Andy Proctor on the BBC

BBC Film about me.

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The BBC came and filmed me about the iDataTruck RaspberryPi project in early December 2014 and it was shown on the home page of the BBC website on Wednesday 14th January 2015.  It was the second most watched on-line video that day, often being the most watched a few times during the day.  It had 196,00 views in 24 hours and was re-tweeted to over 3.5million people within 48 hours.

This website (www.idatatruck.co.uk) saw 10,000 hits in the initial 72 hours with a very strong bounce rate. My own website had 750 new users in 96 hours and mostly from the UK.  (there is a link on the bottom of the IDataTruck website to my own website, as I made the website myself).

35 people Googled “Andy Proctor” to find my website (and 28 stayed).  My own bounce rate on this website has suffered as a result though. I wouldn’t say that I have had any more work for websites from it, but I have had over 25 emails offering tools, support and services from Universities, Businesses and individuals wanting help and support me with my RaspberryPi projects.

I am very excited and humbled by the contacts, tweets and people saying that they have shown my video to classes, presentations and seminars on programming, self development and motivational sessions as one-to-one and large groups – all because of the YouTube video I uploaded and the BBC seeing this and contacting me about making this film.

The video is below and can also be watched on the BBC website.

Dave's review about volunteering at YoungVoice

A review to be proud of – Mentoring.

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Dave, one of the YoungVoice successes has left a lovely review on LinkedIn and I wanted to share it here in this post.  I am very proud of him indeed and thank him for his kind words.
“I attended a job fare at the university campus in Ipswich to see if there were any local opportunities with my skills after graduating from Bucks New University (Ba Hons Digital animation and interactive design).

I spoke to an advisor and said I was interested in going freelance as a web design/graphic designer and perhaps starting my own small design business. She introduced me to Andy and he kindly welcomed me into his office and spoke to me very openly about his business Andy Proctor Ltd and his charity project YoungVoice, and asked me what I did and where I hoped to go with it. It was inspiring to actually meet someone doing what I hoped to be doing one day (Building websites for actual customers for a living and not just for fun).

After Andy gave up over an hour of his time talking to me and sharing, what I now believe to be invaluable information in the field of web development and good business in general. He offered me a volunteer position with YoungVoice, where I could work on real projects and at the same time, offered to be my mentor.
I accepted the offer immediately as I could tell that it was an amazing opportunity for me, plus I could tell that Andy was a really friendly, knowledgeable and honest guy that I would enjoy working with and being mentored by.

It was an absolute pleasure and an awesome learning curve working with Andy, from the start I felt that he trusted me and had faith in my skills which boosted my confidence right from the off. I was building websites for YoungVoice on day one, which is what I wanted to be doing (so was invaluable for me). I knew WordPress fairly well before meeting Andy, but he taught me lots of tips and tricks that I wasn’t aware of.

Andy also recognised my graphic design and animation skills, and went out of his way to find me many graphic design and animation jobs and promote my skills amongst his many contacts in various industries, which was ideal for me as it gave me a chance to work on my full range of skills pretty much daily.

Andy’s positivity and determination was infectious and really motivated me.
Without fail, at some point each day he would stop what he was doing and kindly take time out to share valuable knowledge, not only specific to the web design industry but business in general, eg negotiating, tax, Admin e.g. Pitching, quoting, invoicing, correspondence and much more.

Within Three months of working with Andy, I set up my own Business Starfuse Design. I know this would not of been possible so soon without the masses of support and encouragement from Andy. Every step of the way he was there and happy to help.

I don’t think I could ever have learnt the skills I learned while working with Andy, at university. (Especially the practical skills like negotiating, pitching and admin).
Thank you Andy.

David Letts.

See Dave’s company here http://starfuse.co.uk/

Why is Google Places For Business Important

Google places for business

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One way to be sure to ‘help’ your business, community or groups website get found on Google is of course doing the things that Google asks of you. We all understand that having Google Analytics installed will give you the results you need for the visits you have had and that Webmaster Tools will tell you how many times the ones you aren’t being found for are used, but what tools can we use to help our rankings?

Using free tools is of course a good start. Using Googles tools keeps them happy and also shows them that you are doing what you should be with your website, as your doing this, where others may not be.

This is the important bit!

Google places for business is linked to your gmail email account (Google account) and you need to create your listing for your location on Google Places For Business maps. This regionalises your search and you can put a radius that you operate on it as well as opening hours. I find that putting your business hours of opening actually helps with your website being shown at the right time of day for your business as well as the actual map listings results with the red pin on the map in the search results. The radius makes your website shown in the right area, not wasted nationally affecting your bounce rate.

So, if your business is not on Google Places for business you can do this yourself and need to do it.

For more support and advice, I have another blog with more about how to get found on Google.

How to think of the customer when blogging

Boring Blogging – For Business

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So we all hear how important it is to blog.  And this is easy right? – How many of us sit at our computer, and think “must blog”.  You are right and regular ‘relevant’ updated content is very important for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and of course marketing through engagement and return visitors also works for some websites.

Next time you blog, make it engaging and entertaining but make sure you use the right language to make it found and achieve a better bounce rate for your website.

My most inspiring and rewarding interjection in my training that has the most outcomes is asking staff or stakeholders how their customers describe their products or services.  This week I worked with an industrial paint company and their task seemed easy as all the customers are ‘trade’ and therefore use trade words (to find them).  But what if they are painting something new?  They know that they need a Prima, Epoxy based powder paint and an oven to bake it in, but what would they Google (and connect with the company) if they had never painted this material before?

The language you use, may not be what comes off the end of your customers fingers!

I found out that when you paint a shipping container, you need a specific type of paint.  So if someone who has never painted a shipping container before looks for the paint they need, they may enter “Shipping Container Paint” or “TEU 40ft Paint”… Where on the website, do they have “40ft and 20ft TEU Metal Shipping Container Paint” on a page talking about metal paint – or a product in their store with this in the description?

Seems easy right? –

Well it may be if you’re from the outside looking in, but it’s hard if you’re in that industry to be your customer with their own unique language and words (maybe even slang)

If you’re looking for keywords for what people use to find your products and services, maybe the sales team need to put some pages, blog and content on the descriptions – but maybe the people that answer the phones, the van drivers and guys in the warehouse need to have a say in this from their alternative environment.  Perhaps an open and active learning session with the staff, for the webmaster to have more vision of the needs of wording and long tail keywords on the website and product descriptions is needed?

There is much more to blogging, like structure and tagging and thinking why you are blogging that day for the right attraction, but the language of your customers is one that I wanted to share with you, so thanks for reading. – And no,  I was not thinking about the language that people would use and put it on this page when I wrote it (maybe I didn’t know what it was!)

Here is another blog about how to get your website found online.

 

E-commerce website Ipswich

Random Google Day.

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As many people know, I am an e-commerce retailer of kitchens, worktops and Formica sheets as well as making the websites for other on-line retailers and business.  I have a turnover of 100 units a week with one of my products, the “Formica sheets” that I sell.  This ticks along nicely and it’s a great product as my supplier boxes and rolls them and then the courier collects and delivers for me – Drop Shipping.

However, something very strange happened yesterday.  I was booked to go and see someone about furthering the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) potential for the website yesterday at 11am.  We sent back and forth a few emails, for me to add him to my analytic’s so he can see the current traffic and arranging the meeting.  As it transpired, we would both rather put back the meeting until 3pm as we had other tasks that needed our immediate attention and we did this.

Then something odd happened…

I started to get phone calls, orders and contact form submissions from the Formica sales website…  Why was this random event occurring?  I was so very busy processing orders that I was glad that we had put back the meeting, as I simply couldn’t leave the office.  In fact, that 100 unit weekly turnover was smashed in one day!  It seems odd that I am about to go and see the SEO guru to get more sales and then this happened – too ‘odd’ to be true in fact.

So, I went to the 3pm meeting with the phone still ringing on the seat of the van, to meet with the man that I was going to thank for whatever trick he had pulled for the last 4-5 hours and lay down and be tickled in to buying in to his wonderful strategy – Clearly a listing on a 3rd party site, or maybe he had put in £50 to a very well refined PPC (pay per click campaign).  But no, he had done nothing!.  He had to hold his hands up and confess he could not take the credit.

Then today, half past 12 and no orders…  Sometimes it’s just the luck of the drawer, or is it?  How very frustrating when you have to put yourself out and wait for a bite.  But that’s Google for you – or is it?  Was it something on a make-over program last night telling everyone that you can use Formica to rejuvenate your worktops?   Did I change something without realising, but why is it not working today?

I guess your looking for the answer, well that, would be the mystery that is Google.  My honest advice is just be honest and relevant with your website, build on it and they will come.  You also need to look at your analytics’s.  You will get spikes and low points with your website and your analytics’s should be able to tell you this and if you spend time looking over the analytics’s, you can see what happened, but not what will happen and that’s a shame!  What I will do this weekend, is look at Wednesday’s visits and see what worked, and then build on it.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your website – Check your analytics’s! 

Good luck everyone!

Belkin Switch

WeMo Switch

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The history of my interest starts when I left school and while I was doing my apprenticeship as an electrician, it was the start of intelligent lighting by remote switching and clever signals in the power cables that switched lights remotely. It was an awe-inspiring concept that the refrigeration engineers could log-in to the fridge packs from home on the lap top (via a 56k modem of course) and turn units on and off and change settings.  This is something that I was very interested in and things have been developing lately!

You can play with automated systems in your own home or office

So with the developments in cheap parts and access to the internet being faster, things have become more accessible to the home user like the advent of the WeMo from Belkin, now available here in the UK.

WeMo Swtich for iPhoneYou are now able to control home appliances with this modular system via your mobile phone, email or social media with many more possibilities being available each week.

This was so very easy to install.  I had to plug in the unit, go to settings on the iPhone to find the plug, then give it a name and as you can see, an image.  I can then control the plug from the iPhone.

The software on the phone also has time of day rules so the drinks fridge is set up to come on half an hour before we open.  You could have the slow cooker ready in the kitchen and turn it on when you are 4 hours from home.    Maybe that toddler on the landing can turn on the light somewhere?

You can also use IFTTT to control the lights by Twitter.  When I tweet from my account #Flash it makes the lights flash.  I have also installed a third party app that looks at my Geo-location and turns the Boiling Hot Water boiler on when I pull up outside.

This has practical uses as well as being fun, as you can also get a WeMo detector that can pick up movement.  In effect you could set it to text you, tweet, post something on Facebook or simply turn on a light when someone or something enters the room.  My next project is an amber flashing light every time my e-commerce website gets an order as it comes in via Gmail, something that you can also connect to the WeMo via IFTTT.

I purchased the 3 pack of plug controllers for use in the office for around £100 with delivery but you can also get single and twin packs here in the UK.

Try it out and remember to connect it to IFTTT too!

 

YoungVoice Banner Ipswich

Getting Found Online

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Ever wondered why your website goes down the page on Google – Why a rubbish looking, new or smaller website is doing better than yours?

 

I want to help support start-ups with some insights for your new website, so here is a blog with some information.  Please feel free to share this page on your own Twitter, Facebook or social media pages for all to see.

The last two customers for whom I have made websites were really keen on SEO being responsible for making the phone ring. Something I needed to reiterate was that it will not be an overnight success.  

One was a new website and the other also a new build, but the old website will point to the new one, once they are happy with the one I have made.  Google will come along and have a peek, coming back a while later, slowly looking, gauging, poking and analysing your website and deciding if you’re worth recommending for the search terms your website mentions.  The website being pointed to from the old one will have a far greater impact.  The new build will need submitting to Google (done automatically when I buy the domain) then the ranking process starts for both websites in their new forms.

Google has massive data storage facilities, indexing and saving every click, journey and experience you have once you have been sent off from its search engines – EVERY click and how long you spend on a page is stored.  Even if you have not come from Google’s search, it’s fairly certain that the website you are on will have Google analytics’s code farming your visits, journey, experience and route.  This is a good thing as website owners and developers can see this information in our Analytics’s log-ins and make our websites more relevant – To save you being sent on a bum journey, refining the experience of using Google for you.

For instance, if someone searches “Trampoline net” and Google sends them (initially) to your website because you mention that you “supply replacement trampoline nets”, and they do not find what they are looking for and leave your website, the next time someone else searches for the same phrase and does not stay, Google will not show your website as high as it did before in the search results it gives for that term (you go down the page) as it’s learning by experience that people do not find what they are looking for (yes, it saves all this information for all those clicks, every day, on every website)

I used to spend £36k p.a. on Google Pay Per Click (the sponsored results on Google search, normally three across the top and the ones down the right hand side) for my kitchen business and got away from this, listening, refining and honing my skills to what Google now needs of me as a website developer.

Some of the important factors are now (it seems!)

  • Links to your website from other relevant websites,
  • Relevant, updated content,
  • Clear and well made site architecture and structure,
  • Short, punchy top level information.  Place the pages with the ‘deep stuff’ further in,
  • Intuitive naming of pages, images, descriptions and links,
  • Easy to index and marked out content for Google’s indexing,
  • Be honest and talk about the stuff you do, not waffling and boring people.

There are many others of course.  I normally state that there are 200 smaller things that you have to do, to make it work for you.  But the best advice is to be clear and simple, honest and think about the language that people use to search for your product or service and mention this on your website – A blog is a good way to to add content yourself and facilitates the need for regular relevant updated content.

Some tips for you to be doing to get your website traffic up.

  1. Ask all of your suppliers to link to you as they are relevant and links in are good.
  2. Make sure the website suits your demographic as it may ‘too posh’ and distract!
  3. Submit your business to Google Places for business and Google+ linking them to each other.
  4. Make a Facebook “Page” for the business or organisation and get your friends viewing your pages.
  5. Set out your website, so that it’s easy and maybe fun to go on a journey of discovery clicking many pages.
  6. Make sure you have Google analytics’s installed AND LOOK AT THEM! (yes I’m shouting!!!)

If you do two things as a result of reading this –

  1. Submit your website to the Dmoz site listing website (Once)
  2. Update your Yelp listing but NEVER PAY YELP or YELLOW PAGES for advertising (in my opinion)

Thanks for reading and remember, links in are good and relevant updated content means you will see good results in your analytics’s but only if you look at them.

 

Website Advice

Not Found Online

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I had a young entrepreneur from the Eastern Enterprise Hub email me wanting support with his website not being found on Google.  While I was answering I thought I should share it with anyone else that may need this kind of advice, so here it is. Generalised to help everyone but please, do all of the points listed.  I would add that checking your Analytic’s is important and this is not the be all and end all for SEO, but some good, easy, free tips!

Hello,

Your website http://purplegorilladesign.weebly.com/index.html looks, good, well done.
 

Firstly you need to submit your website ONCE (ever) to http://www.dmoz.org/.  Trust me, it looks a bit naff, but it’s not.

You need to have a FreeIndex Listing and get every one you do work for (customers paid or unpaid) to leave a review.   Set up a profile  http://www.freeindex.co.uk/
You need to get as many RELEVANT websites linking to you as you can and get Tweeting and Facebooking to attract work to your website.
 
How often do you update your website with new pages or a blog maybe?  This is showing Google that you have regular relevant updated content so it should service its customer (Joe Public) well by sending him to your site as you have the latest information.  Once every two or four weeks is good.  BLOG BLOG BLOG and use language and keywords in the blog that people would use to find you.
 
Also, your home page needs more words that the search engines crawlers can pick up and use to rank your words and relevancy of your website.  You have some important and good words and messages (also important) on your site, but can you have more somewhere?  Can you add more pages – ‘one page one message’ maybe?
 
Good luck and I am here to help,
ICRFM YongVoice

Working lives show radio interview

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ICRFM had a spare slot last week and I went along to the Working lives show.  Nick Boulter is a pleasant presenter and anyone thinking of doing radio would be well advised to speak to Nick.  Adam is his “side kick” and they work very well together, asking the right questions for me to develop and tell my story.  This time, I didn’t have to share my slot with anyone else, as I did last time, so it was good to use the time well and get my many messages across.

ICRFM Ipswich Logo

 

 

The interview itself went very well and can be heard here.  I made mention to the School For Social EntrepreneursLofty Heights and Social Colours.

 SUBJECTS COVERED ARE

  • What is YoungVoice,
  • How does it help young people,
  • Self development websites,
  • How are websites found on Google,
  • What is a corporate social responsibility,
  • Cloud accounting and Drop Box file storage,
  • What you put out on FaceBook and Twitter,
  • Social impact measurement.

Download link for the interview is here for you to listen to.

Thanks to Phil Pethybridge and his amazing editing, file reduction and production of the clipped and greatly reduced file download!