How To Redirect a Blogspot Blog To Another Site

If you’ve been using blogger as your website, you might have decided it’s time to change your CMS. And that might also mean switching from the standard .blogspot.com address to a custom domain. But how do you ensure that the search authority and visitors from your current site are transferred to your new one as effectively as possible? Well, here’s how to redirect a Blogspot blog to another site.

How To Redirect a Blogspot Blog To Another Site

Before we get into the exact instructions, it’s worth explaining a little about Blogger and how redirects work between different urls. Or if you want to remove pages from your current website, including after a redesign. One of our main services is assisting with this process for business clients ranging from small websites to massive enterprise solutions. We’ve migrated a large number of websites over the years, and ensured traffic and search rankings are kept as high as possible during the transition.

If you’re in a hurry, already know about website redirects, or find it boring, you can skip the next bit!

 

Blogger and Redirects:

Blogger was originally launched in 1999 as a blog-publishing service by Pyra Labs. The company was founded by Meg Hourihan and Evan Williams, who also went on to co-found Twitter and Medium. Blogger itself was acquired by Google back in 2003. And although new features have regularly been added, the service itself hasn’t radically changed for a long time now. So although it’s still a very popular way to start blogging and publishing content online, many people find they want to switch to an alternative like WordPress after a while.

By default, your Blogger site will have an address ending in blogspot.com. If you’ve bought a custom domain for your site, e.g. www.thewayoftheweb.net, then everything will work on your new site as long as the urls of your posts stay the same. But your old site will revert back to blogspot.com and display your old duplicate content unless you either delete or redirect it.

However, when urls are being changed or posts are being removed, that’s when redirects are useful. For any permanent changes or deletions, you would want to use what is called a ‘301 Redirect’. This indicates to search engines that the content has been permently moved to a new address. And redirects your users to the new page automatically. So unless you want to completely ditch your old content and let users see a 404 error page, you’d typically put a 301 Redirect into your .htaccess file for PHP websites and web.config for IIS sites.

But editing .htaccess and web.config require server access. And Blogger doesn’t allow that.

Meanwhile adding redirection plugins and services to your new website and domain won’t have any effect on your old blogspot.com address.

But there is a solution. It uses what’s called a Meta Refresh to perform a client-side redirect (rather than the server-side options described above).

How To Redirect a Blogspot Blog To Another Site – Detailed Steps:

Rather than putting an instruction directly onto your server, we’re going to add a Meta Refresh tag to the header of your old blogspot site. This will refresh the page content, and in the process, send visitors to your new website. It does have some downsides, which we’ll outline later. But the advantages will generally outweight the negatives.

And don’t be scared of the code in the steps below. It really is very simple.

Step 1:

Go to Blogger and log into your website. When you’re viewing the main dashboard, click on ‘Theme’ in the left hand menu. You’ll see a preview of your theme with the option to ‘Edit HTML’ under the ‘Live on Blog’ window.

Click Edit HTML and you’ll see the code for your site:

How To Redirect a Blogspot Blog Theme Editing

This can look intimidating, but adding the Meta Refresh code is very simple. You need to locate the <head> tag in the code, and then add the following code straight after it:

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;URL=’http://www.yournewwebsite.com/'” />

Obviously you’ll replace yournewwebsite.com with your new url!

I’ve highlighted the relevant code in the example below with a couple of red stars.

How To Redirect a Blogspot Blog Theme With Redirect Code

Now click on Save Theme, and you’re done!

Visit your blogspot.com address and check the redirect works.

 

Meta Fresh: Options and Downsides?

There’s not a huge amount of options available when you have a client-side redirect with a Meta Refresh Tag. The main one is how long it takes for your redirect to work. If you’ve put a message on your site explaining what’s happening, you may want to give your visitors time to see it before they’re sent to your new website.

Luckily, that’s simple. If you take another look at the code:

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;URL=’http://www.yournewwebsite.com/'” />

You can see there’s a 0 value after content. Simple adjust that for the number of seconds you want to allow visitors to stay on your old site and see whatever is left there to explain the redirect.

See, easy!

Now for the Meta Refresh downsides.

Unfortunately, being an easy way to redirect visitors without accessing a server means Meta Refresh Tags have often been used by spammers and other people who might be less than honest.

So many SEO specialists will recommend that your refresh time is set to at least 5 seconds to avoid being seen as dubious and incurring a potential problem.

Also due to the spam problem, search engines will generally not pass all of the SEO value of the original site. You’ll still get some benefit, and obviously it’s better than nothing. But using a server-side redirect should generally be seamless for traffic and SEO authority.

 

The Best Solution for Redirecting Blogspot Sites?

Although using a Meta Refresh Tag won’t pass all of the SEO equity of your original blogspot site, it’s still going to pass more than if you didn’t put in any redirect at all. And as long as you keep an eye on your site to ensure you’re not accidentally seen as trying to trick users, then it has the major benefit of ensuring your existing traffic is carried across to your new website.

 

Search Traffic Refers More Visitors Than Social Media in 2017

Reports of the demise of search engine optimisation, and the dominance of social media, will need to be updated as search traffic sent more visitors to websites than social in 2017.

The figures come from a variety of sources. Shareaholic put Search at 34.8% of site visits compared to social at 25.6% in 2017, which puts Search as the biggest source of traffic for the first time since 2014. Meanwhile Chartbeat has consistently had Search ahead, but referrals grew since August 2017. Parse.ly also confirmed the rise for search and drop for social media.

Search Traffic Refers More Visitors Than Social Media in 2017

 

What is changing to search and social traffic?

Social Media platforms have come under criticism for their handling of fake news, spam content and clickbait. And as the largest of the networks, Facebook has come under particular scrutiny. So as a result, the most recent changes to the Facebook newsfeed have attempted to boost trusted sources and demote the rest.

At the same time, the efforts by Google to improve mobile search access, particularly around Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), have been driving a growth in search volume and traffic, while desktop activity remains largely the same.

 

What to do for your business?

The ‘battle’ between Search and Social for biggest source of website traffic is largely a pointless one. Regardless of which is marginally bigger, you really want to be using both to the best of your ability.

Search remains not only a large source of traffic, but one which converts to action well. Because if you’re optimising for the right searches and content, you’ll attract people actively in the market for your products and services. And it will deliver you a good source of new customers who don’t already know about your company.

Meanwhile Social remains a great way to increase engagement and repeat purchases. You can use it to reach targetted new customers, and to promote sales to existing fans. And to also improve your customer service and engagement. But it’s not really at its best as a pure sales channel generally. There are exceptions, and some small companies do a lot of social media-based sales through Facebook, Instagram etc. But although all companies can change how they rank, promote and share content via their platform, having a business based on social media sales through 1-2 channels will always seem a little riskier than also having search, email and other sales mechanisms in place.

 

If you’d like to know how we’ve increased sales through search, social media, content marketing and other methods, get in touch…

 

 

 

2013 Reviews of the Year

As 2013 draws to an end, almost everyone is busy either compiling their reviews of the past 12 months, or publishing predictions and trends for 2014.

Predicting the future is always difficult, even when you spend your life watching an industry closely – it’s easy to get caught up in enthusiasm and shorten the timeline that you might have logically thought, and there are always external factors and events which we don’t know about yet which could mix things up a bit more…

Annual reviews can also lead to an overwhelming amount of information and data, but there’s often inspiration to be found, so we’ve compiled some of the 2013 reviews from the big internet names to share:

 

Tumblr 2013 Year in Review:

Tumblr2013YearinReview

Tumblr has released a big categorised review, including everything from New and Top blogs, to the most popular in Movies, Music, and even Sponsored Posts. Plenty of inspiration and enjoyment to be had, particularly if you’re a fan on animated Gifs.

 

Pinterest: Top Pins of 2013:

Pinterest2013TopPins

Staying with categorised imagery, Pinterest has also released a ‘top pins’ for 2013, separated in categories such as Home Decor, Art, Design and by country ( UK, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland).

 

Google: Zeitgeist 2013:

GoogleYearinReview2013

As always, Google has produced a range of videos and data to cover the top searches in 2013. Exploring the data via Google Trends is a bit more useful from a business perspective.

 

Bing: Review of the Year 2013:

BingReviewoftheyear

Bing has released the 2013 top searches etc in a more traditional article style via MSN news. Strangely they released the url bingtrends.com which redirects to MSN news for the UK. Either way, the information is there.

 

Facebook: Stories 2013

FacebookStories

Facebook Stories 2013 includes video and the Most Talked About Topics etc near you, as well as personal Year in Review features. Also available in text format for global and US information.

 

Reddit Top Posts and Stats of 2013:

redditlogo

When you start a look back at 2013 with 56 billion pageviews, 731 million unique visitors and 404,603,286 comments, it’s not been a bad 2013 for Reddit. Also includes top countries, top posts, and highlights from the End of Year awards.

 

Slideshare Zeitgeist:

 

 

Instagram has released blog posts covering 2013 Top Moments, and 2013 Top Locations.

And with a day to go, the most popular articles on TheWayoftheWeb.net in 2013 were:

TheWayoftheWeb quoted in Econsultancy article on SEO

It’s always nice to be able to contribute to respected websites and publications, particularly when it means I’m quoted alongside some people who I respect a lot in the marketing and search engine optimisation world, such as Rishi Lakhani, for example.

Econsultancy

The  article is a response to Google encrypting even more organic search queries, and features responses by myself alongside Rishi, Andy Heaps, Neil Yeomans and Kevin Gibbons. It’s well worth reading for both the insights in the article and also some good contributions in the comments regarding something which has been seen as a bit of a bombshell for the SEO industry, despite signs it was coming for a long time.

I won’t quote from it too much, but there was one answer I gave which I intend to expand on in a future article:

Could it be good for SEOs, in that it makes it harder for amateurs?

It won’t massively affect larger agencies and companies who can afford the additional time and cost.

But it will damage small businesses, including agencies, who now have an additional challenge to building their businesses, and I think eventually this will hurt both search results and indirectly impact on search usage, as the incumbents for any term become much more entrenched.

I don’t believe making search engine optimisation less accessible is a good thing – the majority of SEO outsourcing isn’t a question of intelligence, but generally one of training, resource and cost, and this continues that trend. I don’t believe that’s good for small businesses in particular, I don’t believe it’s good for consumers who have their choice limited, and I don’t believe it’s good for Google if it is perceived to be closed to all but the big players who can afford enterprise tools.

We work with a wide range of clients, from individual consultants and small businesses to large global manufacturers, and there are great things about working with each size and type of company. The idea that cost will become a restriction to the entry level for quality SEO measurement isn’t a pleasant one.

 

The 3 big marketing fallacies for 2013

The start of each year is always accompanied by a rush from everyone to make their predictions for the next 12 months. While I’ve obviously got my own thoughts on the subject, I thought I’d do something different. My good friend Jonathan MacDonald has used Fallacies as a theme of sorts for a few years now, so in the creative spirit, I’m adopting the idea with the 3 big marketing fallacies which all businesses need to overcome.

Having worked with a huge range of brands and clients over the years, there are certain issues and concerns which I know will increase in regularity over the next 12 months. So identifying and tackling them now as part of your strategy for 2013 will be key in having a successful year with less problems.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 1: Content Quantity not quality:

The recognition of how content has become increasingly important, and the rise of content marketing is a good thing for various reasons. Content has always been vital to the success of a business since the rise of print and broadcast media, and the internet has only increased this need.

But almost inevitably I predict companies will invest in large amounts of content, either internally, or from external suppliers who are able to churn out copy, images and audio at bargain prices. And 12 months later will look at the time, effort and cost with little resulting success.

The reason is simple. More content has already been published online than previously in the history of human existence. None of us are short of things to watch, read, play or hear. Most of us will have returned from Christmas with a backlog of emails, RSS feeds, and podcasts, having finally caught up over the holidays on the Tivo’d and DVR’d films and TV shows which we’d been meaning to watch for weeks and months. And now every brand is going to be pumping out an endless stream of content marketing to add to the noise level.

Although it’s certainly possible that many businesses could increase the amount of published content, the priority should be to first develop an effective content strategy and improve the quality of what is already being produced. One amazing piece of content will be far more effective in building a brand and converting readers to customers than five pieces of generic filler material.

It’s why we focus on how content most effectively fits with a business, and on the most effective strategy as a starting point, and it’s also why we provide quality outsourced content to clients. Our work needs to be the best for us to be a sustainable business – reselling the cheapest writers we can find around the internet will soon lead to disappointment for all involved.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 2: We need more Facebook/Twitter/etc

This could have been published at any time in the last 5 years, but still holds true. It’s particularly important for those businesses still entering digital marketing, or those who don’t look at the attribution model for sales/enquiries in enough detail.

The most important website to optimise for digital marketing and sales is your own. It’s the only location where you have complete control over look, feel, layout and content, and can create the ultimate site for your business. It’s also a place which can be backed up effectively, and can be easily publicised and advertised without relying on a third party brand.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t include the right social media outlets in your digital marketing. As someone who provides social media marketing and consultancy, I firmly believe that the relevant third party platforms are essential for a modern business. But they should be part of the ‘hub and spoke’ model which has often been discussed – your website at the centre, and third party platforms operating as the spokes to reach people in the locations they currently enjoy.

If all your traffic comes from any single source – search, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc – then you’re completely at the mercy of that platform and any changes they make. Whether it’s Facebook reducing the reach of Page updates, Twitter falling out with Instagram, or the acquisition of Posterous, you’ll have built your business on ground which can be shakey or indeed disappear completely if the service closes.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 3: It’s all too much

With search, social, newsletters, analytics and more to manage, it’s no surprise that digital marketing can become somewhat overwhelming. Marketing has always had a variety of demands and inputs, but the rapid changes enabled by the internet can mean that everything starts to pile up very quickly.

The result is that small businesses feel that they can’t compete, and large businesses quickly end up making mistakes due to a confused sprawling mess of accounts and responsibilities.

Hence why the strategy and planning is so important to effective digital marketing. A small company with limited resource has a great opportunity to compete on a comparatively level playing field compared to the costs of a national TV advertising campaign, for example, but needs to be laser-focused to use those resources most effectively. Meanwhile a larger business needs just as much clarity in order to co-ordinate a larger range of initiatives. And both need to plan for their efforts to constantly evolve even throughout the space of just 12 months as platforms and priorities change.

A good strategy should enable you to focus on the key areas of your digital marketing, with time and resource built-in for experimentation, evolution and learning to give you a good platform for this year, and for the future.

Creating categories and definitions by doing, not debating

I just read a post by Peep Laja which talked about the old advice of inventing a new category to be able to charge more for your products than just slotting into a predefined definition, followed by a post by Neville Hobson on an attempt to redefine what PR means. And both have reinforced my belief that you only create new categories and redefine existing ones by actually going out and doing stuff.

As much as I can have respect for the people who get caught up in debates about what PR, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Transmedia, SEO, etc all should mean exactly, the simple fact is that noone cares. Seth Godin talked about successful modern marketing beginning with product planning and development, but still many businesses and consumers see marketing as part of advertising.

When I try and define what I do for people, it comes out as:

  • I write for my own projects
  • I write for other people’s projects
  • I market my own projects
  • I market other people’s projects
  • I run training courses in writing and marketing
  • I run training courses in writing and marketing for other people
  • I provide research for my own projects
  • I provide research for other people
  • I host my own websites
  • I provide hosting for other people
  • I manage my own paid advertising campaigns
  • I manage paid advertising campaigns for other people
  • I manage affiliate campaigns for other people
  • Or I do: Writing, Journalism, Blogging, Natural SEO, Paid SEO, PPC, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Training, Tutoring, Affiliate Management, Community Management, Analytics,

Either way, it means I should need the world’s biggest business cards. I don’t.

Dan Thornton business card - AKA TheWayoftheWeb.net and HotModMedia.com

It's me. And a quick meeting or search tells you more...

 

But actually, what tends to happen is that my client list has grown from referrals from existing clients or from people finding out about me for one area of what I do, and those that are more rewarding for me in terms of enjoyment and financial rewards grow more quickly than areas that I might not favour, so over time my reputation in some areas will naturally build and lead to more focus.

 

Defining what you and your brand do:

Rather than worrying too much about an exact definition, it’s better to have an idea which you and any employees can broadly follow, but also be flexible within. I always loved the idea of my former employers at Absolute Radio, which was that we were ‘a digital entertainment company with audio at it’s core’, and targetted ‘reluctant adults’. That meant we always focused on sound and sound quality first, and always prioritised those people who were incredibly passionate about their interest (music, comedy, sport), but it didn’t matter whether we had an idea for a website, mobile app, radio station, or anything else, as long as it involved the best possible audio and delighted the right people. And in a challenging market for all broadcasters, it seems like they’re doing better than ever.

But noone ever tuned in because of those definitions – they tuned in because they liked what they heard as a result.

Too often I speak to companies who declare that ‘their customers don’t do it that way’ – and it turns out that actually it’s because they don’t allow customers to interact that way for some reason.

Or that customers ‘just don’t get what we’re trying to do’. Or that ‘clients just don’t understand’.

 

Building brands – do stuff, monitor, do more stuff:

You don’t build a brand simply by having logos or mission statements. Those are brand assets. What builds a brand is making stuff available, seeing how people respond and then building on it. Google didn’t define itself as a search engine, it set out to index the world’s information. Apple didn’t say it only made personal computers – it put design into technology, whether it’s a Mac, iPhone or iPad. The legendary production line methods of Ford went from one colour of car to over 1000 different variations for the Ford Transit van alone.

Geek Pride

Obviously to be successful, it’s not enough to be different – the recent demise of Saab is one example of how you can be known for being unusual but still fail due to not managing sales and costs effectively. But that name will still stand out for many years for a lot of people, and it’s easier to optimise a supply chain than to become known for brilliance and character.

Look at Amazon – offering web servers, books and Kindles. Artists such as Hugh McLeod, Tom Fishbourne, or Penny Arcade. Authors like William Gibson. Musicians from Robert Johnson to Hendrix to Skrillex. 37Signals and Wunderlist are as much about design as project management. I’m already incredibly excited about HiutDenim because I know Howies and The Do Lectures.

Put stuff out there and look at the response, using the wealth of data that is available and complimenting it with the right research.

 

Industries and reputations:

Some industries stuggle with their reputation. Obviously banks and bankers aren’t particularly well respected at the moment, and neither are journalists.

At the same time, SEO and Social Media ‘snake oil salesman’ has become a common criticism for digital marketing.

And yet I know brilliant journalists, SEOs and Social Media specialists who are incredibly well-respected and constantly in-demand because they do brilliant things consistently well. I’ve also had meetings with top marketing and SEO agencies which ended in disaster because they seemed to spend all their time talking a good game in public, but not delivering on it directly in a client meeting.

I actually have a couple of lists which are close to my heart – one is a list of companies I’d love to work with, whether as a freelancer or even possibly as a full-time employee because over the years I’ve known them, they always done things brilliantly (I also have a list of companies who seem to squander their potential and wish they’d let me help sort it out).

And I have another list of individuals I’d love to work with on a project at some point – it’s grown to quite a size over the years, with everyone from creative talents to hard-headed business people. And pretty much everyone on the list has worked on multiple projects, sometimes concurrently, but what they’ve done is always interesting or exciting or innovative or profitable – often all four.

The simple fact is that I don’t worry about crap definitions of the industries I nominally work in. And I’ve stopped worrying about being painted with the same brush as the snake oil salesman. If a million people see a great example of content marketing, or social media, or SEO that I’ve been involved in, then that’s far better mechanism for change than debating definitions.

Is Google becoming evil?

Given the high standards Google set for itself with the aims of indexing the world’s information, and the mantra of ‘Don’t Be Evil’, it’s likely we hold it to higher standards than most companies. After all, in 2004, Joel Bakan described corporations in this way ‘As a psychopathic creature, the corporation can neither recognise nor act upon moral reasons to refrain from harming others. Nothing it its legal makeup limits what it can do to others in pursuit of its selfish ends, and it is compelled to cause harm when the benefits of doing so outweight the costs’.

Now whether or not Google is becoming evil, there are certainly much worse offenders around the world, but given the lofty ideals and the integral part that has played in the Google brand, any start down the slope to the activities of the traditional corporation could be damaging. You might somewhat expect it of Microsoft, or ignore it if you’re a member of the Cult of Apple, but when Google acts in ways which particularly hurt small businesses, publishers and potentially vulnerable individuals, it’s particularly jarring.

Google Logo in Building43

 

‘Secure search’:

The right of an individual to online privacy and security is a good thing, and difficult to argue against. The use of https by sites is a positive step and one that shouldn’t be discouraged.

But recently Google made an announcement that Google Analytics would no longer provide keyword information for users who are logged into their Google profile and using secure search. That move was done with the stated aim of privacy and currently a relatively small percentage of users are searching via the secure connection.

Two problems with that – already many people are reporting significant and growing numbers who are now hidden in terms of keyword data, and secondly, having had access to that data for years, it does not indicate in any way, shape or form who was using a specific keyword and therefore affect privacy. All I knew was that 20% of people visiting in the last month typed in ‘thewayoftheweb’ into a Google search box, regardless of whether they were secure or not, and no further information was available.

But hang on – if it really doesn’t matter to individual user privacy, could it be related to the launch of a paid Google Analytics for enterprise with a hefty price? After all, if you’re paying $150,000 for Google Analytics Premium, you’d be expecting all information.

So Google moves in a traditionally corporate way, using a freemium model to gain market share, then starting to remove features from the free version and concentrate on getting the top percentage of big users to start paying.

The people who lose out are small business and publishers, who won’t know how an increasing number of visitors are finding their site, and that number will only increase with more people staying logged into Gmail and Google+. After all, no-one can optimise for searches they don’t know are happening – although I’m not sure if the privacy still applies when I click-through on Google Adsense or Adwords advertising next to the search results, regardless of my connection.

 

‘Anti-social Google Reader’

There’s been a pretty big uproar regarding the redesign and loss of features which has been rolled out to Google Reader, despite the paltry week’s notice given to users. My concerns regarding the actual design are fairly minor, as it makes it slightly more difficult to use, but I can cope.

What’s difficult to reconcile is the loss of various features which are obviously and explicitly an attempt to shoehorn users into more activity on Google+, which have a number of negative effects for individuals and businesses.

  • Individuals can no longer have a basic sharing and following network within Google Reader. As opposed to the thousands of connections I had on social networks, there was a small group of around 30 or so I followed on Google Reader, simply because I was intently interested in seeing what they deemed worthy of curating and sharing on a tight subject list, without necessarily interacting with them about their holiday photos. And as with Twitter, it was asynchronous sharing – they didn’t have to know me or approve me, or figure out what I want then create a Google+ circle on that premise.  But worse is the claim that many users in more repressive countries were using Google Reader as social networks were blocked, and had connections of several thousand in many cases. That’s entirely lost now.
  • Business revenue is affected: Via RSS, and Google’s own acquisition of Feedburner, a business could display advertising in their RSS feed. In addition to losing control of sharing a full or partial RSS feed, the snippets shared to Google+ also conveniently remove any feed advertising – Google may lose their share of that revenue, but also completely control Google+ and any monetization that happens.
  • RSS is under threat: Consumer adoption of RSS has remained relatively small, but concentrated towards heavy and earl-adopting technology users. And of that group, Reader had a market share of about 70%, crushing most competitors and removing incentives to innovate in that area. If Google has decided RSS is redundant, what will happen to the popular Feedburner RSS service which powers many, many blogs RSS feeds? The analytics side of Feedburner has been pretty much permanently broken, but it still provides a simple and easy way to set up a feed which is compatible with numerous other places and services.
    In addition, for business use, it’s been possible to take the feed of Google Reader shared items, or utilise the unofficial Google Reader API to separate out tags to put onto business intranets or publish externally. Given that shared items is gone (Including my own 16,000+ articles over 5 years), what faith can you have in an unofficial API to support paying clients?

 

 WTF Google?

I’m certainly not against businesses making money – I’d like my own to keep earning more in the future, and my expertise is more directed towards the content and marketing side of business operations. It’s entirely possible that in such a large organisation it may just be coincidental that various changes all suggest a new self-interest which has happened just as a founder resumes control of the company and indicates more of a focus on their new social business.
I’m also enthusiastic about experimentation and change – the fact that Google Buzz and Google Wave have both been deemed failed experiments doesn’t negate the important experience and influence they may have had both within Google and externally.

But I do question whether the current focus on Google+ is causing the big G to lose some of what has made it so immensely popular and powerful. Whether that’s the influence of the success of Facebook as a walled garden which uses elements of coercion to get us to help power it in terms of advertising and brand revenue, or whether it’s just the misalignment of every non-search free product as a feeder for Google+, I can’t say.

Occupy Google+

But either way, I’m not alone in feeling unsettled by Google’s new direction, and as we’ve seen, current success doesn’t mean permanence, particularly online. Google has some security in that the integration of Gmail, Reader, Analytics, Apps for Business etc are so deep into our lives and companies that it will take a significant motivation to switch, but given the current moves from my techie friends to alternative feed readers, and the existence of established and good paid analytics alternatives, it’s not inconceivable that the move could start to happen.

And given the results of some blind search engine result testing, it appears that one of the main reasons for Google continuing to dominant search is the familiarity of the brand, rather than the results being returned in comparison to Bing – which means that losing the perception of their values may not just damage the potential success of Google+, but could also lead to a greater threat to their core search business.

The difference between SEO and Spam…

There’s occasionally some confusion and complaints about SEO as being the cause of spam on the internet with irrelevant content being returned in search results because of unethical techniques. The problem is that within any industry you’ll get good, ethical people who work hard at what they do, and bad, unethical people who use tricks to get quick results and run with the cash.

But if you’re still concerned about spammy SEO and you should be optimising what you do, a new video by Google’s Head of Web Spam Team, Matt Cutts should help:

Good SEO takes time, effort and skill to ensure that relevant content and products are correctly returned for relevant search terms. Bad SEO promises to get you to #1 on Google by using every trick in the book.

And I’ll always practise and recommend good, ethical ‘white hat’ SEO practices for one simple reason – they give better, more cost effective and longterm results. By following the best practice recommendations of search engines, you don’t have to worry about getting found out, or getting your spam technique negated by an update, and having everything wiped out or penalised overnight. You’ll also have a solid foundation to build your business on, and as part of the work you’ll be improving the content and results in related areas, such as conversion rates and social media engagement.

And if you ever need advice, feel free to get in touch!

Content, Marketing and SEO

I generally stay away from posting infographics, but this one on the value of content and SEO is useful and relevant enough to share, and it reinforces a lot of the messages I’ve given to clients about the increasing need to integrate all elements of digital marketing, beginning with great content which is optimised for conversions/actions, and then building on that with social elements, search engine optimisation, and federated distribution.

It’s also why I’m doing an increasing amount of work to identify the brand story and narrative with a client before doing any other marketing work. If you get the brand story and a handful of pieces of content working well, then you can boost the people who are visiting it in a number of ways. If you do it the other way around, you get lots of traffic costing you in terms of bandwith, and nothing in terms of the desired outcome, whether that’s revenue, interaction, sign-ups etc.
Brafton's Infographic: Why Content for SEO?

Click for the large version.

It’ll be interesting to see what effects a rise in content marketing has on the market for content creation. After years of watching rates fall for both freelance and full-time writers, journalists and bloggers, perhaps for those who are able to display quality in terms of optimising for businesses in addition to tone, style and substance, this will see a marked rise.

Deconstruct your content, SEO and social media regularly

I don’t always agree with everything entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss writes, but I definitely agree with his approach to challenges. In The 4-Hour Body, he frequently refers to the ‘Minimum Effective Dose’ which is what allows you to achieve big changes in short periods of time by focussing on the minimum you need to achieve results.

And you find out what that is either by reading his books, or by doing the work of deconstruction yourself. Here’s a TED talk from 2008 where he covers his approach to swimming, learning languages and ballroom dancing.

Why deconstruct your content and marketing?

It’s easy to spend a lot of time and money on the seemingly endless churn of creating content, improving your SEO or connecting to new people on Social Media. And if you can cope with that workload, you’ll certainly learn to create content quickly, and benefit from the sum of your connections (with reference to Stowe Boyd).

But what is actually working? What’s the Minimum Effective Dose for publishing content? How long should you spend on optimising your headline or link building to improve your search rankings, and how much of your social media promotion is actually worthwhile?

It all comes back to how you generate revenue, and learning how to track everything back to that end goal with your analytics software.

I don’t propose that every tweet needs to show a positive ROI, or that you shouldn’t try new things. But you’ll be better placed to enjoy the experimentation and fun of connecting and chatting if you know you’ve already covered the foundations of your digital business by doing the effective dose for the day/week/month, and any additional work is a bonus on top of that.

If you can combine the Minimum Effective Content and Marketing Dose with the three layers of asking ‘So What?’ when you’re measuring/tracking something (with credit to Avinash Kaushik), then you’re well on the way to making yourself and your business more efficient in the basics, and giving yourself more time to either devote to fun projects or relaxing in front of the TV.

ipod deconstruction - 5

A useful skill for everyday life and business:

The ability to look at models and mechanisms and deconstruct them isn’t just handy for digital marketing. It’s a lifehacking skill which applies to most areas of your profession – how long does it really take to fill out your tax form? How about your bookeeping? And what it you apply it not only to the gym, but to housework, or or areas of life? How much time could you free up for other things?

And I don’t believe you have to be naturally analytical to achieve it. I spent the years between school and working explicitly in SEO doing a number of very creative roles, mainly as a journalist and writer. In that time I’d forgotten basic math, let alone what I’d learnt in statistics classes, and viewed Excel as an instrument of torture. But since I began working for myself, it’s been utterly essential to figure out what needs to be done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and how to achieve it as efficiently and effectively as possible, or the workload would be completely overwhelming, and I’d never be able to spend any time working on my own websites (Another one of which, Rescogs, has just launched by the way).

I’m still at an early stage in learning the art of deconstruction, but both the 4-Hour Work Week and the 4-Hour Body provide some valuable insight into how it can be achieved, even if you don’t intend to work out even for that long each month.

And if you need any help, there are people you can turn to. Find your nearest talented software developer/programmer or master criminal, and watch them deal with their professional problems with analysis and deconstruction, even if their personal lives might still be a shambles. In fact, combine the two professions and you’ve pretty much found a typical hacker from my experience, who will happily deconstruct a lock, a software program, or Western society over a beer or two.