February 7th, 2010Blogging
Ok, well I think I have got this WordPress lark installed properly now, picked a theme I like, installed what seem a load of relevant plugins and stuff, and everything seems to be just about ready to roll.
However, I’m new to this system, so drop me a comment if you have anything to say, for or against anything on the website, to make sure that I can improve the site in the coming days/weeks/year.
February 6th, 2010Blogging
Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I am bloody pissed off about Blogger removing FTP support from their website – and as a result, I am have now made a WordPress version of the website (which is where this is being published from, so hopefully this is all working now).
I get the reasons why they are doing this – its obviously costing them more money to run it than the share of the users dictates should be spent on it, but its very frustrating. I’ve helped a few people setup blogs using FTP to get them moving along, and much as I enjoy using WordPress and have quite enjoyed setting it up today, it was much simpler to easily create a blog with a very, very simple interface for someone that isn’t that web savvy to use.
It was also very useful for setting up an area of a website such as /blog/, in a sub-folder of the website without having to do the WordPress installation (which I did find quite easy, but fortunately my existing host was able to support).
Now to be fair, I have been talking about moving to WordPress for some time now, but I have finally got my arse in gear to start doing it
Hopefully this might mean the start of more frequent posting too!
October 16th, 2009Internet Good Deeds
Today, I have done 3 things on the Internet, that have either helped people, or put up a fight for a cause that was worthy of fighting for.
The first, was the disgusting behaviour of the Ian fella at Holborn on the Tube - this was terrible treatment of a paying customer – and ok – staff shouldn’t be abused, but neither should staff abuse clients (and if they are going to do it – don’t do it in public!).
I’ve worked in retail – and if I had spoken to a customer that way and be caught in the process, I would expect to be sacked. In fact, not even just in retail – I would expect to be sacked in my current job for speaking to a client like that – it’s just not on.
It’s very fortunate that Jonathan MacDonald had the thought of taping the exchange – and this created a storm on Twitter (and probably elsewhere too, but Twitter is where I followed it).
Next was the Stephen Gateley bashing by the Daily Mail – pretty similar – and the anti-gay vibe was sadly so predictable from the Hate Mail – I can’t understand the mentality behind the readers of this rag – but then maybe, I’m just too nice a person to understand the mentality.
I didn’t “get” Twitter for ages, but I am really enjoying the engagement that I have with the medium now – and it has allowed me to feel part of a real community (though whether or not I imagine that I don’t know).
Finally, I helped my friend pay his rent - and was one of many friends or fans of his work that contributed – well I couldn’t let the guy just be homeless.
Time now to get off the computer and enjoy some weekend! Thats all folks!
October 6th, 2009SEO
Sigh -I’m not going to dignify the fella with a link back to his website, but somebody no-one I know has ever heard of spouts off some controversial linkbait drivel with:
“Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned.”
First of all this is absolutely nonsense – SEO is important, because frankly time and time again web designers don’t pay heed to what search engines need, whilst also paying attention to their users.
I’ve got a few examples from this week already, I have some really good web developers who do some really good work, but forgot to take the noindex,nofollow tag off site wide before the website re-launched – it was of course an accident, but if I hadn’t been looking at the reason for why new pages weren’t indexed, I wouldn’t have found it. From an SEO perspective there aren’t too many things that I needed to look at changing on this site, but this doesn’t mean that things don’t get missed!
Another item is duplicate websites – I’ve been cleaning up a web of sites that area all the same at work lately, and nearly every website I ever start working on has a duplicate website when I start that work. Why? Because a web developer suggested that they should put the same website on lots of domains – the more places this content appears, the more chance that there is of it being found right?
I suppose that could have made sense (I certainly did it before I knew any better, more of which I will cover in my next Path to Search Engine Enlightenment post) – but this isn’t going to help your marketing for any of these sites all that much – it might work a little bit, with various different search engines drawing in small amounts of traffic, but nothing like a single, well optimised site can potentially draw in.
Web designers make websites, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to market them, how to look at the analytics data and interpret what it working here, what can be improved – identifying those new opportunities is vital? Most designers that I know create a site and hand it over to a client – what does the client do with it then without the guidance of an SEO?
Perhaps its from my experience of managing website SEO campaigns, and the type of client that my company works with most of the time – but for the vast majority of these folks, they have a great product, that they can sell fantastically well in an offline environment, but do they have the knowledge and tools to do the same online? Usually not, which is why they come to internet and search engine marketers for assistance.
A lot of SEO is fairly simple and logical, as the guy that prompted this post has said – it’s no more difficult than many other things in a digital age – but that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it – or in fact needs to know how to do it – they instead hire in the appropriate assistance.
However, his link bait did work – he now ranks on page 2 for SEO, on Google.com – no mean feat indeed – VL sometimes ranks on page 1 for SEO in Google.co.uk (darned everflux mind), and I know that this has taken a lot of work to get there, unlike this guys rant (which is why I am not going to link to it and feed his ranking further).
Controversy does generate links, and this in turn helps rankings, helps traffic to a site – I don’t know what his conversion is mind! Maybe I am just a bit too nice to try to employ this type of link bait for myself!
October 3rd, 2009SEO
My name is Peter Handley, and I am a search engine marketer. This blog series will explore my journey into the search engine optimisation world.
I’ve been interested in computers for as long as I can remember – starting out with my Spectrum in the 80s, moving on to an Atari after the tape deck died (and I was happy to learn that they are remaking Carrier Command as I spent a lot of hours on that when I was younger, some old pics are on Wiki, though they look terrible now), before moving on to a “proper” PC a few years later, using DOS and Windows.
My first experience of the “the web” was using AOL in the mid 90s and this was my first exposure to the term “keyword”. I talked in Internet chat rooms, searched for information on these keyword, looking for information to help with school projects, and even built my first website with a few friends, a site dedicated to the joys of cheese (sad I know, but we were only just teenagers and still hadn’t found booze then).
I quickly came to realise that AOL was at the time a very closed system – it wasn’t all that easy to find the “real” web, and it was all through their rubbish proprietary browser, and although AOL did have a wealth of information, it quickly felt restrained.
I feel lucky to have grown up in the age of the computer, and the Internet revolution. I see the difficulties that some people that have come to technology late have with doing things on computers or the Internet, but most of what I have to do comes naturally. Then again for years in my circle of friends I have been the expert “go-to” man for all things computer.
Throughout the years, I’ve supplied free tech support to plenty of folks, but I’ve always tried to educate at the same time, to prevent similar problems and maybe to prevent being phoned up again to come fix the same problems.
This is something that I have brought into my working life with clients as well, there is no point being mysterious about what you doing, and it helps to engender trust in what you are doing if you can explain how and why this is going to help.
Having come from a family that has always done hard physical labour, I’m glad that computers have helped me to escape that kind of graft. When I was younger I worked at my dads concrete making construction business, and part way through education was offered the chance to potentially take it on in the future, but it was something that was never going to appeal to me. It was only a few months after I turned down this opportunity that my dad sold the business and moved on to being a gardener, so I wonder if I did him a favour here saying no!
I went through school, where the IT facilities were terrible (and ironically in a school that is now a specialist in IT), and did ok, but messed up college the first time around, partly due to breaking an ankle. This led me to taking some really shitty jobs, like Asda’s and the Co-op, and working for a company that refurbished computers that were shipped off to Africa. I tried and nearly succeeded in getting a job with IBM/AT&T, but was told that they would only take on a graduate, and at that stage I didn’t have grades good enough to get me onto a degree.
This is what made me in life, as it made me re-evaluate what I wanted to do and got me back into education.
So, I went back to college, ended up getting on ok, and got grades that got me into University at Portsmouth, studying Entertainment Technology. I started messing around with HTML and Dreamweaver whilst here, and made a few websites whilst there. The degree also consisted of graphics, animation, music & radio production with some video thrown in too, but I was always interested in the web based elements, and the surrounding project management theme.
At this time I got my first paid work as a web designer, working for some local music producers. I also managed to use this as extra credit on my degree, which was handy. I remember at the time that the lecturer marked me down on the project because the proposed domain name was too long, although looking back on it now, it would have been a great keyword rich domain.
This is also when I first installed a tracker on a website, although one of those horrible hit counters, and in hindsight, supplied me absolutely no useful information at all – but hey I didn’t know better, and thought it was great to be able to see how many people had visited the website.
It was at this stage that my interest in search was first apparent, as I was baffled at how to actually direct traffic to the website that I had built.
The first website that I ever built that went live was made entirely of images – so none of the text was readable for the search engines – I didn’t “get” at this stage, that they needed the words to be in text to be able to read them, though it seems so obvious now!
So, I stuffed the Meta Tags full of things that they probably should have ranked for, as well as spammed it to death with a list of every keyword that they would want to rank for. I didn’t know any better, so set a pretty useless sitewide Title and Description too!
I pretty much killed this websites chance of ranking for anything, and although it did get some visitors (that hit counter did keep going up), I think that they were mostly direct visitors.
That’s it for part one of my path to search engine enlightenment – part 2 will be coming soon.