Some Thoughts on the First Harrogate Tech

June 18th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Last night was the inaugural Harrogate Tech meetup at Major Tom’s Social in Harrogate – it went surprisingly well (or perhaps not so surprisingly!), with about 15 people turning up of the 20 or so who’d reserved tickets. I’ve never organised a meetup before so it’s been something of a learning curve, but I’ve got lots of thoughts about how to make the next one better.

The Venue

The vast majority of attendees hadn’t been to Major Tom’s before but everyone seemed to like it. It’s such a relaxed atmosphere, with plenty of seating and a huge choice of drinks. It wouldn’t work if we wanted to do some talks (too noisy, nowhere to set up electricals), but for an informal meetup I can’t really fault it.


One thing I was a bit disappointed about was the lack of signage at the venue (which I thought was going to be taken care of by them). We had some “reserved” signs on our tables but nothing to say that we were Harrogate Tech, so next time I’m definitely bringing some proper posters to stick up.

I like to think if anyone walked in a) I would have recognised them, b) they would have recognised me or c) they’d have realised our group was the meetup because we were all wearing name badges and come over to say hi. Of course, I know I shouldn’t rely on any of those things so that’s something that needs to be better next time.

The Food

No one ordered food, and actually most people seemed to be going home to eat afterwards. Several of us went for dinner at 9 which was nice as far as the social side goes, but I think the meetup would definitely benefit from some food being laid on. Note to self: look for a sponsor for food.


I reckon about three quarters/two thirds of the people who said they were coming made it. There was a reminder email sent out a couple of days beforehand, but maybe this should have been just the day before. It doesn’t matter so much when the event isn’t ticketed but it would be nice to try and get attendance up. Maybe something like having a proper plan for food would help?


My main promotional tool for the meetup was Twitter. I.e. me tweeting about it quite a lot. It’s probably natural then that most people who came along were people I know, or who know someone I know. I’m sure this would grow naturally as people tell their friends/colleagues about it and ask them along next time, but I might need to ask specific people to come along or share it so that we reach a wider Harrogate audience.


Monthly or bi-monthly, realistically. I’m leaning towards bi-monthly but to be honest I’m still undecided.

If you have any suggestions for Harrogate Tech, anything you’d like to see or be incorporated into the meetup, feel free to leave a comment or email me (hello @ piggynap)!

Harrogate Tech Meetup – 17th June 2014

May 22nd, 2014 § 46 Comments


Harrogate Tech is a new meetup for everyone that works in the digital industry in (or near!) Harrogate.

Agency people, freelancers and anyone with an interest in design, development or online marketing is welcome. The aim is to have a laid-back get-together for networking, catching up and blowing off some steam.

The inaugural meetup will take place on the 17th of June at Major Tom’s Social in Harrogate.

As this is the very first meetup we’d like to get an idea of numbers beforehand, so please grab a free ticket over at the Eventbrite page. You can still come without one, but if we have an idea of attendance we’ll know how much space to reserve.

Why Attend?

Harrogate has a pretty big digital community, but if we want to hang out we have to head over to Leeds or York and who wants to do that?

This is a totally informal networking opportunity, and we encourage anyone in the digital sector to come along. There are no talks, sales pitches or recruitment drives (although bring your business cards along if you like!), just a friendly environment to get to know other people in digital.

Whether you work at an agency, in-house or for yourself, everyone’s welcome. You don’t need a better excuse to go out on a school night.

About Major Tom’s Social

Major Tom’s is a new bar in the centre of Harrogate, serving excellent food, wine and beer. It’s got art, board games, excellent music and we think it’ll be a great venue for Harrogate Tech. You can see their Facebook page here.

Major Tom’s Social
The Ginnel

Major Tom’s is located above Space Retro Vintage shop.

If you have any questions about the meetup, leave a comment below or email me: hello @

Working From Home

April 30th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

photo (9)

photo (10)

I’ve been working from home this week, which hasn’t affected the cat in the slightest. You’d think the little bugger would come and see me but no, this is as close to a “hello” as I get.

Search Marketing in 2014

January 3rd, 2014 § Leave a Comment

2013 saw a sea-change in SEO and the world of search marketing. Not only was the industry still dealing with the aftereffects of Google’s penalty suite, mopping up several year’s worth of paid links and spun content, everyone was rebranding themselves as “content marketers” to put a bit of distance between the “new, clean SEO” and whatever tactics they’d been using 12 months ago. There was an algorithm update that no-one noticed, Google pushed Enhanced Campaigns live whether you wanted them or not, removed all of our keyword data in one fell swoop, and users themselves decided browsing the web on smartphones was far preferable to using silly old desktops.

When Google released Panda in 2011 I thought it was a gamechanger, and the same went for Penguin in 2012, but 2013 has seen a raft of changes, both by Google and by users that really have changed the face of SEO forever. I don’t think it’s possible – if you run an online business – to ignore these changes and what they mean for the way we now have to work. With that in mind, here are my predictions for search marketing in 2014…

Traffic not rankings

Okay, so you can still scrape your rankings and see how much traffic those pages get; you can look at Webmaster Tools for an indication, but fundamentally it’s a lot more difficult to see your referring keywords than it ever was before. In 2014 overall traffic will be key, not headline terms. Some clients will still demand a #1 spot for “cruises” or “car insurance” or whatever, but many will want to see a sustained organic traffic growth, whether that comes from head terms or longtail.

More weight given to other channels

How many SEO’s looked at social or direct traffic a couple of years ago? The marketing mix is growing and all channels – not just organic – will grow in importance. Growth in direct traffic will be reported on, as will the impact of Social and Email campaigns. Organic traffic will become just a part of the mix, not the be-all-and-end-all.

Focus on conversion rates

With budgets stretched and link-building increasingly risky, site owners will look to their conversion rate to get the very most out of each and every visitor. Anyone selling conversion testing software will do well, as will design agencies focussed on CRO.

Basket value will also be important, as will what happens to the customer after they’ve purchased (do they come back to buy again?). Your job isn’t just getting people to a website any more, it’s making sure they become a customer.

Email marketing

The great advantage of email marketing over any other channel is that it’s relatively low-cost to do. You don’t pay for clicks, you can send it to thousands of people and if you’ve got an in-house designer you can send as many mailers as you like. Many big retailers already have brilliant email campaigns, but we’ll see a lot more smaller businesses doing it too. We’ll also see a rise in more innovative email marketing, like basket abandonment mailers and offers targeted to individual users.

Mobile optimised everything

It doesn’t need pointing out how huge mobile is now – I’ve seen sites with a 60% increase on mobile traffic over the last year and it’s a trend that’s going to continue. 2014 will see people rushing to responsify* their sites or create a mobile version, and agencies will see a big increase in the number of mobile site audits and mobile ranking checks they’re asked to produce.

Email will go mobile too, and before long sites that don’t have a mobile-optimised version will be considered *so* 2013.

More penalties

Google will continue to iterate their algorithmic penalties, and the demand for recovery won’t decrease in 2014. You can tell people not to do something but they’ll keep doing it until…well, until the sh*t hits the fan. Good news for agencies, for now – it’s a nice big project to keep you going – but as sites recover and people rethink their search marketing strategy….

Deliverables change

The deliverables on your monthly report will change. Maybe your link section has gone already, to be replaced by “mentions” and “reach”. Maybe traffic and revenue have taken the place of rankings. Whatever the details, agencies will report on a wider range of metrics encompassing several channels. They’ll add value where they can and their reports will reflect what we used to think of as “marketing”, not what we used to think of as “SEO”.

In conclusion

2014 will be an exciting year for the industry, whatever we like to call ourselves these days. If nothing else Google has forced us to adapt and, for want of a better word, modernise. We’re marketers now, or we should be, and that makes us versatile and useful outside our own little SEO bubble. We’re picking up the pieces of the last couple of years, not just painting over the cracks but starting afresh**, with a whole new mobile world to look forward to. I’m pretty excited for the coming year in search – I think we’ll see more innovation and a more interesting landscape to work in. Google Plus though? Still won’t take off.

*It’s a word
**And I don’t just mean those people who’ve had to move to a new domain

Blogging Aimlessly For 5 Years

October 22nd, 2013 § Leave a Comment

I realised today that Piggynap is over 5 years old – my first post was back in July 2008, almost a year after I graduated from university and entered the world of work. Originally I blogged about SEO (which was a very different place back then), making observations on Google updates and Adwords (which I did a lot of at the time).

Gradually, as the number of SEO blogs increased and it seemed everyone was saying everything far better than I ever could, and as I became a more jaded online marketer, concentrating more on working than writing about it, I lost interest in the endeavour and wrote more about life and cats.

I suppose Piggynap has never had a real aim – it’s not an online marketing blog and it’s not a personal blog, and that’s a bit of a problem, I think. Some people who read this only know me professionally so I don’t talk that personally on here. On the other hand I don’t have the time or the energy to make it a serious work blog, so the vast majority of what I do every day goes unmentioned.

Whilst Piggynap means a lot to me and it’s been with me for a long time, I’ve found another place to write about life, post pictures and generally be myself, uncensored, without even a thought for the 9-5.

Anyway, as a salute to 5 years of Piggynap, here’s a roundup of my best and most notable posts:

Google Knols are released to the public – anyone remember them?

I email Sean from Windows and he doesn’t even care.

Google start spying on users and I seem to like it.

The Cray Supercomputer doubles as an office sofa.

I have a massive rant about sexism in tech which, reading back I partly disagree with.

I do a real life presentation at a conference.

Nicholas Cage reacts three ways upon seeing a bird.

There is a sad owl.

How to ambush Bear Grylls.

An owl flies a zeppelin.

After 6 years or so working agency-side I finally go in-house.