When as a young and dumb rumblepup I first started hitting the web “master” forums, again and again I would come up against the handle ctabuk. What caught my attention about this forum member was his quick grasp of a situation, his willingness to help, and the length and breadth of the information he gave out. Many times, when posting a particular question, statement, or announcement, I’d secretly hope to see a response from him, because he either helped you, agreed with you, disagreed and helped you find the right path, or applaud your announcement with a certain class. I’m happy to consider him a friend and mentor, and have always been impressed by his knowledge and willingness to take a personal interest.
Mind you, dear readers, that ctabuk (aka David Castle) is one of the busiest people ON THE WEB. He is a moderator at WebProWorld, member of every trusted web business forum you can think of, owner of several successful online ventures, http://www.counciltenantsmortgages.co.uk/, that he personally handles some aspects of seo, sem and marketing, and incredibly busy as an UK mortgage “right to buy” specialist. This is one busy cat! AND STILL he finds the time to help, to share his knowledge, and to make the world better for little guys like rumblepup. If he gives you an answer to web seo, promotion, or design questions, rest assured that he’s mostly right. And if he doesn’t have the right answer, which is seldom, he finds the guy or girl who does. A web guerilla marketer of the finest kind, it’s my pleasure to ask him some questions, and have him share some insights.
CTABUK: Hi Robert
rumblepup: How is the web business or web driven business, in the UK these days? Are web trends different in the UK as compared to the US? –
CTABUK: The UK is way behind the US, both in terms of SEO and the use of websites to actually attract new business. Most UK businesses turn to Pay Per Click before even thinking about SEO. I get asked to review sites from all over the World and the number of UK sites that have no keyword tags is pretty terrible. I blame the site creation companies, sure they put together a classy website, but if the Search Engines cannot find them, then it is a waste of time.
rumblepup: What’s your SE of choice? Do you use Google.com (US) or Google.co.uk (UK)? Are you given a choice? What other SE’s do you like?
CTABUK: I tend to use Google .co.uk but I check all of the others on a regular basis. I tend to ignore Yahoo as the search results these days are based on advertised sites –it strikes me that if you use MIVA then Yahoo picks you up, and that is not my definition of SEO. I like ASK for Legal stuff, if I need a UK Housing Act of Parliament then Ask seems to have the right pages. In fact I like all of the Teoma Engines. I think that 7search is one to watch.
rumblepup: What’s your browser of choice and why?
CTABUK: Internet Explorer with a Coppernic connection on hand as well. Why? Good question, habit I guess. I’ve used Firefox and others but I tend to stick with what I know.
rumblepup: When did you first discover the web? Not for business, but as a media outlet? When did you first decide to do business on the web? What was it like getting your first website up?
CTABUK: Allways for Business use and my first site was set up around 8 years ago, it is still my main site.
Like everybody else, I made all the ‘wrong mistakes’ years ago knew nothing about SEO, so I used PPC and had my Amex card wiped clean by spammers. Then I paid a guy to do my PPC, that seemed to work out, but then I started searching things like ‘how to get natural search engine results’ –That led me into the forum worlds, I knew nothing about ‘user names’ I used to post as ‘Daffy Duck’ as I thought my humour – sorry –humor –would be my way of ‘breaking in’. I still remember making my first post at WPW –it was the typical classic ‘How do I submit to Search Engines’ That led me to my first on line meeting with a pretty famous Moderator CBP –I started to read, I learned about tags and directories and of course ‘usernames’.
My Company name is Council Tenants Advice Bureau UK Ltd –so I used the initials CTABUK. I then found that the more forums I used that name in that the Search Engines started to pick up on my site. Obviously I had learned to place my URL in the forum sig.
rumblepup: When did you first discover the magic words? (Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing) When did you decide that SEO and SEM where important to you and your business?
CTABUK: That came about when I realized that paying for results was not as much fun as seeing natural results come in. And in truth that was about 5 years ago and when I had joined WPW with the right user name, and being brutally honest I spent most of my time having fun in the breakroom. But then slowly I got to know the mods there. Jawn_Tech seemed to like my humor and he’s a dab hand at SEO so I followed his posts, then one of The famous mods Minstrel showed me stuff about my broken links via Xenu. I was learning my trade. But a little secret here –I don’t do website design, I believe firmly that if you are not that technical, then don’t pretend to be!
rumblepup: What was is like, trying to learn about SEO and SEM? Did you learn it in the forums or from research?
CTABUK: Now here’s where it gets interesting. The guy who had been doing my site for ages met a new Lady and buggered off with her. My site crashed, I got a forum PM from a poster named ‘faglork’ real name Alex. And he asked if he could assist. You see that is what the forums are really all about. You make friends and help out when required. He’s based in Germany and he is one of the best SEO guys that I have ever seen. Together we rebuilt my site. We would do the page layout in the UK and Alex did the tags. My job is to get it listed, I leave the technical side to Alex. To me SEO is all about the page title matching the keywords, what I am quite good as is creating niche markets and then getting the SE’s to find us.
By now I was in about 20 main forums, I was posting along side the famous guys like Aaron Wall, Minstrel and loads more. I found that posting in places like the DMOZ forum was creating good In Bound Links.
rumblepup: When did you discover your first forum? When did you first become a MOD?
CTABUK: My first forum experience was a Local village one in Lincolnshire and like I said earlier I started out posting as Daffy Duck – I’ve been a regular at WPW for about 4 years (With the right user name LOL) For years WPW had the best ‘breakroom’ on the planet. I was having fun getting IBL’s – and doing serious stuff on keywords and the use of my Initials trick on forums world wide. Then one day WPW Admin changed the name of the breakroom to ‘General Topics’ and I and loads of other regular posters got fed up with seeing posts like ‘my site has gone from Google’ appearing in the hallowed halls of the WPW Breakroom so we planned a coupe and got our own forum up. DC TIP was born. I guess a bit of a ‘trade off’ was formatted. TIP was out posting WPW and there were some hostilities, so I was by that time a Moderator at WPW then one day I posted there and saw that my rank had been put back to MVP, that just made me more determined to beat WPW at their own game and next thing I knew I had been re-modded and now the two forums happily co exist. I was flattered to make MVP, Mod was a huge privilege
rumblepup: Where did the famous ctabuk sense of community really kick in?
CTABUK: Oh heck, famous or infamous –I enjoy helping others, there is no buzz quite like getting a pm or e-mail that say’s ‘Thank You for all your help’. What does it cost to give someone a helping hand? Nothing, just a wee bit of time. So I guess people relate to me, and that’s cool.
rumblepup: Name for me a time when being a mod was most rewarding.
CTABUK: Oh everyday. A good Mod should be like dharrison (Debbie) she mods with me at WPW and TIP, she is a natural mod, we clean up the spam, we give advice and that’s what we are there for.
rumblepup: Name for me a time when being a mod was the least rewarding.
CTABUK: Flamers, I dislike people who post just to start a row, but you get to know who they and how to defuse certain situations.
rumblepup: What is the one piece of advice that you would give any website owner? In other words, a tried and true classic design, marketing or promotion technique which you feel not enough people take advantage of.
CTABUK: Content, more Content, match keywords to page titles, optimize each page, submit to Directories using your keywords as site description. Try to get .gov links wherever possible. Post in forums using the same username. Read the stickies, ask, listen then start helping others too.
rumblepup: Uhmmm, David, that was more than one. Well, that’s the famous ctabuk style, you alway get more than you pay for.
rumblepup: What current trends are you most excited about? (Web 2.0, social bookmarking, etc)
CTABUK: Everyday is exciting, if you see something that you think will make money. Do it, go for it and keep going for it.
rumblepup: It’s been my contention the web is at a crossroads. With the emergence of social networking, social bookmarking, blogging and user created content, the web CAN become a people powered medium. Corporations have always tried to CONTROL the web, and with the advent of NET NEUTRALITY, are making the biggest attempts to do so. Which way do you think it will go, will either side win, or will it be a mix of both?
CTABUK: The Google – MSN’s are here for good, as long as 75% of the world thinks Google then so will I!
rumblepup: Is there a new web bubble? Everybody fears what happened in the late 90’s, early 2000, but to me, the bubble burst was simply due to wrong-headed business models and policies. During the bubble burst, those years where some of the most profitable for internet e-commerce, and I think everybody has learned their lessons. But I’ve been hearing talk down the wire that a new, weirder bubble is emerging. Any ideas?
CTABUK: No, me not technical, 10 years ago it was VHS Video, Now it’s DVD’s and I Pods –we are evolving constantly.
rumblepup: When I visit to the UK, where’s the best place to get a pint?
rumblepup: Your picking up the first round right?
CTABUK: No, maybe, whatever.
rumblepup: Uhmmm, David. In the US, it’s customary for the vistor to be treated by the visited to at least the first round.
rumblepup: I’m buying the first round ain’t I?
CTABUK: Give that man a prize! Next question.
rumblepup: Other than TIP, where or who are the resources you personally trust for the right information?
CTABUK: I post mostly in TIP, WPW, Warriors, and 2 UK Finance forums. I always trust my instincts first.
rumblepup: Ok, since I’m apparently buying the pints. Tell me a joke and say goodbye.
CTABUK: ‘Pardon Me Roy, Is that the cat that chewed your new shoes? Bye Bye rumblepup.