Ramblings of an IT Consultant

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Social Media as a Marketing Tool does it work?

In Blog, Google, Social Media on August 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Today this is the big question on my mind.  I recently developed a website for one of my customers that allowed a user to place a comment on the services their particular council offered.  They then created a Twitter account and off they went. www.thelocalgovernmentforum.co.uk

Finding people to follow was not a problem as they decided to follow each council that had a twitter account.  Slowly but surely the number of followers increased to over 250 but alas very few of these followers visited the website.

The current Mrs G also has a website which is advertised via Twitter & Facebook and again we have the same issues we have followers and people who like posts but no actual traffic coming from the Social Media networks to the websites. www.mathsstar.com

I recently read an article that suggested that Social Media was great for keeping in touch but in a lot of cases people would hit the like, follow or re-tweet button without the referer ever visiting the link.  It would seem that unless what you say in a tweet or a like is topical, people will just move on.

Do you have any experience in the Social Media field that can point me and others in the right direction?  I know there are a lot of businesses making money out of social media but I am beginning to wonder if keeping to the top of the search listings is the best way to drive traffic to a website.

Online Shopping: Does the website name matter?

In Customer Service, Online Shopping on November 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm

One of my main roles as a developer is to create online shopping carts for my clients.  The thing is I know some of their concepts are sound.  I also know they have researched the market and their prices are competitive.  We can also get lots of visitors to their sites by using Google AdWords.  So why do these shops never take off?

Quality Meat Online – www.qualitymeatonline.co.uk is a case in question!

This website was created from another website called Foodshack which did not do particularly well either.  Basically the shop is an outlet for a butcher to sell their products online.  This website is currently getting 100 visits a day, with the help of AdWords.  However we have only had 2 orders since the site was launched back in August.  We know there is a market for their products and the price is reasonable.  The website is well designed and comparable to other online stores.   Take www.donaldrussell.com for example,  we know that they turn over millions of pounds a year on their website alone.  Donald Russell are a well-known household name but surely there is a place for sites like quality meat online?

The other thing we can also gauge that because Donald Russell are doing so well they have a massive marketing budget.  They can afford adverts that a small site like Quality Meat Online can only dream about.  But surely the lack of orders cannot be contributed to one or two sites like theses giants.   The market must be large enough for small start-ups?  It’s not like you can have unique meat products, so everyone is selling the same stuff!

Quality Meat Online has a sister site called www.halal-meat-online.co.uk.  This website does reasonably well and take around £200 of orders a day.  Maybe its the niche that makes this website a little more successful than its brother!

It will be interesting to see how these two websites fare over the coming weeks.  They are both about to have adverts placed in the London Metro newspaper and a food magazine called Christmas Feast.  Hopefully that will pull the clients in.  If not I feel my fears might be correct and Quality Meat Online falls flat on its face.  I fear it may be reborn again.  This time with a slightly better name.  Who knows we might get it right sometime!

Have you had any website name failures?

Dates: Why are they so tricky?

In asp.net, Microsoft, Technology on November 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm

We all have problems with dates in our lives.  We have all forgotten someones birthday or an anniversary, some of us may have had some disastrous first dates or even a blind date!

Today another instance where a simple date got the better of me.  I was doing some work in Access and I just couldn’t get between dates to work.  This is an issue I always seem to have with most query languages I use.  SQL Server makes the issue even more tricky at times.  I am pleased to say it does not look like I am the only one who suffers with dates.  Google has hundreds of articles about date related issues so it can’t just be me.

Does anyone else struggle with dates?  The best date I ever went on was my first date with the current Mrs G!

SEO and Link Building – The Dilemma

In SEO on November 4, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about optimising websites for Google and the importance of using Webmaster tools and Analytics to track search terms and traffic to a website.  We were chatting and agreeing on everything until they brought up the subject of link building.

Linking to other websites and getting links back can build traffic and lets google know you are a popular site, but only if the links are useful.  However my friend disagreed and went on to prove how if you type one of their customer’s names into Google it appears on the top of the search results because of the level of his links, even the unrelated ones.  However this can be true of any website, even one without links.  An example of this is a website I built for one of my clients called Xeles.  Now, this website does not link to any other website online.  However in Google it appears on the top of page 1.  So to me this blows the theory of link building out of the window.  I have launched a number of new sites and if they are built correctly they will appear on page 1 if you type in their name with or without external links.

So what does Google say about link building in its terms and conditions regarding exchanges to sites that are unrelated?  They clearly state that this could hinder your pagerank and position in the search results.  However most web designers will disagree that this is the case and still believe that linking to a website with a higher ranking helps to increase your pagerank.  I cannot disprove this opinion, however I tend not to follow it.  An example here is a chocolate fountain hire website that my friend developed recently.  Their links page has links to contact lens specialists.  If I was  looking for their product but found thier links page chances are I would click away.  Why?  Because they are desperate for traffic and have no focus on their products or their customers.

In my opinion linking to nothing is surely better than linking to something unrelated, no matter how desperate you are for your traffic.  Also my fear would be if Google decided to improve googlebot’s ability to detect these links.  I would not want my website dropping in the search results.

One final thought: as of today my WordPress blog has been running for jut over 3 weeks,  and is already on Page 2 if you search for Gallagher it blog.  All of this without link building…..  or is this just luck on my part?

ASP.NET 301 Redirect in VB

In Google, Microsoft, PageRank, SEO on October 22, 2010 at 10:05 am

I have been recently been moving a complete website to a new domain and the client asked what will happen to all of the broken links in Google.  They were quite concerned that their page rank would drop due to the massive changes.  Simple I said a 301 redirect and an update to the sitemap will help.

There is a way you can do this from within the web.config or even java script, but for this site decided to create 301 code in the page init event.

Protected Sub Page_Init(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Me.Init
Response.Status = “301 Moved Permanently”
Response.AddHeader(“Location”, “http://www.gallagherit.co.uk”)
End Sub

I made sure that all of the old pages were redirected to their matching new page and following a quick update of the sitemap to remove the broken links and away we went.  I used XML-Sitemaps.com to generate my sitemaps which is free if your website is less than 500 pages in size.

The good thing about 301 redirects is that it keeps Google happy and we all like to keep Google happy dont we?