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.

 

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!

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,

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!

HeartInternet Hosting Service Provider

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You won’t find a better Internet service provider than Heart Internet. They are simply the best for customer support and service.

I contacted Heart about 3 domains I had purchased for 3 young people waiting to take possession of the domain and they gave an answer within 5 mins. They offered brilliant advice and support. I asked them to help further and they did. Heart Internet aren’t just a domain registry company. They are very good at customer service and following up with their commitments and promises.

They are simply brilliant. Number one…

When I had a website go down in its entirety, I contacted them again stating the website was down and they logged in and fixed it within minutes. Sure, it was during office hours so they would have had a full contingency of staff, but I think that’s worth blogging about and praising HeartInternet.

I have been logging in to other Internet service providers for my customers such and 1&1 and Go Daddy and I can say they are all poor compared to Heart. The fact that you can buy a domain, install WordPress and many other platforms and have a live site within 2 hours is almost scary! The whole flow and navigation is perfect once you are logged in and I never struggle to find my way around.

Well done Heart Internet, your work here is done and I will be telling a lot more people in the WordPress tuition classes that I offer about you. I am training the future WordPress Developers in our area and I will suggest they all use Heart Internet as their service provider.

Well done! Number one…

One Day WordPress

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I had the pleasure of meeting 3 young men who were given the chance to make, develop and take away with them the skill of website development and their own WordPress websites yesterday using the YoungVoice way of learning.

 

They are 3 young men who are part of the Lofty Heights loft clearance service and Olive, the founder, wanted to give them more than just work and income, but skills and personal development.  They were handed to me at 9am with no skills in websites, adding pages or even having ever hit the publish button on any platform before.  By 3pm they had not only set up a Gmail email account but purchased the domain from the registry themselves on the YoungVoice hosting account, installed WordPress on the domain, forwarded emails and then made their own websites from nothing at all to something glorious.

 

 

Mr Olding's own website for him to amend and develop ongoing.The key moment was when they were able to install the Colorway Theme and then see their website, half an hour after starting on it, looking like a professional and business class website.  They have been shown WordPress in such a way that they can adapt, change and amend the websites ongoing for as long as they choose to keep updating them.  They have been shown “how and why”, not just “how to” and they can do this from any PC on the Internet.  I also showed them why they need to consider SEO and how it will lead to work for them.  We also did ‘adding a CV’ as a download and how they can change the website for the person they may be wanting to connect with that week!

 

more than just work and income, but skills and personal development.We did not cover blogging as they didn’t have any content, but they do have the skills to add this and show it on the website should they wish to. 

Also, with it being live, I can re-visit their website watching their development and so can you! 

I really enjoyed the day and giving my understanding to three others, with real gratitude and thanks is very warming.  I unfolded the elements and made sure the impacting moments were correctly delivered to keep their motivation and interest so they were excited and surprised at what they had achieved.  The way the project runs means that I made sure I listened to the individual needs of the student and gave them something to last, giving R.O.I. for Olive and her requirement for personal development.

More young people should be given the chance to experience the empowerment of their own website to show themselves off.  Maybe you can copy the link for this post and email to someone who is involved with young people that would get a lot out of this type of personal development?

http://www.andyproctor.co.uk/one-day-wordpress/

 

Contact us for more information and check out the YoungVoice website and our YouTube channel

 

Graduation week

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I graduate this week from the school for social entrepreneurs and it’s all about quality change, doing good and values.

Quality Change is the capacity to transform ‘negative’ situations, or circumstances, into something beneficial for one’s self and that of others. ‘Quality transformers’ are people who can turn walls of resistance into bridges of understanding and keep crossing them, who can change any obstacle into a stepping stone of success and can reverse the niggling, paralysing dragons of doubt into radiant self-confidence, dissolving the thought ‘impossible’ from the mind. I’m nothing special but going to the School For Social Entrepreneurs has been.

People do this all the time, for all kinds of reasons.  It can be done for the benefit of the community, changing the community to provide services and education for the people that may not before had this opportunity.  We are giving more people a chance without segregating them on income or situation.

This is what a social entrepreneur does.   He recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture). While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals. They are most commonly associated with the voluntary and not-for-profit sectors, but this need not preclude making a profit. Social entrepreneurship practised with a world view or international context is called international social entrepreneurship.

Social Entrepreneur and founder of the YoungVoice projectMy website project YoungVoice is to enable young people to have access to websites, as well as education in not only maintaining the website, but maybe, if they have the inkling, to make websites for other young people.

Buying my products enables the philanthropic ethos of my business values and my corporate social responsibility to be fulfilled and that’s a good thing. I might even have a few beers Thursday!

Working with schools and the star volunteer

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It’s been a while and I know I’m guilty of not doing something I preach; Regular relevant updated content! I guess it’s like the electrician with the broken floodlights and the bricklayer with his garden wall still not finished…

It’s been a fascinating few months for me with YoungVoice and doing my mentoring course has been fantastic. I’ve been helping out with a few local businesses and it’s really rewarding. Speaking to them has made me look at my own businesses too, so that’s a reward in itself, without the good that the mentoring itself does.  Helping a local business to obtain its main sales from a website has been perfect with my online trading history. YoungVoice giving another young start-up sole trader I’m helping, a free website has been satisfying too.

Welcome to ‘Rachael Senior: A Web Developer In TrainingYoungVoice has a brilliant volunteer at the moment. Rachel. Rachel came at 9am and on her first day we purchased her a website for £3.99 at 10:30am. Then I showed her how to build the website, looked at what she would want a website for and she left at 3pm with a full online website. Rachel had seen how to buy the URL and make the website, administer it and have something tangible to take away ongoing. This made me feel brilliant and she felt empowered and rewarded to want to do more for herself  in the future. On her fourth afternoon with me, she will be making a website completely from scratch for another lucky person getting a free website from YoungVoice, made by someone learning how to make websites! 

I’ve been talking to a school academy and a local college over the last few months. The head masters and executive headmasters have told me “we need people like you to come in to schools and show entrepreneurial and business skills”.  So I went along at their request and spoke to their staff.  It’s not come to much. One meeting in Ipswich was very disappointing as they didn’t understand the need, as they aren’t entrepreneurial or business like enough to relate to it – so it won’t happen. They will not embrace the very thing the pupils need,  until its finished and they can see the results. Would the results be enterprises, employment and stability two years after leaving school – yes. Is this their measurable financial duty?  Probably not. The most proactive and visionary is Felixstowe Academy but which of the skills of mine they employ has yet to be decided and it’s now the 6 weeks holiday.

Ideas for the formation of YoungVoice structure with The School for Social Entrepreneurs I also graduate from the School For Social Entrepreneurs East in two weeks. This has been a fascinating and amazing experience, making me a “social entrepreneur”, more open to doing good with my business ventures and focusing on one project, not the many I used to try and do all at the same time! I’d like to use the graduation to pitch to the room full of Ipswich shakers and third sector movers and it could be an interesting afternoon. I’m having a stand at the post graduation market place at The Hub and if I’ve got the request for stakeholders and a business plan right, it could be interesting for YoungVoice.

I’m currently working for a company in Felixstowe for 10 weeks, one afternoon a week. I’m doing their website ‘in house’ so I can pick up the language used, terminology and fully understand the needs of the website.  I’m also adding a CSR to the business I am working with, passing on SSE values!

Thanks for reading my blog and well done to Dayle Bayliss for winning the Archant Anglian Business Awards with her win of Young Business Person of the Year 

The Haulage website I’m working on, also optimised for mobile viewing by the drivers, can be seen live here.  Thanks also to Kim Christofi for her very kind gifts which she brought after our 8am e-commerce consultancy chat the other morning.  She gave me lunch and a bottle of wine as a thank you for the insight and support I gave her for her website.