Google Penguin 4.0

The Penguin Returns!

If you dabble in SEO or have had a website for any amount of time, you will probably be well aware of Google’s tendency to update its algorithm from time to time. These updates are quite often just minor adjustments and tweaks, but every so often Google come up with a blistering one to keep us on our toes, usually named after a cute cuddly animal of some description. However, there is very rarely, if ever, anything cute about a Google algorithm update, particularly a Penguin.

Penguin???

Google’s Penguin algorithm was first seen back in 2012. It acted as a filter aside from Google’s “everyday” algorithm, running periodically to discourage websites from using “black-hat” SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Websites employing such techniques saw reduced rankings as Google aimed to provide a better search experience for its users and place high quality, relevant content towards the top of its listings.

And Now???

Over the past few weeks, there has been widespread chatter across the search engine world surrounding a potential new major update to Google’s algorithm. Site owners and SEO’s saw their rankings fluctuate significantly and unexpectedly over a short period of time. Google initially put the changes down to “normal fluctuations” but it felt like more than that. Finally, on the 23rd of September, Google confirmed the release of Penguin 4.0.

Penguin 4.0 is designed to refresh in real time and be a part of Google’s core algorithm, rather than a on-the-side filter which periodically refreshes. This is good news for all concerned as it means that recovery from any “penalties” can be more swift and straightforward as Google will reevaluate these the next time it crawls your website rather than months or even years down the line. Penguin 4.0 is also designed to be more “granular” than its predecessors. What does this mean? Well it’s open to interpretation at this point as it’s still early days. However, being that previous Penguin versions would penalise entire websites in the rankings for spam like behaviours, the general train of thought seems to be that this version will just affect the rankings of pages or sections of a website. This is also good news for some.

Does this mean SEO just got easier? Probably not because it looks like link profiles will need to be monitored even more carefully than before, especially in the early phases of this update. Websites which provided good link juice when the link was built, may no longer do so if they have become low quality in some way since the link was built.

Advice?

If your website is clean in terms of SEO, you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about with this update. As we always advise, page content should be informative and engaging and the associated meta data should be relevant to the page content. Keep your links natural. There is nothing wrong with building links as long as you keep in mind that one high quality link can be worth much more than several low quality, irrelevant ones. The key, as with many things, is quality.

If you would like any further advice on SEO, please feel free to get in touch.


flash player support

The Final Demise of Adobe Flash?

Following in the footsteps of other major browsers such as Google Chrome and Safari, Mozilla have recently announced plans to begin to retire Adobe Flash starting on August 2nd 2016 with the release of Firefox 48.

The phasing out will begin with a small blocklist, the majority of which will contain URLs of Flash files which Mozilla have identified as being “supercookies” (meaning cookies that are more difficult to detect and delete than usual).  This stage is said to be undetectable to users, but Mozilla are standing firm with the assertion that this will be the beginning of the end of their support for Flash.

The plan is to gradually add elements of Flash which are invisible to users on to the blocklist, the hope being to improve overall browser stability for Firefox, reducing crashes by as much as 10%.

Eventually, in 2017, user experience will change noticeably with Firefox making Flash content completely “click to play”.  Various Flash applications will remain viewable, but permission will be required on an individual basis to interact with each one.

Although a clear “the death of Flash is nigh” statement has not been given by Mozilla as of yet, it clearly seems that they are nudging along in this general direction.

But this is not a new idea.  Flash is generally not supported on mobile devices due to its heavy resource usage and security vulnerabilities.  Added to this, the world’s leading web browser, Google Chrome, has also made definitive steps towards shutting down the plugin.  In 2015, Chrome blocked auto-playing Flash ads and videos, pausing them by default.  There have been plans unveiled by Google to phase out full support for the Flash software on Chrome by the end of 2016, leaving it enabled by default on just 10 websites, including YouTube, Facebook and Amazon, all of which will be granted an effective “stay of execution” on usage of the technology.  All other sites will have to be manually enabled by the user.

Webmasters currently using the Flash on their websites are encouraged to convert to the more secure, stable HTML5 technology to stream video to their users.  HTML5 has evolved massively in recent years and will provide a richer user experience to website users, playing video seamlessly as browsers look to auto-detect HTML5 players on sites as the preferred alternative player to Flash.

If your website currently uses Flash to display content, we recommend that you look towards converting to HTML5.  This can be very straightforward to do and will ensure that your business does not fall fowl of browser updates, as potential clients click off your website, frustrated by continuous prompts to play resource hungry Flash content.


magento image upload

How To....Bulk Upload Product Images to Magento

This is an post taken from our old website.  It was originally posted in 2013 to help with an issue which many people were having with Magento CE at the time.  We have deprecated our other old blog posts but have decided to keep this one as we believe it is still useful to some… (please note that this was written alongside Magento CE 1.7 but I believe it still works up to the 1.9 release)

So, we have been tinkering with Magento CE lately and hit a stumbling block when it came to making somewhere in the region of 16,000 product images display on the frontend. The solution didn’t present itself clearly for quite some time, so here goes the basic guide for all those store builders who have more images than they can individually upload via the backend…
Assuming that your products are already listed without images:
Upload your images to media/import. If you do not already have a folder named “import” within your “media” folder, just create one.
Log into the admin area of Magento.
Click System > Import/Export > Dataflow – Profiles
Click Add New Profile
This is the screen you’ll be presented with (Click on the image for a larger version):

Make sure the “Enclose Values In” field is blank. Under the heading “Field Mapping”, enter the image categories you require, this example is very basic, but you get idea. You can add categories such as image labels, the choices appear in the dropdown menus each time you add a new item. Be sure to include “sku” as Magento uses this value as the product’s unique identifier.
Save your new configuration.
Create a new CSV file in your normal editor such as Excel for example. Create columns for each of the fields you created in Dataflow. (sku, image, thumbnail etc). List your sku numbers in the appropriate column (copy and paste from the original stock list works well here) and input your image titles. Be sure that the image names begin with / as in “/web-design.jpg”
When all details are complete, save your CSV and return to Magento. Within the Dataflow profile you have created, click “Upload File” then select the new file and click “Save and Continue Edit”.
Finally, click the tab “Run Profile”. Select the file you have uploaded from the dropdown menu and click “Run Profile in Popup”. Magento should do the rest for you.
Alternatively, if this basic guide is still beyond you, give your web designer a shout, we’re always happy to help….

Well, hopefully the oldies are still the goodies.  Magento is such a powerful, fantastic e-commerce platform, as well as a complex mind-boggling beast at times!


web design wigan

What's Wrong With Your Website?

If you’ve invested hard work and hard earned money into a brand spanking new website which just isn’t pulling its weight, it can be frustrating.  What’s the issue?  It looks pretty enough, it has your logo on it, it’s even featuring on Google.  But you still don’t seem to be gaining the results you were hoping for in terms of return of investment.

Before you slip into complete despair, it’s worth taking the proverbial step backwards and try looking at your website through the eyes of your target audience.  Are you capturing their attention by giving them the necessary information easily or does it take forever to find what they are looking for?

We put together a checklist to help with your personal website review:

Is Your Website Responsive?

The majority of online browsing is now done via a mobile device.  If your website isn’t responsive to different screen sizes, your audience could lose patience and look elsewhere.  There is nothing more frustrating than constantly trying to zoom in on content or scroll side to side to read all the copy on a web page.

Media Which Auto Plays?

My biggest bugbear!  There is nothing worse than having a quiet browse online, only to be interrupted by some loud theme tune or somebody loudly telling you how great their product/service is.  Online media is great, in it’s place but many people don’t want it forcing on them and will click away from your website.  Easily fixed: give your users a “play” button!


Is Your Navigation Straightforward?

When you’re building or designing your website, it’s easy to get involved to the point where you can’t see the obvious: how do you get to the relevant pages.  Once your user is on your website, how do they navigate to the place they want to be.  People can get frustrated by poor website navigation and look elsewhere, we are no longer patient with the internet, we want our information fast!  Make sure you have clear links and call to actions buttons to help your audience take their next step and ultimately to do business with you.

Can You Boil a Kettle Faster Than Your Page Can Load?

Ok, maybe not but if your web pages take an age to load, people will go elsewhere.  As mentioned above, we simply are not patient anymore!  Make sure your image sizes are as small as possible and use tools such as Pingdom to check your site speed and see which elements might be causing loading lag.

Cheese Overload?

It’s not always possible or affordable to have a professional photo shoot done especially for your website.  It might be that you work in an environment that wouldn’t lend itself well to attractive images or you simply might be on a tight budget.  Stock images can work really well, but tread carefully.  Some of them can be cheesy to the point of nauseating and come across as clearly not being of your business.  This can be off putting to customers who want to see a genuine company, so try to strike the balance right.

Pop Up and Up and Up?

I recently viewed a website which I have been on many times before.  The owners are pushing a new product and have obviously decided to employ the use of pop ups.  This is fine, except said pop up appeared on every page I clicked on.  Annoying!  Even more so as it was on mobile and filled my entire screen.  I lost patience eventually and took my business elsewhere.  Need I say more?  Use them, just not too much.

Albeit a basic list, give your website a quick DIY audit today and see if you can improve upon the user experience it provides.  User experience really does matter and even search engines such as Google measure how long people stay on your site and whereabouts on it they “drop off”.  This goes on to have a bearing on your search ranking.  With this in mind can you really afford to neglect a poorly performing website?