Simple tips on SEO

SEO Tips of the day - Ask not what you want to give your customers but what your customers actually NEED

Hannah Pilfold and her mobile coffee van in Lewes

Hannah Pilfold and her mobile coffee van in Lewes

If you're going to start anywhere with thinking about improving what you offer, start with USEFULNESS.

During challenging financial times people are reluctant to part with their money unless there is a significant benefit from the expenditure. This seems obvious but what many people do is offer their customers what they want to offer their customers, not necessarily recognising the actual needs a cutomers has.

So what do your customers actually need?

Hannah's seems to me to be a perfect example of getting this right.

Hannah's van is parked in Lewes a couple of days a week and sells coffee and sweet treats.  Hannah's mobile coffee provision is useful because

  • She sells coffee. People like coffee, alot
  • She provides a lift at the beginning of the day, or during a day, which may well be needed if that day is full of difficult, or challenging tasks
  • The treat is affordable
  • Hannah provides a place to gather after school drop-off for the chat that parents often enjoy. She makes it extra nice. Extra valuable

A bit of beauty for all

Hannah's beautiful branding (made by Malcom Davis at Lewes Map) reinforces the idea that her coffee is valuable, something special and of high quality. That makes her customers feel that they are valuable, special and, in a subtle way, it makes them feel good.

If it were me I'd call her van Hannah's Lifting Equipment. Because that's what she's doing. She's giving everyone who wants it, a boost, a good start to their day. A day can turn around on a treat.

Hannah's, a need met. That's what we should all be doing

What do your customers actually need? 

Finding that out, nailing it down, is crucial to the successful communication of what your business is. It is also a very rewarding and valuable process. If I can help with that, let me know.

Ways you can see more of Hannah's

Simple SEO Tip of the Day - Problems are Presents

SEO Tips of the Day by 100Designs - Problems are Presents logo

The phrase Problems are Presents was coined by Vera Peiffer of the Peiffer Foundation for Positive Thinking. This is how is relates to SEO

The problem with do-it-yourself SEO (as opposed to the paid variety) is that whatever else it is, it is HARD WORK. Website content needs to be original, helpful, ever-changing, engaging and authentic. Thinking about this and finding time to do this is extremely hard work.

But there's another way of looking at it. The problems that SEO engagement presents us with, if resolved, will make your business superb. If you are genuinely solving your customers problems, if you really do make your site visitors lives' more interesting, more fun, calmer, less stressed, easier to manage, a little bit better, yours will be a truly valuable business and that value is chargeable for.  

That value also appears to be favoured by Google when it comes to site ranking.

Example 1 - A problem identified, a problem solved (one of our websites)

Murder Mystery Games (current site in development) will be a site that offers downloadable Murder Mystery Games. That in itself solves a problem.  How to entertain a large group of people with guaranteed fun. It goes further, it offers a Costume Guide which includes costume tips and images representing fashion since 1840.

It's fun looking at these photos, it's also informative, interesting and a useful resource for when people are getting themselves equipped for a Murder Mystery Games event.

At the end of the Guide there will be series of links to places where costumes can be hired or bought or found. Another problem solved.

Example 2 - A problem identified, a problem solved with Asapoth (not one of our websites)

Asapoth - makers of natural creams and distilled waters from flowers and plants. 

Photograph by 100Designs

Photograph by 100Designs

The obvious problems solved here are the need to cheer oneself up when more extravagant forms of retail therapy are out of reach, the need not to use chemicals on our bodies and the need to self-reward.  And to be happy for a bit.

But this site goes further because its ethos is about connection with nature and the therapeutic benefit of that.  Amanda Saurin has recently announced that she will be collaborating with other makers with a similar ethos and will showcase their work on her site.

The Asapoth site will be even more useful and resource-rich as it becomes a hub for those who want to make, and those who want to buy, natural products, locally sourced, of the highest possible quality.

Asapoth's site is a great example of good SEO although in this case my feeling is that this practice arises from a very sound, very committed business ethos.  

But that's the point.  The two go hand in hand.

Happy New Year!

And do sign up for more tips ....



Throwing SEO out of the window Sometimes. Topsy Jewell's Pottery website

In between posts on how you can improve your SEO it's nice to mess things up a bit and show how breaking the "rules" is not always a bad thing.

Topsy Jewell's latest work

Topsy Jewell's latest work

I made Topsy Jewell's website last year and have just done a little refreshing on it.  New photographs and a few copy changes.

Topsy's site does not have very much content and it doesn't have a Blog.  Google likes content, and Blogs.  We all know Content is King.

When you google Hand made pottery in Lewes, Topsy's site comes up on the first page.

I like to think that in amongst the mysterious rules of SEO there is something about rewarding sites that make it easy for people, really, really easy.

Beautiful photographs of her beautiful work. How to get hold of her. To me that's nearly perfect, and it seems to work fine.

Simple SEO Tip of the Day, Usefulness

Is your website useful?  

SEO Tip of the Day by 100designs blog

Google will like it very much if it is. Useful merges into Relevant in the sense that the more your website matches and fulfils the expectations and requirements of Google's customers, the more Google will appreciate you and, theoretically, the more favoured you will be in terms of ranking

What does useful mean?  It means meeting a need. Here's a few examples of how a website can be useful

Jules Asch makes jewellery from natural objects covered in silver. Jewellery is lovely and life enhancing, but is it useful?


Here's how The Silvery jewellery is useful

The Silvery natural jewellery worn by Lucie the model by Katie Vandyck

1. People put on jewellery to feel smarter, prettier, more stylish
That's meeting a need to feel more attractive.

2. People like natural objects because part of their identity might be an affinity with the natural worldThe Silvery jewellery is a way of showing that part of themselves to the world. To let the world know who they are
That's meeting a need to express yourself.

3. The Silvery jewellery is classic, timeless, not tied to fashion or especially to age. This makes it a much safer gift idea than something more obviously youthful or obviously meant for older people
That's a need to confidently buy a present for someone who's tastes you are not absolutely certain about.

4. The Silvery offers to take precious objects and cover them in silver. I have a beautiful necklace made by Jules of a raisin from the last fruit cake my mother ever made for me. I wear it every day. It is very special. Other people have asked Jules to take momentos or keepsakes and turn them into jewellery or a beautiful object
That's a need to express the powerful human impulse to give, receive and, most importantly, to hold onto love. 

And so on...

How does your website meet a need? What specific needs does it meet?

Even more interestingly, how does it show that it meets the needs of your potential customers?

That's the subject of the next Blog on SEO. What's different about your business and how do you get that message across?  Originality

The Silvery jewellery can be found at and at 29 Cliffe High Street, Lewes at the The Silvery/Lewesian Leathers workshop.

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SIMPLE SEO Tip of the Day - Trust

The best definition of Trust in relation to SEO I've seen is this - if Google visited your site would he/she want to be your friend? In other words, is your site trustworthy?

From Sun Rose Compassionate Care site by Katie Vandyck

From Sun Rose Compassionate Care site by Katie Vandyck

Let's keep it simple and just make a list of the things that may well make your site more worthy of Google's trust. Also bear in mind that if Google thinks you're trustworthy it's very likely your potential customers will too

Your Company Identity

People are more likely to trust real people

Put photographs of yourself and your staff on your site. Look friendly (that's essential).
(Speaking as a photographer/website maker, if you're a creative by all means have an arty photograph, otherwise stick to something natural, real and not taken in a studio)

Put a company history on the site.  How did you get here, what makes you do what you do?
You've guessed it.  Tell your story.  People love stories.


Photograph of Amanda's Testimonial for Trust Blog.jpg

The chances are they won't get read but it's reassuring to see them on a site
It's even more reassuring to see photographs of the actual people who gave the testimonials.

Be expert

Ah, this is where BLOGs come in. They are a fabulous way to prove you really know what you are doing.  They are a fabulous way of changing your content regularly. They are a fabulous way of making your site genuinely useful

Write them well, write them simply and write enough content within the blog to make it something that people can benefit from. Don't skimp on information.

And use photographs. Every time.

Social Links

Google does like the likes and the retweets and the sharing.  If people are responding positively to your website and your blogs and your business, Google will too

Links to other sites

Links are very complex and I'm not going to address that complexity here, except to say, don't fake them. Don't put them on just to have links. Link up with businesses relevant to yours, preferably trusted businesses, and make your site trustworthy enough for them to want to link to you.

Google knows the difference between ANY OLD LINK and ACTUALLY USEFUL/RELEVANT LINKS and doesn't like the former


The capitals are because this is something I feel very strongly about

Try not to use library photos.  Google, and your customers, know the difference.

The use of library photos is unavoidable sometimes but essentially the messages they give are (fairly or unfairly) "This business is too cheap to get original photos done", "This business is lazy because they are using visual cliches on their site which have nothing to do with their actual business".

So ...

1. Spend a bit of time on YouTube and get enough knowledge to use your smart phone to record the elements of your business your customers might want to see
Try and use natural light. Natural light = Real = Trustworthiness

2. Read my COUNTLESS blogs about how to photograph for your website

3. Get a professional to take the shots

Please do contact me if you like to ask about any of these blogs on SEO or about anything to do with improving your website. And do sign up to this blog!

And finally.  Tomorrow's simple SEO tip will be about Usefulness.

With many thanks for sharing SEO information to


SEO for technophobes-A tip a day for five days - Relevance.

SEO for technophobes logo for 100Designs blog

I've picked up what I know about Search Engine Optimisation from those on the web who have generously shared their knowledge. What they do all agree on is that the criteria for good SEO changes all the time but that some principles have held true from the beginning


Google likes relevance in a website.  Relevance means that your website provides a genuinely useful service and that service reflects those search terms you’ve put in your website to attract the customers you want.

Let's say you make luxury chocolate cakes.

This beautiful cake, and others like it, can be found at Laportes Cafe, 4 Lansdown Place, Lewes

This beautiful cake, and others like it, can be found at Laportes Cafe, 4 Lansdown Place, Lewes

Start the site off telling people instantly and clearly that you make luxury chocolate cakes.

"I Make Luxury Chocolate Cakes"

That's the first thing people should see and once they see it they'll know they're in the right place. You have shown that your business is relevant to their specific needs.  They want a luxury chocolate cake, your opening statement is "I make luxury chocolate cakes". Perfect fit. Relevant.

Be Clear

Don't repeat yourself, don't put anything in that won't enhance the information-gathering process your visitor wants from your site.  Only put in relevant information. That is information that exactly pertains to what your customer has asked Google to provide when they put "Luxury chocolate cakes" into their search box.

So, show that your site is relevant their needs.

Tomorrow's tip will be on SEO and Trust.

Please sign up to my blog if you'd like more simple tips on SEO and a wealth of information on how to make your website as good as it can be. Easily.

With thanks to all those who give out information on SEO, most particularly Sussex SEO whose tweets are beautifully constructed, relevant and always interesting @seosussex. I recommend you follow them.