Santander (Abbey) Possibly The Worst Bank In Europe?

I bank with Santander – the re-branded Abbey, let’s just say the systems and level of service leave much to be desired. My biggest gripe is that their security system is completely over-zealous and blocks my card every week on average. This is a business account and each time it happens it has a significant knock on effect and costs me money and time. I’ve tried repeatedly to get Santander to loosen the security on my account so that I don’t have to keep their number on speed-dial, however, it’s a gargantuan organisation with thousands of people and nobody knows where to direct you, I’d be surprised if you visited their offices in Glasgow and they knew where the toilet was.

Occasionally, I’ll speak to someone in security who will go through ten transactions of the last six months and I’ll have to verify each company. Sometimes, they will ask me about transactions that haven’t hit my account yet for really random amounts for example £31.57 – I mean, how on earth I am supposed to know who that was for? I can’t see it on my bank statement and the business has dozens of automated transactions a day. If you can’t verify, you can’t unlock your account. Nice.

Other problems have included:

1. “Forgetting” to send a CHAPS payment
2. Sending amounts of money abroad in the wrong currency – this was a huge error and the difference was massive – Then taking four weeks to claw it back.
3. Not setting up Direct Debits
4. Duplicating Payments
5. Not cancelling Duplicate payments.
6. Terrible customer Service.
7. Questions go unanswered and no less than five follow-ups are usually required.

The list goes on, I’ve only been with them for a year and it’s been rather exciting. I guess I should thank them for keeping me on my toes each time I need to pay for something as it’s a bit of a game as to whether I’m actually going to be-able to complete the transaction or not.

If you are considering a move to Santander because of the free banking or some other reason, I suggest you re-think the move as it probably isn’t worth the hassle and heartache you’ll go through.

Fantasy Housewife Shoppers Ruining Your Conversion Data?

If you own a retail store you may ask yourself why you get so many shoppers abandoning their goods purchases at the checkout. You may think you have a bug in the shopping cart system or a problem with the gateway or merchant. However, have you considered that many people shop and then abandon their purchases just before making payment?

These people are called fantasy shoppers and the ruin your conversion data. They have no intention of buying, rather just to experience the thrill of shopping without actually following through with the entire transaction. These people actually enjoy the thrill of “shopping” rather than the actual ownership of the goods, if they can afford to buy and they do, the goods lose their perceived value to them and probably won’t even get used. You can classify these people in the same category as alcoholics or drug addicts, it’s associated with OCD and needs therapy to break the repetitive, compulsive behaviour.

If you have an amount of abandoned shopping baskets and you have tried every angle possible, consider putting a percentage down to people that never actually intended to buy anything in the first place.

Spammers Ruined my Stumble Upon Experience

Well Stumble is dead for me, sadly. I had a particular incessant spammer whom, each day would spam my StumbleUpon inbox to death. Each time I would want to Stumble, I would see the dry, boring “package tours to India” website. God, I hate it. The website in question is amustic.com and the spammers name is “romeoman”. You might ask why I didn’t clear my inbox? Well, I did, but Stumble is slooooooow and it takes 15 seconds or so to Stumble through each message multiply that by hundreds of messages and it becomes a chore which I can’t be bothered with. I’ve tried blocking Romeoman but that hasn’t worked either and I’ve tried clearing my inbox from the user admin system, but it’s not what you’d call intuitive and I’ve given up.

So thanks to you Romeoman and your nasty little website, you’ve spammed me so hard that I’ve given up something which I really used to enjoy. I can’t believe some twit constantly filling the same peoples in-boxes over and over thinks that it might actually change peoples perspective to encourage them to eagerly rush and logon to the website and with anxious fingers book their tours to India.

If you read this Romeoman from www.amustic.com, please go and fuck yourself for ruining StumbleUpon for me.

What’s Up with DMOZ?

I’m not sure what’s going on with DMOZ these days but they suck, I’ve added many websites over the last six months or so and not a single one has been added. These aren’t 3 page poo poo websites about how to win at the casinos, rather, serious websites with tons of resource and value. Some of them are not even monetised. I used to be a DMOZ editor myself and I know what format to follow when submitting. So it’s nothing to do with my style of submission.

I think the fact of the matter is that DMOZ is like a third world country with the editors like corrupt policemen, protecting their own interests and the Meta Editors are akin to bent politicians ensuring their own interests are taken care of and are not interested in anyone else.

It’s common knowledge that people who run serious categories will not allow their competitors in and will automatically delete any submissions that threaten their little section.

DMOZ, take control of the corruption problem and sort it out so it’s free and fair for everyone. Shame on you!

World Online Marketer Rankings

Invesp runs a poll each each year ranking the top 100 Online Marketers in the World, I came 24th this year up a few places from last year and 2nd in the UK.

Top Marketer of 2009

Cheers Invesp :)

Why EasyJet’s New Route To Tel Aviv Will Fail

A couple of months ago there was an announcement by EasyJet that they would start offering cheap flights to Israel. Everyone was rather excited by the prospect of going to Israel for almost nothing. I mean this is EasyJet afterall, it’s a soulless budget airline, but it’s cheap, so who cares what colour the bus is right? Ding-Dong Wrong.

I think EasyJet has been ill advised on this occasion and I predict that the route will be withdrawn within 6 – 12 months as there will not be enough people wanting to use the EasyJet service for a number of reasons which I will highlight below.

1. The price saving isn’t big enough to make a switch between Israel’s local airline El Al (which is state sponsored) and give up all the “luxuries” that you get on board compared to what you would get on an EasyJet flight, going to the toilet for free is one of the last luxuries on the budget carriers…for now. When you take the cost of buying some food on an EasyJet flight, the price difference will be almost negligible.

2. Israelis are a patriotic bunch and would rather support their local airline than a foreign one with no frills.

3. Security is highly important to people that live and travel to Israel. El Al’s security is second to none, and if a terrorist was planning to end his life on a flight destined for Israel, he wouldn’t make El Al his first choice as the security is ultra tight. I often get a “special search” when travelling to Tel Aviv. The point being, EasyJet’s security will not be of the same standard as El Al’s.

4. The seats are uncomfortable on EasyJet and you can’t recline them, this isn’t so much of an issue when going to Amsterdam from London (1 Hour) – but try sitting like that for five hours. No thanks.

All in all, with the sacrifices you have to make to security and comfort as well as not supporting Israel’s national airline I don’t think that saving £10 – £20 is going to tempt many people out of changing their preferred airline on this occasion. Nice try EasyJet, but I’d be very surprised if you succeed.

Bon Voyage for now.

Goodbye & Hello

Well, it’s time to move this blog on, it’s evolving, growing up, getting taller – it’s balls are dropping and some other boy turning to man metaphors… Well, actually, SEO is a little dry to write about, (and Michael Gray was probably right) so I’m changing the theme to Internet Marketing in General and everything else that interests me, which is rather a lot. This means that far fewer of my posts will be SEO related and more along the lines of viral marketing, companies that make marketing Fau’pars and Poker. I have a deep interest in Poker mainly the mathematical side of the game. These elements include: EV, the odds and the statistics of the game, I hope one day to play professionally.

I hope to post soon about a couple of things that are floating around my head, they are rather detailed and will take a substantial amount of time to research and write, so please be patient.

As one chapter closes another opens.

Thinking of starting an SEO agency? Think again…

Starting an SEO Company these days is about ten times harder than it was just a couple of years ago. The barrier to entry is much higher due to the fact that many big companies with big budgets are starting to wake up to the fact that SEO provides an amazing ROI compared to other forms of traditional marketing. The problem is where to actually start, you need to have some sort of proven track record before a company will consider using your services. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation in that you will have difficulty starting without having a portfolio of clients to chow your first customer. Also, Google’s algo’s are evolving on a daily basis and filtering out more and more of the spam, even if you are a very good SEO, I seriously doubt you will be able to complete in competitive fields if you’re starting from scratch with little resource.

If you do decide to push on with your new business venture,I would suggest the first place you start is with a business plan so you can get funding. Even if you can’t get funding, you’ll need to plan your new venture so you have some direction, this will stand you in very good stead for the future. Many companies just muddle through with little direction and will fail eventually as they fall into a “comfortable” routine of being unproductive. I believe a business plan and a solid set of goals will help you keep focused so you find the success you so desperately crave.

Another problem is how to get your name out there, do you advertise? Make cold calls? try and SEO your own site (good luck) or maybe try some PR? I’m a fan of PR and for the record, I’ve tried almost every avenue to marketing my business. There is a fine line between keeping credibility and aggressively marketing your new company, I don’t believe in Direct Marketing , I think it’s skuzzy and smacks of desperation. Advertising on the other hand is okay, however, we have not had much success for the amount of full page adverts we’ve placed in leading business magazines. We’ve had some success with the PR we’ve done in house, the advantage is that the quality of the enquiries is very, very high and the type of companies calling are exactly the type of companies I want to work with.

Unfortunately, PR is a bit of a “dark art” even more so that SEO these days, and requires that you are very creative in order to catch publishers attention, which is a bit like effective SEO ;)

I believe you need to offer a wide range of services both offline and online whilst still maintaining a niche,I would suggest staying local to your area, state, county or whatever. – this is a great example of a local SEO company that is offering a good service in the Dallas area. This will give you an edge as you will only be competing with “local-ish” companies which means competitive levels would be somewhat lower than if you were going nationally or internationally. Also, local business want to support local companies, so you’ll have a better chance of winning some SEO work.

Whinge Post: Why Does Google Penalize Sites that Get Updated?

There is something that has been bugging me for a while, Google penalizes sites that change more than a little at once. It’s hugely frustrating to see your site disappear for months just for updating or adding content. This could be just one page that gets totally changed or an entire site for changing the homepage or adding a substantial amount of content – say > 50% in one go.

I have seen this happen to a wide range of sites, some owned by me and managed by myself and some that are totally unrelated.  There is only one pattern: That’s change and get dropped for three months. It’s totally absurd to penalize legitimate sites for updating their content, I mean what does Google want – a bunch of old content  in it’s index?? (I know this has been the common moan for years)

Google really needs to tweak it’s algo so it realises that a site mostly the same has not been sold or switched for spam. How hard can it be? Example: Site A is still on topic and only 60% has changed, the likelihood is that it’s the same site, not some dodgy spam. These filters seriously need to be relaxed by a great deal in my opinion.

We all know that their are exceptions, if the site is trusted massively, then it’s probably not going to drop – but for most sites, they are not authority sites that have that trust box checked and thus are going to take a long absence from the SERPS.

Matt Cutts: I implore you to review this nano part of the Algo and let sites have more flexibility to update and keep themselves current.

Google’s Mysterious Indexing

I have spoken in the past about how Google’s best spam weapon was it’s indexing intelligence. However, I do believe that Google does miss out on good quality content due to it’s over zealous “this might be spam, I’m not going to index this” filter.

Whilst browsing around the Google webmaster help forums I found this rather interesting post about some guy who couldn’t get his site indexed properly. Curiosity kicked in and I felt compelled to look into his site problems and maybe give him some impartial advice as to why Google only thinks a very small percentage of his site is tasty enough to gobble up.

Strangely, only some of the pages linking directly from his homepage are being indexed. Take this for example. It has not been indexed but has two direct links off the home page. Neither have the majority of the second level pages been indexed. However, a large number of pages from far deeper into the site have been indexed.

I wish Google would be a bit more open as to how their magic indexing formula works as this creates problems for almost every webmaster I know, it would be in Google’s interest to have the high quality pages indexed rather than the ones that don’t matter too much. Maybe something like indexing priority similar to indexing speed in the webmaster tools.