March 05, 2013

GOOD OMENS at Cottiers, Glasgow. 1st stage production of Pratchett/Gaiman Novel

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Good Omens Play Crowley & Aziraphale

GOOD OMENS is to be staged at the Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow between March 20th-23rd & 27th-30th. GOOD OMENS is a comedy based on the novel by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, and adapted for the stage by Amy Hoff.

Alison and I are off to see this production and will be joined by my sister, all the way from Folkstone. How did we hear of this? Our son Richard has a supporting role as Brian, one of ‘the Them’.

Richard is also Warwick Graduate, so I elected to post this on my Warwick Blog, and is currently a PhD student at the University of Glasgow.

We have just had it confirmed that Crowley’s leather greatcoat is our John’s old one.

Follow the link above to learn more or click on the poster, right, to see all of the posters at

February 05, 2013

Google's view of the Web– An Alternative Top 10.

I was adding all territories to a Google Adwords campaign and sorted it by ‘Reach’, Google’s claim to their web-audience. to find a surprising top 10.

Google Reach Global Top 10

The most notable absentee is China, down in 17th place, with a reach of 12.3 million, one below Taiwan in Google’s eyes!
So how low has Google’s share of the China search market dropped after they pulled out of China?
Google now has less than 5% share, down in 4th place behind Baidu, 73%, Qihoo 360 on 10% and Sogou with almost 8%.

Google continues to be more dominant in the UK than their US base with 91% share here, last November. Bing has been growing lately and made France their target. I have not been able to find up-to-date data for the shares in France where Google had 90% back in 2011.

In truth this top ten is a bit like the ‘alternative tables’ at the end of Match of the Day 2 such as the league if games ended after 90 minutes elapsed time.
A bit of fun with no real meaning.

December 02, 2012

Rob's Family Blog moves back to

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For over a year since my family blog failed to survive the porting between Yahoo platforms I have had to put the family posts here. I did a quick survey of the free blog hosting options and rediscovered the latest version of Blogger.

Having managed to use CName records to properly port my domain name, add analytics and submit a sitemap in minutes I went back and fixed the other Blogger sites I manage.
The latest dynamic templates and static pages were also improvements on this Google property.

This change was driven by the number of gown related Cambridge & Glasgow posts this year. Far too many to sit well on :-)

July 24, 2012

What are the best tools to find Negative Keywords

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Amol PomaineOn Linked In Amol Pomane asked what were the best Free tools to find negatives?
I made two replies and thought that I should add these here to capture this dramatic example.

He expanded his question asking:
I use mostly tool for negative as they provide google suggestion and from that most of negatives can be extracted ,Which tools do you use ?

I replied:

I checked out your tool but I prefer to see search volume data to help target the most effective first.

I use Market Samurai which downloads the max. 800 terms from Google’s data.
Then you can add words into an exclude list that can be exported as a negative keywords list. Finally you can add positive filters to split out focused Ad group keywords to export.

Amol followed up from twitter:

Are there any some methods that you use to find out negatives effectively #ppc

I know that there are semantic search algorithms out there but the problem is that you have to select the contexts for a word that are positive or negative.

My client was bidding on ashes for their memorial jewellery products with cremated ashes. This is an area that splits people into love the idea or hate it but they were winning on Adwords. I was called in one summer when their campaign was failing.

The Ashes UrnTheir problem was the arrival of the Australian cricket team to play an Ashes Test tour in England. So -grounds, -tickets etc generated over 100 negatives.
When the first game started I checked on the progress and then immediately added: -‘ball by ball”, -scorecard etc. for another 50 or so. The next year in Australia the travel terms were added; -package, -flights, -hotels etc.

This was the most traumatic Ad Group as it also had to deal with the Icelandic Volcano Ash Cloud that generated another 100 or so negative keywords!
Then another keyword group with ‘memorial’ terms was hit by global web sunami that was triggered the death of Michael Jackson.

You could try seeding for ‘the Ashes” to pick out many negative keywords except that many people will drop the word ‘the’ when the second word will place the search clearly into cricketing context such as “Botham’s ashes”, “ashes regained” or “ashes live”.

These UK English terms might also apply in Australia & the Caribbean but not in the US.
This is why my website is subtitled Adwords Marketing with the UK English Voice. Always employ PPC experts who speak the local language and dialect that your campaign is targeting.

July 04, 2012

Broadband Speed Stats – Check the sample Size

Since John has returned from Uni our conversations have covered the statistical significance of some announcements in the news.

This morning has seen the 2 extremes; the CERN claim that their Higs-like particle is confirmed by their 5 Sigma test. It fits the match with a 99.9997% probability so they can claim their discovery.

I spotted that our internet was running better this morning and ran a couple of download tests including the one by uSwitch, below. This confirmed that the download speed had doubled earlier that BT’s planned date for our local exchange’s upgrade.

This single test now has my provider PlusNET as the fastest provider for our street on uSwitch, see below, as uSwitch is designed to encourage switching. What it should do is to trigger some new test data for BT and the other providers that will also have doubled as a result to the common equipment upgrade.
uSwitch do correctly include the sample sizes in a smaller font.

ADSL Speeds biassed by a single reading.

May 11, 2012

Improved Keyword Quality Score Information

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I have blogged about some concerns raised by a couple of the changes announced in the Adwords Blog recently.

keyword quality score ranking panelMany of the changes to the interface are positive and one improvement has been the new improved ‘speech bubble’ pop-up panels for these three measures

  1. Predicted Click-Through-Rates.
  2. Advert Relevance.
  3. Landing page experience.

These are ranked above average, average or below average compared to other advertisers.

The example, right, helped a client to understand that even with a 10/10 experience they could still improve their visitor’s landing page experience.

You can find out more about how to see these panels, how they are calculated and how to improve them on my Keyword Quality Scores page.

May 08, 2012

'Improved' Adwords Exact & Phrase Matching. How and when to opt out.

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Back on the 17th April Google Adwords announced the following change that will come into effect mid-May:

“New matching behavior for phrase and exact match keywords”

Their exact and phrase matching have been expanded to automatically include:
  1. Misspellings and typos.
  2. Plurals and singulars will be treated the same.
  3. Stemmings
  4. Abbreviations

Many Adwords advertisers have been bidding on typos and can confirm Google’s data that over 7% of searches have misspellings.
But these have generated fewer clicks and conversions since Google’s search results started predicting and offering search term options.

There are two things happening here:
  1. Search terms are getting longer and better, we take the hint.
  2. We often corrected the search when google adds a link to click whth what we meant to click.

Stemming is also dangerous.
The word ‘forged’ was broad matched to ‘forging’ and ‘forgery’.
For my metal forging client forging was fine but forgery matches were mostly false.

Perry Marshall introduces some great insights into the difference between singular searches and plural searches. Their research shows that the singular terms indicate the searcher is ready to buy.

I have found one marketplace where the reverse applies.

Your historic data can reveal if your campaign is in the majority as on ‘planet Perry’ or with my exception only if you have bid on both exact singular and plural terms. For new campaigns you will have to turn the ‘improvement’ off in your campaign settings. See Perry’s ‘Exact Match Stupidity Tax’ post for details, and below

keyword matching options

April 29, 2012

Canonical Version of Duplicate Websites

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My links back to the old I-buy-Spy Microsoft CMS system are getting more removed as the MS-Office Live SB websites are shutting down tomorrow. They offered their Office 365 alternative at a reasonable rate but did not provide porting tools and SEO still required bodging.

So I re-hosted my website in Europe where my new provider’s free domain name offer included .eu domains so I claimed .

Duplicate Content BarredWhen selecting my main domain I also registered to have a shorter domain for the phone and email addresses.
Then I registered the ‘dash’ variants;

This now adds up to 5 domains that instantly gets doubled when you add the www. variants which are treated as sub-domains the University of Warwick, Research Archive Portal.

With Microsoft I could use the three main ways to manage the DNS settings:
  1. Donating the Domain names to the host’s Nameservers.
  2. Directing the domain to the Host’s server’s IP address, using ‘A’ or Address Records.
  3. Pointing one hostname to another using CNAME Records or Canonical name records.

My new host only allowed new domains to be added using A records.
I could still have used CNAME or simple redirection externally from the server but since I already had .eu and that MUST be managed this way, already 4 domains I needed to solve the duplication problem.

I halved the problem by adding canonical links in the page headers but these cannot work across domains so this can only manage the www. duplication.
These links looked like this:
link rel=”canonical” href=””/
link rel=”canonical” href=””/
(You will need to add the < and > characters around these lines. I removed then so these will show on this Blog.)

Actually there is hope for the .eu and duplication from Google’s Webmaster Tools help :

“In a situation like this, you can use the rel=”canonical” link element across domains to specify the exact URL of whichever domain is preferred for indexing. While the rel=”canonical” link element is seen as a hint and not an absolute directive, we do try to follow it where possible.”

I experimented with CNAME Records but I needed to be able to finish the job off on the server so the three minor domain names were simply used 301 Permanent redirection as the cleanest, safest solution.

December 15, 2011

Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise Photos on Flikr

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Our Family Christmas Card photo’s redirect from features some of the photos from our visit to Istanbul.

The highlight of the trip was the cruise up the Bosphorus organised by Hamdiye my link with client DBS Ltd who are based in Istanbul.

With just the 3 of us on the boat it was a really excellent way to see many of Istanbul’s historic buildings. She was proud to point out the Kuleli Military High School where her Father was educated, below. We took the hint and found it a great way to see London from the Thames on the day of the Royal Wedding.
Kulelei Military School, Istanbul.

Some other photos of Şile on the Black Sea Coast and the Ağva AcquaVerde Hotel the lodge/hotel where we stayed are in smaller slideshows.

December 04, 2011

Richard's Graduation Ceremony at Bute Hall, University of Glasgow.

Richard invited his proud parents to his second Graduation, receiving his Master of Research degree in Virology. Last year when his fellow Warwick Graduands were heading for their Arts Centre ceremony he was traveling in Australia and raised a glass of white wine.


This year we joined him in the grand Bute Hall at the University of Glasgow.

They do not were any kind of funny head-wear but are ‘capped’ with a tap of a purple cap as their hood is put in place.

November 03, 2011

Squirrel–proof Bird Feeder meets their match

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Young squirrel in a squirrel proof bird feeder

“Gardman has solved the problem of squirrels pinching all your bird food with this Squirrel Proof Fat Snax Feeder.” said the extract on the Webbs site.

There is clearly one essential instruction missing for effective use of the Gardman Squirrel-proof Fat Snax Feeder.

  • First feed all the young squirrels till they are too fat to get in!

Check out these videos on Facebook.

Young squirrel going out and back into feeder

Squirrel dining room for 1

October 17, 2011

End of Bottle Banks in Coventry. Blue Bin Madness.

blue recycling bins for all recycling

I have been sorting our glass recycling by colour into clear, green and brown glass for close to 2 decades. A set of 4 big IKEA recycling bins in the porch covered the glass & aluminium cans. Their size helped reduce the trips to the bottle bank.

When the third wheelie bin was introduced in Coventry that can take away glass, paper, metal and some plastics I continued to take the glass to the bottle banks where the sorting had to save processing and add value. The banks still seemed to popular, were often quite full, and others with their bags and boxes were doing their sorting, quickly, in the supermarket car parks.

This week I found that all the bottle bank skips were replaced by banks of identical trade-style blue-lidded general recycling bins. Depositing all my bottles into one of these created broken glass as before but this time the glass slivers were mixed up with paper, plastics and metals!

Coventry City Council claim that our blue bin recycling is largely sorted automatically by their contractor. Their website also still says how the bottle banks are collected by glass recyclers Berrymans. Now the glass needs 2 trips and I am certain that less glass will get there than did from the colour-sorted bottle banks.

Many other councils, such as Kent, recycle better than Coventry with wider plastics recycling and kerbside sorting. Part of the difference is Coventry’s waste to energy incinerator so the land fill tax is not as big a problem here.

So why would the council take away this simple, direct and efficient recycling route for glass? Easier for the public? Easier for them to organise with only 1 type of recycling to dump into the same place as the domestic blue lid bin lorries go? Certainly the extra cost of glass recycling must be on someone else’s budget!

August 18, 2011

What makes me laugh, repeatedly? It's the expressions!

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bemused baby with dog bowlThe TV licensing Ad with the multitasking mum mixing up the baby and the dog’s food did make me laugh when I first saw it. This Ad is being saturated over the networks at this cheap holiday time of year but every time I see it I smile. So why? This is not that great a joke.

Recently, in conversion whilst the ads showed I found I looked at the Ad just as it showed the faces of the baby and the dog. It is the expressions that have been captured brilliantly and it is those few seconds that I could see over and over. It is clearly completely fake as any baby I knew would have been waiting for the chance to try the dog’s food.

Funny Female Birthday CardOne of the dangers I face when checking landing pages on a funny birthday cards site is a little distraction time when I bring myself around. The card on the left is another that generates a physical reaction, a quick laugh, every time I see it. This has had me as bemused as the baby and the dog as the subject matter is not one that I usually find funny at all. After I had spotted myself looking out for the expressions on that Ad I looked again at the funny female birthday cards page. The cartoonist, with the minimum of pen strokes and a bit of cartoon exaggeration, has created the comic effect in the two expressions of Laura and her unfortunate pussy.

If you knew someone you would send this card to then the benefit of the personalized cards sites is that Laura can be changed to any name.
It may say something about my family that the female birthday cards I would send are mostly about alcohol!

July 25, 2011

Now trading as PPC Promotion Ltd.

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PPC Promotion Ltd Site Heading

We received a letter from an impressive sounding LLP, with expensive looking name and headed paper on behalf of their client Google last week.
This objected to the name Adwords in our domain name and registered company name. I did not believe that the old site was designed to confuse anyone but this was never worth going to court about. So the A**** Limited has to been changed to PPC Promotion Ltd and the website metamorphosed to .

I had been thinking of changing the brand and, since I have been working on 6 other website porting projects with clients (two of which included domain changes) this summer, I just did it. The two domain changes were adding or losing the www. but this can cause as many problems as this complete switch.

A couple of simple tips resulted in these cutting-over without dropping a beat. I will try to blog about this soon.

July 07, 2011

Google Adwords Position Preferences Retired

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knomo laptop bag designer fashionI was on holiday in Turkey when I first heard that Google Adwords were to ‘retire’ position preferences with 1 month’s notice. This was bad news as I have been successfully using position preferences to optimize the conversions, the advertising return on investment, for many clients.

Google recommended that we can used their Automated Rules to do much the same thing and I had the opportunity to test this with a new client when I got back. Position preferences could not be set on new campaigns . This designer laptop bag site had set off well but sales had slowed down at the start of their third month. In this comparison market the best conversions rates are often not found at position 1. Their average positions had in fact climbed from 2.3 to 1.4 as sales fell.

For big ticket items we look at more Ads. when we see the right offer for the second time do we go back to the first? Well we will if we trust the first brand or have a login on their site, like Amazon. The PayPal option can give the same benefit for smaller e-commerce sites who use their shopping basket.

Some minority keywords will always appear at position 1 or 2 and here the automated rules could keep cutting bids till these were turned off. The old position preferences handled this perfectly, hands off. Today we are back to manually tweaking.

Not all markets operate the same way. Google Adwords reports that conversion rates are similar at all positions. So some will do better at No 1 such as Apple or exclusive products.

If you bid your own brand then you are best bidding for position 1 unless it is a generic product term with strong competition.

May 16, 2011

Dell's Delivery Reputation Sub–sub–sub–contracted Out

My Dell Delivery Saga finally ended when Patrick at the Milton Keynes head office of UK Mail upgraded the delivery to a before 10-30 am service and it did indeed arrive at 10-25 am.

Even this outcome would not have been possible had I not Googled Walsh Western’s BPO code to be UK Mail. See my WWI will not communicate post.

Talking to the UK Mail staff at their Birmingham hub I discovered that the final delivery was passed on to self-employed drivers.

So Dell’s delivery chain was:

  1. syncreon AKA Walsh Western International.
    Who got it from Poland to Birmingham via Hinckley (actually closer to Coventry).
  2. UK Mail. A Bulk Business logistics specialist with too few hubs
    for easy customer pick-up.
  3. Self-employed drivers.
The driver who failed twice either has no pride, was completely incompetent or had no real business incentive to deliver. See log, below.
Walsh Western International Tracking History

My address have not changed since the house was built in 1970 and Dell’s chain has delivered here 3 times before. Well at least posted the card!

I do wonder out of the £20 delivery charge how the split goes;
1. For WWI for the international transport and import?
2. For UK Mail?
3. For the self-employed driver?
If this was a fixed fee arrangement then, in these days of very high UK diesel prices,
I can imagine that the address that is the greatest distance from the locus
of delivery points could cause the driver to be significantly out-of-pocket.

I can only speculate about why a driver can have a valuable consignment on his vehicle for 20 hours, 2 complete days, and fail to deliver?

My contract was with Dell and the purchasing expert who negotiated their delivery chain may have saved cash but at what cost to their reputation?

Dell use UPS in North America. I would pay more to have UPS’s basic service, they have found my house and delivered every time but would prefer to be able to book my slot.

Dell should stop driving service to the cheapest possible and start to offer delivery up-sell options.

May 04, 2011

Walsh Western, AKA syncreon, Delivery Problems. WWI will not communicate.

I am waiting for the third day for delivery of my new Dell workstation.
Today I am only under ‘house arrest’ till 10-30am at the latest because UK Mail, the local leg delivery company have agreed to upgrade to this courier service.

This was only achieved because I Googled Walsh Western delivery problems though “Walsh Western” itself only throws up complaints. I then added the tracking reference BPO to the search to reveal that it was UK Mail.

syncreon / Walsh Western International emailed:

Your Dell Order is scheduled to arrive between 08:00 and 18:00 on the 28/04/2011. Please arrange for someone to be there throughout this time – as we cannot be more specific about the time of delivery. As your order is already on its way we regret it’s too late to change the following details:
1. delivery date
2. delivery address
3. order details

They did not give the name or phone number of UK Mail.

They refused to give this information to Stephanos, my Dell Account Manager, bless him.

When you talk to WWI or syncreon they are friendly enough and do try to find out what is going on but this all takes time on their 0871 premium number. UK Mail numbers are all 0845 local rate.

Now the tracking history below shows that WWI’s agent failed to find my address twice. Following Walsh Western’s formal process I would not yet have seen the dreaded card on the doorstep should I have lapsed in my ‘vigil at the WWI doorbell shrine’. I could not have communicated to the depot after 5pm, when WWI / syncreon knock off, a full hour before I could stand down.

My enforced ‘house arrest’ has now totalled 22 hours and keeping to WWI’s processes I could have had to wait 30 hours just to meet or find out who was to deliver my Dell!

When the courier boys prove they can find my address, like dozens of others, I will post on the real scandal at the end of Dell’s Supply Chain,
their sub-sub-sub-contract self-employed drivers. I will leave this untill tomorrow when I may calmed down some more.

Walsh Western International Tracking History

Dell Build within 12 hours then Walsh Western & UK Mail Fail to Deliver

Dell WorkstationI am waiting at the start of a third day for delivery of my new Dell computer.
Today I should only have to wait in till 10:30am instead of 8am to 6pm the previous days.

It all started so well and this post is all about the good things that Dell did.

I ordered my Xeon, complex build, workstation, with loads of professional software on Good Friday. I came home to find an email detailing a couple of component problems. One I did not understand so I called Dell’s man back on Saturday morning, got clarification and approved the minor changes.

This kicked off the system formally and I got a delivery estimate of the 7th of June or sooner. OK, always under-promise and deliver sooner, good policy. Even if it took that long I can plan for the switch-over.

By Tuesday the 26th April I get a call from Dell promising delivery ‘this week’ and by lunchtime syncreon, AKA Walsh Western, confirmed a “planned delivery on the 28th April”.

The online tracking confirmed that the computer was shipped at 10pm on Easter Saturday, from Lodz in Poland.

So I reorganised my diary, my life and my wife’s travel timetable to be at home to welcome my new Dell. To quote Diana Ross & The Supremes, “I’m still waiting”.

The constant problems with Dell’s delivery chain stems from the success of some buyer who has driven their costs as low as possible. Now I have paid Dell £20 plus VAT for shipping. Having been let down by WWI 3 times before I would willingly pay extra for AM or PM booked delivery slots with a better company.

I have been kind in this post but Dell’s delivery chain drags their name into the mud. My mate’s Apple account manager got his dual processor beast delivered to him in Switzerland for no extra cost!

April 01, 2011

Best April Fool's Day Joke? Google's Top 5!

Writing about web page

I woke up this morning to the Today program as usual to hear about 3D radio.
Features include gestures; put you hand in frount of your face to reduce hiss, etc.

But then I started to spot the Google Collection.

Google kiring autoresponders April 1st, 2011

SearchEngineLand have collated 5 great videos on this page for:
  • We are hiring Autocompleters
  • Gmail Motion.
  • Everybody Chromercise.
  • Youtube 1911
  • Google translate for Animals

I agree with Matt McGee, Google have won. But who has won Google’s internal April Fool’s Joke competition?

December 21, 2010

Brian Nealon's good works will continue at BML & elsewhere.

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Brian Nealon, founder of Bendigo MitchellLast week I attended the funeral of Brian Nealon. The news of his death came as a great shock to me as Brian was a keen runner & skier. I was also immensely saddened for Brian was a really nice man whom I happened to meet through business. Michael Farmer referred Brian to me with similar words and many of Brian’s business contacts agree. I discovered from the eulogies from the Fork Lift Truck Association and family of Brian’s charity work, his bargaining skills and some hilarious weaknesses. He was always honest but courteous, a real gentleman.

Brian had real engineering skills, from Formula 1 racing as Jim Clark’s engine turner to decades of experience with Forklift Trucks and a passion for the history of the ‘lift truck’. His weaknesses was digital technology which is how I came to help him and also deal with his two sons Alastair & Duncan who had helped him with the web.

In this last week I have seen a lot more of the two sons that Brian was rightly proud of. Duncan will succeed Brian as MD of Bendigo Mitchell Limited and will bring fresh marketing ideas to add to the high levels of quality and service of the BML team.
Bendigo Mitchell, Forklift Truck Hire Sales & Service

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