State of Search Euro Roadshow – Giuseppe Pastore in Rome

I had been really fortunate so far in meeting 10 SEOs for the Euro 2012 State of Search Roadshow.  My luck spread with me to Rome where I met Giuseppe Pastore, an Italian SEO specialist.  We met up in Cavour, near the Colosseum and ate traditional Roman food while we talked about search in Italy, the UK and in general.

State of Search Euro Roadshow Rome



The beginning

Giuseppe first started working in SEO in his free time in 2008 when he  built and optimised his own websites.  It was not until 2 years later that he started working in SEO as a career.  He quit his job, moved to a Rome and has never looked back since.

KPIs for clients

Giuseppe tracks organic traffic and conversion where relevant. Some of his clients still want to monitor rankings and therefore he does report on these KPIs to his clients.  He has set up goals for his clients through GA and tries to encourage them to focus on that instead of rankings.

SEOJo and Zen2Seo

Link building and development

I wanted to find out about the link building Giuseppe carries out for his clients.  Like many SEOs, he engages in blogger outreach and guest posting on third party sites. And like many SEOs it can be very time consuming, but it is important to have natural links.  Link builders used to be focused on exact match anchor text but we all now this is dangerous and can have negative effects on your site.

Giuseppe is trying to collate opinions about anchor text on my SEO blog so get in touch with him if you want to share your thoughts on this subject.

SEO outside of work

Giuseppe has been busy in the SEO community.  He recently submitted a post on SEOmoz  called How Twitter’s Bad SEO Affects Your Brand Reputation Management, through his account and then as the content was so good, the blog was promoted to the main page of SEOmoz.  Giuseppe was certainly busy responding to all the comments he received when the post went live on 5th of July.  He has also guest posted for Search Engine Journal.  Guest posting has benefited his site, He is now number 2 in for “seo specialist”.

Zen2Seo with flag e1341517296504 225x300 Euro 2012   Interview with Giuseppe Pastore in Rome

The future of SEO

I always like to ask SEOs what they think the future has in stall for SEO.  Giuseppe thinks there will be a new skill set required for those that work in search. Before you had to be really good at technical SEO but now as content is becoming more important, content marketing will develop into social. Those that work in SEO have to be very social online using Twitter and Facebook and this will be even more important if these SEOs want to succeed in search.

The full interview is available on State of Search.


State of Search Euro Roadshow – SEOs in Florence

I was in Florence last week and was lucky enough to meet 6 SEOs all living and working in Florence, Italy. I was put in touch with Elena Farinelli by Gianluca Fiorelli.  Elena then arranged for all the SEOs to meet up with me for lunch, who were Stefano Romeo, Lourdes Flores, Niccolo Villiger, Katia Baroncelli and Andrea Cardelli.

We went out to a fantastic restaurant in Florence and had a traditional Italian lunch. It was great to meet so many SEOs in one place. The full interview is out on State of Search, I have written about some of the key highlights from the lunch.

Florence at sunset

Tourism in Florence

All the SEOs I met have their own company.  Niccolo and Katia set up and have been working in SEO since around 1998, well before the term SEO was used. They specialise in Educational and Travel markets, and own many travel websites such as

Elena set up her own blog (I Love Florence) in 2006 which is updated daily (except weekends) and is one of the top blogs people visit for places to eat, things to do and see in Florence.  She has been working in online since 2000 when she joined a web company before moving into web marketing.

Stefano and Lourdes own and specialise in web marketing services for businesses in the tourism sector. They have  created a network of online travel guides, the main one being

Andrea owns and has been working with the web since 1996 and since 2005 in SEO, initially learning about SEO from Stefano.

Meeting 6 SEOs in Florence

Italian search market

The Italian internal market it is not as competitive as in the UK or US and therefore it is easier to achieve great results if working in Italian.  However, if you are competing in the English speaking tourism market, then it is very competitive.  All the SEOs I met work in tourism and travel as Florence and Tuscany is a major tourist destination.

Google updates

Some of the team in Florence have been affected by the updates from Google.  Tourism is a very competitive industry and for one particular site of WebPromoter, they pursued an aggressive link building strategy which may not have been the most natural anchor text. We have all felt the wrath of Google including this site and therefore they have changed some of the links and anchor text used and are hoping that a new update will see their efforts rewarded.

SEO tools, one made by Andrea

Andrea was affected by Penguin and therefore just five days later published a tool his company had been developing.  The tool is, good name really for a product that is going to help those who have been hit by Penguin.  It was already being used internally but made the public release after the Penguin hit. Katia has sent the tool to their Spanish partners and know they are also making good use of it.

Elena and Stefano 300x225 Euro 2012   Interview with 6 SEOs in Florence

People understanding SEO

I was really surprised that many of the clients of the SEO team in Florence found that some of their clients did not understand SEO.  Many small local business owners such as restaurants, bars and shops do not have their own website.  They do not understand how important it is to have an online presence.   One of the main problems with clients is that many do not use Google Analytics and even those who do don’t know how to read the data. This makes it really hard to convince clients that SEO/SEM is needed and effective.

The best bits about SEO

I asked everyone what they liked the most about SEO and they responded with the fact that people in SEO share their experiences with others.  It means they have a good excuse to meet great people, eat delicious Italian food and drink Italian wine while finding out more about the updates in the search industry from others.  They are all members of a type of SEO club  called “Seoring”(

7 SEOs have lunch


The future of SEO in Italy

The Italian market is smaller than that of the UK and US and therefore has a potential to grow and develop.
The “black hat” techniques will no longer work.  Google Penguin was a strong warning to those who engage in such activity.

As some of the other people I interviewed earlier mentioned, SEO is going to be more about the user and content on the site and less about the technical aspects of a website.  This will also see the increase in the number of women taking part in SEO and Elena has already seen more women in her SEO classes this year than the previous years.



State of Search Euro Roadshow – Bruce Jackson

I was fortunate to meet up with one SEO in Vienna, Austria while I was travelling round Europe.  I met up with an Aussie called Bruce Jackson founder of SEO Coach who had been living in Austria for 15 years.  As his office is just outside of Vienna, we met up in an Aussie pub in Vienna.

Euro 2012 Vienna | SEO Jo Blogs


SEO Coach’s services

SEO Coach prides itself of bringing value to local businesses such as doctors and dentists in Vienna. Bruce works with these local businesses to help them have greater visibility in the SERPs. Bruce brings with him more than 15 years experience in internet to his organisation. He also helps clients with their website design and how to improve it for the user.

Search market in Austria

It is much easier to get a client ranking as there is little competition, there are only 8 million people in Austria meaning the market is very small.  For many people, they do nto know the value of Google or the significance of SEO.

As the market is small in Austria, there is just one conference a year, SEOKomm in Salzburg.  It is the best way to meet other SEOs in Austria.  The SEO community here is very spread out and is tied in with online marketing.

Google Updates

Bruce has not been affected by Penguin and Panda but he has been affected by Google+ Local update a few weeks ago. It means that not just anyone can leave an honest review for a local business’s site.  They need to have a Google+ account and many people in Austria do not know what Google+ is. This means many of Bruce’s clients will miss out on many reviews in the future.

Aussie pub Vienna | SEO Jo Blogs

What is link building like in Austria?

As the market is very small in Austria, Bruce uses directories as a form of link building.  He also puts a few links in forum posts and sometimes works with link exchanges.  It is much easier and quicker to see results from these types of link building in Austria than elsewhere.

SEO Tools in Austria

It was interesting to find out about the tools and reports that Bruce used.  As he worked with smaller and local businesses, he used Xovi, a link analysis and ranking tool which is mainly for the German market (Austria, Germany and Switzerland).  He included reports for all his clients which covered rankings and a report to show their position against competitors.

Jo and Bruce | Euro State of Search | SEO Jo Blogs

Future of SEO

I asked Bruce about the future of SEO to which he replied that it  will never disappear.  As many of mentioned, it will become harder, which is dependent on the market you are working in.  I love SEO and I know Google introduces a lot of updates but we have to find a way to work around these updates.


State of Search Euro Roadshow – Andre Alper

I met Andre Alpar who is one Partner of an international SEO company AKM3, when I was in Berlin.  Andre is well known in the search industry and quite rightly so.  He is a speaker at search events, has his own podcasts and has published an open source SEO software

I went to Andre’s office in Berlin (a short train ride from the East Side Gallery) and spoke to him about search and what he thought of the German search market and what he sees as the future of SEO.


Reichstag | Euro 2012 State of Search Roadshow


Andre has been involved with the internet since 1996 when he built his first website. He got his first taste of SEO in 1997/1998 when he took an internship for a yacht charter company in Hawaii who wanted help with rankings. When he returned to Germany he came up with the idea of offering SEO as a service but even back then there was resistance as people did not fully understand the value of SEO.

Moving away from SEO

Andre has spend some time away from the search seen, back in 2001, when the dot com bubble burst, he started a PHD.  But he has since come back stronger than ever and is one partner of AKM3.

The Team 300x225 Euro 2012   Interview with Andre Alpar

The search market in Germany

Most of AKM3’s clients are German and they have a specific idea of what they want from their SEO agency.  Therefore when they go international, AKM3 helps them with their SEO as they have native speakers for each market. The German market is very competitive and there is no shortage of people who work in SEO coming to Berlin to work.

 Do clients understand SEO?

They understand PPC over SEO.  AKM3 gives a lot of strategic advice for SEO, it tends to be more common to outsource SEO to an agency and going PPC in house.  Andre wrote  an article about In House SEO.

Search marketing events in Germany

Andre attends SMX and has spoken at 20 different conferences throughout Europe this year. He also set up and run OMCap ( which is partnering with SES and takes place in October in Berlin.

SEO Tools and reports

AKM3 use three main tools, Sistrix,  Searchmetrics and SEOlytics as well. They report to their client the work the agency has completed that month which includes any on page optimisation and information about the links they have acquired that month.  Reporting is included in all AKM3’s services, however if they use some of the sophisticated tools, then they may not need to do a lot of reporting.

The Future of SEO

I asked Andre what he thought would be the future of SEO and he said going forward, there will be a stronger link between SEO and regular marketing.  SEO will be more about building relationships between PR, marketing and social media.

State of Search Roadshow – 3 Weeks In

I have now been on the Euro 2012 State of Search Roadshow for 3 weeks and it has certainly flown by.  I have been very lucky to meet up with 4 different SEOs in Berlin and Vienna to speak to them about what search is like in their country and if they are affected by many of the updates that the search engines in the UK and US have been.

Berlin Dom | Euro 2012 State of Search Roadshow

My first meeting in Berlin was with Marcus Tober, the CTO and founder of Searchmetrics.  The full interview with Marcus is on State of Search, but I wanted to briefly summarise my interview with him.

The beginning of Searchmetrics

Marcus set up Searchmetrics in 2005 and then in 2007 a venture capital company invested in the firm where they then rebranded the organisation as you see today. Marcus had been working as a PHP developer since 2001 and had also been optimising websites so he certainly has an indepth knowledge of the market.  The company has a head office in Berlin with 100 staff, I met Marcus at the headoffice and had a tour.


Search market in Germany

Marcus and I went to a nearby Austrian restaurant where we sampled some German beer and I asked him a few more questions about the search market in Germany. He said it is very competitive and there are many German search events.  Marcus goes to SMX Munich,there is SES Berlin and an SEO day in Cologne.  Marcus also spoke at Webinale which took place on the 5th and 6th of June.   One of the many interesting points Marcus made was that it is important to be present at all the search events worldwide not just the ones in Germany as they would just be focusing on the German market.  The English speaking search market are bigger than the German (which covers Austria, Switzerland and Germany) and therefore to not attend these English speaking events would mean cutting off a potentially huge market share.

Google updates

Given the recent updates from Google such as Penguin which were a hot topic at SMX London, I wanted to find out if they had been affected. Marcus told me their clients had not been affected as many of their sites have a high number of branded anchor text and not many exact match and their brand is well recognised in the market.


Searchmetrics in a nutshell?

Searchmetrics have built the largest database in combined SEO and Social data. In SEO they have more than 100 million keywords which they update regularly to calculate rankings, trends as well as competitive data. This research capability is unique and they have two main products they offer for their clients. 1) The enterprise solution for larger clients where you can connect external data like web analytics (traffic, conversions) with your SEO data. 2)  software (Searchmetrics Essentials) for a deep SEO and Social signals analysis.  I have been using the Essentials suite and will be attending Searchmetrics event they are hosting on July 11th to see the latest features added.


The future of SEO in Germany

The Google updates have shown SEO is more important to organisations than ever which has resulted in more partners working with Searchmetrics.  The future of SEO is that it will become more complex and therefore more organisations will want to understand it and either partner with us to do so or use our tools. Search engines will always want to deliver the best results to there fore there will be a development of a different type of SEO –  once which is focused on the user or “user focused SEO”.

searchmetrics are hiring1 e1339484867118 225x300 Euro 2012   Interview with Searchmetrics CTO Marcus Tober

Today I am lucky enough to meet more SEOs in Florence, Italy, so watch this space, another post will be updated. I will be writing summaries of the my 2 other interviews in Berlin and my interview in Austria on SEO Jo Blogs.

State of Search Euro Roadshow – Berlin

I was really lucky to interview 3 people in Berlin for the State of Search Roadshow. Interviewed, Marcus Tober from Searchmetrics, Andre Alpar from AKM3  and Alessio Madeyski, the Italian SEO professional living in Germany.

Euro 2012 State of Search Roadshow - Berlin

I have uploaded my first two posts to State of Search, but I also wanted to speak to Alessio about his SEO experience outside of work.  I asked him the following:

How did you get into SEO?

I started in SEO at the end of March 2011. I have a degree in molecular biology but the life in laboratories was not for me. So I moved to Berlin in January 2011 and I started working as freelancer for a UK startup, taking care of their social media and helping them to create the mobile version of their site. Then I saw that Zalando, the famous fashion e-commerce, was looking for an SEO manager for the Italian market. So my adventure in the SEO began, and now I have an amazing team working with me, and I am responsible for the SEO in the Italian and Scandinavian markets.

What do you like the most about SEO?

SEO is a challenge. Everyday there is something exciting to know. I love when I’m doing something for the user, and the user sends me an email to thank me for the help. The main focus of my work is around the user and their experience on the site.

I strongly believe in the saying “the brand belongs to the user, not to the company”. If I were to give advice to other people starting out in the industry, it would be: “Be awesome, be creative when doing SEO. If you don’t have passion for it, leave and do something else”.

Many people are talking about SEO but you can see in their eyes they have no passion. Why is that? You have to love SEO, especially if you think well beyond SEO (social media, user interface, design, content management, graphics, offline…).

Who have you helped the most and why?

The SEO community. I’m using twitter a lot, and I have so many “mentors” that I cannot say who helped me the most. You can see my profile (@madeale) and see who I’m talking to. Moreover, you can see who I consider great SEOs and great people on my “Meet your SEO” series on my blog where every week I interview amazing SEOs so I was really pleased when you sent me an email asking to meet up and discuss SEO.  Thank you for meeting me and I hope to see you when I come to London for the next SEO conference.

Alessio’s interview about working at his ecommerce company will be uploaded to Staate of Search next week.




State of Search Europe Roadshow

I am off to Berlin tomorrow for the start of my month long trip round Europe.  I will be visiting 11 cities during my time in Europe from June 6th – July 6th.  I would like to meet up with other SEO professionals and find out what search is like in your country. I will be blogging about my experience on the State of Search website.

Would you like to get involved?  You will feature on the State of Search website and their Facebook page which has over 1,500 fants.  Let me know if you would like to meet up with me on my journey around Europe which also ties in with Euro 2012.  I will be in Berlin for the Germany vs Portugal on Saturday June 9th and I will also be in Prague for the Czech Rep vs Greece match on Tuesday the 12th of June. Let’s meet up, talk search and watch the football!!

London | State of Search | SEO Jo Blogs

Below are the places I will be visiting.  I would love to meet you and find out what search is like in your country.  Please get in touch via Twitter @SEOJoBlogs, the SEO Jo Blogs Facebook page or State of Search Facebook page which I will be updating regularly.  You can also contact me via the State of Search website.

Berlin – 6th of June to 10th of June
Prague – 10th of June to 13th of June
Budapest – 13th of June to 16th of June
Bratislava – 16th of June to 19th of June
Vienna – 19th of June to 21st of June
Salzburg – 21st of June to 24th of June
Verona – 24th of June to 26th of June
Florence – 26th of June to 28th of June
Pisa – 29th of June (day trip)
Siena – 30th of June (day trip)
Rome – 1st of July to 6th of July


Search London – How To Find Good Blogs

Last week we had a great turn out at Search London.  Thank you everyone for coming. Paddy Moogan gave a fantastic presentation about link building through blogger outreach, how to find good blogs.

The presentation was very informative and from the feedback on the night, everyone really enjoyed it.  I think it is extremely important that people move away from the number of links they build for a client.  Some clients do want a certain number of links per month so they can put a ROI for their SEO.

Here are some the tips to find good blogs:

1) Who cares about your content

I think this was the most important point out of the entire presentation.  If no one is interested in what you are writing it about, you will find it difficult to get people to link to your site from your content.  Find at least 5 people who care about your content before you start writing it.

2) Blogger Link up

There are many different platforms avaible to allow you to get in contact with other bloggers.  Paddy suggested both BloggerLinkup and Blogdash. I have used Myblogguest before, but in the past month or so, there have been some very spammy sites.

3) Advanced search queries

You can also use advanced search queries to find good blogs. Add your keywords to the following examples:

“guest post”,“write for us”,“blog for us”, inurl:contributor, intitle:”guest post”

For example, if you are looking for gadget blogs, you would use the following syntax:

gadget blogs inurl:guest-post

gadget blogs “write-for-us”

You will then need to analyse the blogs you find, check their PR, the number of inbound links, anchor text, check to see if they are a genuine blog or if they have only been set up for the purpose of link building.

4) Check what your competitors are doing

Using, it is easy to find which sites are linking to your competitors and not to you. This does have its limitations as it does not give you any new sites and you do not want to have links from the same places as your competitors.

5) Finding influencers

Tools such as topsy and followerwonk tell you what are the trending topics and who are the influencers. AuthorRank was a tool developed by Tom Anthony and helps you to find out who is linking to you. As Tom mentioned when AuthorRank first came out, people should be more concerned about who they are getting links from rather than where they are coming from.


Thank you to Paddy for presenting at Search London.  Paddy has kindly shared his deck with us which I have emailed round.  For those who did not receive the email, please find below the link:

Here are a few photos from the meetup.




Key Take Aways From SMX London

This post is somewhat delayed but I wanted to share with everyone some of the key things I learnt from the SMX which took place Tuesday the 15th of May and Wednesday the 16th of May.

I was fortunate to be a blogging partner for SMX London.  The event was really well organised by Jackie Bliss and her team, the food was fantastic and it was in an excellent venue – Stamford Bridge – home to Chelsea Football Club.

Chelsea Football Stadium | SMX London | SEO Jo Blogs

The hot topic over the two days was Penguin which was understandable as many people had seen their site drop in rankings since the update.  In my last post about Penguin I wrote about the fact that it is the little brother of Panda and is a way for Google to eradicate spam on the internet, although I still see a lot of it.

Here are just a few areas you need to address if your site has been affected:

1) Use Rel=Author

Google is trying to get rid of a faceless web which is why it is so important to use rel=author tags.  There is still a lot of articles being written about this topic, Econsultancy just wrote one about how to set up rel=author on Friday. If you have delayed doing this, this week is when you need to ensure you have your rel=author tags correctly set up.

2) Anaylse your backlinks

It is really important to check who is linking to you. If your site has many links from a spam site, this will affect your rankings Use link development tools such as <a href=””>open site explorer from SEOmoz </a>to analyse your backlinks to you.  If you can see the spam sites or those sites you feel are practicing black hat and therefore affecting your own rankings, you need to contact them and ask them to remove the link.  Unfortunately this is a manual process and can take some time.  If have a couple of email exchanges, they have not removed the link to your site,  contact Google.

3) Analyse your anchor text

Sites that have unnatural links would be penalised by the Panda update.  What does “unnatural mean”? It means having “exact match” for anchor text on key terms for all your backlinks.  Most of this applies to those people who have bought “exact match” anchor text.  It is important to focus on the long tail search as well as brand plus your key terms.

4) Use white hat link building

Links still play a key role in SEO, but now it will be on quality over quantity.  If your client continues to ask for the number of links built each month, try and get them to think about where they are coming from which is more important.  If you have been contacting just a couple of bloggers a month, increase this to at least 4 or 5 (depending on the budget).  Find out what content people want on their site before you write the article.  If you write a post which people are interested in, it is more likely to be shared by others.

If you are working with an seo agency for link building, make sure they are writing quality content for the user and only for the user (not just to get a link).  This will naturally build backlinks, because if people like what they read, they are more likely to share it. Although Google were unable to confirm this at SMX, some of the other studies carried out and presented at the Expo showed that there was a correlation between the location of a site in the SERPs and its social profile.  It was more likely to rank higher if it had more social shares.

Part II: The Cookie Law In The UK – What Does It Mean For Your Website?

A Quick Review Of The Law

  • The law was amended 26th May 2011, before users had to ‘opt out’ of having cookies dropped; they now have to ‘opt in’.
  • As of 26th May 2012, the yearlong grace period that UK websites were granted to bring their activities in line with the law ends. UK websites now need to obtain the consent of users before placing cookies onto their browsers or devices.
  • Websites need to be transparent about the cookies they use, be clear about what data the cookie contains and how they are going to use that data.
  • Users need to be told about any cookie that may build a profile about them. The information needs to be made apparent to them so they are able to make an informed decision.

Cookie Monster | EU Cookie Law | SEO Jo Blogs

Why Is This Law Significant?

Cookies are needed by some websites just to operate properly (like remembering users preferences like font size). These types of cookies are deemed as ‘unintrusive’ and are necessary for functionality.

Cookies are used to gain valuable insights into user behavior through analytic cookies. Under the black and white of the law, only users who have opted in for analytic cookies can be tracked.

Digital advertising relies on cookies to measure performance and effectiveness of campaigns. These activities generate high revenues for online businesses and full compliance with the law could mean that these businesses lose revenue. 

What can you as a website owners do?

Most websites by now have begun to take steps to becoming more compliant with the law and we are beginning to see real life examples of how these websites are going about asking for consent. If you as a website owner haven’t yet thought about this, then you might want to think about doing the following:

  • Undertake an audit of the cookies you use

Before you can tell users what cookies you are using, you need to be clear of that yourself. Analysing what cookies you use and what information do they store is the best place to start. There are browser add-ons that you can use to count cookies. The easiest way is to install one, and then explore your site like a user would.

  • Analyse those cookies and decide which are necessary

Once you have the knowledge of what cookies your site uses, analyse them, identify ones that you might want to stop using. This is your opportunity to ‘clean up’ those cookies.

  • Update your privacy policy.

Be as transparent as possible so that users are clear on what cookies you are using and what they do.

Asking For Consent

  • Pop Ups

Pop ups are the most unpopular option as they disrupt the user experience. Using pop ups to ask for user permission is likely to result in higher bounce rates or worse send the traffic into the hands of your competitors. BT has opted for this route and they have placed the pop up in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

  • Lock the site until you get consent

Locking you site until you get consent seems like a risky option. Using consent as an entry barrier is something that the Financial Times has trialed. Their message alerts users to their amended policy however there is no button to opt out. The user is given no choice. Once the user clicks close, the organization is assuming consent. This may work for them as they have great brand strength and a unique brand offering, however not all brands will be able to use this option.

  • Ask for permission in a header or footer banner

This is more discreet than a pop up yet if it’s not done well it’s possible that users may not notice it. By ignoring it and continuing through the site, it could be argued that users consent is implied.  The legislation aims for websites to educate and allow the user to make an informed active decision. Fortune Cookie has created a (downloadable) widget for the footer of their site.

  • Obtain consent when users sign up for your services

If you chose to tie the cookie consent request to a sign up process on your site, it’s important that this is clear to the users in your terms and conditions. You are effectively marrying the consent process with your marketing activities and the user should know this. It is also important that you contact your existing users to notify them of the update and request their permission also.

  • Make the link to your cookie information page more prominent

A rather incompetent approach to add a link about cookies in the top right corner of the page and it would appear that this is a route that websites are taking. This approach does not actively seek the users’ permission and therefore does not fully comply with the law.

Should the ICO contact you about your website, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have taken action. Be ready to show them your audit and the actions you have taken and plan to take.


Gillian Cook is a search executive at SEOptimise, a search agency based in London and Oxford. While this post has been written to inform web owners of the changes in the law, Gillian is not a lawyer. If you want more information about the law in the UK you can read the full legislation here: