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Google are bringing us 30% more local enquiries. We had to change to cope. P.S. SEO is dead.

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Our enquiries are getting more local.

Google are bringing us 30% more local enquiries. We had to change to cope. P.S. SEO is dead.

I seem to be spending more time out visiting towns and cities nearby, with less time travelling, and more time with potential customers.  

I blame Google.

We’ve noticed a significant change in the type of enquiries received at our main business.  Expressions of interest in our products and services are getting more and more local.

Web enquiries and telephone calls come to us daily from all over the world, but increasingly we are finding that it is local organisations (increasingly from London) calling about our e-learning systems and services.  “How did you find us?” is always how I end a call, and more often than not the answer is “Google.”

As a business which covers the whole country, I first found the statistics in our Analytics account alarming.  The stats show (when compared with a year ago) our national enquiries decreasing and our local enquiries increasing. We’re getting less interest from the Midlands and up North, and more from the Home Counties and London.  Had we done anything differently? No, not at all…. but Google have. 

Google is going local.

I’ve never been a fan of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Profit orientated SEO companies attempt to manipulate the way Google displays search results.  Some tactics they use are dubious and the ultimate outcome has invalidated the quality and integrity of search results, and Google knows it.  Finally something has been done about it, but the impact is affecting our business. 

SEO has always been a necessary evil for businesses like ours who need regular enquiries to keep our pipeline moving.  SEO expertise is ‘bought in’ by businesses to guarantee products and services return, ideally on the first page of search results for a specific keyword string. 

Over the years I’ve worked on SEO first hand, I’ve bought in services from individuals, and paid vast amounts of money to various SEO companies to understand my companies, and help try to reach potential customers.

Overall the success has rarely been worth the investment.

We’ve experienced SEO companies damaging our URL for the long term through Black Hat techniques, and we’ve experienced SEO companies who have done absolutely nothing for months on end while taking a monthly retainer fee while claiming that “SEO is a long and complex process.” Personally, I think SEO is a bit like having a wee in the wind.

I think it is fair to say we’ve all be a victim of bad SEO company trying their best to help their companies reach new customers; as web searchers, how many times have you searched for something, been returned so called ‘relevant’ results, clicked a link to then be delivered irrelevant content, which then makes you immediately click back and try a different search term?   SEO companies are a big cause of the ‘irrelevant results’ problem which search engines appear to be now fighting back.  

Why would you use an external company to promote your business anyway?  The people who best market a business effectively is the people who actually work there.  You know your products inside out, you know your services inside out, and if you talk to your customers you know what they like and what you should improve.  

Google appears to have fought back against the SEO industry by making it impossible to be on the first page for a specific search term as search results are now based on delivering local relevant knowledge.  SEO companies can now not guarantee to their customers that they can return a specific business, product or service in the first page of Google results for the entire country, and SEO companies have no useful place in the future of the internet. Smart SEO companies are already refocusing their business activity around social media and interacting with leads rather than generating them. 

Anyway, back to our challenge…

A healthy pipeline to us means an increased exposure to potential customers, capital to continually innovate our products and services, new features to excite and keep existing customers interested, and referrals from existing to new customers, this ultimately leads to our continued growth.

Looking at our Google Analytics, I can see more visits from local web searches from surrounding towns, searching on terms such as “public sector e-learning”, “e-learning authoring” and “e-learning provider” – when I compare with a year ago the same terms show visitors to our site from all over the UK compared with the concentrated map that surrounds us today.

So what has happened?  Should we be worried?  What have we done?

What happened:  Google got local

Google’s new USP is showing people where it is, rather than what it is.

Have you noticed now that when you search on Google for something it tries to relate (where possible) to something local to where you are searching?  A few years ago searching for ‘pet shop’ would return a definition a pet shop, while today Google tries to return a pet shop near you, with directions, and if possible recent customer experiences.  Google camera cars have been frantically driving around the UK, photographing every street, mapping every business and feeding that information back to users through search results.

We as a business are now experiencing the outcome of that strategy.

Google is bringing local to its searchers, and therefore we’re getting more local enquiries.

Are we worried:  No.

At first I was, when a whole market is taken away from a business it is not easy, you only have to look at poor Truprint whose multi million pound business was wiped out overnight by the invention of the digital camera, the poor SEO companies that built their entire business on ‘first page on Google guarantee’ are experiencing similar.

What we are now discovering is that we are spending less time on the road, and more time with our potential customers. We arrive at meetings more alert, we can relate to and share local stories, and ultimately we are only a short distance away should we be needed to help clarify a query or provide on-site support.  Compare this with when we had more enquires from further afield, we’ve actually become more cost efficient and, with less time on the road, more environmentally friendly.  

More interestingly, our business is now an extension of the Google experience.  Our people are adding value first hand to what Google returned as a ‘search result’, and we call a ‘potential customer’ – we’ve jumped out of the Google page, visited the customer and, more often than not, sealed the deal. 

Obviously there is always the concern that further afield potential customers who would have found us a year ago, through a traditional national search, won’t find us as easily; I think this is what Google wants, they know that a Manchester based searcher is better off linked with a Manchester based company to extend their own Google experience.  I also think Google is giving a two fingered wave at the SEO companies who have been trying every trick in the book to manipulate the system and steal away what would have been lucrative AdWords revenue. 

What we are doing: We’re learning

With Google going more and more down the road of localization, I fully expect our business to concentrate more on delivering local solutions to local organisations.  We still generate a tremendous amount of long distance business through our procurement channels, through our channel partner programme, and through the Government Cloud, where we are listed as an approved Government supplier for e-learning.   

Our challenge will be to increase our channel partners, who will in turn be able to offer our products and services to customers local to them, and I’m working on how to do this.

I expect that this new Google Algorithm is going to hurt businesses in industries who need to sell their product to people away from their base, such as a Cornish ice-cream maker trying to supply hotels in London, but returning in local searches more frequently in Cornwall. I expect this is also part of the Google strategy, as the Cornish ice-cream maker will have to consider AdWords to buy space on London based search results to advertise and promote their product, again another kick in the teeth to the SEO companies. 

Reflecting on the change in enquiries has been a positive experience for our business, both in how we deal with potential customers, and how we meet the needs of our existing clients.  

While Google gets local, you need to get smart. If you have an SEO contract with an SEO company, cancel it now. 

Written by Matthew Eaves, Operations Director at CLS UK. CLS design, build and deliver elearning systems and courses to Business, Education and Government across the world.  

Busy day of interviews

We’ve had a busy day of interviews at Creative Learning Systems for some new roles in our elearning authoring and customer support teams.

Big thanks to the interview panel, who deserve a well earned ‘Costa all round’…

Costa Coolers

Costa Coolers

CreativeLMS Learning Platform at E2BN Conference

E2BN Stand 2014

CreativeLMS E2BN Stand 2014

Today some of the CreativeLMS team have been on our stand and walking around talking to exhibitors at the E2BN conference. There are around 200 people here at the exhibition. We’ve always been cautious of trade fairs, often finding that the people walking around are not decision makers, and not the ones with the budget to purchase systems and solutions.

We’ve found that most of the people walking around are from Primary Schools, looking for tools, tips and advice to support delivery of the curriculum in the classroom.

Our products and services have been marketed for Local Government and Public Sector people, and we’ve had some interesting conversations today.

Good also to see The British Council here. Matt from our team worked for the British Council in 2005 to support work after the tsunami, working with people affected by the economic impact to help regenerate tourism through the production of films by the younger generation telling the story of regeneration and revitalised tourism industry.

If you want to see us, we’ll be here at E2BN again tomorrow, demonstrating our products and services, and helping people understand the power of technology to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve engagement in the field of elearning systems and services.

See you here!

Stand 36, E2BN.
24th and 25th June 2014, The Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre, Beds MK44 3AR.

Learning Management System Special Offer at E2BN

Tomorrow is the very first time the Creative Learning Systems team have exhibited at a conference, and the first time the team have been to E2BN in seven years.

Traditionally exhibitions have not worked for us, we’ve often found that the people that attend them are bombarded by companies and resellers trying to promote and push their products and services to delegates that are often looking for coffee and a mind rest.

We’re at the conference unexpectedly, but we’re keen to make a good impression to the people walking round, which is why we’ve made an exclusive deal for CreativeLMS for anyone attending the conference.  To find out what the special deal is for our Learning Management System software as a service, you’ll just have to attend.

See you there, tomorrow, bright and early!

E2BN Conference is at the Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre, Beds MK44 3AR on 24th and 25th June 2014.

CreativeLMS Deal

CreativeLMS Special Offer E2BN

See you at the E2BN Conference 24th and 25th June 2014

CLS Banner

Look out for our Banner!

Creative Learning Systems will be exhibiting at the E2BN Conference at the Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre, Beds MK44 3AR on 24th and 25th June 2014.

Our team will be on hand to showcase and demonstrate our Learning Management System, and Learning Management Services.  Our team have not attended the show since 2007, and it will be interesting to see what has changed in the past seven years.

CLS deliver learning systems and services to business, education, healthcare, government and sport all over the world.

We’re also offering a one off deal for anyone who talks to us on our stand, but to find out what it is, you’ll just have to come and see us.

Look forward to seeing you there!

World Cup Sweepstake Draw

Angie was not in the office today, and she insisted her team was drawn for her (before they all ran out!)..

On behalf of Angie, Kelly from the eLearning Customer Support team drew the following…

Maldon Mud Race

Creative Learning Systems Educational Designer Ryan Sewell dressed in the oldest clothes he could find to take part in the annual Maldon Mud Race!

The mud race is a traumatic experience for all involved, the competitors have brave the filthy mud and cold waters of Maldon, Essex, to raise money for charities in and around the local area.

Ryan was branded in the CLS logo, and looked pretty good standing on the start line next to a group of teletubbies, a policeman, and a man dressed in a wedding dress!

Ryan took part for ‘InterAct’, a charity for Vulnerable Adults, and did remarkably well, finishing the course in just under ten minutes, narrowly beating a naked man, and Mr Blobby.

Cheered on by the CLS team Ryan has helped raise vital funds that will go towards supporting young people with learning disabilitiesm and people with challenging mental health… but has pledged he will never take part again, and is looking for another CLS team member to take his place next year!

During the week Ryan spends his time in the CLS Chelmsford office designing learning materials and systems for clients that span the world, helping organisations to embed learning systems and materials into organisations to help improve efficiency and save money. If you have an learning challenge, give him a call!

Ryan completed the 2014 event in 96th place out of 300 entries.  Well done Ryan.

Ryan Sewell

Ryan (with camera on his head!) at the Maldon Mud Race

CLS complete huge learning systems upgrade for Public Sector, on time, and on budget.

One of the biggest challenges we have as an E-Learning solutions provider is the constant need to innovate, but also the absolute requirement our customers demand to adapt and support their existing and legacy systems.

It is a tough challenge, but it is a nice one.

For the past three years CLS software and support has helped revolutionise how E-Learning is delivered in local government and authorities throughout the UK. Our team has been delivering systems that are accessible on legacy infrastructures (such as Microsoft Windows XP) and outgoing browsers (including Internet Explorer 6).

One of the biggest complaints we’ve heard (and acted on) about systems suppliers is the requirement that clients keep up with the technology required to operate the supplier system.  In a recession, with deep financial cuts, that just is not possible for all organisations, and as a innovative systems provider we’ve had to do some clever adaptations to our systems and processes to make them accessible on all kids of technology, of all ages, and all speeds.

In 2011 our developers achieved what the world was saying could not be done, and successfully made Moodle 2.1 work flawlessly on Internet Explorer 6.  This work empowered our team to support clients who still had a timeline which included use of IE6 and a reliance on that particular browser to access custom systems that had not yet been upgraded within their organisation.

Early 2014 saw our global team develop a migration upgrade plan to help a group of public sector organisations upgrade their learning management system to leave behind old technology and progress forward onto modern operating systems and browsers.

We’ve transferred millions of records of data for tens of thousands of users, all while keeping the systems online, with no loss of access.

We’re quite happy to look at the impossible challenges, and come up with safe, secure, robust solutions that help organisations move forward on their existing technology.

As a Crown Preferred Supplier CLS has been delivering E-Learning systems and solutions into Local Government to help improve efficiency and reduce training costs.  Local Government systems vary depending on the underlying purposes, our system must compliment the technology it sits on.

So, if you need a system that is not ‘off the shelf’ and can flex to do exactly what you need it to do, no matter the technology you have to run it on, get in touch!

Creative Learning Systems Supply Home Office


The Home Office Department of the Immigration Services Commissioner for the United Kingdom selects Creative Learning System for all immigration training system.

London, England – October 2012 – Creative Learning Systems (CLS), a leader in e-learning is pleased to announce the Home office of Immigration has chosen CLS to deliver training services.  This partnership represents hundreds of hours of critical curriculum that Creative Learning Systems will develop and deploy using a custom learning management system.

The solution incorporates the most modern technology, Moodle 2.3, to create a secure managed environment for learning. This system is a viable alternative to the cost prohibitive self managed learning systems with an exceptional level of functionality and support.

Edit 4th June 2014:

This procurement service has rebranded and is now known as the Crown Commercial Services.


  • We are now enthusiastically promoting e-learning across the authority. The big challenge for us now is continuing to embed elearning into our everyday development practices and to make it a way of life here.Organisation Development Advisor, Luton Borough Council
  • We gave out the login details to the users, they logged in, nobody had any questions! No training required! Brilliant!
    IT Advisor, Waltham Holy Cross Junior School
  • I just wanted to thank you on behalf of the OISC for all of your hard work and efforts in launching the new CPD site. I think that the results speak for themselves as we have already started to see advisers logging on. I look forward to working with you again in the future.Team Manager, Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner


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