This is the story about the owner of a web design company and their attempts to get some rankings on the first page of Google a few years ago, and just last month, and how it has all changed….
Mr Jones, the owner of ABC Web design approached the office of Google with a great deal of hope, he had done his homework, bought all the right software and followed all the ‘rules’ (and used a few, let us say, shady tricks that were known to work too) when building his website and the links to it. He was happy and extremely confident, the sun was shining, just what could go wrong?
Mr Jones was ushered into the Google offices, they were nice and tidy, with pictures of that ‘nice Mr Google’ on all the walls, his smiling face beaming from the images on all who passed. The queue was not that big and he did not have to wait long. Best of all the mood in the room was good, everyone waiting for their appointments looking comfortable.
Soon his time came and Mr Jones dutifully followed the directions to Mr Google’s offices. In those days he did the interviews personally, after all there were not that many, and he loved to see all the applicants and discuss with them how he decided who to include and what the rules were.
Mr Jones handed over his application and Mr Google inspected it with great interest. Opening the first page, all about the way the website was built, his smiled broadened still further. “You have really helped us here” he declared, “You have used the phrase ‘web site design’, let me see, seven times on the home page alone, AND placed in the H1 headers 3 times”. Looking further down the page, he sees that all the images are tagged using the words ‘web design by ABC Web Design’, “My word”, he said “You certainly can’t miss what you do, it is plastered everywhere. You know, people like you make our job (of picking the best sites) so much easier, Thank you so very much.”
Moving onto the section about links to the ABC site, Mr Google’s smile increased so much, you wondered if his face was about to split into two. “Gosh, just look at this lot, there’s literally thousands of links here, and from so many places too”. “LOOK, there’s one from a fish farm in Florida, and another from a Yak canning factory in Mongolia, my you sure get around don’t you.”
Looking further down in the list he notices that every site that ABC had ever built had a link back to the designers’ site, each one saying ‘web design’ or ‘web designers’. “ I see you have helped us again here too, EVERY page you have ever built links back to you, it sure does help us work out what you do and how many times you have done it, thanks again.”
Finally, he turned to pages about ‘chatter’, looking for times that ABC design had been mentioned. This sort of thing was limited then, just the forums and Bulletin Boards, mostly inhabited by techies being available for people to place their thoughts on. “Well he declared, I can see you are mentioned here and there, we don’t expect much from this sort of area, so it will do”.
The meeting ended with that nice Mr Google shaking Mr Jones hand and declaring that he expected his application “would be successful”, saying this with a smile and a friendly glint in his eyes.
Mr Jones went back to his offices a happy man, and sure enough, he did get first page rankings for a whole host of words, but best of all he was number Uno for the term ‘web designers’….
Mr Jones opened the letter from Google with much trepidation, he heard that lots of businesses, had ‘had the call’ about having to attend a meeting about their rankings and was distinctly worried. He had heard on the grapevine that things were changing, but just how much, and what would it all mean?
When Mr Jones got to Google’s offices he was astonished, they had altered so much, gone was the homely set of buliding, now they were huge, gleaming white in the sunshine, it was all quite dazzling. Massive signs declared the company motto ‘Do No Evil’ (although he did notice that someone, in very small writing had added the words ‘and make a lot of money in the process’ at the bottom).
Inside he noticed that the pictures of that nice Mr Google had gone, instead images depicting all the products (and there were many) that Google had developed, and the companies they had acquired adorned the walls.
The queue for the interviews was a lot different as well, it was huge, the waiting room being packed. But most of all he noticed the change of mood in the room. The happy joking faces had been replaced by worried ones, many of them despondently staring at their shoes. Every now and then someone was led away for their interview, their body language resembling someone being taken to the executioners block. It was not a happy place. Mr Jones gripped his application book (that was not a lot different to the first one) and prayed to all the Gods he had ever heard of.
Eventually his turn came. As he walked to the interview room he thought of the rumours he’d heard about the people that were carrying them out, some had said they acted like ‘animals’ but he was not sure what they meant…
Inside the room, his worst fears were realised, sitting at the vast resplendent desk sat the biggest Panda and Penguin that he had ever seen. He took his seat and waited, wordlessly passing his application book across the pages, under it seemed to him a compulsion that he could not control.
Mr Panda went first (it seemed to be the way to address him, although Mr Jones was unsure), saying that Mr Google no longer carried out these interviews, there being far too many now, and besides, they now needed to be run by people with ‘specialist knowledge’. The last words were said in a way that created tingles all along the back and neck of Mr Jones.
The Panda then opened the section about the way the pages had been built. Immediately his face creased with concern, then indignation. “What do you take us for” he boomed, “We are not idiots, we don’t need you to use the phrase ‘web designers’ 7 times on the front page”,” and we certainly don’t want you to put more than 1 in H1 tag”. He leaned across the desk at this point saying in menacing tones “It’s like you are trying to manipulate our decisions, like we are a bit stupid or something “ all the while sounding like an American gangster “Mr Google don’t like that sort of thing anymore you know.”
He pushed the book to the Penguin, who leafed to the pages about links. His face too creased up, the creases becoming so deep, it quickly resembled one of those relief maps you see of a mountain range, complete with deep valleys and staggering peaks.
“I see you have thousands of links to your site”, “I expect that you think it will impress us?” Mr Jones began to stammer a reply based on the idea ‘that it used too’, but was quickly waved to silence. “I see you have a link from a Florida fish farm here, did you do some work for them, or are you interested in farming fish?” the latter said with a sort of snarl. Going on he the spotted the Mongolian Yak link. “Do you design web sites for companies in Mongolia?” Mr Jones shook his head. “So what is this link doing here then?” Mr Jones hoped it was a rhetorical question, it was.
Not waiting for a reply, he moved on to the links from the all the pages on all the sites, that ABC web design had built. “I see that you have built lots of sites over the years, I expect you are very proud of them all”, “But” going on “Is that a good reason to link to your site from every page?”
“It’s like my associate Mr Panda says, it’s like you are trying to influence us or something…”
The Panda grunted, it began more and more to look like one of those police interviews, you know the ones with the good cop and the bad cop, the only difference being that this time, there were just two ‘bad cops’.
Finally, Mr Penguin moved onto the section about ‘chatter’. This was an area that had changed quite a bit, there being entries for Google +,Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. “I can see you have been reasonably busy in this area”, “We like that don’t we Mr Panda” he said. The Panda nodded and even smiled briefly.
The Penguin mentioned the positive comments on some Facebook posts, these being about the designs ABC had been responsible for. Speaking to the Panda, “You know Mr P, we could use positive and negative comments to rate pages too if we wanted”. “What a good idea” the Panda said, “I’ll add it to the list. Let me see that makes about 200 more things we will be checking for soon, Wonderful”. High Fives of flipper and paw were exchanged before the Penguin turned his attention to Mr Jones once more.
The Penguin went on to say, in a warning tone, that Mr Jones should be aware that they will be looking ever more closely into the area of Social Media and that he should not to abuse it, but at the moment, at least they were really just looking for mentions of the brand or domain name and that here at least he had done the right thing.
The latter comment caused a pit to form in Mr Jones’s stomach (about a mile deep it seemed).
The meeting concluded with a shake of hands / paws and flippers, but every time, Mr Jones felt that it was his neck , not his hand that was really being shaken…
In the end, it was not all bad news. Taking the advice he had heard, he quickly went to work removing the multiple use of key terms like ‘web design’ on all his pages and also removed lots of links from all the sites that he had built, leaving just one or two on each. This he thought was bound to impress both Mr Panda and Mr Penguin. He even thought of using that new ‘disavow tool’ to get rid of the links from the Florida fish farm and that dammed Yak factory.
Time, and the changes yet to come will write the fate of Mr Jones and the ABC Web Design company. It will all in the end depend on how well they listen to the Grapevine and learn to dance to whatever particular tune Google and its animal friends are playing at that time..
If there’s one downside to working in a creative job, it’s that everyone believes that they can do everything that you can do, if only they had the time. Authors hear “Oh, I’ve got a great idea for a novel, I should really sit down and write it one day.”, and web designers are always told about their client’s younger cousin who is “good with that computer stuff”.
Web design, as an industry, is not regulated. Anyone can set up a company and call themselves a designer, and many people do moonlight as designers even though they have no real training in the field of design. If you’re considering hiring a website designer, consider the following before you sign a contract with any company.
Check Their Portfolio
Your younger cousin might do a decent job of setting up a photo gallery for your family to share holiday snaps on, but do they have a strong portfolio of business websites? Professional designers have large portfolios that prove their versatility and their skills. Your business is too important to “take a chance” on an unproven designer.
Design vs Development
Are you hiring a website design company, or a web developer? Some designers focus purely on design – creating themes and layouts and doing graphics work. Some companies do both design and development. If you need something more complicated than a standard CMS, make sure that the company you are considering hiring can deliver that job.
Long Term Support
How much support do you want after the project is delivered? Find out whether the web designer will host the website for you, or whether they will deliver the files to a web host of your choosing. If you are using a CMS, talk to the designer about updates and patches. Will you have to handle those things yourself or will they update your site for you. If they do offer hosting and support, how much do they charge for that, and how many updates per year are included in that price.
Web designers are professionals, just like authors, graphic designers and photographers. Developing a website that is stable, secure and attractive takes skill. Designing a landing page that converts visitors into customers is an art form, and it is not something that can be taught through a few HTML lessons at school. Next time you’re shopping for a web designer, approach each call like the designer is interviewing for a job, and choose the professional that can deliver the website your business needs.
Digital maps have fast replaced conventional maps. They are quick and convenient and can be downloaded onto a smart phone or other electronic device. A digital map represents roads, landmarks and other places in digital form and can be found on several computer applications including Google, Apple and Microsoft.
It wasn’t so long ago that finding an address or other landmark meant pulling out a dog-eared A-Z map book while trying to keep one hand on the steering wheel. Now Global Positioning, which uses satellite technology, is used by millions of drivers every day on GPS devices. GPS mapping is also used for navigation in shipping, aviation and by governments, the military, scientific and commercial operations.
A Geographical information system (GIS) is an offshoot of digital mapping whereby other data is stored in addition to the map. There are several organisations which provide digital mapping services, supplying a range of solutions for all kinds of businesses from town planning and civil engineering to marketing and sales.
Other mapping innovations
Google’s mapping innovation, Liquid Galaxy promises an “immersive Google Earth experience like never before”. It consists of LCD screens arranged in a circle so you can zoom around the world using satellite imagery from Google Earth. You can dodge Manhattan’s skyscrapers, swoop down to the surface of the ocean, cruise across the jungles of the Amazon or soar up to the darkness of space, just like taking the controls of your very own aircraft. Alternatively, you could just do what most of us would do, and zoom straight to the street where you grew up. If that sounds like something you’d like in your front room, Google will provide instructions on how you can build one yourself.
The tech giant has also recently launched Google Trekker, a backpack which is worn by a rambler to capture views in remote locations, including the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. The device was recently used in the UK by the Canal and River trust to capture images of waterways.
These days, a map is no longer just a map designed to get us from A to B. Digital mapping is creating interactive environments where we can view directions, get information on ‘real time’ traffic delays and at the same time, find details of the closest restaurants.
The commercial opportunities are endless. As the technology tracks the places we visit it can display advertisements and other marketing information that is geographically relevant. In the future, maps will be highly personalised, tailored to the places we look up on search engines, the emails we send and the places our social networking friends visit
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