Posts filed under 'This Blog..'

My Recent Job Interview with Google at the ‘Plex’

Outside The GooglePlex

Well I kept it a big secret from you all because I didn’t want to jinx myself – but I was invited recently to an interview with Google (it was the ‘exciting little company‘ I spoke about a couple months back in a post about an upcoming interview).

The position was to be based at Mountain View, California, and as part of the great Webmaster support team – along with neat and very bright people like Adam Lasnik, Vanessa Fox, Aaron D’Souza and Matt Cutts.

The position was ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’, something I felt uniquely attracted to – I’ve a strong background in stats (from my undergraduate degree and time running scientific trials with the Sugar industry), have run several ecommerce sites and have a Master’s Degree in Computer and Comms Engineering – as well as being a regular poster on the Google Webmaster Forums – so I love hearing about what other folks are up to.

It was an exciting opportunity – so accordingly I took some valuable time off my PhD to prepare – before hopping on the plane for the 13 hour flight to San Francisco.

It was a great experience, but unfortunately I didn’t get the position.

I was disappointed.

As I wrote to one of my contacts about it:-

“so, either I’ll start looking for work again or I’ll bite my bum, put the pedal to the metal and get back into the PhD.

G was going to be a great fit because working with people like yourself would have been a ‘learning’ experience rather than just a job – I hate the 9-5 ‘office worker’ style culture of uni, but love the learning side.

My main problem when it comes to being hired is that of previous job experience..

I start to look like a jack of all trades but an expert at none.

Imho I thought that would be what would get me the job with G, as I’ve been told it makes me a pretty powerful educator – and a great interface between nutty engineer / scientist types and the general public.”

But let me take a step back here for a moment – I need to emphasise that I found the whole experience incredibly rejuvenating and irregardless of the fact I wasn’t successful, I still feel honoured.

If Google were to turn around today and say they wanted to employ me, I’d say yes in an heartbeat.

Why? Because any company that actually recruits internationally for a position known as ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’ is a company that has a conscience. I don’t see such a position advertised at Yahoo. I don’t see such a position advertised at MSN… actually, I don’t see such a position advertised ANYWHERE.

When I was going through the interviews, one of the interviewers (and I hope I’m not out of line here) actually spoke about the fact that Google pulls together information from heaps of different resources (blogs, forums etc) on a regular basis and tries to quantitatively (from qualitative signals) assess ‘webmaster sentiment’ – and use it as an early warning system to alert them if things (like an algorithm change for instance) have had any unforseen impact. That made me sit back and go ‘wow’.

I count myself very lucky to have been interviewed by a great company with a social conscience like Google and dearly hope an opportunity pops up soon and I get another crack at it (You can contact me if you know of one).

But enough of that – the whole experience was a complete blast – let me show you a few photos.

This first photo is the centre of the Googleplex – it’s a neat place. I like the fact that I seem to have captured a black crow in mid-flight right below the Google sign 🙂

The GooglePlex

Took this photo on a toilet break at the ‘plex’ – judging from the pace of the interview I figured that time is a commodity in short supply at the googleplex, but this pic (right above the urinal) really rammed it home “Testing on the Toilet” – an A4 page giving thought provoking code tips to the engineers. 🙂

“Testing on the Toilet” - Google takes their debugging seriously :)

I got the opportunity to do a fair bit of sight seeing while I was there…

Highway 101

The Golden Gate Bridge (with me in front of it).

You’ll notice in all of these photos that I’m wearing one of two shirts – bloody Qantas sent all my luggage to Helsinki on the way over, so I had only a pair of shorts, a pair of moleskins, the shirt I wore on the plane and one I bought for the interview (this one) for the whole trip – don’t get me started about QANTAS.

The Golden Gate

Across the Golden gate bridge from San Fran is a beaut spot called ‘Reyes Point’ – here’s a photo looking back towards San Fran from there (with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background).

A View From Reyes Point Across the Bay to Golden Gate Bridge

A pretty flower at Reyes point – I believe the plant is called Pigface – why, I don’t know 🙂

A Pretty Flower - Why do they call this plant ‘Pig Face’?

A ‘Hummer Limousine’ – Wow!

Hummer - Limousine

Another pretty flower in San Fran (are you a REAL Aussie! That’s so COOL! I want a photo with you!!) – the people were very friendly at “Kell’s Bar” – I love a good Irish Pub, and this one was a beauty – it’s just off Columbus.

Friendly People

The owner (right) and head barman of Kell’s Bar..

The Staff at Kell’s

They shouted me quite a few Guinness’s – here I think that magical brown ale is starting to have its curative effects 🙂 (I am not too sure whether the spooky red eyes were caused by the camera or the Gazillion pints of Guinness)

16 Gazillion Pints of Guiness Later..

The morning after – one of those famous cable trams in San Fran.

One of those Cable Car’s San Fran is famous for

My Hotel was right in the centre of SF (Sutter and Powell) – I got it for a nightly rate of like $69 – it was fantastic

My Hotel

Just a pretty picture of one of the brass fire hydrants they have all over the place in San Fran.

Just a Pretty Picture

Some San Fran street art- this was in Chinatown – San Fran has the best Chinatown I’ve seen in any international city – I felt like I was back in Beijing.

Some San Fran Street Art

On the way out of San Fran – you can see the city itself and the Bay Bridge top RHS.

I loved San Fran – it was such a vibrant colourful city – I hope to go back there someday soon.

San Fran From Above - on my way home

QANTAS strikes again – I had to wait 18 hours for my flight back – by the time I took this photo (the time on my watch is AM by the way) we’d been locked in LA airport with no food or refreshments all night waiting for our plane which was recursively only going to be ‘another twenty minutes’ all night.

Some rather unfortunate baggage handler had managed to run into the wing with the mobile stairs, causing severe damage to the port side aileron.

I felt sorry for the parents with little kids – the time on my watch is AM – roughly 20 hours after the plane was meant to leave.

Bloody Qantas.. 5am in the morning - still waiting

33 comments June 18th, 2007

Thankyou Everyone! – UtheGuru’s Second Month

YIPPEE! Today marks the end of our second month in operation.

I write about topics to do with blogging, search engine optimization and improving readership of your site – and I use this site as a ‘testbed’ for many of the strategies I talk about.

I figure that there’s no use talking the talk if you don’t walk the walk. so, here’s a little update about UtheGuru, how we’ve been going over the last month, and where we are heading.

Our Second Month

I gave my regular readers a little update about progress of this blog about a month ago – just a rewind – At that stage, utheguru had the following stats:-

In this, our first month of operation, this blog has gone from nothing to around 350 unique visitors a day, has just hit the magic 1000 inlinks stage, and continues to grow extremely rapidly.

I’m glad to say that the trend has continued:-

  • Recently, we reached 100 unique blogs linking to us in technorati.
  • We now have 8000 sites / pages linking to us directly according to yahoo – an 8 fold increase in one month.
  • New pages from this site regularly rate in the top ten searches on Google for my intended keywords / keyphrases.
  • Google is crawling the site more regularly, and new pages tend to be listed within a day of posting, which is a great improvement.
  • Over 90% of our content pages are in the ‘main index’ – previously many new pages dropped straight into supplementals – so this is a great improvement.
  • Daily readership has doubled, and around 20% of our visitors are repeat offenders, which is heart warming.


Some readers have recommended that I should add a user forum to this site. I’m liking the idea, as I reckon it would be a great way to hear more of your voices / questions on this site and get more reader participation.

Having said that, I’ve made the mistake of starting a forum too early on another of my sites, and I’d hate it to be there with no users. I’ll make a promise – when we reach 3000 unique visitors a day, I’ll launch a forum. We’re at about 1000 at present, so we’ll see how long that takes


WordPress comes with user comments no-followed by default. As you can probably gather from my post about no-follow, I’m not exactly a fan of it. As such, I’ve now implemented a policy similar to JLH’s Do-Follow Policy – All url’s in comments posted on this site will now carry link weight (for pagerank purposes) after 14 days – meaning you can increase pagerank for your favourite sites (and your own) by posting comments on this site.

The 14 day ‘probation’ is so that I have time to remove spammy comments that don’t add to the discussion.


Well, it is an aim of mine to make income from this blog. This month has seen a noticeable increase in Adsense income – we’ve gone from two pinches of salt to three 😛 .

Adsense CTR seems to be much lower on ‘technical’ sites like this than other sites, but I’ve found that by writing some articles as beginner tutorials, I’ve been able to improve this.

And anyway – income at this stage is a minor consideration with this blog – I’m more interested during this early phase in building readership, gaining pagerank (through people linking to my site) and getting a good search engine presence. So far, those aims have met with success.

Over the next month, regular readers will notice that I’ll be starting to include a few more ‘off-topic’ posts – these will be things like discussions about technical gear and other things that are likely to build the readership, and bring in a wider demographic – whilst also hopefully improving the CTR.

I’ve also gained income from helping users of my theme ‘BlixKrieg’ and others with general customization and SEO advice – thanks to those folks for their support, and I’ll be announcing a new service shortly that will expand upon that theme.

Readers and Participation are Everything!

I continue to be grateful to those members that regularly email me and write comments in support of this site – it’s really great to see people getting interactive and writing down their points of view.

Thanks Folks! I appreciate you heaps, and look forward to giving another update soon 🙂

1 comment March 8th, 2007

You ARE the Guru – so…

We want you to post!

The utheguru community is growing rapidly – it’s our first month and we already have 300+ unique visitors per day.

So now is your chance to jump onboard – I’ve decided to open up my blog to everyone who can contribute novel information that other readers of this blog will find useful or interesting.

Help utheguru grow, become a guest poster – read more here

Continue Reading 4 comments February 10th, 2007

We’ve come a long way, baby!

Today marks a few major milestones for UtheGuru – our first month of operations, and achieving 1000+ inlinks to our site.

This rapid growth hasn’t happened all by chance, however, it’s been part of a broader plan (which you can read about here).

Ultimately, we are attempting to become a place where users can find niche answers to niche IT related questions. We WANT YOUR INPUT about how best to achieve this – please see the rest of this post for more information. Your comments needed.

Continue Reading Add comment February 9th, 2007

Welcome to the forums – now there’s a bright idea!

The UtheGuru forums are shaping up to be the next big thing – and we’ve got a few ideas we think you’ll like – including PAYING you to blog.. hehe… check it out here..

Continue Reading 3 comments January 10th, 2007

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