To link, or not to link, that is the question

  • By: Ned Wells
  • 7th October 2010
  • Category: SEO

I’ve recently read an interesting post by Tom Standage, Digital Editor at The Economist. And yes, I’ve nicked his title for my article. Thanks Tom, think I’d struggle to come up with a better one.

The premise of Tom’s post is that links, although wonderfully convenient, are also very distracting.

It piqued my interest because since launching Cicada about a year ago I’ve got incredibly busy, and I’ve become very interested in ways to make more effective use of my time or reduce the number of interruptions to my workflow.

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Social Media – a view from Oxford Brookes

In early June I went to a lecture on social media at Oxford Brookes’ Department of Marketing. The evening was based around a presentation by Tim Gibson, Web Content Editor at Oxford Brookes.

Whilst Tim’s presentation was highly informative, this blog post provides you with the edited highlights.

[2012 update – Tim’s presentation is no longer available so I’ve removed the link to it that used to be in this post]

He began the session with some statistics that some might find startling…

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How to use Google Analytics to increase sales from email newsletters

There are numerous tools available on the market designed to make it easier for businesses to broadcast emails to their target audiences. One of their greatest benefits, over say Microsoft Outlook, is their reporting capability. Cicada works with Oxford based Client Mailer, who offer a value-added service that includes the design of highly professional email templates for businesses.

When someone reading your newsletter clicks a link to a website, a website analytics tool can provide you with valuable information on what they then did. And you can use this to refine future newsletters so they are more focused on profitable activity. There are lots of website analytics tools on the market and one of the best known is Google Analytics.

This article provides a detailed step-by-step guide to setting up Google Analytics (‘GA’) for this purpose. It assumes that you already have GA working on your website, that you’ve poked around with the software a little, but don’t know the in’s-and-out’s of it very well. It introduces the concept of tracking ‘conversions’ from your newsletter and shows you how to set up a conversion goal for your website.

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How to track broken links in your website using Google Analytics

Linking between pages in your website is a great way to make it easier to use, for search engines as well as for human visitors. It’s simple to make a link, especially if your website has a Content Management System, and usually means creating a bit of code that includes the ‘address’ of the linked-to page. The address is the bit at the top of your browser that starts with ‘http://’ then has your domain name, eg ‘’, and then has a part that is specific to the page eg ‘/blog’.

Now, particularly with sites that have been around for some time, it can be beneficial to change a web page’s address. In recent years, the address has become increasingly important to  search engines, and it’s helpful to them if you use something long and descriptive. For example, I know that with Cicada client First Line IT, a number of the page addresses are not as helpful and descriptive as they could be. The difficulty is that if I’ve linked to them from other pages, then changing their address risks breaking the link.

So how do we get round this?

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Improve Conversions by Connecting with your Audience

  • By: Ned Wells
  • 3rd February 2010
  • Category: Usability

I really like the material on UX Booth, and wanted to point you in the direction of this recent article by Aaron Griffith. It offers some helpful, common sense suggestions.

In particular I’m keen to further review the tools he suggests for getting customer feedback about a website. I don’t have time to do that right now but, but including them on my blog should be a good ‘aide memoire’ for me.

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SEO keyword success!

  • By: Ned Wells
  • 22nd September 2009
  • Category: SEO

I did a little SEO experiment this month:

Recently, I wrote a little article for Cicada client First Line IT about one of their clients. We’re writing a series of articles as a low-key marketing exercise, with the emphasis being ‘here’s a really interesting business that we work with’ rather than the more traditional ‘we want to tell you about all the great work we’ve done for this company’.

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Are you led by design, or by technology?

I was asked recently whether Cicada is led by design or by technology. This was in a business development meeting, so I didn’t have much time to think about my answer.

The meeting was with a firm of architects, if you want to know. My off-the-cuff reply was that we aren’t led by technology or by creativity, so much as by the commercial desires of our clients.

But the questions set me thinking.

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