• WordPress Database Optimisation

    WordPress Database Optimisation

    This WordPress database optimisation technique is useful in general, but especially so if your website runs the popular WooCommerce shopping cart plugin. In just 2 steps, your pages will load at least 2 seconds faster, but often a lot more than that.

    One of my clients owns a site that sells dresses and despite being hosted on a business-grade server and using various caching and minification techniques, the product pages we often slow to load. Often, the WordPress back-end (admin area) was also slow. Since page loading speed is a big factor in conversion rate optimisation, as well as search engine optimisation, this was important to sort out.

    To find out what was going on, I first installed the Query Monitor plugin, which shows various issues in the PHP proccessing of the page, including slow queries. On every page load, it was showing one particular query as taking at least 2 seconds, often longer. That query was run by a core function to load all the options with “autoload = ‘yes'”.

    Web discussions showed that other people were plagued by this, but the WordPress core team was opposed to addressing it with an index, or in any other specific way. I had to do it myself.

  • Is Google Search Getting Better for Small Business?

    Is Google Search Getting Better for Small Business?

    Google Search is a free service, but Google is still a company. So to answer the question “Is Google Search getting better?” we need to determine our perspective. Do we mean “better for those who search”, “better for those who pay for advertising on AdWords”, “better for shoppers” or “better for businesses”?

    In fact, even in the business area, global brands differ very much from local businesses or small businesses trying to break into the marketplace.

    One obvious answer is that Google Search just keeps getting better for Google the company, because it is the foundation of everything they do. Without Google Search, the other things Google does would be possible and some things would stop making sense altogether.

    From a small business point of view, however, I think that Google Search keeps getting worse. Here’s why.

  • Nice website! What happens when you update it?

    Nice website! What happens when you update it?

    By definition, business owners looking for a new website lack the technical skills to look “under the hood” of what they get. They can grasp the concept of a content management system, they recognise the name WordPress, but for the most part, they look at their website as the public would look at it, move around a bit and give their lowest-bidding web developer the thumbs up to go live.

    A couple of months later, a major WordPress update comes along, with a flurry of updates to plugins and themes that must be made compatible. Most, if not all, of these updates contain bug fixes and security patches, so it’s really important to apply them. If left untouched, the website will gradually become more and more exposed and the online business will be in too much danger of being hacked.

    “No problem”, thinks the hapless site owner, “All I need to do is click that Update button and my site will do the rest automatically”.

    Famous last words…

  • Is Google Search Stealing Your Website Traffic?

    Is Google Search Stealing Your Website Traffic?

    Website owners all around the world depend on Google Search for their livelihood and spend considerable amounts of money and effort to rank well on Google Search results pages (SERPs). Google boasts delivering the best results for those who search and spends a huge amount of money and effort to make its search results more and more relevant.

    Part of this effort was the recent demotion and exclusion of directory sites and archive or index pages. For small businesses, this often cuts out the “middle man” and shows links directly to relevant websites, instead of forcing potential buyers to view a list of competitors first. In a sense, these directories were stealing website traffic for their own direct revenue (through paid listings) or indirect revenue (through advertising).

    Another part was the addition of Knowledge Graph, which attempts to provide direct answers to search queries on the search results page. Unfortunately, this change, despite being great for information searches, can really hamper business’ promotion efforts on Google Search. Google keeps telling us to market our business by publishing fresh, informative content, and then grabs that content, shows it directly and forgets about giving us the traffic.

  • How I Enabled an Important Business

    How I Enabled an Important Business

    Online marketing consultants deal with computers, web sites and technology and the work can sometimes be frustrating, but we get to make a positive impact on our clients’ business and life and sometimes, they even take the time to write about it.

    When I read the message below, I had to hold back tears, both from the sense of frustration in my client’s journey before she started to work with me and from happiness at having made such a difference. I’m very proud to post it here for everyone to see.

    The message is from Michelle Kenway, who dedicates her life to helping women (and men) strengthen their pelvic floor muscles. Her clients have an embarrassing problem, which she solves through physical therapy, e-books and DVDs sold on her site, Pelvic Exercises.

  • New Amazon Fire Mobile Phone: Game Changer?

    New Amazon Fire Mobile Phone: Game Changer?

    Amazon announced this week a new mobile phone with a solid design and many features, called Amazon Fire. Will it be a game changer and give Amazon a big advantage in the marketplace? And what does it mean for small business owners?

    Amazon Fire comes with 4 cameras, positioned in the corners of the device, as well as infrared sensors, so it “knows” where its user is located and where he or she is looking. The phone uses this information to rotate the display in “3D” and allow the user to peek into the display, as well as scroll and navigate with one hand.

    To make life even easier, this phone can recognise many things in real life (using a technology called Firefly) and use them to offer relevant actions. Here is a quick summary:

  • How to Keep Your Online Business Alive

    How to Keep Your Online Business Alive

    Building a website and starting an online business seems to many small business owners like a big step. This often makes them feel exhausted after it’s done and they do their best to pretend that it’s all they’ll ever need.

    So much so that when someone tells them that their site’s software needs updating or that the content needs to be refreshed and extended, they almost hate that person. “What?” they say, “Is it not enough I’ve spent all that money getting this responsive, singing and dancing WordPress site with mobile bells and whistles, now you tell me I need to spend more money?”

    Sadly, it’s not.

    Yesterday, a friend rang me and casually mentioned that his online business website had been hacked. He was miserable, because he didn’t know how to recover it and had no way of getting his site back, because he had not kept any backups of the files or the database.

  • Twitter Gets a Facelift

    Twitter Gets a Facelift

    Twitter is finally joining the ranks of Google Plus and Facebook by changing its page design to include large banner images, better navigation and blocks. It’s been a long time since Google Plus and Facebook changed their designs and now, Twitter is finally joining the party. This should be a celebration for businesses and marketers.

    No matter what I tried to do with the previous design, my Twitter profile didn’t come out looking like a winner, until I gave up. Today, my inbox contained an invitation from Twitter to try the new design and I found everything I’d been looking for.

  • The New Google Image Search

    The New Google Image Search

    Google has released a new Image Search. Ever true to their aim of providing the best possible user experience, the new Google Images is a lot quicker and more intuitive to use. If you are looking for photos or graphics, the new image search interface is great.

    But what about website owners and small business operators that want their websites to be found through image search?

    Well, in terms of reach, Google Images is responsive, which makes it convenient to use on any device. With the rapid growth of Internet use on touch and mobile devices, this means more exposure for marketing purposes.

    But wait, there’s more…

  • Google PageRank Restored (almost)

    Google PageRank Restored (almost)

    This is a tale of woe for all you out there who have not kept up to date with Big Brother (Google) changes. Once upon a time, I had a good pagerank, and there was much rejoicing and I even boasted my good fortunes and considerable SEO skill in a post.

    Then, the mighty Google enginerds decided to let loose a large, wild Penguin, and they updated the Google quality guidelines and they automated detection of “unnatural” links and their new algorithm flagged my site and there was much misery and there was no point posting about it, because nobody could find my blog anyway.

    Fortunately, the email notification from Google Webmaster Tools provided a handy link to the reconsideration request page. I promptly submitted the site for reconsideration and waited for 8 weeks.

    My request was denied, my site remained hidden from the public eye and there was much hair pulling and screaming, but I didn’t record any of it, because the site was still virtually invisible, but also because it was really pathetic to listen to.