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Rick Lomas and The Whole World

chocolate tinsMany thanks to my friend Sarah Lamballe for getting a job helping out SentWithALovingKiss.com out with their web promotion. The site is partly owned by Graham Winn who also owns the successful Flowercard.co.uk that I mentioned the other day. At the moment the site relies a lot on their offline media ads and their associated voucher codes. There are also some very active affiliates who help to drive traffic too. At the moment the site doesn’t have the same power and authority as Flowercard, so the goal is to change this from being more of an offline business to a fully online business. At the moment there is a lot of money spent on call centers where customers phone in their orders.

The products themselves are great, personalised chocolate gifts using ethically sourced chocolate. These gifts are equally sought after by thoughtful individuals who like to give such gifts, as well as corporate gifts for employees and clients.

Sarah has been working on the website for a while now to improve the user experience (UX) and theme the site better. My job will be to see if I can improve the organic traffic by improving the on page SEO as well as making sure that the site has a very healthy link profile. There is some stiff competition from the huge brands like Thorntons and Cadburys, but I am quite confident that we can make a dent (bite?) in the personalised chocolate market.

Flowercard Screen ShotI’m very happy to be working on a site which sells ‘flowers in a card’ – called Flower Card. This is a very well established site that has pretty good traffic already, but as with any site it could do with some more! I’m using the techniques that I have learnt with Link Research Tools to keep the site safe and also to find new link opportunities, by looking at the links that the competition have. You can find out more about what the techniques I use actually do over at my more buisness orientated site, Indexicon. There is also quite a large amount of on page SEO to look at with this site, there are quite a few images with no alt text and many missed opportunities with missing meta data and some duplicate content issues that needs correcting too. Overall though, the site is in pretty good health and this is a great postion to start working on a new site.

The owner of Flowercard once lived in Guernsey which is famous for its flowers, but now he operates the business remotely from his new home in Dubai. I really love the internationalness of working online and I am very much looking forward to helping to promote the business of Flowercard.



My #100HappyDays

in Blogging
Rick with LRT Hoodie and Brolly

Rick with LRT Hoodie and Brolly

Today is the last day of my #100happydays challenge, so I thought that I would conclude with my feelings about it. You can read about the concept of #100happydays here. Essentially the idea is to see if you can be happy for 100 days in a row and mentioning it on a social network, usually Facebook tagged with the hashtag #100happydays. At any point you can click the hashtag in Facebook and see what all the other #100happydays people are doing. My 100 happy days began back in June, just as my wife Susan went off to England for a few days. I’d noticed a few of my friends doing the challenge, notably Duncan Newbury and Wendy Coggan who both did seem to be having some fun days.

So lets look at some of the claims from the 100happydays.com site, these are in the bit called “Why would I do that?”
It says: People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:

  • Start noticing what makes them happy every day: Yes I’d agree with that and most of the time it was pretty simple stuff, like people saying thank you, being appreciated and seeing the value in friends that I had already, especially ones that I hadn’t seen for a long time (Hi Eddie!).
  • Be in a better mood every day: I usually wake up in a pretty good mood and I’m either dragged up or down by the people around me. I’ve learned to let other people’s bad moods not influence my own so much, it’s a bit selfish, but if people around me are not being positive then I’m off!
  • Start receiving more compliments from other people: I can’t say I have received more compliments – for an ageing hippy geek, nobody is going to say ‘you look great today!’ – but – when somebody says I played great bass or I helped them with their website or something, I have really appreciated it.
  • Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have: Everyday I wake up breathing I realise how lucky I am, the fact that I have somewhere lovely to live (albeit a bit cold sometimes), a wife and children is the icing on the cake.
  • Become more optimistic: Oh yes! Not just me though. I think both Susan and I have become increasingly optimistic over the last year – me, possibly more in the last 100 days. We have both been busy publishing books, writing articles and making music since we launched our Kevin Ayers site. In the process of doing this we have made some excellent friends and had some wonderful opportunities. I’m hoping this will continue, the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!
  • Fall in love during the challenge: I’m always in love, I’m just not that good at showing it. My Mum has had a rough time this year and my Dad has coped brilliantly, I love my Mum and Dad more than ever.

For most of 2014 I have been working on removing Google Penalties from web sites that have had bad SEO work done on them. This included a site of my own that was penalised with the Penguin 1.0 penalty in April 2012. I did this with the help of a service called Link Detox by Link Research Tools who are based in Austria. At the same time I decided to take the training offered by Link Research Tools, which would give me a very nice qualification in SEO. There are 3 levels of certification you can achieve as an individual; Associate, Professional and Xpert. By April I was a Professional which entitled me to go to the ‘secret’ event in Vienna in May. I was desperately trying to achieve the Xpert status, but didn’t do it in time for the meeting. This happened later on July 5th which was certainly one of my favourite one of all my 100 happy days.

My 100 days started in June. June was a time of hard work for me as I had just come back from the Link Research Tools Certified Event in Vienna and I was desperate to achieve my Certified Link Research Tools Xpert qualification. I did this by writing an epic case study called Vivint.com SEO Visibility Plummets from Manual Penalty, I also had quite a lot of other private SEO and Penalty Removal work to do at the same time. I have really enjoyed the training and achievements  I have made with Link Research Tools this year. So what happened today? A large package arrived today from Christoph Cemper and the Link Research Tools team. I’ve got 2 LRT tops, 4 LRT T-Shirts and an LRT Superhero Umbrella – a perfect end to my #100happydays! BTW I especially love the umbrella and the hoodie. Thank You!

Maddy & Rosie - Pietra Ligure, 2014

I’m writing this as a prequel to my conclusion of #100happydays next weekend. I’m on day 95 or so now and I have to say all of them have not been happy – BUT I have managed to find a happy moment in each day, which I am thankful for. Here are some of the shit bits:

  • A friend of mine died last month at the age of 41, which was a seriously untimely death.
  • My mother had a hip replacement that incurred some extra problems that really messed up her summer, but it is her 81st birthday now, so happy birthday!
  • My mother in law (Grandma Janet) is now seriously ill after a fall and I really don’t know what is going to happen next.
  • I seriously don’t know what is going to happen next

The photo above is the one that was on the birthday card to my Mum today. Both our girls were born with a full set of grandparents which is quite an achievement as we didn’t start producing them until we were 40ish. The photo makes me realise how precious life is, these beautiful girls have perfect bodies, active minds and are ridiculously talented in every artistic and linguistic way. More importantly they have a whole life ahead of them, I can’t wait to see what they do with it.

It’s not just the Mediterranean Sea you know?

The Medditerranean Sea and the Subdivisions

The Medditerranean Sea and the Subdivisions

It wasn’t until I started thinking about an Italian holiday this summer that I realised that different parts of what I thought was just the Mediterranean Sea have different names. Our final destination is Pietra Ligure which is on the Ligurian Sea. I am going to publish a write up in the motorhome rental section of MotorhomeFreedom.com when I get back so do look over there towards the end of 2014 for some photos, videos etc. It’s true that on a holiday in Rhodes many years ago I was aware than on the east side of the island was the Mediterranean Sea and on the west side was the Aegean Sea, but I didn’t think that much about it to be honest. I was however aware that the two seas looked different though. One day we went down to the most southern point of Rhodes to a lovely place called Prassonissi.

Prassonissi is a small island which is connected by a strip of sand to Rhodes in the summer time when the water levels are low. When Prassonissi becomes a Peninsula rather than island it becomes a haven for windsurfers and sunbathers. Having the sea on either side of the beach is wonderful. The day I was there the Mediterranean was as flat as pond with people swimming, suba diving and generally having a superb beach holiday. On the other side of the beach is the Aegean Sea that was rough and choppy with the windsurfers having a fantastic time. So what are these other ‘seas’ then? Well they are actually subdivisions of the Mediterranean Sea according to the IHO which is the Internation Hydrographic Organization. So let’s look at them starting at the very west of the Meditteranean.

The Strait of Gibraltar

Between The Rock of Gibraltar (which is actually crown property of the UK) and Morocco is a small strait of water which is just less than nine miles wide at its narrowest point. It is very important shipping route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Strait of Gibraltar extends slightly to the west where it meets the Atlantic.

The Alboran Sea

Between Spain and Morocco to the east of the Strait of Gibraltar is the Alboran Sea. The Alboran sea has the biggest population of bottlenose dolphins in the western Mediterranean.

The Balearic Sea

Between mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Minorca and Formentera is the Balearic Sea. This is one of my favourite parts of the World and definitely my favourite part of Spain.

The Ligurian Sea

North of Corsica, between Corsica and Italy is the Ligurian Sea. This is the sea that prompted me to write this article as I am going to Liguria this summer on my motorhome holiday.

The Tyrrhenian Sea

The Tyrrhenian Sea is somewhere I really want to go! It’s enclosed by Sardinia, the Italian peninsula and the island of Sicily. If you are into your volcanoes like me, this is the place to go. You will be able to see Stromboli and of course the magnificent Etna. A stunning part of the World, but sadly just a little too far for this summer’s trip.

The Ionian Sea

This is between Italy, Albania and Greece. This is the part of the Mediterranean that is underneath the ‘foot’ of Italy

The Adriatic Sea

This is the almost rectangular area between Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. The only one of these countries that I have visited so far is Italy. I have yet to explore the east coast of Italy, so this will be a fun adventure for the future. At the moment I am tied to school holidays and I have been told that July and August is NOT the time to go, unless you love crowded beaches!

The Aegean Sea

The Aegean Sea is between Greece and Turkey and possibly my favourite part of the Mediterranean. I have loved ever single Greek island I have ever been to and a sunset across the Aegean has never disappointed me.

Happy Holidays!