Have Cane Will Travel – Disabled Travel in Australia

Award-winning comedy writer, Ian Heydon (Kingswood Country, How Green Was My Cactus, The Samuel Pepys Show, The Year My Country Broke) recently took out an unexpected award – for writing about travelling with a disability.

In 2010 Ian was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That led to the question – what does a writer who has a disability and who loves to travel write about? The answer was pretty obvious. Because Ian uses a cane for mobility assistance, he built a website called Cane & Able Travel and that site won the inaugural Business disAbility Award for Business Innovation in 2012.

Back in 2003, Ian had a travel book on Australia published called The Small Guide to A Big Country (Explore) and he subsequently bought a travel agent’s licence (Small Guide Travel). Much of Ian’s research for that book is still valid. As Ian says, “They haven’t moved the Sydney Opera House or most of Australia’s main attractions, so all I really needed to do was update where necessary and add the accessibility and disability facility information. It’s a bonus that the Small Guide Travel consultants can assist with itinerary advice and bookings.”

When Ian travels these days he uses both a cane and a wheelchair for getting around. “Before my diagnosis with MS I guess I felt a bit of pity when I saw other people in wheelchairs. I didn’t realise that wheelchairs give a person with a disability so much freedom. Mine allows me to get around much better at airports, especially when the boarding gate can be a fair distance from check-in, and it makes art galleries, museums and theatre so much more accessible and enjoyable.”

Ian first took his wheelchair on a trip to Dubai, London and Paris in 2012. While there are websites with attractions and disability information for those destinations in the pipeline, Ian’s first priority is writing about Australia. In late 2012 he visited Cairns and road-tested attractions like Skyrail and Quicksilver’s Great Barrier Reef as well as disabled-friendly accommodation. From this came the destination specific website, Cairns Disabled Travel.

The next cab of the rank was Canberra. According to Ian, Canberra is arguably Australia’s most rewarding destination for travellers with a disability. “There are flights from all other major cities and centres, they have an excellent public transport and wheelchair-assisted taxi system and all the major attractions are accessible, with many of them free. There’s excellent accommodation, terrific restaurants and bars and so much to see and do. It really is a fabulous tourist destination. Sure, after a couple of weeks there might be some thumb twiddling but for a few days away it is fabulous.” Ian visited Canberra in 2011 and 2013 to research accessible accommodation and attractions and the Canberra Disabled Travel website is now live.

Ian has a multi-destination itinerary on the drawing board for all Australian capital cities and major regional centres so you could see him soon in your part of the country. But the Kingswood? No, he won’t be taking the Kingswood!

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SEO frequently asked questions

How does Google treat PDF documents ?

Google treats PDFs the same way as it does html and text. It will spider and index PDF documents (so long as they are not locked), and report them in the search engine results page. The rules about on-page optimisation for web pages also apply to PDF documents. Use headers, footers, headings, links and other devices to your advantage. It is a good idea to make a PDF copy of the entire web site and have it available as a download for people to read at their leisure and to forward as an e-mail attachment to others. You could have multiple versions of the document with emphasis on different keyword phrases.

 

If there isn’t much time or budget, what three things can you do to improve page ranking ?

Assuming you know what keyword phrase to focus on, the 3 most important elements would be:

1. Work your title tag and description tag
2. Make sure the page has the keyword phrase at the right density on the page AND it is included in headings and sub-headings
3. Work on getting quality incoming links via link exchanges, article submissions and directory submissions and make sure those links include the keyword phrase in the anchor text. In most markets just doing these three things will get you better search engine results over time.

How long does it take to notice an improvement in page ranking after SEO has been performed ?

This seems to be totally random. Google is reported to perform a major index update every 100 days or so. I have seen new sites get spidered, indexed and get good rankings in as little as 2 weeks. I’ve seen blog pages spidered, indexed and appearing in the search engine results pages in as little as 30 minutes (I kid you not). I have also seen sites wait for 5-6 months before they appear in the search engine results pages. Google will play with your mind, or so it appears. Be warned.

 

If I move a web site to a new domain, or change web page names, do I lose all my SEO weight ?

If you know how to arrange a 301 redirect, you should be able to maintain your rankings and PR. Contact your hosting provider for details. Make sure that you check it once in place to make sure it works. Here is a tool to help.

Will the file type on my web site affect my search engine ranking?

Google can only spider and index files of the correct format. These include .html, .txt, .pdf, .doc, .xls, .ppt There is no preference given to any of these formats. Google cannot index the contents of mp3, video, flash and so on.

 

Do search engines reject pages if they find questionable words? ie. Sex, bomb, Bin Laden?

No, sex, bomb and Bin Laden are all legitimate search terms depending on the context of the search.

 

Why when I do the same search over and over (within the space of a few minutes) do I get different results each time

Google and the other search engines have thousands of data centres (computers), all these computers are constantly being updated and may not have the same version of database tables.

 

Why when you do a search some companies appear 3 or 4 times on the first page? How can I achieve this for my web site?

Because they have different pages that include the search term. To achieve this have more than one page optimised for the same search term.

 

Am I best to have one page with lots of information or split long pages up into 3 or 4 pages?

Aim for a page length of 300 words and optimise that page for one search term.

Will the number of pages my web site have help my ranking?

Yes, Google likes big sites and sites that change their content regularly. Don’t rely on a brochure site if you want good search engine rankings.

 

If yes to above can I create a hundred dummy pages or just copy contents from a few of my pages onto many?

Yes, you can but you run the risk that someone will report you and all the pages on your domain will be deleted from the index.

Does having advertising (ie Google Adwords) on my web site help my ranking?

Theoretically no, but I have noticed that Google does index new pages linked to Adwords faster than if there is no Adwords.

 

Can having lots of pictures with relevant titles help my ranking – ie especially when people do image searches?

Yes. And try to put the keyword phrase in the image file name as well.eg. Blue_Nike_sneakers.jpg

 

Will Having video on my web site help results? How Much?

No, not from a search engine indexing point of view. It may, however, get you more incoming links, which is good for SEO.

Will having surveys help my results? How much?

No, not from a search engine indexing point of view unless the words in the survey add to the page’s keyword density. It may, however, get you more incoming links, which is good for SEO.

 

Is it best to have key words repeated through the text on my web page to help results

Yes, aim for a keyword density of 2-5%, but make it seem natural.

 

Can I hide a competitor’s company name in my web site so I get high ranking when someone enters that name as a search?

Yes, but there are legal implications in doing so. You are better off doing a product review on the competitor’s product on a personal blog.

 

Will a search engine pick up the names of images I have on a page and use these to lift results?

Yes and yes.

 

If I was creating a web site for Vodaphone could I have images hidden in my web site called “Telstra” and one “Optus” in the hope that seach engines would tag these when someone searchs on Optus or Telstra? Is this ethical?

Yes, but it is doubtful that you would outrank such big brand sites. As fas as ethics are concerned, look deep into your SEO heart and then get a legal opinion.

 

What are unethical SEO tricks I should avoid?

Anything that you are not comfortable with or could result in you having your web site banned by Google.

 

What tricks do clever search engines now find and discard when they find them

  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword stuffing in the meta tags
  • Duplicate title tags
  • Hidden text
  • Interlinked domains are registered around the same time
  • Forum, blog and guestbook spamming

 

 

 

Yes, all other SEO factors being equal, product_name.html would rank better than page_1.html for the same search term.

 

Do search engines consider the page names in their ranking and look for specific words in the pages titles?

Yes and yes. Your key phrase should be in the following elements wherever possible:

  • Domain name (sometimes difficult and only applies if all your business comes via the Internet0
  • Page Title tag
  • Page heading
  • Body copy at the right keyword density
  • Image file names and alt tags
  • Page name

 

Do you need to refresh pages so the date is recent so that the search engines pick them up?

No, but it is a good idea to add pages to a web site frequently. Google loves fresh content and big web sites.

 

Will me clicking on my own link in a search engine make the engines move me up?

No. Here’s a web site that makes fun of the concept.

 

Do search engines record which entries are getting clicked on and use this in their analysis? Can I make a robot that will do this?

Only on paid advertising, not on organic search results. You could build a robot, but it would be a waste of energy. You would be better off hiring some Click Monkeys !

 

Will the length of my web address have any affect on my ranking ?

Yes, overly long or complicated addresses are a disadvantage. Some database driven content management systems create dynamic urls, the url changes depending on a search term.

 

If I have the option should I use an abstract company name or something related to my industry ?

From a branding point of view, go for the abstract, from an SEO point of view, go for keywords in the domain. If all of your leads will come via the Internet, then go with the key phrase in the domain and company name.

 

What two suggestions can you make when picking a web name that will help my ranking in the long run?

  • 1. Base in on the search term
  • 2. Make it short, easy to say,easy to remember and easy to spell.

How does the “Similar pages” in Google work – Does this link you to the most similar pages to the topic you clicked on?

It is supposed to find pages that are close in content to the one you clicked on (competitor offerings and so on). Unfortunately it doesn’t work very well. Here is some background on it.

 

Does anyone ever click on “Similar pages

Yes, the bored, the lonely, SEO practitioners and Google staff. Personally, I think it’s a waste of time.

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SEO Market Quakes in Fear

SEARCHWIKIGoogle, in a posting on its official blog last week, said a new feature known as SearchWiki allows users to customise search results by promoting or demoting according to their own preferences.

SearchWiki lets users who have a Google account rearrange their search results, re-ranking websites by moving them up or down in the results page.

Useless or spammy search results can be deleted and others added.

“With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site;’ Google said. “You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don’t feel belong.”

The California based, organisation said the changes in rankings will be shown the next time users log on and will not change searches done by others … yet.

SEO experts are fearful that announcement could lead to the fragmentation of their SEO markets with search results being inconsistent across user profiles.

SearchWiki marks the first time that Google has encouraged users to modify their search results.

A video explaining the new feature is online at http://googleblog.blogspot.com.

Google dominates the internet search market, being used for more than 80 per cent of all Australian searches in October, according to industry monitors.

The company also announced in another blog posting that it was discontinuing Lively, a virtual world website similar to Second Life, at the end of December 2008.

“In July we launched lively in Google Labs because we wanted users to be able to interact with their friends and express themselves online in unique ways,” a spokes-bot for Google said.

“But we’ve also always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks, not every bet is going to pay off,” it added.

“It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritise our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps (applications) business.”

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