heineken and cocktails were ordered and this meal didn’t disappoint.

Monster Burger! @ The Bostonian

Monster Burger! @ The Bostonian

After a night of drinks at Palm Court and a better night’s sleep I awoke on Wednesday morning and headed to the outdoor swimming pool located on the roof of the Langham. A few lengths and some time in the hot tub later and we decided that we should do some sightseeing. 30 minutes later and we emerged into another rainy Hong Kong morning ready to take in some sights. After crossing the harbour by ferry we arrived at the Central Pier before jumping in a taxi and heading straight for The Peak Tram to take us up to Victoria’s Peak.

Central Pier, Hong Kong

Central Pier, Hong Kong

Upon arriving it was clear that this would be a souvenir shopping trip as the only thing to be seen from the peak was thick fog. I’m sure on a clearer day the view from the peak would be outstanding, but in November it’s certainly not something I’d recommend.

We returned to our hotel for an afternoon of relaxation, followed by a champagne dinner and the opportunity to reflect on what was an enjoyable and extremely interesting few days in the far east.

After a quick journey to the airport we checked into the Virgin Atlantic Lounge and enjoyed yet more champagne and a selection of cold meats, cheese and frozen grapes before catching our flight home.

Stuart, Steve & Jon in The Virgin Atlantic Lounge, Hong Kong

Stuart, Steve & Jon in The Virgin Atlantic Lounge, Hong Kong

My trip to the far east was luxurious, enlightening and seriously tiring; but I am extremely grateful to SimplyLED for providing me with the opportunity to experience this trip.

#BrightonSEO – An Overview September 2012

BrightonSEO

On Thursday I travelled to Brighton to attend an e-Commerce roundtable hosted by SiteVisibility. If you’re ever invited to participate in one of these discussions I would recommend that you attend. I found the opportunity to discuss issues being experienced by others in similar in-house roles to me to be reassuring. The roundtable lasted for approximately 1.5 hours and that’s about all I can tell you (why?).

After the roundtable I headed out for a few beers with @stukerr, @dkoblintz and @brightonrob. This provided an opportunity to experience some of Brighton’s nightlife and discuss some more specific SEO related issues.

#BrightonSEO – The Speakers

For me the standout presentation of the day was ‘Predatory Thinking’ delivered by CSTTG’s Executive Creative Director, Dave Trott. A close joint second were ‘SEO Deliverance’ by Tony King, SEO Managing Consultant at Semetrical and ‘How to be a better SEO’ by Richard Baxter from SEO Gadget. Here are some key points from all of the day’s presentations:

Dave Trott | CSTTG

“Predatory Thinking”
@davetrott

  • Pure Creativity: art and poetry – they typically have no use, but help to progress towards Applied Creativity.
  • Applied Creativity: films and advertising.
  • Bauhaus design principle – form follows function. Understand the problem to be solved before doing anything else.
  • 90% of advertising last year was not remembered / noticed. 90% of everything, including SEO is not noticed.
  • Practical creativity involves killing the competition to make the consumer remember you and not the wallpaper (competition).
  • How do you make your ad stand out? How do you solve this problem? By turning it into one that is easier to solve.
  • Analogy: 2 guys are in the jungle and they spot a hungry tiger. The first guy pulls out some running trainers to which the second guy says: “…you’ll never out run that tiger”. The first guy replies “…I don’t have to, I just need to outrun you”.
  • Most people don’t understand the media. 90% of the media doesn’t work!
  • What most people think of as the media: TV, radio, online, the latest gimmick – isn’t actually the media; the human consuming these mediums is the media.
  • Everything you do is a conversation and it has three elements:
  1. Impact
  2. Communication
  3. Persuasion
  • Most ads die at the impact stage so they never get the opportunity to communicate with the target audience or even persuade them.
  • Most agencies spend time focusing on persuasion when they should be focusing on the impact.
  • Remember that if you focus and get the impact right, the persuasion might be wrong, but at least you have a chance of the persuasion working. If no one sees your ad because it doesn’t make an impact then nothing happens.
  • Complication is weakness and simple is strength. The problem with creatives is that they have a fear of the obvious. They want to be different.
  • Einstein: if you can’t explain it to an 11 year old then you don’t understand it yourself.
  • When communicating it’s important to remember who you’re communicating with. You need:
  1. A client language – to give yourself credibility.
  2. A consumer language – to help persuade them in your language.
  • Edward de Bono: complexity means distracted effort, simplicity means focused effort.
  • How does the mind work? Everything in your mind is either: ‘me’ or ‘not me’ – just like Freud’s ‘The Ego and The Id’.
  • The mind is a grouping machine. The mind pre-selects from groups.
  • Imagine you have 20 ads in a newspaper, one of them is yours, but it doesn’t stand out. Therefore you can only expect to acquire 5% of the reader’s mind share at best. Now consider that your add is radically different to the other 19. You can now look forward to a possible 50% mind share.
  • So how do I make an impact? By being different!
  • There are 2 types of people: opinion formers and opinion followers.
  1. Opinion formers want to stand out and like to talk a lot. If you go into a pub, they’ll usually be the ones leading the conversation in a group.
  2. Opinion followers don’t want this kind of attention – it would embarrass them.
  • Get opinion formers to disseminate your message to the opinion followers. Opinion formers like to be given things to talk about – conversation fuel.
  • Remember that you cannot do the same as everyone else and expect to stand out.
  • Predatory thinking is just applied creativity. Work out what drives people.

 

Anthony Mayfield | Brilliant Noise

“Do You Speak Brand?”
@amayfield
Download the Deck

  • We live in post penguin, post panda times – what else can we do in marketing to be useful?
  • SEO is a broad church and SEOs like to categorise themselves e.g. “…I’m a white hat and you’re a black hat”. This is nonsensical to clients.
  • SEOs are starting to split out into three main camps:
  1. Data
  2. PR and Content
  3. Black Hat
  • We should start fusing SEO with different disciplines, particularly as SEO is weakened when undersold and/or miss-sold.
  • Search is dependant on other disciplines within earned media: social media, content, user experience and PR.
  • Earned media budgets are too small. Fortunately we are beginning to witness a shift in budgets from traditional advertising over to earned media. Coca-Cola is switching 20% of their advertising budget over to inbound marketing.
  • When selling earned media use stories to help demonstrate how it brings in customers and increases reach.
  • Rehearse 3 to 4 sentences about what SEO is and why it matters to a business.
  • Search is a database of insight into the consumer’s intentions.
  • Story: Lucky 7. A lady used to get really annoyed with the same old boring companies appearing at the top of the SERPS. They all looked the same and offered no value to her. Her solution: skip to page 7 in order to bypass all of the optimised results.

 

Stephanie Troeth | Mail Chimp

“Speaking Your User’s Language”
@sniffles
Download the Deck

  • Language is an essential part of user experience (UX).
  • Instead of asking what is UX? Ask what makes a unique, great product?
  • Remember that it’s your brand that differentiates you from the competition. So how does a user experience your product?
  • When a user first loads your site they ‘feel’ before anything else. How do you want users to experience you?
  • When planning your website try wire framing and start with the mobile version of the site, then work backwards to the desktop. This will help you determine what’s really important.
  • Talk to your user! Close ended techniques are great for refining and discovering patterns: a/b testing, usability testing, remote testing tools and heuristic evaluation.
  • Open ended techniques are good for discovering if people really understand your brand: surveys, card sorting, focus groups, interviews and listening labs.
  • Are you evoking an emotional reaction or a rational act with your website? Look at the language you use: tone of voice, placement and context.

 

Martin Belam | Emblem

“How to make firends and influence robots”
@currybet
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

  • Behind every query there’s a human with a need. How clickable / attention grabbing are your headlines?
  • Navigation. How spiderable are they for search engines and how usable are they for users?
  • How does the user flow around your website? Use cards to represent content on your site and then invite users to re-organise them based on how they’d expect to see them.
  • Wording on your website sets the tone.
  • Stop using nofollow for internal page sculpting. This is like a red rag to a bull (Google). Think more about those using your website – what would they expect to see?
  • Loosemore’s law – people get more frustrated with delays the faster their internet connections are.
  • A faster page loading speed builds credibility and trust. Work on this.
  • Look at the green signup button on Facebook’s homepage. The wording used, the size, shade of green and positioning on the page are all determined by data.
  • Do a/b testing as well as SEO. It’s about getting the balance right.

 

Rebecca Weeks | Manning Gottlieb OMD

“Chasing the Algorithm: Smart SEO or Hopless Effort?”
@BeccyWeeks
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

  • Without good content you will only ever close the gap between you and your competition.
  • Trying to optimize a rubbish site is like adding a great conservatory to a crappy house.
  • If you’ve got local pages that need optimizing then build local links to them – this works!
  • Reliable, long lasting SEO techniques work better in the long run compared to black hat techniques.
  • Chasing the algorithm isn’t recommended. Smart SEOs focus on learning and adapt to Google’s changes gradually.
  • Penguin – analyse your back link profile. Does it look natural? At the time of OMD’s experiment 80% of their backlinks were on exact match keywords. OMD retargeted these to domain, brand and brand plus location.
  • Learn from mistakes to develop a stronger strategy.
  • Best practice SEO is not always possible – in these circumstances walk away.

 

Tom Anthony | Distilled

“API? WTF?”
@TomAnthonySEO
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

Due to sickness Tom was unable to present his slides. @willcritchlow from Distilled presented on Tom’s behalf.

  • Over the next 10 years the majority of users will stop using websites. Instead they’ll use their phones – we should be designing for this.
  • Websites have evolved from the days of text only and now incorporate videos and social elements.
  • We’re consuming the web everywhere we go.
  • It’s still a good idea to be in the ‘right’ type of web directory.
  • Search is starting to add additional context, for example, the weather, authors, football results, etc
  • Searchers are interacting differently with the results. The days of 10 blue links are over.
  • Search has moved from the general to the specific. For example, “I’m looking for a hotel in London”.
  • Traditionally the customer would interact with the website and/or customer service team to extract their information from the company database. Now they’re using APIs more and more.
  • API: Application Programming Interface.
  • Artificial Intelligence will bring about a decline in the number of webpages viewed.
  • As SEOs you need to be looking towards the future: Google glasses / augmented reality.
  • Natural language processing is the future – not Siri.

 

Richard Baxter | SEO Gadget

“How to be a better SEO”
@richardbaxter
Link to Blog Post

  • What are your goals? Define them.
  • Get a mentor or copy someone you respect.
  • OK isn’t good enough. If you don’t love it, it isn’t ready.
  • Learn to pitch yourself and seek the most elegant way to communicate.
  • You want to be perceived as the authority in your space.
  • Learn something new once a week.
  • Create a positive feedback folder, then analyse each item and ask what could I have done even better?
  • Always look to develop a new process and try to do things differently.
  • When walking out onto your stage (your office) act like it’s your best day, even if it’s dreadful.
  • Rehearse! Everything!
  • Step out of your comfort zone!
  • Make yourself indispensable by learning a specialisation.
  • Pitch for the job that you want. What is your goal?
  • Learn to sell anything.
  • Make people realise how much you care about what you do.
  • Know your figures – always!
  • Communicate your successes regularly – company email.
  • Leadership comes from certainty which comes from confidence.
  • Give your boss good news..
  • Turn amazing into exceptional by working on yourself a little everyday.

 

Tony King | Semetrical

“SEO Deliverance”
@ToastedTeacake
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

  • What is SEO deliverance? How to deliver SEO change at big brands.
  • Review your situation in the business – you want to be seen as ‘the Guru’.
  • You need influence in the business.
  • There are 3 phases to deliver change:
  • Research phase – know your market, know your competition and know your website.
  • Development phase – know your objectives, know your strategy and know your limits.
  • Implementation phase – know your audience, know your plan and know your shit.
  • Who are your competitors and how are they performing?
  • Get to know your market through keyword research.
  • You can also assess the SERPs by looking at image and video results.
  • Crawl your competitors’ website – what’s their architecture, how do they achieve rankings? What are their weaknesses? DeepCrawl.co.uk can help with this.
  • You need to understand your site. Use SWAT analysis, review your analytics, run a crawl, review your architecture and initiate an SEO audit. Schedule regular crawls and then use all of this data to monitor your site post implementation.
  • When auditing your site look at: robots.txt, xml sitemaps, URL management (upper / lower case variations, parameter ordering, trailing slashes), site speed, domain management (redirection status, canonical setup and domain renewals) and 404 error handling.
  • What’s your company mission? How does this fit with your website goals and objectives? Is your tracking setup correctly? What’s the value of each goal? Are objectives aligned?
  • Do you have the staff and resources to deliver the required change?
  • When defining budgets allow for seasonal trends. Consider a financial calendar. What are the projected returns?
  • Know your limits. Build and develop a search team (read, debate and innovate).
  • Identify departmental advocates.
  • Define and assign responsibility to your team. Evaluate and then provide feedback.
  • When pitching change consider who they are, what their objectives are and consider your deliver mechanism. Pre-empt responses.
  • Know your plan: start with a business case. Let the figures speak for themselves – don’t try to blag it. It’s all about the ROI. Money talks and bullshit walks.
  • Deliverance is only the beginning. Now you need to : monitor and maintain performance.
  • Quantify changes and then you will see returns when rankings increase.
  • SEO is a long term strategy. You don’t get immediate rewards.

 

Lynne Murphy | University of Surrey

“Separated by Common Language”
@lynneguist
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

  • Lesson 1. Just because you dislike something, doesn’t mean it’s an Americanism. Defoe was using the phrase “face up” rather than “confront” back in the 1700s.
  •  Lesson 2. American English is no less logical than British English. -ise instead of -ize, colour instead of color and herb instead of erb are all French influences on the English language added during the Victorian era.
  • Lesson 3. If you’re looking for logic in vocabulary you’re looking in the wrong place. The Victorians replaced the word egg-plant with aubergine back in the 1800s. It’s not easier to spell or pronounce.
  • Lesson 4. Americans have saved the English language. The correct and original pronunciation of the word herb is erb. During the 1800s the British became obsessed with class distinction and so added the h. Anyone who dropped the h was considered common and of lower class. To this day the Americans correctly pronounce the word herb – erb. So in a way they have saved the English language by continuing to use it correctly.
  • Lesson 5. Back-lashes are ugly. Arguing over pronunciation and spelling, and criticising and deriding others for the way they use language doesn’t benefit anyone. All it does is create tensions between groups of people.
  • Take away: Let’s acknowledge that English is a living language that thrives on borrowing and which is constantly changing.

 

#BrightonSEO – The Lightning Sessions

Aleyda Solis | Orainti Search Marketing

“7 Things You Need To Know About Mobile SEO”
@aleyda
Download the Deck

 

Simon Penson | Zazzle Media

“Understanding Content Flow Using Visualisation”
@simonpenson
Presentation Transcript and Deck

 

Yousaf Sekander | Rocket Mill

“Reverse Engineering Your Competitor’s Social / Content Strategy”
@ysekand
Link To Blog Post

 

Berian Reed | Auto Trader

“Future Proofing SEO On Large Websites”
@berianreed
Download the Deck

 

Sion O’Connor | Vanquis Bank

“Client Checklist For SEOs”
@sionoconnor
Download the Deck

 

Danielle Fudge | Forward3D

“Links Using Pinterest”
@D_Fudge
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

 

Tom Lewis | DC Storm

“Attributing Beyond The Last Click”
@dcstorm_uk
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

 

Jason Woodford | SiteVisibility

“The Business Of SEO & How It Can Make The World A Better Place”
@JasonAEWoodford
Download the Deck – Coming Soon

 

Anna Lewis | Koozai

“Quickfire Analytics – 7 Freebies In 7 Minutes”
@Koozai_Anna
Get The Freebies & Download the Deck

 

Thanks for reading my BrightonSEO overview, I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share this post with those who might find it interesting. If you were at the conference feel free to say hello and leave me a comment.

Wireless Festival 2012 – Hyde Park, London

Wireless Festival 2012 - Hyde Park, London

Yesterday I attended the final day of the Wireless Festival in London’s Hyde Park with my Fiancée Debbie, her Brother Paul and his Wife Nicole. The weather was terrible and there was no shortage of mud; but the experience of being in the VIP enclosure more than made up for this.

Upon arrival we found a seat in our area of the VIP enclosure and settled down with a drink and some canapés to watch the Wimbledon men’s singles final. A few drinks later, Paul and I decided that it was time to do some celebrity spotting:

Steve O'Neil with Paul McConnell and Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud at Wireless

Paul McConnell, Nicola Roberts & Steve O'Neil

Twitter: @NicolaRoberts

 

Steve O'Neil with Joe Swash from Eastenders at Wireless

Joe Swash & Steve O'Neil

Twitter: @realjoeswash

 

Steve O'Neil with Bobby from The Only Way is Essex at Wireless

Steve O'Neil & Bobby from TOWIE

Twitter: @BobbyCNorris

 

Steve O'Neil with Charlie from The Only Way is Essex at Wireless

Charlie from TOWIE & Steve O'Neil

Twitter: @charliking885

 

Steve O'Neil with Joe McElderry at Wireless Festival 2012

Steve O'Neil & Joe McElderry

Twitter: @joemcelderry91

 

Debbie McConnell and Paul McConnell with Rebecca Ferguson at Wireless

Debbie McConnell, Rebecca Ferguson & Paul McConnell

Twitter: @RebeccaFMusic

 

In amongst these photos we headed out to the Main Stage at 18:50 to watch Jessie J, before heading across to the PepsiMax Stage at 19:30 to witness Calvin Harris. We actually witnessed Calvin Harris and a fight between two girls – one using a crutch as a weapon!

Calvin Harris at Wireless

Calvin Harris at Wireless

Finally, we made our way back to the Main Stage for 20:10 to watch a brilliant performance by Rhianna.

Rhianna at Wireless Festival 2012

Rhianna at Wireless Festival 2012

Having never attended a festival before this was everything I imagined it would be – lots of happy people, good music and loads of mud!

VIP Enclosure at Wireless

VIP Enclosure at Wireless

However, it was also a number of things that I hadn’t expected it to be: access to the VIP enclosure, a free bar and celebrities. Next time …

Muddy Hyde Park Wirless

Muddy Festival Tip: Don't Wear Toms!

I will probably wear footwear better suited to the weather conditions :-)

Euro 2012 – Final

Euro 2012 Predictor Game

It’s the last game of the Tournament on Sunday. Please email or text me who you think will win the Final; will it be Spain or Italy?

There are 15 participants in this Euro 2012 prediction game. You can download a spreadsheet showing each participant’s predictions here.

This spreadsheet also contains predictions for the golden boot, tournament winner and tournament runner-up.

Winner: Spain (7 Points)

Runner-Up: Italy (5 Points)

Golden Boot Winner: Fernando Torres (10 Points) [Source: UEFA.com]

Prize money will be distributed as follows:

1st: £60 – John O’Neil
2nd: £40 – Gerard O’Neil
3rd: £30 – Matt Santer
4th: £10 – Aaron Scott
5th: £10 – Steve O’Neil

At the end of the tournament, if two or more players are tied in a prize money position then correct prediction of the golden boot winner will be used to decide who wins the prize money. If players are still tied then the money will be shared equally.

After each day’s games the following table will be updated to show which participants are in the prize money positions.

 

Player Points
1. John O’Neil 34
2. Gerard O’Neil 33
3. Matt Santer 29
4. Aaron Scott 27
5. Steve O’Neil 27
6. Paul McConnell 25
7. Paul Sweeney 24
8. Stuart Greene 23
9. Tom Steward 23
10. David O’Neil 23
11. Danny Dyer 19
12. Luke James 19
13. Mark Dumbleton 19
14. Matt Blenford 17
15. Josh O’Neil 12

 

Euro 2012 – Semi Finals

Euro 2012 Predictor Game

We’re nearing the end of the tournament. You can download the semi finals prediction sheet here.

There are 15 participants in this Euro 2012 prediction game. You can download a spreadsheet showing each participant’s predictions here.

This spreadsheet also contains predictions for the golden boot, tournament winner and tournament runner-up.

Prize money will be distributed as follows:

1st: £60
2nd: £40
3rd: £30
4th: £10
5th: £10

At the end of the tournament, if two or more players are tied in a prize money position then correct prediction of the golden boot winner will be used to decide who wins the prize money. If players are still tied then the money will be shared equally.

After each day’s games the following table will be updated to show which participants are in the prize money positions.

 

Player Points
1. Matt Santer 24
2. John O’Neil 22
3. Steve O’Neil 22
4. Aaron Scott 22
5. Gerard O’Neil 21
6. Paul McConnell 20
7. Luke James 19
8. Danny Dyer 19
9. Paul Sweeney 19
10. Mark Dumbleton 19
11. Stuart Greene 18
12. David O’Neil 18
13. Matt Blenford 17
14. Tom Steward 16
15. Josh O’Neil 12

Click here to go to the Final.

Euro 2012 – Quarter Finals

Euro 2012 Predictor Game

We’re now into the tournament’s Quarter Finals. You can download the prediction sheet and read about the rules for this round here.

There are 15 participants in this Euro 2012 prediction game. You can download a spreadsheet showing each participant’s predictions here.

This spreadsheet also contains predictions for the golden boot, tournament winner and tournament runner-up.

Prize money will be distributed as follows:

1st: £60
2nd: £40
3rd: £30
4th: £10
5th: £10

At the end of the tournament, if two or more players are tied in a prize money position then correct prediction of the golden boot winner will be used to decide who wins the prize money. If players are still tied then the money will be shared equally.

After each day’s games the following table will be updated to show which participants are in the prize money positions.

Player Points
1. Matt Santer 21
2. John O’Neil 19
3. Aaron Scott 19
4. Stuart Greene 18
5. Gerard O’Neil 18
6. David O’Neil 18
7. Paul McConnell 17
8. Matt Blenford 17
9. Luke James 16
10. Danny Dyer 16
11. Steve O’Neil 16
12. Paul Sweeney 16
13. Mark Dumbleton 16
14. Tom Steward 13
15. Josh O’Neil 12

Click here to go to the Semi Finals.

Euro 2012 – Round One

Euro 2012 Predictor Game

There are 15 participants in this Euro 2012 prediction game. You can download a spreadsheet showing each participant’s predictions here.

This spreadsheet also contains predictions for the golden boot, tournament winner and tournament runner-up.

Prize money will be distributed as follows:

1st: £60
2nd: £40
3rd: £30
4th: £10
5th: £10

At the end of the tournament, if two or more players are tied in a prize money position then correct prediction of the golden boot winner will be used to decide who wins the prize money. If players are still tied then the money will be shared equally.

After each day’s games the following table will be updated to show which participants are in the prize money positions.

Player Points
1. Matt Santer 15
2. Paul McConnell 13
3. Stuart Greene 12
4. Gerard O’Neil 12
5. Luke James 12
6. David O’Neil 12
7. John O’Neil 11
8. Aaron Scott 11
9. Matt Blenford 11
10. Danny Dyer 10
11. Steve O’Neil 10
12. Paul Sweeney 10
13. Mark Dumbleton 10
14. Josh O’Neil 8
15. Tom Steward 7

Click here to go to the Quarter Finals.

Euro 2012 Predictor Game

Euro 2012 Predictor Game

The 2012 UEFA European Football Championships begin on Friday 8th June and runs through to Friday 1st July 2012. Jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine this will be the 14th European Championships.

For a bit of extra fun I’ve created the EURO 2012 Prediction Game. Here are the rules and everything you need to get involved.

 

Entry Requirements

  • Complete the prediction sheet and send to: stephensoneil@gmail.com by Friday 8th June 11:30.
  • The entry fee is £10 per person, this must be paid to me by Friday 8th June 11:30.

 

Round 1 Game Rules

  • Click on this link to download the round 1 prediction sheet.
  • For each match in the group stages you should predict whether you think the result will be a home win, away win or draw. 1 point will be awarded for each correct prediction.
  • You should also predict which country you think will win the tournament (7 points), who will finish as the runner-up (5 points) and who will win the tournament’s golden boot (10 points).
  • Round One Final Scores.

 

Quarter Final Game Rules

 

Semi Final Game Rules

 

Final Game Rules

  • For the match played in the Final you should predict who you think will win the tournament. 5 points will be awarded for a correct prediction.
  • Please get your prediction to me either by text or email by 20:00 on Saturday 30th June 2012.
  • Click here to go to the Final page.

 

Prize Money

 

Feel free to share this game with your friends and should you have any questions about the game please get in touch.

Distilled London #LinkLove 2012 Pointers

linklove

Yesterday I attended Distilled’s sell out Link Love 2012 conference in London. This was my first visit to an SEO conference and I was lucky enough to watch presentations given by the industry’s leading search engine marketing experts. In this post I’m going to share with you a few key pointers from each presentation. Continue reading

New Website Launched for BPF

BPF - Empty Property Rates - Bombsite Britain Tax

This March the British Property Federation (BPF); backed by a number of backbench MPs re-launched their campaign to urge the Government and in particular the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to abolish the tax currently levied on empty property rates.

Dubbed the ‘Bombsite Britain Tax’, the empty property rates legislation causes millions of square feet of perfectly usable empty property to be demolished every year.

I was approached by the BPF to deliver a new website that would be the online focal point of this important campaign. The new site was to feature a Content Management System (CMS), blog, newsroom and social media integration.

Delivered in a matter of days and successfully launched on Friday 2nd March 2012 the new site has already received wide coverage in the national media.

The campaign is expected to run until the Budget on the 21st March 2012. To find out why the ‘Bombsite Britain Tax’ is not such a good idea check out bombsitebritaintax.co.uk.

New UK Charity Website Launched

ukpips

December 2011 saw the closure of the PiA (Primary Immunodeficiency Association) an organisation that had existed to look after the interests of people with immunodeficiencies in the United Kingdom. This left a lot of people vulnerable and without representation.

Therefore, I decided to offer my web design skills to a group of fantastic people who were looking to setup a patient led association to replace the PiA.

After a lot of hard work it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of UKPIPS.org.uk a new charity that will provide information, advice and support to people living with a Primary Antibody Deficiency (PAD) or any other Primary Immune Deficiency (PID).

In case you’re wondering, UKPIPS is an acronym for United Kingdom Primary Immunodeficiency Patient Support.

The new website features the tools to grow an online community around this charity, a donation system and a live Twitter feed.

Check out the new site, show your support and follow UKPIPS on Twitter.

Magento Connect Extension Key

magento

Magento Connect is a wonderful marketplace where a plethora of fantastic extensions are available for installation.

Some of these extensions will cost you some hard earned cash, whilst most are free and can significantly enhance your online shop / make life easier.

To install a Magento extension in version 1.6.0.0 you need to sign in and accept the associated license agreement. Once you’ve done this you’re ready to get the extension key.

However, if you try this you’ll notice that when generating an extension key for Magento Connect 1.0, a key in the following format is produced:

magento-community/extension_name

and if you attempt to copy and paste this into your Magento Connect Manager the following error message will be displayed once you’ve clicked the install button:

‘Invalid server response for http://magento-community’

I’ve discovered an easy work around for this issue, simply paste your Magento Connect 1.0 extension key minus the ‘magento-‘ prefix. What you’ve pasted should resemble:

community/extension_name

If you click install, your extension should start to install.

Always take care when installing Magento extensions and be sure to backup your online shop and database to a staging or local server first.

The Beginning…

koh_phangan_sun

Hello and welcome to my new blog. I’ve been meaning to set this up for a while, but work and other commitments have delayed me until now.

Over the next few months I’m going to try and document my travels around South East Asia and the Middle East. I made this journey in 2011 so will be using my travel diary and back dating any articles related to this trip in order to appear as thought they were posted on the exact day that those particular events took place.

I’ll also be documenting my technical experiences with the Magento e-Commerce platform, SEO and general web design techniques – hopefully my findings might benefit others.

If you like my blog and want to comment on any of my articles then that would be great! I look forward to your feedback!

Enjoy the blog!

Time to Buy an Engagement Ring

Jumeirah Beach Dubai

Another early start, but strangely I don’t feel jet lagged – just excited and nervous about the prospect of trying to find the perfect engagement ring for Debbie. Having spent the last year thinking about my proposal to Debbie and digging for clues I already have a rough idea of what the perfect engagement ring will look like. I can visualise it now in my mind’s eye.

So after breakfast it was time to pay a visit to a particular jewellers in Dubai. I’m not going to tell you where it is, but if you’re a professional footballer or celebrity who has visited Dubai then the chances are you’ve probably bought something from this particular jewellers.

As I made my way into the jewellers I was unsure as to how I would accurately communicate the image of perfection that I had in my mind and then as if by chance I caught a glimpse of what I was looking for in the window. Well almost, the ring in the window was a different material and the diamond wasn’t quite right, but it was still a good starting point.

After an introduction to the manager and an explanation of what was required I was presented with a collection of different diamonds. After some time comparing different cuts, sizes and colours I found the diamond I was looking for. No matter which way you looked at it this diamond sparkled, it felt right and I knew that it would look beautiful on Debbie’s finger.

The manager gave me and my Aunt a drink, before discussing my expectations with one of his colleagues. I was then escorted to an adjoining building which contained the jeweller’s workshop and over the next hour watched in fascination as Debbie’s engagement ring was created from scratch to my exact specification by some highly skilled master craftsmen.

Upon returning to the jewellers I watched as the manager was presented with the engagement ring. He checked it over to ensure that it met my exact requirements and then invited me to inspect the diamond under a microscope. I could clearly see that inscribed into the middle of the diamond was a unique serial number – this certified that this was not a conflict diamond. I was then presented with the engagement ring in a beautiful wooden box and all of the documentation that accompanied this beautiful ring.

The entire experience of witnessing Debbie’s engagement ring being created from scratch was unbelievable and made the ring feel even more special – it was truly unique.

After paying for the engagement ring I made my way back to Liz’ Humvee, gripping the bag containing the engagement ring and documentation as tightly as I could. I then gave my Mum a call to let her know that I had not only found the perfect engagement ring, but had also seen it being created. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my Mum sound as excited as she was during this 10 minute phone call.

After an afternoon chilling out in Liz’ apartment we headed out to The Dubai Mall to catch up with some of Liz’ friends. In terms of leasable area The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall and is part of the $20-billion Burj Khalifa complex.

We decided to eat at Karam Beirut, a wonderful Lebanese restaurant situated next to the Dubai Fountain and at the foot of the Burj Khalifa – the World’s tallest building. If you’re ever in Dubai I highly recommend that you visit this restaurant, sit outside and take in the atmosphere and views.

Back at the apartment I completed my online check-in and packed my backpack ready for the next part of my adventure. Tomorrow I fly to Thailand and I cannot wait to see Debbie!

Journey to Dubai

Dubai Part One: Emirates Plane

Up very early for a journey to Gatwick Airport with my Mum and Dad; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to be leaving, even if it is only for 7 weeks. Some people go away for 6 months at a time, some even go for a year!

You see I’ve never been the best traveller and I do enjoy my home comforts. I’ve also got a Primary Antibody Deficiency (PAD) which means that my body does not make antibodies and therefore I must regularly top up the areas in which I am deficient.

Luckily, this sadness was offset by the fact that I was heading off on the trip of a lifetime and come Sunday evening I’ll be in Bangkok with my beautiful girlfriend Debbie. I haven’t seen her for 23 days and am already missing her lots. Before that though, there’s the small matter of a 2 day stop over in Dubai and the task of buying Debbie an engagement ring. We’ve been together for 4 years and 10 months and I’ve decided that this trip will throw up numerous perfect opportunities to ask Debbie to marry me. More on this later.

After arriving at the airport I had a very easy check-in and just enough time for breakfast with my Mum and Dad. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but the breakfast was great – not as great as the look I got off the waiter when I requested some maple syrup which I promptly poured all over my fry-up.

With no delays expected for my flight it was time to head for security. I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the journey as I had a bag full of needles and immunoglobulin which I would need to transport safely to my Aunt’s apartment in Dubai. I will take this medication during the final week of my trip to help boost my immune system which by that point will be at a very low level after 6 weeks without a top up.

Prior to my trip I had let the airline know that I would be carrying these items on the flight to Dubai. I also had letters written by my Consultant Immunologist to help explain to any airport security officials why I needed to carry this medication. As an additional measure I had taken the opportunity to have these letters translated into Arabic – hopefully this will avoid any complications that might arise at security when I arrive at Dubai International Airport.

So after giving my Mum and Dad a hug and a kiss goodbye I headed through security and onto Emirates flight: EK0012 for the start of what was set to be a wonderful experience.

I’ve flown with Emirates a number of times in the past and each time the experience has been wonderful, this time was no exception; I was even greeted with a “…welcome back Mr O’Neil”. On board there was a lovely choice of food and after much deliberation I went for the chicken tikka, washed down with a few cans of Pepsi and a couple of white wines. The in-flight entertainment was varied as always, yet for some reason I didn’t fancy watching a film so instead viewed two documentaries; the first was about 90’s goal scoring sensation Gabriel Batistuta; the second focused on England’s epic experience at Italia ’90. I then spent the remainder of the 6 hours 50 minutes flight talking to a very interesting gentleman who was sit next to me. He was travelling to Abu Dhabi via Dubai for training related to oil drilling. During our conversation I discovered that he actually lives in Canada and is originally from Kashmir. It transpired that he can remotely control an oil drill from the comfort of his home office.

I landed in Dubai at 19:50 local time and as always was very impressed with the opulence of the airport. It took 10 minutes to get through passport control and then it was onto security. Now after being apprehensive about the airport security’s reaction to me bringing infusion equipment and immunoglobulin into the UAE the experience was actually a good one. The security guard seemed to appreciate that I had translated my documentation into Arabic and happily waved me through. After picking up my luggage I was greeted with a big hug and an ice cold bottle of water from my Aunty Liz. It’s always nice to see a member of your family who you don’t get to see as often as you would like. As we made our way through the airport car park to Liz’s Hummer I remember thinking that even though it’s the end of September and 21:00 it’s still very hot.

Liz had been aware of my plans to buy Debbie an engagement ring. However, by the time we got back to her apartment it was going to be too late to go ring shopping and if I’m honest I just wanted to get some food, get over my jet lag and get to bed.

After dropping off my luggage and more importantly my infusion equipment and immunoglobulin Liz and I headed over to Khan Murjan –  an Umawi Age inspired souk located next to the WAFI Shopping Mall. Khan Murjan is my favourite Arabic restaurant and if you’re ever in Dubai I highly recommend that you pay them a visit. Situated in an old fashioned courtyard with air conditioning, a traditional water wheel and Arabic music the experience and food is simply unbelievable! I can honestly say that I’d been dreaming of this meal since my last visit to Dubai back in September 2010.

Time for bed now, I’m expecting an early start tomorrow, there’s a lot to fit in before I travel to Bangkok on Sunday. Most important of all, I need to find Debbie the perfect engagement ring.