Autumn – a great time to clear out the dead wood

We were lucky to have a fantastic summer this year, even if it arrived a little late.

As Autumn finally  hits and those lovely bright leaves swirl off the trees revealing the bare framework of the trees, it’s a good reminder that other things might want a good clearout.

Yes, I’m talking about your website!

And mine, if I’m honest. As your daily business carries on, it’s easy to forget about some of those housekeeping tasks in the day-to-day bustle.

Use this prompt to step back and review your website for anything which might be outdated, and think about planning some shiny new content to engage your visitors.

Here are a few things to check;

  • Are there old links to related sites which no longer work?
  • Have you still got pictures and details of people who have left the company?
  • Is your content management system clogged with old special offer pages that you no longer need?
  • Are your contact details still correct? Particularly if you use a mobile telephone number you might have changed.
  • Are any special offers visible to the public still valid?
  • Is your copyright statement up to date?
  • Have you received any awards or accreditations which should be updated to more recent versions?
  • Are any products you are advertising still available?



The New Cookie Law in the UK

Sadly, not a law about yummy biscuits (mmmm white chocolate and macadamia…). No, this is the recently mandated regulation designed to help users of websites know what information is being collected during their visit.

Website owners are being required to get positive acceptance from their visitors that they understand what information is being collected and agree to accepting cookies on their computers. This is a big thing to ask – often website owners themselves aren’t aware of what cookies their own websites might be using!

If you were one of the many who didn’t know, “cookies” are just little bits of code that are installed on the visitor’s computer for various reasons.  Sometimes it’s to make a shopping cart work; sometimes it’s to allow advertisers to pick up information about sites you’ve visited so they can target adverts better; very often it’s to help website owners get the most out of their website by analyzing where site visitors are coming from and what they are looking at on the site. Ironically, some methods of keeping track whether you’ve positively agreed to allow cookies onto your computer use, er, cookies…

I resisted posting about the new cookie law straight away, wanting to see what the bigger sites are doing about it. It’s quite interesting!

Some sites are going as far as a pop-up message asking you to tick a box to agree to accept cookies.  I’ve not found one of these yet that sends you anywhere differently if you just close the box or ignore it. Of course the next time you visit such a site, you should still be asked for the agreement, if you didn’t accept last time so it could get irritating.

Other sites seem to be opting for the approach of letting visitors know what cookies are being used with the site, and stating plainly that continuing to use the site constitutes acceptance of the site. This is really just building on good practice that many websites have operated for several years. Importantly though, it does mean that as a website owner you need to make sure you have done an audit and know what cookies are in use. After that, make sure they are in your privacy policy.

This seems to me to be a reasonable position to take.  So for the record; this site uses cookies so that I can collect information about numbers of visitors, roughly where they come from, and what they look at when they are here. No personally identifiable information is collected. If you continue to use my site, I take that as your acceptance of these cookies. Of course, most browsers offer the ability to block cookies.  If you choose to do so, you may find that some aspects of the website no longer work correctly – I do not believe that is the case on this site but do let me know if that happens!

Have you given your website a spring clean?

I often find that a drawback to the first bit of decent summer sunshine is that the extra light shows up a cobweb or two in those dark corners. Time to get out the long-handled brush and whisk them away, quickly!

This is a handy reminder to shine a bit of light in the darker corners of your website too. What is lurking there that you might have neglected to clean up?

  • Out of date special offers
  • Landing pages you no longer use
  • Bios of people who have left the company
  • Products you’ve scrapped
  • Dead links to external pages that no longer exist.

Going over your website and clearing up the “cobwebs” is a good opportunity to think about whether there is new information that should replace the old.

Search engines like fresh copy, and so do your regular visitors. Tidy up your site and you’re likely to attract more traffic and more business.

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Further Adventures in Social Media

Picture of man using laptop for FacebookSince I last wrote about this topic, the social media field has continued to develop at a great rate.

With all the new possibilities springing up, you could easily spend all your working day being “social”.  So what to choose?  How to keep everything up to date?

Inevitably as this field develops, there are more people concentrating on building expertise in this section of the internet.  I’m working with one of them on a project at the moment and it’s going to be fascinating to see what effect it’ll have on my client’s business.

Briefly though, for people who just want a quick overview, here’s what seems to have changed in the last few months:-

Facebook continues to grow and grow. Not only for friends and family to interact (and yes, sometimes in my house that’s the way the kids talk to each other!) but also for businesses to get involved with their customer base. No doubt because of this wide appeal, Facebook is growing but MySpace is cutting back on staff. Myspace seems to have settled more into a role as publicity for musicians, bands and creative types.

Twitter is still going strong but its role in terms of a business tool is becoming more focused on either again keeping in touch with customers (especially on the move since it lends itself to mobile/smartphone use) or checking on hot topics.

YouTube is a great way of putting a personal touch on a business, and of course for sharing and hosting advertising videos. Another way also of getting links back to your main website.

Becoming more useful are blogging platforms such as Blogger and Tumblr. More of this in future posts I’m sure.

And finally, LinkedIn continues to grow in importance, especially to anyone who is providing any kind of consultancy service. In addition to developing connections, it’s a good way of displaying recommendations to the wider community. If you have time to get involved, you can use the Answers (and of course questions) feature to share your expertise – great for building credibility and more links back to your site or blogs.