Bourlet's Thinking

Here is my travel guide to Sharm El Sheikh, hope you enjoy!

wearethe99percent:

I’m not asking for a handout or for sympathy. But I am trying to make aware the outrageous interest rates on student loans.

wearethe99percent:

I’m not asking for a handout or for sympathy. But I am trying to make aware the outrageous interest rates on student loans.

So.cl the new social media platform

So.cl pronounced ‘social’ is the new social media platform brought out by Microsoft. Using the idea that Facebook had, they have begun by only letting students join. This might however be a long term goal, as So.cl is being recognised as more of a social research tool, than a direct competitor to Facebook.

Interestingly, you can create an account on So.cl using your Facebook account, an odd move, but understandable considering Facebook’s power and the ability to invite all your friends through your Facebook contacts. Alternatively, you can use your windows live account, which you might find, like me, you have some incredibly old contacts back from the days when we all used to chat on MSN.

The layout appears like a combination of Facebook and Google+, with the ‘video parties’ on the right hand side a direct rip off of the Google Hangouts, while the profile pages have the cover photo just like on Facebook. The lack of creativity or originality to the profile page has left me underwhelmed by So.cl, but all the social platforms have a tendency to add or change the layout as time progresses, therefore we will have to wait and see how this progresses.

From what I’ve seen, So.cl will not be ground breaking, and certainly won’t be tearing me away from my current social platform addictions. On the other hand, it can’t do much worse than Google+

Seeding a competition

Social bookmarking – Post a link to the competition on a number of social bookmarking sites, such as Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon and Delicious (any others if you like).

The most important and basic step is to place something on the homepage advertising the competition. This is often forgotten by companies, yet this can bring in the majority of the entrants. While it could be argued that this would target existing customers, it must be remembered that these viewers could potentially pass on details of the competition to their friends and family.

Place the competition on sites that share competition details (e.g Loquax and hotukdeals), and remember to check how much they take through affiliation.

Create photos and screenshots, and place on photo sharing sites on a branded profile. Try to make the photo or screenshot slightly different for each photo sharing site/web2.0 such as Flikr and Pinterest.

Blog about the competition, and use this area as a way to further explain the rules.

Use Social Media to spread awareness of the competition. Use clever tricks to make people notice, such as hashtags that people might retweet or type in themselves e.g ‘enter our holiday competition at bit.ly2t424we #competitions’. Think carefully about where you want to run the competition. Facebook have very strict guidelines on running a competition, while Google+ will not allow you to run one on the site.

If you have an email newsletter, you could advertise the competition, with a link back to the page containing the competition.

You can set up a video based on the competition, which (if the prize is large) could be easily spread around and has the potential to become viral, or at least help spread awareness.

Seeding for Infographics

Hosting – the infographic must be hosted somewhere on the website, which you will be linking back to as a base for the infographic.

Social bookmarking – Post a link to the infographic on a number of social bookmarking sites, such as Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon and Delicious (any others if you like).

Try to involve credible sources in your infographic, so that you can then contact these sources and let them know about your infographic. You can then ask if they would be interested in promoting the graphic.

Screenshot the infographic, both as a whole and into segments. You can then use this infographic converted into an image to post on image sharing sites, such as Pinterest, Visual.ly and Flikr. You can also show part of the infographic, and add a link to your site where the whole infographic would be visual.

Write down some of the points/statistics/sentences included in your infographic and Tweet them with a link through to the infographic, as a ‘teaser’. This can also be done on Facebook, however the posts should be much less regular.

Infographic directories – You can make a brand page on a number of infographic directories (or if you prefer, it can be a personal page). Some of these sites are: dailyinfographics.com, coolinfographics.com, infographicsshowcase.com, submitinfographics.com, infographicsarchive.com, visual.ly and infographicjournal.com

Promote the infographic with an article/news release with a link to the full infographic on our site. 

If we have an email newsletter, we could show shot of the infographic, with a link back to the page on our site with the full infographic.

Blogger outreach – we should contact bloggers we know or any within the relevant industry or working for the media, and pitch them the ‘story behind the data’. This should preferably be done by personalised email, however this can also be done through Twitter or any other sources we feel are relevant. We can also offer the bloggers pre-release or preview opportunities for more influential sources.

Deconstruct the infographic into a powerpoint and a PDF document and share on sites such as slideshare, scribd, docstoc, microsoft office online, gazhoo, bookgoo, edocr, issuu, yudu freedom etc

Create screencast video version – place on Youtube or any other video sharing sites we use (make sure our logo features regularly or consistently). Find a royalty free music track for the video at an early stage, so that the video can be edited to fit in with the music.

6 places to go in the world

In the following post I will be highlighting my ultimate 6 places to go in the world. This is not to say that this is everyones perfect trip, however these holiday destinations have made it onto my ‘100 things to do before you die’. I have booked a trip this summer to Egypt with Directline-holidays, so I might end up wishing I added the Pyramid of Giza once I return, however I don’t want to place it on this list until I can say more about the area.

1) Machu Picchu – Located in Peru, I have been craving a trip to the ancient Inca City which stands at 8000 feet high. I have been told by others that you have the choice of taking the train and hiking the rest, or following the tracks and working it out with a map. Obviously, my friends took a map and made the incredible journey themselves, seeing some astonishing sites along the way, and highlighting it as their greatest days ever. All you need to do is google Machu Picchu and you can instantly feel the traveller inside you wanting a holiday.

2) Iguaza falls – Along the border between Brazil and Argentina, the site is meant to be breathtaking. I have been told you can take a boat towards the falls, where you get drenched and truly deathened by the sound, but the site can keep you sitting there smiling all day. The Iguaza Falls eclipses Niagra Falls by a landslide in my eyes, and is the only waterfall which I feel I HAVE to see in my life. I am hoping to make the trip to the Iguaza falls in 

3) Austin, USA – In my 3 month trip across the USA, this was possibly the pinnacle of the trip (or most definitely the most relaxing). Austin offers much, with great nightlife, beautiful natural beauty, and the 1.5 million bats that fly out from under the bridge at 7pm. Yet the highlight of Austin, without doubt, was Red Bud Isle. Red Bud is a giant park with a lake running through it. We did cliff jumping into the water, and then swam alongside turtles in the deep lake. We would then float down the river, and chat to anyone that kayaked past us. The view was unforgettable, and I feel incredibly sad to think I may never re-visit this place.

4) Edinburgh Festival – an unusual one to find on any list, however this festival stands out in the crowd. With every bar, pub and club in Edinburgh offering free comedy shows all day and night, you are destined to laugh so hard you begin to feel ill…and then you laugh some more! If you want to get away from it at all, you can climb up the hill which overlooks the whole city (Arthurs seat). I always say to myself that every holiday will be to somewhere new, however I have sworn I will return to the Edinburgh festival, as the impression it made was so strong.

5) Galapagos Islands – The Galapagos Islands is located just off Ecuador, with a population of over 30,000, and is commonly known for being the area that Charles Darwin became synonymous with. From giant Tortoises to Sea Lions, this Island is known for its link to a wildlife found nowhere else in the world. The cost of visiting the Island is inevitably reaching heights that have priced me out of visiting previously, however if you ever intend on travelling through South America, make sure you visit the Galapagos.

6) Halong Bay – There is no way I could complete my list without including Halong Bay. Halong Bay appears similar to what you used to see on boxes of legos based on a pirate’s paradise. The area has an enchanting appeal to it, and was made a world heritage site in 1994. Halong Bay is located in the North Eastern section of Vietnam, while I would recommend taking a trip either from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, or Vice Versa.

I hope you enjoyed my list, and I might end up adding a few more to a later blog post…Enjoy :)

Google Panda 3.4 - Link Building changes for you

As the Google panda update 3.4 is rolling out in the USA, many of us in the UK are working out how it will affect us and what we can do to avoid being punished by Google.

One thing that I found interesting is Google’s choice of network to release details about their new update, being that it was done through Twitter. The tweet read: ‘Panda refresh rolling out now. Only ~1.6% of queries noticeably affected. Background on Panda: goo.gl/mTKCH’.

As ever, Google kept their cards close to their hand as we will have to speculate on what changes they are making and what we can do to come out positively, therefore remember that this post is my opinion based on what I know and what I have read so far.

One of the main aspects that we believe the Panda Update will effect is the work produced by companies link building strategies. The overall aim of this update is to lower the rankings of low quality websites and sites that have been over-optimised.

It has long been spoken about how exact match anchor text should be cut back on, however now it appears imperative that we cut back significantly on exact match anchor texts, depending on how many you have. It would be much more beneficial now to mainly have branded anchor texts. As an estimate, you should have 70% branded anchor texts. Ironically, the junk anchor texts (such as ‘click here’ and ‘learn more’) that we used to attempt to replace with more relevant keywords might actually be more useful as these appear more natural. Think about it from a relevance perspective, a reader clicks on a link stating the brand name and goes through to the brand page will feel happy, whereas a reader clicking on ‘great holidays’ going through to a company brand page is not going to gain the most relevant piece (depending what is on the homepage and the name of the brand).

As we move away from exact match anchor text, it would be wise to consider contacting the webmasters of the sites that you have exact anchor text at and ask to change it to an LSI anchor text. By this I mean a related keyword e.g. alternatives to cheap holidays might be budget holidays, cheap breaks or cheapest trips away.

It might also be beneficial to add in a few more Naked URL’s (variations of your URL) instead of Exact match anchor texts.

Another point worth making is the quality of content on your webpages. You may be hit badly by the update if you have keyword rich content without any real substance. In the past, SEO experts managed to make websites improve their position on the SERP by manipulating articles to include

the relevant keywords. Now this is not the case, yet many websites still have these pages which, unless changed or deleted, could be punished by Google.

One thing not discussed very often but worth knowing is that Google doesn’t like spelling and grammer mistakes, despite the irony that these are the mistakes that would be created naturally rather than by SEO experts. We therefore need to carefully monitor pages before they are uploaded.

Anyone ever noticed how much Harry Redknapp and Elton John look alike!

Anyone ever noticed how much Harry Redknapp and Elton John look alike!

Craig Bellamy dancing to YMCA - a joke video I made

Reaching Out To Bloggers

If you’re a blogger and searching for companies or groups who are looking for bloggers to write something on their behalf, get on Twitter and search: #journorequest. With a number of people making regular requests for people to write about specific subjects, this could be ideal. Also, many bloggers will use this hashtag to find people who might have experience in the area they are writing on and might use this hashtag to search for relevant people. 

If you are a company attempting to work on blogger outreach, Twitter is really becoming incredibly more and more useful. There are a number of other hashtags which you might find useful such as #HARO as well.

Have a go and take a look

me (Tom Bourlet) abseiling for the Lily Foundation Charity at Guys Hospital in London

Enhancing your CV - Media Cause

Building a strong CV to gain your ideal job is difficult, as you need the experience to get the job, yet you need the job to gain experience. Graduating from University with a marketing degree still leaves a large gap in your CV with any marketing work related experience. If you’re considering entering the world of online marketing, it might be worth taking a look at the Media Cause website at http://mediacause.org/

Media Cause asks for people who have an understanding of online marketing to help a number of charities voluntarily. The work can be done in a matter of minutes, yet the impact can be incredibly beneficial for the charity, while your CV will be enhanced.

You can also gain further awareness of your sites or rise your profile in the marketing industry, as any articles you write on your blog for the charities will gain a larger audience. One of the charitable organisations may even be interested in offering you a long term option.

Media Cause also has an SEO SEM internship available which lasts about 2-4 months. The program is open to anyone in the world with a strong work ethic, exceptional computer skills and a passion to learn the craft of SEM & SEO. One key benefit to taking on this role is that, once the basic training is completed, you will be run through a certification test to identify your strengths and weaknesses, leaving you with a much improved CV and a vast amount of experience and practical knowledge.

You can also help out a non-profit organisation that you know of by nominating them to the website, or alternatively you can also make a donation through the site.

One alternative way you can get your name out into the job market and into employers minds is through the Linkedin groups. Nowadays, everyone has a Linkedin profile, however the groups are incredibly unused, despite the benefits to them. A vast number of business owners, managers and respected figures use this resource to ask questions, discuss topics of related interest or to advertise jobs available. If you make an active effort to join a number of groups and answer peoples questions, once a job becomes available, you will have done your prospects no harm!

Abseiling Guys Hospital in London for Lily’s Foundation

Abseiling Guys Hospital in London for Lily’s Foundation

Safe Haven Education Nutrition Association Of Haiti

I would like to thank everyone for their donations towards my abseiling experience raising money for the Lily Foundation on Sunday. I would however like to take this opportunity to point out a charity I have come across recently which is making an active effort to improve impoverished children’s lives. The name of this organisation is SHENA Haiti. SHENA stands for Safe Haven Education Nutrition Association of Haiti, and they aim to ‘answer the hopes of children by giving them a better environment in which to live and grow’. You can find a link to their website here: http://shenahaiti.org/web/

One Campaign they are currently working on is to collect shoes for children. A pair of shoes might not seem like a lifesaver to you, however to the children and parents in Les Cayes Haiti, they can mean an education. If you do not have any spare shoes that you could send then you can simply make a donation so that the shoes can be bought for them. The aim will be to get 500 pairs of shoes for 5-17 year olds. Just a small donation could shape someone’s life, make the right choice today!

If you are considering taking part in a marathon during 2012 or any other charitable activity, I would recommend making your charity SHENA Haiti, as I couldn’t think of a greater organisation, and you would truly be benefiting people who need the help! Or if you really want to get involved, you can sign yourself up to be a volunteer in Les Cayes Haiti through filling in an application form from http://shenahaiti.org/web/%E2%80%A2-get-involved/

You can also make an active effort simply by spreading the word and following them on Twitter or retweeting their messages. Here is a link to their Twitter page: http://twitter.com/@SHNPO
Remember there is always something you can do, and if you have any questions please feel free to ask either me or send a message through to SHENA at donations@shenahaiti.org