Mike Grehan says...

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

Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Tatiana!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

San Jose, Liverpool and the Lakes...

Well, I spent last week at the Marriott in San Jose, for SES. A couple of days I spent almost totally locked in my room suffering from... A kind of bug, or virus or... Something! Anyway, whatever it was it almost completely knocked me out of action.

My northern neighbour, Dave Naylor got in early for the show on the Saturday. As did Jen Slegg So, after a chance meeting in the bar (where else?) the three of us nipped around to a local restaurant where good food and bottles of Faustino were devoured. Then, it was back to the Marriott bar.

I decided on a late breakfast on Sunday morning. As did my dinner chums from the night before. So with the three of us scattered around the restaurant, we decided on breakfast together. And then on to Santana Row to do a little shopping - which turned, of course, into a little drinking. And what better way to start the day than with some flights of Champagne?

One of my favourite places on Santana Row is the Hotel Valencia. It's such a beautiful place to stay.

Anyway, after a couple of rounds of shampoo, I split and went to meet Rebecca Lieb for lunch. And then I did a little shopping for a trinket or two for Tatiana. Back to the Marriott, a quick freshen up and then it was into a limo and back to Santana Row again. This time for dinner at The Left Bank. A very nice French restaurant. Much food and French booze was consumed. And then it was back to the Marriott bar.

By now, many of the regular faces were in the bar. As well as our very own blogger extraordinaire, Lisa Barone. Not many people know it, but Lisa is actually my long lost daughter who was kidnapped by people traffickers and... Yeah, that's a special story between me and Lisa. And here she is with SEO Tiger, Simon Heseltine.

I took that picture with my BlackBerry camera which seems to work much better in daylight than it does at night. Anyway, I think I'm going to start an "I love Lisa" campaign in the industry. I was so blown away when she got a shout-out from the stage by Jim Lanzone at the first keynote at SES.

And lovely Lisa has a pic of her and long lost Dad (very boozy Dad, by now) over here :-)

So, before the night ended, someone decided we should go to the Fairmont for something else to eat. Correct, after breakfast, lunch and dinner... It was time to eat again! At the Fairmont I got caught up with Danny Sullivan and a dozen others. And then, everything went black. And I woke up in my room.

I woke up fearing that I had been captured by aliens who had performed some indecent experiment on me in their spaceship. I was delighted when Daron and Brandy told me that they had helped me back to the hotel as my personal Tom Tom didn't seem to be working and I was crawling around the floor. I was even more relieved when Brandy told me that it was her who took my pants off. Fine by me. And a little more relieved when Daron told me it was him who slapped the Vaseline on my ass for a little joke :-)

Phew... That's good. No aliens then.

Monday was a real treat. I was kidnapped and taken to the SES Women's Luncheon. Correct - women's luncheon. Here I didn't even need to borrow skirt or anything. It was a splendid lunch. Li Evans asked me to pull out the winning raffle tickets. And I also get to meet the lovely Laura Lippay from Yahoo! for the first time.

After the conference finished, I went to the Fairmont with my great mate from Australia, Steve Riley. We sat around the pool, had lunch and then Steve did his SEO falling out of a tree impression.

Of course, the Webmaster FM bash was a must attend. So, I hooked up with Bruce (Bruce Clay, Inc is one of the party sponsors). We had a drink and admired the blood coming from our ears as the DJ cranked the sound up.

I made for the Bruce Clay VIP area and hooked up with Rebecca again. I love Rebecca very much for some sage advice she gave me that evening (well, I loved her before that also). And so it was, that the lovely Li Evans decided to capture a picture of us as we were just about to leave the bash. I can still hear Li shouting to us both over the top of the music now. "I said CHEESE godammit... say CHEESE!

Upon my return to the less than sunny shores of the UK I was reminded that it was a long weekend (public holiday). I was also reminded that I had promised to take my wife to the Mathew Street Music Festival in Liverpool. Hundreds of thousands of people hit the centre of Liverpool for this annual celebration of The Beatles. Mathew Street is where the original Cavern Club is. And that's the epicentre of the party.

And Tatiana was able to fulfil a long held ambition. To stand in the doorway of the club where her favourite band ever, The Beatles, started their career.

I got to stand outside The Beatles official merchandise shop.

Look closely and you can see that, interestingly, they also sell, Mocha, Mochaccino, Paninis, er... sofas, light switches and chairs. Well, you never know when you'll get the urge to install a Beatles light switch, do you?

Cavern Walks is where the city paid their main tribute to their favourite sons with bronze statues of each of The Beatles.

And of course, you couldn't go to Liverpool without visiting Albert Docks and have a stroll down the River Mersey. "So ferry, cross the Mersey... de dah, do, do dah"

On Monday we jumped into the SEMmobile and headed north into some of the most beautiful countryside God created on earth. The Lake District has been the inspiration for beautiful poetry, music, art and even cartoon rabbits.

We visited a beautiful lakeside town called Keswick, which sits on Derwentwater.

Derwentwater is a much smaller lake then Winderemere. But still staggeringly gorgeous.

All in all, another lovely, relaxing weekend away with the missus.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Billion Searchers!

At 4.00 PM on Monday next week I'm doing a special session in the ClickZ track called "One Billion Searchers" (a little nod in the direction of James McGregor) .

My little brother from China, Inway Ni is flying in from Xiamen. And my globe-trotting-SEO-pal, Bill hunt of Global Strategies will be joining the panel. Plus, there'll be one other guest.

I'll be moderating. Inway will give an overview of the search landscape in China. He'll talk about the big search engines in China such as Baidu and Ali Baba as well as better known names in the west such as Google and Yahoo. And he'll cover some of the tactical issues of optimizing web pages for China. It's a big country with a lot of provinces and a lot of twists and turns in language and dialect.

Bill will talk about search marketing in China from an agency perspective. Global Strategies is now part of Neo@Ogilvy, the Ogilvy Group's global digital and direct media company. Bill has plenty of experience with big site SEO working with clients like IBM. And he also has great insight into the Chinese search market place.

It's a casual session with plenty of time for panel discussion and audience Q&A. So, if you're thinking about entering the fastest developing economy on the planet, come find out what's fact, what's hype... What's really happening.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oooops! Must be reciprocal when deserved...

Lee Odden (nice bloke) has an interview with me over here.

And, for no other reason than my eldest son dared me too...

He found a badly wrecked picture of me when I was only 18 in my late father's stuff and was very impressed with my hairstyle, the satin jacket, strange choice of Boston strangler gloves and very weird choker chain. Had he only seen the strange looking cigarette I was smoking just before the pic, I'm sure he would have been doubly proud! :-)


Monday, August 13, 2007

The other family...

A few weeks back, my buddy Kevin Ryan, recently appointed Vice President, Global Content Director Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Strategies, flew into Los Angeles, contract in hand, to sign me up as Chair and Host for SES, London.

And now there's even more SES news. My long time pal and drinking partner, Andrew Goodman, let slip in last week's PageZero newsletter, that he has signed with Kevin and the SES family again. So, Andrew remains in place as Chair and Host of SES, Toronto. Congratulations and cheers to more beers, mate!

Those wonderful family days...

We had a little family get together at the weekend. I really look forward to getting together with everyone.

It's the first time in ages that these two shady ladies were at a family gathering at the same time, for a while.

My wife Tatiana and daughter, Dasha.

I love Dasha to bits. Even though I did throw her out of the house a few months ago. She has her own place in another part of Newcastle. She's moving to Manchester to start university there in September. It's a good job I love Manchester (such a happening place) as I'll be spending a lot of time travelling back and forth to see her.

By the way, commiserations to all my pals in Manchester over the sad news of Tony (Mr Madchester) Wilson's passing. He really played a huge part in, not only the Manchester music scene, but the UK and music generally.

Anyway, Lee Odden asked me a question about my blog last week. It was part of an interview. And so I explained to him that I started the blog for my mom. She's in her seventies so doesn't travel as much as she used to. So I thought the blog would be a good thing for her to keep up to date with where I am on the planet.

My brother, Stephen dips in and out of the blog every now and again to see where I am. He then sends me very insulting (but very funny) emails! Anyway, I promised that I'd post this pic of me, mom and Stephen at the weekend. So here it is.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This is how you sell search marketing services?

This guy spams me at an old email address (twice). Sends the same to me via the enquiries form at my book site. And then...Wait for it...He posts the same thing to a personal entry on my blog... And then follows it with another post with contact details (in case I need to contact him urgently, I guess).

Hey, Kaiser. in the space of four minutes you double spam me. Triple it by using my general enquiries form (for my customers). And then invade my personal space with a sales pitch and contact details... And you really expect me to buy something from you?

Who's business books have you been reading? The alternative version of how to win friends and influence people, by Adolf Hitler!

Spam me like that again, and I'll fly to the Philippines and insert the rough end of a pineapple directly into your ass!

Now go learn some business etiquette.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Message to Blue.

Joe, I hate that tattoo...

I know it's not finished, so you'll have to do that. But if you get one more like it - I'll chin you! (Chin you is Geordie for "Chin you" for my non Geordie visitors)

I'm watching you boy...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A guaranteed number one listing at Google!

I've been burning up my keyboard for the past two weeks none stop writing. So I've had little time to read any of the latest news around the various other blogs, forums etc. So, maybe this has been covered in great detail elsewhere. But I had to just quickly break and blog this when I saw it a few minutes ago. I certainly haven't seen this one in the States. However, it may have been the talk of the industry in the UK while I've been away for all I know. Still worth a mention though.

I was researching some stuff at Google UK and noticed a new little feature at the bottom of the page on many of the searches I did. I did a search for - digital cameras - to test how "universal" the feature is.

Take a look at the screenshot below at the very last item.(Click on the image to make it larger)

And now take a look at what happens when you click the plus sign.

Yes, you get to input the URL of a favourite page on the query subject, click the button and , of course, you're taken to your Google account to log in to your personalized search. Next time you search for digital cameras, your favourite page is up top with a little marker.

I've written a great deal about end user data and how in search it's mainly implicit data, but explicit would be much more useful. What a neat little way to get someone to be explicit.

Hehe! Now it is possible to guarantee a number one hit at Google :-)
Tom Jones, Muhammad Ali and Kim Davis...

Last weekend we had a family get-together at my brother's house. Because of my travel schedule, I haven't been able to get to any of the recent clan gatherings. So this is the first time I've been together with the family in recent times with no funeral involved

I hadn't seen my late brother's wife Emma, since his funeral. So it was great to see her and my nephew Andrew on a much less sombre occasion. Emma and I talked a lot about Paul. She talked about his obsession for collecting and hoarding things. And then completely surprised me with a file she had found in amongst his things, which was packed with stuff of my father's which he had filed away and forgotten about.

It was like entering a time machine. So many old photos of my parents and so many press clippings and Dad's memorabilia.

One or two things just leapt out at me though. Back in the sixties my Dad was a pal of Tom Jones. He was very young then and just getting a taste of the truly international stardom coming his way. His wife Linda became friends with my mother and Paul, Stephen and I became pals with Tom's son, Mark.

And so it was, in the summer of 1968 (I think?) we ended up on holiday together on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Majorca (Mallorca). The picture below shows my late uncle Peter (second from left) my parents (third and fourth from left) and Tom Jones and his wife Linda at the top of the table.

What a night that was. I remember my brothers and I (and Tom's son) weren't old enough to go to the night club with them. But the following day, I remember they all had huge hangovers!

Later in life, Tom's career took a little downward turn. But when his manager died, it was his son Mark who took over. And this transformed his career and brought him back big time with his cover of Prince's song, Kiss. I haven't heard from Mark since my father's funeral. But even then, we both had great memories of that wonderful holiday together all those years ago.

My Dad was a real character. A wonderful story teller and downright great guy. He was a stinking parent. And he knew that. But when I was old enough to start hanging with him, I realized what a great personality he was and what a fantastic sense of humour he had (very zany). So, back in the day, when he was hanging with all of his show-biz pals, I got to meet many of them myself.

I remember him hanging with Muhammad Ali when he used to come into the UK. My father's long time friend was a guy called Johnnie Walker (no relation to the whisky) and he was an amateur boxer. When he was in the navy, he won some major trophy trophy three times in a row. This was really something special and much admired by Ali. So he became friends with Johnnie, and in turn, my old Dad too. I found this wonderful pic of my Dad and Ali back in the early seventies I guess. Nice suit, Dad. Just finished your audition for Starsky and Hutch had you :-)

I really got emotional when I came across the pics and press clippings of a young girl by the name of Kim Davis. Way back in the mid to late sixties, my Dad discovered a very talented young singer. Of mixed race, she lived in a pretty run-down area of the city. Long story short, my Dad took her in as manager and father figure. And so it was, I acquired my unofficially adopted sister.

Kim was a beautiful soul. We loved to listen to music together and made albums full of pictures and press clippings of our favourite stars. We were both huge Dusty Springfield fans (and later we both got to meet her).

Over a couple of years, Kim's singing became more and more mature and professional. She formed a band with some local guys and went on the road as Kim and The Kinetics. I used to love to go and hang with her when she and the band were rehearsing. I was learning to play the drums at the time and the band would often let me jam with them.

But most of all, I used to love to watch my big sister live with an audience. She was a complete babe and the guys loved her. I was so proud of her. And I was broken hearted when, just as she had her first top 40 hit, she died of a brain tumour. So young. So talented. And such a loss. I cried a river.

I was never able to track any of Kim's records down. They all seemed to have disappeared after she died. So imagine my surprise and delight, when amongst all of the old stuff I was rummaging through at the weekend, I found one of her records inside a battered cardboard envelope.

At Christmas, I treated myself to a USB turntable. It's a turntable you connect directly to your computer and converts your old vinyl records into mp3 files. As soon as I got back home I had Kim's only top 40 hit playing on my iPod almost within minutes. And I played it over and over again. It was so great to hear her voice again, and a million memories of when we were young came flooding back to me.

So for the very first time, in who knows how many years, my family, friends and people who knew Kim can now hear her again, in digital format, just by clicking "Are you ready for love."