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St Albans cricket pavilion

Far Pavilions

Yesterday, in a scene reminiscent of the days of imperial rule and the British Raj, I gave an SEO presentation outside, on the steps of a cricket pavilion. But I didn't have to travel too far - this scene wasn't played-out in India but the near colony of St Albans.

Pop-in to the pop-up

Silicon Abbey is a social enterprise building a digital future in Hertfordshire, by supporting digital entrepreneurs by bringing-together local businesses to support digital start-ups and SMEs. Throughout the month of July Silicon Abbey is running a Summer Pop-up, offering free desk space to digital start-ups as well as a series of masterclasses and networking events. All this is taking place right now in the tranquil, historic cricket pavilion at Clarence Park, St Albans.

SEO and Fast Startup

Yesterday, as the pavilion clock hit noon and the heat of the day hit maximum, I stepped out of the pavilion onto the shady steps outside and experienced the sheer delight of sharing some thoughts about SEO with the digital startups sat on the steps of St Albans Town Cricket Club.

The balmy event was the second time that I had chosen to use a new AV technique for presenting some of my concepts and ideas drawn from The Art of Search® and SEO and the Existence of God. Instead of using PowerPoint I created a combination of slides and notes in an E^dition eBook. I've positioned our eBooks as a technique that allows authors to take their online content offline and I can think of no better illustration of the use-case than yesterday's SEO presentation for St Albans startups.

The eBook format allows digital books to be read on a desktop, laptop or a tablet as well as a mobile device - my first eBook-enabled presentation involved sharing my presentation by plugging my iPhone into a wall-mounted flatscreen. Yesterday, as I entered the room where the Summer Pop-up was taking place, I saw no projector or plasma; despite there being WiFi and a room full of entrepreneurs working at laptops, the building which dates back to the 1890's wasn't your typical digital seminar venue.

The founder of Silicon Abbey, Torsten de Riese, asked me where I'd like to do the presentation and his eyes sparkled as we quickly agreed that presenting on the steps outside would be both fun and minimally invasive to the business owners working hard in the Pop-up. I began the session by sharing the URL from which the E^dition ebook could be downloaded so that, even without a flatscreen, they could follow and participate in the presentation whilst I used the eBook format to navigate my way through the session and not stray (too much) off-topic.
The meaning of communication is the response you get.

Some of the major points of yesterday's presentation about SEO to St Albans startups were: to optimse your website and trust what it's telling you about your marketplace; to listen to your Customers; to iterate and to not be afraid of failing fast. Once you understand what your Customers will type into Google to find a business like yours then the SEO terrain appears far less daunting for both startups and established businesses. After the hour-long session conducted in the shade of the cricket pavilion, it wasn't too long before I got the opportunity of taking some of my own medicine.

The opportunity to open-up a two-way communication

Picking-up some of the points raised, Emily Mathieson, Founder and Director of life-improving homewares startup Aerende.co.uk, and I were discussing the optimisation of her business website and, more specifically, how to engage with Customers and understand what they'd type into a search engine. Just ask them, I offered, you could ask Customers to enter a prize draw which they'd enter by completing a sentence. By reading their answers you'll be offered a glimpse into their thought processes and vocabulary.

Taking my own medicine

When I asked Emily what she'd type into Google to find a business like mine she thought for a nanosecond before telling me that she'd search for boutique craft web design St Albans but that she knew she'd not find me because she'd already tried. So, the real purpose of today's blog is to remedy that and demonstrate that I'm able to practice what I preached on the steps of a pavilion not too far away.