The5hits

Need Home Improvement?

Welcome to the new online home improvement website homeimprovement2day.com.au. They claim to help you Find, Select, Review and Contact and I’m sure the next release will include a quote tool to make it easier for all those looking to renovate.

Homeimprovement2day.com.au mission is to be the “go to” home improvement website and is an Australian business with over 1500 categories to help you with everything from plumbers, builders and fence repairers through to the more obscure and we won’t mention categories we thought fitted in there for fear of offending anyone in those industries.

There is already fierce competition in this lucrative space, mainly from Hipages so will be interesting to watch how they do, but Homeimproveme2day have a lot of listings already, can show these listings down to a suburb level and appear to have done a lot of things right. HiPages recently raised $6m which is being spent on marketing so this whole category is about to be lifted through education and no doubt more competitors. Good for those about to renovate and in Australia.  This is big business, and a lot of people are looking for service providers online. Word of mouth is also not always an option given not everyone renovates continuously, or we hope not. Wouldn’t wish that on anyone..

Our view is that the winner will be the site that delivers the best bang from buck. The buck being real leads to those listed on the site. Traffic will not be enough. And the bang making the CPL or cost per lead deliver a good ROI.

Homeimprovement2day are competitive with  a free listing option which will deliver a lot of value and then a paid listing starting from $25 and lots of info on what you get. The HiPages option is a little harder to understand starting at $69 and a saving of $229 but not clear on what you get and what the expectations are for upgrading. Ultimately like real estate you might need a listing on both to cover the market

Ultimately we see these second tier niche directories are growing more and more and if they can control the customer they will win. This is no longer about a directory, but about connecting willing buyers and providers in the most efficient manner. Good luck to both.


SEO Training for Marketers

If you are into online marketing, you would know SEO is a core component of online marketing.

You would also know that optimising all your digital assets will increase your online brand presence. Do it wrong and you may get penalised.

You would also know that that Google likes user engagement/ good results in their search results. As such Google’s guidelines can be seen as a de facto standards that should be followed by all webmasters and marketers on their websites. So are you listing to the “dude” who is “so digital” for your guidance or are you following logical published standards and guidelines based on millions of dollars of research by Google to bring users relevant and useful results in their search engine? And sure, designs are unique and sit across these which few machines can understand. Creative is important and sits alongside SEO in engagement, but you need them both firing to get results. You also need to be innovative and think outside the square when it comes to user journey, triggers, moments that matter and how to identify and leverage these across your web presence to not only increase conversion, but also to build your online brand presence.

So where do you get great SEO training in Australia? Well Bruce Clay lead the way with SEO training from 2007 and now that Bruce Clay is Resolution media. Resolution has continued down the SEO training tradition, delivering 1 day SEO and 1/2 day SEO for copywriter and copy writing for the web SEO training in both Sydney and Melbourne. Updated quarterly with all the latest changes and information.

The next training courses are as follows and there are limited spots available. 2 in Sydney and 5 in Melbourne of you will be waiting until next year.

20 November in Sydney – 1 day SEO training

24th November in Melbourne – 1 day SEO training

You can register here.

SEoOTraining Sydney

 

SEO Training Melbourne

 

The courses include manuals, checklists, exercises, access to the Resolution proprietary toolset and of course coffees and lunch. The course is $795 per person and there are group discounts for multiple attendees from the same organisation. Full disclosure. I am one of the Joint CEO’s of Resolution and I think the training is great!

 


Manly Dam Trail Running Track

I have ridden mountain bikes at Manly Dam over many years but only done a trail run there once, as part of a race arranged by Mountain Sports. Deciding to run this alone this week, I realised either not many people are running there or they are not posting about it as there is very little info on running there online, other than a bike load of mountain biking sites and advice.

You can find some info on the park here courtesy of the Council, but I found it of limited help, there is also a map here with more detail which is what I tried to use and memorise for my run but lacks some detail.

Here is my take for first timers wanting to trail run at Manly Dam. With a little help it is quite easy, and you cannot get that lost, there is always a road, golf course or houses nearby. Its is a great run, great way to get away from it all, get outdoors and enjoy nature and running at the same time. I highly recommend adding this course to your runs if you have not already done so.

My Gear

Shoes

Last time I ran at manly Dam I ran in a pair of Mizuno Harriers which caused me, still on going heel (Bursitis) issues. There is a lot of rock jumping which caused my issues, i.e landing too hard with insufficient cushioning (The Harriers have little cushioning for the heel). These days I run in Hoka’s to help with the ongoing Bursitis, anyway I ran the trail in my old Mizuno

Mizuno Elixr 7 running shoeElixr 7’s which were OK, but there are a number of slippery areas requiring grip and could feel sharp rocks through the bottom on the fire trail.

I would recommend running with a solid paid or off road trail running shoes, with some good cushioning. Personally I am thinking of getting the Mizuno Kazans, but that is another story. Just to stress, I would not recommend running in your normal running shoes, unless its the first time and you are happy to take it slow and accept some collateral damage. They will take a battering and the grip/ protection probably won’t be ideal.

Other gear I had

  • Nathan’s trail mix hydration belt, this has 2 bottles, should be enough on a hot day. Camelbak will do the job as well.
  • Had some additional water in the car. 2 Mount Franklin 600ml bottles and downed when I finished. (Avg temp 26 degrees on the day)
  • Garmin Fenix 2
  • iPhone – used Google Maps to navigate
  • Sunscreen and cap
  • Spibelt to carry keys and phone
  • Oakley running glasses. Eye protection is a must

Manly Dam trail running tips

  1. There are exposed roots, lose rocks, wet and slippery angled rocks, steps, small water crossings and loose gravel everywhere. You need to be looking around 3m in front of you on the ground at all times. Spraining your ankle on an exposed tree root is easy, too easy in fact and having done this before on another trail run, (sprained my ankle on a trail run) 4km in, this is not pleasant as you will need to walk out, unless you want to call for help, but whoever you call will have to follow the narrow trails to find you.  Stumbling is the second risk, ending up with grazed knees and shins will slow you down but will help with the sympathy factor when you get home, maybe?
  2. Also look out for wildlife, I ran nearly into some large lizards, sunning themselves on the track, not sure who got the bigger frights, but in one case I did end up going bush to avoid stepping on the chap who was about the size of my foot. He wasn’t happy either.
  3. Assume rocks that look loose are loose and you won’t be disappointed
  4. Drink water regularly
  5. Watch for mountain bikers on the fire trail. Turn your music off on this section, they come down the hills thick and fast and cannot easily manoeuvre around you. If you run clockwise they will be coming from behind down the hill.
  6. Leave enough time to avoid being caught in the dark, should you get injured and need to walk back or slightly lost. Night trail running is not allowed and parking areas are closed off requiring a $50 payment to retrieve your car outside of hours. Running in twilight or the dark without lights I think would guarantee some form of injury.

Trail running route

I tried to follow the Park Circuit route which is listed as a bush walk of 7,3km. Based on the map below I ended up doing 8,52km:

  • There are few signposts on the trail
  • When there signs, many are inconsistent or arbitrary, like the sign to “Manly Vale”. A sign to a suburb?
  • Many paths off to the water, usually to the right, some easier to spot than others as being a dead end
  • Often forks in the path where no help is offered
  • Not clear on how to get back to the car park at the end of the loop

Check out the route map from my run below. You can see where I ended up on the golf course at one stage and into various dead ends at another stage. If you follow the direction below you should be fine:

Manly Dam map running route 1. I parked in North Balgowlah at the front of the building on King Street just before the entrance to the park. Avoids paying the Park fees, this is where most of the mountain biking starts from. Run into the park but would suggest leaving music off if you are listening, the road is narrow.

2. As you run into the park you will see a trail off to the left, blue sign which says a lot of things including Park Circuit. You don’t have to do this piece as the nature trail it becomes brings you back to the road anyway. Nice start though and will get you into the swing of things. If you take it, turn right just up the hill where the nature trail sign is, don’t continue on up to Mt Comb (I think it is) of you just end up in the suburbs. Follow the nature trail until it brings you back to the road.

3. When you hit the road again, turn left and continue. I tried crossing the road and running along the water but this is short lived and you end up on the road anyhow.A little further on opposite section 3 car park you will see a large trail off to the left. Take it and take the first right which says nature trail or park circuit, either or and this takes you along a number of wooden tracks and ends up at the last car park in section 4. As you emerge to the open area, you will see the Park Circuit trail heading off to your left again, follow it.

4. Follow this path for a couple of kms, it takes you through beautiful tree lined paths next to the water. Don’t take the paths down to the water or be tempted to. At around the 4km mark you will get to a fork. Take the wrong one as you can see on the map and end up on the golf course with some surprised golfers. Only a 100m or so so not a big deal, the fork to the right continues on the Park circuit.

5. Continue on beautiful single trails and you will emerge onto the fire trail with signs that tell you to beware of mountain bikers and this is good wisdom indeed. Turn right and stay on the fire trail but watch for bikes, they come tearing down the hill with little ability to swerve. Good time to turn the music off. Follow the fire trail down through the creek and then up the steep hill and keep going until you see a clearly marked path to the right with a picture of hikers on it. Take that, the next turn after that is for mountain bikes and then you hit suburbs. This is again a beautiful single trail over bridges and more wooden paths.

6. The next fork you get to is around 7km which even has a map which does not help. I initially went right which takes you to and along the water and then ends. This is probably around 250m of wasted track. So left it is, up the hill and away form the water.

7. When you get to the T junction, take a right and head toward Manly Vale and down to the water. The track back over the dam wall is not clearly marked and does not really look like a track at all. Just keep the houses and dam in perspective. It requires an illogical badly marked turn sharp right. I cannot unfortunately remember the signage. You should though see the dam wall shortly. Head over the dam wall and you are done, the path to the car park should be clear.

Some of my errors included:

Map - Golf course detour

Golf Course Detour in error

Wrong turn off single track

Wrong turn off track in error

Final navigation over wall

Final navigation over wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, not easy to get lost but easy to make short frustrating mistakes.

 

Manly trail photos

What you have to look forward to. This is a great morning or afternoon out. Highly recommend it. Hope the above comes in useful.

Trail in the woods

Trail in the woods

Manly dam wall

Manly dam wall

Water along track

Water along track

Raised wooden deck

Raised wooden deck

Bush path

Bush path

 

 

 


Search Happiness

So there you have it. Thought this was hilarious that there is actually a happy man in search. Congrats Aaron, the science looks dubious, the image even more so but hey, not much else to do in Melbourne, so glad you are happy about being in search marketing. You can read more on the happy search guy here.

Check out the spiffy new Google Business MyBusiness Help Center. If you have a small business, you might want to check out, especially if you want to be local

Check out the Moz, algorithm history update page, really useful reference page for those serious about SEO and organic traffic.

So it you are happy and clapping your hands, and haven’t had a penalty and now know how to get local rankings, have a good week.

 

 


Shimano Alfine issues

Just an update on the belt drive Focus bike I recently purchased. On the first ride I it felt like the gears were slipping, which got progressively worse. Really excellent when you are recovering from a sprained ankle and start to ride and in top gear standing the hub changes to low gear and you nearly go over the handle bars. So to cut a long story short, it went back to Atelier de Velo and spent the week there. The guys were great, kept me up to date and changed the hub out with another bike in stock which seems fine now. They tell me they have never seen a defect like this, so happy I am the exception.

Bike warranties are a circus. There is the bike supplier (Focus), the gear supplier (Shimano) who seem to assume the bike shop have screwed up to make them jump through hoops and then the bike shop themselves. So thank to Atelier de Velo for sorting this out and doing a lot of work in the background. Great service and very happy with the bike. Only other issue now is a scraping disc brake, but will get that fixed at the 3 month service.

Read the selecting a bike post I did here.


Selecting a road bike, urban bike, this is all too hard bike

Having sprained my ankle during a trail run and then taking longer than usual to heal, I decided to do something I never thought I would do, which is buy a road bike. I have been mountain biking for years. Initially I started with a bit of fun at Mojo Bikes and Jelly Bean bikes, which if you are bored are great places to doodle and design colour schemes for bikes. We even designed a bike in corporate colours. These bikes are great and look like fun but fixies tend to be more Melbourne centric, Sydney is very hilly and then for a large framed person like myself I had self doubts about the components included on a $500 bike, even though there were a number of online reviews saying how great these bikes are. Note I didn’t ride or test one.. Finally I figured I would look like an idiot trying to go for longer rides on one of these on a weekend for fitness purposes which was my intent.

So off to the bike shops. I visited Northside Cyclery (Specialised), Giant shop, 99 bikes (Merida), Atelier de Velo (Focus), Clarence Street cyclery (Trek) and called a couple more. If you want to spend less than $1,000 it seems like you need to go to Big W or K Mart. The above did take a couple of weeks, but no rush. Most of these shops are big professional outfits selling expensive mountain and road bikes and I think the end of the corner bike store is near.

This is a nightmare, there are multiple brands with multiple models with multiple categories and each seems to just have something that makes you want to go to the next model up. Each jump is around $500 and when you are not planning on doing the tour de france, this can be hard to judge., what exactly you need and the fit.

Common issues I experienced:

  • Their online presence and in many cases websites are bad. People research online, why make it so hard?
  • Lots of 404 errors (broken links) in links to manufacturers sites, which mostly focussed on the US or EU audience
  • Very little local search optimisation, making many of them hard to find for simple searches around bikes
  • No indication of what was in stock on the sites or only a sample of bikes actually sold on the website
  • Some of the websites down and the guys in the shop happily stating they knew and would get around to it.
  • Little public social media monitoring, that I experienced anyway

So, the only research you can do is on the manufacturers websites, which is fine when they work and are updated, but they are more focussed on the US and European markets and are totally focussed around the model range as you would expect. In certain cases the 2014 ranges were in store and not on the site yet.

Then in store I had the following experiences:

  • No stock of either the model I was after or my size. For an expensive item you are meant to buy on faith
  • Bike sizes are a turkey shoot, all the frames are different
  • Bike shop staff have different views on sizing and the reasons therefore. I was fitted and sworn this was my size from medium large to large and extra large.
  • Quoting stock that was actually with the distributor, not in the store. A very grey area. 2 day odd delivery.

Where I had a great experience:

  1. Giant shop in Clarence street, no pressure, great advice and great help. Also great shop. I would recommend a visit here if you are bike shopping and chat to Joe
  2. Atelier de Velo, nice helpful and patient. Shop not as big and bright as the others, but you can get a cup of coffee there
  3. Clarence Street Cyclery, as you would expect
  4. Northside Cyclery, just go on the weekend when the experienced guys are there, had a very average experience on labour day

My needs:

  • Commute to work on an irregular basis, not every day
  • Ride for fitness on the weekend, especially since my sprained ankle has stopped me running
  • Simple, low maintenance, that won’t break the bank

The brands I looked at:

  • Focus Planet TR2 Belt drive – Urban
  • BWC UC01 Belt Drive
  • Specialised Crux – (Cyclocross)
  • Giant TCX SLR (Cyclocross)
  • Giant TCR Advanced (Road bike)
  • Trek Cross Rip (Cyclocross)
  • Trek Madone (Road bike)

What I found and the advice I got:

  • Cyclocross bikes while they look good for commuting due to strength and disc brakes are a shorter wheel base and if you are tall very uncomfortable
  • After mountain biking I want discs, still don’t trust them pads although many assured me they are good
  • I am not ready to wear lycra
  •  I don’t need 27 odd gears to ride to the city and on the weekend I want to get my heart rate up
  • You cannot or maybe should not put carbon fibre on a bike rack at the back of the car, not made for that, so Aluminium frame or similar is better for this
  • Thinner wheels = harder ride, so for commuting and cycling you need a balance
  • Belt drive bikes have no lube, so no grease on pants and they are quiet
  • Getting the tension right on a belt drive bike is key, make sure your bike shop knows what they are doing. The tool is over $100, but there is an app from Carbon Drive, just search in the App store
  • Do not stress about sizing and sizes, try them all and go with what feels right and looks normal
  • Get some lights, rechargeable LEDs are best, probably set you back $80 – $100. You want to be as visible as possible
  • Wear mountain biking pants, about the same cost as lycra and much much more functional and also keeps your modesty intact
  • You will have to buy pedals, upmarket bikes don’t come with pedals. Expect to spend around $80+. I have always bought Shimano SPD’s which allow normal shoes or clip ons. Not the coolest but functional.

What did I buy

Each to his own, but after all this I came back to where I started which is I bought the same bike as my neighbour much to his delight, a 2013 Focus TR1 carbon belt drive with 8 gear internal rear hub (you can change gears while stopped), hydraulic disc brakes and flat handlebar from Atelier de Velo (where they had stock). I had 28mm Schwalbe tires fitted, Orange (Resolution branded) grips, Shimano SPD pedals and rechargeable LED lights. Bike looks great, hopefully they didn’t screw up the belt tensioning when they changed the tires. No tool just said they had been doing it for 6 years and bring it back if there were any issues. Great. The 2014 model will be available late Dec/ early Jan and will be mat black with integrated LEDs at the same price. I needed it for exercise now, so decided not to wait. Some pics below:

Focus TR2 carbon drive bike Focus Belt Drive Hub Shimano focus-belt-drive-crank Focus TR@ Handles and front Schwalbe 28mm tires

 

Hopefully drama free cycling for me on this in the next couple of years.

 

 


Organic v Paid Search Results

So the age old drama of can I reduce my paid search investment if I do more SEO? Do I still need to buy brand terms? Well Resolution Media along with Kenshoo and HP have done the hard yards to give you a little more comfort in this area. As a part of Resolution Media I got to see the client summit presentations on this in Chicago and ultimately you really want to increase sales or conversions, Google wants to make more money and all these things should ultimately lead you to being more efficient in your marketing spend and ROI than debate or defend a specific point of view.

Unfortunately the data can be looked at in many different ways and support numerous arguments, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. You can read a fuller prognosis from Searchengineland here, or download the Whitepaper from Resolution Media yourself here.

I think a couple of takeaways are relevant here before we all run around with our hands in the air:

  • Only results with both paid and organic listings were analysed
  • While easy to measure the ranking in organic, placement of the paid is harder, these would usually have been in 1-3 above the fold, not down the right.
  • Landing pages, obviously controllable with paid
  • Focus on e-commerce terms rather than informational terms as these deliver ROI for paid and overall traffic and funnel not dicussed. So the old 1. Information, 2. Navigation and 3. Transaction or simply Hunting, Shopping, Buying as we know it.
  • Attribution was not discussed

Bottom line is if you are serious about e-commerce, an “integrated search” strategy is key and constantly measuring and being tactical about how you target both paid and organic listings will maximise ROI. At Resolution media in Australia we have been working hard with our clients on integrating SEO and SEM efforts via the following:

  • Team integration
  • Keyword targeting
  • Reporting
  • Regular tactical adjustments
  • Content marketing
  • Attribution modelling and measurement

Integrated search where you are looking at SEO and SEM is key in your marketing mix. That is why at Resolution we have big teams of SEO and SEM folks in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, great technology and excellent IP focussed on delivering integrated search where we can. Sorry, not meant to be overly salesy but I get excited about this stuff. So this is great research, with all of these things they cannot answer all the questions, because there are a significant number of variables, but it does go a long way to help if you are an e-commerce business and doing both SEO and SEM and looking to maximise your investment. It will help refine your starting tactics, but after that you need to measure and refine yourself. Remember results may differ by industry and always consult a professional.

 


Resolution Social media Network

We have the Resolution Social Media pages up and running.

To find out more about Resolution as an Agency, if you are interested in working at Resolution in Australia, check out the new and improved Resolution Facebook page here.

To get industry news and updates on job opportunities available in Resolution at the moment, check out out Resolution Twitter and Resolution Google Plus pages here.

Website coming soon.