SEO And Done? Hmmm…

In the past few weeks I’ve been approached, twice, by people obliquely seeking help promoting their sites on search engines. One of then knew enough to call what they wanted “SEO” and they both approached obliquely, though politely, obviously looking for free advice while pretending to inquire about my services and fees. I couldn’t help either of them. SEO is hard and best left to specialists (more below), but that’s not why I couldn’t help. I couldn’t help because in both cases they LAST thing they should have wanted is for a prospective customer to see their website.


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Working Around GoDaddy’s Awful Domain Forwarding

I don’t know when it started, but as I write this (June 2018), domain forwarding on the registrar GoDaddy is awful.

At least GoDaddy forwarding is simple to set up. You click “DNS” on the domain you want to forward, scroll down to “Forwarding” and click a couple of boxes. Things would have been great if it was all there was to it.

Recently, a client acquired a company with several websites and asked me to direct all traffic from the acquired website to a single page on an established site — like “redirect anything.old-domain.com/anything to new-domain.com/some-page/“. That would have been trivial with a .htaccess file but the old hosting accounts had expired during the acquisition so the trivial solution wasn’t available. The domains were registered with GoDaddy, and forwarding the domains using GoDaddy’s deceptively simple form seemed the best solution.

After clicking the right boxes, the domains and subdomains, like old-domain.com and old-domain.com/def/ worked fine, redirecting to the base redirect url new-domain.com/some-page/. But URLs for individual pages, like old-domain.com/page.html, were redirected by GoDaddy to what seemed to be the error page of a link-shortening utility. Two long battles with GoDaddy support ended with them telling me that’s just how it is and that I don’t understand how the internet works.

Which is true enough, I suppose, but that didn’t solve my problem and luckily other people do know how the internet works.

To fix the issue (without having to purchase hosting or talk with GoDaddy support again) I set up the old domains in a Cloudflare account, pointed the GoDaddy DNS settings to the assigned Cloudflare name servers, then used a Cloudflare “Page Rule” (see image) with a couple of asterisks as wildcards to forward everything hitting the old domains to the new landing page. A free Cloudflare account provides 3 page rules, if you need more than that they cost $5/month each.

This is a workable but not perfect solution. Perfect would be for the registrar’s domain forwarding to redirect without an error page intervening, but GoDaddy has messed this up.

Web Performance Improvement

page-speed[Note: there’s a new theme and other performance-related changes since this was written. A lot here is still relevant but you might also have a look here.]

A while back I noticed this site had cratered from a once-perfect Page Speed Insights score to an embarrassing 59. It took a few hours of work but I got it up to a score of 91 — more importantly, because that’s just a number, I’ve improved the actual page speed as much as I can. The things bogging me down now, and they’re not bogging very much, are out of my control unless I want to stop using Google Analytics or Jetpack for WordPress, both of which are worth a few additional milliseconds of load speed.

The only other issue is server response time. This site is hosted on GoDaddy, so what can I say — it is what it is.

Here’s more-or-less what I did and the plugins that helped:

WP Super Cache and EWWW Image Optimizer don’t require configuration and can just be installed and activated and your performance will improve. The other two can break a site — you should know what you’re doing and be prepared for some effort. Back up your site before trying them.

Online Reviews As Good As Personal Recommendations

online-reviews-chartSearch Engine Land published a study from BrightLocal about the effect of online business reviews. There’s lots of data, but the take-away is that those reviews matter, almost as much as personal recommendations, which matter a whole lot. I try to review products (books!) and services, especially when my experience has been positive, because I read and value reviews myself and I’m willing to take a few minutes to go beyond the “this sucks”, anger-driven Amazon one-star reviews.

Trends in Logo Designs

2014 logo trends. 2014 Logo Trends[/caption]Bill Gardner at The Logo Lounge has compiled his 2014 Logo Trends, a look at what’s popular in logo design. The narrative emphasizes the steadily increasing importance of Smart Phones to the design worlds, as logos lose some detail so they can be attractively rendered on small screens.

Note: If you’ve come to realize that your website IS your business and most people look at it on a smart phone, you might lose all interest in seeing your logo on a glossy print brochure.