Displaying items by tag: web design for British businesses in Spain
As we get older, we tend to look back and think that life was better in the past! It was certainly simpler then that's for sure.
But time moves on for all of us and the only option that we have is to go with the flow! There's no pause button to lock our life into one moment in time!
And never is this more true than with technology.....it just keeps advancing. I know that some people tend to resent change in these areas.....but ask yourself, would you like to go back to the pre-mobile era of basic flip-up phones? Ten years ago we could never have dreamed that we'd be walking around with the internet, and in many cases our business, right in the palm of our hands. These sort of advancements require change, as older technologies and applications are gradually replaced by more efficient versions. You're getting the benefits of these developments every day....in everything you do.
The same principle applies to the software applications that power websites and servers. They all get better, quicker, more efficient, and more secure. And I want to touch on just one aspect of that.....PHP. PHP is a widely used scripting language for web applications that powers most of the sites that you visit every day. Including your own!
Those of you on older sites are aware of the upgrade to PHP 5.6 this month which could render some of these obsolete sites as unuseable. We are able to relocate these sites to alternative hosts that are still running older PHP versions, so the sites will still be able to run. But all you're doing is hitting the pause button and trying to lock yourself into a moment in time that's now gone. And it's not just the time that's gone......it's the security and efficiency as well. Security always has to be the predominant factor in the equation.
As we've touched on PHP, let's examine how it's improved over the years by looking at the graph below. This only relates to speed, but you'll get an idea of the groundbreaking improvements that have been made.
We originally started on the PHP 4 series, and then started moving incrementally through the PHP 5 versions.
By 2008 we were on PHP 5.2.....and due to the advancements it made, the time had dropped to 4.2 seconds.
In 2012 we upgraded onto PHP 5.3, and the time went down to 2.9 seconds.
In 2014 we moved to PHP 5.4....which dropped the time down to 2.18 seconds.
Last year it was time for PHP 5.5 which resulted in yet another drop to 2.03 seconds.
June 2016 and it's time for PHP 5.6, as PHP 5.5 is end of line. And we're now below the two second mark at 1.92 seconds.
Compare the times from 2006 (over 12 seconds) to 2016 (under 2 seconds)......that's an incredible difference in speed. And also in efficiency, because it uses less server CPU and memory doing it, while being totally up to date on security.
The next PHP upgrade after this will be PHP 7.......and that will be at the start of 2019. Current tests seem to suggest that it will cut the PHP 5.6 time by 50%, and come in at under a second to run that task. Now that is amazing, and it just shows how far we've come!
So why would anybody want to run on old, outdated, and insecure versions of PHP? Every version of PHP below 5.6 is now a serious security risk, and every website running on obsolete software is also a serious security risk. Put the two together and you've got the perfect storm!
If you have a current and viable business, with your website being an integral part of it.......can you seriously afford to take the risk of Living in The Past?
Remember the old record players from the past when a record would get stuck.....and one part would keep on repeating endlessly? Well that's me that is! Simply because I've been endlessly repeating for many years that quality content on a website is the key factor in getting good search engine positioning.
In fact I even demonstrated it with the tests in the article Is Content Still King? Plus, the continued dominance of this site on Google Searches is a fairly clear indication that my ideas, if implemented correctly, will produce results.
However.....that's still not enough for some people! They insist on clinging onto a belief that what the man in the pub told them, or what info some spammy SEO company has sent them, is actually true. Well it's not! And after years of battling with people who insist on recounting third party BS, my good friends at Google have at last come to my aid.
Good friends? Well I've never made any secret about it....I love Google! They've introduced superb applications to us at no cost (GMail being one), transformed mobile computing into what we see today, and are always innovating and advancing the technology. Compare that to the dubious practices of other major companies over the years who have made billions by delivering substandard and inherently flawed applications at totally unrealistic price points.
From my point of view, the best aspect is that Google have run the cheaters out of town. Because years ago some "businesses" made a lot of money by cheating their clients' sites into good positioning. They knew full well that it was a blinkered short term strategy that would eventually result in these sites disappearing from Google permanently. But money talks! In later years these people have rebranded themselves as link cleanup and reputation management companies where they're now making even money by cleaning up the mess they created in the first place. You couldn't make this up could you?
Anyway, Google has now come to my rescue by releasing their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines for everybody to analyse. But be aware it's 160 pages long......so I've highlighted the critical points for you.
1. Page Quality: The keyphrase is E-A-T......which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness!
Your site should have a “satisfying amount” of high-quality main content, and be authoritative, trustworthy, and informed about the relevant subject matter. The site should have a good reputation, along with about us, contact, and customer service information clearly displayed. Google also states that pages will be considered low-quality if they are created “without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill".
2. YMYL (Your Money Or Your Life) Pages and Expert Content. This means that if you're writing on a subject then you need to demonstrate that you're an expert on it. Do you know your business? You're the only one who can answer that......and if you do, then you need to demonstrate it.
3. Supplementary Content: Google emphasise the importance of supplementary content, such as sidebar info and links to other related articles. I've always told people this, so I'm glad to see them come out and confirm it after all this time.
4. Page Design: Let's make this clear.....Google doesn't care if your site is blue or red, and it doesn't care if your images have little twirly effects if you put your mouse on them. You may care......but Google and your users don't. What Google (and users) want is a functional, streamlined, intuitive page that is easy to navigate with main content front and centre. Google values functionality over beauty.
5. Mobile optimisation: It goes without saying that if your site is not mobile responsive today you may as well not even bother doing anything else, because you're not even in the game.
6. Trust: Websites should be trustworthy! What constitutes trustworthy? SSL certificate, linking to credible, relevant sources to substantiate what you're saying, and building a good interaction for your content with social media particularly Google Plus. That way you're establishing yourself as an expert in your field. So it's not just the site that needs to be established....it's YOU!
7. User Experience: Are you meeting the needs of your visitors? They want clear information.......so are you providing it? Users want to be able to find content that is relevant to them.....so are you making it easy for them? If people visit your site and give up trying to get information within a few seconds because you've insisted on some ludicrous system of navigation, it sends Google a clear message that it's not meeting users' expectations. Which means Google will class you as a low quality site.
However, if they stay on the site and navigate to different pages because they find the content of value, that sends a positive signal to Google and will help your rankings. What a user wants from the site may not match your vision of what it should be.....but if you prioritise your choices over theirs then don't expect to get good positioning on search engines.
8. Satisfying Content: For content to satisfy a user’s needs, the Guidelines state that the content must be “fully satisfying for mobile user,” require minimal effort to locate, and provide value to the reader. Does yours?
9. Fails To Meet Content: This is where your information is sparse, copied from other sources, unrelated to the query, filled with incorrect facts, or needs supporting information to validate it's claims. If this occurs then you lose trust and credibility with Google and users.
10. Keywords: Use them sparingly and only when necessary in content! If you start keyword jamming you're going to be penalised. This isn't 2005.
To summarise.....you need high quality, expert content! Simple as that! And if you create pages which demonstrate high levels of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness within your area of business then you will reap the rewards!
Now that Google have openly published their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (they've never done it before) you should look back over the articles that I've published over the years and compare them. If you do that, you'll see that what I have been saying on every aspect of SEO for many years has now been officially confirmed by Google.
So now, officially, I am no longer a stuck record! Strange but True!
Let's talk FACTS! The reality is that there are many good web designers in Spain who you could choose for your new website, and there's also some who may deliver a less than stellar experience. So how do you know who to choose? Well in my case, I'll actually suggest the ones I know who are totally professional. Like us, they've been around a long time, and have an excellent reputation. We're quite open about this, and despite the fact we're all doing the same thing, we're generally using different platforms and systems to do it.
It may be the case that one of them would be a better fit for you than us.....and if so we'll give you all their details. No designer can be all things to all men, so beware of any that claim that they are. Simply because a project emanating from a knowledge base that is one mile wide and only one inch deep is never going to deliver the experience that a specialist can.
It's in your interest to check any potential designer's work, and always take up references from existing professional clients. Any experienced Pro will have a lot of them, not just one or two from a couple of very low key projects. You can see some of ours HERE!
Now whether you know this or not, it's a fact that you're going to need ongoing help and support after you've taken delivery of your website. If you get a site from a "sell it and forget it" type of operation then I guarantee that it's not going to end well.
I know because of the number of people who get referred to me when a serious situation occurs with their current designer.
It can get very messy indeed involving loss of money, loss of site, loss of domain name etc.....so do your research. If you make a purchasing decision based on the cheapest you can find, and without practicing due diligence, then be aware there could be a trainwreck up ahead. And you're going to be in it!
We've always felt that the level of after sales service and ongoing support that we provide is outstanding. And our clients think so too! After all, we have over 500 of them.....and there has to be a reason for that. Here's some facts for you to consider:
1. A client contacted us with a problem on Xmas Day. They got a two minute response and five minute resolution. FACT!
2. Contact your current web designer at 11PM on a Saturday night and see how long before you get a response. If you're a client of ours it'll be 5 minutes. FACT!
3. Unlike many others who only run reseller accounts from web hosting providers, we run our own Dedicated Servers in London and Chicago. Essentially, we are the host, there's nobody else involved apart from the on-site technicians within the respective datacentres. The only people on our servers are our web design clients with the sites that we built.
We don't provide web hosting to outsiders simply because we don't want anything introduced onto the server that could have a negative effect on our business clients' sites. Yes.....we turn away hosting business on virtually a weekly basis so we can have a clean house. FACT!
4. Every site has a remote monitoring system connected to it. So if a site fails to load we'll have a notification within 5 minutes.....and we react immediately to get it running again. If your site is running on a reseller account with another designer then you'll be the first one to notice it.....and maybe it's been down for days and you didn't know?
At that point you'll need to contact your designer and wait for them to respond to your mail. Unfortunately it doesn't end there, because then they have to wait for their hosting provider to respond to their support ticket. Timescale? Your guess is as good as mine on that......but it certainly won't be the five minute action that we provide. FACT!
5. Site backups? Most people don't think twice about this, and if you're one of those, you'd better start now because your business may depend on it. Our system is that we use the commercial R1Soft Backup platform. This makes 10 incremental backups over the course of a month: At 1AM on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the application copies all your data to a remote server. So think of it like the Windows restore points on your PC......the site can be rolled back to a previous date.
That system takes considerable investment in both time and money to operate, plus we have to pay for the additional 1TB storage space that it needs. But that's what we do, and it's there for your protection! FACT!
6. Every site has an additional database backup every night at midnight. This actually gets stored in a secured folder under our WebSpain domain name account so it's instantly accessible by us at anytime. That's a database restore in minutes! FACT!
7. Every site that we build has security updates applied to it through the lifetime of that particular version. As a rough guide, each version will run for about 3 years before it becomes end of line. During that time we could have updated it up to 25 times to keep it as secure as possible. Cost to the client? Zero! We do it because that's the professional way things should be done. We do not compromise on Security! FACT!
8. We monitor server logs and security alerts throughout the day. If there's any potential malicious activity occurring then we'll know all about it, and take appropriate action. If you are hosted on somebody else's reseller account they'll never even see these notifications because they don't have root access. So our level of vigilance is considerably higher than most! FACT!
9. Sometimes E-mails can't be delivered because there's a problem on the recipient's server! We let you know if this happens, so no more disappearing mails and possible loss of business. We cover all of that as part of our service! FACT!
10. We do not sub-contract any of our work to third parties......never have and never will. In rare circumstances we do bring in a specialist coder if you have bespoke requirements relating to XML property imports, but we'll put him in contact with you direct. You pay him, and unlike many others, we don't add any additional charge to that. Everything we do is completely transparent! FACT!
There's actually many other elements to our service that you'll never know about until you become a client. But you'll see that some of them are mentioned in What The People Say by our clients. The point here is that with us, the response, interest, and level of personal service don't cease to exist after purchase. If anything, it gets better. We've got many clients who've been with us for over 10 years now, and in our industry that's pretty remarkable. What does that tell you?
If you're comparing web designers......then compare on a like for like basis! We've listed above some of the things that we bring to the table.....so go ahead and check how many of those aspects that other web designers actually deliver!
It comes down to this: Back in 1998 my goal was to build a business that would last a lifetime.....rather than some cowboy outfit that wouldn't even last a lunchtime. And in that respect I've succeeded.....because WebSpain will outlive me for sure! Now that's a FACT......and who else can say that?
What I want to do in this article is hopefully give you some ideas on how you can make your life so much easier......while being much more efficient. I know that some of the options may not be what you want to hear.....because the older we get, the more resistant we become to change. But over the years I've made these changes, and it's made a big difference in the way I work.
1. Stop using Windows! Though if you happen to take some perverse pleasure in paying for an operating system that compels you to battle with your computer in an endless cycle of computer crashes, registry errors, defragging hard drives, and battling viruses and Trojans......then ignore this!
Me, I can live without all that angst.....and I have done for 10 years by using Linux. None of those scenarios ever occur, it just works. And even better, the operating system is free forever.
I know some of you will say......I'm too used to Windows! Actually you're not! Because if you own an Android phone, a Tablet, or a Chromebook, you're already using Linux! Android is a Linux based system. The servers that run your websites are Linux, 95% of the world's supercomputers run Linux, and even NASA and the International Space Station run on Linux!
Seeing a pattern here?
2. This one actually goes hand in hand with my first point. If you stop using Windows then you can kiss Outlook goodbye.
But if you're one of those masochistic types who feel that they can't live without the misery-inducing trauma of a Windows system.....then just get rid of Outlook. You wouldn't believe the number of clients I've seen over the years lose all their data because they insisted on clinging to this application. And you also need to be worried about Ransomware (where you have to pay €350+ to get your computer unlocked), along with malware sending out thousands of hardcore mails.....in your name.
So that's your credibility gone, along with your domain getting blacklisted all over the internet of course. There's better options!
3. Internet Explorer....and whatever this ludicrous new Windows 10 browser is called! Stop using them! I've seen enough virus infestations and browser hijacks over the years that can be traced back to IE to know that you don't go there. There's better options!
3. We all use E-Mail......it's a critical tool for us. So why are some of you still storing it on your computers via something like Outlook? This isn't 2005....we now live in the mobile era so you need to be platform and computer independent. Instant access to all your data wherever you are and whatever device you use is now a critical part of moderrn business. The key to all this? GMail.
Hands down it's the best tool for the job! If you use the Chrome browser (which is what I recommend) then you have so many extensions available that allow you to tweak it to exactly what you want. And remember you can set up your business mail address as an alias, so as far as everybody is concerned it actually came from your private mail account. The power of having every e-mail you've ever sent, along with full contact details of all your clients in the palm of your hand is a revelation.
You don't need to be detached from your business communications and all your data.....just use Gmail.
4. Of course when you store all your data within GMail contacts it becomes accessible via other mobile applications......in particular, Whatsapp! Free calls to anybody in the world opens up a whole new world of business opportunities, so make sure you get both Whatsapp and Skype details from all new contacts. You now have an easy way to keep lines of communication open for business, and remember that if you don't do it......your competitors will.
5. This one is common sense.....but I doubt many of you reading this article actually do it! And it's backup the data on your PC's every week! Plug in external USB, copy the data from your documents folder, then disconnect from the PC. Do not leave it connected. In my 28 years in IT I've known businesses go under because they failed to listen to this advice.....so take this very seriously.
Now here's the bottom line! You can continue to pay for commercial software that complicates your life.....or you can use free open source applications that will make your life easier. The mobile era has completely changed the game! But have you changed with it......or are you still clinging to the way you've always worked?
My way of thinking is if you're still stuck in the 2005 way of doing things, then maybe it's time to move on?
The IT industry has always evolved at a fast pace, and never more so than in recent years with the massive expansion of mobile computing as a part of everyday life.
I can remember over 20 years ago when the internet was predominantly text documents and grainy images delivered via a 9.9k analogue modem. Back in those days I'd speak to businesses about getting websites and they had absolutely no idea of what the internet was. Many dismissed it as a passing craze, but by the late 90's people had realised how important it really was. Which then brought about the dotcom boom!
After that point the technology obviously became more sophisticated, but every week I'd read about "the next big thing" that was going to change everything. In most cases they came and went, never even causing a ripple on the surface. So I began to get cynical.....to the point that any potential initiative was viewed as the latest internet fad. Without realising it, I became resistant to change. That's a bad move in this industry, and I'll give you an example of when I made the wrong call. It was a howler!
In 2006 as FaceBook started gaining momentum, and a year or two later when Twitter came along......I dismissed them both.
In my defence I had lived through the rise and fall of Yahoo Geocities and MySpace, so I had solid reasons to be sceptical.
My non-involvement and total dismissal of these initiatives continued until 2011. Then it hit me that these types of Social Media were not going to disappear as their predecessors had done.....in fact they had turned into massive platforms for business initiatives!
I looked carefully, saw a big game going on......and we weren't in it. All our competitors were highly active with huge followings.....but we didn't even exist.
For the next two years we focussed on clawing back the deficit caused by those wasted years where I'd got cynical, complacent, and resistant to change. I learned from that though.....now I embrace every new initiative at the outset. Because if you don't, you could end up outside looking in.
Consequently, when the mobile computing boom came along (which was the biggest ever gamechanger), we jumped on it straight away. In fact at one point in early 2013 we were the only designer in Google's top ten to be mobile compatible, as I wasn't going to make another gaff like the Social Media fiasco.
I think that as we get older we become less accepting of change, and I'm sure there was an element of this involved when I made the wrong call on Social Media. I fell into the trap of thinking that if something has always worked well on the current business model that's being employed.....then why change?
But in business terms that's a dangerous way of thinking, because invariably the business scenario around us is changing and evolving all the time. It's a case of the game keeps changing, and unless you move with those changes then ultimately you could find that you're no longer part of the game.
As I've said in previous articles, Social Media is very important, but mobile compatibility is critical!
This is not something in the future.....it's right here, right now! The future is now upon us.....and it's called Mobile Computing! Are you a part of it?
Every business wants favourable positioning on search engines. While it isn't the life or death situation that many people believe it to be, it does help.
However, I want to debunk a myth that still exists, because there is a gross lack of understanding about SEO related practices. These have been fuelled by a mountain of misinformation, generated by various self appointed SEO experts over many years!
While it's true that certain unscrupulous practices could have got you prime positioning in the past.......these loopholes have now been closed! To the extent that some of the sites that went down this dubious path have now been blitzed by Google, simply because they were caught cheating. This has resulted in an explosion of reputation management companies turning up to clean up the mess. At a price!
Businesses fell for the myth that SEO was all about pieces of secret code that could be put on the site, which would bring untold riches and an immediate promotion to the lifestyle of the rich and famous! Well the truth is, there never has been a magic bullet, and there never will be......and this is what I've been telling people for years! If businesses had focussed on providing users and search engines with what they wanted instead of trying to figure out ways to cheat the system, they wouldn't be in this mess now.
While it's true that onsite SEO optimisation to deliver the content in the right way is very important, just bear one phrase in mind....you can't polish garbage! You may try to enhance it somewhat by rolling it in glitter, but it's still garbage! So your content has to be grammatically correct, relevant, and deliver value.
So what can you do?
Generate unique content of value to the user and search engines! Never copy content from other websites.....you will be penalised!
Quality is more important than quantity. So you should try to deliver information that informs the user clearly and effectively, and whenever possible, delivers solutions. Internet searches are much more complex now....gone are the days of one and two word searches. People are putting in specific questions and your content should provide the answers in a clear, concise, and grammatically correct manner.
Stop talking about me, me, me! Deliver the information, and demonstrate the benefits of the product or service to the user. People want to know what you're going to do for them.....they don't want to hear your self promotion speech.
Make sure you include a related image.....images are important, especially for Social Media display to attract attention.
Use one or two (no more) long tail keywords within the content.....for example "web design for British businesses in Spain".
When you've got content on your site, then keep distributing it on Social Media. A little and often is the key! But try to engage with users on Social Media.....encourage people to share, reply and interact.
You don't need the literary prowess of an Oscar Wilde to be able to do this effectively. You know your business, and you should know your customers' needs and requirements. If your spelling and grammar is lacking, then get a friend to check it over. Be aware that professional content writers do not come cheap....and really good ones are hard to find. So employing somebody to do this is not going to be an option unless you have a very generous budget.
Remember that you can make a difference! Be organised, be disciplined, and aim to provide content that people will want to read and share! Build yourself into an authority figure within your industry, and then users and search engines will sit up and listen.
All I've done is just tell you what I do.......in fact, it's what I've always done. No secret code or hidden mysteries to it whatsoever, just plain common sense! But does it work? Just search for "Web Design Spain" on Google and draw your own conclusion.