20 years' online experience, boiled down and made relevant to your aims

A specific set of skills...

There are, at the last count, far too many people and companies offering services to improve your website; promising to boost your search ranking, bring in more traffic and help you hit all your targets.

Out of all the, why even give me the time of day? It's a fair question, one I've had to ponder in creating this page.

The answer is that, like Liam Neeson in Taken, I have a very specific set of skills, albeit mine have more to do with website content and planning than killing eastern European gangsters.

 I cannot claim to be an expert in every aspect of online or Digital content. Some do claim to be so, but they're being disingenuous, there are too many highly specialised areas to be a true expert in all. At best, they know a bit about all of them. I know a bit about social media or video production, but I'm not an expert in either.

Copy and Content Creation

What I know is website copy and content, the words on a site, the meat and drink because, for all the talk of video taking over, the words on any website are still almost always the most important element. They are what users look at, they are also what Google reads to determine what your site is about and how prominently to rank it.

I know how to write for the web - I've done it for the BBC, newspapers and a huge number of businesses.

I know how to edit copy for the web - I was a chief sub editor for the BBC, I have also revamped sites for businesses, ensuring copy is written with the needs of potential customers or users to the fore.

In my role as Senior Development Journalist at the BBC, I introduced new formats and planned for the future, helping to ensure the editorial offering remained compelling even as user needs changed.

Subsequently, leading an Editorial Analytics team provided me with the opportunity to ponder some of the big questions sites face. 'How are users interacting with the site?' 'what type of content appeals to different demographics?' 'how can we bolster loyalty and keep people on the site longer?'

working with what you have

Only at an organisation as large as the BBC, is it possible to have people in these development roles (thanks to the unique way it's funded and all that...), imagine a local builder or even a sports governing body hiring a team to work in editorial analytics or as development journalists. Seems unlikely.

The thing is, you don't need someone full time. If you hired me full-time, I'd do a site audit and take time to understand the aims of the site. I'd look at existing content and find ways that could have been tweaked to make it perform better, then I'd work out a content plan for future. What could you do more of, how could you do things a bit differently?

How could you achieve growth by simply making better use of what you already have - the staff you have, the technology and the website as it is.

I can do all that in a few days because my entire working life has been spent looking at websites. I know what works and what doesn't, I can quickly work out what you need to do.

Put me in a life threatening situation, and I'm useless. I'm no Leeson, at best I'd knock up a quick website with a big 'Help Me Now' button.

Hire me for a short period of consultancy work and I'll make changes that are easy to implement and have an ongoing positive impact.

my career to date..

Positions Held

BBC - Senior Editorial Analyst Leading a team within BBC Sport to study website behaviour and analyse trends, then using this information to help inform editorial decisions. Work produced led to a large jump in audience retention on site. Editorial teams gained insight into types of content that worked for different audiences and also the best times to promote different styles (for example different content for a Monday morning vs a Sunday lunchtime).

BBC - Senior Development Journalist Working as a senior member of BBC Sport's Editorial Development Team, I helped ensure the site remained the UK's most successful sport website. Projects included forward planning for Olympic Games and World Cups, developing new content formats and interactive tools, and ensuring the site reflected ongoing trends such as the switch to mobile and changing patterns of entry to sites - search and social replacing direct entry.

BBC - Senior Journalist Chief sub editor and front page editor for BBC Sport. As chief sub editor, I would manage the production desk, ensuring the highest standards of copy editing and index management were maintained. The front page editor left me responsible for prioritising content on site.

BBC - Content Producer Producing content for the BBC Homepage and deciding what to promote on the page and when. A prominent slot on the BBC Homepage could send hundreds of thousands of browsers to another part of the site, for example a page with information about a new TV or radio show.

Manchester Evening News - Online Journalist Established the sport section of the newspaper's website, with > 1,000% traffic growth inside a year. Also worked as liaison between web and print colleagues, helping establish positive relationship between the two departments.

Business Lobbying Organisation Revamping the online presence for a business lobbying organisation, making it customer focussed rather than being built with the needs of internal staff to the fore. Also enabled online membership subscription.

Client Examples

Sport Governing Bodies & Sport Teams and Leagues Helping sport bodies to achieve more from their website without resorting to extra expense on staff, or a site rebuild. By focussing on editorial aims, analysising existing content and approaches and then suggesting new approaches it is possible to get more users, target specific demographics, and achieve any other aim. A short period of consultancy can lead to huge, ongoing gains - the organisation or team getting bespoke advice and plans that are based on a decade observing best practice on leading sites.

Local Businesses & Start-ups Working with a wide range of small, medium and local businesses - for example locksmiths, water jet cutters, dental surgeries, accountants, lawyers, builders and many, many more. Some have required a site building (if you want a basic Wordpress site for a few hundred quid I'm your man), other clients need an ongoing content plan. The aim might be to suck up traffic for local search terms - Accountants Bury, Accountants Manchester, Accountants Stockport etc etc... Adding page or two a month can lead to sustainable growth.

Large UK Businesses Bringing focus to their web content, ensuring it works to bring in business and bolster their reputation. Often this is through an ongoing programme of blog writing and pages created to target specific locations or potential client types. Contact me for blog examples.

Publishers / Sport & News Sites Most sites are naturally caught in the day-to-day, the never ending churn of news and content to produce. I take a more detached view, coming up with an editorial plan that helps you achieve your aims and stay relevant as web usage patterns continue to change.

Free Site Audit and Content Review

Get in touch and I will perform a free site audit and also come up with content ideas that you can implement immediately.
These ideas will help you come up with content that helps you achieve more of your goals, whether that’s bringing in more traffic, targeting certain demographics, increasing time spent on site or any other metric.
There’s no catch, my hope is you’ll find it useful and want some more in-depth work, but if not, no hard feelings.
Given I have a pathological fear of phoning people (hence the career squirrelled away working on the internet), you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s not like I’m going to chase you for business.

Questions I Help Tackle

How can we rank better

Creating a content plan and adapting existing content to improve a site's search ranking, and also the ranking of specific pages. This work will also check search engines aren't penalising the site - Google rates sites out of 100 for mobile and desktop, you don't need to be in the 80s or 90s, but a low score can see your site penalised. It won't rank high however good the content. Fortunately, this is often very easy to fix.

What content do we need?

Hang on, let's go back a step! What are you trying to achieve, there might well be multiple goals, but any one piece of content is unlikely to help with all of them. My role at the BBC was to focus on the aims of the site and then ensure content was created to help achieve those aims. if the aim is to attract younger users, the content might be very different than if the plan was to appeal to an older demographic.

How can we know what to try?

The best sites are brave sites. If you are trying new content types, you cannot be certain they will succeed, however the leading organisations follow a 'fail fast' process. Know why you're trying something, try it, and assess - if it works, great, if not then you learn from it and try something else. This theory is as applicable to a site covering sports news as it is a business looking to appeal to a new market. What I can do is give you insights into the things that are worth trying, help you run the experiments, and then learn from the analytics.

How can we improve existing content?

I can look at any content on any site and, as long as I know the aims of that piece, recommend how it could have been improved (in fact, often there are clear ways to improve even without knowing specific aims). The headline might have led to a low ranking, the tone might bar wrong for the intended audience, it might omit key information or, alternatively, be written too much for experts. It might be that the copy was actually fine but the story went up too late - the match report that goes up the morning after, the blog on last night's TV written the following lunch time. I come armed with a red pen, but also a very polite manner.

How can we know what to try?

The best sites are brave sites. If you are trying new content types, you cannot be certain they will succeed, however the leading organisations follow a 'fail fast' process. Know why you're trying something, try it, and assess - if it works, great, if not then you learn from it and try something else. This theory is as applicable to a site covering sports news as it is a business looking to appeal to a new market. What I can do is give you insights into the things that are worth trying, help you run the experiments, and then learn from the analytics.

if you've got a question

And don't know who to turn to, then, as long as it's to do with website content, please give me a shout. Just put down the basics in the Contact Form and I'll get back to you - I'm happy to give a bit of free advice, it makes me feel good about myself. 

what sort of cost we talking?

Autism Sites / Those helping autism awareness and acceptance

If your site is related to autism awareness or acceptance then my services are free. Any expenses (for instance if building a site requires a theme purchasing or domain buying) will be at cost.

There might be a waiting list for this free service, but my aim is to spend at least two days per month carrying out this free work.

As our eldest son is autistic, awareness and acceptance is beneficial to us too. Please allow me to help you achieve the aims of your site.

consultancy work

Typically, carrying out a full site audit, analysing existing content, coming up with suggested changes and also helping to develop new ways of working takes between five and 10 days.

It is also possible to carry out indiviudal tasks within this in one or two days - for instance analysing content on site and coming up with some prqactical improvements for how similar content can perform better would be the work of one or two days (depending on amount of content to be analysed.

I am happy to discuss your requirements and then let you know how much work that would be, also breaking it down into chunks so you can pick and choose elements.

Clients often start off with a small piece of work, before then booking in follow-ups, for example it might be prudent to first analyse and improve existing content then, at a later date, consider what new types of content might be considered.

The minimum charge for a one-off piece of consultancy work is £500 - this factoring in research, analysis and write-up of findings, plus answering any follow-up questions. For reference, a week's work (which would typically cover a broad range of issues affecting your site) would cost £2,000.

Please get in touch to discuss rates in more detail.

Ongoing Search Improvement

Typically a service for businesses looking to increase market share, this service sees a number of pages written per month, each with the aim of bringing in customers.

An example might be a business that serves London and the south east - each month a page or two added to target towns in the region to ensure that their site ranks high for people in those locations.

Unlike many others, I don't tie people in to long-term contracts - by all means ask about having one page written, then, if it proves to be of benefit, we can discuss expanding this into an ongoing service.

A single landing page costs from £60 with blogs from £100 - this including research, edits and uploading to your site (if desired).

Please get in touch if you would like to be sent example pages relevant to your requirements.

Search Engine Optimisation Help For Small Businesses

Autism: Free Web Marketing Help

Our eldest son is autistic and has PDA. I appreciate the efforts of any organisation promoting autism awareness and acceptance, or doing their bit to help through schemes such as autism friendly hours.

If you want any help to make your site or content more visible or just general web advice, get in touch and I’ll help for free. This is offered as a personal thank you for the work you’re doing

Get in touch