Be Diligent When Upgrading Your Site

Just wanted to write a quick post to remind you all that you must be diligent when getting anyone to do any web designs for you. I’ve been leading a search marketing campaign for Thames Leisure, a company that specialises in boat cruises and rentals in London. They recently got their developer to make their site mobile-friendly.

This was certainly achieved, and was much-needed. The site now looks great on mobile and they will hopefully be able to get lots more sales through mobile users. However, although they had done lots of testing on the mobile version of the site, nothing was done on the desktop version and I have been constantly finding changes that have been made. Some of the things that changed were:

  1. there was a cached version of the site still showing up for some users which meant that the new design was not appearing correctly
  2. all of the page titles and preset meta descriptions had disappeared. This was a major problem for our SEO campaign as all the work we had done on creating tailor-made page titles and meta descriptions had completely vanished from the site
  3. when work began on the mobile version of the site a back-up of the database was made and used for the testing. When the mobile version was ready this version was then uploaded. This is bad practice. All the work we’d done on the site between these two points was lost which meant we had to re-upload posts that had been completely deleted from the system. Why they had to do this is beyond me.

They were the major takeaways so far. All I can say is: please be careful when doing any updates and make sure you test the site, and I mean all parts of the site, thoroughly after making any changes, and especially after making extensive changes like upgrading to a mobile-friendly version of a web site.

New Social Media and SEO Clients

These days it seems that my work is split between web design, social media and SEO. In regards to the latter two of those I have recently started doing SEO and social media work for FC Lane Electronics, Britannia Purvers, Thames Leisure and Parker Dann, as well as continuing my current SEO and social media work for Morgan Kelly Solicitors (née Sarah Edmunds Legal). As always, the objective with this style of work is to increase traffic, drive sales and generate followings. I’ll give an update later on down the road on how these ones are going.

Two New Holding Page Web Designs

Over the past year I have been mainly focusing on running social media campaigns for Alphawave Media in Lewes, as well as spending more and more time writing about and researching South American music (more info at whatslater.com). However, over the past few weeks I have designed two holding pages that I just wanted to share here.

mulatu-astatke.com – Mulatu Astatke is an incredible Ethiopian musician who has been getting much global recognition over the past 10 years. I have designed his holding page for his first website and will be helping design the main site too.

senzalacreperie.co.uk – Senzala Creperie is a small restaurant in Brixton Village, which funnily enough makes exceedingly good crepes. I’m currently working on their full site, but in the meantime there’s a lovely holding page right here.

And that’s all you’re getting for now!

Best,
Russ (Lead Designer)

The Secret To Good Link-Building

Link-building has become a much-maligned element in the world of SEO, but it needn’t be like that. One of the problems it has suffered in the last couple of years has been a lack of creativity. It was inevitable that Google would take a negative stance towards SEO (as it did with it’s Penguin and Panda updates) at some point and the fact that many SEO practitioners had got lazy meant that it was very easy for Google to spot all that black hat SEO.

However, with a little diversity and a little extra care you can build a successful SEO campaign. I’m currently working on an SEO campaign for Perpetual Solutions, a network, IT and technology training company. They want to achieve really well in Google searches for “network training”, a hugely popular search term. To get there though we’re going to focus on a number of less popular searches first, using a diverse range of keywords as well as different landing pages. It’s this kind of diversity that Google is fine with, it’s when you always use the same keywords and the home page as the landing page that they get mad.

These are the keywords that we’ll be linking to (with the landing page linked in):

Broadcast Training Course
Cloud Training
Fibre Training
Network Training Course
SIP Training
Telecom Training Courses
UMTS Training

By building links to a wide variety of landing pages and also varying the link text (such as using ‘UMTS Training Course’ instead of ‘UMTS Training’ from time to time, and also concentrating on a wide variety of sites to place the links, we are able to build a diverse, effective link portfolio that Google will not be able to criticise.

Ongoing Work

Over the past six months (beginning in August 2012) I have been working as a freelance SEO Specialist for Alpha Wave Media, an internet marketing company in Lewes (near Brighton). As part of this job I have been working on SEO campaigns for Britannia Movers International, Britannia Shipping, House & Son, Parker Dann and Sarah Edmunds, as well as launch Alpha Wave’s first social media campaign, with the aim of building a strong Twitter following for Perpetual Solutions, and IT and networking training company.

This work has distracted me from working on web design projects, but does mean that I can now help future clients better if they have SEO or social media needs.

The Verdict on Google Plus.. so far

So, Google Plus is currently not available to the public but is already causing quite a stir. Nobody likes change, especially when it means changing the social network habits you are now comfortably ensconced in. A good verdict, and one which I can’t really confer with (as I am not part of the select few using Google Plus right now), is that of Neil Gaiman, taken from his blog.

I joined Google+ and decided that I didn’t want another public platform yet.

I like Twitter. I tolerate Facebook. Google+ seemed (for me) like an awkward mash-up of the two. I found the continual stream of notifications telling me that another 500 people I did not know had put me into circles and that lots of other people I didn’t know had mentioned me really irritating and distracting, and I couldn’t turn them off or easily find the signal in the noise (or find my friends in the flood of people putting me into circles), and when I grumbled about it mildly (agreeing with Warren Ellis that I couldn’t find friends I’d actually want to put in circles among the thousands of people who I was being told were putting me in circles) a couple of hundred people explained to me that I was Doing It Wrong.

It was the “You’re Doing It Wrong” messages that were my personal tipping point. As far as I’m concerned, the mark of a good social network is that it either does what it was made to do easily and cleanly, or it’s bendy enough that you can make it do what you want. And being told “you’re trying to use it like Facebook but really it’s like Twitter!” just made me strangely nostalgic for Twitter. And as Twitter was still there, I cancelled my Google+ account, feeling at this point that I didn’t need another time sink, another place to check, another distraction from work or from life.

(If you cancel your Google+ account, Google+ will then start helpfully emailing you notifications every time someone puts you in a circle or mentions you, even if you had all of the “Email notifications” options previously turned off. This is fixable when you discover the “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of the emails that wasn’t visible when they came in on your phone, but you shouldn’t have to unsubscribe from something you didn’t subscribe to.)

Anyway, I wish Google+ all the best. I’ll probably check it out again in a year or so, if I’m still on the Internet, or sooner than that if they make things so I can’t blog without it. And it may well be an excellent Social Network eventually. It’s still in Beta, after all, and most users aren’t going to get a huge instant flood of followers (circlers?).

So that’s a social network I said goodbye to.

I said hello to Turntable.fm, however, a service (currently US only, alas) that lets you make a room, or join a room, and DJ in it. You and four other people can DJ at a time, sharing music you’ve taken from Turntable’s extensive databases or uploaded. I loved DJing, especially once I decided that there should be more spoken-word stuff out there, and that people might like it, and created http://turntable.fm/neilhimselfs_house_of_poetry and have slipped in there from time to time and just played poetry, and been delighted as other people DJ poetry too.

How To Redesign A Site Using SEO

One of my recent assignments was to redesign a website called Vera Paradise. The site had been designed using HTML with heavy use of tables, illogical names of pages and files and ludicrous use of CSS.

The first step then was to completely gut out the entire site, looking for any HTML tags which weren’t even needed. There were many of these. I also completely took out all text from the tables and deleted the tables completely. The sooner I got rid of those the better. Instead of using tables I set-up CSS using the float command and relative positioning to get everything into place.

The next step I took was to rename all the files and photos so that they were relevant. This including adding extra descriptive words into filenames. Instead of about.php, we now had about-vera-paradise.php. The more description the better. I also optimised all of the images used on the site. Some of them had huge file sizes despite being the size of postage stamps.

The last stage was going through each page, creating unique meta keywords, meta descriptions and page titles, and then also making sure that the words used in those recurred somewhere in the text. It’s very important to make sure that each page is optimised individually for the search engines.

And that was essentially it. A complete revamp that has already seen the site gain traffic.

After that I was asked to turn that site into a completely new site, with different branding, logos, design, a completely new experience basically. As a lot of the SEO had already been down this was a far easier job.

This is the first site, Vera Paradise. The second site, which was based on Vera Paradise, is Naturist Apartments.

New look THG Creative web site

Hey everyone, we hope you like the new look web site. Hopefully we’ve finally found a nice way of showing off the work we’ve done over the years.

In the past three years we’ve seen so many changes that have completely changed the way we design web sites. In the same time that we used to be able to design small personal web sites we can now design huge resources capable of offering a highly-valuable service. We like to think we’ve stayed on top of things.

Our recent projects have revolved around WordPress, mainly because this is what our clients like to use. It is simple, professional and it gets the job done. Recent projects including Sounds and Colours, Brazilian Football, CCA and On the Road to Find Out have all made the most of this software.

If you like what you see, and fancy your own website built using WordPress, then please get in touch.

What people search for…

Just a quick one as I thought this site was definitely worth flagging. SEOLOL is a site that lists all the things that people actually search for.

Some of my favourites are:

- I want to be not guilty because I have insanity
- Hippo people search
- How to kill a monkey with a wet paper towel

Check out the site for plenty more:

SEOLOL

Creating Sitemaps Needn’t be Hard

After searching in Google for ‘Google Sitemap Template’ I was bombasted with hundreds of options for creating sitemaps with a minimum of fuss. The majority of the links involved registering at the site, or involved a method as complicated as creating the sitemap from scratch in the first place.

Eventually I found XML Sitemaps. It is by far the easiest tool I have encountered. In a little less than five minutes I created sitemaps for five web sites that had been long overdue. The reason it’s so quick is that it’s automatic priority function is very effective, and it fills in all the fields too.

If you want to get all your sitemaps done in record time, simply go to http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ and soon all will be taken care off!Tags: , ,