Google Analytics Primer

Not sure what is happening this week on GeekyScribbles, with the sudden rush of posts.  However, here comes number 3 of the week.

I am part of a Google+ community called UK Website Owners & Managers, which tries to offer a few tips and pointers to those running websites.  One request that has come up there a few times recently is for a quick introduction in to Google Analytics.  In answer to that I’ve produced this quick primer screencast.  It’s pretty basic, but hopefully gives a friendly introduction to Google Analytics to those who haven’t made it past the audience overview screen.


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LinkLove – The Inevitable Infographic

Distilled LinkLove InfographicWe don’t really do infographics, but inspired by the infographical exploits of Claire Stokoe we thought we’d give it a bash.  As with any SEO event, LinkLove had it’s own hashtag and created a flow of tweets throughout the day.  With a little help from Twixorbot, we analysed all the tweets using that hashtag during the day to see what we could learn.  The infographic above is that data distilled in to an easy to digest and hopefully informative form.

Please feel free to use this where and how you want.  A credit back to us at would be appreciated, but we probably won’t hunt you down for it. Get the full size version here
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Bare Faced Link Building

I love a bit of bare faced link building. When I read those with glowing white hats talk about the slow romancing of a prospect I can’t help think that there is still a place in the world for a drunken quickie behind the bins, or in this case for an upfront “fancy a shag?” type request.

Offering stuff for free to bloggers is a well established route to a link. Most usually this takes the form of researching niche blogs, outreach to offer “PR Samples” and the carefully worded communication that it is a link that is wanted. Not so for one firm of balls-out link builders and makers of door signs. They’ve gone straight for the kill and put up a page offering free signs for bloggers.

I’m sure that’ll set off the paid link alarms for some, but in fairness they do not appear to be stipulating followed links.  They are also suggesting disclosure, so it could well be a totally white hat exercise. Frankly I don’t care.

If I were doing this I would tackle it slightly differently. I’d probably remove the anchor text examples to ensure a more natural link profile. If the scheme did suddenly take off in popularity they could find themselves hitting Penguin penalties quite quickly.  If they REALLY felt the need to control incoming anchors I’d possibly suggest using some spinning type logic to a random anchor for each visitor, possibly saving their suggestion as a cookie or in a database against their IP address – something which has worked well for me in the past I understand can be useful.

So anyway, here is the sign I ordered. A friend was looking for a new name for the recently expanded online marketing department in their firm and I suggested the following. I thought I would buy them a sign.  However as the store’s checkout wasn’t working when I tried to order I’ve resorted to blogging to try to get it!

SPAM department

SPAM department

Anyone got any similar bare faced link building examples?


HTC One X Video Review

As I’m currently using the most kick-arse phone on the market today, the HTC One X I thought it would be a good idea to do a review of it before something newer and better is released. As that gave me a window of about 3 weeks I thought a video review might be interesting- which is what I’ve done with more than a little help from Callis and his macbook of video editing delights.

This is our first attempt at a video blog. I have to admit it came out a little different than I first imagined and might not be like every other video review of the HTC One X out there. I hope you enjoy.

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WinDirStat & The Mystery of the Missing Drive Space

Last night my beloved ThinkPad, which is only a few months old, started complaining about lack of disk space. Whilst I know I can be a bit of a hoarder, I shouldn’t really have used 500GB since Christmas, so it was looking like a clean-up was in order.

Cleaning up come local backups solved the immediate problem. However I was still using a lot more space that I really should be, even given that I do synchronise parts of the work network to my laptop for remote working. So where was the space going? Continue reading

Tips Tricks & Tactics from the Trenches : Martin Macdonald

Almost two weeks have passed since Distilled Link Love and I am currently sat on a train heading towards Brighton SEO. Whilst I have no plans to try to cover the Brighton event in the same depth as I have Link Love, heading towards another SEO conference is making me focus a little on getting my Blow by blow account of Link Love finished! I have a short run along the coastal track to Brighton to bring you my account of Martin MacDonald’s session.

Tips Tricks & Tactics from the Trenches

Martin MacDonald : @searchmartin

Martin was a late addition to the Link Love line-up. His session last year got quite a bit of coverage and raised a few eyebrows about what colour headwear was being promoted at the event. I don’t find the whole whitehat/blackhat cliché that useful myself (preferring to focus on the tactics best suited to a particular project). That said, nothing Martin covered was particularly shady – he just has a certain efficiency in his approach in that he prefers to encourage others to do the hard work for him.


  • Search marketing is a battle ground
  • No need to fight alone – build a (sp)army
  • Rather than doing what others go against the flow

Building an army

  • Build a community
  • Forum sites : It’s easy with Vbulletin, invisionpb, buddypress, etc etc – no need to code
  • Even easier with solutions like twitter and facebook.

Mobilising your troops

  • Build in mechanisms that encourage them to link. E.g. Dropbox : Uses incentives of larger limits if you introduce people
  • Provide great profile pages – people will link to them and show them off. Examples : seomoz, linked in

If you can’t do this on your site – use someone else’s

  • “I don’t often troll, but when I do I earn links”
  • Martin showed an example of “hijacking” another community. Used the example of someone making ridiculous claims in an seomoz discussion. Rather than just pitching in he wrote a full response on his blog and linked to that evidence in his response.
  • [MB: This is interesting. Martin calls this hijacking and thinks talks like it is a little cheeky. Rand Fishkin uses this exact same tactic on Quora and cites it as an example of a great white hat tactic. Who’s hat is who’s??]
  • Example about got retweeted by Rand + others, linked, shared etc etc. Martin now ranks for various camper phrases… and also now ranks for facepalm!

What to do when the unexpected happens

  • Martin spotted an unexpected link from the BBC in his referrers (nice if you can get it!)
  • When stuff like this happens don’t just think “wow, great”, but “Wow, how can I replicate?”
  • Establish the footprint : Using screaming frog Martin scraped the BBC for other external links – then compiled them in excel
  • Spotted that they link out to people who mention bbc online activities… and also got the contact details for the guys who do it.

Martin doesn’t want a few good links. He just wants lots of links!

Build Plugins

  • [MB The two words above are the two written larger than any other in the mass of notes I took at Link Love]
  • Build plugins for popular CMS systems: WordPress, Drupal, Media Wiki, Magento etc etc
  • There is a nice list of them here:
  • Don’t know how to code? Either buy “Professional wordpress plugin development” LINK or outsource it
  • They don’t have to be particularly clever. Example: |To build links to a holiday property site he produced a weather widget using existing data sources

Or get competitors to link to you

  • [MB: OK – this one might be a tiny bit shady]
  • Build an affiliate program where the link juice is passed. Splitting the anchor with a # is a good way to do this. Check out Martin’s slide deck for example
  • Give up white label sites, but cross site canonical to the main site (Quite a high profile example of this was shown)

Think differently – turn hubs on their head

  • Many people search for hubs  – sites in sector linking out lots
  • Instead target sites that DON’T. These will pass more link equity if you can get a link

It’s not all tricks though – give shit away

  • Have you seen Shit for Links?
  • [MB – disclosure : Shit for Links is a little Friday bit of Friday fun that we put out at work. However we had no idea that this was in Martin’s presentation and my jaw dropped when I saw our site up on the big screen]
  • Trade unwanted “stuff” for links


What I took from Martin’s presentation was slightly dominated by the memory of Martin & Rand discussing whether Rand really did leave a blog comment saying he was interested in swapping a jar of fishpaste for a link from seomoz. However, even beyond the dream plug of, there was real gold in Martin’s presentation for me.

This segment has certainly made me rethink some of the community sites that we manage and give more thought to the value of a large and engaged user base.  I’ve spent years warning people of the dangers of forum ownership in particular, but looking at the potential of such sites as a resource for link building changes perspective a bit.

However the few minutes that Martin spent talking about pluging development (reinforced by a quick chat outside) were enough to persuade me that this is a area that we as an agency need to be doing more with. It is something that we have worked successfully in the past and also suits our skill set brilliantly. However it hasn’t been something that we have pushed as much as we should have.




Putting the Love back into Links : Tom Anthony

I had to take a few days out from writing my blow by blow account of Link Love London (pesky work getting in the way!), but rest assured the final three parts are on their way. Here is the first of them, covering Distilled’s Tom Anthony on Putting the Love back in to Links.

Putting the Love back into Links

Tom Anthony : Distilled @tomanthonyseo

Until I checked out Tom’s twitter stream and website, I hadn’t realised quite how much of his stuff I had not only read, but was using on a regular basis such as his competitor analysis in under 60 seconds . He also has made a handy link profile tool, which is very much like one I was working on other than the fact it works better and is more useful – which sort of makes me hate him a bit. It was only once the speaker line-up for Link Love had been announced that I connected the dots (I think I have profile picture blindness), and made this one of the sessions I was most looking forward to. Continue reading

Stalking for Links: Wil Reynolds

Part 5 of my Blow by Blow account of Link Love London covers Wil Reynolds much talked about presentation on Stalking. Yes… Stalking.

Wil Reynolds - Stalking

Stalking. How you land the links you want

Wil Reynolds – Seer Interactive @wilreynolds

Reading the post conference buzz, this has to be the most talked about session. Wil’s presentation on Stalking was certainly one of the most entertaining ones, but it also outlined a great way of greasing the wheels of outreach. I’ll give an overview of the presentation below, together with all the relevant links. The slide deck of this presentation can also be viewed online here.


  • Stop begging for links
  • Go big: ID influential “marks” who are not following you
  • Set your goals
  • JFDI
  • This technique is so easy that Wil is planning to give the same presentation every year until we all start implementing it
  • The basic technique is to create a “stalkers dashboard” giving you an at a glance look at opportunities to outreach to your Marks

Find the hidden RSS feeds

  • Lots of sites give RSS feeds without making it obvious that they have them
  • RSS-Everywhere is a chrome extension that shows you when RSS feeds are present. Get it here
  • iGoogle lets you create a dashboard of the RSS feeds you are following
  • Together they are a stalking dashboard

Filling up your stalkers dashoard

  • Twitter: You need to find the twitter id first – this tool gives you them. Then visit < just change that number to the one the first tool gave you. If you are interested – that one is Wil’s ;)
  • Google News: My notes suggested that RSS-Everywhere would spot these. That didn’t work for me though. However if you search from Google News then scroll to the bottom of the page there is an RSS link that does work.
  • Blogs: Blogs give up feeds. Easy. I’d personally add that many blogs also give a different feed for each author. Just visit the author page and let rss-everywhere do its thing. The Seer Interactive blog certainly does… guess who’s I’m stalking.
  • Google+: RSS Feeds available thanks to this tool. You do need to register to use this and it is a bit more bother than the others, but it isn’t too painful.
  • Quora: Just visit their profile page and use RSS-Everywhere
  • Gmail: Sorry – no idea. I couldn’t read my notes!

 Using it

  • Who are they following? Be more like them – or at least emphasise the bits that are
  • Find out who they are following using free follower export gdocs (you will need to register an API key for this)
  • Export the bios in to TagCrowd to easily see the common keywords of who they are following
  • Set up alerts for when they tweet that they will be in your area – buy them coffee!
  • .. or use IFTT maybe have it text you when they ask a question using KW you know about

Taking the concept further

  • Pull RSS feeds in to excel for analysis. Combine with Niels Bosma SEOTools for Excel for insights
  • Look out for journalists asking questions – probably means they’re researching a story. Be there for them
  • Stalker tip : When you don’t know the answer, retweet the question
  • Find authors for a publication using Mozenda to crawl for details
  • Use vlookup to compare your followers with who target follows – any common ground?
  • Who do they follow that I know well? Look them up on facebook and scan the faces


For the presentation Wil was stalking @dharmesh, known to many as being co-creator of By Link Love London Dharmesh was already following Wil on google+, but Wil still wanted him on Twitter.  I understand that now is the case. So is this a sneaky was of conning people in to following you so that you can hit them up for a link?  I suspect many will use it that way, but it isn’t how Wil seems to see it.

The idea is to be helpful as a means of making contact. Whilst the presentation talks about stalking, the idea is more about making it easier to be aware of when opportunities arise.  There are elements of this that I can see us using.  RSS-everywhere is already on my browser and I’m finding it pretty useful for a number of reasons. It really is quite amazing how many feeds there are out there.  I can see the techniques, especially if combined with alerts, being useful for putting opportunities in front of niche writers in particular. This is something that we will be exploring, although I can’t see me personally taking anythign to the lengths that Wil went to.  Well that is, unless I decide to complete my Wil Reynolds stalking dashboard.


Getting Golden Links : Jane Copland Link Love 2012

This is part 4 of my blow by blow account of Link Love London 2012, featuring a full run down of each presentation.

Jane Copland - Link Love 2012

Getting Golden Links : Building Links Like Michael Winner

Jane Copland : Ayima @jane_copland

The thought of doing anything like Micheal Winner is probably off-putting to many. Those living outside the UK and not familiar with Mr Winner should just think themselves grateful and move quickly along without worsening their lives by finding out more on this particular point. However, Mr Winner made it in to the title of Jane Coplands presentation due to the way he responded to the introduction of a £60 fine for private vehicles using bus lanes in London. Whilst many complained about the fines, Mr Winner is quoted as having responded  “They only charge you £60 to use them, and you get no points. Wonderful value!”

By approaching the issue from a different angle he turned the problem around. Jane’s presentation kicked off by encouraging this sort of lateral thinking in our link building and using that as part of an approach to get “golden links” – then few that count for lots.

Should Jane Copland ever read this post I would like to apologise in advance for choosing the picture of her stood in front of a big naked arse. I would though like to raise 3 points in my defence: 1. When you made the decision to use a slide of a naked man you must have been aware that this was a risk. 2. Despite the big arse, it is actually one of the better pictures I took, and 3. I am really quite childish.

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