| Web Development Articles from York web designers Semlyen IT

Author Archive

SEO for Scoot Cycling Holidays

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 by Helen

When a website already has a #1 position for some searches, particularly those using location-specific terms, it may be time to think about building on this with new SEO campaigns. Scoot Cycling Holidays, who recently commissioned some SEO work, were already sitting at the top of Google for “cycling holidays in Yorkshire” and related searches, but found that being in this position was not bringing them as much web traffic, and thus as much business, as they wanted.

Their target market is visitors from abroad, primarily those visiting Britain from the USA and Australia, who might want to take a short countryside break in the middle of a tour of major cities. As such people may not have a specific county in mind prior to their visit, they may be unlikely to type “Yorkshire cycling holidays” into Google. Furthermore, when I did some search popularity research with the location set to the US, I found that the monthly searches that include “cycling holiday” are fairly low. Thinking this was simply a case of the UK’s “holiday” being equivalent to the USA’s “vacation” I tried “cycling vacations”. Surprisingly, this was even less popular, according to Google’s Keyword Tool. After a bit more research, I found that the more commonly used term is “cycling tour”, and similar variables.

Choosing exactly which phrases to optimise the home page for was tricky for this site – they wanted to keep their position at the top for “Yorkshire cycling holidays”, and were already on page 2 for “UK cycling holidays”, which, although less popular, still brought them some traffic. “England bike tours” was the primary phrase I chose, while keeping the Yorkshire and UK cycling holidays content included so that they would maintain their positions. As the site had previously had very dilute and unfocused SEO content, the SEO for the “cycling holidays” phrases was improved by the treatment, even though they were only secondary terms. The site has since risen several places for “UK cycling holidays” and remains at position 1 for “Yorkshire cycling holidays”. It has made an entry a little further down Google’s search results for “England bike tours”, in which it could not be found anywhere prior to any treatment. As the SEO work is not yet complete, this is a promising start.

Too Many Meta Keywords

The meta keywords before the SEO treatment: the existing content was dilute and unfocused – more than half of the keywords had little relevance to the content of the page, or the SEO target. Google pays little attention to these anyway, so they were of little use, and getting in the way of the real content.

Search Engine Visibility on a Budget

Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by Helen

As the importance of SEO becomes more well-known, we’re taking on an increasing number of projects for small businesses who have existing websites and limited budgets. The websites that they originally set up may not have been built with SEO in mind, or even to best practice regarding the coding standards we would normally apply when building a new site. However, even with a small budget and half a day’s work, it can be possible to take a site that cannot be found anywhere in Google and give it a significant boost. This usually does not involve much recoding, and seldom changing the site’s appearance – it’s more a case of ensuring the right tags (for example, the title and meta tags) are in the right place and say the right things, and adjusting the written content to make sure it reflects what the site is about.

This may sound like common sense, but it’s quite easy to accidentally write a site’s content in a way that means it could be ignored by Google for what it supposed to be its target key phrase. A common mistake is making the title tag of the homepage just say “Home”. Another related problem is starting the website with a generic heading such as “Welcome to my Website”. These are the first things that Google will read when it encounters a site, so, if you are a York builder, as one of our recent clients is, these two important places ought to include phrases such as “builder in York“. If you have graphics and headers already proclaiming that this is what you do, it’s sometimes easy to forget that although the human eye sees these as prominent, search engines may not. Even if there is relevant alt text behind the image, Google wants to know that you’re so certain of your identity as a York builder that you’ve made it your website’s main heading. Preferably twice, in the title bar and as the H1 heading.

However, search engines, although not yet sentient (we hope) have evolved a bit of cynicism. If, for example, a webpage has headings declaring that the site belongs to a York architect, but the body text does not contain phrases such as “architect in York” or even mention the words “York” or “architecture” very much at all, Google may look at it, get a bit hopeful at the beginning about its relevance to architecture, but then be disappointed when the rest of the site’s content doesn’t follow through. It needs to be reassured that the title isn’t just a red herring. Fortunately, it’s quite an easy adjustment to make. If someone genuinely is a York-based architect, it’s a sensible thing for them to state on their website, if they haven’t already.

This is another illustration of how writing content for search engines should not be regarded as a separate art from writing for human readers. The fine-tuning of the details is what makes the difference.

York Architects

Bespoke Web Application: My Health Today

Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Helen

My Health Today is a survey website set up to collect data on people’s experience of their own health. Using a system called EQ-5D, developed by the EuroQoL Group, it produces a measurement of health in terms of five different areas: mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain and discomfort, and anxiety and depression.

The bespoke programming used to create the online survey does several things – it adds the data to a database which holds all of the information (collected for research purposes), and using this data it produces charts showing the health of all participants so far. It also indicates how the current participant’s health compares to that of all the past participants. Around 33,000 results from earlier subjects were included before the website was launched, so test results can really be measured against the population as a whole.

My Health Today - screenshot of graph

My Health Today - screenshot of graph

The survey was commissioned by Professor Paul Kind from the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York. Professor Kind is a leading researcher in health outcomes, involved in investigating people’s experiences of health and wellbeing. The EQ-5D tool is becoming established as a way of offering a more meaningful measurement than the simple presence or absence of disease. There is a lot of potential for delivering this online, and we’re looking forward to being able to tell you more in the future!

New Site: Lawns for Lifestyles

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2011 by Helen

A new additional to our e-commerce portfolio is an online shop for artificial lawn specialists Lawns for Lifestyles. Artificial grass is a niche product which is gaining popularity with busy professionals, elderly people and people unable to maintain a lawn for health reasons.

As lawns don’t come in standard shapes and sizes, the online shop system features some bespoke programming so that people can order the right amount of artificial grass with ease. It has a built-in calculator, which adds up the total square metres and cost of the artificial grass according to figures entered by the customer. To ensure customers can purchase just the right amount of artificial lawn, visitors to the website can add as many pieces of grass as they require, and specify the individual dimensions of each piece.

There are four different grades of artificial grass ranging from budget to luxury, and the company also offers a lawn installation service. The shop also stocks a variety of landscape design products.

Artificial Grass Lawns

Beacon Dodsworth Web Applications

Posted on Thursday, May 5th, 2011 by Helen

G-commerce company Beacon Dodsworth have made some of their applications available as web apps, meaning that their technology can be integrated into a website. You can try out some demos of their applications on their website.

P² People & Places geodemographic people classification is an application that shows demographics by postcode. It uses their tree and branch lifestyle classifications, which describes groups from “Mature Oaks” to “Urban Challenge”, each with a number of ‘branches’ within them. These types are defined by a variety of factors including age, wealth and cultural background. On the free version you only get to see the various ‘trees’ for postcodes in your search area, with a different colour circle used to represent the types of people who live around your search area.

As well as being an interesting insight into how birds of a feather flock together, knowing the demographics of different areas is crucial when deciding where to locate say a branch of a retail chain. For example, a vegan café would probably work best in an area that was mainly in the New Starters and Qualified Metropolitans trees (characterised by many graduates who have a keen interest in healthy eating). A Bingo hall would be more likely to be successful in an area that was mainly in the Disadvantaged Households and Urban Challenge trees (poorer, ageing communities). The P² application provides a fast, comprehensible overview of each area, which can save a lot of time when analysing data in order to make such decisions.

Businesses with multiple branches can take advantage of another application, “Where’s My Nearest…?” which, as its name suggests, allows customers to find their nearest branches based on their postcode. The demonstration version shows users the location of their nearest football club, but the app can be customised to show a business’ own outlets – e.g. banks, supermarkets, or garden centres.


The Beacon Dodsworth site runs on the Expression Engine CMS. We’ve recently been working with them to improve the SEO on this site. Rather than just doing all the SEO ourselves as we usually do, we’ve been guiding Beacon Dodsworth staff through the process of looking at the site’s statistics, and working out which key phrases the pages should be optimised for. As all of the SEO content can be managed within the CMS, it means they can adjust this as they discover which phrases work the best and generate the most organic search engine traffic (rather than traffic from targeted Google Ads).

The products which have been targeted in this recent SEO campaign are the GIS mapping software, driving time and distance calculator, route planning software and postcode areas and boundaries data.

Home | Websites | E-Commerce | Consultancy | Blog | Contact