Author: Phil Aston

by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

How Rusty is Your SEO?

Yet another enquiry from a new client asking could I guarantee 1st page positions for over a dozen phrases, and how long would it take?
A quick look at the website showed a mass of over optimisation and a huge drop in traffic roughly in line with the google changes last year. There was also no clear social media strategy or a website that behaved well on mobile devices.
What made this more of a concern was that three SEO agencies had already quoted for this and not questioned it.

It is amazing how many in the SEO world have yet to read ‘Google Semantic Search’ by David Amerland
There is still a myth that SEO people optimise search engines. We don’t , we optimise your web presence, your digital world for your visitors and customers.

My measure is simple

Has your traffic increased, is the phone ringing?

There is little point in being number 1 in google for a phrase no one is searching for apart from you and your SEO dude.

SEO is not dead (the phrase should be). It covers the whole spectrum of digital marketing, search, social, blogs, content, engagement and semantics. It also takes significantly longer than it did before.

2014 is the year of semantic search, it is also the year when social media will become integral to your digital marketing success. If you want any help with your website or are concerned that your current optimisation needs turning down, then please get in touch.


by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

When you miss the sunset – keep shooting

The sunset of this particular day was stunning.  I realised as I finished a client website update I did not have long.
In the Winter once the sun approaches the horizon you have 10/15mins max before it vanishes   As I parked the car I saw the last part of the sun disappear behind the headland!….I was gutted…..
Not wishing to have a wasted trip I ventured down to the far end of the deserted beach and crouching down took some photos.

I had forgotten to take off the polarising filter which darkened the image further but it really highlighted the fading colours.Thanks  Phil

by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

Photography through the eyes of your heart

As a photographer a recent post on Google+ by David duChemin really resonated with me.  He has captured in his short but passionate manifesto video the real aspects and the art of photography. (I have included a link to the video at the end of this post)

Photographs are made not taken. To some that phrase could mean there is too much post production work.  To me it is simply a tool to enhance what you saw through the eyes of your heart.
What I like about the video is the way it captures the true essence of photography, the passion for capturing a real moment beyond the usual background noise of camera type, competition, technical details etc.  Photography at that level is like HiFi buffs listening to the equipment rather than the music.

I am lucky in that photography is part of my livelihood. However, there was a time when photographic magazines would call me up (or photography students) and ask all sorts of technical questions about photographs they had seen on my website.   How did you set up the shot, what F stop, lighting do you did you use?
I felt saying like saying that I took it through the eyes of my heart, but that would sound rather fluffy and so I hunted for the technical details in the digital file.
We do need a basic knowledge of how the camera works, but much of what we learn in photography is by taking lots of photos and experimenting.  Using the music analogy again, we learn to improvise by stepping away from the notes on the page.

We still hear the phrase ‘he/she has a good eye for photography’ and this to me is still a true measure.  We can get lost in the technical aspects of photography and start to worry that we are doing something wrong and in turn lose some of our sense of wonder.

David also mentions having this sense of wonder and we can learn a lot from the first photos we took when we were younger or when you see photographs taken by children.  That sense of wonder becomes more apparent when you kneel down and look at the world as a child sees it.
A good photograph can stop someone is their tracks, without words it speaks to an inner desire.  It could be an inspirational landscape, a dish from a local restaurant or a hotel room.  Whatever the image it is an opportunity to share and connect to others, it is a gift.

Link to Video – David duChemin Craft and Vision Manifesto 



by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

Photography for The Llawnroc Hotel in Cornwall

Hotel Photography

Our latest photography project has been for ‘The Llawnroc Hotel.  The Llawnroc is a luxury boutique hotel in Gorran Haven Nr Mevagissey in Cornwall.  Our brief was to photograph 4 starters, mains and desserts for the restaurant. We also photographed many of the bedrooms and public areas of the hotel.

We have many photos of the local area and will be incorporating the new photographs into the hotel website and for use on social media.

If you would like to know how we can help your hotel or restaurant please get in touch.

Best wishes


by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

Is your SEO strategy on the right path?

Google has updated its search algorithm over 550 times in the last 12 months, which is almost twice a day!  Keyword data has all but disappeared from Google Analytics and page rank depends on so many factors to have become almost pointless. However, SEO is more important now than ever, and your strategy needs to change or you risk being left behind.

How to measure the success of your SEO strategy as we move away from keywords and page rank

Keywords are still part of the mix, but looking purely at how you rank for a specific phrase means little if there is no traffic behind it.  The new focus will be on queries and themed words.  So what your visitors are actually looking for, rather than what phrases they are using is now more important. Keyword research is important to highlight trends but to measure success we need to look at different factors.  The previous model of looking at a list of keyword phrases with a report showing how we rank for each one is no longer an accurate measure or helpful in our log term strategy.

The new objectives for SEO are to:

  • Increase overall website traffic
  • Increase new visitor percentage
  • Increase conversion rates from the website

To do this you will need a clear goal for each page in your website

  • To increase bookings / membership / sales
  • To increase market share
  • To increase social shares

Keyword data 

This is no longer provided by Google Analytics, Even so, how you rank on Google can depend on:

  • If you are using Google Chrome
  • Your search history
  • Your IP Address
  • If you are using a mobile or PC
  • Whether you have a Gmail account
  • Whether you are logged into Google+

So all of us will see different results depending on the above.  Therefore, the new currency is traffic and user behaviour.  The keyword query is simply part of the topic or theme we need to optimise for.  Google is now looking for meaning and intent behind each word in the phrase used.  We also need to look for trends within our market and social media:  (Google and now Twitter alerts help with this).

Page Authority – (This is your new goal)

  • Traffic increases
  • Social interaction
  • Time spent on each page
  • Comparisons with previous time periods
  • Backlinks into your pages

You also need to define

  • All search landing pages – which will be most of them!
  • Prioritise the top landing pages – The key pages, home, offers etc.
  • Pull monthly traffic over from the previous year for those pages – this will give us a reference point so we can look for trends or issues
  • Data per page based on our goals – time on page / bounce rates

Your website priorities are

  • The implementation of a Blog
  • Ensure your Social Share buttons are on all pages
  • Continue to post and promote your Google+  page

If your SEO agency or consultant is still focusing on Keywords and ranking within Google it is certainly time to review your SEO strategy.

References : The Moz Blog  – Stop Thinking Keywords, Think Topics by Karen Morris

Phil Aston 


by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

Top 5 Social Media Networks 2013

The top 5

  • Facebook 52%
  • Google+ 25%
  • Twitter 22%
  • Qzone (China) 13% (source globalwebindex)

This graphic is from issue 215 of Web Designer Magazine.  The biggest surprise is how popular Google + is becoming.  It was perceived as being too small to worry about, however, it now has 500 million users.

We have found that Google+ is the Social Media platform that most of our clients want to develop.  There is no doubt that Facebook remains the most important ‘Business to Consumer’  platform but for B2B we are seeing increased interest in Google + and LinkedIn.

Google + Why we like it

  • More flexibility than Facebook – you do not have to be everyone’s friend.  You can follow (like Twitter) and put people into circles, based on clients, family or interests.
  • The people you connect to – there is more chance it is really them (We really like this).  There are various hoops to go through to get your business page on Google + and to have yourself recognised as the author and contributor to your website. Being recognised as the official author of your blog and website gives you the ability to have your profile pic display in Google searches.  This gives a level of trust and authenticity that I believe will really help build relationships online.
  • Not just a business page – The other thing we like is that you can create online communities based on your interests and expertise.  Beyond this are the hangouts where you can share live video blogs which also upload to your YouTube channel.
Our Experience

It is true that when you start on Google + that there is a sense that no one saw your post as there can be little or interaction.  We have found the best approach is to join other communities and join in with the conversation.  The interaction within some communities seems a lot more genuine and useful.  For example, we can post a photo on our Facebook Business page and get 8- 15 likes.  The equivalent on Google  + can see 60+ likes with comments and shares.

You create your own news feed based on your interests and who you connect with and although there are some cute cats out there, primarily the overall feel is of a B2B platform.    We have seen our Google+ posts affect our google performance even if the post itself seemed to have little initial impact. Google + will also add it’s own hash tag to each post you do.

There is also a high level of technical expertise on Google+ so if you are looking for help it is our chosen platform above and beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Phil Aston

Click here for our Social Media Management Services 


by Phil Aston Phil Aston No Comments

Property photography – selling dreams and managing expectations

When you decide to update your property photography what are your goals?

  • To sell
  • To increase your rentals

The first thing you need to do is imagine looking at your property through the eyes of a guest or buyer.  What are their expectations, what device will they be accessing your photos on?

More than likely they will be looking at your photos on a mobile / tablet device (held in a portrait position) or on a desktop in their lunch hour!

Websites and magazines – different audiences and behaviour

The other thing to be aware of is that viewing photos online is very different from browsing through a magazine, both in the time given and what people want.  This is where a lot of self catering agencies, hotels and estate agents get it wrong.  In a magazine we may tolerate the arty shot of the bedside table with the blurred out wine glass or even the photo at an angle*   (*Angled photos do not work online, especially on mobile and table devices)

From our knowledge in SEO and inbound marketing we know you have seconds to grab someones attention.  Also yours are not the only photos they are looking at, so they have to stand out.  Many potential buyers and guests are cynical, that room photo showing only half the bed could imply that is is a very small room.  Chances are they are right.  Managing expectations means your guests and buyers need to know what they are getting and feel satisfied when the time comes to consider those review websites.

The featured shot in this post is from a traditional Cornish Cottage in West Cornwall.  Since upgrading the photography for this property, the owner has seen bookings increase across the board.

Our top tips for getting your property photography right first time are:

  • Use a professional photographer – it might appear expensive but those amateur photos will cost you a lot more in the long run
  • Use a wide angle lens, show your buyer / guest what they are getting for their money (they do not want detail or art, they want the big picture)
  • Shoot several photos for the same room from different vantage points
  • Use natural light – merge two photos together if you want to showcase the view and the interior
  • Don’t use a mobile phone, it may have 8million pixels but it is still a phone
  • Shoot in RAW, it gives you the most flexibility if you want to use your photos in print as well as on your website
  • Remember the marketing aspect – look at each room through the eyes of your buyer or guest, what are your unique selling features?

Thanks, Phil

To find our more about our property photography services in Cornwall please click here

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