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So where exactly is Number 1 in Google Nowadays?

Once upon a time, website owners were constantly bombarded with wannabe SEO “experts” namely from another country that could promise to rank them number one in Google.  A lot of people took it for what it was:  a steaming pile of bull; while some went along with this expert and may have got some rankings but only for a very short term.  After which, Google had wised up that yet another fool was gaming the system and dropped the offending website from its listings.

You don’t really get that nowadays, do you?  There is a reason for that:  The natural listings for Google now start halfway down the page.

It was an ideal world when you could rank your website with little or no effort without having to pay a penny, but since then Google (et al) came up with Cost-per-click where adverts were made for specific keyphrases and you just pay when someone clicks onto your ad.

To make things more difficult, the search engines other branches including, videos, images and business search.  Great news for the searcher, not so great for the website owner.

Let me give you an example:  We have recently had our patio laid so the trade is still quite fresh in my mind, so let’s do a Google search for “Landscape Gardeners in Colchester”


Ok, the top 4 positions are all paid adverts.  All well tailored to match my query and to help me make an informed choice.  Google have also identified that I am looking for a trade in a specific area so they’ve also included a map showing some of the local businesses in that specific area, couresy of Google MyBusiness.  But this is the first page, above the fold and so far there is no sign of any natural search listings yet.  So lets come down the page.



So Google My Business (Used to be Google Places) list the top 3 landscapers in Colchester and provides a link to their website and directions.  Below that begins the first top 10 listing of the organic listings followed by 3 more paid adverts at the bottom of the first page.  I might add, that the number one listing in hese results is a directory of tradesmen in that local area.

Lets try another example:  I do a lot of work for an office furniture supplier.  My son could do with a snazzy new student desk, so let’s try with “student desk uk”.


desksA slightly different format as I am searching for an object not a company but Google assumes that I might be looking to buy a desk so other than the top 2 listings being paid adverts once again Google have also provided a little box listing the top products for Student desks for the UK from their shopping channel.  These are also paid ads also known as PLA’s (Product Listing Ads).

the number 3 position in this case (circled above) is now the top natural listing which is Amazon, followed by Argos, Ikea and then Desk Warehouse.

Ok one last try,  another company fresh in my mind, Videographers in Colchester once again.  Zap.

Videographer SERPs

Now this is interesting.  A videographer in Colchester is named again courtesy of Google My Business (this is a full profile).  Below they list similar companies that people have listed for.  But the top 4 adverts are (you guessed it) paid adverts.

I should add that when I did the same search yesterday there were only 2 adverts listed,mainly because by early evening, most people’s daily budgets have been reached.  Even so, top of the natural listings is by no means top.

So why would you now pay to be top of the Google search results when in effect the top is halfway down?  Simple answer: you wouldn’t.

If you really are advertising your company on a tight budget, then Google My Business is your best bet.  If done correctly this will get you on the first page for your trade and area, but if top is your sole aim, then contact an AdWords specialist (preferably a certified one) and heed everything they tell you.

Hopefully by the time you read this, I’ll be listed on there as well.

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60 second Social: Negative Feedback and How to Deal With It

I have a customer who sells Guides to Driving Abroad mainly via Amazon.  Much to his angst this week, he received a 2 star review from a disgruntled client, who had clearly bought his guide and knew a bit about the local area.  To say he was devastated was an understatement!

But the way he handled it was professional:  He researched the issue straight away, got the correct information and came to me (who helped compile the guide) and together we rectified the problem and had the revised copy ready for download that day.

Which is all great, but now there is still a 2 star review on his product page, that won’t go away.  He toyed with the idea of contacting Amazon to have it removed, but unless its abusive or spammy, then why would they?

There will always be people who leave negative reviews:  Some have a point, others just need to get a good hobby (preferably away from computers), but how you deal with their criticism can make the difference between a future customer hitting buy now or hitting the back button.

Reply to the feedback: Thank the person for their feedback.  Acknowledge there was an issue, but now the error has been corrected and ask them to download the modified version.  Even if the person was very brusque with their language and the review was quite damning, this demonstrates to everyone else reading that you took the criticism professionally and used it to improve your product rather than turning it into a full blown slanging match.

Get some good reviews:  Reviews are tallied and your average rating is given.  So despite the 2 stars, now might be a good time to contact the people that have downloaded the book and liked it.  Ask them first what they thought of it.  If the feedback is negative then get an insight what was wrong and act on that advice.  If the feedback is positive then ask if they would be willing to leave a 5 star review on Amazon.  This in turn will bump up your average.


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SEO in 60 Seconds: Little & Often

I have just realised that my last Blog post was back in February.  In my defence,  since my last post I have moved into a new office, had the new half of the house decorated, and run a half marathon.  But this 60 second SEO tip is simply this:  regularly contribute to your SEO campaign.

Writing a tweet about your latest products, tweaking your Adwords campaign in anticipation for Easter or just take a good old-fashioned analysis session, schedule a small amount of time (preferably at the same time each day) to focus on your SEO efforts.

No one has the time to focus all day solely on SEO.  Just like my 15+ miles per week half-marathon training is set out over 3 sessions of 5 miles.  Doing one session of 15 miles, wouldn’t be practical and would leave me feeling very exhausted and less likely to do anything for the rest of the week.

Some things may require more time and energy, but getting into a regular pattern of doing regular SEO can make the difference of being up there or down here.

And yes, I do practice what I preach.  🙂

This is one in a series of SEO Shorts. For more short-term tips. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter or RSS Feed

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How to Seek (and Destroy) Online Plagarism

In the past I have written about image copyright and how you should read any small print to ensure that you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a nice big fat royalty bill from a disgruntled photographer. But your website content can also be vulnerable to plagiarists.

Just before I start, the actual definition of Plagarism according to The Oxford Dictionary is this:

The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own

From the Latin plagiarius ‘kidnapper’ (from plagium ‘a kidnapping’, from Greek plagion) + -ism.

Yes, basically someone who kidnaps your content and passes it as their own. You don’t really need me to tell you how unethical a practice that is?

So is Someone Duping your Content?

You can check for duplicate content by going to You simply add your page URL and they search for websites that have similar content. It then gives you a percentage of how similar the page’s content is to yours.

Copyscape - to check duplicate content

The free service allows you 10 searches per day, which is adequate for a small website. For larger websites, it might be easier to subscribe to their premium service.

How it was about 10 years ago

I originally performed a search about 10 years ago, before web copyright was being taken seriously . I noticed my web rankings had gone down. I used Copyscape and found to my horror that a web design company up north had swiped my content and shamelessly added it to their website.

I rang up their company and had to leave a message. I went out for a moment and on my return had quite a snotty message left back on my website. The guy in charge basically thought it was socially acceptable to swipe content from other websites and then palm it off as their own content.

So I rang back this little Herbert to set him straight, but in the time between leaving his answerphone message and the phone ringing again, he either realised that the Essex girl wasn’t backing down or (more than likely) he didn’t actually have a leg to stand on. So he turned from snotty MD to noble and apologetic MD.

Naturally it was one of his employees was responsible for the content and would be “having words” with him and asking him to change it that day. It did get changed that day.

How it was 2 weeks ago

Fast forward 10 years later, and online copyright infringement is quite rightfully taken very seriously.  Also action is taken more quickly, even to the extent of the hosting company taking action or, even worse Google.

So, when I came to writing this guide, I ran a check on my website. My content is about 3 years old so I checked my pages and this time I find that not only one but two websites have copied my content: One had copied a section about e-commerce on my services page, but another had blatantly swiped my content from the ecommerce page.

Duplicate Content

Say, that content looks awfully familiar! The page onthe left is my original ecommerce design page, also duped for another ecommerce designer’s website.

Step 1 – The Cease and Desist letter

It is very tempting to rip chunks out of the website owner, but that could just get messy. So instead I looked up their contact details and dropped them a polite, but firm email.

Ceast and Desist

Cease & desist email written politely and giving a realistic time frame for them to take down my content.

I did indeed check both sites after a few days: The website that copied the small section from my services page had taken the offending content down and either copied someone else’s or wrote it themselves.

But after one week the duplicate page was still there. Nothing had changed and this little twerp wasn’t taking my email seriously (he hadn’t even told me to get lost!). So it was time for the next stage.

Step 2 – Contact their Hosting Company

So if the web owner wasn’t going to take their content down, then maybe a polite word to their hosting provider would do the trick. So a quick look on for the domain name and I can find out the hosting company. In this case one in the Netherlands.

The hosting people not only need to know the whole story but also need evidence that one of the websites they allocate space for is doing anything wrong. It is also worthwhile to prove that you were the originator of the content. takes regular captures of your website. It doesn’t take regular updates, but in this case it proves that my web content has been on my site for a couple of years.

Hosting cease and desist

I sent them a polite email explaining the situation and that they should take down the page (or even better the site) as they are infringing copyright. Again I have given them a deadline to do something about it.

In this case I didn’t have to wait very long. Within a few hours I had a reply. Short but polite.

Quick reply

And on that same afternoon, their website (and at the point of writing this) the website is still down.

Site taken down

I wonder if they are aware?

So it was resolved with slightly less stress than the case 10 years ago. But if the hosting company hadn’t responded, then there is a step 3.

Step 3 – Tell Google all about it

This is a last resort: Get onto Google Webmaster Tools and file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

Big ‘G’ provide a lot of support and information about this process and guide you through the entire process. Take the time to read the support on offer and answer the questions and provide as much info as possible. Google will then in turn review your DMCA and decide which action to take. For a straightforward act of plagarism, that should resolve it.

Google DMCA page

Use as a very last resort, but Big ‘G’ talk you through this process

Can we stop this from happening again?

No not really. Online, you are always going to get hackers, spammers, scammers, cheapskates and general weirdos, and there will always be some imbecile with minimum brain activity, that thinks they just might get away with swiping someone else’s content for use on their own website. The key is to check your content regularly and to take appropriate action.

There are a few workarounds, especially for blogs, but I will cover that in a separate article.

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