Secrets behind high ranking websites

Every two years, our friend Rand at Moz wrangles his team to produce a correlation study of web site ranking factors.

Below we present the 2013 results which are very interesting to examine. You can choose to plot only a few categories of ranking factor and see the correlation to high rankings.

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Jeremy WebbSecrets behind high ranking websites
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Maximise sharing & clicking with Upworthy’s reframing secrets

Upworthy the content re-broadcasting Kings provide some great, usable advice on how squeeze the maximum amount of value from your content.

Bottom line – Say something interesting. Think carefully about your “voice” when writing. Create curiosity. Images count. Reduce sharing friction. Test. Test. Test.

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Jeremy WebbMaximise sharing & clicking with Upworthy’s reframing secrets
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What the Harlem Shake reminds us about creating viral content?

harlem shakeBy now you have maybe come across the latest viral video sensation, The Harlem Shake. Accompanied by a hypnotic dance track by American DJ and producer Baauer, The Harlem Shake meme revolves around creating your own video to a set formula. In the track intro, a usually masked individual appreciates the beat in a crowded setting. The crowd appear unaware of the solo dancer. When the drop kicks in, all hell breaks loose. Common sights include superhero costumes, inflatable animals and people dancing in sleeping bags.

It’s probably best you see what this is all about…

That’s the meme. But what does it tell about creating viral content? As soon as I saw the Harlem Shake I thought back to the wise words of Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s trends manager. We’ve been including Kevin’s excellent February 2012 Ted Talk video in our social media training events to explore content propagation. In it, he suggests that their analysis of viral video identifies three key components for success:

  • Taste makers – the video needs appeal to, and be discovered by (or sent to) one or more high connectivity, high volume sharers.
  • Participation – there are opportunities to “build” on the meme.
  • Unexpectedness – there is a surprise element.

This would seem to describe the Harlem Shake meme perfectly. There is unexpectedness, huge opportunity for participation, and the video did nothing until picked up by tastemakers, as shown by the Google Trends graph:


Nice one, Kevin. If you’d like to learn more about content propogation and watch Kevin’s talk in it’s entirety, here is our “Social Media 101” presentation:

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Jeremy WebbWhat the Harlem Shake reminds us about creating viral content?
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Facebook Pages – Rules of Engagement

jasonThis is a really useful video from our friends at Hootsuite. Jason Li, Lead Strategist with Global Creative Solutions at Facebook explores the 4 reasons people share content and how to build these motivators into your Facebook page strategy to create content that gets results. The video goes way beyond the “content is king” mantra to explain how you can create messages that will resonate with your audience.

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Should I upgrade to Windows 8

Windows 8I know you are busy, so I’ll give you a straight answer. Yes.

That’s a surprise to me too, but after spending some time with Windows 8, I’d say it’s a required upgrade for anyone running a Windows machine. However expect a degree of confusion and frustration at first, but as I hope to explain, that’s a good thing, as Windows 8 is a genuine attempt to move forwards, not sideways.

The good news

The main reason to upgrade to Windows 8 are purely performance and security related. Windows 8 does provide a faster boot and better data transfer. After many promised increases in performance with new OS versions, Windows 8 actually delivers tangible benefits.

Boot time Windows 8

Windows 8 file transfer

(Graphs from

Windows 8 expands support for embedded hardware security, and introduces secure boot and signed applications. These provide robust protection from boot time exploits and rootkits. Windows Defender provides out of the box protection from viruses and malware and the new operating system ensures that all security software loads first.

“After reviewing the layers of technologies used by Microsoft to protect Windows 8, it is our opinion that it is the most secure version of Microsoft Windows to date,”
Aryeh Goretsky – ESET.

I think there is enough innovation and performance in Windows 8 to make an upgrade good sense even if you are currently using Windows 7. And if you are on a previous incarnation such as Vista or XP, then certainly but you will need to check the system requirements closely or run the upgrade assistant which will profile your system and tell you if there are any incompatibilities in your hardware or running apps. Upgrading from Windows 7 to 8 was really easy with no disruption. Windows XP to Windows 8 might be a little more traumatic.

The bad news

Windows 8 seems to be a genuine attempt to provide an updated, contemporary user interface. As we’ve grown used to home screens on our mobile devices and the concept of apps, so Windows 8 attempts to bring these concepts to the desktop. It also provides support for touchscreen devices, but using the OS without a touch screen is fine although a few keyboard shortcuts really help, of which more later.

Expect frustration. The Start button has gone!

Your first experience with Windows 8 might be a little confusing as after login (which can now be done with a pin number) you arrive at the new home screen which is much more like the sort of thing you’d expect on a tablet or mobile device.Windows 8 desktop

This is designed to pull together live information (social streams, email notifications) with access to commonly used apps and programs.

Windows 8 runs “apps” and “programs.” Whilst essentially the same thing (bundles of code) apps come from the app store, programs are downloaded or loaded from disk like in the old days.

Access to your patch of familiarity, the desktop, is possible by either clicking the “desktop” tile or pressing the Windows key, which will switch you between the desktop and start screen. I can see the logic of getting rid of the start button, as Microsoft try to pull together a good common user experience across PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. It just takes a bit of getting used to. This is where a few keyboard shortcuts come in handy. These are the few that you WILL need:

  • Windows key – switch between desktop (where the work happens) and start screen (where you find commonly used apps / programs.)
  • Windows key + Q – Search apps. The new way to quickly launch apps / programs.
  • Windows key + I – brings up settings, where you can power off the PC.
  • Windows key + C – “Charms” menu – less useful, but provides search, settings and devices.

You can also access these features with mouse actions – move you mouse to the corners of your screen and see what happens. There is plenty more to discover with the new interface, but that will get you started, and hopefully help you avoid the frustration than many others have experienced. Take time to look at the new Photo, Video and Music apps – try the Smart DJ in the latter to streamed music similar to a band that you like. Visit the app store to download things like the Skype app which provide a beautiful new user experience.


Windows 8 is a good thing. If you can find it at a reasonable price, then it’s a recommended upgrade for performance and security reasons but do give the new interface time – it will grow on you and perhaps before long you won’t miss the start button.

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Jeremy WebbShould I upgrade to Windows 8
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2012 Internet Trends year end update

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, has just published her latest huge deck of amazingly useful information, the “2012 Internet Trends Year-End Update.”

It’s jam packed full of interesting information, and her slide deck is well worth a flip through if you are involved in digital matters.

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Jeremy Webb2012 Internet Trends year end update
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Giving Kindle eBooks as a gift

carfitIt’s a common frustration that the otherwise excellent Kindle platform does not allow UK users to buy eBooks as a gift for someone else. This is a problem they’ve overcome in the US, but not here. 

Through our specialist eBook publishing arm, we have created a nice “work-around” for the problem, that allows you to create a customised “Kindle gift card.”

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Jeremy WebbGiving Kindle eBooks as a gift
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Tech tip: Smart redirection of 404 pages to retain link juice.

This is a quick tip for big Joomla based sites to help manage the process of redirecting valuable external links. Over time, or due to a bad site restructuring you may find yourself with many external links to pages that no longer exist.

The right thing to do would be to do a 301 redirect to the correct page, if such a page exists. Writing individual 301 redirects for hundreds or thousands of pages is time consuming. If you are using Joomla and the sh404sef Component, there is a really neat hack that you can do.

sh404sef has a feature that creates a customised 404 page, which either suggests the closest match page to the one you were looking for, or if there is no match – a customised message.

Where there is a close match, we can easily hack sh404sef to redirect immediately to the best match instead of providing a 404 page. This helps reclaim the link juice from an unlimited number of incoming links.

Here is the hack. In file plugins/sh404sefcore/sh404sefsimilarurls.php find:

function shFormatSimilarUrls( $urlList) {$urls = '';
if (!empty( $urlList)) {
foreach( $urlList as $url) {
$urls .= '<li><a href="' . JRoute::_($url->newurl) . '">' . $url->oldurl . '</a></li>';
$urls = '<ul>' . $urls . '</ul>';
return $urls;

Modify it thus, (changing the URL to your URL of course!)

function shFormatSimilarUrls( $urlList) {
$redirecturl = "" ;
global $redirecturl;
$urls = '';
if (!empty( $urlList)) {

foreach( $urlList as $url) {
if ($count==0) {
$bye = "";.$redirecturl;
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
header( "Location: $bye" ) ;

$urls .= '<li><a href="' . JRoute::_($url->newurl) . '">' . $url->oldurl . '</a></li>';
$urls = '<ul class="results">' . $urls . '</ul>';
return $urls;

In any case of a 404 where there is a close match page, a 301 redirect will immediately happen, providing the right header information.

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Jeremy WebbTech tip: Smart redirection of 404 pages to retain link juice.
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