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AIB Start-up Academy Summit – Dublin – February 2017

by niall 0 Comments

Having heard about the AIB Start-up Academy Summit on Today FM’s Sunday Business Show a couple of weeks back, I decided to register and attend as it sounded like somewhere a startup should be and it was free to attend. Even though there was a lot of talk and hyping of the event, I was still not sure what to expect from it. All I knew came from the EventBrite page which was the following:

Step up for your start-up at the AIB Start-up Academy Dublin Summit. Network with like mined entrepreneurs and learn from industry leaders. Get your start-up to the next level with partners like The Irish Times, Google and Grant Thornton and get free business tools like Sage, bOnline and Plan HQ.

When I arrived and entered the event room in Smock Alley Theatre, I noticed a stage with a sign on it “Brave Stage”. It did not take much to conclude that the main events of the night would be to do with finalists for the AIB Start-up Academy. Sure enough, after The Home of Fitness and I were treated to some complimentary beer and finger food, the MC for the night confirmed as much. So here is what happens at an AIB Start-up Academy Summit:

  1. Speakers from successful organisations give brief talks with information relevant to startups. Tonight, the speakers were from Google, Grant Thornton and bOnline. These talks were informative and gave some useful and practical information for startups.
  2. Three finalists in the AIB Start-up Academy each gave a 5-minute pitch to judges for a place in the final of the AIB Start-up Academy. More on this later.
  3. There was a panel discussion which covered a broad range of topics relating to startup life in different industries. Tonight’s panel was made up of John Kavanagh, Niall Mc Garry and Sonia Lennon. Some more about that below too.
  4. There was a nice photographer named Karl taking professional photographs for anyone that wanted an updated LinkedIn picture.
  5. There were some manned stalls from the following companies Google, The Irish Times, Grant Thorton and one other. However, I am not sure what value they were providing. I did approach the Google and Irish Times stall but the people manning it were in civilian clothes so it was not clear who to talk to and why I should talk to them. I did approach the Grant Thornton stall at the end for some information and found them to be friendly and professional.

The large crowd in attendance at the AIB Startup Academy event in Smock Alley Dublin. Bonus points, find wally/yours truly. Image courtesy of @AIBBiz twitter.

So that was the gist of the evening. Overall I was glad I attended. Some positive takeaways that I garnered from the night:

  • Although all 3 pitches were of a high standard, it was clear that the eventual winner (Ken of Fresh From) was a cut above Charlie of Engager and Sadhbh of primary schools.ie. I thought this as Ken was very confident in his delivery. Not that the others were not. But when Ken spoke it was from a position/attitude of ‘these are facts that I am telling you’. When the others spoke it was more from a place of ‘I hope that this will happen’. That said, from a product point of view, personally I think Engager and PrimarySchools.ie are both excellent ideas with strong teams behind them. In my opinion, both will be big successes. So my takeaway here was to try and give demonstrations (and hopefully one day pitches) in the manner that Ken gave his.

    The members of the panel discussion at the AIB Startup Academy in Smock Alley Theatre, February 2nd, 2017. Includes Sonia Lennon, John Kavanagh and Niall McGarry. Image from @AibBiz twitter.


  • The panel discussion was very interesting. There were some interesting points made. In particular from John Kavanagh (successful MMA coach and Gym owner). John made reference to how he grew from working in out of his garden shed to where he is now. John sought out the people that were where he wanted to be. He spoke with them, learned from them and in some cases copied them. He said you must not be afraid to pay such people for advice as it is worthwhile. After all, that is what his athletes do with him. They pay him for his training and advice.


  • Another noteworthy point John made was with reference to changing peoples perceptions, about what people may think about you or what you are doing:

  • Niall McGarry of Joe.ie and Her.ie (among many others) was speaking about how one can use the fear of failure to their advantage. He spoke about quitting a corporate job and using the fear to drive him towards making sales/deals as he needed them to survive:

As previously stated, overall a worthwhile evening. Two suggested improvements – more interaction from the AIB social media team (perhaps even an event hashtag) and for the companies in attendance to have clearly identifiable delegates.

If you know someone that would benefit from online booking, please let me know about them. I will send you a two paragraph email for you to forward to your friend so it couldn’t be less hassle for you to help a couple of Irish businesses to grow! As a thank you, I will help you out with some advice on your website / SEO / Tech Support.


How Do I Get My Business On Google Maps?

by niall 0 Comments

The advantage to having your business on Google maps is that people can easily find you. Most countries have well-established post codes but the relatively new Irish Eircode system has yet to fully catch on. Another advantage is that it should help with your search engine performance. For example, when I search Google.ie for Kells Physiotherapy, the following is what I see, it is the area to the right of the allows the user to click on the map and be shown a larger view of the exact location.

Another example is when somebody navigates to Google Maps directly and searches for Kells Physiotherapy or a similar term, the following will show up:


The search results in the business being highlighted by a marker.

Adding A Business To Google Maps – Step by Step

1. The first thing to do is to create a Google Business account. To do so, navigate to https://www.google.com/business/

2. Follow the simple step by step guide, filling in the fields that are relevant to your business.

3. Google need to verify that you own this business, so they will request to send you a postcard to the address with a verification code. This is to ensure that somebody cannot register a business at an address which they do not receive mail.


4. About 10 days later, you will receive a postcard. Once it arrives, login to your new Google Business account and select ‘Verify Business’. Enter the code and a few days later, your business will show up on Google maps!


This step by step guide to getting your business on Google Maps is following on from our previous post, Search Engine Optimisation which isn’t a prerequisite but does have some handy tips for improving your performance with search engines.

If you know someone that would benefit from online booking, please let me know about them. I will send you a two paragraph email for you to forward to your friend so it couldn’t be less hassle for you to help a couple of Irish businesses to grow! As a thank you, I will help you out with some advice on your website / SEO / Tech Support.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

by niall 0 Comments

What Is SEO?

Many of the businesses that have registered with BookingHawk.com have asked about how they can make their website appear higher up on Google searches. The practice of doing so is known as SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. The better optimised your site is for search engines (Google / Bing etc), the higher up it should appear in a search. For example, if you are a mechanic in Galway, you would hope that when someone searches for ‘Mechanic in Galway’, your site will be listed as number 1.

Optimising your site for search engines is not a one item job. There are many small contributing factors that Google consider when deciding where to rank you. Despite what people say, nobody (Google aside) know exactly what these factors are.  However, through trial and error, the industry now has a reasonable idea. With that in mind, if somebody promises that they can make your site appear first in a Google search, you should be very wary of them. Firstly, Google may at the drop of a hat, move the goal posts and decide that in order to rank well, all the things that have worked in the past are now obsolete. Secondly, there are ways to try and trick Google into giving your site a good rank. Google is getting smarter at automatically detecting these ‘black hat methods’. If Google suspect you are attempting to trick them, they may black list you and your site may never appear in a search again. Therefore, it is much better to hear someone say that they will do all they can to improve your websites performance with Google.

When Google crawls your site, it is trying to decide what your site is all about. So, if you have loads of fresh original content, Google may decide your site is relevant for a whole range of searches. Obviously, you want to be appearing in as many relevant searches as possible. So, Google crawls ‘Galway-Mechanic.ie’ and decides that this site is claiming to be relevant for people searching for mechanics in Galway. It does this as it finds the content (words/text) on the site are all car/mechanic related and Galway and its hinterland is frequently mentioned.

Google doesn’t just crawl your site once and decide where to rank you. Google is constantly crawling your site. Therefore, Search Engine Optimisation is not a once off job. Your site should be updated regularly to meet with Googles latest algorithm changes.

Quick Changes That Should Help Your Websites SEO

Below I have listed eleven (it was ten but I thought of another!) things that your website should do to encourage a good ranking. This list is not exhaustive, merely an example of contributing factors.


1. Have fresh, original content that contributes to the internet. Google likes you to make the internet a better place. So if you are a good citizen and producing content that people want to read, it will probably look more favourably on your site. This is why many business sites have blogs.
2. Embed Google software such as Google Maps or YouTube videos (YouTube is owned by Google)
3. Have a number of other relevant websites linking to your site. The text that they link to your site with is important. For example, instead of having ‘Click Here’ to read about mechanics in Galway, where ‘Click Here’ is the link. It is better if the keyword is the link. So, a better link would be read more about Mechanics In Galway, where ‘Mechanics In Galway’ is the link.
4. The type of website that links to you carries weight. For example, there is little value in having ‘Tims Newsagent Wexford’ linking to ‘Galway Mechanics’ as they have nothing in common. There is much greater value in having ‘Honda Europe’ linking to ‘Galway Mechanics’. For one, Honda Europe will have a great Google rank and will be trusted by Google. Apart from that, both sites will be talking about ‘cars’, ‘car servicing’ etc – ie, common keywords that Honda and Galway Mechanics would like to rank well for.
5. Using well written and structured code to render your website – this is largely out of your control unless you built your own website and have a certain level of coding knowledge.
6. Using images that have populated and relevant alt tags set.
7. Having a page that loads quickly.
8. Having a mobile version of your website.
9. Have meta keywords and a meta description set in your website code.
10. Have social media integration (Facebook / Twitter / YouTube)
11. Submit a sitemap.XML file to Google.

How Can BookingHawk.com Help With My Websites SEO?

BookingHawk, although new, is doing quite well in Google rankings for our keywords. This is down to all of the things in the above list being complete and more. As time goes on, and more sites sign up to BookingHawk.com, this ranking should improve further. Therefore having a link on BookingHawk.com to your website should help your search engine score.

If the aforementioned Galway Mechanics has a BookingHawk.com page, when Google crawls it (BookingHawk.com business profile page), Google will discover a link to ‘Galway-Mechanic.ie’. It will also crawl the text on Galway Mechanics BookingHawk.com business profile page which will be talking about ‘car servicing in Galway’ etc. So now Google has the original Galway Mechanic site claiming to be relevant for ‘servicing in Galway’ and now it has another page, on a well ranked and trusted site (BookingHawk.com) backing up Galway Mechanics claim, and linking to the Galway-Mechanic website. This should reinforce Googles opinion that Galway Mechanics is indeed a mechanic based in Galway and therefore contribute to a better rank.

Getting Help With SEO

There are many companies that make a living from improving their clients Google ranking. Finding good ones is as easy as doing a Google search. After all, if they cannot rank their own site well how can they be trusted to rank yours well? My advice on the subject is to agree on certain key performance indicators with whomever you hire to carry out the work. For example, if after a couple of months, your page is still not ranking well, you should be entitled to a percentage refund. Ask the company, if they have any of your competitors as their customers, if they do, you must decide if this is a conflict of interest. The company you hire should be feeding back reports to you at least once a month on how your site is preforming and what they are doing to improve things.

The world of SEO is full of con artists that have the potential to severely effect the traffic that comes to your site, which will directly effect your sales. Therefore you must choose your SEO partner wisely.


If you know someone that would benefit from online booking, please let me know about them. I will send you a two paragraph email for you to forward to your friend so it couldn’t be less hassle for you to help a couple of Irish businesses to grow! As a thank you, I will help you out with some advice on your website / SEO / Tech Support.

Additional Reading:

Adding A Business To Google Maps

Google Ranking Factors