Sir Brian Souter criticises Google

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Sir Brian Souter challenges Google

The co-founder of Stagecoach has called on the UK government to investigate Google after problems on his website, which have been analysed in detail by theEword.

Transport tycoon Sir Brian Souter runs a personal website at, which features a profile, a gallery and a media centre. It used to be one of the first listings on Google for the search term Brian Souter, according to his PR and web media adviser Gordon Beattie. But Mr Beattie claims that on Saturday, 13 August 2011, the site "mysteriously disappeared" from Google's results and has yet to reappear. When contacted, Google apparently indicated that it was a result of changes to its search algorithms.

The slump has prompted Sir Brian to take action. He is considering asking the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Committee to investigate whether Google should be brought to account. Mr Beattie explained: "We are now asking the question - is it time legislation was enacted to curb Google's power over free speech on the internet?"

theEword's SEO prescription

However, an investigation by theEword may help shed some light on the matter. Our search engine optimisation (SEO) team has identified a number of remedies that could boost the rankings of

  • Inbound links - Yahoo Site Explorer shows there are less than 40 external links to the URL This is very low and while some are from reputable sources (such as Stagecoach and his PR agency), many come from apparently low-quality sites. theEword suggests - build a more varied link profile.
  • Duplicate content - Much of the site's text appears elsewhere on the web, meaning Google could dismiss it as duplicate content. theEword suggests - create unique content for the website.
  • Insufficient content - Content on most sections of the site is relatively sparse and is not regularly updated. Even on the most active part of the site, the Media Centre, there have been only 3 articles posted in 2011 (one of which is about the Google issue). theEword suggests - update the Media Centre regularly and extend content on other sections when appropriate.
  • Excessive code - There is a lot of unnecessary HTML across the site. Large amounts of code, CSS and JavaScript combined with small amounts of content is frowned upon by Google. theEword suggests - lower the code to content ratio, remove inline JavaScript and CSS and optimise the remaining code.
  • Imprecise headers - The H1s on the site are quite vague. Headers like "Welcome" and "Scottish Entrepreneur" do not give Google sufficient information about the subject matter of the site. theEword suggests - expand H1s to target desirable keywords such as 'Brian Souter'.

Al Mackin, managing director of theEword, said: "Sir Brian Souter's website provides an interesting SEO case study. After examining the site, our SEO team has identified a number of steps that could help to boost the site's search performance. If these were implemented, I'm sure that would begin to enjoy good rankings once more for primary keywords like 'Brian Souter'."