Christina in Red in 2015

A few days ago a friend on Facebook shared a fascinating collection of color photos taken in 1913 by Mervyn O’ Gorman of his daughter Christina using “Autochrome Lumière”, the main color photographic process of the time which involved using glass plates and dyed potato starch! The photos were taken near where I was born 62 years later in Dorset..

I stared at the photos for ages trying to take in the fact that they were taken so long ago, before the first world war, just after the Titanic sunk and about when my grandparents were born. Realising that the girl and photographer are probably long dead, these were brilliant, full color freeze frames of moments of their lives over 100 years ago.

What struck me most about the photos was that although they were taken 102 years ago, they looked as though they could have been taken yesterday, Particularly the one below!?:

Modern Teen!?

So naturally, me being me, the thing to do was Photoshop some modern items into one of the photos! I chose this one below because of the space in the sea to place an object in and also the direction of Christina’s gaze which suggested she was looking at something on the beach:

Original

I decided to place a luxury giant Cruise Ship on the sea and a Laptop on the beach. Obvious choices for me and the 21st century! What made the integration a little easier at least with the cruise ship was that, due to the photographic process involved which necessitated a large aperture and narrow depth of field, the background was mostly blurred so I just blurred the ship and added some noise to it, avoiding having to cut the edges out in great detail.

I added a Sony Vaio laptop in Christina’s eyeline and added a little less blur and noise to it as well as shadows underneath to help it sit in the stones better. I also added a slight Vignette and Sepia photo filter to make it look older. The result is below:

new

Here’s a screenshot of my Photoshop Layer setup:

Process

How to Check if your Mobile Hits are Down after Google’s “MobileGeddon”

So yesterday April 21st was “MobileGeddon” as it’s become known. The day Google  decided to change it’s algorithm to rank higher those websites which have Mobile Friendly or Responsive versions available to viewers on mobile devices including phones and tablets etc..

Mobile Friendly

I’ve been doing some comparative searches (make sure to sign out of your Google account as results might be skewed if you don’t)  on both desktop and mobile to see if I can see any difference in results but havn’t spotted anything obvious yet. I guess it might take a while to kick in?

Perhaps the best way to check if your site has been affected though is to login to your Google Analytics or similar account and check the stats for mobile hits. Wait a few days or weeks before doing this to give the stats a chance to build up. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Login to your Google Analytics account and click Audience – Mobile – Overview to see some quick stats.
  2. The overview data above is kinda hard to read so lets make it a bit clearer by selecting a date range. I suggest picking custom dates top right from about the 13th April to the 27th April to give one week of data before the change on the 21st and one week after.
  3. Next, tick the boxes beside Desktop, Mobile & Tablet bottom left and choose “Plot Rows” just above. This will give a nice tidy comparison chart for the period in question. See below:

Google Analytics

What you’re hoping NOT to see is a big obvious fall in mobile and tablet hits from the 21st onward. If you do and your site fails the Google mobile friendly test then you might need to consider making it mobile friendly?

 

Google Ranking Mobile Friendly Websites Higher from April 21st

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Read Google’s full announcement here – Googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ie/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html

mobile-friendly

I’ve noticed this in news posts around the web in recent times and have had clients asking me about it. I guess it’s the way things are going with more and more people accessing online content via mobile devices and Google are probably right to reward sites with higher rankings if they satisfy this trend. Nevertheless I can’t help feeling a little annoyed for 2 reasons:

1. Google I’m sure know that to make a website mobile friendly or include a separate mobile domain completely is possibly a big job and big outlay for companies. Doing a little seo tweaking is one thing but expecting companies to either completely re-build their sites to make them mobile friendly or building an entirely new website is asking a bit much in my opinion.

2. Web design clients are quite likely (some of mine have already) to expect their website to be mobile friendly already even though it might have been built before smart phones were even invented and they might expect the site to be “fixed” for free as if it were broken in some way.

So potentially massive hassle all round because of this.

What to do?

I guess if you are conscientious about seo and Google rankings etc you may need to act on this rather soonish. If you happen to have a WordPress site or possibly any modern CMS powered site there may be plugins you can install that will show basic mobile versions of your site’s content. Failing that you’re probably looking at a full rebuild with a responsive design. Again, a little easier if you have a WordPress or CMS site but not so easy if you have a static, custom built one.

You can test your site to see if Google thinks it’s mobile friendly or not here – Google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Contact me for advice if you feel the need.

Leon

Redirect Old WordPress URLs to New When Moving or Rebuilding a Website

I’ve just moved my self hosted WordPress blog which was also my main business site with some static pages, to a WordPress hosted blog and replaced the self-hosted one with a static, hand made PHP/HTML website, with all new urls!

It’s proven to be a bit of a bigger job than I expected to redirect old urls that people and google might have indexed in such a way that any SEO merit I’ve gained over the years would not be lost.

Here’s what I done following some research online and while it’s not perfect and some urls are going to slip through the net or at least make people work harder to try find, I’m pretty happy with the outcome:

Step 1 – Transfer the content:

Transferring the content was easy enough. I simply done an export from my self-hosted WordPress admin and re-imported on WordPress.com. It usually works fine but some images might get lost. This will bring in Posts, Pages, Images, Categories, Tags, Comments…pretty much everything you need.

Step 2 – Replace old content:

I deleted all self-hosted WordPress files then built a new static site to replace the self-hosted WordPress site. The only thing to note here is that you should try match new url’s to old ones if possible, at least for the static pages that might have been on the old WordPress site. This will most likely involve using some code to create “pretty urls” though. More of that later.

Step 3 – Identify URLs to be redirected:

This is the hard bit! For me, all static page urls on my old site had to be redirected to the new url. I had to setup manual redirects for this even though the only difference in url might have been the addition of a .php or .html extension at the end. That was the easy bit but what about categories and single blog posts that might have been indexed quite well in google? My category list was fairly static so I could manually redirect each one similar to pages but unfortunately my permalink structure for single blog posts was a bit weird, ie – each url had a random number followed by the post title. If I’d have included the word “blog” in the url it might have made things easier!I basically had a good look through my post history on the new blog and identified the “most important” blog posts, ie – ones with affiliate links of just the most popular ones and even googled to see which posts came up highest. I also looked at my Google Analytics account to see which were the top bog posts viewed. Once I had a list of posts I was able to add redirect code for each post. See below:

Step 4 – Add the Redirect Code:

I added all my redirect codes to a .htaccess file in my website root. Here’s an extract below that should show and explain each redirect type:


Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

#Redirect Old WordPress Pages
Redirect 301 /web-design/ /web-design.php

#Redirect Old WordPress Categories
Redirect 301 /category/wordpress-tips/ https://reverbstudios.wordpress.com/category/wordpress-tips/

#Redirect Old WordPress Posts
Redirect 301 /67/web-design-leitrim/ https://reverbstudios.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/web-design-leitrim/

Step 5 – All Other URLs:

For anything else that might be in google but you haven’t redirected, it will end up on a 404 – not found page on your site/server. To get around this I simply created a new error 404 page with the same design as the rest of the new static site and put a line in the .htaccess file to redirect all missing pages or posts to that. Here’s the line:

ErrorDocument 404 https://www.reverbstudios.ie/404.php

Step 6 – Submit New Sitemaps:

Finally, I went into my various webmaster tools sites, ie – Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.. and deleted the old sitemap and added another new one.

As I said, this seems to work quite well for me but might not be an exhaustive list of things to do so please feel free to add anything I might have left out in the comments below.

Leon

New Website for Reverb Studios Design

I decided recently to ditch WordPress on my main business site and go with a static, responsive design built with HTML5 & PHP and using the Twitter Bootstrap mobile framework. The reasons for this are mostly to do with WordPress security, bloat and slowness which I reckon might have been affecting my SEO performance lately.

Lets see if it makes a difference!

Please leave me some feedback on the design!?

Live March 2015 – www.ReverbStudios.ie

ReverbStudios.ie