Skip navigation

 Home page

 Design Services

 Domains and  hosting

 Terms and  conditions




 Spotlight on...


 Roger's CV

Archive for December, 2007

Naughty or nice?

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Everyone wants their web site to appear high up on the lists of the major search engines, and one of the challenges for designers is – well, not making sure that it does, because you can’t make sure: a high ranking can’t be guaranteed (as we explain in detail here). What we – and those companies who specialise in Search Engine Optimisation – can do is make sure your site is Google-friendly (for example, search engines index text, so we make sure that key search terms are not concealed in graphics).

Naturally, there are people who try to beat the system. To make it harder for them, Google is quite secretive about how it ranks sites, (which makes it harder for everyone) but here’s one example: We know that a site with plenty of incoming links is rated higher because of it (it makes sense that if people link to your site, it’s because they think the information on it is useful, and if they think so, other people are likely to think so too – so the site is given a higher ranking). One result of this is that unscrupulous people try to create as many links as possible, not because the information is relevant and useful, but just to improve their rankings. They create interdependent sites, all multiply linked to each other; they seek out guestbooks which are not being maintained, and write entries which are nothing but links to their sites… Naturally, the search engines retaliate by refining their criteria – where once the quantity of links was enough, now they look at the quality of the links as well.

An article in last week’s Technology Guardian reported that Google’s revision of its rules habitually takes place in December, and this makes life very hard for companies who want maximum exposure in the run-up to Christmas, and have to work out how they have displeased Google, and why their ranking has dropped. “Is Google a Grinch or a good guy?” it asks.

It’s certainly possible to do something in all innocence which is treated as suspect and loses your site credibility with the search engines. I’ve done it myself – once, long ago, I was transferring a site to a new home, revising and updating as I went, and thought it was a good idea to retain links to the old pages until I had time to replace them. This did not go down well, and it took a long time to get the new site the sort of rating it deserved. So I do have some sympathy with the feeling that Google is a Grinch, making people’s Christmas harder than it should be.

Nonetheless, the intention is not to be a Grinch. If anything, Google is more like Santa Claus, trying to reward the sites which have genuinely valuable or entertaining content and punish those who cheat to obtain credit they don’t deserve. They make a list, they check it twice, they try to find out who’s naughty or nice…

Blinking back a tear

Friday, December 7th, 2007

The Blinking Eye Publishing launch at Newcastle’s Lit & Phil on Wednesday was an emotional occasion. Every book launch is a celebration, and Blinking Eye were launching four books, so that’s quadruply the case; and the books were the work of competition winners (the winner’s collection and runners-up anthology for both poetry and short story competitions), so there was a real excitement, the sense of something special and festive. The tiny mince pies with stars on them helped, too!

But the event was also Jeanne Macdonald‘s farewell performance. Blinking Eye was Jeanne’s baby, and Cornwell Internet was there almost from the start. We saw the organisation grow from a project to a reality, from a single competition to two – and we were delighted to see a short story competition alongside the poetry competition, because why should poetry have all the fun? Of course we were sorry when Blinking Eye decided, as part of a business review, to move their web site to a new supplier, but it’s all part of the process of growing up and moving on.

So we were happy to be there to mark the end of an era, and to wish both Blinking Eye and Jeanne herself every success in whatever comes next. Here’s hoping that the Blinking Eye competitions will resume in all their glory in 2009 after their hiatus!

Poetry: Danger – Do Not Enter!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

'Danger - Do not enter' sign in bookshopWhen we spotted this notice in Ottakar’s bookshop in Harrogate, back in 2004, we thought it was a good joke. But, like all the best jokes, it seems to contain a kernel of truth.

Friday’s session at Colpitts Poetry was the launch of Permanent Winter, a collection of poetry from Siberia published by Smokestack Books, and the readers were intended to be editors Yana Glembotskaya and Oleg Burkov, as well as publisher Andy Croft.

Yet despite traveling to Novosibirsk – and beyond, to Kemerovo, a four-hour journey on an unheated bus! – Andy Croft had to appear in Durham without his Siberian collaborators, since they had had problems obtaining visas, not from the Russian but from the British authorities.

Poetry is not only dangerous, it is also resourceful and well-connected: Michael Standen had used chess-playing contacts to reach a group of exchange students – from, by pure coincidence, Siberia – who kindly came and read poetry to us. So the evening was able to proceed, if not exactly as planned, with the traditional Colpitts candlelight readings, first from Andy Croft in English, then by a relay of guest readers, each representing one of the five poets collected in the book.

This I love my job blog is powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).