New Website Launched!

Finally the new website was launched over the weekend. Well done to the team for making time from other commercial projects/commitments to work on this! This is particularly difficult for a small team/company like ours where we target to maintain zero-bench meaning all our colleagues are working on customers’ projects all the time!

So what’s new with the website?

  • Fresh look
  • HTML5
  • No Flash (Mac friendly)
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Secure codebase/database
  • Easy navigation.

We expect to find some slight glitches as we go along and will continue to fix them. If you indeed come across any issue do let us know via the contact us page on main website. Or any other feedback for that matter.

We do hope to roll out a few new online services in coming months particularly aiming at customers who are trying to keep a watchful eye on their IT budgets so will mean simple and targeted online services at a lower cost. Watch this space!

 

SPAM Domain Registration emails – BEWARE!

We received the following email today at our corporate mailbox. For anyone else that receives a similar email please do not panic and take no notice of this and add the sender to your blocked list.

(Letter to Head of Brand Business or CEO, thanks)

Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a formal email. We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. Here I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on January 21, 2013 that a company claimed OLDL INT’L Co. were applying to register “acubesoftware” as their Brand name and some acubesoftware Asian countries top-level domain names through our firm.

Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we would finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we could handle this issue better. After the deadline we will unconditionally finish the registration for OLDL INT’L Co.. Looking forward to your prompt reply.

Best Regards,

Steve Wu

Tel: (+86) 551-65223114 || Fax: (+86) 551-65223113
Address:No.660 MeiLing Big Road, Hefei, Anhui, China

[Solved] Thunderbird cannot access GMAIL account

We just had a customer complaining about his thunderbird application not being able to connect to his gmail account that he had for ages without any issue!

Upon investigation we found that he had his new Android tablet set up with the same gmail account recently. Google always looks out for any hacking activity so if there are multiple clients (thunderbird and Android’s email) trying to access the same Google account it is quite possible that Google decides to block one/some of them or all.

This is how you enable the account again in the client (thunderbird in this case).

Step 1. Switch off Thunderbird in your PC/laptop if it’s still running.

Step 2. Now open your GMAIL through browser by visting www.gmail.com

Step 3. On top right you will see the Settings icon (looks like a gearbox in the new Google set-up) – click on Settings from drop down.

Step 4. Click on the tab Forwarding and POP/IMAP.

Step 5. Disable POP or IMAP whichever is giving you the hassle.

Step 6. Now visit this link from Google and follow through the instructions.

Step 7. Enable POP/IMAP again (same as Steps 3, 4 above) from GMAIL interface.

Step 8. Restart thunderbird. It should work now.

Hope this helps everyone who faces similar problem in future!

SEO quick-fix, the DIY style: Part-2

Hoping that the part-1 of this series has made some sense about what SEO is all about, let’s move on to more granularity now.

We will cover the major aspects of SEO under three broad categories: Content. Code. Links. It will be important here to note that all three of these areas are equally important. One can’t just get away with the best of content but poor code or no links!

Content

  • Find out what is key for you, or key “message” that you want to send out through your website. Borrowing the same example we had in part-1, if you are selling fishing rod, your keyword may become “fishing rod” too. If you want to stress on your own brand along with it and if the name of the brand is “magic anglers” then you can as well consider “magic anglers fishing rod” as your keyword. if it’s made up of a new alloy called “anglerate” which light yet heavy-duty, then yes, by all means, they can get included in the message!
  • In SEO terminology, we call these tags or meta-tags. So when you ask your coder to place meta tags for your website, you include words such as anglerate, light, heavy-duty, fishing rod, magic anglers. You can change their order too depending on which one you want to be more popular.
  • Contrary to what many SEO experts will have you believe, there is no sure-success magic number for keyword density. That is, by just having these words repeated meaninglessly throughout the content of the website doesn’t improve your SEO ranking and in fact can actually harm it. Make it natural. When we review any copywrite, we tend to see if it makes sense and if it flows naturally. If you use 3 paragraphs every page of your website, having them mentioned 4-6 times can be just good enough.
  • Search engines have shown evidence that if one or two main keywords or meta tags appear in the title as early in it as possible, it improves the SEO performance for the site. There is no sure rule of how many words or characters you can/should use in the title but we advise 70-80 characters or 7 to 8 words. Again, try natural. if you sell anglerate magic anglers fishing rods, we will title the website as “Buy magic anglers fishing rods made by light angelrate”. Someone once said: think of a title as a human will read it, not a searchbot!
  • Often overlooked, we have found out that adding a meta description actually improves your site’s SEO performance too. Just write out a 3-sentence gist/description of your website and hand it over to your coder for inclusion as meta description in the HTML. A typical example can be this: that is made up of world-class alloy anglerate that is only made for fishing rods to give the lightness of aluminium yet the strength of steel, your search is just over. Buy anglers magic fishing rods with 100% money back guarantee if it doesn’t satisfy you. We are based out of the lovely Lake District in England and all payments in the website are securely processed by HSBC Bank. You can call our friendly sales staff on 0870 543 9876.” /> . Keep it natural and make it in a way a human can read it. 
  • Finally, when you write the copy, please make sure you have proper headings for your paragraphs (more on this when we cover code), such as, Fishing Rods, Why Anglerate, Buy Safe, and so on. Typically inclusion of a meta in heading has shown to help. Please run it through a spell-check before you publish your content. Mis-spelled or ill-constructed copy will not rank well.

Code

[We appreciate that this section can cause confusion for someone who is not exposed to HTML coding so you can simply discuss the points with your site's developer(s).  Goes without saying that when we develop your websites these things and more are given due attention for your sites to have a better ranking.]

  • You may want the search engines to restrict some pages from indexing or stop indexing links emanating from your pages. Robots.txt  is a file that is used to achieve all this, it’s placed at the web root. You can find more explanation here.
  • Check with your server admin or the coder to see that both www and non-www URLs are pointing to same pages. That is, www.your-domain.com/try-me.htm and your-domain.com/try-me.htm must terminate on the same page!
  • Take a look at how the URLs are on this website. The page where blogged about “Why Web, Then?” is http://a-cubed.co.uk/2011/05/why-web-then/. In SEO world it’s called SEO friendly URLs. Even if you have code-related suffixes you can keep the URLs more meaningful. E.g., your-domain.com/why-use-anglerate-rod.php rather than your-domain.com/prod1.php – makes sense?
  • There is a very powerful HTML tag or attribute called ALT. It is an alternative description for something that the searchbot cannot see/view/read. For example, if you have an image, if you put an ALT for it too, the bot knows what it is for! Not to confuse with the TITLE tag though which should really be used when the image can open on a new window/page.
  • In real life we italicise a word or put it in bold font to catch user’s attention. In the same way if we italicise and bold the keywords through out your content some suggest that searchbots attend to them quicker than usual. Won’t harm anyway even if they don’t at least you know it will catch users’ attention!
  • We talked about headings in the previous section. Your developer should  use at least one H1 tag (heading) in the content. It’s easy for your readers to understand what a paragraph is going to focus on, same way for the searchbots as it tells them what the content is going to describe. Relevance is the key though, no point calling a heading Farmed Salmon when you are actually talking about a fishing rod.
  • XML sitemap has been found to be of excellent value for searchbots to take a glimpse of what is there in your website. Think of “table of content” for a large book and how that may help you understand the structuring of the content in the book, you will get the idea!
  • Get the code and CSS validated by W3C.

Links

  • Internal page-linkings, that is, linking own pages can improve your page rank. It’s like telling the searchbots what other things they should go explore in your website!
  • External page linking, done in moderation from internal pages (avoid this from home page!) to sites of similar relevance, can improve your SEO performance. What we advise is not to use same keywords as you use when you link to the external sites.
  • Check your website for broken links. Your page rank can reduce dramatically if searchbots encounter links on your website that don’t exist!  
  • Contrary to popular belief, use absolute URLs in your internal links rather than relative URLs.  
  • Do not use same content in two mirror sites and link back to each other. At the beginning of the whole SEO journey a lot of SEO-spammers tried that to boost their SEO rankings and searhbbots hate it so much now that they will actually blacklist both the sites now if you they find content is copied.

We hope the above helps you in some ways to understand what SEO is or how it works. As mentioned in our part-1, this blog is intended for the “beginners” in the subject as there are much more complicated pointers in this area and we are more than happy if you want to discuss any of these by calling us.

SEO quick-fix, the DIY style: Part-1

Will start with an anecdote. Few months back we were doing a website for a restaurant owner. We built it on WordPress. After we launched it, we had a call from the client – he sounded very worried: “my website wouldn’t open in Google”.

We weren’t sure what he meant by opening “in” Google, so we quickly tried to open the website in a few browsers while he was still on the phone and the site opened fine in all of them. We asked him to explain what exactly he was doing and we were shocked to know that this was how he always opened a website.

His browser’s homepage was set to http://www.google.com/. So whenever he needed to open a website he would type the domain name in the google search box and then click on “Google Search” button. A new site doesn’t come to Google index instantly so when he tried opening his site in the above manner, he didn’t see his website!

Imagine our hardship to make sense of this to an adult, we were telling him that his way of opening a website was wrong, that he should have really tried opening new sites using the address bar of the browser, and the natural conclusion he was perhaps drawing about us was “these guys are now trying to cover up their own mess by telling me I always did something wrong”! Duh!

The point however is that Google will not index your site same day as you go live. It can take a couple of weeks to a few months depending on how the content is written and placed, how good the site’s natural SEO features are and if you are linked from reputed websites. But before we go to the details, for our clients that are absolutely new to the concept of SEO, what is SEO?

SEO is the short for Search Engine Optimisation. Google, Bing and Yahoo are only a few examples of popular search engines. In order for them to “find” your website and “add” it to their search results (the whole process is called “indexing” by their search-robots or searchbots) you will need to optimise the content and code of your website so they spot you easy and find you worth for their audience to serve via their search results. So that in a nutshell is SEO.

It therefore is easy to appreciate that you will need to ethically enhance your content in a way that the search engines can target, assimilate and serve. We say ethically because searchbots are really tired of fake optimisations and are getting smarter to punish such fake sites. If you sell Fishing Rods from your website there is no point optimising it with content on popular fish names like “salmon” or “cod” or “haddock” just in the hope that you will get better hits! It doesn’t serve the purpose of selling rods after all.

So what happens if you have a good SEO strategy? What’s the gain? It means your site comes up before others in the search results. In SEO terms it’s “ranking” or “page rank”. So your target should be to have a higher page rank than others that compete with you so your website comes up before others when someone searches with a word or a phrase or even a sentence!

We hope this goes some way to set the scene. As always please get in touch if you have any question. We appreciate people have varying exposures to this topic and this blog obviously targets the “beginners” so to speak!

In our Part-2 we will discuss what can be done to improve SEO performance of your website. Until then, best wishes from all of us!