Ho ho ho ….
Haven’t had much to say on website traffic this year (so far) as there is always a lull over the summer and this summer has had more lull than most thanks to the marvelous weather …
I was just doing a check back over the past few months and noticed some interesting changes. As the traffic begins to return for the autumn (to be followed by the annual panto glut) there has been a change of scenery.
No longer does Google dominate our incoming traffic, in fact Bing+Yahoo now consistently exceed Google as originators of users. More importantly, they also deliver many more “conversions”. In fact, although Google conversions have increased from 15% to 20% (having peaked at one point near 22%), both Bing and Yahoo deliver 40% conversion figures. Delta delivers over 40% and even poor old ask delivers around 25%.
This leads me to surmise that Google simply doesn’t get it … it is sending me traffic that is not as interested in my site as the traffic sent to me by other search engines.
Way to go Google ….
First published review is in …. thanks to the Daily Information for their comments, including; “Philip Goudal as Benedick, however, completely steals the show”.
Second review, The Oxford Times.
Didn’t we do well!
Much Ado About Nothing
28th to 31st August 2013
The RAF Theatrical Association presents Shakespeare’s bitter-sweet comedy of misunderstanding and mistaken identities
Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th at 7.30pm
Tickets £15 (concessions for seniors and students £12)
Arts at the Old Fire Station
|This production supports the following charities
Now we operate a luxury holiday let apartment looking straight out over the beach – some of the most enviable views in the area!
Just when I thought I could get back to doing actual development work on my website a bunch of interruptions arrive … ain’t it always the way! of course some of these have been coming for a while but nonetheless, everything seems to pile up …
EU Cookie Directive
This piece of legislation, which came in on 26th May 2011 (with 1 year for websites to comply) requires that websites explicitly tell users (a) what cookies they have and (b) what opt-out from those cookies they have. Well, that’s a very brief version of a large and complex subject that much better people than I can’t make head nor tail of! Basically, we have to expose the world of cookies to users, 99.99% of whom, I suspect, have no desire to know and the rest already know about!
At first glance the task seems impossible, but picking through what our site actually does and taking a few leaves from attacat’s book (plus a nice little code snippet) has, I think, solved my problem. If you use UKTW then you may notice a new yellow icon bottom right … this is the attacat code snippet and my take on the information appropriate to meet requirements – I may well be wrong, but I am at least showing willing
Of course, everything, including this blog, should carry the same .. or is it just sites hosted in the EU … or just when a site is viewed from the EU … or … or …
I started hosting clients sites very many years ago and, to assist, became a Webfusion reseller. In the end I probably had 30 sites there but realised a couple of years ago (after a flurry of support emails) that they were never going to upgrade the servers hardware or software – though curiously I did find the systems upgraded after a mass hack attack a while back.
Then, just before my hols, they told me that the old Webfusion stuff was being decommissioned and all websites were being moved to Heart Internet. This pleased me as I have been a Heart Internet reseller for a while and they’re great.
However, there were a few issues, not least the phone call yesterday that everything was about to go off-line … it would seem that the migration was automatic if (and only if) your nameservers were with them – 10 of mine were not. I then started looking at the 10 sites they’d moved .. some were copies over 9 months old!! I was up till 03:30 this morning transferring databases and files … wouldn’t have taken so long but their “back-up to zip file” produces files that WinZip can’t read!
I have been with Demon since I started, modem, ISDN and broadband – I have a business account with a fixed IP and have chosen never to move. Now they contact me and say all their email is changing systems and I should expect some disruption … sigh
My next job, if I need one, will NOT involve computers!!!!!!
Well, that explains a few things. Traffic dropped off a lot at the end of last week and I put it down to us having a really sunny weekend – fewer people want to go into a theatre when its so lovely outside, especially when its the first really hot weekend of the year. Fair enough.
But I did think that the drop was quite substantial, so I was not surprised when I read today that the latest Google Panda update is rolling out. Apparently they tweeted the fact on 23rd March but I picked it up in the excellent SearchEngineLand.
I had noticed the the continuous increase in traffic which started back in November when we switched back to UKTW had sort of levelled out and started to sag a bit a couple of weeks ago which I put down, in part, to the Panda update around the end of Feb as well as seasonal factors, bit this latest drop is quite significant.
When I said “I was not surprised” that does not mean I was not disappointed. I was. I am.
I am because I put in a lot of work and was starting to make headway back to some sense of normality. now it looks like something has changed again at Panda HQ and we’re all guessing again …
Well, in truth, I never moved away but the first Android Application I developed seemed such a daunting task that I decided to use a high level development environment. I chose Windev Mobile 16 as it seemed well established and creates an abstraction of the Android environment which can be manipulated using thei own programming language and tools. Theoretically, the same code can then form the basis of Web or other implementations (in a future release even iOS I believe).
The system arrived and I installed it – the fact that it comes with a licence dongle is not surprising considering its £900 cost but the fact that the dongle cannot be replaced seems somewhat harsh … fortunately I have neither lost nor damaged mine but the fear of it was always at the back of my mind.
The first thing I found was that the documentation was not great … it was translated from French (no real problems) and covered Android in only quite superficial terms 0 there are, however, a number of working example apps that demonstrate many basic functions. Getting set up takes a while, you must still download and install the Android SDK but once all that was working you have an emulator and the ability to create apk files or install directly to a connected phone.
And so I started to develop … Many things really are very easy, even nested tab sets can be simply drawn on screen and filled with a few clicks … getting around the new programming language is not too hard either. But then I started to notice some issues.
The delivered system would often crash out, normally with some unspecified framework error and rarely in the same place twice. Ok, this could be my coding but there was no clue as to what was going on.
The sql ran wildly differently in the emulator and on the phone; only 1 field allowed in the order by clause, failure of the selection criteria in a delete, failure of replace … the list went on, in the end I could only use the database for quite simplistic things without something going wrong.
Window sizing and gravity worked completely differently on the phone and emulator, in fact the system often misplaced elements on the phone when they were clearly correctly placed in the emulator and development screens .. usually simply recompiling (without change) restored things but such randomness was deeply annoying.
Support was very slow (weeks rather than hours) and often deeply unhelpful … quite Gaelic one might say
Finally, I wanted to integrate a complex existing java library and it all seemed very complex – indeed, I’m still not convinced it would have been possible.
And so, I came to the conclusion that I should bite the bullet and switch to direct programming of the Android SDK. This was largely prompted by Moodstocks releasing a new version of their fabulous image recognition library for Android which uses a local database to provide ‘instant’ recognition – however, even that carrot did not help me make the decision lightly as I have been a programmer for 43 years and have so far managed to side-step Java completely … hee hee. I have, however, become quite a devote of Eclipse (for PHP development) so that’s where I started.
Adding Android elements to my Eclipse install was an easy first step and I already had the SDK installed so I was pretty rapidly able to get the Moodstocks examples (which come as eclipse projects) up and running … to my delight, when I had issues, the Moodstocks staff were on chat all day and support was instant and intelligent (even when some of the questions weren’t!) – and yes, they too are French but are a pure delight to deal with!
What amazed me was that many of the tools I had paid for before were now sitting in front of me for free – less pretty I’ll grant you but a whole lot more functional and with immediate access to the engine room should I need it. What’s more, the abundance of worked examples available from a simple search meant that the steep learning curve proved pretty easy to climb and whilst I am no expert I think I can now produce reasonably competent, and complex, applications … importantly,. I have been able to incorporate and modify the likes of the Moodstocks library.
I make no claims to be a designer, but the UKTW Android App V2 is a whole lot better, faster and more stable than V1 … and I finally feel in control of its development … your mileage may vary but in future its the Android SDK and Eclipse for me every time
I have now got over the shock of the October 13th hit … in fact I have spent a lot of time on Webmaster Forum and decided that the hit to me was no worse than to many people … I’m still cross that I was hit, but probably more cross at myself than at anyone else .. well, expect for one website which got a Panda boost and yet I know it has not been updated in two years and currently claims that there is only 1 show on in London which it also claims, incorrectly, ends this month …. useful? I think not
So, what have I been doing about it?
Well, I decided that we were potentially approaching the end game so there was no point in holding back. This time I have gone for a wholesale 301 redirection of UKTW what’s on listings to SeatChoice. Some may think this foolish as UKTW had seen a slow decline where SeatChoice had hit a brick wall, perhaps I should have made the call to move everything the other way? We shall see. I needed to remove the last vestiges of duplication within my own stable so that’s the call I made … from now, UKTW is responsible for the archive and for theatre users (notices, links, etc) and SeatChoice is the What’s On and ticketing service.
The move didn’t go as we ll as I expected in some ways. I was always told that 301 carried all the “link juice” with it so I expected a decline in UKTW to be matched by a growth in SeatChoice .. I got the decline but precious little of the growth. So back to the forum with one further plea for help .. this time I was picked up by someone really helpful, someone who, it would seem, is fairly local and actually cared whether I got it right or not … very, very helpful in that he undid a few misconceptions for me and pointed to some reasonably obvious issues that I couldn’t spot … when you work 8 hours a day on the same site you sometimes fail to see the obvious!
Basically though, I am coming to see that there’s a toolkit that you can use to get just some of the basics right, or at least help you to understand things that might be getting in the way. For me this has come down to
Finally, make some changes, fix what’s wrong BUT don’t tinker for the sake of it … Google takes time to notice changes and also only runs the Panda every now and then (4-6 week cycle?) so don’t expect a change to work overnight – the only thing that will work overnight is a sudden influx of traffic because you got such a great piece of content that people started linking to you … the first article I put up about The River Line (with Charlie and Lydia Rose Bewley) got picked up by the Bewley fans – traffic went through the roof in a couple of hours and stayed high for days … it fell off, of course, and few (if any) of the fans bought tickets, but the links and retweets will be good for me longer term.
And rest …. be patient, if you perpetually tinker you will have no idea what it was that fixed your problem .. and if you do have a clue what worked you can then make it part of ongoing site philosophy … but remember, the days of stability are probably gone, you will need to keep an eye on this in the future
It’s a one act play for four women of assorted ages. First performed at The Blakehay theatre in Weston-super-Mare it went down exceptionally well and the cast and the author (that’s me!) got some terrific feedback.
The script of Towpath is available from StagePlays – an excellent site!