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A Pupil's Perspective

Last month, Merchiston welcomed new pupil, Arman P, who joined Lower Sixth Form. New to the School Arman is keen to get the most out of his time here and is already settling in well and getting to know his peers.  

It was a pleasure to have Arman join us at November's Business Breakfast which saw Graeme Crossley (95-99) present.  Arman will continue to attend Merchistonian Breakfasts and will write a short article for us after each event.

Merchistonian Business Breakfast – November 2016

On Friday 25 November, a group of Merchistonians gathered for the monthly reunion at Indigo Yard, organised by the Merchistonian Club . An eight o’clock start meant that commuting through wintry Edinburgh with the sun still rising was a small challenge in itself. The first few to arrive swiftly engaged in conversation with each other, bonding over their most memorable moments at Merchiston as well as freshly brewed coffee. Shortly after, it was announced that breakfast was being served which consisted of bacon baps and croissants, with more tea and coffee. Although some held themselves back with the intention of showing their civility, it was clear that at this point in time, everyone was concentrating on the food!

The speaker of this event was Graeme Crossley (95-99), an old Merchiston pupil, who founded his own digital marketing consultancy firm that specialises in search engine optimisation (SEO). Starting with his background, Mr. Crossley spoke a little about his life at Merchiston (for example, how he unexpectedly became a prefect in Chalmers West) and then onto his life ambitions and why he does what he does. I personally was unaware of how grand the advertising industry is – he talked about clients he has previously worked with, and big names like HSBC, Nike and Disney were amongst others in the list. 

Moving on, we were shown what media consumption was like back in the day when televisions had only just undergone mass production, comparing it to the modern day methods of being connected to social media 24/7. Hearing that 77% of TV viewers use another device while they are watching TV was quite astonishing because it put the many dangers of, for example, the Internet into perspective with problems ranging from addiction to scamming and hacking. It was interesting to see an example of an (attempted) scam in an email that was actually sent to Mr. Crossley himself, claiming that they could ‘provide guarantee to have more than 85% of the key words on Google page 1 within the projected Google page.’ Clearly, this was a fictional claim: as he explained, there are no guarantees and SEO takes time.

As mentioned above, Mr. Crossley’s main focus is to do with search engine optimisation (SEO). This is basically what companies do to try and get their website to appear higher up on Google (or other search engines) when certain key words are typed in, so that the user doesn’t have to scroll as far to get to their site. The ‘keyword funnel’ was shown in the form of a diagram, which demonstrated how the more specific the key words are, the easier it is to link a website to it. The example used related to cameras: users will find that very different websites will come up from a search simply saying only ‘camera’ compared to something like ‘Nikon Coolpix 8 mega pixel digital camera.’

Mr. Crossley ended the presentation talking about link building and explaining how it works, followed by “content strategy 101,” where he gave tips on how to improve the positioning of a website in Google search results, so that fellow Merchistonians could benefit from his knowledge and skills by applying it to their own businesses. The first step is to consider which people have the power to write something about your company, and whether these people overlap with your customers. Then you should think of what makes your company special and interesting making it stand out from any other potential companies that offer the same goods or services, followed by deciding what content will work best for your website. Marketing is the next key stage – “every piece of content needs its own marketing plan,” including things like a social media account answering frequently asked questions. Finally, you should try to understand and learn from what content worked and what didn’t, so that you can constantly improve and develop your business with the intention of attracting more customers.

To summarise, I found my first business breakfast extremely interesting, and I am fortunate enough to say that I was able to walk away having spoken to some successful entrepreneurs. Thanks to this, combined with listening to Mr. Crossley’s presentation, I have learnt how to adapt a website making it more attractive for customers, as well as being easy for people to use. I would like to thank everyone who came to the event as well as all the organisers involved, and I look forward to the next encounter.

As well as catching up with old friends and familiar faces, the business breakfast provides:

A regular networking opportunity
A chance to talk business to like-minded members
A discounted and preferred rates initiative
An opportunity for Sixth Formers to network to help with mentoring, internships or general advice
News and views on the business environment in and around Edinburgh


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