Mission Control

Learn a little about who we are, where we come from and why we’re here…

Back Story

St. James’s Gate Brewery, The Home of Guinness, was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759. Guinness Enterprise Centre was founded next door in a 6,000 sq ft warehouse in the year 2000. SURF MERCHANT, registered as a business in 2008 by Jonny Darling, moved in to the Guinness Enterprise Centre in 2016.
Jonny graduated from UCD in 2002 with a bachelor of commerce honours degree. He travelled extensively before settling in Cape Town, South Africa to take up an apprenticeship with digital agency Clickthinking, since acquired by Aegis Media, now part of the global iProspect group. Head-hunted back to Ireland, Jonny took up a seat in Ireland’s first dedicated search marketing division at leading Irish digital agency Cybercom, now In The Company of Huskies. Late 2008, Jonny travelled on, starting his journey as founder of SURF MERCHANT.
Self-employed now, Jonny wore many digital hats through 2008-2014. Consultant marketing partner at Combined Media, freelance agent to Rothco, not to mention over a hundred engagements directly with various business clients across Ireland & the UK, assisting with SEO, web analytics, google marketing, social media management and local advertising.
SURF MERCHANT took up residence in a number of incubator spaces across the city, including the Digital Hub, Liffey Trust and Fumbally Exchange. Subsequent to many successful collaborations on WordPress website optimisation projects, SURF MERCHANT relocated to Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin 8 to bring the WordPress optimisation services offering to the next level.

The Story of Now

Jonny Darling is a lone wolf WordPress webmaster, a one-man WordPress service outfit. 10+ years of professional experience has taught Jonny much about business as it has website SEO. His expertise hinges on his in-depth WordPress optimisation insight. SURF MERCHANT does not set out to be another full-service agency. The opposite. Jonny does what he knows and knows what he does; WordPress optimisation.
In Ireland, stand-alone WordPress optimisation and management services are thin on the ground. Many website design and development companies offer “website support”. Reactive in nature, these monthly payment plans provide website hosting, domain renewals, perhaps a automated google analytics report and pay-per-hour support requests. In the UK & US, bespoke WordPress maintenance companies are more common place, a consequence of 27% of the internet being produced atop WordPress open-source publishing software.

A numbers game, low-cost WordPress maintenance packages (sub €100 p/m) scale by automation. According to the 80:20 rule, WordPress maintenance services are 80% automated software, 20% human managed. These WordPress plans generally feature the following:

  • WordPress hosting
  • WordPress back-ups
  • WordPress plugin installation
  • WordPress plugin updates
  • WordPress malware & spam guards
  • WordPress security checks
  • WordPress caching plugin installation
SURF MERCHANT WordPress services do things differently, we do more than maintain, we make WordPress websites work harder, better, faster, stronger. To do so, 80% of our monthly WordPress optimisation service is manual management and 20% technology-supported. No number of bots, scripts or pings compares to the efficacy of hands-on optimisation & reporting.

WordPress management is time intensive as anyone who has tried to maintain and update their own WordPress website can testify to. There’s no quick-fix. It takes dedicated attention-to-detail, experimentation and continuous change to keep a website live that is fresh, functional and performing at its’ best.

Jonny’s mission is to service the WordPress websites of 5-10 loyal Irish business clients. It’s a humble, realistic goal. Humble because at €400 a-month service delivery, two to four thousand euro revenue is not earth-shattering, but it is sustainable, and it’s enough for Jonny’s needs. Realistic because it accounts for the requirements of every WordPress website project he takes on. Jonny is cognisant that if the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, and that to deliver on his promise, to provide the personal service he is highly regarded for, he must take on less volume of work in pursuit of quality over quantity.

Our fully mananged WordPress optimisation service includes the following:

  • Dedicated AWS cloud hosting on Irish server IP
  • WordPress server varnish technology
  • SSL cert server installation for https by default
  • WordPress server PHP 7 http/2
  • WordPress caching & speed optimisation
  • WordPress security hardening
  • WordPress secure cloud back-up
  • WordPress SEO management
  • WordPress image optimisation
  • WordPress page/post/product/portfolio optimisation
  • WordPress URL optimisation & 404 redirect management
  • WordPress Google webmaster tools validation
  • WordPress sitemap.xml submission & indexation
  • Google Analytics data clean-up and reporting dashboard
  • WordPress uptime monitoring & error alerts
  • WordPress client portal w/real-time SEO performance reporting
  • Hand-written email reports documenting work-in-progress
  • Face-to-face meetings and frequent phone calls

More details on cost/benefit and service features may be found here:

Connect on LinkedInJonny Darling has operated professionally in the field of local SEO and WordPress optimisation for over 10 years, working with a number of high-profile international digital agencies and as a “lone wolf” freelance WordPress optimisation expert in Ireland.Jonny Darling // WordPress Webmaster

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