Peter Handley's Blog Organic Search Engine Marketer, Portsmouth, Hampshire
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    December 9th, 2011ismepetePersonal

    This is a blog that I write with a heavy heart and misty eyes whilst equally filled with excitement. I wasn’t quite sure how to start writing this post, but had some things I wanted to say, so I’ve been listening to a mini playlist of tunes that are helping me put this down into words. Press play on this for starters (you might want to stop it before moving too far on, as there are a few others on here):

    After nearly 5 ½ years at Vertical Leap, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to take a plunge and try something different. Coming to this decision was far from easy – it’s probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life…

    Vertical Leap has been great to me over this time and I really can’t thank the company enough for everything that they’ve done for me over the years – I just hope I’ve managed to give back just as much in that time.

    I started as a graduate, with few responsibilities initially and a brief to learn SEO sharpish. I was fortunate to have done a degree with skills that I thought would be relevant; HTML, image manipulation, the odd bit of flash (which I appear to have completely forgotten) and a bunch of other stuff – but it was the project management items that have been most in use in my day to day life since really.

    Vertical Leap took a chance on me at the time. I was raw and enthusiastic, but I wasn’t an expert back then. I grew up really quickly. I got over my fear of the phone. I pushed to get more involved in retail (which had been my part-time work whilst studying) style customer interactions and meetings, rather than “hiding” behind emails.

    I learned a lot, really quickly and before I knew it really, wasn’t just the graduate – I was managing a full portfolio of campaigns, getting results, keeping customers happy (until last week when I moved them on, I still had 5 clients that were among the very first I was given all those years ago).

    I built long term relationships with clients as often as I could. I’m pretty sure that I was doing fairly well, as 2 years or so into my career I started overseeing the company’s activities in the SEO world, determining updates to processes strategies, helping determine who we would recruit for that department, becoming active in interviews.

    I became a manager of people, as well as process for the SEO department – and I relished it.

    My time at Vertical Leap has been the Best of Times:

    The team we built there are awesome, a truly cracking bunch of people who I will be friends with forever, and that I am going to miss my daily interactions with dearly. All the people that I work with at Vertical Leap – every single person – are my friends.

    All of them I will happily spend time with in the future. I’ve not had a hell of a lot of different jobs – but for those that I have had in the past, this was not always the case.

    The office banter, the cutting humour, the fun going out for drinks and meals… Laughs are a plenty, there is a great team spirit, both within the specific teams and the company as a whole. Leaving you guys behind makes me feel a little lonesome inside:

    I know we’ll still see each other. I know that I will see everyone in just a short week at the Christmas Party which I was really grateful to still receive an invite to. But whilst things will be different, I’ll look back on these times fondly forever.

    Thank You All at Vertical Leap, staff past and present, friends that I’ve made for life…

    So, I’m moving on… I know some people already know what I’m doing next… But I’m not going to announce it just yet, I want to let someone else have the pleasure of the first public announcement of that.

    Suffice to say, its one hell of an opportunity to have encouraged me away from what I already had. I’m super excited, can’t wait to get stuck in, and can’t wait to learn everything that I am going to need to do moving forwards. There will be some different challenges, likely some similar ones, and I’m certain that there will be ups and downs that I can’t predict right now… The time is right for me to seek a new challenge. So…

    Roll on Monday morning, and the challenges that will bring…

    In the meantime, it’s time for me to Hit the Road Jack:

    Adios Amigos, Au Revoir Mon Amis, Farewell for now my friends – but I will see you all soon :-)

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    March 6th, 2011ismepeteBlogging, Personal, Social Media

    On my way up to Think Visibility, I spied the following Tweet from Dan Harrison, a Twitter friend I was hoping to meet for the first time (despite the fact that we were both travelling up to Leeds from the south of England):

    meeting old friends for the first time

    This really resonated with me, as it’s how I’ve felt about every event that I have thus far attended in the search marketing arena.

    As I touched upon in a previous post, Twitter (which is my main tool for this type of engagement), is a place that real communities form around, and as part of that community, you begin to build what totally feel like real friendships from the individuals that you engage with.

    In just about every example of me having met in real life those that I talk to on Twitter regularly, it hasn’t felt like “meeting” for the first time. Instead, as the title says, its meeting old friends for the first time.

    I know that some people from the outside, may well perceive this, as well – a little sad? You meet your geeky internet friends in real life? Saddo!

    But for me, it really doesn’t feel that way at all. The world is evolving – who would have thought hundreds of years ago that you would be able to pick up the phone and call someone on the other side of the world? Or that electronic devices would make it possible to exchange short messages to anyone and everyone?

    As human communications have evolved, so too have the ways that you engage with people – you don’t have to have met someone in “real life” to get to understand some of what makes that person tick.

    I, amongst probably many others, possibly share too much of myself on social networks. But the value that I get from them seems to be matched by what you put in. I really do not want to become a boring twitter account that completely lacks personality, and is just trying to be promotional. That’s just not me.

    I probably bore some people when I tweet about food and cooking – if that is the case, you can just choose not to follow me – I probably won’t be offended (though I do monitor who unfollows me on there, just for reference).

    When I’ve met some of those folks that I “know” best from Twitter, like Rhys Wynne, Kev Strong, Samuel Crocker and Paddy Moogan, it has after a few moments felt completely natural. There are many more that I haven’t mentioned, and I truly mean no slight to those folks, just these guys are almost as active as me on the old Twitter

    Of all the folks I met for the first time at this year’s Think Visibility, the best intro has to have been with Ingo Bousa – we’ve been talking on this platform for a few years, and he is a very funny guy. For the last few weeks, it’s been made clear to me that I needed to introduce myself by shouting “IS ME PETE” in a Borat style voice. I did this with amusing results (not least losing part of my voice repeating it throughout the night at loud volumes), as it caused Ingo to immediately drop his drink.

    For those that may consider it sad – I would just say, try it – you don’t know what you are missing. It is likely that it is easy for me working in the online marketing industry – I don’t know if it’s the same for other groups – but don’t rule it out just because you don’t know it!

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    February 19th, 2011ismepeteBlogging, Personal, SEO

    It’s been a while since I got a post up on here, and my last past, looking at the communities that really do form on Twitter, was tinged with sadness.

    I am still around, it’s just life has been very busy of late. Whilst I’ve not been posting here much, I have been blogging still, and I thought I would share where you can catch up with some more of my recent writings.

    I’ve been writing a bit about server load speeds – at least slow ones – having a negative impact on SEO and other Search/Online Marketing efforts – first back in November, where I looked at Negative SEO Issues with Website Loading Speeds (which in this case had caused home pages of a few sites I worked on to be temporarily de-indexed) and again in January with Further Implications for Search Marketing of Webpage Loading Speeds, where I reviewed an email sent to our PPC account manager for the same websites, and some of the problems that can arise when you have problems with loading speeds.

    I also wrote a blog in January, moaning about the lack of update to that ever annoying, meaningless PageRank figure, only for there to be a huge update a few days later (and being informed that whilst the 100+ sites I check may not have been changing unless 301′s were involved that some others had been seeing changes in the period I hadn’t observed any movements). Whilst the title was “Please – Update or Ditch”, having had an update, I am somewhat of the opinion I would rather see it ditched, as despite our best efforts, I still hear tales of people being very heavily judged on the performance of this little green bar, when the fundamental bottom line for the website is steady or increasing. Ah well, such is life, all we can do is to continue to educate as best we can about focusing on what really matters!

    I’ve also been doing some guest blogging over the last few weeks – I’ve done 2 already, have a couple more lined up and really need to get my writing hat back on for Vertical Leap again soon.

    If you want to catch up with these guest blogs, go and check out Daniel Bianchini’s blog with Top Questions to Ask Your Potential SEO Agency, and Common Technical Mistakes Made When a Website Launches where Dean Cruddace has kindly let me post on SEO Begin.

    I’ll be looking to be doing some more guest blogging on some sites if I can secure some slots too, so I am definitely going to have to get my writing motivation back, especially as my food blog has also been being somewhat neglected of late!

    Coming up in the next few weeks/months, I’m looking forwards to being at ThinkVisibility in 2 weeks, giving me a chance to meet up with a number of my favourite Twitter friends again, and for the first time, and am hoping that I will be able to secure a ticket for the next BrightonSEO on April 1st, though that can’t be guaranteed until Monday morning when I learn if I have managed to be one of the lucky ones! I’m sure both events will be packed full of useful tips and tricks as well as great networking opportunities.

    That’s it for now folks, and hopefully see many of you soon!

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    June 22nd, 2010ismepetePersonal, SEO

    Its now 4 years ago that I graduated from university with a degree in Entertainment Technology from Portsmouth, finishing with a 2:1, although I was agonisingly close to a 1st (69.7 was my final grade).

    I was immensely fortunate, that upon graduating I got the very first job that I applied for, as a trainee SEO at Vertical Leap, and on the 1st August, I will celebrating 4 years working in the industry.

    In the time that I have worked at Vertical Leap, I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of amazing people to learn SEO from (as well as learning many lessons on life) and seen a tremendous amount of growth in the company. In the time I’ve been here we’ve outgrown2 office already and seem to be swiftly filling up our new one too (though there is still plenty of room for us to grow further).

    When we first moved in to these offices, we almost had enough space for a kick about with a football, whereas now we are getting to a stage where we need to think carefully about how to use that space.

    In those 4 years, staff have come and gone, as they do, and I have looked to step up to the plate every time it was necessary for me to take on responsibility.

    From starting as a trainee SEO, with no real knowledge of the subject (although my degree did supply me with a host of related skills), I have worked hard, kept my head down, retained as many of my clients as possible and done what I can to grow as a person into a bigger role in the company.

    Around 18 months to 2 years ago, I was made Team Leader of the growing SEO department at Vertical Leap.

    In my previous post, I alluded to this being a bit rubbish title, which was meant to be a joke, although with the pain I felt inside when writing that post, I don’t think that was particularly clear.

    A title isn’t really very important in my opinion. I think mine at the moment is somewhat wordy “SEO Team Leader – Campaign Delivery Manager”. Suffice to say, I don’t use that in my email signature!

    As I say, a title isn’t very important – what is important is how you fulfil that role.

    As Vertical Leap has grown & we employ more staff in the SEO department, the more my role has grown too.

    When I first started at Vertical Leap, I was entrusted with a small number of clients, and as my confidence and ability grew, I took on more responsibilities, more campaigns and helped the company generate more revenue.

    We launched a blog on the site, and I am one of the more regular writers on the VL search marketing blog (I’m not THE most regular writer, though I do write more than many).

    I now have to spend not inconsiderable amounts of time with new staff – teaching them the “Vertical Leap” way, showing them how we utilise our campaign management tool Apollo and ensuring that we treat our clients consistently well and do everything you can to keep them happy – understanding their goals for a campaign.

    At first, these extra responsibilities did not come easily, but over the last year in particular I have done my best to do right by my team and help the, to help themselves in their own development – just like I was helped by those that came before me.

    Around a year ago, I was also challenged to become better known in the industry – as I’d been doing all this great work for my clients and concentrating on getting things done.

    At first I wasn’t sure how to achieve this – and I was left scratching my head about it for some time.

    I decided first to start talking to the rest of the SEO community on Twitter – a great place to exchange ideas and techniques , whilst also a platform for some fun exchanges with some other interesting people, and believe to a certain extent I have achieved this goal (although I’m not going to rest on my laurels just yet).

    I’ve also looked to put myself about a bit more at industry events – initially with the local Brighton SEO events, but hopefully extending myself a bit further around the country if suitable opportunities present themselves.

    Doing all of these things takes hard work and determination – just working the 9-5 hours aren’t sufficient for me to achieve the goals that have been set for me, and buy me.

    Clearly, as can be seen from my last post – things in life can affect the course you are trying to take – and there are going to be bumps in the road.

    But nothing worth having in life is ever easy – so I will continue to work hard to achieve my goals in life and be more of the person those close to me, need me to be.

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    June 12th, 2010ismepetePersonal

    I need a device that pauses time. In my work and personal life, time keeps on slipping away…

    It’s been months since I’ve written a credible blog on here (tho I have started a recipes blog in that time, which has a few posts), and I never find the time to do things in the evening that I want to be doing – mostly because evenings are my work ‘research’ time…

    Life is busy, and as more commitments are added to work and personal life, it adds to that slippage.

    At work I’m the ‘team leader’ of the seo department. I think I’d like a better title than that, although I guess that isn’t for me to decide.

    Essentially, whilst I don’t have to concern myself with the human resources issues of the staff, I am in charge of making sure everyone services their clients properly and fully, and I’m charge of the way that we approach seo.

    Despite this, I also have a full portfolio of clients to manage as well as being responsible for our companies seo, although I don’t always have the control over that, that I would like. I’m not going to gloat about it here, but there are some things that we are doing pretty well for at the moment, although I have targets for improving this further.

    In my personal life at the moment, my partner for the last 7 years (well almost, it’s our anniversary next month) has had to deal with an immense amount of problems with her back, as well as starting a new job, having finally escaped the shop floor at HMV, she is now an artworker at b&q’s head office, finally landing the role with graphics she has been seeking since returning from her round the world travels.

    She does love the job, although the commute can clearly be a drag. Still, she’s learning fast how to drive (I’ve never had a lesson in my almost 28 years of life :s ) and that should make life easier. It might stop the question ‘when are we moving to southampton’ being asked ;) (quite so frequently).

    But it’s her back that really causes her problems. Mich is the same age as me, 27, but for the 8 or 9 years we have known one another, her back has been in a serious decline.

    It is hard seeing the ones you love in pain, and being utterly helpless in the face of it.

    Mich has what seems to be an uncurable condition in her lower back, which 2 years ago when she had her last MRI scan affected 4/5 of her vertebrae – though I suspect that it is likely to be affecting more than that now, something I guess we’ll find out soon, as she has another back specialist to see in just over a week. I think this will be the 5th or 6th specialist she has seen now, and whilst I want to hope that this can offer the attention and treatment she needs, I’ve mostly come round to the fact that this is a permanent condition, that ultimately we are going to have to live with.

    This week has been a particularly bad one for the poor girl, but with lots of commitments at work, I haven’t been able to pay her the attention she not only needs, but thoroughly deserves.

    This is why I need a device that can warp time, as sadly my workload is dictating that I need to work this weekend, when I really need to be paying attention to the woman i love.

    I guess… Who ever said life was going to be easy

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