If you want to succeed in anything, you have to be able to communicate. In the early days of web marketing, it was all about technical trickery, but in 2014, it’s all about messages and ideas.

This is where I muse, assert and explain the trends and new phenomena in online marketing, from social through to search. If you want to talk to me about improving your message, just fire me a quick hello and I’ll get back to you within a day.

You Get To Grieve And You Get To Love

You get to grieve, and you get to love. That’s all.

Your hate has no place; your anger has no place. I’m no Jedi, but if I were (and I am) I would say those things are for the dark side.

The timeline bends thus:

1 minute after impact, the world is awful and evil exists, for one of those rare moments. Fear is natural and fear is human and fear is okay.

10 minutes after impact, the world is beautiful. Look for the helpers. Nothing unites like a threat to divide. The tragedy persists; the pain persists. But through it, the story is one of community, of resilience, of togetherness.

10 days after impact, the love wears off, and the cowards start talking.

Stop it. Stop them.

You get to grieve, and you get to love. That’s all.

If these people had a mission statement (and they do) it would say “to divide”.

Update your definition of “courageous” to stretch beyond that of “bold”, to be conscientious and level-headed.

You get to blame the specific, disgusting humans that did it and facilitated it. But beyond that, you get to grieve, and you get to love.


Suddenly, I felt it:
steel, still,
a shard of ice thought melted,
in eyes
that had always found a way
to glitter when
my calm cried out for
friction, so
thanks, guess I forgot
what it was like to have a
nemesis, to be doubted, to clench my fists,
to feel that
fight foment;
and may well be that you
are not the threat,
but just the mascot of it,
not regret but some projection,
not iceberg, but apex of it –
either way,
we all tread water sometimes,
’til the waves form into sharp lines
and there’s teeth to swim away from
somewhere in the depths

So what I mean is thanks for baring teeth;
I hope it’s okay if I kick them in.


Your death is a spoiler,
heard and forgotten,
gathering dust
at the back
of the clubs you frequent,
things you “actually meant”,
and left to
go rotten.

Your life is a Walter
rattled by tension,
just out of sight,
glimmers of evening that reflect the night,
and too short to mention.

What lies in
between is a whisper,
early to bed,
still a good listener.

What lies at the end
is a die,
always a number,
roll for
how high.

Writers write

But to be a writer you must write,
you said,
you fucking fraud,
how dare you summon up
the arrogance to soak up that applause?
Amid the heavy,
freezing hurricane
of post-truth and alt-fact,
get disconnected,
get dejected,
get your old placebo back,
the one that kicked you in your fucking face
and you,
as every retina you’d ever burned
got clattered into, chinned,
you used to dream in vivid colour,
don’t the vivid hues feel nice,
doesn’t it feel comprehensively okay to simply

Election 2016 – LiveBlog

A Full List of Oldham Athletic Sponsors

Oldham Athletic are reported to be informing the club’s sponsors that they have agreed personal terms with convicted rapist Ched Evans.

For informational purposes, here is a list of Oldham Athletic’s sponsors, with contact information where it was readily available:

If you have additional sponsors not featured on this list, please get in touch and I’ll add them.

Revolution 96.2

Office: 0161 621 6500

Zen Office – have announced they will cut ties if Evans signs

T: 0845 123 2980

Pentagon Vauxhall

0161 621 2720


Remedian IT Solutions

Tel.: 0845 643 0147

Tel.: 0330 6600 281

Safeguard Group

0161 626 2202

Shut Up About Keywords

Forgive the rudeness, but I’m at my wit’s end.

Stop talking about keywords. They don’t matter.

Well, that’s not strictly true. They matter in some ways. They matter from a research perspective, still; if you’re growing your business abroad, for example, you might be able to gauge priorities from search volumes. You can still – for now, at least – find out what people are actually searching for, which is certainly a valuable asset (remember when we had to, like, ask people?!) But that’s about it. If you’re still clinging onto keywords as the crux of your SEO strategy, here’s why you need to stop:

Google Understands Language

Seriously. I work for a translation agency, so I know that Google Translate has a long way to go before it competes with real people, but I would argue that Google’s understanding of linguistics and word usage is probably the most sophisticated of any non-biological entity in the world. It certainly understands synonyms. But it also understands relevance, and intent, and pragmatics.

Quick, put the keyword on the page three times! Shoehorn it in! Stick it in a thesaurus and get two exact synonyms in there too!


Write your page’s content for real people with a background knowledge of your keyword. Get it in there somewhere, if it sounds natural. If it doesn’t sound natural, change it a bit. It’d be cool if it goes in the title. Doesn’t go in the title? Get a word in there! Two, if you can! But treat it like a marketing exercise with a keyword consideration; not a keyword exercise with a marketing aspect.

See, you might just be able to cling onto this cliff right now, but it’s eroding. In a year’s time, you’re going to look an idiot when Google is way more intelligent about recognizing on-page over-optimization.

Anchor Text Is Dead

Or dying. Over-optimization penalties are becoming more and more prevalent. Does your link portfolio contain thousands of links with optimized anchor text? That looks strange. Naturally, it’s going to include a few click here s and more than a few instances of your URL. So every time you decide to build some links (you shouldn’t be building anyway, you should be earning) with really targeted anchor text, you’re hurting yourself now and you’re hurting yourself even more further down the line.


Google understands the Internet. I mean, duh. And it knows what it means to be mentioned around words, around other brand names, alongside links to authoritative sites. Read your keyword research. Understand what your audience is searching for. And then sit down with this knowledge and write. If you’re any good, the keywords will naturally find their way in somewhere. Don’t go and screw it up by placing an ugly, stuttering, out-of-place link on it.

Care About More Than Data

It makes me sound like a hippie every time I say this, but SEO is becoming much less of a numbers job than it used to be. Your key skill as an SEO now is communication, and you don’t need to jeopardize that for anybody.

Shut up about keywords. Shut up about link profiles. Bear these things in mind but focus your efforts on tailoring your systems to be best-practice ready. Instead of spending time making sure you’ve got a link profile where 30% of your anchor text is optimized, set up a system that naturally arrives at that number.

It’s kind of like the target culture of hospitals. If you want waiting times to be lower, what’s the best option? Set a target of lower waiting times, or improve efficiency and quality of care so that waiting times, y’know, get lower?


So shut up about keywords.

Your Attention, Please

Your opinions are no longer important. There’s a new type of cut-throat marketing mentality, one which exploits you regardless of your political stances or your emotional response. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, they used to say (and maybe they still do). But this is not just publicity, it’s identity. There’s a growing selection of websites, posturing – some more successfully than others – as news sites, with their eyes on just one prize. They want to polarize you to exploit the magnetic repulsion. They’re generating dirty energy just by making you angry.

Ad revenue is a numbers game, but this is not the telling element of a phenomenon which tilts the pinball machine that is the Internet. No, the real factor at play in crafting this new end-goal is search. Search relies heavily on one popularity factor – links to an article – and depends increasingly on another – social shares. The problem is that these metrics don’t, actually, measure popularity. For one, Twitter is a swirl of information where presentation trumps substance. More crucially, though, the amount an article is talked about does not correlate with the extent to which it is agreed with.


Hence, the rise of provocative journalism as a deliberate means of upsetting and causing fury. News and opinion are separate things. We can agree that neither should be dull, but the conflation of opinion and news has meant that we no longer treat blog rants with the disdain they deserve when posted on the website of a major news publication. On top of that, we have begun to rationalize that for news to be interesting, it must (or should) be controversial. These things play into the hands of those who play the pitchforks game.

They’d argue, of course, that they’re causing debate, in the same way that fringe political parties say or do something enormously offensive just to get people talking. It would be similarly demeaning if this were the case, but it’s not. Oftentimes, there’s no argument or dispute to be played out – just unmitigated, rightful fury at the content of an article. Usually, the writer will stray into some sort of bigotry to find this reaction; frequently, it’s homophobia or racism, but we’ve also seen it with a pathological hatred of prostitutes, disabled people and fat people.

Jan Moir's article on Stephen Gately's death in 2009 was - if not deliberately, then recklessly - offensive.

Jan Moir’s article on Stephen Gately’s death in 2009 was – if not deliberately, then recklessly – offensive.

We live in what is largely, theoretically, a free information market, where pertinent information floats to the top. But the reality is that nothing enters the public consciousness without one of a select handful of public figures or news outlets pushing the story. The rest – a category, incidentally, into which these provocative stories fall – is an undercurrent of gentle ripples, of which we absorb the themes and little else. We forget about the number of times we’ve read obvious lies; we just remember the faint insinuation that marginalized group X aren’t as nice as they might seem. And so on.

Calling people out on their ill-judged, reactionary and offensive rhetoric is part and parcel of free speech. But so is an awareness of the dynamics that govern our discourse. These sites have the right, certainly, to publish controversial opinion pieces. But in the absence of their diligence and, indeed, in the presence of their deliberate and conscious aggression and their willingness to offend, it falls to their target audience to find some sort of restraint in their readership. In short, if you see something wantonly offensive online, you should consider whether the best option is to rally against it, or just ignore it. Big companies don’t like being ignored.

The question is whether this strategy will last. Social signals as search ranking factors are at the very least in their youth. if not still in an incubator. If the web can develop an up-vote/down-vote intelligence, to understand the complexities of social sharing, we could begin to see unpopular articles penalized. That’s a whole new can of worms, man.

Johnny Foreigner & Hype Management

Hype Management is probably the name of an agency somewhere in London. I apologise to them profusely.

Johnny Foreigner are an absolutely brilliant indie-punx band from Bi(u)rmingham, UK. Their debut LP Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light was a blistering but weirdly tender plummet down off-kilter guitars and since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength, culminating in the phenomenal, all-encompassing, what-is-being-young Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything in 2011. Lex, Kel, Jun & Lewes are incredible live, too.

They’re the sort of band where calling them hard-working seems a bit shoddy, because they so blatantly don’t see music as a job and that adjective is usually reserved for people like Elbow who aren’t that special but release a lot of music, but they absolutely work damn, damn hard, on top of being enormously talented and very special indeed.

More than anything, though, they’re clever. I’ve heard their new album, You Can Do Better, and it’s sublime. It’s a record that’s as thrilling as it is sweet, and ninth track “Le Schwing” is so joyous it hurts. I’ll be covering the new album for By Volume in the coming week, and I hope to be a tiny part of a huge explosion of love, the simultaneous glow that lights up the Internet when something new and exciting is clickable, is shareable, is like(love!)able. You Can Do Better is out March 10th, and the band are desperate to bottle up the waiting so that when it fizzes over there’s a real bang. In the past, Johnny Foreigner have distributed fake versions of a record through their fanbase and written at length about the importance of this anticipation for up-and-coming bands like them.

At the time of writing – and to my knowledge – everyone who has heard this album has respected the boundaries that everyone should always respect forever. Fostering a network of people you trust like that is essential to building anticipation in a product or an idea. A couple of years ago, I wrote at length about how I would despair and lay down my arms if Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything didn’t take the mainstream. Here’s to hoping that the pressure building this time shakes the city to its core.



Imagine that the Internet is a planet, and that every website is a plot of land. Now, imagine that your business owns a plot of land in the UK, but that you also want to establish a small building on a plot of land in Algeria. You think that if you can build an outpost in Algeria, people in Algeria will think you’re great. Imagine that you go to Algeria and walk onto a plot of land which is owned by an Algerian farmer, and begin to build your outpost without his permission. Imagine that he gets angry and punches you. Then imagine that the police show up.


This is the rough, stupid end of link-building – the dregs of grey- and black-hat SEO. But the analogy of trespassing and constructing without permission serves its purpose; we can no longer think of link-building as something carried out by an individual for their personal gain. It is, at the very least, a joint venture between two people who own plots of land. I’d go as far as to say that there’s a third party whose participation, or at least consent, we need: the reader.

So what was, for a brief blip, a matter of cunning and guile, suddenly looks an awful lot like traditional marketing. For instance:

  1. We need to be aware of, and sensitive to, the business objectives of others. If a potential partner’s success is reliant upon their credibility, we need to fact-check anything we contribute three times over.
  2. It takes time to build a relationship with trust and understanding. This is not a flash-in-the-pan exercise; a couple of quick emails back and forth will not bring about the kind of partnership we need.
  3. An introduction from a mutual colleague, friend or acquaintance will help us to work better together, as will a face-to-face meeting, or at least a conversation on the phone. When the audience is involved in our thinking, we can’t cut corners on message.
  4. We need to recognise the limitations and be restrained in our co-operation. If two companies support each other all the time, it looks strange to real humans and it looks strange to search engines. What’s newsworthy or interesting is newsworthy or interesting. What isn’t, isn’t.

This is revolutionary and probably terrifying for the technology companies that have grown and made SEO their domain: an industry notorious for its lack of charisma has suddenly been asked to suit up, shave, and learn to talk to real people about real opportunities for collaboration.

Credit: Aidan Jones

Credit: Aidan Jones

Most or many of them won’t clean up their act, or at least not until it’s too late. Some will be incapable, and others will be unwilling. But the writing is on the wall: the people who will succeed in marketing their websites are the people who know how to talk, how to make deals, how to spot opportunities and how to appeal to their market.

Proper businesses, then.