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Micky Stuivenberg
International Web Copywriter, SEO & Web Consultant
International Web Copywriter, SEO & Web Consultant


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Saturday morning adventures in the village of Lowanna in rural NSW, Australia (45 mins inland from the city of Coffs Harbour, our home town), where my husband and I are house/dog sitting for friends.

We rock up to the local general store/café around 8.30am to buy a newspaper. The delivery person is running late, we're told, but the papers should arrive in the next 15 minutes. It's the country. It's Saturday. We're in no rush. So we think we'll have a coffee and wait for the papers. I ask if that's possible. (I'm not even sure why I ask. It's a café, they're open, so why wouldn't it be possible, right?) "Sure!", says the lady behind the counter.

So I order two long blacks (the common Australian term for a standard black espresso coffee topped up with hot water, like an Americano). Hmm. A few seconds of silence, followed by a hesitant "err yeah OK, I think I should be able to do that?" I clarify: so just two black coffees with no milk. Then she says: "But, you like the real coffee right, not instant?" ...

This time it's ME who's taken aback. WTF? Surely they don't serve instant coffee to customers? (Is what I think.) Yeah, that's right. (Is what I say.) Is that possible? (Why do I keep asking her this?) OK, well, she's going to give it a go. Alright then.

I walk back out to the front veranda with the little table and chairs where my husband has already taken a seat. Immediately behind the petrol bowser, that is! I tell him the story about the coffee. He thinks I should have cancelled the order when she hesitated. Hey, I like to live dangerously. Let's do this! We're on holiday!

We sit back, marvel at the messy set-up and dated decor of this wonderful piece of original Australiana, and discuss petrol prices (you start doing strange things when sitting less than 2 metres behind a petrol bowser).

The coffee arrives. OMG! Before us on the table are two mugs of perfectly acceptable long blacks, with a nice crema layer, even. See, no need to have worried.

Sipping our coffee, we witness the comings and goings of a few local blokes dropping in for a quick errand. Then a little red car arrives from the opposite direction. Excitement. It's the lady with the deliveries. Yay! A couple of cartons of soft drinks are unloaded, then a crate of bread, a crate of milk, and finally, a stack of newspapers.

I take the last sip of my coffee and, shortly after the deliveries arrived, I go inside to buy our paper. They haven't even finished putting them on the shelves yet. One bloke who went inside a minute before me, goes out the door with a couple of newspapers under his arm.

I ask the lady at the counter which papers they have. Hmm. I get that same startled look again. "Why?" she asks. "Which paper did you want?" Well, the Sydney Morning Herald, if they have it? "Oh no," she goes. "So sorry. That man just bought them ALL" (pointing at the bloke who just left the shop).

They had a grand total of 3 SMH papers. And they were all gone within 1 minute. All she had for me was the Daily Telegraph. Ahh sshhhittt. That's not a newspaper. Oh well. In the spirit of, don't make a fuss over things you can't change, it's Saturday, this is a holiday, mindfulness and all that, I decide to just say, oh, OK, sure, we'll take that then.

So I buy that paper (reluctantly, but still) and go back outside. The bloke with the three GOOD newspapers (THAT HE STOLE FROM UNDER OUR NOSES! I mean, that he fairly bought because he was first in the store after the papers had arrived) was still standing right there. Talking to another local bloke. With the papers under his arm. The Sydney Morning Herald mastheads staring us right in our faces.

Man! Why does he need 3? Should we say anything? Ask him to swap one? Follow him to see where he's going with those? Ask what he's doing with them when he's done with them? Nope, we say nothing. Do nothing. We just leave. Walk back to our lovely temporary country home and start to read the (WRONG) paper.

After 2 minutes of flicking pages, we both agree this is indeed a really shitty paper and we shouldn't have bought it.

Oh well. Tomorrow's another day. We'll try again, with the Sunday paper. We may even venture out to the next little town. We KNOW they know their coffees there. And if we're lucky, and early, we may even manage to get our hands on the good newspaper this time! :-)
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Run a local business? Here's a good overview of local SEO. You may find some useful tips in here for improving your local rankings.
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Do you know what your SEO company does for you?

If you pay an SEO company a monthly fee, you're entitled to know what they do with your money.

I still regularly come across businesses who have no idea exactly what their SEO company does for them and don't see results over time. Because these people don't really understand SEO, they may be too trusting and afraid to ask questions. But that way they're very easy to take advantage of.

For every honest, professional SEO company that works hard to get good results for their clients, there are many more that are happy to just take money off people, lock them into a long-term contract, hardly do anything, get no real results, don't provide reports and purposely keep their clients in the dark about their SEO practices.

If that sounds like you and your SEO company, never mind if you don't understand how SEO works, but please hold your SEO company accountable. Demand monthly reports showing you exactly what they are doing and have them explain how that is helping your website.

If they refuse, and you're not happy with the results of their work, cancel your contract and find a better SEO company.
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Glad to note we can now add one or two words back into the all-important Title tag.
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Glacier Bay, Alaska
Misty mountains, still icy waters, bluish glaciers and beautiful rain. Shot from the bow of +Holland America Line's MS Noordam a few days ago. Far, far away from everywhere. LOVED it!
#travel  #Alaska 
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This certainly makes it easier for customers of local businesses to leave reviews.
Google has removed the Google+ account requirement when leaving reviews on local businesses within Google Maps:
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Sign the hipster barista at this new coffee place may be just a tad pretentious: After taking a good 8 minutes to craft my (simple) coffee, gasping loudly and shrieking "oh no, I wouldn't do that!" as I reach for the sugar.

#coffee #barista 
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Why websites rank well - insights from 1 million search results

I find this article very interesting because it's based on such a huge amount of actual search results.

Some insights: Backlinks and exact match anchor text still seem to matter more than Google says they do. Topically relevant, in-depth content is very important, while keywords in title tags seem to matter less with Google moving more and more towards semantic search. 

If you're interested at all in SEO and what makes pages rank well, you should have a read.

#SEO   #google  
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Switching to the new Google+
So based on the comments and reviews I've read, should I continue saying "no thanks" to Google's "do you want to change to the new Google+"?
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Have you tried Google voice search lately? It's improved by leaps and bounds.

I'm really impressed by its ability to understand me and give me fast, relevant results, sometimes even via a direct verbal answer.

For example, while watching Top of the Lake, we wondered where exactly this Kiwi mini-series was shot. I didn't want to miss anything or stop the show to type my question, so I pressed the microphone button in the Google search box on my phone and simply asked "where was Top of the Lake filmed".

Within 1 second, I heard: "According to Wikipedia, filming took 18 weeks and was shot entirely on location in Queenstown and Glenorchy, in New Zealand." (Followed by two more sentences, and the extract also appeared on screen.) Wow. 

I can also just ask "what's the weather today" and get an immediate response for my location. Even "will I need an umbrella this afternoon" results in a direct verbal answer.

When I last tried a voice search for "content writer", a year or more ago, no matter what accent I used, Google had no idea what I was saying. Now I can say it in an Australian, American or British accent and it's understood. Same with other words that have totally different pronunciations across the world.

I think it's awesome. I'll start using voice search much more often now that I know it works so well.

Do you use Google voice search? What do you use it for mostly? Does it work well for you?
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