New Feature : Embracing the Spreadsheet

If you just want to know about the feature, the scroll down to see the header, however if you’d like a bit of backstory, read on!

When I sit down and think of a new tool to build, the thought process often starts with, “what are people using spreadsheets for that could be easier with an app” and then set off to work.

Spreadsheets seem to be at the core of every company and there is usually a 3 year old spreadsheet with macros, vlookups and some magic that makes some core functionality of the business work.

However, there is a reason that spreadsheets are so universal, because they are EASY to start with, shareable, simple to learn and can grow with complexity as needed.

So when Declan Reilly from The SEO Works suggested that he manage the URLs and notification options in LW, I was originally skeptical…

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that we receive URLs from customers in spreadsheets all the time so why wouldn’t we do this.

So from today, when you go to add URLs to your account, you’ll be given the option of doing so via Google Sheets.

Once created, each sheet is initially locked down to the email address on the account but others can be added in settings.

When you click the sheet, you are given three tabs.

  • Source
  • Overview
  • Renewal Report

Source

This tab is the only one you are able to edit, you and your team can quickly add/remove URL’s, notification options and enable checks, this sheet is imported and updated every hour.

Just add a URL to the spreadsheet and it will be added with the default checks and notification options, if you’d like you can configure the checks more specifically

Overview

This tab gives you a quick heads up to any outstanding issues on the URLs and links directly to those URLs so you can configure the checks (or disable them).

This could look a bit prettier I know but we are trying to limit API commands

Renewal Report

This tab gives you a quick overview of domains and SSL certificates that are expiring.

Feedback from our testing team has been overwhelmingly positive and we are really really excited to ship this update to everyone for free now.

Next up we’ve got a few speed improvements to do on the backend and then another feature we’ve been excited to launch for a while.

Thanks

Dom, Heather (and Scarlett)

The Times They Are a-Chang(elog)in

One of the most important things that Little Warden does is keep an accurate changelog of the changes we’ve detected.

Recently though we’ve gone through a round of customer feedback and whilst the contents of the changelog are welcome, the visual aspect of the design needed improvement.

Feedback and comments such as

  • It hurts my eyes to look at
  • It’s very garish
  • It’s not easy to scan

And other more hurtful things. that I took wwwwwaaaaaaayy to personally.

BUT they were right, it wasn’t the best way of displaying the data and it’s time we gave that section a refresh, so it’s out with the old

and in with the new

This change is also reflected in the emails that we send out every morning.

This is the last update before our LittleTrip but we’ve got some really exciting features and UI changes ready to go live when we get back (It’s never good to launch a brand new feature then go on a cruise ship for two weeks)

Thanks and have a magical day

Dom, Heather and Scarlett

Patrol Report and Notification Changes

It’s just a few days till our LittleTrip but before we go, there are a few changes we are making due to customer feedback.

Patrol Reports

We’ve got some big changes coming tot he patrol report in June to make them much more actionable but for now we are going to stop sending monthly patrol reports by default, after a range of feedback we’ve found that the size of them is too large to actually be a worthwhile email to send and due to a bad design (sorry) they often get confused with Change Reports.

Notification Changes

From now on, we are cutting down the amount of times you are notified about certain items that are domain based, for example if your domain expires in 20 days, you now won’t receive a warning about it for every URL with that domain.

Why I hear you ask, did we do this ages ago?

The truth is, We didn’t realise how annoying it was until a customer mentioned it!

We are constantly trying to improve our emails and the accuracy, if you ever have an issue with them, please reply to them and Robot Dom will forward them onto us.

Thanks and have a magical day

Dom, Heather (and Scarlett)

We’re all going on a summer holiday

The first lines of code for Little Warden were written 2 years ago on a cruise ship (Disney of course) sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, our first ‘family holiday’.

Every evening, whilst Scarlett was sleeping in the cot, Heather and I would write the code for what would become Little Warden (and take advantage of the complimentary room service).

‘Well, after two years filled with code, blog posts and conferences, we need a proper break so it’s time for another cruise!

So in early May after spending some time in the Magic Kingdom, we’ll be setting sail on the Disney Magic Cruise Ship once more for some rest, relaxation and plenty of Mickey Waffles.

Now, this isn’t easy as a small team so whilst we’ve implemented a feature freeze for the next few weeks (ignoring one or two announcements this week) and we’re still committed to maintaining support channels.

From May 1st till May 28th – We will be disabling LiveChat, as much as we love this method of instant communication with our customers, it’s not possible whilst in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Robot Dom will still be sending emails, slack messages and the API calls.

We will be checking in on the servers and support emails a few times a day so any issues / support tickets will be resolved (we’ve even paid for the big Wifi package on the ship)

So, if you want to follow our travels, I’m @ukdisdad on instagram (not a support channel)

See ya real soon!

Real Dom, Heather and Scarlett

NEW Feature! – Monitor your JS Rendered pages with Little Warden

Today I’m pleased to announce that Chrome rendering of pages is now in BETA and enabled for all customers, this will enable us to fully monitor sites rendered in React, Angular or anyone of the 100’s of javascript frameworks launched every week.

This obviously takes a bit more resource than our normal scans so at the moment the limits are US geolocations only and daily rather than hourly checks.

This has been one of the most requested features in our recent survey and so we are pleased to be able to launch this to you today.

It goes without saying that we love our friends in the industry but I want to take a moment and point out that this feature would NOT be possible without the help of our go-to website crawler Sitebulb, they shared the knowledge of their wonderful crawler tech and helped us get past some blocking bugs we’ve been having for months.

You can switch now to JS rendering by editing the URL options in settings.

Look out for more features and changes in response to the survey and if you’d like to contribute, there is still time to fill it in!

UK SEO Meetups List

(As part of a 'content marketing' attempt we are trying to produce content that the industry will tweet and link to I guess.. so here it is)

It’s almost conference season once more but sometimes you just want to sit back, have a drink and chat about hreflang with some other search people, that’s where regular SEO Meetups come in and we’ve got a list for you!

BristolSEO Meetup – Last Tuesday of the Month

Regular SEO meetup to discuss the latest SEO news and updates.

Cardiff SEO Meetup – Every Other Month

A meetup of SEOs in Cardiff, South Wales. Each event has a couple of talks, a site review and more. All welcome, whether you’re freelance, agency-side, in-house, a business owner who wants to learn how to do it yourself, a pro in another area of online marketing, or you’re looking to get a career in SEO. Events take place every 2 months.

Chester SEO Meetup – Irregularly

This group is for people wanting to learn more about SEO and Digital Marketing, meeting and networking with people with varied levels of experience.

SearchLondon – Every Month

Search London is a meet up group which aims to bring those who work in SEO, Social and PPC together. Events are organized every 8 wks and members are from a mixture of agency, client side and start ups. It is an excellent opportunity to meet fellow search professionals and catch up with the latest news in the industry.

Many speakers at Search London are
well known names within the industry who share their insights in the world of search.

Optimisey Cambridge SEO – Every 2 Months

Optimisey is a new meet up for all those that have ever wondered (or been asked) “How do I get to the top of Google?”

#DigitalMeetupPreston – 3rd Wednesday of the Month

This is an informal event held on the third Wednesday of each month where business owners and digital marketing (SEO, PPC, Content, Social, PR, Video, and Data) professionals (from the apprentice to the director) get together for a few drinks, chat and listen to a few digital speakers who send you away with a list of action points for you to implement.

Take It Offline (UK Wide) – Irregularly

The TakeItOffline Digital Marketing Roundtable is your chance to share knowledge, experience and best practice on the issues, trends and developments around Marketing. This is #ecomchat style digital questions we all have that you help answer! Our audiences our a diverse range of skills and expertise which hopefully added to your own will help you to formulate a plan better than Hannibal from the A-Team.

Lancashire SEO Meetup – Every Month

Come join us to chat all things SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) with like-minded people.

No selling, not pitches, just a relaxed meetup in a nice environment to talk to others about SEO. Geeks and non-geeks welcome!

We try to be as inclusive as possible, so please do let us know if we can help in any way.

SEO York – Last Wednesday of the Month

Our group is about Search Engine Optimisation, Website Performance and anything to do with Internet Marketing. Our meetup events are open for general networking with like-minded people in and around the SEO and Digital Marketing industry. Anyone can come along and get free advice and web marketing tactics.

Drink :// Digital Meetup Nottingham – First Thursday of the Month

Drink is a talking shop for anyone involved in digital – SEO, PPC, social, email, CRO, design, devlopment, content, affiliate – whatever your interest, come along and meet other people who do what you do every day. Share your problems, whinge about Google, chat about cake – whatever takes your fancy. We’ll have a quick presentation to share some cool things we’ve found in the digital marketing world recently, then it’s down to the chatting.

Pint Sized Marketing (Dublin) – Every Month

Step away from your keyboard and make great new connections at our monthly meetups. Join us for three short talks and hang out with marketers over a drink and bite in Dublin’s city centre – for free!

New Feature Alert* – Sitemap Change Monitoring

Well Okay, this one isn’t a new feature as it’s been live for about a month, I just forgot to write a blog post about it but you can now enable a check which will give you a diff of all the URLs added and removed from your sitemap.

We’ve got a couple of Little updates coming out in the next week or two as we prepare for some BIG changes (as hinted to on twitter) later on in the year. 2019 looks very exciting!

So XML Sitemap change monitoring check it out now!

Software for your SaaS company

As a small software company, we find it important to share the love and support other software that we use and love in the hopes that they continue to be successful, so here is the first

Little Warden’s Favourite Software (2019 Edition)

(with no affiliate links!)

Balsamiq

Balsamiq is my favourite bit of software ever (sorry Sitebulb)

Every single feature of Little Warden is designed within Balsamiq and then built in code, it’s probably the software I’ve spent the most time in (other than Sublime) over the last 10 years (infact this year will be my 10th year using Balsamiq)

Although they are moving towards a web based tool, I’ll try and stick to the software as much as I can as I love the responsiveness.

ProfitWell

A new entry for this year (well technically they all are, but we only started using it in 2018) ProfitWell is fast becoming one of the most helpful bits of software we use.

You signup, hookup your payment gateway and it gives you all the stats a software business needs to know, MMR, Churn, segments, growth trends and retention rate.

Did I mention all that was free?

They have a premium product called Retain which we are just about to start trying this week so will update next years list with how that goes.

Canva

I never learned to use Photoshop and I’ve never forgiven Adobe for killing Fireworks, Canva allows me to create quick images for instagram or facebook, page layouts for booklets or magazines and slides for presentations or videos.

Crisp

We’ve been using Crisp on Little Warden since the beginning and it’s helped us considerably for both support and sales. I’m always more inclined to trust a service a bit more if they have live chat and I always try and answer as soon as possible (even if this means answering support queries on my phone in the queue at Tesco). Crisp is one of the best we’ve used interface and product support wise.

Camtasia

If you are trying to do product explainer videos or walkthroughs, I believe there is no better product than Camtasia, it’s simple but powerful interface means that even a video idiot like me can put something together that’s pretty sweet.

Monosnap

Last year we switched from using a combination of Skitch and recordit for annotations of screenshots and small videos.

Monosnap is a free tool which fits into our workflow perfectly, the drag-and-drop ability to annotate and then instantly drop into a document makes it perfect for quick edits and suggestions for customers.

And it’s free (with a small IAP for cloud storage and other things)

Sublime Text Editor

We’ve been using Sublime since we started working with Ruby and it’s been a pleasure, it handles everything we throw at it including the occasional 8gb CSV file!

Sublime text is made more powerful by the packages and Package Control package manager meaning it’s extendable to almost any language and has powerful inbuilt IDE like features like git integration and on-demand runtimes for inline errors

Mailplane

If you are anything like me, you’ve amassed a collection of email addresses over a few years and if you are still like me, they are all GMail.

Mailplane allows you to manage all the inboxes in one application and not have to have separate browser window for each .

SQLPro Studio

We’ve only started to use SQLPro studio since November but already it’s proving to be value for money, it’s a really lovely interface to PostgreSQL and MySQL (and a load of other databases that we don’t care about.

Notable Mentions

These are products that we use often but are ‘larger companies’ and so don’t need as much publicity

Disneyland Paris advice for attendees of Search Y

There is an SEO conference in Disneyland Paris this weekend and I’ve not been invited to speak… Almost all of my search presentations involve Disney and this would be the one ligitimate conference where it’s relevant!

I am gutted.

But that’s not going to stop me from giving you a quick Disneyland Paris Primer to make sure you get the most out of your post conference activities

Disneyland Paris is two parks and a Shopping / Dining village, these parks are smaller than their American counterparts but still have their own charm,

The most common question I’ve been asked by speakers is “what rides I go on” so let’s try and answer that and a few other questions

Disneyland Park

Notable Attractions

  • Phantom Manor  (closed for refurb)
  • Space Mountain* – ( In the dark coaster)
  • Star Tours* – (Star wars based motion simulator)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean* – (Water base dark ride which inspired the films)
  • Indiana Jones* – (Standard off the shelf coaster, nothing special)
  • Big Thunder Mountain* – Runaway mine train, probably the best version out of all the Disneys
  • It’s a small world – if you come to Disneyland and don’t go on this… what is wrong with you.

Walt Disney Studios

Notable Attractions

  • Crush’s Coaster – (Closed for Refurb)
  • Ratatouille* – Just do this one (soon to be copied in WDW’s Epcot)
  • Aerosmith* – Indoor coaster
  • Lights Motors Action – Car based stunt show
  • RC Racer – Half pipe car coaster
  • Tower of Terror – world famous drop attraction

(These recommendations are based on a solo traveller without any children, if you are bringing kids, let me know and I’ll recommend some different plans)

Other things to notes

Fastpass

Disneyland Paris has a Fastpass system which is free to use, if a ride has a large queue, you can go to a Fastpass machine, put in your park ticket and it will give you a time to come back (the attractions above with * all have Fastpass)

You can have one fastpass every hour or so but some of the top rides run out of Fastpass quickly)

If money isn’t a problem and you are short on time, Disneyland Paris have recently introduced a paid fastpass which allows you to skip the queue on one or all the rides, once or unlimited times throughout the day.

Parades & Special Events

It’s currently Star Wars time at Walt Disney Studios park has special things throughout the day with marches from the First Order and Legends of a Galaxy Far, Far Away featuring some of the best characters from the galaxy as well as some special photo opportunites (this week it’s Chewbacca) .

Disneyland Park has it’s usual Stars on Parade parade which is well worth seeing if you have time.

Evening Shows

At the end of the evening, Disneyland Park has a ‘kiss goodnight’ show, now I will warn you, this won’t be an all singing, all dancing fireworks spectacle of its American cousins (there are people that live too close to DLP with noise complaints about that) but they have some wonderful projection mapping and water effects (without spoiling)

Walt Disney Studios usually closes earlier and at this current time has a Star Wars based show which has some impressive mapping.

I hope this helps anyone attending if any anyone would like any more advice or has any questions, @thehodge on twitter @ukdisdad on instagram

Our First Twitter Ads Test (and a weird Twitter Bug)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s 2019 and our new year’s resolution is to double the number of customers we have (We’ve a family trip to Disneyland Tokyo planned). This means looking into alternative sources of traffic and leads, no more can I rely on “witty bantz” from Twitter or going to BrightonSEO and shouting at random people that they’ve not bought my product (this has worked in the past but it doesn’t scale) No, not this year, this year is the year we do some PPC properly. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Bing, PornHub… If there are ads available, I’m gonna give it a go. So we started with Twitter, everyones favourite way to avoid ‘proper work’ and invest in a social profile. I’ve come up with a bit of a campaign (that I’m slightly proud of) that explains clearly some of the issues we solve with LW
https://twitter.com/littlewardenapp/status/1081211253572407297
I’ve created a series of about 20 of these all with different scenarios and photos (all properly licensed of course!) So when you click to see a Tweets stats, you are given the option of “Promoting a Tweet” to a wider audience.
Once you decide to promote using this method the only options given are location and budget.
So either Twitter;
  • Will show it to EVERYONE in that location the tweet (not good)
  • They will use some Machine Learning fun to work out the best people to show it in that location (maybe good)
I knocked the money spent down to the smallest amount £50 and the campaign was on the way.
As you can see, at the start of the campaign, the organic stats for the tweet were ‘okay’ considering it was Christmas week and a Friday, not our best tweet but not bad. I updated twitter throughout the day with the spend and impressions.
https://twitter.com/littlewardenapp/status/1082271786807541760
When I saw we had two likes, I was interested in the people that this campaign was targetting to our like stuff so I popped over to the tweet and saw…. no new likes. Twitter as part of the campaign was taking credit for likes we ALREADY had.
Twitter Likes Before Campaign Started
Twitter Likes After Campaign Started
You can see our blue organic likes have turned into yellow promoted likes, this is massively worrying as without a valid explanation it means I can’t trust any of the stats that I get from Twitter. I asked a few people who I know use Twitter Ads but none of them had seen anything like this before, so we kept the campaign going but kept an eye on the stats. The final stats of the campaign and what we actually got for our £50 budget.
  • Impressions – 22,854
  • Media Engagements – 164
  • Detailed Expands – 45
  • Profile Clicks – 4
  • Link Clicks – 3
  • Likes – 0 (Allegedly 3)
  • Retweets – 0
  • Replies – 0
  • Followers – 0
  • Conversions – HAHAHHAHA
So not the best use of £50 out of the company Kitty but it was worth a try, before I put anymore money into Twitter Ads though, I wanted an answer on what happened with the likes, so I contacted Twitter Ads support.
Well I tried, but you wouldn’t believe it.. the issue box only allows 280 characters! So I tried again with a much more ‘direct’ message. I received an instant auto response with a rather worrying line embedded in the middle of it.
They want me to reply with more info… but they didn’t let me give any info in the first step which feels like a massive waste of my time and an annoying way of them filtering out queries. And even if I do that, I might not even get a response! Thanks for your money but we are too busy with other customers. I replied to the email and we will see if we get a response. Next up is Facebook. UPDATE: Twitter have gotten back to my detailed question (with images and dates) with this response that basically treats me like an idiot.
Not helpful at all, I have replied to this email with a less than happy tone. SECOND UPDATE  That’s it, as far as Twitter is concerned they don’t need to answer my question. As far as I’m concerned this isn’t good enough
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