Alex Crowe

Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

Introducing the one-day website course

In Announcements, copywriting, Websites on February 20, 2019 at 5:09 pm

your website course link

For the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing to launch yourwebsitecourse. A one-day workshop that teaches people everything they need to create and manage their own website, using WordPress.

Yes, I’ll be sharing a few tricks of the trade. But seeing as I’m the only person who knows some of those tricks, I think that’s fair enough.

Anyway, I won’t keep you any longer. Here’s a link to the website with all the details, in case you missed the links in the image and the first sentence of this post. Of course, the course can be taught anywhere there’s a suitable venue and a few students prepared to receive a tidal wave of useful information. If someone just popped into your mind while reading that, send them my way. The price is deliberately small so the largest number of people can benefit, although class sizes will be limited to a maximum of eight.

(I did say this blog would have something to say about copywriting occasionally. This is it for now. Coming soon – doing one thing at a time.)

A tale of two clients

In Deadlines, New clients, Portfolio, Telecommuting, Websites on February 5, 2016 at 9:30 am

January 2016 has been a good month for new clients – at both ends of the stressful spectrum.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to do some work for a London agency that’s on everyone’s one-to-watch list. I got the call on a Thursday and punted some lines to them by the time they got into work on Friday – one advantage of living in a slightly different time zone. The Creative Director asked to see some more lines – so I did some more. By 4pm, he hadn’t seen anything that he really loved.

As is often the case, there was a lot riding on the job – and it was going the national press. I casually asked when the deadline was: The end of that day.

I met the deadline with over an hour to spare.

A couple of days later, I was put in touch with someone who needed a new website. They had written some text but had gone as far as they could go. After a Skype call where we established that we were pretty much a perfect match, they trusted me to polish their words, add some of my own, and build the site in WordPress.

The site launches today – it’s about getting rid of stress, among other things – and looks like this.

Vale de Torre retreat website

All the news: New year, new client, new WordPress theme, new website.

If you know anyone that needs my help with anything, you know where to find me.

How to increase the PageRank of a new WordPress site

In Communication, copywriting, Grammar etc., Technology, Websites on January 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to increase the PageRank of the WordPress site I created for Dordogne wedding band SouthWest (

Dordogne wedding band website

Wedding band “SouthWest” website front page

[Full disclosure: This is not just a client website – I am the keyboard player in the band, so have a serious interest in getting the site to the top of the first page of Google. There are other wedding and party bands in the area, with good or very good SEO, so my performance is instantly measurable. Until just before Christmas, the url was just a pointer to another url, so it is effectively a new website. We want more gigs, so my job is to get the page to the top of Google – fast.]

Here’s what I’ve learnt and applied so far, using the most current information I could find. You can use this post as a checklist to help boost the Google ranking of your WordPress site. Or any other site. I just happen to use WordPress for all the websites I create.

If you have anything to add, please do use the comments below. This post is for anyone and everyone trying to increase their Google PageRank – including me. Any help you can give will be gratefully received.

Social media essentials

In no particular order, after you publish your new website (which must have great content – words and images, useful links, and answers to queries your target readers will type into a search engine), you should:

There are other sites you can link to, but these were my social media essentials for SouthWest. You will have noticed there’s a certain amount of work involved. None of this gets made by itself. But it’s all (almost certainly) important. If you click the links, you should see some consistency across the sites. I used the same logo (in two formats), an almost identical main image, and very similar wording. If you have already created your website, it is pretty easy, enjoyable and very satisfying when you see the end result.

One thing I found slightly irritating is that many of these sites (at the moment) ask for different image formats. You’ll need square, landscape, display, thin, very long, very thin, high-res, low-res and more. When you get into the swing of it, cropping and re-sizing the images doesn’t take long (I used free Mac software iPhoto and Preview). Just keep separate folders for your words, images, logos (etc), label the files in a way you will recognise again and keep the main folder somewhere easy to find.

Backlink power

Having written websites in the past, I thought I knew a bit about SEO and wrote intuitive keywords on pages throughout the website. But despite significant tweaking, Google was placing the website on the third page or even further down, even after a couple of weeks. Confusingly, I was finding links to the site from Twitter, directories – even my main blog – long before I was finding the home page. I was obviously missing something.

After a bit more research, I learnt that Google is constantly changing the way the search engine finds pages. It’s too complex to explain (or understand), but my impression is that a website needs to have a certain authority to rank highly. Those essential social media links (above) tell Google your site exists, but it can’t know how useful or important it is. For that, it needs to see “backlinks” – that is, links to your site from sources already trusted by Google.

Backlinks from established media, universities and government sites carry a lot of weight and will boost your PageRank enormously. I can’t tell you how to get those – you will have to be ingenious – but coming up with ideas and trying them out is more fun than Su Doku and will help your website become more successful.

You’ve been reading backlinks all the way through this post. Every link will be noticed by Google, and add a tiny bit of credibility to the all the websites mentioned – including If this post was published by the BBC, New York Times, New Zealand Herald (etc), even more weight would be given to the site and the PageRank would increase even further.

SEO tricks

During the last few weeks, I learnt that my knowledge of SEO was hopelessly out of date. It’s no longer enough to use keywords and phrases in slightly different ways (although this is still important). The position of those words in headlines, captions, image descriptions (etc) also has a huge impact.

As a writer, I find this disappointing. I have always enjoyed writing headlines and sentences that not only communicate information, but also sound lovely. I’ve always tried to find what a designer friend calls “resonance”. Attempting, I suppose, to appeal to the reader’s humanity – with text, subtext, shared cultural history, allusion, assonance, melody and more. Even my use of punctuation is exact in a way most people would find weird. I used to spend days reaching for what I called the “Buddha concept”. Simmering ideas down to their essence. Using the fewest number of words. (Preferably two.) I am convinced that search engines will never fully perceive the subtlety of a human-made headline containing a cleverly concealed keyword. So don’t bother.

Current thinking is this: Stick your keyword at the beginning of the headline. Like I did with those last three subheads.

Four final things

Before I sign off, with an apology for writing such a long post, here are four more things worth mentioning.

  • Enable “breadcrumbs“. Don’t ask me why. I read that it’s important in a couple of places that seemed credible – and so I’m going with it.
  • Use an SEO plugin. I use WordPress SEO, which is free. In the source code of one of our rivals, I see they use a paid-for plugin. If I can’t beat them using my own skills, I might try it.
  • Register, submit, verify (etc) your site with Google Webmaster Tools, Bing, Pinterest and anyone else you can think of.
  • Explore Google Analytics.

It may seem like a lot to take in if you’re new to this, but you’ve learnt in a few minutes what it’s taken me days to get my head round. I hope you find it useful. If you do, throw it a backlink and we’ll see how far it can go to the top of the Google charts.

UPDATE (September 17th 2015)

I just watched this video and took three pages of notes. It’s a bit long, but will give you a lot to think about.

UPDATES (February 4th 2016)

Over Christmas, the SouthWest website moved to a new host. Unfortunately, a cloning plugin let me down and I had to rebuild the site from scratch. Fortunately, I am now offering one-day courses on website creation and management, through yourwebsitecourse, and re-building the site was a good exercise for me.

Since this article was written, Google has made several hundred changes to the way it looks at websites. There is little point in trying to keep the article up to date – I read that Google makes over 300 changes every year.

More bad news: The free WordPress SEO plugin mentioned has been gutted by the developer and so it’s not as brilliant as it was before. Some good news: It’s still quite useful.

Another day, another website

In Portfolio, Websites on September 19, 2014 at 8:16 am

A few months ago, after being found through Linkedin (which I always mentally pronounce Lin Keddin, for some reason) I was asked to write the new website for the Quay Arts Centre on the Isle of Wight. This has just been launched into the world and you can see it here.

Great job from Karen Grainger and her team.