Monday, 8 December 2014

SEO for Websites - the basics - in plain English.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation - but what does this really mean?

Google is a search engine. It is not the only search engine, Bing (from Microsoft) is its main competitor, but Google is used by more than 90 per cent of the western world to search for information on the internet.

A search engine is not the same as a browser. The most popular browsers are: Internet Explorer (from Microsoft), Safari (from Apple, mostly used on Apple computers and devices), Chrome (from Google) and Firefox (from Mozilla). Your browser is your "window" to the internet; it enables you to view websites, including social media, and to use search engines.

A search engine provides a way of finding information that is stored somewhere on the internet.

Twitter shown in Firefox browser

The images above show a browser (the tabs, boxes and quick links across the top) displaying Google search results in the first image and a Twitter page in the second image. Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and other websites may all be listed in Google's search results and can be reached by clicking the links or by putting the appropriate link/website address directly into the box at the top of the browser.


Why website owners need SEO

There are millions of websites on the internet. Anyone who knows your website address (also known as domain name or URL*) can type it into a browser and see your website. Other visitors will need to have your website brought to their attention. This could be via another website or social media but the largest audience can be reached by ranking well in Google search results.

Google uses a variety of data to determine who should be on page 1 of their results, including:
  • close match of the search term (keyword or phrase) with your website content and how much importance the term has in relation to other content on your website;
  • how many links go to your website from other sites using similar terminology;
  • how many visitors land on your pages and how long they stay on your site;
  • uniqueness of quality content (if most of the phrases are already found elsewhere on the web, don't duplicate);
  • site history and frequency of content updates;
  • speed of website, quality of code and 'meta-data' (two of the important meta-data are page title and description, read on...)
Meta-data and code structure are what the search engine sees. Ideally, it should be 'search engine friendly' when your website is delivered to you, so check what aspects of SEO are covered in the quotation. If you have a CMS-based website (Content Management System) that enables you to update website content yourself, you are likely to also have access to other areas to improve SEO yourself, including the ability to change meta-data. If you don't have the expertise, please seek assistance or training.

Ask yourself: Of the millions of websites in the world, why should yours be on page 1 of Google results? When you know the reasons, you will be on your way there!


Start-up? Use this Guide


Step 1. Find a competent website builder who will advise you of the things you need to consider. It would be useful if he/she understands the importance of SEO and will cater for this in some way (you would be surprised how many don't).

Step 2. We suggest using WordPress to build an easy to maintain website. If your designer says otherwise, make sure that you understand and believe his/her reasons.

Note. If you require an e-commerce package for an on-line shop, be aware that these can be very complicated and time consuming for a small business with a lack of appropriate skills. Take time to learn the correct set up for uploading and maintaining products and be aware of the SEO implications.

Step 3. Choose a website design that reflects your company image.

Step 4. Ensure that you understand the importance of SEO and do not neglect it.

Best of luck! Let us know if you'd like our help. Now, If you're ready for something a bit more technical, here is a previous article we posted on optimisation and images.

*acronym for Uniform Resource Locator

Friday, 21 November 2014

Adding interest with a Pinterest widget!

Liven up your blog or a page of your website with a Pinterest widget like this!


It's a dynamic link so it may take an extra second to load but it will display your latest Pins with a link to your Pinterest account for readers to browse through more of your images, recipes, videos, etc.

To showcase your Pins, log in to your Pinterest account and use the drop-down menu at the top right; click on Make a widget, as shown in the screen capture snippet on the right.

You are then provided with a couple of lines html code that can be inserted into the html of your website or blog.

If you know html, this code is customisable to be wider, shorter, taller or thinner but if you haven't a clue what html is or where to find it, read on...

Google Blogger/Blogspot: there is a choice of Compose or HTML button above the content area of your post, to the left. Use the HTML button to paste the code then return to Compose mode to complete your post.

WordPress Blog: There is a choice of Visual or Text tab immediately above-right of the content panel. Use the Text button to paste the code then return to Visual mode to complete your post.

WordPress Website: follow the instructions for WordPress Blog or - depending on your theme - you may be able to paste into a widget area.

Other CMS Websites will have similar means of switching between HTML and WYSIWYG. You may need to contect your website designer for instructions.

HTML-coded Website: Unless you have the appropriate development tools and skills, you will need to refer to your website designer.

Visit Bee's profile on Pinterest.

Customising the size: keep the original Pinterest code so that you can re-insert it if necessary.
In HTML/Text mode, you may find the following numbers in the html:
" data-pin-board-width="400" data-pin-scale-height="200" data-pin-scale-width="80" "
and play around with them until you are happy with the result, e.g.
" data-pin-board-width="695" data-pin-scale-height="133" data-pin-scale-width="78" "

Have fun pinning and showing off your new skills!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Using Video to Capture a Wider Audience

We've produced a few short videos for clients, both "movies" and slideshows. We try to keep the length within a minute and often speed up the action. The videos are generally used on the clients' websites or in blog posts to illustrate or display their products.

With smaller budgets, we are unable to entice A-list celebrities to appear or to use expensive professional filming equipment and studios to create a virtual blockbuster movie, such as certain drinks companies have recently. Our clients are, in the main, small to medium UK businesses.

Occasionally, we suggest something a little bit different that might attract an audience that hasn't yet been reached, for example, to appeal to a different age group or people with unconventional interests. One of our clients agreed to supply some props to a group of students to enable them to create a Halloween movie.

From the client's viewpoint, the concept of having students write the script, play the characters and shoot the whole film was to entertain an audience on YouTube and just mention, at the end, where the props came from...  because you never know when someone might want to buy something similar.

Here is the end result:



Love it or hate it? Comments welcome!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Training for WordPress Websites - Updating and Optimising Content

When we deliver websites that have been built using WordPress, we include a 1 hour handover tutorial plus 30 days full support and up to an hour's email or telephone support for a year. Even if the website is a very small one that has cost the client under £350.

Over time, though, we have found that it is often several months before clients wish to make some content updates and they are then eager to learn how to do more. As a result of this demand, we offer an on-site, one-to-one (or -two) training session which may include the following elements:
  • updates to and optimisation of existing content
  • creating new optimised pages and posts
  • optimising images
  • how to use menus and widgets
  • other plugins, e.g. sliders
If required, we'll also run through social media and how to use Google Analytics.

For WordPress websites that we have delivered, there is a nominal charge of £75* for a couple of hours or so, after which our hourly rate may be applied.

 

WordPress Website Training - Content Updates and Optimisation

 

If you are considering using our tutorial services for a WordPress website that someone else built, we will need to have access to it before we can confirm whether we are able to offer the same form of training course. Indeed, of the three courses we recently completed, two were for websites designed and created by us, the other was an established WordPress site from another provider who doesn't offer SEO, so that was what we focused on

*Based in Herts, we are only able to offer this on-site service within a 30 minute drive, perhaps a little further for a small additional charge. All prices are subject to VAT at the current rate. The package includes any follow-up questions via email or telephone for up to 30 days for no additional charge.

We also offer Website Design, setting up WordPress or Blogger and Social Media services.

Contact The BPc via twitter, email (using the subject "WordPress Website Blog") or telephone.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Designing for Business: Company Logo, Website, Blog - WordPress or Google - & Social Media

Whether starting a new venture or refreshing an existing business, presenting an identifiable company image will reinforce your strategy to get noticed.

Some small business owners are obsessed by image and others are completely indifferent to the idea of a company logo. Your business needs a logo, even if it is just a name in a specific style, e.g.

John Smith
Entrepreneur

A logo identifies the company and unifies all other output from the company - emails, business cards, products, advertisements, website, fleet vehicles and uniforms.

Examples of Logo Designs:

Logos designed by The BPc
  • Sightline Doors offer panoramic views; the implication is that an uninterrupted view would include the Earth's curve.
  • The Wf logo shown is an icon version of the full Welwyn Festival logo; the confetti around a quirky font helps to convey a party or festival.
  • The blue bird is the letter M, the boat is letter P; the whole scene creates the message of Marine Pursuits.

A logo can convey a great deal about your company style and ethos: solid, serious, friendly, fun. Some of these characteristics are quite clear in the examples shown above. This fundamental beginning will set much of the design criteria for all that follows - stationery, website, advertising, product packaging, etc. so it has to sit comfortably with the company's directors.

At The BPc, we can design your company logo, business cards, stationery (printable and software versions) and other aspects of corporate graphic design. We also design and build websites - static, CMS* or e-commerce - including SEO, and we frequently set up and customise WordPress or Google Blogs and related social media pages, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, often continuing to manage them for clients for a monthly fee.
*Content Management System - website content can be updated in-house by clients with minimal internet experience.

Examples of Blog & Social Media customisation:
set up and customisation of blogs and social media by www.thebpc.org.uk


Our Logo design service starts at £75, Blog/ Social Media set up & customisation from £75, CMS websites from £275 (but to be honest, most small business websites cost nearer £375 or more) and all prices are subject to vat.

More... Blog posts about Design Services (logo design, website design, blog design)

Monday, 4 August 2014

Review Your Twitter Settings + More...


Every now and then, it's a good idea to review your Twitter settings and, as there have been some major changes to Twitter this year, why not review your settings now?

Before you attempt to change your settings, make sure that you know your password because it will be required. Click on the cog (top right of your Twitter screen) and select Settings from the drop-down menu.

Under Account, you can be a responsible tweeter and mark your tweets as sensitive if, for example, you have a tendency to swear a lot or post adult content.

Security and Privacy is where you can check your settings for photo-tagging, location information and letting others find you by your email address. You can also switch off personalised suggestions and tailored promotional content (although you can't turn off all ads).

Skipping to Notifications... I have a plethora of spam emails to filter through each day and a number of remaining emails to deal with so I don't really want a ton of stuff from Twitter.

I manage my account with Web Notifications, which are all ticked with the 'by anyone' option selected. All the Email Notifications are un-ticked except for New Followers, Direct Messages and Performance Stats. This combination doesn't suit everyone but you should check the best options for your own use.

You may have noticed that the Profile photo you originally uploaded is a bit fuzzy now, as it has been stretched to fit Twitter's new format. Also your header image may need changing for the same reason.

Finally, you may be surprised at the number of Apps that you have allowed to access your Twitter account. I strongly suggest that you check these and disallow those you are unsure of - you can always re-allow them if you need to.

Bonus Info: Refining Your Use Of Twitter

If you are following a lot of accounts - really following and engaging with - you may find Twitter Lists useful as it can categorise them into, say, local, social, business, sports, family and friends. Accounts can be in more than one category, e.g. Hitchin football club could be in both local and sports. Lists are also essential if you have reached your Follow limit.

Muting Followers is an option to avoid offending someone by Un-following. Go to the cog icon on their profile or use the More button on one of their tweets and select the Mute option (you can always un-mute). Similarly, while you are on their profile, rather than Mute their tweets, you can elect to just stop receiving their re-tweets.

Follow www.Twitter.com/BPcUK :-)


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cost of setting up a Blog on Google Blogger

If you need someone to set up your Google Blog, customised with your logo, background and basic colours to match your company website, the guide price from The BPc is £75+vat.

Imagine our amazement when one of our clients instructed their website designer to set up their blog and were quoted 4 x that amount! The right thing for us to do is to step in and suggest that it could be done more cheaply, right? Wrong... well, I think so. It's a bit of a dilemma but we were introduced to the client as part of the team that would look after their internet needs. The client's main contact, the person co-ordinating us, takes a percentage of fees for the introductions so he might be quite happy to allow the client to pay the higher price. Or he may not realize that the price is over inflated.

We'll ponder over the best thing to do but, meanwhile, if anyone else out there is given a price from an existing supplier, please do yourselves a favour and get some comparative quotes.

Email us if you'd like us to quote for setting up your blog in WordPress or Google blogger. We will set up and customise your Social Media accounts, too, if you don't have the time.

bee-at-thebpc

p.s. We also specialise in company Logo design, from £75+vat.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

SMEs Need to Know This Information About Their Websites

Business Owners: do you know the answers to these questions about your website?

  • Where is your website hosted?
  • Do you have access to your website code?
  • Are you the registered domain name owner?
  • Has your website been properly optimised?

The first three points are critical. If you should lose contact with your website service provider, it will be a time-consuming experience to gain access to that information. This is a situation we have encountered a number of times as new clients have come to us for help.

Our recommendation is to contact whoever has that information and ask them to send you complete details - then store them safely... just in case... because even if have a book-keeper to deal with your invoices and payments, you have access to your bank account details, don't you?

The fourth item is a different matter. This relies on your website company or SEO service being honest with themselves as well as with you. Even so, 'optimisation' is open to a degree of interpretation.

Often referred to as SEO, Search Engine Optimisation covers many aspects from the structure and content of your website to its 'popularity' on search engines, more specifically Google. Google has written and updated a number of guidelines for SEO and the best thing to do is follow them.
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Many of our clients want the ability of updating their own website content and we recommend building their new website with WordPress, a popular website development tool for that enables computer-savvy, non-technical users to add and edit content, including updating news and uploading images.

As well as being in control of your own website content, you can use an SEO plug-in such as Yoast or All-in-One to guide you through optimisation. The advantages make it easy to justify the small additional budget to build a website with future updates in mind.

If you don't have the time or inclination to perform updates yourself, it's easy to out-source them - and not just to us!

At The BPc, we offer various internet-related services and will advise openly and honestly about your current website, options for a new website, optimisation or social media requirements. If you'd like to know more, you can email, call or leave a message in the comment box below.

The BPc

Friday, 17 January 2014

Generating Links from your Blog

Google is getting very heavy-handed with bloggers now. If you have too many links in your posts, not only might your blog be labelled as 'unworthy' but the blogs or sites that you link to may also suffer.

If you are focusing a blog post on the content of a specific website, e.g. one that has a catalogue of items that you like, you may be linking to several pages. Here is a tip:when you create the links from your blog post, remember to tick the rel=nofollow box for most of them. Here's how to do it in Blogger:


For WordPress blogs, you will need to know HTML or use a free plug-in.