Monthly Archives: June 2011

Nobody has a Divine Right to be Listed in Google

google listings

Google is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to businesses at present. With more than 88 billion searches per month, it attracts a global audience searching for anything from funny videos to car insurance.

In fact, in May, Google became the first ever business to boast more than 1 billion unique users visiting its sites over the course of a month. That’s one in 7 people on the planet visiting one of the Google sites during May.

It’s little wonder then that its PPC advertising is worth billions to the web giant. Everyone wants their website to be visible to an audience already searching specifically for their products and services.


Of course, this has given rise to a SEO industry that caters to businesses seeking the often more sustainable ‘organic’ listings. Often, businesses can be priced out of PPC with a model based on awarding visibility to those who are prepared to pay more.

It is perfectly feasible for a company to become entirely reliant on the business generated through this one search engine.

So what happens if there is an algorithm change or similar that effectively removes a company’s visibility, thus slashing its revenue?

There is no denying that this is absolutely devastating for a business. A quick search online will reveal a number of stories of this nature including some where people have even threatened to sue the search giant for their poor rankings (many such cases have been simply thrown out of court).

Google Listing Isn’t a Basic Human Right

There’s a common theme that runs throughout many stories of people trying to sue Google for poor rankings – everyone seems to come across as though they believe it’s their right to have high organic listings in Google.

As both a search engine user and someone working in SEO, this bothers me.

The fact is that Google can be seen as a marketing tool and you have no more a right to rank well in Google than you have to prime time TV coverage, or cost free newspaper advertising.

Google is fundamentally delivering a service to search engine users. Users want to type a query in and find the most relevant and highest quality results. If your site doesn’t fit the bill, why should it be there?

The search engine has a published list of best practice guidelines for Webmasters and a whole host of free to use tools (Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools etc) to help websites to understand their ranking and their traffic and analyse any problems quickly.

Getting Ranked and Staying There

Increasingly, websites need to consider their content quality, freshness, relevance and originality. Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz recently posted a video covering best practice techniques that have more and more prevalence since the recent Google Panda update.

Of course, in addition to this you really do need to have links pointing to your site from other high quality websites and it helps to have a brand that is being actively engaged with on social media channels.

Achieving high rankings, particularly on competitive keywords, is not easy. SEO is complex and requires varied, well thought out strategies to ensure results that are sustainable.

Gaming the algorithm with the mass purchase of spammy, irrelevant links can get you penalised. Google is open about this so if you incur a penalty as a result of such activity, you can hardly blame Google. Spammy link building has a limited lifespan. It is not sustainable.

By the same token, methods that worked well 2 years ago are no longer as effective. Sometimes websites are caught out not through spammy methods, but simply by not keeping up with changes. The fact is that Google makes more than 400 changes a year to its search algorithm, only ever announcing the biggest. Every change is geared towards improving search results quality for users. In order to maintain rankings, you really need to be continually working on creating a higher quality website for users and creating a glowing backlink profile.

An Imperfect Algorithm

Every algorithm can be manipulated. Google’s is by no means perfect. But it’s getting better and better all the time at understanding ‘quality.’

It’s frustrating when websites using spammy techniques and presenting poor quality outrank you and this does still happen. But it’s becoming less and less frequent all the time.

The best bet? Concentrate on your site, on its content, its link profile, its quality, originality and online brand awareness…. And keep one eye on forthcoming changes at all time.

No site has a divine right to rank well in Google and I for one, as both a Google user and SEO, am glad of the non-public algorithm and its constant quality improvements.

Can We Have a Pierre Culliford Google Doodle, Please?

Pierre ‘Peyo’ Culliford’s 83rd Birthday

Tomorrow marks what would have been the 83rd birthday of Pierre Culliford, a comic artist most famed for creating the Smurfs.

Now, as a not-so-secret Smurfs fan myself, I’m hoping to see a Google Doodle dedicated to my little blue friends in honour of Pierre Culliford (more commonly referred to as ‘Peyo.’

So consider this our personal request to the Google Doodlers (how amazing a job must that be?) for some Smurfy goodness tomorrow.

Previous favourite Google Doodles

We’ve all come to love Google Doodles recently, which seem to be getting more and more interactive and fun all the time.

My own personal favourite was the Pacman Google Doodle, which was actually playable! I wonder how many hours of work were wasted worldwide as a result of that game?

And what about the some of the others in our Manchester office?

Well, Dan Howell (Internet Marketing Exec) quotes the Charlie Chaplin video Doodle of April 2011 as his favourite.

Joel Stein (Internet Marketing Exec) also has a video favourite, naming the John Lennon Doodle of October 2010 as his favourite.

Richard Tank (Internet Marketing Exec) went for one we all loved, the recent playable guitar which has been given a permanent home by Google at

What’s your favourite?

Google’s 1 Billion Unique Monthly Users

ComScore data released today revealed that Google has reached yes another massive milestone. In May, the Internet giant boasted more than I billion unique users across its portfolio of websites.

Google is the first company to accomplish such a feat. You can read an informative post on that over on the Telegraph so we won’t rehash the numbers in any detail here. But what we will do is to look at what 1 billion unique users actually looks like when compared with some numbers we might be more familiar with.

Google’s 1 Billion Unique Users

  • It’s equivalent to 1 in every 7 people on the planet using a Google site in May.
  • 1 billion people is a lot of people – that’s more than 15 times the UK population!
  • If Google were a country and its May 2011 unique users its inhabitants, it would have the third largest population in the world (behind China at 1.3 billion and India at 1.2 billion).
  • The figure is equivalent to 32.2 million unique visitors every single day in May…
  • Or 1.3 million unique visitors every hour…
  • Or 22000 per minute
  • Or 372 unique users every single second for the entire month.

Not bad, eh?

Future Proofing SEO

SEO is a potentially lucrative marketing solution. Get your site visible in the search engines for the right keywords, get your site shipshape and you really can generate an incredibly healthy revenue stream.

It’s common for SEO to become the main revenue generator for a business. When this happens, it’s good news for the SEO agency, which now has confirmation that the campaign is a success. But there’s an element of precariousness about getting into a situation where you rely on Google (and the other search engines) for the success of your business. After all, Google is a third party. If the search engine closed down tomorrow, where would you get your business from?

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that Google will shut up shop tomorrow. Let’s face it… the search giant isn’t exactly struggling, is it? What is feasible, however, is that the search engine could make a change to its algorithm that affects where you rank for your target keywords, thus how much traffic you get and ultimately how much revenue you generate.

Google Algorithm Changes

Google makes more than 400 changes to its algorithm every single year. It only ever announces the biggest. Most recently, that was the update dubbed ‘Panda,’ which rolled out in the USA in February and across all English speaking nations in April. We wrote about the Panda Update some time ago. Essentially, it’s geared towards rewarding fresh, unique and original content.

While this was great news for some sites, others did not fare so well. You can find out who the winners and losers were over at Searchmetrics.

Panda 2.2 is rolling out as I write. This is an update designed to ‘perfect’ the algorithm following complaints from webmasters that some sites who simply scrape and reproduce content were still outranking other sites which produce original content.

The algorithm changes of the last 18 months have been geared towards improving search results for users, thus making the algorithm less easy to manipulate (albeit it remains far from perfect).

Methods of acquiring links that worked a few years ago no longer work as well as they did. Cheap, spammy paid links on mass link networks are not good practice and the more savvy the search engines get, the less benefit and more risk these sort of links are to your campaign.

A Future Proof SEO Campaign?

So we know Google changes its algorithm all the time. As such, we, as a Digital Marketing Agency, feel it our job to know what’s coming, to know how it will affect our clients and to ensure their campaigns are run sustainably.

Nobody can ever know for certain what is coming in the search engines. The algorithm is not public. But we do know one thing for certain: Google’s goal is to return the highest quality and most relevant results for users for whichever keywords they enter.


We also know that the algorithm is getting more complex and more capable of determining a ‘quality’ site based on its content, its backlinks, the speed at which it loads and how users on the wider web interact with it.

So what does this mean for SEO?

Well, it means SEO isn’t just about stuffing keywords into paragraphs and buying cheap links. It means that it’s about acquiring links in a multitude of different ways, obtaining links through their editorial value, producing high quality content, a fast and user friendly website and building a brand online. It means being open about who you are, displaying your physical premises (Google Places really is great!) and building up trust online.

This is a policy we have employed at Tecmark for well over a year and as a result of that, the more recent updates have been positive for our clients. But we certainly don’t take that for granted and we never stop researching ‘what might happen.’

Puttluck competition tees off

Fancy winning £500? Then make sure, if you haven’t already, that you download Puttluck from the App Store today.


Tecmark developed Puttluck for PGA golfer Steve McGuinness earlier this year. It’s the first golf game to make use of the iPhone 4’s gyroscope – you control the game by gripping and swinging your handset just like a real putter.

To make things more exciting, anyone who has the full version of the game can enter a competition against other users every time there’s a major golf tournament taking place. Whoever manages to amass the highest overall score during the time the real-world tournament is being played wins £500. Simple as that.

As it’s the US Open this weekend, now’s the time to test your skills and give yourself a chance of winning.

It’s also the British Open next month, so if you don’t win this weekend, that gives you some more time to practice before having another shot at the prize.

SEO: How Much Involvement Should the Client Have?

You appoint a SEO agency to run your search engine optimisation campaign. You agree keywords, you’re happy with their strategy and you sign off. That’s it, right? It’s all in their hands?

Well, not necessarily.

The nature of SEO is such that some clients will want to be more involved than others. But it can actually hugely increase the success and efficiency of a campaign to have open channels of communication and regular face to face reviews with between agency and client.

Here’s what your SEO agency could benefit from you giving them.

Industry News

Your SEO agency should read up on your industry before the campaign begins. Look within their proposals for an indication that they understand at least the basics of your industry and your competitors.

However, they’ll never be as savvy on matters relating to the sphere you operate in as you will be. So if there’s a big change in your industry, let them know. And more to the point, let them know how it will affect you, your competitors and your target market. News like this can be used in content your agency may be distributing as part of your campaign and can also give them an understanding of certain trends that might be reflected in traffic to your website.

Lead Quality Feedback

It’s massively important for campaigns with a focus on lead generation that a client is feeding back. We can track web enquiries and even telephone calls. We can track the keywords generating them. But what we can’t track without feedback is the ratio at which a client converts those enquiries to sales.

For example, it could be that we think we have a winning keyword. We get into a great position with it and it converts to lead at a great rate. But what you might be finding is that the leads are poor quality. Conversely, we might consider some keywords to be resulting in a really low conversion to lead but then you find you convert such enquiries to sales at a high ratio.

All sorts of things can affect both conversion from visit to lead and from lead to sale. As well as just keyword, your site itself can affect this and your SEO company needs feedback in order to ensure maximum return for you on your SEO investment.

Special Offers or Events

If you’re holding a special event or you have a special offer on, let your SEOs know. Such an offer might result in a traffic spike and it would be useful for them to know. But in addition, this is something they might be able to use to acquire more links or online PR for your campaign!

PR and Other Marketing

If you are doing a lot of PR or offline marketing, this could result in more people searching your brand in the search engines or coming through direct traffic to your site. This could potentially be noticeable in the Analytics and letting your SEO know about this sort of activity helps them to understand a potential sudden increase in traffic of this nature.


Your SEO agency will be able to analyse search engine trends in and around certain keywords. But nobody will understand seasonal fluctuations in your industry as well as you. This information can be vital to the analysis of your campaign and progress measurement.

Monthly face to face meetings are great for discussing this sort of information and the previous month’s SEO report. And insights like this can be priceless.

Guaranteed SEO Results (And Why I HATE That Phrase)

“Guaranteed SEO… guaranteed number 1 rankings… first page in thirty seconds or your money back.”

Those are the types of ridiculous promises that make me want to poke out my eyes with teaspoons (well, not quite, but you get the picture).

Of course, I couldn’t make such a bold statement without at least clarifying…so here we go.

Defining a Number 1 Listing

When, in SEO, we refer to ‘number 1,’ as far as we’re concerned that means the first organic result. That is to say, the first result that isn’t a Google paid ad.

Where you appear in the paid listings (PPC ads) is not related to SEO. This is related to your Adwords campaign (if you have one) and is based largely on how much you tell Google you are prepared to pay for a single click.

So if someone is guaranteeing you number 1 or page 1 in Google, you’re well within your rights to ask whether they are referring to number 1 in the organic results, or number 1 on the PPC ads.

Keywords Matter

Let’s use the previous example of solar panel installers again. There, we can see that our client, Solar Choice, is in first position for ‘solar panel installers.’ That’s not a random choice. It’s a researched choice of keyword.

The decision to target ‘solar panel installers’ was based on the relevance of that keyword to their services, the likelihood that someone typing that was specifically looking for the service (rather than just information gathering) and thus that it had the maximum chance of converting into an inbound enquiry. In addition to that, we looked at the number of people searching for that specific keyword each month in Google UK. With this information, we felt confident that it was a worthwhile investment – that being in the top 3 in Google for this keyword would indeed generate enquiries and thus a return on investment for the client.

A keyword like that, whereby it is well searched and indicative of someone seeking services, will be much more competitive within the search engines than, for example, an obscure, long search with little search volume.

As an example (and a very extreme one), there’s every single chance that this post will appear on the first page for “green spotty pig with mosquito bites,” just on the grounds that I just mentioned it. Nobody else is likely to be ‘SEO-ing’ for that phrase and well, let’s face it, it won’t generate any business!

The point then being, that if someone guarantees you a first page (or number 1 organic listing) the first question should be: “For which keywords?”

Why ‘Real’ SEO Results Can’t Be Guaranteed

So let’s consider a ‘real SEO result’ as being a top three listing for a well researched keyword, specifically relating to a client’s products or services and with some competition and some real search volume.

Can you guarantee such results? The short answer is no.

The facts are:-

  • Google (and the other search engines) are third parties. No SEO company can pay the search engines to display favourable organic results.
  • SEO results depend on a host of factors including your website itself, the links to your website and your competition. Your SEO company cannot account for what your competition are doing. All your SEO company can do is analyse the competition strategy and ensure that their own strategy ‘betters’ it.

Google’s Advice on Choosing SEOs

Google’s advice to businesses seeking SEO specifically states that nobody can guarantee rankings, saying;

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.”

What a SEO Company CAN Do

SEO companies can’t guarantee rankings. But what they can do is:-

  • Provide you with case studies – not just website URLs but even contacts from their client base who would be happy to speak to you about the SEO company’s services.
  • Give you a clear and transparent idea of how your campaign will be run.
  • Provide examples from their case studies of where that strategy has been successful in the past and assure you they will run yours in the same way.
  • Analyse your competition and give you a realistic estimation of what it will take, in terms of both time and resources, to ‘beat them.’

Tastecard for Blackberry Clocks Up 15000 Downloads!

At Tecmark, we were delighted to work with Tastecard to develop the Blackberry version of their popular app for members of their discount dining club. And it seems we weren’t the only ones happy to see the app available on the platform… in fact 15,000 Blackberry users downloaded the application in the first month alone!

Tastecard for Blackberry has also been mentioned on a host of websites, including the Guardian and MSN.

Guardian Apps Blog

tastecard blackberry msn

MSN Tech and Gadgets Site

Have you got your hands on it yet?

You can download the Blackberry app here.

How Much Information Should Your SEO Give You?

Transparency. It’s a big word in SEO, largely because the industry and its processes often seem somewhat shrouded in mystery to those not involved.

If you ask what information SEOs should share with their clients, the answer you get will probably vary from company to company. But here are some things we think you should definitely have visibility over.


Whatever Analytics software is used to track your traffic, you should have access. Whether it’s Google Analytics or another package, you should have the ability to go in and see all of the data within. Your SEO agency should report based on statistics from Analytics, but you should, in addition, be able to have a look for yourself and see progress, traffic levels and where that traffic is coming from.

Analytics should be set up in such a way that you are not depending on your SEO company to be able to access it. If you leave your SEO, for example, for whatever reason, you should still have your Analytics. That’s data about your site and the historical information can be valuable to your overall Internet marketing campaign going forwards.

It is perfectly reasonable that your SEO company might set up their own filters or conversion monitoring within Analytics and they may ask you not to edit the profile. This is valid – but should not prevent you from logging in and seeing the information for yourself.


We continually say, ‘SEO is not all about chasing rankings.’ And it isn’t! Conversion (we’ll talk about that in a moment) to lead or sale, thus a return on your investment is of course the fundamental objective. But rankings do of course play a major part in this and, particularly in the early days of a campaign, it will be a key indicator as to the performance of your campaign. So your search engine optimisation company should absolutely report on rankings for core campaign keywords.

Traffic Sources

Again, this is information that will be available within Analytics. But your SEO company should make clear in reports which traffic can be attributed to the SEO campaign – where traffic is coming from, which keywords are referring it etc.


The point of a SEO campaign is to generate a healthy return on your investment. Again, it is often something that can be tracked within Analytics and that you will then be able to see with access to Analytic, but you should expect your SEO company to be open and honest about conversion rates. If you get to number 1 for what you and your SEO thought was a great keyword and you find that it isn’t converting to sales or enquiries, you need to know that!

Your SEO company should be able to tell you how each keyword is performing.

On Page Optimisation Processes and Changes

Any changes your SEO company makes to your website should be changes you are aware of. There can be no valid reason for ‘secretive’ changes to your site.

At the beginning of a campaign, an in depth on page audit will often take place and the recommendations should be clearly documented for you so you know not only what your SEO wants to do to you site, but why they want to do that and what the potential benefits are.

Link Building Processes

It’s reasonable for you to want to know exactly how your SEO company will be going about acquiring links back to your site – after all, you will need to know that the methods are organic, sustainable and will not put your website at risk through ‘spammy’ methods.

So an overview of the methods they use, along with a few examples, is perfectly reasonable.

Link Lists

Now this is where we’d actually say there is justification in withholding some information. SEO agencies invest a lot of resources into building contacts, building relationships with bloggers and websites and acquiring high quality links this way. While we feel you are entirely entitled to know how links are being built as well as receiving examples, for a SEO company to hand over a complete list of links is essentially them handing to you a list of their suppliers.

Transparency and two way dialogue are critical for a successful SEO campaign. You, as the client, should be open prior to beginning a campaign with a company in terms of what you expect and your SEO company should be clear with you about the information they will be providing you with.

Latest mobile gaming website live

Mobile Slots 4U is an all encompassing site for Britain’s mobile slot industry, providing visitors with reviews and help guides for first time players, all from an unbiased perspective.

When approached with this project, we needed to design a site that could accommodate the amount of content Mobile Slots 4U provides their visitors with on an ongoing basis. Inspired by the sleek look and feel of the always evolving world of mobile technology, we also wanted to reflect the style of the latest mobile apps in the design of the site.

Merging these two necessities gave Mobile Slots 4U the capability to give their visitors a comprehensive education on everything one needs to know in the mobile gaming community, while at the same time providing them with a visually entertaining learning experience.

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