5 Things Your Business Should Not Ignore

Business owners – you know that there are a million-and-one things that need doing that are unconnected with what the business actually does. From accounting, to recruiting, to legal compliance, to managing staff and marketing … it goes on and on. It all conspires to eat up your time and drive you slowly crazy. But most of these non-core activities are best left in the hands of specialist professionals. This includes growing and managing your online presence.

Often the online side of business is delegated to employees who have to take time out from their official roles to send out a mailshot or tweet a few things from the company account. This achieves little and could be using up valuable employee time.

The answer is to outsource digital marketing to a specialist who can push your business forward on a number of fronts. But where to start?

Here are five elements to online success that you should not ignore

1. SEO

Although many business owners have a surface understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO), it would be risky to plan a strategy with limited knowledge. There’s a huge amount of misleading or out-of-date information about SEO on the web. SEO really needs a dedicated professional to deliver growth and avoid disaster.

“SEO works on a rather technical level and requires information that can take time to get to grips with” says Gordon Smith, Director of UKcentric.

“The world of SEO changes constantly so for any strategy to really work you need someone working on it at all times.”

See our beginner’s guide to SEO for more tips on what your website needs to stay well placed in Google search results.

2. Paid advertising

Paid online advertising can take many forms – from Pay-Per-Click systems such as Google AdWords to boosted Facebook posts and promoted Tweets on Twitter. Which is best for your business and how do you make sure it delivers ROI?

“PPC is a big area. In AdWords alone there are five professional Google exams that are recommended to be taken before somebody is unleashed on a real PPC account.

We’ve sadly seen customers waste thousands of pounds on PPC because of a lack of experience. Specialist PPC companies can see what works across a wide range of businesses and bring that knowledge to you”, says Gordon.

Make sure you’re dealing with a qualified professional before handing over any money. Ask your partner company how much ad budget they currently control on behalf of their customers and what success stories they have had.

3. Good hosting and data backups

Making sure your hosting package is robust enough to cope with the demands of your growing business is essential. It’s not just about speed and availability. For example, when was the last time your site was backed-up? If you don’t know the answer to this question your business is at risk.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that because you pay for web hosting, your website cannot be permanently deleted. This happened in 2016 to thousands of UK companies when 123-reg deleted dozens of web servers by accident. Many of the cheaper hosting packages do not offer any backup service, so it is essential to make sure you pay for one that does.

The quality of hosting packages also effect website speed and level of customer service.

“If your main audience is in the UK you don’t want to host in America,” explains Gordon. “The time it takes to load your website could be up to a second slower if it’s hosted elsewhere. The drop-off rate is very significant for a page that takes two seconds to load versus one that takes three seconds. Increasing that page load speed by one second can be the difference between gaining a new customer and having them fall into the hands of the competition.

See our beginner’s guide to web hosting for more information.

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4. Social media

Social media can be a fantastic marketing tool. The common business adage of getting in front of customers seven times in seven different ways is definitely helped with social media.

Social media should be well planned with plenty of research to be really effective. The buzzword of this year amongst marketers was all about creating ‘snackable content’ – short and easy to understand from just a quick glance. Social media is the perfect place to come up with some short, pithy ideas that customers will enjoy reading, or watching as they scroll down their news feeds.

“The key to a good social media strategy for a business is to choose your channels carefully to ensure a good fit with your business needs,” says Gordon. “Focus on high quality engagement with a small number of channels, don’t spread too thin across many channels.”

“Once you’ve chosen your channels, deliver a healthy mix of snackable content, timely news-related material that’s relevant to your customers’ needs, and marketing material. And don’t forget – social media is all about engagement, so make sure you’re monitoring and responding to your comments and that you’re fully engaged with your community.”

Companies with a marketing budget will can take advantage of paid ads on social networks that boost your content to potentially thousands more people to drive more clicks to your website. This year we have seen many successful Facebook boosts.

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5. Website support and maintenance

Not to be confused with desktop or hardware support, website support is vital for any company with an online presence.

“Fixing and updating websites can eat up a lot of time and the results are rarely impressive”

Gordon recommends checking your website to see if any of the following are there. If they are, your website may be in much need of a vital makeover to bring it into 2017.

  • Copyright notices: websites usually have a copyright notice in their footer, appearing on every page of the site. If your website has an out of date notice like, ‘Copyright 2009’ across the bottom, it will create the impression that it is a little neglected.

“The number of websites I come across whose copyright notice is out of date is remarkable,” says Gordon. “It’s such a small detail but one that is so important for giving the right first impressions of a website.”

  • Broken links: there are few things worse on a website than clicking a link that doesn’t work. Checking for broken links is a very important part of maintaining your company’s web presence. We don’t recommend doing this manually. It will take far too long and you won’t catch all the broken links anyway. Install an automated link checker or use a tool such as Screaming Frog to get an automated report.
  • User experience (UX): Bad or confusing navigation, typos, missing images or inability to use a website on a mobile phone are issues that need fixing to make sure your website is a good advert for your company.

All things considered we strongly recommend finding a reliable partner to help you to grow online whilst avoiding the potential disasters such as deleted websites or search engine loss. Of course UKcentric provides all of the above services so please do get in touch to discuss what we can do for you.

Do I Really Need to be on Twitter?

What do Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Craig and Keira Knightley have in common? Answer: none of them are on Twitter. Can we learn anything from these stars of the silver screen?

Do we really need to be on Twitter?

It’s a question that we are asked by nearly all of our new customers. Very often they feel they don’t really “get” Twitter, but they are constantly being told they need to be on it regardless of whether they see what all the fuss is about or not!

We think that, just like everything connected with social media, the answer lies in whether it brings you closer to your business goals, and if so, whether it is the best use of time and resources.

So we compiled some questions to help you decide whether your business needs to be on Twitter at all.

Are your customers on the move?

If your customers are always on the move, they’re far more likely to look something up online on their smartphones rather than a desktop computer.

Twitter is perfect for on-the-go customers who prefer bite-sized information. Known in the marketing world as ‘micro moments‘, these small amounts of time (literally minutes seconds) spent quickly looking something up on a smartphone are extremely valuable to businesses. On average we have 150 micro moments per day each!

Recent Google studies have shown that up to 40% of customers who research a product or service on their smartphone then go on to purchase from a desktop computer later. This shows that although a sale may not be made as soon as a customer reads your tweet from a smartphone – they’re far more likely to stick with your brand once are ready to buy.

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Do your customers respond to offers and promotions?

Everyone loves a good discount – and the social media marketing world is no exception. In fact, spreading the news of a special promotion on social media is a great place to advertise to your customers for free! Twitter and Facebook are often used to give loyal social followers extra offers just for social channels. You may have seen tweets of this nature:

“Enter the code TWITTER15 to get an extra 15% off today only!”

Rewarding additional brand loyalty – e.g., following on Twitter – is an excellent way to win repeat custom from an increasingly dedicated customer base.

Get to know your Twitter customer habits

To make an informed decision on whether your business will really benefit from using Twitter, it’s worth looking around for some solid evidence that it works for businesses. Luckily, we’ve already done that! Here are some great insights recently revealed about the UK Twittersphere:

UK’s top reasons for following a brand on Twitter:

  • 68% – to keep up to date with the latest news about the brand
  • 68% – to receive offers/competitions
  • 63% – to receive more information related to my personal interest

From these stats, we can see that there are lots of people who emotionally invest in a brand to the extent that they want to be kept up to date with news, events, offers and deals. It makes sense to cater to this loyal group of customers on Twitter – doesn’t it?

Twitter is also a great informal place to add some more of your business’s character. This is a great opportunity to treat your loyal customers to extra info such as behind the scenes shots, sneak previews of new product lines and personalised messages to engage customers. This all helps build the persona of the brand.

 

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Are you prepared to use Twitter as customer support?

Invariably even though you planned to use Twitter to promote your business, your customers may have other ideas. Frequently when complaints go unheeded through the “normal” channels, customers take to Twitter to air their grievance in public.

Being able to quickly respond to a customer’s tweet could save the reputation of your business as the world will see you’re there ready to resolve their issues. People will put much more faith in the services of a pro-active business whether it’s saying thank you to a positive tweet, or giving support to a negative one.

The likelihood that people are already talking about your brand or business online is very high – whether you are on Twitter or not! Creating a Twitter account is a great way of spinning these situations into positives with fast-replying and helpful social engagement. You may even gain additional customers impressed by your attentiveness towards customers online …

Since its birth in 2006, Twitter has outgrown its fledgling stage of “digital shouting” from its users saying what they had for breakfast to a fantastic, free marketing tool. Investing time and budget to get your business on Twitter may be the best digital decision you ever make!

For more advice on online marketing and websites, have a look at our blog. Get in touch to arrange a consultation.

Add HTTPS to Your Website to Help Search Rankings

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In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be used as a factor in search rankings

At first, webmasters saw little difference in search rankings and at that time only around 7% of page-one Google results used HTTPS. That figure has climbed dramatically in the intervening two years, and now around 30% of top-level Google websites are using HTTPS.

What is HTTPS?
HTTPS secures web traffic as it passes between the user and the web server. The traffic passes through an encryption process, meaning it is less easy to hack. This is particularly important when the user is sending confidential data such as name and address details or credit card data across the web.

How do I get HTTPS on my website?

To secure your website, you need to install an SSL certificate. This is a document that can be read by your web browser which is signed by an authoritative source, and giving a guarantee that the website belongs to who it claims to be, and ensure that traffic is encrypted as it passes through.

You’ll recognise the presence of an SSL certificate because:

  • The URL of the webpage will begin with https:// rather than http://
  • There will be a padlock icon near to the URL in your web browser
  • In some cases the padlock icon will also display the registered owner of the website

Is there more than one type of SSL certificate?

Yes. There are at least three levels of SSL certificate, and they vary widely in price. Here’s a handy reference guide:

Extended Validation (EV) Organisation Validation (OV) Domain Validation (DV)
Encryption Yes Yes Yes
Level of validation Thorough vetting of the organisation Some vetting of the organisation No company vetting
Right for e-commerce sites
Financial sites
Gaming and betting sites
Online banking
Membership sites
Forums
Social networks
Sites which collect customer data via forms
Static informational sites which collect no data
Price High Medium Low

What else needs to be done apart from installing the certificate?

Whilst your main task is to purchase and install the certificate, you’ll also need to do some housekeeping on your website to keep things working correctly and ensure you don’t lose any search engine rankings.

Firstly you’ll need to ensure that any requests on your site that come into the old http:// version of your site are correctly diverted to the new https:// version. How you do this will depend on the way your website is built. As all of your URLs will change, you need to ensure that the diversion is set up correctly otherwise you will lose search rankings. We can advise on how to do this.

Secondly you’ll need to ensure that all images, fonts, videos and other page elements that are contained in your web pages are also served via https://. Otherwise the padlock icon will appear broken or greyed-out. Again, this is a web development task that we can help with.

How much do SSL certificates cost?

The price will vary according to the strength of the certification. For DV certificates, expect to pay between £40 to £50 per year for your certificate. For EV certificates, expect to pay £150 – £200 per year. Installation costs will be also be required. Why not contact us for a quotation on the cost of adding security to your site?

Get SSL Quotation

Is Digital Marketing the New Marketing?

We are now in a fully-fledged digital age. The internet of things is fast becoming reality, mobile phones scan codes on products bought in a shop, and even toddlers are naturals with touch-screen technology. We are at the stage where digital interaction is unavoidable throughout our daily lives – but has it now absorbed the more traditional world of marketing?

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PPC vs SEO – Which is Better?

SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the ongoing process of optimising web pages and content to ensure they closely match what users are searching for, and will therefore be ranked in higher in search engines such as Google.

Online marketing is crucial for any business – especially search engine presence. The two main tools that help businesses get ahead of their online competitors are Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). So often, companies will ask, ‘which is better?’

But it’s the companies that ask, ‘which is better for my business‘ who can really make the most of the online marketing available to them.

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