Google SEO Starter Guide Updated



Google has updated their SEO starter guide which they first released two years ago. Not surprisingly they reiterate that any optimisation decisions should first and foremost be what’s best for the visitors of the site.

Visitors are real users of the website and are using search engines to find your work. If you’re creating quality, unique content (like this post for example), then any changes are likely to small and in the report they make another good point that its the collection of lots of small changes put together over time, that give good results.

Its broken down into these six sections:

  1. SEO Basics
    This section covers creating unique, accurate page titles and  how to make use of the “description” meta tag on your site(s).
  2. Improving Site Structure
    How to improve the structure of your URLs and how to make make your site easier to navigate for humans & search engines.
  3. Optimizing Content
    This section covers the offering quality content and services, how to write better anchor text, optimisation of images and how to use heading tags appropriate manner.
  4. Dealing with Crawlers
    How to make effective use of robots.txt and to be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links that you use.
  5. SEO for Mobile Phones
    A new section for mobile devices has been added, which shows how to n
    otify Google of mobile sites & how to guide mobile users accurately.
  6. Promotions and Analysis
    How to promote your website in the right manner and to make use of free webmaster tools.

You can read the full report here and I’m humble enough to recognise great guidance and will be adding a breadcrumb trail to this site in the forth coming days (page 10).

What a Silly Design Flaw –’m not sure who designed this site, but I do know it was only very recently redesigned. They’ve managed to make a very common and very silly error in their design structure, they’ve got a wealth of text, hidden in images.

Take a look here or in any of their top level categories, a screen shot is below, clearly highlighting the issue:

Missguided Lost Keywords

Missguided Lost Keywords Hidden in Images

That’s right the following text is lost, because search engines cannot read images, even worse they’ve just loosely labled the image with a title & alt tag of ‘Accessories’. So instead of seeing this:

Scarves, bangles and bows… charms, belts and bags- add delightful details, luxurious lockets and perfect pearls to complete any outfit! See below for our full range of bags, belts, bangles, bracelets, eyelashes, necklaces, headbands, scrunches, watches and sunglasses.

Which is 38 words, search engines see ‘Accessories’. Doh!

Don’t you make such a silly mistake too with your website, use text descriptions for your categories. Of course, by all means use images of models and perhaps in this example, put the peace, heart, ampersand & accessories in an image for style. But never, ever sell yourself short.

Yoast WordPress Breadcrumbs Plugin

Yoast.comTaking the advice from yesterdays post ‘Google SEO Starter Guide Updated’ on adding a breadcrumb to the sites theme, I remembered seeing a plugin from a few days back.

Installation was done in seconds, almost like every other WordPress plugin, unfortunately the auto insert option did not work, however within a few pastes in the files page.php, search.php and single.php it was in and working.

If you’re an avid blogger and the theme you are using does not come with breadcrumbs by default, this plugin was sooo easily added, even at code editor level, its worth adding and as a bonus its free. also has a collection of other plugins for WordPress, you can see them here.

18% Wasted – Your Most Important eBay Marketing Asset


Channel Advisor Seller Buy4Less

Thats right here is the best way to waste 18% of your most valuable asset on eBay, the Listing Title. You make your listing titles on eBay look pretty by including ‘=’ and ‘-‘ symbols.

No idea what I’m taking about? See this item: 230526814009. Here is the listing title:

THOMAS TAKE ALONG === Thomas&The Jet – Die Cast === NEW

So lets count this up there is:

  • 6 x ‘=’
  • 1 x ‘-‘
  • 3 x ‘ ‘

They’ve included these characters at the expense of the formatting and crammed ‘Thomas&The’ together to make it fit. That is 10 out 55 wasted, now thats not the best bit, wait for it, it gets better, brace yourself… Really silly question, where is the keyword ‘train’, it IS a train right ??

Lets get this straight, do not waste your most valuable marketing asset on eBay, the listing title. If it was not bad enough that you’re only given 55 characters to cram your description in, something like 80% of purchases are made by search and this search is now the ‘best match’ search which favours ‘top rated’ sellers and items with a few sales on, so your requirement to be as efficient as possible as describing your products has newer been so paramount.

About Buy4Less
Apparently they sold 3000 plus orders a day last Christmas, so crap titles can’t matter that much eh? Must have been the Amazon sales that bolstered this figure. You can read the ChannelAdvisor case study here.

DropBox, File Backup & Transfer Matt Proof

DropBox, its soooooo simple to use, to store and share files on line. I really mean its simple, its sooo Matt Proof its unreal.

You download the application, if you have an account you enter the details, if not you create an account within a few seconds, no silly questions, just what is needed to get you going.

No setup, no configuration, no setup, it really ‘just works’.

Here is the introduction video to DropBox, I personally love this style of film creation, HTC use a similar style and it conveys messages so simple. Enough waffle, take a look:

Sharing files between machines is just drag and drop, if you want to share an album or file with another, you just right click and get the link. Did I say its sooo simple yet?

Also after looking around on YouTube I came across this recording from Drew @ DropBox, this really does show how easy it is to use, I might have (er for legal reasons ‘might have’) tried DropBox on a VM image of Mac OS X and it worked instantly, also on Ubuntu Linux (in the GUI not the CLI version).

So my point is, if you need to share files across multiple machines and just want it to work, DropBox is a no brainer. I use it and my parents use it.

The free account sports 2 Gb of data which is absolutely loads and loads, the upgrade options are sensible, for £6 ($9.99) a month for 50Gb of storage.

Check it out:

Google Does Not Use The Meta Keywords Tag

Amazon Meta Keywords HTML Tag

Amazon Meta Keywords HTML Tag

Myth, hear-say or Truth?

Truth! Google does not use the meta Keywords tag. Contrary to popular belief usage of this tag for anything meaningful was lost years ago when it got spammed & stuffed by everyone and his dog.

Offsite ‘factors’ were not being taken into account and pages were judged by search engines only on their content. Seems crazy now looking back.

Here is a YouTube video from Matt Cutts, a personal idol of mine [for his relaxed presentation style and the way he conveys his personal interest in the subject matter] on this very topic:

Although other search engines out there (no there really are) which do take the meta keywords into consideration. If your website solution already makes these automatically from other data fields, great, if not, I’d not suggest you loose any sleep what-so-ever. Spend the time on writing better content, site promotion or sipping G & T’s as the sun sets (sunrises and G&T are just wrong).

That said, if I asked myself the question “do I use the meta keywords tag?” the answer would be…
Yes, the day Amazon stops using them, I will do too. No G&T’s for me :(

The Top 10 FireFox Plugins That Make My Day

FireFoxOh how I do ore at the FireFox browser, yea its not as fast as Google’s Chrome or as widely supported as Internet Explorer but for customisation, oh my FireFox rocks and yours can too.

So here are my top 1o plugins and extensions for the FireFox browser, yes there are thousands and you could say XYZ should be here, but hey, this is my list!

  1. FireBug
    Oh how I could not live without this extension, it literaly saves me hours per day when developing and designing. With its click and highlight feature you can in seconds work out wtf is going on between code and css. Then change the code & CSS and see the affects instantly.
  2. Colourful Tabs
    No supprise when I say it colours the different tabs, but you can set specific colours for different websites, this is super handy when you always have a set number of tabs open with all your favourite sites open.
  3. Measure It
    This is a super little extension that allows you to measure objects on screen so you can find the dimensions in seconds.
  4. Colour Zilla
    Like that shade of pink sir? Well now is yours. Click the icon in the status bar, use the eye dropper and its yours!
  5. Remove Tabs
    I was supprised this was not included by default. This plugin allows you to close the tabs to the left or the right of the selected tab.
  6. Reload Every
    I find this addon extremely useful when I am waiting an update on a site. You can pick from range of times or specify your own time for the page to reload.
  7. AdBlock Plus.
    This has been ported to Chrome too. Get rid of pretty much ALL adverts, although it can be a bit ropey on YouTube.
  8. FireFox Sync
    Back up everything using thier backup service across your fav devices.
  9. Fire Gestures
    I first found this in Google Chrome, it was the first extension I added to Chrome, so found a similar version for FireFox. It allows you to navigate using your mouse movements. Takes some getting used to, but you’ll be speeding around in a fraction of the time.
  10. Anything that Looks Cool.
    Thats right there is no 10th. However take a look at the addons directory, if you have a need (or not) then its extremely likely someone has written an addon for it.

Revamp of Link Reports In Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster IconGoogles Webmasters blog has announced that they have updated the link reports shown in thier Webmaster tools.

Google Webmaster Tools allow users to check up and analyse lots of different information that Google house on your authentication domain names and best of all its free. If you’re not using the Google Webmaster Tools, see here and sign up today.

With the new reports, they show you three new things as a general overview:

  • The top domains that are linking to your site.
  • Samples of anchor text used by external sites as they link to your site.
  • Which pages have the most links.

You can read the full article on the Google Webmaster Central Blog

Jing Easy Video, Screen Captures & Editing for Instant Messaging

Jing LogoSimplicity, this is such a killer for something that is useful. Jing is one of those killer applications, simple, but extremely effective.

What’s different about this app compared to other screen capture tools such as snippy, snag it and so on? Its soo easy and within a few clicks you can have a screen shot with comments or a video with voice over sent as a link to your conversation partner(s).

Besides the ease of use, one crucial point is why I think its fab, links. Instead of pasting the files into a messenger product (Skype, MSN etc) which makes both parties connection lag, Jing uses a link, the other user clicks the link and presto! The directions to the coffee shop or the details of the process that I needed to explain to the VA (Virtual Assistant).

This isn’t the latest video they have, but the points are the same:

This is a real life demo of Jing in action, interesting dialogue, the suggestion of using this material for classes:

You can download Jing here and if you need some help, checkout their videos here.

Interactive Voice Response

No idea how I ended up finding this, however it struck a ‘how neat’ cord. Take a few minutes to watch the video below:

Soo… what does this does this mean? It means you could with a few well thought-out questions (& some bribery) get your customers demographics & psychological profile uncovered[if you have no idea what I am talking about, Google these terms now NOW!!!]

Used correctly, this could give the impression of a massive company on a minuscule budget. Used badly it could have a negative impact, I’d suggest you enrol the help of another who does not have a strong accent or even employing a sweet sounding student to do the voice overs.

Tip: Gumtree is a fab place to look and remember it can all be done remotely, so pick a city you like and try there first!

This idea is not new, by all-out idol Tim Ferriss [I’ll explain later] mentioned it in his 4 hour work week book, its also mentioned in another recent book I read. I’ve noted this and look out for a future blog post titled ‘As Big as Big Boys – How Appear to be Big on a Shoe String’.

This whole idea got the creative juices going, so looking at the other YT videos they had, I came across this:

Now, thats another neat concept. What if I gave the Customer Services staff the ability to work from home a set number of days? Taking it further, what if the entire order-line was handle by staff that I I don’t even employee, just pay per minute to process orders through one of the websites? Hey I think we’re on to something here, this topic is worthy of a future post, watch this space.

eBay Buyer Message Spam @ 99%

eBay UKeBay Buyers, they really are nut cases. Following on from my previous post eBay V’s Amazon – Its a ‘Trust’ thing, Trust is undoubtedly one of the core reasons behind this non-shocker I got in my mail:

Great customer communication is important for your success, especially when preparing for the Christmas period. We have worked with sellers to analyse the most effective way to reduce buyer questions.

Did you know that in the first half of 2010 you received an average of 99 questions per 100 transactions?

Find out how to reduce the number of questions you receive.

The eBay Team

Yes that’s 99 questions per 100 transactions, don’t believe me, check the screen shot below:

eBay Buyer Questions

eBay Buyer Questions

Yes, the product type sold heavily influences the number of questions received, however of the 14 other emails I have seen today alone, none of them were below 40%.

For those that know me personally, they’re aware that I have a strong dislike to eBay buyers. To be utterly fair, this isn’t really their fault. They are just programmed to ask questions for the most silliest of things, because at heart they are scared that ‘eBay’ (note the term ‘eBay, not the seller) is going to rip them off.

I’ve sworn blind for years that 90% of all questions pre-sale are checking the sellers authenticity because they’re plain paranoid on eBay.

Here are the four suggestions eBay have given:

  1. Customise Automated Answers
  2. Block buyers from countries you don’t dispatch to
  3. Clearly structure item description (e.g. in bullet points)
  4. Use high quality photos and multiple pictures with different angles and close-ups

[sarcastic tone] Wow thanks lads [/sarcastic tone]

eBay has definitely got its sense of humour hat on today, at one hand they’re saying block buyers, in the very same email ‘sell internationally’. Irony?

eBay has expanded its international markets to include Finland, Hungary and Portugal, increasing your potential number of buyers to up to 25 million.

In comparison, number of questions from Amazon buyers this morning: 2.

Oh how I <3 Amazon even at your 15% fees.

The Facts: ChannelAdvisor’s Featured Retailer – LeSports



One of the huge benefits of being a consultant, is that you can enter a business with a completely fresh look at it. Not influenced by any of the day-to-day operations, any historic issues or misconceptions created in the business by itself and can work from the cold numbers.

A few weeks back I was intrigued by the big Channel Advisor PR wheels moving and spotted one of their featured sellers ‘LeSports Ltd on YouTube.

The video is below features James, really nice chap, he explains what most e-commerce businesses  have issues with, management of inventory across many channels and order processing; And that he is using CA to promote his products across new sites and that it saves him time. Great.


With this increase of automation, I wonder if they’ve failed to notice the extra cost at which it has taken to do this. Please do not get me wrong, automation is fantastic if done well, there are many tools that can aid a business in its day-to-day operations that will save hours & hours a day. But… this is where it could go wrong and the numbers need to be kept an eye on. So lets look at the numbers:

All figures are based upon data from Terapeak for the date range 01 Sept – 30 Sept 2010, the direct link to this search is here. Noting, a Terapeak account is required to view this.



Total Sales £28,632
Total Listings 2,811
Successful Listings 1,105
Total Bids 1,920
Items Offered 7,097
Items Sold 1,692
Bids per Listing 0.68
Sell-Through 39.31%
Sellers per Day 1

So for this month of September we have a gross sales value of £28,632. Now lets split this between GTC (Good Till Cancelled/30 Days) listings and auction based listings (10 days or less).

Bid Auctions:

Total Sales £4,847
Total Listings 1,509
Successful Listings 348
Total Bids 576
Items Offered 1,509
Items Sold 348
Bids per Listing 0.38
Sell-Through 23.06%
Sellers per Day 1

So we can see here that for 1509 listings, £4847 was sold over 348 items. Lets crunch some numbers to see what this really means.

£4847 is 16.93% of their eBay sales (or 4/25ths), each sale has an average value of £4847/348 = £13.93, now here is the curious number, 23.06% of their listings sale. Now this is not distorted by multiple quantity listings because Terapeak says this ‘Total Listings = 1509, Items Offered = 1509’, so they’re all single item listings. This is an important factor as GTC listings normally have multiple quantities and skew this number heavily, to the point its almost worthless.

Now, this is where the numbers can lose their accuracy, so please allow some error of fees here as I am going to assume no discounts for seller fees and we are using averages.

There were 1509 listings at an average start price of £13.37, Terapeak also tell us clearly that there were no listing features used, so we can assume a straight auction fee. Now knowing this, lets crunch some more numbers:

1509 listings x 0.25 insertion fees* = £377.25
348 sales x (£1.22 Final Value Fee + £0.67 PayPal fee) = £657.72
Total = £1034.97

Some notes:
* I checked manually in eBay and also verified with

** This assumes no discounts and standard PayPal account and that all buyers paid via PayPal (probably true for 90% or more of sales) and that Channel Advisor fees of around 1-1.5% are not not included.

So for £4847 worth of sales, it cost around £1035 to actually sell the 348 items to customers, or 21.35%. This is of course excluding the item cost, packaging, staff time for the 222 questions (assuming 65% asked a question) they asked and the time taken to create the inventory record in the first place.

So… Using Using Auctions, is it Worth it?

Frankly, yes it is for them.

Why? 21% is far from the worst overhead I have seen, yes its pretty high, but there are a large number of sellers out there that are hitting 30-50%. I know for a fact at one time it was costing me 32% (the fee structure was different then). But its the ‘fact of knowing’ which is key here, if you know what your sale cost is, then you can work on it. Not knowing it is literally business suicide. I strongly suspect Jame’s know’s these numbers and is why he’s actually doing a great job.

If this dropped to say 15%-18% through optimising the time windows of sales and utilising the other four days of the week (the listings only end on a Sunday ,Monday & Tuesday) and testing outside of their normal ending windows of 7pm to 10pm, it would be tidy win for Jame’s.

Some Quick Numbers:

We’ve only focused on their auction style listings as these are the most expensive, here are some quick numbers on James’s ‘Fixed Price’ listings:

Total sales = £23.423 over 1223 listings of which 727 sold, for 1302 items, this is a positive percentage @ 106%, which means more items sold than that was listed as separate listings (I suspect due to multi level listings). With an ASP (Average Selling Price) of £17.99 the fees would come in 1302 * (0.20p insertion fee @ Basic level + 1.78 FVF + 0.81 PayPal) = £3632.58. Which is a very good 15.5% excluding any PayPal, Channel Advisor or eBay discounts.

Its a pity (or a positive) there is no ability to mine data on Amazon or the web to gain a true picture of LeSports. For anyone that is determined, using Terapeak to gain the last 365 days worth of data to get one set of data and a report for a tenner from companies house can easily do the maths…