Google AMP the future

What is Google AMP?

The Google AMP Project is a way of fast-tracking content to mobile devices. It improves upon the traditional model of serving mobile content because it relies on a specific form of HTML, called AMP HTML, to strip down the presentation of content. Mobile’s mix is ever increasing and delivering the right experience at high speed is key to success

Why is Google AMP important for SEO?

As Google often preaches to the industry, page speed and mobile-readiness are high-quality ranking distinctions that determine the placement of a site’s content link in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The faster a site is (among other ranking signals), and the more it caters to mobile devices, the more likely it is to be seen and clicked on by Google search users.

Since 2013, Google has been evolving from being the company that provides links to other sites in search results to the company that provides answers to questions in search results.

There is an excellent article on how ot works

https://moz.com/blog/how-googles-amp-will-influence-your-online-marketing

Happy reading

Benoit Mercier

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Norwich FC Stadium Tour

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This bank holiday weekend I had decided to make the drive North to Norwich but I must say that it is the first real disappointment I have encountered. No stadium tour available on on the last Thursday of each month for £15 (you get a burger and chips incl.). I wish the website could have been clearer http://mobile.canaries.co.uk//news/article/stadium-tours-2013-14-880010.aspx but the staff were really nice and the Town definitely made up for the disappointment.

I did manage to get a glimpse but I live to come back another day. Hope it will be better next time

Benoit Mercier

Aston Villa stadium Tour

aston villa

This week, I decided to pursue my journey at Villa Park. Now, I know Villa will get relegated this season but boy o boy this club has got some history. It will be a loss to the Premiership.

Let me first start by saying that, according to wikipediaAston Villa Football Club; also known as Villa, The Villa, The Villans, The Lions) is a professional football club based in Witton, Birmingham, that plays in the Premier League, the highest level of English football. Founded in 1874, they have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were the originators and founder members of the Football League in 1888. They were also founding members of thePremier League in 1992, and have remained there ever since. The club were floated by the previous owner and chairman Doug Ellis, but in 2006 full control was acquired by American businessman Randy Lerner. Aston Villa are one of the oldest and the most successful football clubs in the history of English football. Villa won the 1981–82 European Cup, and are thus one of five English clubs to win what is now the UEFA Champions League. They have the fifth highest total of major honours won by an English club, having won the First Division Championship seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the Football League Cup five times and the UEFA Super Cup in 1982.

Now that one I had to negotiate with the missus. Why are you taking a 2 year old on a 4 hours journey just to see an empty stadium. Sounds familiar, but the truth is she knows why. football is to me what air is to most humans, a necessity. Now the little one has just finished is football training that we jump in the car and embark in a 2 hours drive. Smooth. We arrive in Birmingham about 30min before the tour begins. Just enough time to change a nappy, have a bite to eat and collect our ticket booked from the day before.

I must say that arriving at the ground you feel the football atmosphere right away. You see terraces with houses made of red bricks. You know that you are in a working class environment (reminded me my days working at Goodison or playing in Barnsley) and I love that (that is what football should be all about not the prawn sandwich fans). You can imagine the smell of the burgers and the mass of fans trying to go through the tiny gates. The stadium at first glance looks tired but then you get to the Holte End and the outside view is beautiful.

holte end

Villa Park is an football stadium in Aston, Birmingham, England, with a seating capacity of 42,682. It has been the home of Aston Villa Football Club since 1897. The ground is less than a mile from both Witton and Aston railway stations and has hosted sixteen England internationals at senior level, the first in 1899 and the most recent in 2005. It was the first English ground to stage international football in three different centuries. Villa Park has hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than any other stadium, having hosted 55 matches in total. In 1897, Aston Villa moved into the Aston Lower Grounds, a sports ground in a Victorian amusement park in the former grounds of Aston Hall, a Jacobean stately home. The stadium has gone through various stages of renovation and development, resulting in the current stand configuration of the Holte End, Trinity Road Stand, North Stand and the Doug Ellis Stand. The club has initial planning permission to redevelop the North Stand, which will increase the capacity of Villa Park from 42,682 to approximately 50,000. Before 1914, a cycling track ran around the perimeter of the pitch where regular cycling meetings were hosted as well as athletic events. Aside from football-related uses, the stadium has seen various concerts staged along with other sporting events including boxing matches and international rugby league and rugby union matches. In 1999, the last ever final of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup took place at Villa Park. Rinder turned to the renowned architect Archibald Leitch to design a new Villa Park. Their joint plans included large banked end stands at the Holte and Witton ends and the incorporation of the original Victorian Lower Grounds buildings, including the aquarium and the newly acquired bowling greens. The outbreak of the First World War severely hampered design and construction efforts. On completion the Trinity Road Stand was considered one of the grandest in Britain, complete with stained glass windows, Italian mosaics, Dutch gables in the style of Aston Hall and a sweeping staircase. Several commentators including Simon Inglis consider it to be Leitch’s masterpiece, described in 1960 by a Sunday Times reporter as the “St Pancras of football.”

We make our way to the players entrance and here comes our guide. I was so pleased that it was not a black box! not with their accent. Very welcoming. We start with the press area and I must say that it all looks very dark and gloom. He starts by telling us how it is a good thing for Villa to go down, rebuild and go back up. not sure the half a dozen of us agreed but you have to respect him for his positiveness. One of the young lad mean they will win a game and beat local rival Birmingham. He responded very confidently. we then make our way to the 82 Lounge. What a beautiful setup. He tells me all the history of the marble and the windows. We then make our way to the changing rooms. My god, it is tiny and again very little light (more of an atmosphere that you expect in a romantic restaurant) available. It is cosy and I can well feel for the players when Keano use to barge into the dressing room to give a player a rollocking. We then make our way to the managers room (more of a lounge) and the story is that when martin O’Neil use to manage them he would share a glass of wine here with his opponent but not Benitez, as they couldn’t stand each other (mind you who gets on well with Benitez). We then make our way to the tunnel and you can’t miss villa’s history and European success. Out onto the pitch and in the dug outs. Again the story there is that only the home seats are fitted with heating (maybe why the subs can’t make an impact in winter). the tour comes to its end and our guide takes us back to the entrance. Our guide has been first class, unlike his team, and I can say that we will miss the Villans next year.

Official information regarding the Aston Villa stadium tour:
http://www.avfc.co.uk/page/StadiumTours

Cost: £17 adult
Stadium architecture: 8/10
Stadium history: 10/10
Stadium Tour: 10/10
Overall mark: 9/10

Benoit Mercier

Arsenal FC stadium Tour

emirates

Last week, I decided to start my long journey at the Emirates. No specific reasons, but I was always told that it was a beautiful stadium, and having visited Highbury, 20 years ago to the date i thought it would be a fitting tribute.

Let me first start by saying that, according to wikipedia, Arsenal Football Club is a Premier League football club based in Holloway, London. The club has won 12 FA Cups, the most of any English club, 13 League titles, two League Cups, 14 FA Community Shields, and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Arsenal was the first club from the south of England to join The Football League, in 1893. They entered the First Division in 1904, and have since accumulated the second most top flight wins and points. Relegated only once, in 1913, they continue the longest streak in the top division. In the 1930s, Arsenal won five League Championships and two FA Cups, and another FA Cup and two Championships after the war. In 1970–71, they won their first League and FA Cup Double. Between 1988 and 2005, they won five League titles and five FA Cups, including two more Doubles. They completed the 20th century with the highest average league position.

I begin my journey by arriving at waterloo. I get the Northern Line (black) to Leicester Square and then jump onto the Piccadilly Line (Blue) to Arsenal tube station. Once you arrive you turn right and start walking. You will notice on your left the facade of Highbury and then few yards later you go up some stairs over a bridge. That bridge caught my eye because there is still a picture of Fabregas (I am obviously not a fan but I would have thought it would have been removed). Any how you get to the stadium and I must say that it looked really impressive. Modern architecture. I start to get excited (nerd!).

I get into the megastore where the stadium tour begins and I am greeted well by all staff (I did not shout i was a United fan). I pay and the first thing to know is that the visit is not guided by a bloke but by a little black box that you see tourists wearing when you visit a museum! Now I must say that it makes perfect business sense (get people moving faster and less people on the payroll) but I am old school and I always prefer to have a guide that leave and breath is club. Anyhow, here I go with the pram and my son and I must say how easy it is to access all stadium points with a pram or armchair. You have got few security peeps but all nice and friendly. You first get to see the corporate hospitality and their luxurious space (not for me thank you) and then off you go to the dressing rooms (rather big), press areas and of course the pitch. From inside the stadium is a peach and you just want to throw a ball and go and have a kick about (you wouldn’t go too far). The grass is immaculate. The Emirates Stadium is seen by many, including myself, as the benchmark for top league stadia developments in the UK and Europe. Its design is a radical break from the traditions of the “English style” stadia of the United Kingdom and the Municipal multi-tenant stadia of Europe. The focus on spectator experience for both general spectator and the Corporate or Premium Hospitality spectators marked a step change in stadia design and consequently on the football business in the UK, with Arsenal increasing their matchday revenues by 111%. The architect, Christopher Lee of Populous, described the design as beautiful and intimidating. Now the latter part I disagree. The stadium does not feel like that to me and almost feel impersonal. There is very little history having been achieved their, and apart from the Manchester08 banner, their is a lack of cachet/atmosphere. Saying that I do find it beautiful, and although not my favourite stadium it is up their with the best.

Official information regarding the stadium tour: http://www.arsenal.com/5002/

Cost: £20 adult
Stadium architecture: 10/10
Stadium history: 4/10
Stadium Tour: 7/10
Overall mark: 7/10

Benoit Mercier

Visiting all 2015/16 Premier League clubs

I promised myself that if I had a son, I would go and visit every single stadium in England with him. At just under two, it is time for him to start getting the football fever. I also must admit that I love visiting stadia and understanding the history behind each Club.

Exactly 153 years ago, 12 representatives from a handful of amateur football clubs in and around London met in the Freemasons Arms pub in Covent Garden and decided to thrash out the first ever comprehensive set of rules for their fledgling game. After fierce and presumably alcohol-filled debate and a slew of heretical proposals such as players not being allowed to run with the ball and hacking of shins being actively discouraged, the modern game of football was born. The 12 went on to form the Football Association, the world’s oldest football governing body. But in the centuries that followed, western culture concentrated instead on the allegedly more enlightened architectural pursuits associated with building palaces and cathedrals. It was only after that fateful quorum in Covent Garden 150 years ago that the football stadium as we recognise it, was essentially born and exported, along with the “beautiful game” itself, from England to virtually every corner of the globe.

Therefore, you will find every so often on this blog a review on each Premier League club stadium tour.

Benoit Mercier

Check your returns policy

An interesting research this am about returns

17 stores ‘misled online shoppers about legal rights’. The Metro reports that a study by MoneySavingExpert.com has found that 17 retailers were misleading shoppers about their online returns policies. The retailers either “hid” the correct policy or were displaying a policy which did not comply with the law, which was changed 20 months ago to allow consumers 28 days to cancel and return an order. 13 of the retailers highlighted in the report – including JD Sports, New Look and Next – have said they will review their policies or make changes to their online stores. The other four have been reported by MoneySavingExpert.com to trading standards.

Benoit Mercier