Now we operate a luxury holiday let apartment looking straight out over the beach – some of the most enviable views in the area!
August 8, 2012
July 25, 2012
Google rolls out another Panda data refresh tonight and apparently only 1% of sites should notice. I should feel special as I always seem to be in that small group of affected sites – but I always seem to be the one being kicked.
I have been through all of the “how to be a good site” advice Google puts out and I am.. but Google prefers thin affiliate sites to mine… ahh well. increasingly I avoid searching on Google anyway as it gets fixated on a few sites .. ten results listing only two or three domains is not uncommon .. and Google often thinks it knows what I mean better than I do .. thanks for fixing my searches to show what you want instead of what I asked for
As for clicking on a Google ad … don’t get me started .. once, just once, I clicked on a hot tub advert .. now it seems like every website can only show me hot tub ads … really? Do you think that’s clever? Or effective?
Well, in a couple of days I will know what the latest Panda damage is… I’m not hopeful of a recovery.. still, the ‘good’ thing is that nowadays I get so little Google traffic that a further downturn can hardly do much harm
May 31, 2012
Well, there I was on FB and I suddenly see that my sister and nephew are putting some of their pictures on RedBubble … not knowing what that was I went to see .. its great, you can upload images, paintings, drawings (even writings!) and people can order them as posters, postcards, greeting cards and more … fab idea
And so, here are some of mine
May 2, 2012
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!!!!!!
April 30, 2012
So, Panda 3.5 came by around 19th April and we got a small uplift, that was nice. But we had a big drop on 27th Aprilwhich looks like it was relater to the Penguin update (anti-spam – see this article).
Currently, less than half my traffic is provided from Google with nearly as much coming from Yahoo/Bing combined.And traffic overall is down on last month (even on the beginning of this month)
I do find it a little confusing in that every time (well not every) Google does some major update I get knocked back but in between these updates Google has me climbing up the results … curious and not particularly helpful.
Of course, I have to always remember that I work in a volatile area with plays, musicals and concerts coming and going all the time, a drop in traffic can be caused by a play I am ranking particularly well for suddenly ending its run, all that traffic then disappears … usually I can find that in Google Analytics ….
Ahh well, back to the long slog of recovery .. I’m suspecting “duplicate content” rather than “keyword stuffing” in this instance .. but, of course, I don’t know for sure …
Update May 4th: Ahh … things are perhaps a little clearer now … Panda 3.6 snuck out at the weekend, on 27th April, so it looks like that was what got me. Well, in one sense I’m pleased as I still have only one thing to look at (Panda) rather than two (Panda and Penguin) but in another sense I am simply confused … why two Panda updates in 8 days (normally 6 weeks or so)? Why did the 3.5 give me an uplift and 3.6 a slap??
Panda 3.5: I see that in Panda 3.5 several ticket sites (other than us) were amongst the losers
March 26, 2012
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 …
March 22, 2012
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
February 27, 2012
Ain’t it always the way … you publish an update and within a couple of hours things have changed again!
Google have now announced that Panda has been run again to “refresh the data” in their system, in other words to check which sites are “in” and which “out”. We, like everyone else, can only sit and wait to see if we’ve been hit though I get less nervous than I used to
Google has also announced that February saw a broad range of changes across their search algorithms – around 40, some minor, some language/region specific and others somewhat shrouded in mystery.
Anyone trying to follow the Google Panda will realise what a confused story it is … so I am very grateful to the Wonderful SearchEngineLand for producing this InfoGraphic and allowing it to be copied across the web.
This is a concise summary of what Panda set out to achieve and, most importantly, when it did it.
I can report that the changes we made to the SeatChoice and UKTW domains appear to have done what we set out to do, in that traffic is back on an upward trend and, at current rates, will recover to previous levels at some point in the next few months. So, yes, it is possible to “recover” from a Panda slap.
The story is not as simple/bright as that may appear, of course. Although traffic has recovered, sales have not.
Can I blame this on Panda and the Google? No. In all truth I don’t think I can. It is possible that I am now being sent different traffic, traffic less inclined to purchase and more inclined to browse – evidence for this is that I don’t really do well in searches that include the keyword “tickets” but I do do well in general what’s on and tour searches.
Of course, with all the changes I have made it is also true that the site I have now is not the site I had at our peak, so there may be things I don’t do as well for the user as I used to.
My time should now be concentrated on tweaking my content to bring more ticket-hunters my way and making sure that I put as few obstacles in the purchase path as possible ….
This brought us from break-even to broke, but at least I feel under control again – but I will never take traffic (quantity or quality) for granted again …
Last week/weekend was the Avon Association of Drama annual One Act Play Festival. With three new plays competing amongst the nine on offer this is clearly an active area for new drama.
And the result? Well, my play, Towpath, had a good night thanks to the superb cast …
- Best Actress, Paula Luke
- Best New Play, Towpath by Robert Iles
- Overall Festival Winner
Not a bad outing
The Towpath script is available from StagePlays which is great for you as you can read it but it does mean we can’t go forward into the NDFA and AETF new play competitions.