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Market Appeal First UK SEO agency to accept Bitcoin payments

London based search engine optimisation (SEO) agency Market Appeal announced today that they now accept payment in Bitcoin for SEO, paid search, link building and content marketing services, almost certainly a first in the UK.

“We are happy to accept payments by Bitcoin, the world’s first, widely recognised meta-currency. To celebrate its launch we’re offering a 20% discount to the first five clients to pay us with Bitcoins” said Anthony Sharot, MD of Market Appeal Ltd.

Although a relatively new currency Bitcoin is taking the world by storm, with the cost of a single bitcoin appreciating to about $85 USD today up from $5 a year ago, bring the total market captialisation of Bitcoins in circulation to nearly $1 billion USD. Silicon valley startups take note.

Bitcoin price to date - 1 April 2013

Bitcoins are created by a mathematical algorithm that takes longer to run every time a new one is required, rationing their supply in the face of ever increasing computing power. It’s designed to avoid excessive inflation, although there are fewer mechanisms to offset deflation i.e. currency appreciation, instead. In reality, Bitcoin values have already fluctuated in value so wildly that the system may as well be designed to encourage a bubble-then-bust cycle.

Bitcoin Market cap to date - 1 April 2013

Also, in theory you can ‘mine’ your own Bitcoin for profit, but in practice that’s primarily done by quasi-official professionals and cybercriminals.

Superficially Bitcoin speculation can look like an easy way to make money, but be warned that Bitcoins are a new phenomenon and the risks of holding onto them (as opposed to simply using them as a medium of exchange) are not yet well understood.

For example, forget your password or have it stolen by a computer hacker and you will lose everything with no recourse. Weaknesses in its algorithm’s security also continue to emerge and like any speculative bubble it can all end in tears.

Other controversial uses for Bitcoins, beyond buying SEO, according to The Spectator include purchasing drugs and weapons, and, of course, sponsoring WikiLeaks.

About Market Appeal

Market Appeal is boutique digital marketing agency dedicated to all things Google. Founded in 2006, we employ a transparent and scientific approach to search engine marketing that focuses on delivering tangible results. Core services include onsite SEO, content marketing (link building), social and analytics analysis.

We work with clients of all sizes, from multinationals like Expedia to savvy startups such as Wonga, as well as supplying white label SEO services to many of the UK’s biggest and brightest digital agencies (who keep very quiet about our relationships).

About Bitcoin

If you are interested in Bitcoin, there are a few things you should know. Bitcoin does not let you send emails or take pictures; it lets you exchange money and value. As such, Bitcoin must be treated with the same care as your regular wallet, or even more in some cases!

Securing your wallet

Like in real life, your wallet must be secured. Always remember that it is your responsibility to adopt good practices in order to protect your money. Here are some options you should consider.

Backup your wallet

Bitcoin services and software allow you to backup your wallet, which can be printed on paper or saved to a USB drive. Stored in a safe place, a backup can protect you against computer failure and many human mistakes.

Encrypt your wallet

Encrypting your wallet allows you to set a password for anyone trying to withdraw any funds. This helps protect against thieves and hackers, though it cannot protect against keylogging hardware or software. However, you should make sure you never forget the password or your funds will be permanently lost. Unlike your bank, there are no password recovery options with Bitcoin!

Be careful with online wallets

Using an online wallet is pretty much like using an online bank. You are trusting someone else to protect your money while you have to remember and protect your password. You should always choose such services carefully. As of today, no online wallet provides enough insurance and security to be used to store value like a bank.

Use an offline backup for savings

An offline backup of a wallet provides the highest level of security for savings. It involves storing a wallet only on paper and on usb keys in different secured locations that are not connected to the network. This is a good protection against computer failures, computer vulnerabilities, theft and human mistakes. As of today, this approach still requires some technical knowledge to be done correctly.

Bitcoin price is volatile

The price of a bitcoin can unpredictably increase or decrease over a short period of time due to its young economy, novel nature, and sometimes illiquid markets. Consequently, keeping your savings in bitcoin is not recommended. Bitcoin should be considered as a high risk asset, and you should never store money that you cannot afford to lose with Bitcoin. If you receive payments with Bitcoin, many service providers allow you to convert them instantly to your local currency.

Bitcoin payments are irreversible

Any transaction you issue with Bitcoin cannot be reversed. It can only be refunded by the person receiving the funds. That means you should take care to do business with people or organizations you know and trust. But don’t worry, Bitcoin can detect typos and usually won’t let you send money to an invalid address.

Bitcoin is not automatically anonymous

All Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the network, which means anybody can see the balance and the transactions of any Bitcoin address. However, it is not possible to associate a Bitcoin address with its physical owner unless the owner demonstrated that they own it. This is why it is recommended to use many different Bitcoin addresses; in fact, you should create a new one each time you receive money. This is especially important for public uses such as websites. You might also want to hide your computer’s IP address with a tool like Tor so that it cannot be logged by others.

Bitcoin is still experimental

Bitcoin is an experimental new currency that is in active development. Although it becomes less and less experimental as usage grows, you should keep in mind that Bitcoin is a new invention that is exploring ideas that have never been attempted before. As such, its future cannot be predicted by anyone.

Don’t forget government taxes

Bitcoin is not an official currency. That said, most jurisdictions still require you to pay income, sales, payroll, and capital gains taxes on anything that has value, including Bitcoin.

Source: http://bitcoin.org/en/you-need-to-know

Data and charts: http://blockchain.info/charts

Digital Marketing Assistant – Job description – £8.30 per hour – London, NW4

General info

  • Term: Initially contract based with view to moving from temp to perm in due course
  • Hours: 20 to 40 hours per week
  • Rate: £8.30 per hour
  • Location: Hendon, NW4, London

About Market Appeal

Market Appeal is a digital agency dedicated to all things Google including onsite SEO, link building, AdWords advertising and analytics analysis. We provide SEO and link building services to assorted blue chip clients in addition to white labelling services for several of the UK’s largest digital agencies.

We are a small, responsive agency with a friendly, informal environment. We are experts in search engine optimisation and seek someone enthusiastic about internet marketing to assist with a variety of tasks including creative content creation and client coordination.

Full on the job training will be provided along with as much responsibility and client facing contact as you can handle (though not more :-).

Key tasks

  1. Creating briefs for freelance writers including
  2. Proofreading and editing web copy
  3. Vetting potential publisher websites to see whether they meet our quality criteria
  4. Supporting other staff including onsite SEO and link building managers on key projects
  5. Assisting managers with proposal writing, onsite optimisation, link building, analytics analysis, paid search campaign management and whatever else needs doing at the time.


Essential skills and experience

  • 6 month’s experience client side or in digital agency environment
  • Excellent spelling and grammar
  • Excellent web research skills
  • Good attention to detail
  • Ability to generate ideas for web copy
  • Ability to organise yourself and others, including good time management
  • Familiarity with MS Office applications including MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel
  • 35+ wpm typing speed


Desirable skills and experience (the more the merrier)

  • Writing web and print copy and aware of their differing requirements
  • Other online marketing skills including: PR, SEO, social media marketing or web design
  • Familiarly with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, FBML, FTP, Linux, HTTP headers
  • WordPress, XpressionEngine, CS Cart, OS-Commerce, Joomla, Magento
  • Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, Fireworks, Contribute, Dreamweaver
  • Account management
  • Creating writing
  • Creative design skills such as infographic creation and turning bland documents into eye-catching presentations
  • Educated to degree level or equivalent
  • Fluency in foreign languages

To apply for this role email your CV to recruitment@marketappeal.co.uk including your contact details, notice period and salary expectations.

International and Multilingual SEO Tips – Part 1

 

Global SEO

We recently received a number of enquiries regarding the optimisation of international and multilingual SEO. So, here’s a quick guide to some of the key issues and common solutions.

Duplicate content across multiple domains

As companies expand overseas it’s common to own multiple domains all serving the same language. e.g.:

  •  www.company.com
  • www.company.net
  • www.company.co.uk
  • www.company.au
  • www.company.nz
  • www.company.za

Creating unique content for every page is generally considered SEO best practice since, theoretically, if each site’s content is sufficiently different then they can all rank alongside each other in Google, crowding out the competition.

In reality, creating completely different versions of the same site is often impractical due to productions overheads or technical limitations and so alternative solutions, such as site geotargeting or canonical tags are deployed.

Domain geolocation

Country specific domains

Some top level domains (TLDs) such as .co.uk are associated directly with a specific region by search engines, in this case the UK. Region-specific domains rank better in their target region than elsewhere, which is fine for national sites but makes them less suitable as the primary domain for global brands.

 Global domains

On the other hand some TLDs such as .net .com and .org are not region-specific and so are ideal for global sites.

Further, they can be geotargeted in Google Webmaster Tools, which turns a global TLD into a country specific domain.

Which to use

If you only have one website that targets a single region then either a country specific domain or a global domain with geotargeting is recommended, since employing a global TLD without geotargeting will result in unusable overseas traffic and inferior target region rankings.

Conversely, if you have a single site and want to attract international visitors then only a global TLD without any geotargeting will do.

Single language, multiple sites

If you have multiple sites serving similar content to various regions, as outlined above, then duplicate content can become an issue.

For example, if not geotargeting is set then the following defaults apply:

  • www.company.com (Global)
  • www.company.net (Global)
  • www.company.co.uk (UK)
  • www.company.au (Australia)
  • www.company.nz (New Zealand)
  • www.company.za (South Africa)

In this case some regions such as the United States will see two identical copies of the site (with no obvious preference in Google) with the .com and .net versions vying for attention.

Worse, countries such as the UK will see three versions, the .com, .net and .co.uk respectively.

The solution

As a general rule, only one version of a site should ever be targeting to a single region.

Further, no region should be able to see more than two versions of the same content and in such cases one version should be locally targeted (e.g. a local .co.uk site) and the other Global (.e.g. a .com with no manual geotargeting).

To resolve the duplication we can localise either the .net or .com version in Webmaster Tools to a territory such as the USA. That way, Google will see them geotargeted as follows:

  • www.company.com (Global)
  • www.company.net (USA)
  • www.company.co.uk (UK)
  • www.company.au (Australia)
  • www.company.nz (New Zealand)
  • www.company.za (South Africa)

Each region, such as the UK, will only see their geotargeted site and the global version (.com), which is okay.

Geotargeting a single domain to serve multiple regions

By setting geotargeting at the subdomain or folder level, you can elegantly enable a single domain to server both global and geotargeted content at the same time, without excessive duplication to any one region, as follows:

  •  www.company.com (Global)
  •  us.company.com (USA)
  • uk.company.com (UK)
  • au.company.com (Australia)
  • nz.company.com (New Zealand)
  • za.company.com (South Africa)

or

  • company.com (Global)
  •  company.com/us/ (USA)
  • company.com/uk/ (UK)
  • company.com/au/ (Australia)
  • company.com/nz/ (New Zealand)
  • company.com/sa/ (South Africa)

To do this a separate Webmaster Tools profile must be created for each of the above urls, which isn’t quite as tedious as it sounds, since they can sit in a single account simplifying their verification.

In part two, we’ll address how to optimise multilingual content across single and multiple domains.

Image sourced from Donkeyhotey, Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5679642883/

Commemorating Laurence Gunn: 25 Sep 1979 – 3 Mar 2012 R.I.P.

We are shocked and saddened to learn about the untimely death of Laurence Gunn, killed on a crossing late Saturday afternoon 3 Jan 2012 by a 22 year old motorist, after walking his dog on Hampstead Heath, according to a friend with him at the time.

It feels like just a few days ago when in summer 2011 Laurence and I discussed his desire to move from print toward publishing online and to start his own high-end magazine. Laurence decided to leave his digital production job at Incisive Media and join us for three months to assist with online marketing campaigns. His contract was subsequently extended indefinitely, a testament to his amicable attitude, diligent nature and ability to improve everything he touched. Thanks to Laurence our presentations are prettier, copywriters better briefed and logo’s more iconic.

Laurence didn’t just work for Market Appeal. He’d been a friend for over a decade. We first met when he joined a band with Andy Berg at Southampton University. Then, in 2009, he was Best Man at Andy’s wedding, giving a speech as heartfelt as any.

Laurence made an impression on everyone he met. Even friends who had only met him a couple of times have asked to attend his funeral – or ‘celebration of his life’, as his family would like it to be known. He was never overtly religious, but always came across as someone with a generous heart and strong moral values.

Rather than splashing out on extravagant cards and ostentatious decoration, Laurence encouraged his family to celebrate his birthdays by planting trees and spending time with each other and nature. So, rather than sending large cards or cut flowers, please commemorate him by sending modest condolence cards to his family and planting a small tree, or sending them donations so that they may do the same.

Laurence recently started a health and fitness blog bitfit.org, as stepping stone towards grander plans. Its headline “Do what you love.” is a fitting epitaph, and how he’d want us to live.

Hi! I’m Market Appeal’s new digital content manager

Laurence Gunn
Laurence Gunn is joining Market Appeal from global business-to-business publisher Incisive Media. Here he retraces the road he has taken to search engine optimisation via publishing and explains why he’s about to become the office hate figure
I’ve just arrived at Market Appeal to become its digital content manager, having spent four years as, multifariously, a journalist, sub-editor and production editor for business-to-business publisher Incisive Media. I was fortunate enough in my time there to work on some great titles, among them Accountancy Age, Insurance Age, Legal Week, Post, Reinsurance and Professional Broking; I’ve also been a reviewer for market-leading PC title Computer Active for a few years now.
I am a bit of a techie – as I guess the Computer Active thing gives away; I’m also an Adobe Creative Suite specialist – which I guess is par for the course to work at a search engine optimisation specialist. Well, imagine not knowing the bare essentials of good web practice in this job; I mean, what good would I be if I turned up on day one and blindly typed Google into Google?!? I shudder to think.
Having spent a few days with the guys here at my new office, I am aware that I have also cast a worrisome shadow over my newly acquired colleagues: I am a Mac user. And I have an iPhone. There are teeth gnashing beside me on this very subject as I type this blog entry; it all reminds me of when I was a podgy schoolboy 20 years ago, bickering incessantly as unwitting participants Sega v. Nintendo console wars*. I’m already planning to plant Apple stickers on my colleagues laptop lids…though don’t tell them that.My journalism and technology exploits have inevitably led me to digital publishing. I see a troublesome future for journalistic print; it is monumental to think that we are witnessing such epochal change to an era stretching back over 550 years to Gutenberg’s creation of movable type. Yet it is inevitable.

While getting to grips with digital publishing to an ever-increasing degree over the past few years at Incisive Media, one area brought up a question mark like no other to me: search engine optimisation. Nothing like it exists in the print publishing; it is unique to digital content and has extraordinary ramifications for the way in which users – you, me, everybody – find and consume information. Moreover, the rules remain largely the same whether your firm publishes magazines, offers medical advice or sells seafood wholesale.

As someone taught to create the best-quality content possible, I was intrigued by the part that search plays in getting relevant content onto people’s PC screens. I found myself wanting to learn and understand the underlying processes – the nuts and bolts – so moving to SEO and digital publishing was, in the end, a no-brainer for me.

Of course, Anthony and Damian are the people with the knowledge and technical skills that power this business. Some of the stuff they do is very far-sighted and I’m excited to be a part of that vision here at Market Appeal. I’m not of the ilk that can sit in front of a computer for hours figuring out algorithms, worse luck, so it’s unlikely that I’ll ever come up with any technical revolutions, but what I can (and will) do is manage the content that will help you climb the rankings of Google and other search engines.

I’m also the person responsible for de-mystifying the seemingly intractable jargon surrounding SEO for you, much like a journalist does. In so many ways, my job has not changed at all.

Laurence joins Market Appeal on 5 September 2011.