Why do I do this?

Why do I do this?

I started doing web design out of an interest in technology and also from a frustration of dealing with bad websites. I wondered if there was a better way of providing information without pop ups, or bad gif images al lover the place. so when I was able to I started my own company to provide a service with clear plain talking websites. This is a bit of a self indulgence post about me, but will give you an incite in to me and if we would work well together.

  1. My journey
  2. Why I chose WordPress
  3. Finding my Why
  4. Challenges
  5. The future

My Journey

Starting out back in the mid nighties before the web was a big thing, I was interested in developing a website so I picked up the best tool I knew – Dreamweaver.

I went to my local library (yes a place where I could ‘Hire’ a physical book for free)took out many books on HTML and Web design. Testing from a basic website written in Notepad and checked within Internet Explorer on Windows XP. while these websites were very basic, it gave me a great understanding of how HTML works in a real hands on way. From here I moved on to using Dreamweaver as this was an early drag and drop visual web site builder. This allowed me to play around and add in new functionality and discover that I am a visual learner.

My WD Explored Journey

Creating the websites using the visual part and then switching back to the raw HTML to clean up and remove bits was much better, but this was still only on small sites on my local 286 PC. I wanted more so went looking on line and found services such as freeservers and created a basic site there –

I left web design for a while until I heard of WordPress in 2012 while working for a Kung Fu Franchise. I was given the task of managing 40 sites to make sure they were up to date and to try and get them ranking better.  This is where I now had a whole new system to learn, not Just HTML, but now CSS and PHP.

I  was able to pick up the CSS fairly quickly, but PHP was a struggle and thankfully wordpress have massively improved since version 3 and manually adding or tweaking PHP is not something that is needed for many websites.

Now when producing websites I recommend using Divi by Elegant Themes. This is a great visual builder, but is also quick and dpes not have issues with each major upgrade.

From here I took several courses to fine tune my SEO skills and am now SEMRush qualified and Google Qualified. So I have a great toolkit for building and getting the website to rank.

WHY I CHOSE WORDPRESS

When I started with wordpress there was a big surge in different content management systems. Joomla was growing in popularity, as was Drupal and Concrete5. Rather than try and learn more than 1 I decided to stick with wordpress and find out how it worked.

I considered looking at making my own plugins and bought a course, but in my early days never found a need to because there were so many different plugins coming out I could always find one, be it from the repository or from Code Canyon or a programmers own website. For me WordPress had all the functionality available

The only down side was as the rate of productions was so quick the quality was not always there. I had issues with compatibility and would often take down as live site while trying to add functionality.

My WD Explored Journey - WordPress logo
Why WordPress!

These days WordPress is much more stable and the plugins and themes have become better coded and more streamlined. I have a great toolkit I am confident to work with and trust. I review the themes and plugins to see if there are better options that offer the same functionality and test them out.

These days my host of choice is Siteground. As part of their tool they have a great Staging site setup. I can create a basic site with a holding page then create a clone and build out the full functionality from there. When completed I can send the site to live in a few simple clicks. There is always a debate over which hosting company is the best or best value for money, but many free lancers or agencies have different requirements, so there is never a clear winner.

FINDING MY WHY

I have struggled with this one, and then when completing a Demystifying SEO course, they referenced the famous Simon Sinek for this quote. What they also did was to go in to how to get your why and what makes it so powerful. I am not sure I have 100% got it, but I am working on it.

I have read Simon’s book and listened to the audio. I understand it can be powerful to find what is driving you, but I see this as more of a journey to finding it than reading a book and ‘Ding’ there it is.

What is your Story WD Explored.

Challenges

Like any agency or freelancer there are a bits of the process that are less exciting or less enjoyable and these can often be a struggle to get through. With an agency you can pass the jobs around so everyone can do a bit they like. Being a single entrepreneur I do not have the luxury. Being a single entrepreneur means I can change the process.

Like many freelancers, there is the worry of the feast and famine, where lots of work comes in, I stop marketing and then the work dries up so back to marketing again. I have joined some local business groups and this helps with work being referred across to me. Showing up to the meeting each week and presenting my 60 seconds script allows me to keep up with my marketing as I can constantly tweak my ‘Elevator’ pitch or have different variations depending on the situation or type of prospective client.

THE FUTURE

Where am I looking to go and what do I want for the future? Always a big bold question. Like any good business I have goals and targets set for myself and being driven to succeed I will do everything in my power to achieve them. I understand I may have to sacrifice time now so that in the future I can have the time, but I am mindful that as my children grow up I am there for the important things even if that means taking time away from what I love doing.

My Family

I would love to have a small team and a great bunch of clients that I can work with each month or year, clients that I can help make a difference and would grow with me.

If you would like to be one of these clients please get in touch.

10 Reasons why Google doesn’t like your Website

10 Reasons why Google doesn’t like your Website

From my experience over the last 10 years building, maintaining and optimising websites I have seen lots of different websites, so here is 10 reasons why Google doesn’t like your website and hot to fix them

10 Reasons why Google doesn’t like your Website

  1. Google doesn’t know about your business and business website.
  2. Your website is too slow
  3. Your website has lots of missing pages (404’s)
  4. Your pages do not target a single topic
  5. No one else on the web knows about your business
  6. There are errors on your website code
  7. Your website is blocking Google from checking your website
  8. Google cannot understand how your website flows
  9. Google cannot confirm your business details
  10. Your website is not secure

1. Google doesn’t know about your business and business website.

If Google doesn’t know about your website then it cannot provide it as a solution when some one searches for a problem your business resolves.

How to Fix

Setup Google search console filling out the profile, I would also recommend setting up Google analytics and linking them both together too.

2. Your website is too slow

I am sure you have heard or seen it, with mobile browsing and people getting busier people are not willing to wait longer than 5 seconds to load. How log does your website take to load?

Website is too slow

How To Fix

Use Google page speed to test each page on your website. This will provide a score for mobile and desktop along with solutions on how to fix them.
There are other service such as GT metrix and pingdom tools which will score your speed. I often find large images have been uploaded and the website has to load the 4mb file then scale it down to a 0.2mb version to display. Why not upload the 0.2mb version and use that.

3.Your website has lots of missing pages (404’s)

A 404 refers to a missing page. I am sure you have all seen this come up when searching on the web you click on a link and a 404 page comes up saying the page was not found. If you have lots of these on your site then google will question if your website actually contains the information to satisfy this search query, also the knock on affect is it would then question all the other links to your website. You whole website could suffer if you have too many 404’s

Fix 404’s

To fix your 404’s you will need to know what people are searching for on your website.

Method 1- Google Search Console. This free service provided by Google is fantastic for this. log in to your Google Search console > Click on ‘Diagnostics’ > Click on ‘Crawl Errors’ > Click on ‘Not Found’ and you will see a list of all the pages where a 404 page was displayed. Now check them and update the link on your website.

Method 2-Use a Plugin. I would not recommend installing a plugin specifically for this , but actually using the functionality built in to an already fantastic plugin – Rank math. As part of this SEO plugin there is a 404 Monitor. It will monitor your website for when your 404 page is displays and record the referring link. They have a great article with videos on how to use their plugin to record, find and fix.

Also to keep a customer engages on your site have an amusing 404 page. Here are some examples: Spotify , Adobe , Headspace and more

4. Your pages do not target a single topic

Each page or post on your website should address 1 specific need or service, but sometimes some sites try and address multiple issue on 1 page so when google reads this and places it in the search results it gets confused as to what problem it solves. If Google gets confused then the chances are they potential customers will too and end up moving back to the search results page and on to the next site… your competitor.

Stop that bounce, each page to its own

When creating your fantastic content keep it simple, to the point and on topic. An example is If you maintain Tennis courts and you describe what you do, you may have lots of services such are Moss removal, fencing, Net replacement and Macadam repair like these guys do – Court solutions South East. If you check their site they have a specific page for each service they offer.

5. No one else on the web knows about your business

If no one on the web knows about your business and neither does Google, Bing or your search engine of choice, how are they meant to show it in the results? I know that with a new website this is exactly where you start from and it is hard, but this is what SEO specialists fix.

Shout Loud and Proud

first off as in the UK 85% of searches are made using Google tell them about your business and website. they have 2 tools for this: Google My Business and previously mentioned Google search Console. Bing has Webmaster tools and so do other search engines. Once they know contact directories like Yellow pages, Yell.com. check your listings here

6. There are errors on your website

If you have errors on your website this does not look good for human eyes and for the Google Bots that check your website. these errors could be broken image, the web page not displaying correctly, website code showing.

Fix up look sharp

Exactly that fix your error and issues to get your website looking sharp. Check your website even if it is new to give you peace of mind or so your web designer can fix them. To get this report enter your details in the form below.

7. Your website is blocking Google from checking your website

If your website is blocking Google from checking your website to discover all the pages, pictures and awesome content you have created how are you going to get to that important top spot on the results page?

Check your settings

There are 2 main things to check for WordPress users. Other users only have the 1.

Part 1 check your Robots.txt file. This is a file that the search bots on the internet sent out by Google read before checking your website. If this files tells them ‘No entry’ they do not go any further. For advice on setting up your Robots.txt file Google has a great guide

Part 2 WordPress users. Within the WordPress dashboard there is a tick box which is to ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’. This is mainly ticked when developing the site and should be unticked when made live, but can be missed. This box is located under Settings > Reading page.

8. Google cannot understand your website layout

The search engines will check your website and will use the links on each page to hop to the next page and so on. If there are pages that it cannot find then they will be missed. If these are your critical pages or part of your ‘Funnel’ then they might not have links from other pages, so how can this be fixed? On many websites if you scroll to the bottom of the page there is a link to a ‘Sitemap’ page. This page will be like a directory or Phonebook of all the pages on your website.

Importance of Sitemaps

To get all of your pages discovers by the search engines, why not give them a list and location of all of your website pages and pictures. This is called a sitemap and is normally in xml format. Mine can be found here https://wdexplored.co.uk/sitemap.xml . If using WordPress then many of the SEO plugins will create this page and in the webmaster tools or Google search console you can submit this page so the bots will go here first so they know what they have to check. Once submitted check back to make sure the search engine did not have any issues reading it.

9. Google cannot confirm your business details

If Google is not sure about your website details, when a customer searches for your phone number which one is correct? I am sure your website contains your telephone number, but what if another website with a different company name has the same telephone number? which business name is correct? Or if a website shows your company name with a different phone number? Can you see the confusion. This is why why core business details need to be the same across the web. This is often referred to a N.A.P and stands for Name, Address, Phone number.

Check your business details

this might sound complicated or have you thinking how can you check the whole of the internet. Good news you don’t have to. there are some FREE tools that will make your life easier. These are: SEM rush Listing Management , MOZ Local search and Whitespark. If there are any inconsistencies you can not address them.

10. Your website is not secure

In this day and age with cyber security being in the headlines regularly and reports of companies being hacked as a business owner we need to do our bit and make sure that we do not make it easy for these hackers to get our customers information. It is so vital that Google uses this as a ranking factor and if your website is not secure it will damage where you come in the rankings. Google chrome will not show the padlock either.

Safe and Secure

The first pint to make your site secure is to get an SSL certificate ( Secure Sockets Layer). This is a protocol to make sure any information entered in to your website is secure. Information such as customer name, email address, telephone number and message from your contact page. Most web hosts include an SSL certificate as part of your plan. Contact your host if you are not sure about getting this set up. also using a service such as Why no Padlock https://www.whynopadlock.com/ to make sure everything on your webpage is secure. It will mean entering in each page but is worth the time investment.

In conclusion

So these are just 10 possible points why you are not on page 1 of Google and the list is not exhaustive. If you are unsure contact your web designer or SEO specialist ( Pick me!) to discuss. why not go armed with a report checking many of the mentioned options so you both know where to start. Enter your details in below

How Good is your Business email address?

How Good is your Business email address?

What does your business email address say about your company?

In todays digital world having a website and email address is more important than before, but what should your email address be?

  • Branding
  • Deliverability
  • professionalism
  • Costs

Branding

Your email needs to represent your brand so should be consistent with your website. What do I mean by this? A couple of things really. First up is a consistent name. Why would you create a website or brand with 1 name then have an email address from a different name?

Would this confuse your customers? Yes

Could this mean your email go unread? This definitely increases the chances of it.

So what is the best solution for branding?

Have your email coming from the same domain as your website i.e You are now on WDexplored.co.uk so would expect any email communication to come from an email address ending @wdexplored.co.uk. If I were to email from other domains such as wdclient.com then I would expect many emails to go unanswered or be rejected. With the rise of spam and scam emails if potential customers are unsure the last thing you want is your emails being marked as spam.

Is your business email address safe
Is your business email address safe?

Deliverability

Using a random domain for sending your company emails could be doing more harm than you realise. When you send out an email to customers or even potential customers then you want them to see the email you have spent time crafting.

Have you ever wondered why some companies always ask you to check your Junk folder or Spam filter? If you did not check then you could miss an important email.

The deliverability is often over looked and there are some great tools out there to check your deliverability. check out this article from my friends at SendX. Making sure your email is set for maximum deliverability will increase your open rates and conversions.

If you send 100 emails, but only 90 get them then that is a 10% decrease across all stats.

Using a good service that is set up correctly will help your brand.

Is your business email address allowed in?
Is your business email address allowed in?

Professionalism

You want your emails to look professional and this includes the email address.

Why do Car manufacturers spend so much on door handles?

Like the email address and preview are the first interaction with a potential customer. Having a branded email says a lot about your business. it shows that you have put thought in to your business and the email is not an afterthought.

It also has perceived image that you have spent money to have a professional look so are likely to be around longer.

Costs

Getting a professional branded business email address does not have to be expensive. Many hosting companies include email hosting as part of the package. I use Siteground‘s Go Geek package . Setting up their email hosting is quick and easy even providing the detail on how to set it up on your PC, Mac, Android and iPhone.

Then there are the paid email services 2 main ones are: Google Workspaces or Microsoft 365 Business. These handle all of your emails separately so if your hosting has any issues, your email is unaffected. Also using a 3rd party for emails can give you better deliverability as long as they are setup correctly. This is where it can get a bit technical, but the paid providers all have tech support on hand to help you through the process.

Google Workspaces365 Business
Cost per month£4.60 / £9.20 /£13.80£4.56 / £11.28 / £18.12

With the above 2 you also get online software bundled such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentation , notes and more

Personally here at WD Explored I use Google Workplace for our email, so when setting up on a new device or linking to software, I can click on the Gmail option and the process is quick and simple.

Final Thoughts

For small businesses just starting out looking to keep costs low I can see the attraction of the free email services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Live etc, but once the business has a website up there is no reason not to have a company email address. When choosing a website host or going through an agency mention email and this will be free or very cheap, then once the business grows you can upgrade to the paid for services and bring all of your emails with you.

With the extra features included with the paid for services, could that cost remove the need for office software and be part of a disaster recovery plan or offsite backups?

Image SEO – 6 great steps to getting more from images

Image SEO – 6 great steps to getting more from images

Are the images on your website doing as much as they can?

If the picture shows on the webpage, then most would say yes, But images can do a lot more than look nice on your website. For instance Google will scan them and display them in the Google image search, They can help your page rank for keywords, They can provide valuable links back to your site if people use them on their website or blog.

We will run through some tips to make sure you are getting the most from your images.

Size

The size of the image you upload to your website can make a huge difference. The larger the file the longer it will take to load on the visitors device. As more and more people are using mobile devices (Phones and tablets) this can seriously impact the loading time. If you site takes more than 5 seconds to load then the majority of people will go back to google and check for the next option, doing this hurts your site.

How can you fix this?

If you have lots of image already on your site or it has been up for a while then the thought of editing each individual image or picture can be daunting. Having a WordPress website you can install a plugin to reduce the image size and quality. There are many available but I would recommend Ewww images or ShortPixel. Please see the blog post ‘website image optimisation‘ on how to install and setup the plugins.

Moving forward please try to make sure that if you want the image to show on your website at 512 by 512 then it is already at these dimensions.

Also Make sure the file size is around 100kb. This will mean the image will load quickly on a mobile device. Using Photoshop can be a bit daunting and having to pay someone to make the changes to each image you want to use can be expensive. We use Photoshop Elements for this. A guide can be found on the blog ‘Photoshop elements tips

Image Quality and File Type

With the world getting higher definition screens you may think that you need to keep the image as high resolution as possible. In reality you can reduce the quality down and this will make the whole file size smaller meaning faster load time.

The file type i.e image.jpg or image.png can make a difference depending on what the image contains. If you have a clear background then it will be .png. Both are good and covered in the blog post ‘Photoshop Elements Tips’

Save for the web in Photoshop elements
 

Alt Tag

Depending on how you edit your website you may use a visual editor or just read the HTML code. Every image has an alt tag. This is use for when blind mode or image loading is disabled. The search engine cannot view the image so will categorise it using the ALT” ” tag details.  In the exampled below using WordPress. when adding the image to the page filling in the Alternative Text box will populate the Alt section in the pages source code.

The alt attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it (because of slow connection, an error , or if the user uses a screen reader).

Exif data

When you take a photo with your camera, the image itself isn’t the only thing that’s recorded. Other information like the date, time, camera model, and a host of other camera settings are also captured and stored within the image file. You may or may not want to keep or remove this from  the file before uploading it to the web.  The Exif data can have an impact on your image SEO so be sure to check the plugin settings if using WP Smush it or ShortPixel 

File name

You may just be using the file name from the camera or company name 1, but the file name of an image will help toward your SEO. The filename should be descriptive, include applicable keywords and use hyphens instead of spaces to separate words. When trying to maximise your SEO and get your page ranking in the all important number 1 spot in Google leave nothing to chance.  In the example below you can see the file is called ‘Image SEO wordpress image details.png’

Image-SEO-Image-file-name

Check through your website now using the Media library (If using wordpress) or an FTP client and you may find all sorts of file names in the folder.  For reference WordPress uses /Wp-content/uploads/2021/04   the last 2 sections are year and month of upload if you have the default ‘Organize my uploads into month – and year folders’ option checked.  

We do not use this and prefer to have a single folder with all the images in as if we need to search for an image it will be easier to find. 

Watermark

Watermarking the images is normally only found on the popular sites or where the images are for sale. This is not something that will affect your SEO directly, but if someone ‘borrows’ an image from your site and in the corner you have your watermark then people can see where it originally came from and may then search for your website and more

Website Sucess

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