FSB Presentation Bristol

If you enjoyed the April FSB Presentation given by Bruce Thompson in the Aztec Hotel and Spa, Bristol, there are a few links on this post which you may find useful.

If you want to engage Bruce to speak at your own events, or to discuss a collaborative venture, click here to visit Bruce Thompson Events website.

If you are interested in learnng more about WordPress or attending the TechCo Systems training entitled Get Your Business Started on The Internet please Click Here to Contact Us

For details on the features of WordPress and the development and support documentation visit WordPress.org
Visit WordPress.com to start a Free WordPress Blog

Demo Sites

Other Usefull Links
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) website
FSB Forum

IAP Spring Seminar

The TechCo management team has just returned from the Institution of Analysts and Programmers Spring Seminar, which was held this year at the Museum in London Docklands. The company was august, the presenters erudite and entertaining, the food mouthwatering and the after-dinner chat was scintillating.

As a networking event alone, the price of admission was justified. Where else can you get to sit between Microsoft’s Chief Security Adviser in UK and a Gartner consultant, and argue the toss about the next big thing in IT?

Before the main presentations I was chatting to Peter Green, Technical Director of the Telegraph Newspaper Group. Peter is a Fellow of the Institution of Analysts and Programmers, and a rattling good speaker. It turns out that we are in the same business more or less; the only difference is volume, the Telegraph site just gets a few more hits!

If you want to find out about the next event from the IAP, make sure you contact them via the IAP Website

Questions to ask about SEO

Our article yesterday on Improving Your Search Engine Results has prompted a flurry of inquiries about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The questions are something like this:

  • Do you do Search Engine Optimization?
  • Can you get me to the top of Google?
  • How much does it cost to get to the top of Google?
  • Will you do all the work for me?

The answers are pretty clear. Yes, we do offer a service to help you optimize your site for search engines. But that does not mean that we will pad a site with hidden links and create deceptive or misleading content on your behalf. Tricks such as doorway pages or throwaway domains are promoted by the SEO cowboys, but can actually damage your site’s ranking on Google.

Can we get a site to the top of Google? Yes we can and have done so on a number of occasions. However, a site’s placing in the listings is only part of the marketing strategy for a business, and it is far better to have visitors to your site who are interested in your products and services, and who may actually buy from you. For an example of a site we support which is at the top search Google for “End Leprosy. This site has a simple message, and if anybody searches for that key phrase, they will find that site.

How much does it take to get to the top of Google? The answer is likely to be more than you want to spend, if you are looking to compete for popular phrases. The question should be how much effort do I need to spend on marketing, to keep my business competitive. Not all effort needs to be directed at getting a higher placing in Google. Sometimes a good news story in the press will get you more business than thousands of pounds worth of SEO expertise.

Will we do all the work for you? No we will not. We can help with advice and technical assistance, about things like sitemaps, which the search spiders look for. We can advise you about accessibility issues like including titles in your links, and tags on your images. But you know your business best.

We will ask you searching questions about your content and marketing to ensure your site has the best information, both for people and the search engines. Remember the quality of our experiences are determined by the questions we ask ourselves, or in the case of SEO, that we ask you.

Finally before you engage your search engine optimizer there are a few important questions you should ask, rather than the common ones above. Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:

  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
  • What’s your experience in my industry?
  • What’s your experience in my country/city?
  • What’s your experience developing international sites?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

We expect our customers to ask these questions, and can provide answers to all of them. You should also know that these questions are available for free, on the Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) pages, which you should check out before engaging our services, or those of any SEO experts.

Finally, before you contact us to ask us to provide our search engine optomization service, please read the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide!

Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) pages
Search Engine Optimization from Wikipedia

Additional Material:
Washington Attorney General sues Internet Advancement again

Improving Your Search Engine Results

Have you ever wondered how to get your business up to the top of Google or Yahoo! search results? Companies and individuals the world over have pondered this almost since Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with the idea of PageRank (after Larry Page) and founded Google. Some specialist companies charge hundreds of pounds a month just to help you keep your business at the top of the Google results.

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of measuring its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references.

So how do you improve your position in the search results? Our advice is that if you want to reach the top of the Google search engine then you should build a Blog on your website, and start Blogging.

How do Blogs increase your placement in the Google search engine results? First, Blogs increase the amount of content on your website. Google spiders love to see content, and the more content you have the better. If you have enough content on your site, then Google will deem you an authority site on the topic. If you provide a service rather just having a page full of advertisements, then you get a better page ranking.

If you accept that Blogs are the way to go, the next question would be what Blog program to use? The top Internet Marketers in the world recommend WordPress, which is available at wordpress.org. For some options on starting a Blog see our WordPress Tags

Another advantage of WordPress is that it is a top pick for many search engines. WordPress creates site maps and automatically pings the search engines each time you update your Blog. The best news is that WordPress is FREE.

By making Blogging part of your daily schedule you can increase content on your site and help to improve your page ranking in the search engines. If you can increase your placement simply by writing a Blog, then why haven’t you started Blogging yet? We will be running a regular series of articles on Blogging, WordPress and Search Engine Results on this site to help you get started on the Internet. Why not come back every day and check us out?

For resources to help you get started with your first Blog, see the following links:

What is Cloud Computing?

The topic of Cloud Computing has come up a number of times in bar room chats, some of which have become quiet heated. As we know that intellect is inversely proportional to emotional state, in the cold light of day I have been taking a look at the concept to sort the hype from the facts. So what is Cloud Computing?

According to Wikipedia, “cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet.” It goes on to say that “The concept incorporates infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) as well as Web 2.0 and other recent (ca. 2007–2009) technology trends that have the common theme of reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users. Cloud computing services usually provide common business applications on line that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers.”

Well that is plain and simple right? We just move all our applications out of our antiquated and thermally inefficient data centers, and into a number of virtual servers somewhere in the cloud, decommission the old equipment and start saving shed loads of money?

Well no, not really. What about the risk of cloud lock-in? This should be a primary concern for anyone planning to move business critical applications to the new platform. If you use an application in the cloud, such as an all-in-one CRM package, you have a high chance of getting locked-in. Once you have outsourced your operation to the cloud vender to run your applications and store your data, it could be difficult, for which read expensive, to move your application somewhere else.

There is also a lot of debate about the basis of the cost calculations; supporters of clouds cite the advantageous price differential in terms of dollars per core per month, and point out the number of expensive staff reductions you can make in the IT department, notably system administrators, as the cloud can be largely automated. Whereas the McKinsey report Clearing the Air on Cloud Computing, seems to conclude that current cloud computing services are generally not cost effective for larger enterprises.

On the plus side, cloud computing has tremendous promise, with faster time to market, lower IT barriers to innovation, lower up-front IT costs, and scalable services in response to client demand. I for one also like the potential to run a virtual organization, from anywhere in the world, with the ability to bring additional services on line, when I need them, without planning a six month lead time.

Imagine the power of being with a customer at a proof of concept demonstration and then responding to the inevitable question about how soon can we have it live? Taking in the room full of marketers and financial experts, and the expectant face of the R&D director who has been pushing this initiative, I reply confidently “Is Monday too soon?”

For other views see


Make sure you exit after a PHP Header Location

We came accross a bug in a bot filtering page the other day. The page called a routine which used a regular expression to check for validly formatted input. The function was called from several places and worked fine. In just one branch it appeared to fail to validate the input, and continued execution of the page instead of redirecting to the target page.

The reason? Someone left out the exit; after the Header Location call, which allows the execution to continue down the page. Moral: Make sure you call exit after a PHP Header call to Location if you want execution to branch immediately!

UK Government Encompasses Open Source

One of my contacts in the open source community pointed out to me an important announcement that the Government has made, which shows some crucial steps on the way to legitimizing the concept of open source software in government. For this commentator, this is not a moment to soon.

Although they last reviewed the Open Source policy back in 2004, and the background blurb makes some interesting claims about penetration of OS in IT Procurements and contracts, IMHO there is still a long way to go. This is particularly true as the suppliers (who can not be named for legal reasons) often make a substantial part of their revenue from percentage markup on products supplied. There is not much of a markup on Linux or Apache distros!

I understand that the influential Power of Information task force, the group working within the Cabinet Office to suggest better ways of using Government Information has actually published their interim report back to government in a ‘wiki-like’ form to allow comments from the community before final publication. I remember the last time I suggested a Wiki as a way to collaborate in a criminal justice forum, my ears popped from the collective sharp intake of breath. Way to go Power of Information task force! Was it an open source Wiki? Well maybe next time!

Fortunately the wider world has seen fit to encompass the Open Source ideal, which has led to some robust and sustainable enterprise–class business models developing for the support of the software. The cry of the suppliers about the lack of security and support now sounds a little hollow. The announced ‘programme of positive action’ and the requirement for a ‘level playing field’ between open source and proprietary software may be the beginning of the end for massively overpriced Government contracts with proprietary lock in. The Government has anounced that it will use open standards in its procurement specifications and require solutions to comply with open standards. About time too!

My thanks go to Tony Dixon over at Red Hat for the pointer.


TechCo Training Demo Sites

If you are attending one of our training events or seminars, and want to view the sites listed in the demonstration, than this is the place to look.

Get a Free WordPress Blog at WordPress.com

If you want to check out WordPress for yourself, why not sign up for a free WordPress Blog at WordPress.com. There are some restrictions, but you can customise the theme and get blogging in minutes.

Just follow the simple steps below to set up your blog

  • Fill in the Username, Password, Email Address and agree to the fascinating terms of service
  • Fill in your domain name .wordpress.com/
  • Activate your blog by clicking on the link in the confirmation email

Check out the sample sites below

Some of the restriction of the free site are listed below

  • No Remote Publishing
  • No Post via e-mail
  • No Editing Update Services
  • Can not change the Permalink Settings
  • No Miscellaneous Settings

Business Card Web site
A business card Web site enables you to establish a Web presence for your company. It can contain basic information about your company, such as name, logo, a brief description, its location, contact information (e-mail, phone number, and fax, for example), and any other information about your business that you may want to add to the Web site.

You can either host your company Web site through your Internet service provider (ISP), through a hosting provider, or if you are running Microsoft® Windows® Small Business Server 2003, you could host the site on the Server. If you are planning to host the site yourself, you need to have registered an Internet domain name (for example, techcosupport.com) to access services on your server from the Internet.

Click here for a sample site

Newest WordPress Plugins

Check out some of the latest WordPress plugins.

Bibs Random Content
Faster Image Insert

Please note that these have not all been tested and evaluated yet. We will evaluate them and comment in these pages. If you have any feedback on the Plugins please let the developers know directly via their own support mechanism.

We are curently testing the following

NextGEN Gallery Currently installed on Another World of Travel

Google XML Sitemaps Currently installed on a numbers of our WordPress sites.