Will Critchlow's Posts



A Guide to Writing Better Business Documents

One of our core values at Distilled is that it’s not our job to deliver reports, it’s our job to effect change, which you can see in the Distilled manifesto.

You should see the thread arguing about effect vs. affect

However, in order to effect change, it clearly sometimes is our job to deliver reports, and we want to get as good at them as we possibly can and make sure we are as effective with them as possible.

To that end, I thought I’d collect a few links I’ve seen and thoughts I’ve had over the years on how to do this:

Give away the punchline

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How to Conduct SEO Due Diligence

Before I start, if you’ve found this post because you need help conducting SEO due diligence, you don’t need to trawl through the whole post - you can just get in touch with us here or check out the section at the end entitled “why Distilled?”.

This post will be most interesting to investors, or marketers working for investors. You might not often think of VCs and SEOs working together - but we’ve crossed paths many times. For example, high-profile investor and industry expert Mark Suster presented at our conference in San Diego, we’ve worked with many well-funded high growth startups and - less visibly - we’ve been involved in SEO due diligence.

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Google to Announce that Links are no Longer a Major Ranking Factor

Let’s be absolutely clear. They’ll be presenting a carefully-tailored PR play, and it won’t actually be true in the way it’ll be interpreted. But they’ll say it, or something like it, and people will lose their collective minds.

The statement in more detail will be something like:

Following the success of our machine-learning-based RankBrain experiments, we are rolling out more artificial intelligence into web search.

We have talked before about the large number of factors that have historically gone into determining which pages rank for specific queries. Anyone who has followed the history of Google knows that this has all been underpinned by the early breakthroughs in PageRank, which enabled us to use the hyperlink-based structure of the web to figure out which websites and pages were the right answers. This worked even for queries we had never seen before, and worked even better as the web scaled.

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A Beginner’s Guide to word2vec AKA What’s the Opposite of Canada?

The idea for writing this post came from a single line in the appendix to a presentation: “what’s the opposite of Canada?”. While this could be the set up for some pretty poor jokes, it’s actually the entrance to a rabbit warren of fascinating geeky distractions.

It turns out that while we can typically group similar or related words together - identifying that there is some connection between “Canada” and “snow” for example - we generally have a much weaker intuition for opposites. There are obviously a relatively small set of words where we’d likely have consensus on opposites - mainly adjectives like “dark”, “tall”, “cold” etc. - but in general, “oppositeness” is a less well-defined concept than “similarity”.

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Announcing our Optimization Delivery Network

There are two big problems with providing organic search consulting advice. The first is that it’s often exceptionally hard to get your recommendations implemented, and the second is that it’s often really hard to know how much of a difference your recommendations will make.

Today, I’d like to announce an early-stage product we are working on that is designed to alleviate both of these issues.

We are calling this type of platform an Optimization Delivery Network or ODN. It works like this:

  • It sits in your web stack like a content delivery network (or behind your content delivery network if you are using one).

  • It allows you to make arbitrary changes to the HTML (and HTTP headers) of any page or group of pages on your website - operating a little like a CMS over the output of your CMS and avoiding the need for a lengthy wait for your development backlog.

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