My SEO Blog

Do you rank for your own name on search engines?

posted 8 Jun 2017, 08:35 by C Byrne   [ updated 8 Jun 2017, 08:37 ]

In a discussion with a new client the other day I stated that generally speaking you have to be doing a bad job of your own Search Engine Optimisation to not rank for your own name.

For example, the Garrick Theatre in London appears to be be doing a bad job at the moment! For the search 'garrick theatre' on, https://www.londontheatredirect .com/venue/32/garrick-theatre.aspx (not the Garrick's online ticketing partner) & https://www.nimaxtheatres .com/garrick-theatre/ (the Garrick's parent company site) are both ahead of www.garricktheatre .org which is 3rd. See .

Without a doubt they are losing ticket sales to!

Internet Marketing Podcast: The State of Online Ad-blocking in 2017 with me

posted 1 Jun 2017, 09:14 by C Byrne   [ updated 1 Jun 2017, 09:15 ]

Listen here:

How To Select A 'Social Media Expert'

posted 19 May 2017, 09:00 by C Byrne   [ updated 20 Jun 2017, 04:07 ]

23+ Questions To Help Select A 'Social Media Expert'

I've seen with my own eyes an agency using Twitter (the microblogging service) followers as a KPI to indicate success to a client, but these followers can be bought or just be Twitterbots (a program used to produce automated posts on Twitter, or to automatically follow Twitter users).

These questions can help you find a social media expert. They should know about how social media and PR / SEO interrelate, and how to show the Return on Investment on their work (including the use of web analytics to illustrate this).

1. What makes you a “social media expert”?
2. Can you spell?
3. Is sales outreach via social media likely to be just social media “experts” talking to each other? What are the best site for social media news?
4. Can you show me some examples of your creative writing / journalism? How can I teach myself social media marketing?
5. What are the top social media sites in the UK / USA? How? Why?
6. Can Social Media help improve a website’s rankings on search engines?
7. Who are the most influential people in the social media industry?
8. What will be the next big social media app or site to die a miserable death like Myspace (despite the best efforts to revive it)? Why? When?
9. Who are the most influential people on social media? Do followers and likes = influence? What tools do you use and for what purpose?
10. Can you give an example of how the spread of certain types of digital devices influence the rise of certain social media (e.g. arguably the rise of the smartphone paved the way for the popularity of Instagram)?
11. What are the up and coming social media sites in the UK / USA? How? Why?
12. What’s changed in social media over the past few days, months (or years)?
13. What is social media? Is it the same as PR? How so PR / SEO interrelate with social media?
14. Does your site rank on Google for anything?
15. What sort of activities should a B2B company engage in online / on Linkedin?
16. Are blogs social media?
17. Why (in the UK at least) are sites like Myspace, Bebo (and Friends Reunited) no longer popular? What (if anything) took their place?
18. Would you recommend Facebook for a B2B company? If yes, why?
19. Do you have case studies / testimonials? What are the laws governing social media marketing (in the UK) - how does this impact your work?
20. What is your view on measures of social media influence e.g. Klout? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these different measures, and how do they differ?
21. How do you measure return on investment on your work? What are your standard KPIs? Has your social media work improved SEO for your clients?
22. Do you use ‘soft metric’ KPIs to judge success like “likes,” comments and follower counts? If so, why?
23. How can I use web analytics to show the effectiveness of social media activity? What’s the difference between a Contributed Social Conversion & a Last Interaction Social Conversion recorded in Google Analytics?

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Listen to me talk about SEO on Brooklands Radio - Weybridge, Surrey

posted 24 Apr 2017, 09:31 by C Byrne   [ updated 30 May 2017, 03:29 ]

Starts at 30 minute mark...

Will Futurelearn Become The Just Eat of Education?

posted 8 Apr 2017, 05:13 by C Byrne   [ updated 4 May 2017, 02:57 ]

Some have theorised that fast food ordering app Just Eat's 'end game' is to sell and deliver their own food (and potentially no longer having 3rd parties on the site), like some argue that taxi app Uber's end game is the self-driving taxi (getting rid of their casual worker drivers). It's arguable that Just Eat's major competitor Deliveroo has already begun the process of disintermediation (aka 'cutting out the middleman') in food delivery by creating their own kitchen infrastructure.

Something similar may also be happening in the world of online education. (FL) offers free online courses created by their partners including the likes of the University of Reading. The University of Reading's paper leaflet promoting it's courses on Futurelearn lists the FL site, not Surely a missed opportunity for the site currently ranking 14th on for 'free online courses'!

Institutions like University of Reading all link to the FL site, and FL's offer of free online courses from these institutions has earned them many many (from over 12k domains according to links from many of the world's most popular sites (like,, – also arguably some of the most trusted sites in Google's eyes too), boosting the visibility of the FL site on Google etc. At time of writing FL is ranking 6th on for the phrase 'university of reading'...

What if (theoretically) FL went bust and sold the domain? What if (theoretically) FL were to delete all partner content from the site and then create new content with paid content from themselves & new partners?

A sensible strategy in the medium / long term for FL partners in my view should be disintermediation (stopping the use of intermediaries like FL between producers like University of Reading' and consumers like the free online course students) along the lines of Open Courseware from MIT. With intermediaries you may always be vulnerable to their actions!

My Competitors Offering SEO Services Never Cease To Amaze

posted 5 Apr 2017, 02:19 by C Byrne   [ updated 8 Jun 2017, 02:42 ]

Along with the day to day stuff they do my competitors in the SEO industry never cease to amaze. By the way, this is no claim to ever having been 'white than white'! I think (with over 14 years of inbound link building experience) inbound link building often quickly becomes 'grey hat'.

  1. An agency in Brighton using stock images to create a fictional staff member . They could hide from Google Images, but not from
  2. A Google Map listing for an agency in Leeds where ¾ of the reviews were from their own staff (I confirmed this via Linkedin) :)
  3. A SEO 'company' in Reading, Berkshire (appears to be just a 'one man band' sole trader) who gave himself a testimonial on his own website! He used the same photo as on his Twitter... 

3/4 of the Google Map reviews for this SEO agency are from their own staff

posted 4 Apr 2017, 06:50 by C Byrne   [ updated 5 Apr 2017, 03:00 ]

Nuff said! They are an agency based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. I confirmed 3 of the 4 reviewers were staff members via Linkedin!

I've anonymised the screenshot below...

seo agency leeds reviews

Some Old SEO & PPC Case Studies

posted 8 Mar 2017, 10:16 by C Byrne   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 10:23 ]

These were correct as of October 2010 and I have updated them to reflect that the time of writing is now long past!

I am not claiming to be 'whiter than white', but I helped achieve the SEO rankings below without buying links, blog spam etc.

In May 2009 Beadle and Crome Interiors were not in the top 100 results on for the key phrases 'hulsta' and 'luxury furniture'. At time of writing they were in the top 10 on for both of these phrases. The work involved inbound link building and site structure / content optimisation with a limited time budget of 1 day per month which includes Pay Per Click advertising management.

The site was at time of writing (27.9.10) in the top 10 'natural' results of for the following luxury furniture brand names:
  1. Hulsta
  2. Ligne Roset
  3. Ekornes
  4. Skovb
  5. Cattelan Italia
  6. Galotti Radic
  7. Varier
Apart from 'Galotti Radice', the site was not ranking in the top 50 for any of the above brands (apart from Galotti Radice) when work commenced in May 2009.

I assisted Wise Tiger with some Pay Per Click advertising consultancy for their client Think Apartments. The result of this work contributed to this London based short-let apartments company achieving £1M in online bookings in just 10 months: see (part of Yamaha Music UK)

In my last salaried role I helped obtain a top 10 position for multiple key phrases including 'sheet music' (out of around 40 million listings) on for the London music shop Chappell of Bond Street. This is without buying or swapping links. This was a competitive area as there are many out of copyright and pirate sheet music sites. This was by inbound link building focusing on links from Wikis on valuable University ( / .edu) domains due to the Student Discount available on the site, site content / structure optimisation and content syndication. When we started this work the site was new and not listed in the top 100 results for this key phrase. This took a period of around 2 years from site launch with 7 hours work a month.

This position was maintained for around 2 years, but the  position for this phrase at time of writing was in the top 20 on This was an example of 'brute force' link building.

In my last salaried role I helped obtain a Top 10 position on (out of around 400,000,000 competing indexed web pages) for the key phrase "international health insurance" for Interglobal PMI. The work involved inbound link building and site content optimisation with a very limited time budget. The baseline search engine position for this phrase was in the top 20.

In my last salaried role I helped obtain a 1st position (out of around 3,000,000 competing indexed web pages) for the key phrase "wholesale gifts" for Elgate Products on This was achieved with a relatively limited time budget by inbound link building, site content / structure optimisation and content syndication. I am not in possession of a baseline search engine position for this ranking.

When the site launched in late 2005 they were paying a significant 3 figure monthly sum to be a featured listing on but now Elgate was listed above them for these phrases on at time of writing.

In my last salaried role I worked on Heals pay per click advertising and site optimisation, in 2007 helping them achieve one of the highest proportions of traffic from the Mosaic Group “Symbols of Success” (the wealthiest demographic according to the Mosaic classifications) for 4 weeks ending 1/12/07 according to Hitwise – see ‘Hitwise Lifestyle Snapshot Report’ on

SEO agency using stock images to look bigger?

posted 8 Mar 2017, 08:41 by C Byrne   [ updated 5 Apr 2017, 03:41 ]

This SEO agency in Brighton, Sussex appears to be using stock images to make out they have more than 2 staff! 

This photo (for 'Charlie Th@kur' - I've anonymised the name for this non-entity - my research suggests this a made-up name for a made-up person) appears on their 'About Us' page alongside one of their 3 staff profiles...

You can't hide from

SEO agency in Brighton staff image

How To Go Freelance As A SEO / PPC Consultant

posted 27 Feb 2017, 10:17 by C Byrne   [ updated 28 Feb 2017, 01:48 ]

I've been freelance since 2008 as a SEO / PPC consultant so can share my experiences & lessons learnt. I recommend that all the tasks in the list below should be completed before you go freelance:

  1. Get a website (with built in blog) with case studies & testimonials and Linkedin profile. Build links to your site. To go freelance successfully, you might need some big names to say you've worked on in the absence of lots of business contacts

  2. Study salary surveys – you need to be paid for your experience and you don't want to be “too cheap”. You can undercut agencies...

  3. Start business networking “in the real world” – this can be for your current company. Be aware this is often just sales people trying to sell to other sales people. A learning community might be better e.g. Digital Surrey - look on Eventbrite or Meetup for events near you. You might even get some time off in lieu :) . This is especially useful if you're not in a client facing role.

  4. Get some business cards – Vista Print are relatively cheap and cheerful...

When you go freelance

  1. Take a deposit on your work (at least the first piece of work for a client). 25% or more. Remember there will be bank charges when international clients pay you from abroad.

  2. Can you poach your old companies clients? It's dog eat dog out here.

  3. Be aware of what 'allowable business expenses' are .

  4. Add case studies and (video) testimonials to your site.

  5. You are going to have to spend a certain amount of time doing non-chargeable work e.g. studying (this is important – reading Twitter etc), administration thus with the best will in the world if you work a 5 chargeable day week that will put you into having to work evening & weekends. A 4 chargeable day work week works in my view.

  6. Linkedin should be a focus of social media activity. Get involved in groups.

  7. Start blogging on your site (remember Tweets compiled can be a blog post and vice versa). Seek guest blogging opportunities.

  8. Always incorporate into your charges scoping and feeding back on work, travelling to meetings etc (all the things that take your time up in relation to a project beyond the actual “doing the work”). Sometimes on the first piece of work this will be hard to judge.

  9. Think about the things that can give you a Unique Selling Point.

  10. Think about the things that can give you a competitive advantage. There will be certain information you will be happy to share online and some you won't. Or will there (as you know it can all earn you links to your site)?

  11. Create your Google Map listing and get some reviews

  12. Get on Skype or similar to enable 'free' calls

  13. Try and find partner companies / freelancers to work with

  14. Be aware of late payment legislation 

  15. Get some (free) business advice

  16. Finding a workspace away from home may be necessary sometimes. The library can do (not for phonecalls). A permanent workspace can be an uneccessary cost if you are working in-house or away at meetings / networking for a significant part of the working week.

  17. Like all businesses, freelancers should keep their expenses as low as possible. Are you likely to get much work from a £1000 2 day conference? In all likelihood, the answer is no. You might learn a lot but that will be it. Do you need a business address that is not your home address?

  18. Always carry your business cards

  19. Respond to new business enquiries straight away if possible

  20. There are lots of free training events and conferences about e.g. Brighton SEO, Measurecamp etc.

  21. Share cost of software tools (e.g. Semrush) with a client or partner if possible. Always try before you buy.

  22. Think about how you want to charge (by the hour / project). Charging by the hour may be more transparent. Not publishing a price list allows you more flexibility

  23. Manage clients expectations e.g. with detailed quotes, recommendations with priority marked and caveats, KPIs to be measured etc

  24. Scheduled meetings to allow off peak travel where possible (get a railcard if need be). If you can combine business travel with other activities it's a better use of your time.

  25. If starting PPC work always export campaigns before making amends so you can re-upload them if need be.

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