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Confessions of a Fat Man

Technically not a confession, it’s no secret that I’m overweight. I honestly can’t remember a time when I was not. Anyone that knows me well will be aware, though few realise the extent on the extremely flawed Body Mass Index, not that I care for what it says.

Truth is, I’ve always been relatively happy overweight. I’ve never had any medical issues as a result and I enjoy my food and drink, a little too much, that’s where my problem lies. I’ve always wanted to eat what I want, when I want, in the quantities that I want, more than I’ve wanted to lose weight.

Any time I’ve actually put my mind to it, I’ve found it pretty easy to lose weight. I followed a low-carb diet, while it was all the craze and it was incredibly effective. In more recent times, having took advice from my good friend, Peter Clarke, who runs his own bootcamp in Basingstoke, I went the route of paleo, clean living, with as much success. I lost 16lbs in 20 days with very little in the way of exercise, it was quite incredible. I also felt better than ever. It’s amazing what you can do when you learn what is *actually* healthy.

While I was living in London, I got in a regular exercise routine and had a weekly training session with Joe Cohen, initially to rehabilitate my knee having torn both cartilage in my left knee a year beforehand and never really recovering properly. He introduced me to free weights and I really got in to it and started to enjoy my sessions. I felt bad if I went less than 4 times a week. In no time at all, I was down to my lowest weight since my rugby days at University, with little care to what I was eating.

What if I were to combine a regular gym routine, with eating well, the majority of the time and stick to it? Well, I intend to find out.

Inspired by Karen and her diet diary, which seems to have helped her to great success (nearly 4 stone lost so far), I plan to update this post regularly, in the hope that it keeps me motivated, knowing that it’s all out in the open and perhaps drum up a bit of support from those around me.

What are my goals? I don’t have a specific weight goal, I honestly have no idea what my optimum weight is. I’m doing this to be healthy, as much as I am for vanity. My initial target is to get down to the weight I was when I was in the regular gym habit in London, which was 115kg (18 stone). I’m going to set myself a time frame of 2 months to achieve this. My next goal, for no reason other than I was 16 when I weighed it last, I’d like to be 16 stone by 2014.

I also have lifting goals. I got in to powerlifting when I was working out regularly with my personal trainer and found that I seem to have a natural strength. In under 6 months I set some pretty reasonable personal bests and I hate myself for not continuing, in the same way I regret not continuing playing rugby. My lifting goals are going to be a little bit more optimistic, especially given I haven’t lifted properly in some time, but I’m hoping the loss in weight will make up for it.

Starting Body Stats:

Weight – 126.7kg (19 stone 13lbs)

Body Fat – 36.8%

Waist – 52″

Chest – 51″

Arm – 17″

Thigh – 27.5″

 

Starting Powerlifting PBs (at 115kg):

Bench Press – 115kg

Squat – 140kg

Deadlift – 170kg

Push Press (not strictly powerlifting I realise) – 92.5kg

 

Target Weight

18 stone by September

16 stone by January

 

Target Lifts

Bench Press 1.25x bodyweight

Squat 1.5x bodyweight

Deadlift 2x bodyweight

 

Updates

Week 1

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SEOProSco 4

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the 4th ever SEOProSco meetup. It was pleasing to see how the meetup has grown from the 2nd to the 4th event (I unfortunately missed the 3rd). Scotland has been lacking something like this for some time and I would highly encourage others to get involved. A massive thanks to Andrew Marshall and Nick Duddy for organising these events and for asking me along to speak.

My good friend and go to man for all things Social and Viral (marketing, he’s not riddled…) Andrew Burnett gave an excellent talk on ‘Why SEOs need to rethink what a link is, and, why Social Media bods need to forget about ‘engagement’ as the panacea social metric and start thinking like linkers. ‘ Some thought provoking stuff, particularly about how linking is not a new concept. Also a few laughs from the various images of links that were irrelevant to the links we immediately think of as SEOs, particularly the links sausage picture.

My talk was on using APIs and improving efficiency. It was mostly talking through my personal experiences but was hopefully of use to those who were watching. Here are the slides, though they are a little vague as I find it easier to talk with a cleaner slide deck. Andrew and Nick filmed the talk and it can be seen below:

Slides aren’t visible in the video but can be found here:

I also agreed to give a link to Mike Briggs for buying me a beer, so here it is ;)
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Market Samurai Tutorial

It’s perhaps not for large agencies, but the tool is great value for smaller outfits, including freelancers and affiliates.

Here’s a short tutorial highlighting some of the features along with a few examples. Note, my theme is pretty narrow, so just click the images for a bigger version.

When you start up the software, you’ll be presented with the following:

As you would expect from any tool, you can create and save projects, fairly standard. When selecting a new project, you have to provide a few details as to what your project is about. The keyword refers to the primary keyword that you are targeting for your project, the title is a description of the project and you define the language and region and whether or not you want to include adult content:

In the example above, I’ve chosen my target keyword as Hotels in Edinburgh (old habit from my first agency where we had plenty hotel clients) and the target language and region as English / UK. Once I hit create, I’m taken to the main part of the software with its different modules:

In case you’re wondering about the StomperNet logo, the software used to be offered for free to the StomperNet community, which wasn’t the cheapest to join in the first place. I’m sure a few old skool SEOs will be aware of it.

Rank Tracker

The first module, Rank Tracker, is fairly self-explanatory. As mentioned before, you get 50 keywords for free, which is pretty good for the service offered. There is a button to create a new campaign and again, you have to set a few options:

The region and language will be set automatically based on the global settings of the project, the only other option is which of the three major search engines you wish to track and also if you’d prefer to use Majestic SEO’s fresh, or historic data for backlink data.

Once this has done, you then need to add in domains and/or URLs that you wish to track and keywords, using the respective add buttons. Purely as an example, being a former client and the first domain that came to mind, I’ve added the domain www.apexhotels.co.uk and three keywords relating to “hotels in Edinburgh”.

Once added, Market Samurai then heads off and does its thing:

So there we are, it appears Apex aren’t doing as well as they were when I was in charge but that was over 4 years ago ;) You are left with the current position, ranking page and the number of links to that page based on Majestic Fresh/Historic data, depending on which you chose. These keywords will then track over time in a set and forget manner, updating once a week.

The final, neat part, is you can see the history of each keyword in terms of ranking and backlinks over a set date period:

Obviously as I’ve just added this, there’s not much to show. 50 keywords may not be a lot, but the price plans for more are very reasonable and don’t forget the offer includes a lifetime discount on the various keyword tracking plans.

Keyword Research

The second element of Market Samurai is probably my most used feature and that is the keyword research functionality. The module uses the Google Adwords API and provides an extremely pain free way of using the Google Keyword tool. Provided you link it to an account that has Adwords, you’ll be able to get much more out of it than the regular Adwords keyword tool.

One neat feature is the permutations function, which will automatically add your keyword in all possible orders, i.e. if your seed keyword were Edinburgh hotels, it would add hotels Edinburgh.

You can limit the keywords by phrase length using a min/max between 1 and 10, which is very useful for finding popular long tail keywords, or indeed restricting it to head terms.

As with the Adwords interface, you can include additional keywords in the search, or only include those close to your original search.

Finally you can add positive and negative keywords to ensure your keyword generation definitely matches those you want to see. This is all illustrated below:

You’ll notice that I’ve added cheap and 3 star to the negative keyword list, which removed 52 from the list. For now, you can continue to filter out the keyword list as you so desire. As well as negative keywords, you can also include only those that match keywords in the positive column. In both cases, these can be added in a broad/phrase/exact match manner, which makes it extremely easy to filter down your list to only those that are relevant. Once you’re happy, you move on to the Keyword Analysis using the button in the bottom right.

Here, you can whittle down your list even further with a huge number of metrics to filter by:

Each one of the boxes in the top can be used as a filter. You can quickly reducee down the list of keywords to the most valuable with these filters. The current filters are the “Golden Rules”, a default filter in the module which include the filters set above, (i.e. minimum Local SEO Traffic of 1521 etc.) but you can create your own filters based on various min/max settings of all of the boxes above. Some metrics may not mean much and I’m not going to explain them here but it’s equally suitable for PPC people, as well as SEO. Among the more useful filters are competition filters, which compares the searches to the number of results for that term, which can include how many are targeting the term intitle.  You can also change the Match Type for search volume and whether the figures are per day, week, or month. Pretty powerful stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

While you’re restricted to the Adwords keyword tool limit of 800 keywords (or 100 if not logged in), you can use the Keyword Analysis part of the tool with a greater number, which makes it a very convenient way of gathering the estimated search volumes for > 800 keywords very quickly. Of course, your lists can then be exported to a CSV file for further analysis, should you desire.

Domain Finder

One feature I adore about this keyword tool is that it also has a built in exact match domain finder. Once you’ve selected the keywords you want, you can then click the find domains button. From here, your seed keywords will be added to the Domain finder tool. You can obviously go straight in to this tool and put in your seed keywords manually but you’ll likely want to see how valuable they are first of all. There are 3 filters that you can use. The first of which is domain variations, where you can add prefixes and suffixes that will be appended to your seed keywords to help find less obvious variations:

The second filter is a TLD filter, which is fairly self-explanatory:

Finally, you can choose whether or not to include domains with hyphens.

Once you hit Find domains, it goes off and looks to see what is available based on your filters. It will also give you a density based on how close to the original seed keyword it is:

Edinburghhoteldeals.co.uk isn’t the worst domain ever if anyone wanted it!

SEO Competition

Another incredibly useful function of the tool is the SEO Competition tool which will do a search for your target keyword and give useful information on the sites that are ranking in the top 10 for your target term:

The column headings are all explained at the top. This will give you an instant snapshot of how competitive a search term is with data from Majestic SEO (again, both fresh and historic are available). As you would expect, you can use the tool with custom URLs to compare against more direct competitors and also export the data to a spreadsheet.

There are four additional modules in the tool but if the four tools already described are well worth the entry fee alone. I’ll give a brief rundown of the other modules:

Monetisation

This allows you to search keywords within various affiliate networks, including Amazon, ClickBank, Commission Junction and PayDotCom with or without an account. These networks are obviously US centric, which is why I’ve not found much use for it.

Find Content

Search for content about your key term. Essentially a pretty quick way to find images, video and pre-existing textual content from article sites, Wikipedia, as well as Yahoo Answers and others. Not the most sophisticated scraper in the world but for the money you pay, not bad.

Publish Content

Push content to your WordPress blog direct from the tool…I’ve not found much use for this.

Promotion

Find places to put links to your content/site based on your target keyword. Essentially searches a variety of sources to place backlinks:

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Help Required

I’d be eternally grateful if you could take less than a minute of your time to click the following link and assuming you have a Facebook account “like” the following post:

http://www.facebook.com/AriaPCTechnology/posts/148065325296895

If you’re feeling extra generous please feel free to spread the word and get your friends and colleagues to do the same.

My reason for asking is to help win a competition with Aria, my favourite computer hardware company. If I win, I get £1,000 towards a new PC to satisfy the geeky PC gamer in me. My old PC is now over 3 years old and doesn’t quite cut it for the latest games.

Thank you for helping!

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Top 10 SEO Blog Posts of 2011

Yes, it’s that time of the year where everyone feels the need to publish lists of their favourite blogs and blog posts in the vain hope that someone will give them links/tweets/kudos. So without further ado, here is mine:

  1. Big Brand SEO – Campaigns, Integration and Extended Brand Keywords
  2. To Build or not to Build
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. ?
  7. ?
  8. ?
  9. ?
  10. ?

Additional positions available at a cost of £100

And I think we’re done here ;)

 

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An Open Letter to the Music Industry

Dear Recording Artists and Record Labels,

Reading articles like this really gets on my nerves. Spotify, believe it or not, is actually trying to help the music industry, not hinder it.

Road signing directing to the future

Get with the times!

People don’t always require the need for a physical copy of music, or indeed like sifting through files and ensuring they have enough space on their computer. Spotify isn’t just a cheap way of getting music, it’s also convenient. It’s probably not for everyone and a lot of people I know wouldn’t do without a download or even a physical copy of the music but for me, it’s perfect. Further to this I probably experiment a lot more with music on Spotify than I normally would, meaning I’m more likely to listen to more artists who I may not otherwise have heard of.

Let’s get down to the maths:

Artists reportedly earn 20cents for every iTunes download and 0.3cents for every play on Spotify. You may get more initial revenue from iTunes but in 67 plays of a track, you’ll have earned more.

Over the course of a lifetime, I’ll likely listen to your track more than 67 times and will be less inclined to acquire it illegally. In fact, there are plenty of tracks I’ve listened to more than 67 times already from looking at my last.fm stats. Back in my student days, I may have acquired a few albums by dubious means but since Spotify, this has reduced to 0. Support it or just fail miserably.

Note, I don’t actually care about Coldplay or Adele. I’d rather poke myself in the eye than listen to that miserable so-and-so or warbling, overplayed, woman.

Love from,

Richard