Mike Grehan says...

Random musings about search marketing, flying around the planet, networking and people watching.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Today is one of the worst days I have ever had. At 2.00 am I was called at home to learn that my son was the victim of a knife attack in our city. Some drug lunatic stabbed him very badly in the neck.

He had to have emergency surgery. He lost so much blood that he hasn't stabilized yet.

I'll spend my time with him this week at hospital. As I spent the entire night with him last night, right through surgery.

I love my son and true friend. He is a great boy and I simply do not understand why somebody would try to kill him for no apparent reason.

It just doesn't make sense.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

SES Stockholm.

It's such a nice change doing the European conferences. And that's another one over. As usual, Chris Sherman pulled together a great little conference.

It's so nice to do the smaller shows in the hundreds. That way you get to meet and hang with more people than when you're at the huge American shows. They're great too, but they're so busy and manic with so many people to get around, it's hard to get a free moment to spend time with anyone in particular.

In my last post I was talking about delays and cancellations at airports. On the way back from Stockholm, it turned out that, myself, Matt Bailey (Karcher Group)
and Dave Naylor, bad-black-hat-spammer turned... er... almost white, but closer to grey. Ah! Who cares what colour his hat is? He's an expert and that's what counts.

Anyway, he and I and Matt all popped into the airport bar in Amsterdam to have some serious philosophical discussion about contemporary art and theatre... (what else do you think SEOs talk about ;-) when we discovered that Dave's plane had been delayed by an hour.

Of course, after Matt left and Dave and I had another sweet sherry each... the conversation upped a level and progressed to the porn industry.

As it turns out, Dave, is actually the closest SEO to me, geographically. I always thought he was from Leeds. But he actually lives in Ripon. This is a fairly exclusive rural town which is absolutely beautiful. I know the town quite well from my radio days when I worked at the local station for that area. My old boss (who happens to be American) and his wife opened a nice bookshop there many moons ago.

Anyway, I felt so sorry when we both went to catch our respective flights and discovered that he had missed his. I swear there was no announcement and no update to the time of his flight. So KLM gets the blame for that.

The last I heard from him he was delayed until a 9.00 pm flight. I know that feeling well - oh no, stuck again. Still, he did have his laptop so he probably used the time to knock out a few million phentermine pages.

I love the dinners we have at the SES shows. It's so cool to have an eclectic mix of people from around the planet sitting and discussing... Well, almost anything and everything!

Above you can see the very same Dave Naylor, examining the bread while Andy Atkins-Kruger, President SMA-UK, ponders over what to do with his own. New boy Ben Hayes, from Web Diversity sits next to Joe Morin doing his best "the thinker" pose. At the bottom of the table you can just see Matt Bailey who looks like he's squaring up to Greg Jarboe for a fight, with Anne Kennedy looking up the table thinking: "what on earth is Naylor doing to that bread?" Jimmy Furland turns the volume down for a moment while he waits for the next bottle of "loud juice" to arrive (we'll call that wine, actually :-) and Christine Churchill looks directly at Andy Atkins-Kruger thinking: "I wonder if I should explain how you apply butter to bread?"

Following dinner we went to a club where I bumped into former New York resident, now London, Nate Elliott from Jupiter Research.

And was quickly whisked off to the dance floor by Laura Thieme, who wanted to show off her new specs.

The following morning, first thing we all put on a brave face and pretended that we hadn't been out until 3.00 am. Here is my panel wearing "don't be ridiculous - Danny Sullivan buying donuts at 1.30 am - hardly likely" type looks.

From the left, Dave Naylor, Danny Sullivan, Mikkel deMib Svendson and Grant Whiteside.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Connection delayed or cancelled!

That's a frequent occurrence when you're a "sky warrior" as someone once dubbed me.

My flight from Newcastle to Amsterdam was cancelled at the last minute last night. This means I had to be up at 3.45 am to catch the first morning flight at 6.00 am.

Ho hum! Schiphol - here we come!

I got a little note from my editor who had taken a peek at my blog and realized that the publishing software had actually missed the last graph of my article completely. It's in place now and certainly feels a bit more "rounded off".

I think my editor is the ONLY person who reads this blog!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The SEO and the Blacksmith.

In my ClickZ article which was published today, I wrote about my thoughts on the SEO side of the business. These have mainly been spurred by some of the workshops and training sessions I've been doing lately.

I still have so many people asking me about "meta tags" and "h tags" and "keyword density" as if any of this has any serious place in today's extremely competitive search arena.

A lot of what I often refer to as "classic SEO", much of which is still served up in some SEO type forums, just has no bearing on getting a top rank for a term like "digital cameras" for instance.

Okay, I understand when your hoping and praying for that top ten hit and you have some time on your hands you can do a little good housekeeping and mess around with a few on-page things, while you have nothing else to do. But you'll be hoping and praying for a very long time if you think the presence, or lack of, something such as an h1 tag is going to power you up the charts.

Sure, some of that old stuff may still apply to some very obscure and esoteric searches. But for serious marketers aiming for those cached, top-tier pages with competitive terms scoped at them, and linkage data abounding, it's the wrong end of the scale to be worrying about if you're coming in new.

Most of the successful work I've done lately for top ranking pages has been based around classic marketing tactics than it has technology. Link building, joint ventures online, co-promotion and sponsorship, and even straight forward advertising.

Even good old fashioned publicity stunts can do a better job getting a rank than classic SEO. Just ask the CEO of your company to go and bare his ass in the window at Macey's and make sure there's some press around. That'll getcha a top ten hit for sure!

Joking apart, a quality marketing strategy developed around a good ambitious company with quality products, which wants to succeed, is an excellent recipe for the start of search marketing success. All marketing success, for that matter.

Sometimes my articles for ClickZ are a little on the long side and get snipped. I think the final paragraph which was clipped for the article actually summed quite a lot of it up for me:

"I guess, years ago, many Blacksmiths had to retrain and learn to do something else as their specific skills were required less and less. And I guess that's what will happen in the future of SEO. I don't think SEO is dead yet. But much like Blacksmiths, you'll probably not find one on every corner the way it used to be. Maybe they'll open PPC shops?"

As I was working in North Carolina when I finished the article, I noticed that the link which refers to the Sergeant Pepper search in the column, doesn't work in the UK. However, I did actually take a screenshot of it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

But when is it blog time?

I wonder if anyone has written a book about blog discipline? I simply cannot find time during my working day to log in and disperse my thoughts.

It's Sunday morning and I'm in my most frequent habitat: the airport lounge.

At least here, following a redeye flight back to the UK from Raleigh, North Carolina (my second home) I can catch up on private stuff.

Perhaps (says he thinking aloud) bloggers get paid for doing it and I've missed that completely... I wonder.

But with so much travel, so many meetings, appointments, conferences yada, yada... Finding quality blog time is difficult.

I think I'm going to contact my friend,
Amanda Watlington and ask her what blogging protocol is. I mean does one blog every time one has a thought about something Or do you blog on a daily basis. Or do you do random blogging?

I think the latter is best for me, judging from my record so far. I used to say about forum posters "they must have no work to do, the amount of time they spend posting" and most of them also have blogs now.

Has anyone monetized a blog yet? I mean, does anyone actually make money or earn a living at it.

I'm in the middle of
John Battelle's excellent book "The Search" I've met John, he's a very smart guy and certainly knows a thing or two about blogging. He damn near invented it, I think. But I wonder if he earns a living from it?

Certainly, many people like myself in this industry would have to use company dollars to spend time blogging. How many companies are happy with staff blogging on their time?

It's all too much to try and figure as I'm slipping off to sleep in this armchair. In an hour from now I'll board my flight to Newcastle and probably won't see this blog entry until I'm back in an airport lounge again.

SES Stockholm next!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Launch of Ad:Tech, London...

I had some nice pictures forwarded to me from the dinner I held at the launch of Ad:Tech, London. I picked out a fab restaurant on Kensington High Street. It's called Zaika and it's a must.The picture above shows me and the wonderful Sue Bratton (Chair, Ad:Tech), trying the excellent Saffron martini's (and having a hug too, of course!).

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Long time coming...

Well, I eventually got around to it. And all it took was one evening left alone in my UK office. But those types of evenings are few and far between, I'm afraid.

After the hectic week I had at Advertising Week last week which took in MIXX and OMAA in New York as well as Ad:Tech and PubCon in London, I really did deserve a break back home before heading across the Atlantic again.

Here's a nice pic of my great friend (and boss) Rebecca Lieb, Senior Editor, ClickZ Network. We got advertising week off to a good start at the wonderful Cafe Des Artistes, Central Park.

Okay, thanks so much for joining me here in my new online home at
www.mikegrehan.com and let the blogging begin!