Thursday, 24 April 2014

Trips to Oxford, England

While the weathers terrible, I figured it might be nice to share some of my trip to the South. The weather in there is always 10x better than up here in the North, can you believe it didn't rain once in the entire week I was there?! We traveled around quite a bit, we managed to cover Oxford, Windsor, Eton, Warwick and some other smaller places. Probably the most momentous occasion was when I VISITED BICESTER VILLAGE, yes, I had my first experience of discount Vivienne Westwood. I have to say, I didn't actually buy a lot as the stock is generally pretty bad in outlets, but I did get a few bits and bobs. 
Between all of the photos above (of which some are disastrous in quality, sorry, I was too busy being a tourist to check them) we've pretty much covered both city Oxford and University Oxford. Call me a massive nerd but there's something about the Bodleian Library that makes the language student within me want to cry like a fan girl. Writing this post is particularly exciting for me as I'm rekindling my love affair with the South in a few weeks. I'll be going down to Oxford and Cambridge in a few weeks for University trips. Provided this more lifestyle-y type of post goes down swimmingly with you guys, I may treat you to Part 2 - Eton & Windsor, and perhaps Part 3 - Uni trips soon!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

SEO Tips For Bloggers PART 1: Title & Description Tips

I'm forever getting emails from new or slightly less experienced bloggers looking for tips on increasing their traffic or getting their name out there. I'm all for giving back some of the support I've gained over the years, and so I created a mini-series of Blog Tips and Tricks. It's been a while since I've posted any recently, so I'm kicking it all back off with some core tips on searching techniques. 
Sometimes on blogs their choice of words, titles or paragraph structure may seem a little odd to read. Theres two main possible reasons for this - either writing isn't their biggest strength, or their using SEO. 
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. To break it down further, its a method used by website owners to make their site (or blog in this case) more search friendly. Whether this be with Google, BING or any other search engine, a series of steps can make your blog much more likeable and therefore increase your traffic by leaps and bounds.
I know SEO is very controversial with bloggers as some people feel it gets out of control and their blogs become method written. Personally, I use a small amount of SEO as I'm not really interested in making money from my blog but still want to get the most out of blogging. I think for an independent, personal blog too much SEO can really ruin it. Of course, for those who blog for a living, I'd say its just a way of earning more money, and there's nothing wrong with that. How much SEO you use on your blog is completely up to you. For a while I was quite anti it, as I was with sponsoring and money making in general. Times change and now that I know how, I can fully control how much SEO (and indeed "sponsoring") I use. Below I've listed the methods I use and later on I briefly mention a few methods used by other blogs and websites.
The biggest and best form of SEO in my eyes is the way you title your work. The first obvious title is your blog name. There are two ways you can go - come up with an original, personal name you really like and use SEO in other ways (like I did), or you can use SEO in your blog name. For example, if your blog is a nail themed blog written by and for teenagers, a blog title such a 'Teenage Nail Art Blog' will do you pretty well in terms of SEO. That way, you've opened yourself up to many different types of searches including those for teen blogs, nail blogs and nail art tutorials, all of which are common searches. 
If you use an image header like me (i.e you upload the image of the writing, rather than use the pre-set Blogger headers) then you can cheat slightly. My header at the top of this page only says 'A Is For Ayla' however, if you're a follower of mine you'll notice that on the reading list my blog shows up as 'A Is For Ayla: A British Teen Beauty Blog' - linking back to the whole 'opening yourself up to different types of searches'. I'll admit personally that ever since I changed my blog title I've seen an enormous rise is traffic from 'teen blog' or 'uk beauty blog' searches. Its worth thinking about if you find that your lovely, unique blog title isn't getting you noticed by search engines.
As well as your blog title, you need to think about your actual post titles. This is particularly difficult for fashion bloggers, not so much for beauty, lifestyle or cookery blogs. For beauty blogs, really think about what the key words for that particular post is. E.g 'Fridays FOTN' will not stand a chance against 'Night Makeup: Black Smoky Eye Using Drugstore Cosmetics'. Again its all about using the exact (or similar) words that searchers of Google ect. will use to find your post. Generally the longer the title the better, fit in as many key words as you can without being silly with it. This is one of the most noticeable types of SEO and it can annoy readers if you go too far. Scrolling down my reading list its very easy for me to see who uses SEO by reading their post titles. 
There's a lot more I could say on the matter, and time permitting I will. Half of you have probably switched off by now so I'll come back soon and do a Part 2 and possibly further ones. I hope this post was helpful, let me know if there's anything else specific you'd like to know! To read more from the Blogger Tips and Tricks series, simply use the search box to the right of this post!
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Saturday, 12 April 2014

L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream | Review

My family are probably some of the biggest L'Occitane users out there. Between us, we've probably got every item in the store covered. There's just something about the formulas, packaging, marketing and even the staff in their lovely stores (ladies at Leeds you are wonderful!) that makes the whole L'Occitane experience so amazing. This is all the more exciting as I'm pretty sure this will be one of the most expensive beauty items ever featured on AIFA!

Immortelle, their anti-ageing line, has received masses of rave reviews and for many people, it has been hailed at a 'miracle' solution to ageing skin. Personally, I wasn't jumping out of my seat to try this for obvious reasons - I'm still a teenager. I left the testing to the older women in my family. I'm not the most observant person in the world so usually I would barely notice changes brought on my anti-ageing creams however, this product is so so different from the rest. You can noticeably see the difference within quite a short period of time. The thing I love the most about it is the 'glow' you get, it's really like no other I've seen from a product!

The Immortelle Divine Cream claims to lighten dark spots, refine facial contours and lift features amongst many others. I noticed such an improvement in their skin that I have started to use this every now and then. To see the best results, it's advised you apply morning and night to the face and neck area, avoiding the eyes. An intriguing part of the Immortelle line is their research conducted, some of the results were so surprising! You can read some of the testing results here

Aaaaand now on to the price and availability section. I've been dreading this for the past 10 minutes! I won't lie and say its affordable for the average person. I wouldn't say it was a product worth having just to use a few times a month either. I'd advise it for those who are becoming serious about caring for their skin and 'reversing' the signs of ageing. I'm glad to see L'Occitane stores popping up all over the place recently. In the North West, I know of boutique stores in Leeds, Manchester Trafford and York. You can also find them as a concession in many stores and smaller, independent boutiques apothecaries. 
L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream £69 / 50ml

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