Social Media Scotland; end of an era

This was the #1 ranked website for the search phrase social media Scotland for 13 years.

In 2007, after attending Mike Coulter’s EdCM for a year or so, I got andrewburnett.com to rank #1 on google.co.uk and google.com for the search phrase “social media Scotland”, it was a wee challenge to myself to see if I really was “all that” at SEO.

Mike Coulter
Mike Coulter telling it like it is…

To put 2007 in context, everyone had started to speak about “social media”. But, in 2007, everyone was a much smaller concept than everyone is now – so few people used Twitter that we used to have “tweetups” – often organised by the wonderful Baxter Tocher.

Baxter Tocher Andrew Burnett
Baxter Tocher and I wrestle in a manly fashion.

It was a full 2 years until the first Twitter user would get 1 million followers (Ashton Kutcher), the first “Twestival” or EdTwinge and I was heavily involved in all of them, except the former Mr Demi Moore! Pete Cashmore still wrote for Mashable (about EdTwinge). Facebook had barely opened its doors beyond the Ivy League schools and StumbleUpon, Digg and Friendfeed were still a thing – I spent all day every day using these services, creating and promoting content for clients to help them get links, audience and rankings.

It was also in 2009 that I got the only Digg.com t-shirt in Scotland, for having gotten 200 stories promoted to their front page.

In my Digg t-shirt @ Yard

Across 2008 and 2009, my arse spent an average of 16 hours a day in my Aeron, in the coolest office ever, in front of social media – that sounds a lot, but, if you want to challenge that, you’d need to call my then wife, Wiebke Burnett a liar – I don’t recommend that, and she’s not.

With Wiebke Burnett in the coolest office ever
With Wiebke Burnett in the coolest office ever

Oh, and since we’re name-dropping, 2009 also saw me giving Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanion a hard time over my shadow-ban, and the fact that Reddit didn’t hand out t-shirts. For reasons of personal integrity yet also intrigue, the best bits of the evening, night and morning will remain firmly secret.

Andrew Burnett Alexis Ohanion
That time I got Alexis Ohanion telt…

Why I thought the #1 spot was important

Back in 2007, I thought that getting the #1 spot on the google results page for the search phrase social media Scotland would give me fame and fortune. I thought that there would be a deluge of people wanting my services, because they’d be googling “social media Scotland” and finding me at the top of the pile!

What I did to get the #1 spot

So, once I’d decided to be the #1 ranker for “social media Scotland” I set about changing my website to reflect that – I used the exact phrase throughout my site, used the phrase as the title attribute for internal links to the front page, I built site-wide footer links with clients (with their full consent of course), I used relevant text on the home page of andrewburnett.com I did my best to talk about social media close to links that were pointing to andrewburnett.com etc etc etc… I did all the stuff you’re supposed to, and in the case of the site wide footer links, some you’re not supposed to. Overall it took me perhaps a week of effort on my own site, but only because I didn’t pay anyone to do that for me, but if I did they’d have doubtless managed it in a day.

It worked, boy did it work, I was there for 13 years! Ahead of sites like BBC; Indeed; Scottish Government; Police Scotland; National Libraries and, more recently, numerous digital agencies too…

What it took to maintain the #1 spot

Maintaining the top spot wasn’t really that difficult, or even time consuming, and was all incidental to doing client work – I’d ask for a link where it was appropriate to do so and that was about it, total time asking for links was perhaps, in total across the 13 years, 2 hours.

Why I no longer care.

By 2011 I realised that no enquiries I got were a result of ranking for that search phrase (remember when GA used to give you keywords?!), and I’d become Head of Social at Yard, where I remained, under the watchful eye of the brilliant Ian Daniels, for 3 years.

Ian Daniels Andrew Burnett
Ian Daniels – boss, friend and guid lad.

Since 2017, or so, I’ve seen a concerted and significant effort by a couple of agencies to get the #1 “social media Scotland” ranking. It’s largely puzzled me, as there is categorically zero commercial intent in anyone searching for “social media Scotland” – in fact, in the 13 years of being at the top spot, not one single client found me via that search phrase. Beyond bragging rights it’s worthless.

I’m quite happy to sit back and watch agencies with double digit sized teams battle it out over a worthless piece of search engine real estate which takes more maintenance than bragging rights are worth – it’s 2020 and everyone is an expert at social media, these days a tweetup would fill Murrayfield Stadium (the rugby one, not the ice rink).

What I do now.

Nowadays I run helleau® – we do discovery and strategy for brands from individuals to nations, getting them to the Short and Simple® answers they need.

It’s 2020, so of course that includes social media.