Tuesday, 2 July 2013

No, you're not the number one

One of the most common questions people ask after a website has been launched is “can you get me to appear at the top of Google?” Answering that question is like trying to explain quantum physics and the theory of relativity to a piece of cabbage. Now please don’t think I’m comparing any of my clients to cabbage, I am simply trying to make the point that it is a pointless exercise. Even if they could comprehend what I am saying (and cabbages can only comprehend 10% of the human language) it is a promise that simply cannot be fulfilled.

For instance, our website www.datapartners.co.uk advertises all of our services. These services range from designing websites, programming, building and supplying web apps like shops, email marketing, e-invoicing and content management systems. We also offer writing/blogging services, social networking assistance and free doughnuts that can be emailed at any time.

In an ideal world, we would like to be at the top of Google’s search results for all of the above but that would be like a premiership football player also being an Olympic gymnastics champion and an Oscar-winning actor. We can only really target one or two key areas of a site and even then we are competing against literally thousands of other businesses offering exactly the same services. Also, no one really knows Google’s algorithm and, in any case, Google’s results will vary depending on things like your location and, if you are signed in, probably a combination of all the gubbins you’ve used on Google+, Gmail, Blogger and other searches you’ve performed so it is genuinely impossible to know how to get a site more prominent than another because results will be different for everybody.

There are a lot of SEO companies out there who will promise to get a website to number 1 on Google. I once took a call from such a company and the sales rep proudly informed me he had got many companies like mine number 1 on Google. His smugness was squashed when I enquired how he could possibly guarantee two similar companies top ranking on Google for the same keywords at the same time... In any case, all they will do is create a Google AdWords campaign to get you paid listings and charge you a million times more than it actually costs.

Even if you are lucky enough to appear at the top of search results, it isn’t going to guarantee you sales. A lot of people still think that a website is a magic tool that will make them millionaires. A website is simply the shop window to your business. Our job is to make the website look as pretty and appealing as possible, which will encourage people to go beyond the home page. Once you have got them in, it is your responsibility to make the most of it.

Also, search engine optimisation is only a small part of marketing a business. You still need to do the old fashioned things like go to business events, advertise in industry publications and hand out business cards, brochures and leaflets like sweets. You wouldn’t open a highstreet shop and just expect all and sundry to notice you, so why would you think the Internet is any different? In fact, relatively speaking, the internet is the size of a large country so the chances of people finding you are slim.

So is there anything you can do to get your site number one on Google? Well yes. Pay for it. Sign up to Google AdWords and waste loads of money seeing your site appear above everybody elses for certain keywords. See it make bugger all difference to your sales. Alternatively, you could concentrate on getting good content on your site, making your prices competitive with your rivals, go to shows, network with real people and run the business how it should be run.

I really should take my own advice...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Beam me up Scotty, scammers in the house

There was another story in the news this morning about some poor old lady who got conned out of all her money by some random bloke persuading her she could earn a gazillion pounds if she handed him over £3,000 in cash. Now, far be it from me to want to sound unsympathetic – especially towards an old lady - but I have no sympathy for her. It’s like a story a few years ago about another old lady who was conned out of tens of thousands by some African bloke telling her she had won the Nigerian Lottery and she could claim her prize if she handed him over several thousand pounds first. I mean if you’re too stupid to believe you’ve won a lottery you never participated in, you deserve to lose all your money.

The reason I bring this up is because I get a lot of scams like this from moronic fake SEO companies. At least once a week I get a badly written email from someone claiming my site is rubbish and to contact them, whereby they will rob me blind, steal my identity and attempt to frame me for a murder they committed.

This morning I received the following:

There are a few things to point out here. Firstly I wouldn’t trust anybody whose name sounds like a villain from Star Trek. Secondly, he claims that no keyword pertaining to my domain comes up on the first page of Google. Well, if you type in “Datapartners” we come up first. We also appear on the first page of Google for a lot of relevant key terms so he obviously hasn’t done his research. Thirdly, I know for a fact that Search Engine Optimisation is, and has always been, a load of bollocks. Fourthly, anyone who claims they can guarantee you a top ranking on Google is a liar. The only way to guarantee a top place on Google is to pay for it so I know that all this imbecile is going to do is create a Google AdWords account for me, bid obscene amounts of money to get me top the top of the paid listings, charge me an even more obscene amount for the privilege and then steal my credit card details.

And he is promising this to how many other web companies? So he is guaranteeing every web company a number 1 ranking for the same key words at the same time. How is that going to work Mr Kahn? It is completely illogical.

To email a company that designs, builds, hosts, manages and promotes websites and try to fob them off with this kind of transparent con proves that these people actually have the IQ of a pickled onion. The fact that so many people fall for it says everything you need to know about the state of intelligence. Don’t fall for it!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

How to divide opinion and be successful

Obviously the subject that has been dominating the news over the last few days is the death of Margaret Thatcher. The impending Nuclear War between North Korea and the West has paled into insignificance. The threat of an angry little man with an inferiority complex and questionable haircut means nothing compared to a woman who divided opinion in the UK. Some thought she was an evil witch and the niece of Satan himself and others thought she was the best Prime Minister since that dog who sells insurance. My personal opinion is that spending £10 million on a funeral when the country hasn’t got any money is a bit over the top.

Whatever the differing opinions are, I think the imbeciles who are planning on protesting at her funeral should be arrested and given a good kicking for their lack of respect for the dead. Ignoring the fact that most of these would-be protesters probably weren’t even alive during her time in office, what actually is left to protest about? It’s been over 20 years since she left office and since then the country has been ruined by Labour.

The bottom line is people just like to have a good old moan. This is why I’m so surprised at the lack of fuss being kicked up over Facebook’s latest change to members’ profiles. Last year they upset the entire world by introducing the Timeline layout but somehow have managed to slip their latest revised layout in without anyone noticing. Of course, not everyone has it yet. As usual, they are sneaking it in country by country and it seems to revert back to the current layout at will. It’s basically the same but the navigation across the top is slightly different and they’ve made certain parts of the “About Me” harder to find. They’ve probably also violated a dozen more privacy laws.

It seems to be part of a ream of changes and new things the social networking giant is releasing. In an attempt to keep his disgruntled shareholders happy, Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new payment gateway, mainly with the aim of charging stalkers to message celebrities (no, really!) and this new Facebook Home thing which is something designed to basically make your smart phone do nothing other than connect to Facebook.

Whatever they do next, you can be assured that Facebook will continue to piss the entire population of the world off but still somehow manage to become more popular. It’s a skill Maggie had. RIP.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Apple need some magic fairy dust

I am well aware I’ve ranted about my iPhone on several occasions. What with crashes, software update failures, calls not getting through, crap internet connectivity and various other annoyances, my home button now appears to be broken. I now have to apply more pressure than the women’s liberation front to get the button to work.

Not only is the phone knackered, the latest version of iTunes is also rubbish. It is illogical and almost impossible to navigate. It is unintuitive to the point that it took me literally 10 minutes to find where I go to download app updates. Every time I connect my phone, it comes up with some weird error saying it can’t connect to the sync server or something and sometimes it can’t even find my phone. I know the phone is there because I can see it with my own eyes. However, probably the most annoying bug is every time I plug my phone in, iTunes decides to start playing music. This is very embarrassing when I’m on the phone to a customer and Gangnam Style starts blaring out of my speakers.

The most recent publicised cock-up with the iPhone is the bug that left the “Do Not Disturb” feature locked on after New Year’s Eve. Apple has basically said they aren’t going to fix this bug until it fixes itself. What kind of service is that? That’s a bit like me saying “sorry, your websites are all down but I’m not going to fix it until the magic fairies come and reboot the server.”

It hasn’t escaped my attention that Apple products have gone distinctly downhill since Steve Jobs died. He was renowned for being a perfectionist and, quite frankly, an arsehole but his methods obviously worked. He would be sickened by the fact his company is now on a par with Microsoft.

Oh, and sorry to our handful of customers who experienced down-time when one of our servers exploded a couple of months back. The magic fairies had apparently gone on strike.