Excel’s built-in web features are pretty frustrating when you want to do more with the web than import a static HTML table to a predefined set of cells.

I’ve often wanted to be able to update the contents of a cell based on dynamic parameters passed into a URL, and not found a decent, easy way of doing this. The official Office website shows you how to do this the Microsoft way, but lo and behold that doesn’t actually translate to real-world uses very well.

Say for example you want to fill a column of cells with the ranking for a given list of keywords, a function similar to that shown below (where the URL could potentially be defined in the E column) would be very useful: Read more »

I’ve lost count of the number of times another SEO has told me they want to learn a programming language. It seems most SEOs are sure they want to learn PHP, Python or another programming language, but when asked the question “to what end?” the answers generally become less clear.

Because of this I think the following is the reason why a lot of SEOs never end up taking that step:

Let’s face it: teaching yourself a new language is never easy, and it becomes much harder if you don’t actually know why you’re doing it. For this reason most people get frustrated and give up before they hit the red line above and get any significant payoff for investing the time in learning a new language.

When I taught myself Perl it wasn’t directly to do with SEO – in my first job I spent a whole day each week manually editing an HTML newsletter template in Notepad++. I hated it so much I figured there was probably a better way do it so I bought an O’Reilly book, got up 2 hours early every day until I knew the basics and could build a tool to generate the HTML for me. That saved me 5 hours a week of boring tasks and got me nicely into the payoff zone.

What’s your imperative?

Link development doesn’t exist in a silo. Sometimes I think the following gets lost in translation in the client/agency relationship:

Both us agencies and the SEO industry as a whole are guilty of propagating the perception you can do really great link development without the support of a good website to support it by offering separate link building/development packages. Read more »

One of the truly great things about Perl is CPAN (the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network), which is an immense resource for almost all of the common (and not so common) programming functions you could ever dream of – from the web to graphics and operating system interfaces. Although Python and Ruby are gaining in popularity these days, CPAN is a huge asset to Perl that (as far as I’m aware) has few equals in other languages.

I’ve collected below some of the most useful modules I’ve found from an SEO’s point of view: Read more »

Very sad that I couldn’t make it to Ealing today to say goodbye to my friend & colleague Jaamit Durrani, due to this damn freak weather. So instead I wanted to write a little bit about Jaamit as I knew him. I have held off writing anything much until now, but today should be a day for reflection and celebration of his life, and this is the best way I can think of doing that.

The first time I met Jaamit was in March this year; he’d sent in his CV for a position on our SEO team, and as soon as I saw it, I wanted him to join us – it was a great CV, and I was also aware of his presence on twitter, although wasn’t really active on it myself at the time.

He wanted to go for a drink after his first interview to get a feel for the existing team. We were quickly talking about our visions for where we wanted to go with SEO, and his passion for the subject and depth of knowledge shone through immediately. He was one of those very rare people you can be a stranger to one minute, and the next feel like they’re an old friend you’ve known for a long time.

Working with Jaamit for 8 months (albeit separated between buildings) was an absolute privilege, and I have a lot of fond memories of his passion, professionalism, warmth and sense of humour.

He was very proud of getting a speaking slot at the Think Visibility conference in September, and pursuaded our whole SEO crew to follow him up there. As Rishi said, he was a perfectionist, and was working and re-working his presentation on the train up, late into the night, and even during the presentation before his. As always any nerves were unjustified as the reception to his talk was fantastic – for many a highlight of the conference. He may have been a perfectionist but he was also an engaging, passionate public speaker that could easily win over any crowd.

I remember working remotely late one night before a pitch with him, and after asking him several times to send over his slides so far I eventually received them with the disclaimer:

“this deck is a load of crap – just to warn you”

After looking them through I had to write back:

“dude don’t know what you’re talking about – it’s looking pretty darn good IMO”

The slides were all but finished, and yet he continued working on them until he thought they were perfect (which they were of course). His modest response “wow – really?” speaks volumes.

He was genuinely a great SEO, and his generosity towards others in the industry was always forthcoming – never afraid to give, ask for or take advice from others. He took it upon himself to introduce people at conferences and was a relentless networker – he genuinely loved meeting new people and sharing ideas about SEO or pretty much any subject. He enjoyed getting people talking, and he alone briefly introduced me to Shaun Anderson, Rand, Will Critchlow and many others at the 3 conferences we went to together.

The reaction online to his tragic passing has been something to behold – not just because of the tributes people have given, but also because it really is genuinely astounding that one person could mean so much to so many people, both inside of and outside of the SEO industry. Given his passion, achievements, knowledge and understanding of SEO, it’s easy to forget that he was relatively new to the industry, and had a similar effect on people outside of the industry.

RIP Jaamit