1. Complete SEO Guide – On-Site SEO

Just starting the Complete SEO Guide? Start here! Next: 2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO **** First let’s understand how search engines view your website. Quite simply, they send robots that “crawls” the web and sites likes yours. When these pages are crawled, they are “indexed” on a very large database and are graded on over 200 factors. An algorithm is used to give the page a score and ranking against all the other pages based on the user query and keywords searched. On-Site SEO comprises of all the SEO work that is done within your website. This is something you have complete control over and not relying on external websites or directories linking to your website. This will include content on Keywords, Content Structure, Site Structure, Domain etc. Many SEO guides will guide you to “build for users, not for search engines”, which is half true. Of course, we want to build for our users because that is primarily what the website is for, and Google tries its best to rank websites on how useful they are for users. However, you may find that if you ignore the search engine aspect of things and build solely for the users, the search engine robots may not recognize how great your website to its users are, therefore not attain the rank you deserve. Consult with professional SEO for an onpage audit, our partners at PDX SEO can help. The Perfect on-site SEO will have the following:

  • Great content that provides value to users – which in turn makes it easy to market and attain backlinks from other sites, reduces bounce rates of visitors (visitors visiting then quickly leaving your site).
  • Great User Experience –A website design should be easy and intuitive for a user to browse. Site should load quickly, multi-browser compatible and visually attractive.
  • Crawlable/can be accessed by bots – Use rel=canonical to focus on one main address, URL structure should be consistent, use robots.txt and a sitemap, use 301’s for permanent redirects and a code 503 for temporarily down pages.
  • Keyword targeted – The target keyword for the page should be on page name, title, H1 tag, content, URL and images and image alt attributes, internal and external links, meta description, meta keywords.
 

Domain Name and Hosting

Although domain name does not have as strong influence over rankings as it did in the past, it is still a factor. You may not have control over this as it may be a brand name such as Graftene but if you do, it’s important to get it right. Exact Match Domain Try to get the exact match domain, for example, www.southamptonplumbers.co.uk if you are a plumber in Southampton. However the bonus of having an exact match domain comes with a price, make sure your website is not in violation of Google’s EMD Update (http://searchengineland.com/google-emd-update-research-and-thoughts-137340). In short, make sure that if you will adopt an exact match domain, you have a high quality website with high quality backlinks and don’t spam your website with keywords which would be over-optimisation. Google thinks you are trying to manipulate them and they don’t like that! Keywords in Domain Get the target keyword within your domain, it helps with the CTR (click through ratio) and it’s still a ranking factor. Country TLD Extension If you are targeting local customers and want to attract local business, go with the country domain such as www.yourwebsite.co.uk for ranking in Google.co.uk. If you want to target globally or want to be more flexible and generic, you can use .com which can rank in google.co.uk or google.fr. The opposite would not be true however, www.youwebsite.co.uk would have difficulty ranking in google.fr. Hosting Location You should try to host your website in the same country you are targeting, if you are targeting google.co.uk customers, pick a host that is based in UK. Note: There is a debate on the importance of country TLD (Top level domain) as many downplay its significance. In fact, both in Bing (http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster) and Google Webmaster Tools (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) you can geo-target the location you want to target so even if you choose .com tld you can tell the search engines to target google.co.uk. I however believe that country TLD helps and is a factor, however small. You can read more on this topic here: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/google-optimization-help/geo-targeting-techniques-in-google-for-seo/ Domain Age This is also a factor, older domains with no bad history are considered more trustworthy. However, you have no control over this, other than perhaps not buying a blacklisted domain.  

Keyword Research

Keyword research could be a guide in itself. However for the purpose of this guide, use google keyword planner (https://adwords.google.co.uk/KeywordPlanner) to get a basic idea of the performance of keywords. You want to balance out the difficulty of the competition for the keyword vs how much volume of searches there are for that keyword. So an ideal keyword would be one that doesn’t have much competition, yet gets searched often per month. Google Keyword Planner is fairly straightforward to use, you set your business, target keyword, and target location, get ideas and Google will generate a list of keyword ideas for you. These keywords will also contain interesting stats such as how much it has been searched per month and how difficult the competition is for that particular keyword. Moz keyword-difficulty tool (https://moz.com/researchtools/keyword-difficulty) is also a useful tool to use for keyword research but unfortunately it’s not free. Of course keyword research is far more complex but that should help you get started.  

Page-Level Optimisation

Tools: Each page should target 2-3 keywords that you are looking to get ranked for, and the keywords should be relevant to the page content. Those keywords would of course be decided from your keyword research. We no longer spam keywords all over the page as did the old SEO practice, however it is still important to get those keywords in the page to let the Search Engines know what the page is primarily about. Here are the basics and good keyword targeting practice:

Page Titles

Not only are page titles crucial for improving your site’s CTR (click through ratio) as it’s the title users see in the search engine results but this element also has strong influence over your ranking as it determines the page relevancy vs the users search query.
  • Use target keyword preferably at start of title
  • Limit to 70 characters
  • Use “|” symbol to divide phrases

Page Descriptions

Changed in the meta-description and this is the description users will see on your website’s search engine ranking. Doesn’t directly affect SEO but can have a big impact on your click through ratio.
  • Use targeted keywords
  • Accurately describe the page

Headings

Headings let the user know what the content is about, it’s good practice to split the headings into sections (H1, H2, H3) and be careful not to over optimise.
  • Include Keyword in H1 and ideally H2.

Content

Write the content for your users, the content should be relevant and look natural, not spammed with keywords for the purpose of manipulating search engines. Get a good balance on this, you want the users to easily navigate your site and be intuitive but you also want to get the keywords in there. This should happen naturally, for example if you do Web Design in Bournemouth, then it should be easy to mention “Web Design in Bournemouth” in your content without looking forced.
  • Include the keywords at least once in the copy.
  • It would be preferable to separate the content with header tags (H2, H3).
  • Good content is easier to market and share to acquire backlinks.

Images

If you see an image of a dog, you know it’s a dog, but search engine crawlers don’t. You can use Alt Tag and Title tag for the image to let users and crawlers know.
  • Use a Title tag on images.
  • Use Alt tag on images and ideally have the keyword on at least 1 Alt attribute tag.
<IMG src=”filename.gif” alt=” alt-text here”>
  • Optimise the images, reduce file size to increase site load speed.

URL

  • Use dash (-) to separate words in URL structure.
  • Have the keyword within the URL if it’s relevant.
  • Write URL as static readable text, exclude URL parameters.
  • Keep URL structure consistent, for example: If you want to keep the trailing slash ie graftene.com/ then keep it consistent throughout the site, graftene.com/About-us/.

Duplicate Content

Avoid duplicate content, some CMS may generate different versions of the page and could be classified as duplicate content. You can use Siteliner tool (http://www.siteliner.com/) to identify duplicate content.

Outbound Links

Feel free to link out to another website from within your content if you feel this will help the user. This can also help increase the site trust rating if it’s linking out to a high authority website.

Site-level Optimisation

These are the important SEO factors you can optimise across your site in order to improve your SERP ranking. In short, make sure your website is user friendly with good navigation system, good indexable content, fast loading, have a sitemap, crawlable by robots and consistent URL structure.

Site Speed

Websites that load faster is better for user experience and conversion rates. It’s also an important ranking factor. Make sure your website is up to speed by optimising the code, images and media. You can use tools like Google pagespeed (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) to help you with this process.

Internal Links

Setup the links and navigation within your website to be intuitive and easy to navigate. A user should not have to go through 4 pages to get to a page. Navigating a website shouldn’t be like trying to solve hard riddles. It is important to not link to broken links/pages. Internal linking also helps with the site trust flow.

Schema / Rich Snippet Markup

This may not directly contribute to SEO but would help by increasing conversion rates. Read more at https://developers.google.com/structured-data/ and create schema at http://schema-creator.org/

User Engagement

User engagement is measured by many factors, Google uses this as a measure of user experience and it’s a contributing factor towards the website SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking. Ensure good user engagement with the basics, good site speed, intuitive navigation and useful content. Some measuring sticks for quality user engagement are:
  • Bounce Rates – Bounce rates are when users visit your website and quickly leave. There could be a number of reasons for the users leaving quickly, site too slow, not informative, or poor UX. Whatever the reason, Google sees a high bounce rate as poor user experience and would therefore result is a lower SERP ranking. A low bounce rate on the other hand is a positive.
  • Direct Traffic – It’s a positive indicator if a site receives more direct traffic.
  • High click through rate – A better click through rate on the SERP is a positive indicator.
  • Returning visitors – A good amount of returning visitors is a positive indicator.

Domain Trust

A website with a good domain trust ranks higher on the SERP rankings and can get away with more without being penalised. Here is what you can do to increase domain trust:
  • Link out to High Authority Websites – Linking out won’t hurt your SEO, it can help in fact if the website you are linking to is relevant.
  • Have a Privacy Policy / Terms Page – Boring pages that Google pays attention to.
  • Keep bounce rate low – Improve relevancy of content, meta description and UX design of site to lower bounce rate.
  • Keep domain WHOIS public – Public whois are more trusted than private.
  • Get some trusted backlinks – Links from .edu or .gov or .ac.uk helps.

Mobile Optimised

Make sure your website is mobile responsive. Used the tools below to check.

Canonicalisation

Canonicalisation refers to pages that can be loaded from multiple URLs (web address). For example the web pages below are all identical:
  • http://www.example.com/
  • http://www.example.com/index.html
  • http:/example.com/
For SEO purposes we don’t want this to occur because the search engines may treat these pages separately and therefore separate the overall popularity of the page, instead we want to combine these into one. 10 backlinks going to http://example.com and 10 to http://www.example.com could be determined as 20 backlinks to the canon URL instead. There are a few ways to fix this issue but the 2 most common are: <link href=”http://www.example.com/canonical-page/” rel=”canonical” /> More on canonical https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en   A common mistake in redirecting is creating an infinite loop http://www.example.com and http://www.example.com/index.html. An explanation on the fix here: https://moz.com/blog/apache-redirect-an-index-file-to-your-domain-without-looping

Sitemap

Most sitemap comes in XML format (Extensible Markup Language). You will see it as sitemap.xml on the main website directory. The file basically tells search engines your website structure and the pages on it. This can help the search engines index the right pages on your website. Visit Sitemaps.org for more info or build them at XML-Sitemaps.com.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt file instructs search engine crawlers how to crawl the website. You can for example disallow robots from crawling a certain page if you do not want the search engines to index it. Create a robots.txt file from (http://tools.seobook.com/robots-txt/generator/), just insert into notepad and name robots.txt – save on the main directory of your website.

Webmaster Tools (Search Console)

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ Webmaster Tools is an essential for managing your website, from a developers point of view, webmasters and SEO marketers. It gives invaluable data and control over your website and how Google should treat the site. More on Webmaster Tools here https://blog.kissmetrics.com/beginners-guide-to-google-webmaster-tools/ Note: There is also a Bing Webmaster Tools equivalent and the features are very similar.

Google Analytics

http://www.google.com/analytics/ Google Analytics is a free web analytics software from Google. It is essential for online marketing and SEO purposes. Google analytics allows you to track your website’s traffic, getting important information such as:
  • How many people visit my Website?
  • Where are they from?
  • How did they find you?
  • What pages are the most popular?
  • What is the conversion rate?
More on Google Analytics https://moz.com/blog/absolute-beginners-guide-to-google-analytics   Up Next2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO  

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Everything You need to know!

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be overwhelming. There are so many guides, blog posts, and tutorials out there, so much information to absorb. I subscribe to the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle). That is, 20% of the effort for 80% of the outcome. This guide is intended to teach you everything you need to know about SEO without overwhelming you with the minor details. I will structure the content of this guide according to the timeline of events that would take place during a Web development / SEO campaign. We will focus entirely on White-Hat techniques and quality SEO so you don’t run the risk of a penalty from Google. Google looks at over 200 factors for ranking your website, a Google top ranking could generate a lot of income for your business, alternatively, you can pay for the rankings with Google Adwords but we will save that for another article.

1. Complete SEO Guide – On-site SEO

2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO

3. Complete SEO Guide – Local SEO

4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising web pages for the purpose of getting them to rank higher on Search Engines for specific keywords. Getting to the top is largely down to the reputation of the website online and how relevant the pages are to the keywords searched. Nobody can guarantee a number 1 ranking on Google, there are techniques and guidelines which can be followed to “manipulate” these rankings and that’s what this guide will try to show. Most of the time, websites get to the top by having a good reputation, whether that reputation came about organically as a result of being a big brand such as Nike, or it could be from clever SEO for a small business. Reputation can be increased by the number of quality web pages that link back to your website, what we refer to as backlinks. The higher quality these web pages are, and the more relevant they are to your site, the more value search engines such as Google will place on it. Be careful with companies who promise a guaranteed no.1 ranking as no one can guarantee this. Having said that, given enough resources, time and money, most companies can get you there or pretty close… most of the time. In short, basic good practice SEO:
  • Have good quality content, relevant keywords on the page and a good website structure
  • Get other high quality web pages relevant to your site to link back to your page.
  • Update your website with fresh content.

Why Search Engine Optimisation?

All this effort but why? Google has about 65% of the searches, followed by Bing with 17% and Yahoo at 13%. Those are the top 3 search engines and between them, they will drive the most traffic to your website, for free. Depending on your market, the combined search for your business can be anywhere from hundreds to even millions per month. There couldn’t be a bigger marketing platform for your business.

Who should do Search Engine Optimisation?

Having a website online, unless it is a huge brand is a bit like having a shop in the middle of a forest that nobody can find. Anyone looking to get their business, website, content, exposed on the online market should be looking to do some SEO. You can either hire a third party such as an agency or a freelancer, or you can try do it yourself or hire an SEO agency (I recommend this liverpool seo). Hopefully with the help of this guide, you can! Next:

1. Complete SEO Guide – On-site SEO 2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO 3. Complete SEO Guide – Local SEO 4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Simplified

Trust me, it does sound simple…

What is SEO?

Getting your Website to rank higher in Search Engines!
example-search-result-in-google

demo search result

But How? Give the search engines what they want!

1. Have a very good website (Great content, images, site speed, page titles, headings, URL structure, responsive etc).

2. It’s a popularity contest! Measured by the amount of pages linking to your site and how popular those sites are.

So a good Website with lots of backlinks will get you a great ranking, sounds easy?

So.. What is a Good Website?

A little bit more complicated… Contain Relevant Keywords But don’t spam the page with irrelevant keywords or unnatural content and it should be in the right places (Title, H1, body etc). Readable by Search Engines Make sure the search engines see what you see, you can see a picture of a dog but a search engine won’t unless you tell it with the “Alt” tag. Add a sitemap, be careful with hiding content behind code and don’t block the crawlers with the robots.txt. Good User Experience Search Engines can tell if your website is useful for users. Website too slow? Users leave before entering. False advertising on meta description? Users leave disappointed. Happy visitors, happy search engines. Mobile Responsive Google will display mobile responsive sites higher than non-mobile responsive for users browsing through mobile. That’s a lot of users!

Quick Example of On-Site SEO!

on-site SEO example

On-site SEO example

My Website is Great, How do I become Popular?

In short, get Backlinks. Backlinks are other web pages linking back to your site. The more of this you have, the more popular and reputable your site is according to search engines. Example of a backlink?
backlink example

‘Lex Autolease’ – backlink example

Wait, it’s also about WHO is linking to you!

Just like real life popularity contests, it’s also about who you know. The quality of the website linking to your site matters, a single link from a very popular website to yours could be worth a hundred links from unpopular websites. Sometimes, backlinks from spam websites can even damage your SEO.

How do we find out who is worth getting a link from?

My favourite tool is Moz toolbar which is free plugin on Chrome. If you have a subscription you can also use their Moz Opensite Explorer (https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/) . They give the DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority) ratings of the page. By no means are they definitive but it is a good guide for determining the quality of a page, the higher the better.

How do you get Backlinks?

There are so many ways to get backlinks but here are the basics.

Content Marketing

Write a great piece of article, contact sites that would have use for that great article and ask them to link to it. Maybe they are linking to your competitor but your piece is better?

Social Media Marketing

Add and follow friends on social media such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest. If someone finds your article useful, they may use it or share it. Got a great infographic? Post it on Pinterest and ask people to credit you with a backlink if they use it.

Guest Blogging

Offer to write for authoritative blogs and increase your reputation as well as get backlinks from the articles you write. Write great content for them as you would for your own site.

Social Bookmarking

Join forums/Quora/Yahoo answers etc and leave links to your site by way of author bio or through a link in a post. Only sign up to relevant sites and only leave link if it’s relevant and useful.

Directories

Heard of Yell.com, Yelp? There are any online directories to submit your business to, check out our list on Local SEO section.

Scout Competition

Using tools like Moz Opensite Explorer we can see our competitors’ backlinks. Study them and see if you can get one too.

Now you know the basics, want to read a more in-depth guide? Check out our Complete SEO guide!

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DVWA Lesson 2: Command execution (Low)

Good ol’ command execution

First Lesson: DVWA Lesson 1: Installing on Windows. Now we have everything set up on our Windows machine, we can finally begin we some fun! Login in with the password set during the previous lesson, and head towards the ‘DVWA Security’ tab on the bottom left hand side. Continue by setting the ‘Script Security’ level to ‘Low’, and clicking ‘submit’. If you’ve installed DVWA on Windows or Linux, keep in mind which when executing commands! Head over towards the ‘Command Execution’ tab:
  • Try entering ‘192.168.1.1’, what happens?
  • Are you able to execute any other commands?
  • No? Time to read the source, located at: DVWA-1.0.8/vulnerabilities/exec/source/low.php
<?php

if( isset( $_POST[ 'submit' ] ) ) {

$target = $_REQUEST[ 'ip' ];

// Determine OS and execute the ping command.
if (stristr(php_uname('s'), 'Windows NT')) {

$cmd = shell_exec( 'ping ' . $target );
$html .= '<pre>'.$cmd.'</pre>';

} else {

$cmd = shell_exec( 'ping -c 3 ' . $target );
$html .= '<pre>'.$cmd.'</pre>';

}

?>
As we can see, the $target variable contains our user input. Fortunately for us it’s not being sanitized when passed to the shell_exec function. Allowing for our commands to cause malicious behaviour. As we’re hosting DVWA on a Windows Operating System we’re able to run commands consecutively by using ‘&’ in-between each one. Try out the commands bellow, or your own, if you feel confident in a Windows Terminal environment. Examples
  • “127.0.0.1 & tasklist” – List the hosts current processes
  • “127.0.0.1 & netstat -a”- Gives us the current ports opened on the host
Further reading

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DVWA Lesson 1: Installing on Windows

Damn vulnerable what?!

DVWA (Damn Vulnerable Web App) was made by security professionals, for researchers and enthusiasts to practice and learn different types of vulnerabilities in relation to web applications which can also be used for other things such as software activation keys. Before continuing it must be stressed that the testing of DVWA should be done on an isolated host with either VMware or Virtual Box, separated by a Host-only connection. This is for your safety, not doing so could lead to the compromise of your system. You can store the files on an external hard drive or a USB drive. You can purchase USB drives online from Amazon.


Software: Further reading: WARNING: THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY!
  • Firstly install Xampp for windows. Then continue on by opening up the Xampp Control Panel, either placed on your desktop, Program files or already started on the bottom left of the screen. Lastly, start your MySQL and Apache services.
  • Extract the dvwa folder to this location C:\xampp\htdocs\dvwa. We now open our webrowser and enter ‘localhost/dvwa’ (127.0.0.1/dvwa) into the url bar. If we are presented with a mysql.error() that means the database was unable to be created, but easily fixed in step 3.
  • Go on over to C:\xampp\htdocs\dvwa\config\config.inc.php and use your favourite editor to open the file, scroll down to line 20. We now enter the default PHPMyAdmin, in the db_password field, replacing the current one with nothing. Leaving it empty (no spaces)
  • Jump to your browser and go to 127.0.0.1/dvwa/setup.php, and click ‘create Database’ Then go to localhost/dvwa/login.php and enter your user name ‘admin’ and password ‘password’.
Next LessonDVWA Lesson 2: Command execution Low

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Without social media marketing your startup is predisposed to deterioration

So you’ve started your own business, you feel so good that you are now officially an entrepreneur and you’re convinced your business idea is so good that the money and success will come rolling in. Or maybe, on the other hand, you’ve reached a spot where those good connections have all been milked and you’re not quite sure how to get things moving. Whatever the case, one thing you MUST be aware of; neglecting social media marketing will have you going for a direct head-fall in no time. Think I’m exaggerating? Maybe, or maybe not. Read on to the end of this article and decide for yourself. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and experimenting with social media. I’ve met business owners and entrepreneurs of all sorts and I’m 100 per cent convinced that most would agree with me; deciding against a social media strategy will have you missing out on a whole lot of benefits for you small business. Stick around and let us take a look at all the great stuff you’re depriving your start-up of when not using social media marketing. Oh, and just so you know, this is not another one of those top five benefits or step by step articles to help you if you decide to implement a social media marketing strategy. This is a warning of what could and most probably will happen if you think you don’t need to use social media to market your business. So, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

You will never know what your prospective customer thinks or wants

Whatever marketing strategy you’re implementing, your starting point is always your target audience. You need to know who they are, what they do, where to find them, where they live and so on. Or you may actually want to reach out to a global audience; but how will you do that without social media? Having a website is just not enough. Having good connections all over the place is also not good enough in the long run. Yes, you have a great product or service; yes, you provide top quality and it’s going good, for now. But stagnation is not allowed nowadays. A business needs to develop and expand in order to be a successful one. The social media lets you get close to your audience. You can get to know them better, what they talk about, what they really want and much more. If you don’t know any of this, how will you improve, how will you increase your revenue if you don’t know how to please your potential customer?

Valuable traffic to your website will cease to exist

You probably know how important SEO is. You may have already taken most of the crucial steps technically. But Google is not ranking websites like once upon a time. To put it simply, you need to acquire a good reputation on the internet in order to rank high in the SERP’s. Logically, what other way can you expand that good reputation other than via social media. Other parts of your marketing strategy (if you have one) will allow some visitors to your website, real life referrals, advertising and whatever. But having a good social media marketing strategy lets your voice be heard all over the place. The visitors keep coming in and coming back. Without social media marketing, what traffic can you expect, seriously? How will you use your website to increase sales and grow that start up? Do you really think you can do it without social media?

You’ll lose valuable data for tracking the use of your website

Website metrics show you valuable data about the use of your website and the visitor characteristics. Google analytics has so many options that will not only let you see who’s visiting your site, but also what content and products are generating more traffic, what social media posts are creating more referrals etc. Without so much of that valuable data you will never know what’s working in your marketing strategy and what’s not.  You’ll never be able to improve your product or service. You will prohibit the growth of your business which will not only cause the loss of good reputation but also the loss of money because you’ll be spending it on ineffective advertising campaigns.

So you want to build your brand but you don’t want to use the social media?

Facepalm

Facepalm

Right, so you don’t care if you seem like a trustworthy business or not…

Saying that your goal is to build brand awareness and then saying you’re not using social media marketing, is funny and sad at the same time. Do you really think that in this world of ongoing competition your brand will be able to stand out just because of the quality? That’s a belief of the medieval times of marketing. Today, quality is just not enough. The communication that the internet provides has provided us the opportunity to demand more. Today people demand communication. Audiences demand to be listened to. A client must have their expectations met, otherwise you will be given a bad reputation; and that’s all via social media, whether you use it or not. Now you can choose to ignore that or you can start respond to the negative comments by showing your prospective clients that you actually care about their opinion. The social media is full of opportunities for building brand awareness.

Whatever, so you’re saying social media marketing can help me with lead generation?

Obviously yes! Communicating with an audience effectively not only gives you the possibility to get to know your clients better and to promote your business, but it also provides a means of referrals. A potential client that likes what you’re doing will tell their friend and they will tell their friend and so on. Just like in the real world, on the internet the social media is the best way to manoeuvre that word of mouth effect. According to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report of 2015, by Michael A. Stelzner Founder of Social Media Examiner “By spending as little as 6 hours per week, 66%+ of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media.”
Social Media Marketing Importance

Social Media Marketing Importance

Still think your business doesn’t need a social media marketing strategy?

Well think again. Here you’ve been given just a small number of examples of the benefits social media marketing, (there’s plenty of articles that speak of the benefits around) besides the amount of money and resources you can save by using social media. And for the sake of giving you folks that aren’t into social media a wake-up call; here you’ve been given the examples of what you are losing out on. You’ve been warned; neglect your social media marketing, your small business will deteriorate (maybe).

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[email protected] August 21, 2015 0 Comments

The Importance of UX Design

Ever wondered what UX Design is? You have probably heard your tech-savvy friends talking about it during a conversation – where you already have no clue what they are talking about. Not quite as confusing as IQ, PQ and OQ acronyms for the quality control industry but UX stands for User Experience. The experience of being the clueless odd one out is frustrating. Most of the time it makes you feel dumb. Continue on reading, as I’m keen to share what I know and enlighten you about the subject regardless if you’re just curious or wanting to branch out from your old discipline of design. So let me guide you through the “What”, the “Why” and the “How” of the subject. Basically the baby steps for now, because we’ll be here till the proverbial cows come home.

What is UX Design?

Starting with the question of ‘what is it’? It’s a User-Centric design discipline with several facets that need to be addressed and the User’s Experience (UX) is at the heart of it all. I know what you’re thinking… that was quite a mouthful to digest. Don’t worry, as I’ll break it down for you. As illustrated in the diagram below, it expresses a multitude of facets that create the user experience. It’s quite a detailed and thorough process; you’re essentially conceptualizing an experience and then creating it. As you can tell I’ve been emphasizing a particular word that is a defining factor amidst all of this: Experience. Because that’s what it’s all about. The most common example of user experience is an interaction between the user and a systems user-interface, such as using a smart phone. You swipe left, swipe right and you press on the particular app you want to use. An easy experience for anybody. Features like this contribute to constituting a user Experience. However that is merely the beginning, as UX DESIGN essentially aims for a positive and memorable experience for the user and this is when the other factors come into play, even before the interaction. A good example for good UX is the iPhone by Apple. The iPhone UX is so simple it contributes to the brands image, reputation and fits very well. Fun fact even the marketing contributes to a good UX (such as stepping into the apple store itself).
the spectrum of user experience design

The spectrum of User Experience Design

Why UX Design?

At this stage you’re probably wondering why is it such a big deal? It is a big deal. To put it quite simply: we are dealing with and catering to the needs of the user. It’s not rocket science. To justify the need of good UX is easy, because it has a several facets that constitute the experience as a whole. Websites have become bigger, more complex and brimming with additional features – this has taken away the simplicity from the user experience. Not only have websites have become bigger and complex but they have become more accessible from different devices other than just desktop computers; such as through mobile, tablets, and even the television! This has created a need for greater UX Design to tackle these problems. To simplify what is complicated, and to give users a better experience without sacrificing the additional features, and making it accessible on the many new platforms available.

How can UX be done?

Now we must conclude this article by settling the question of “how can this be done?” As I said before, it’s quite a thorough process. There are several tasks that a UX Design performs at different parts of the process, such as evaluations of a current system, Option A VS B Testing, surveys, wireframes and prototypes. The list goes on.
wireframe example

Example wireframe

For now let’s look at the technique of Wireframing as an example. As you can see this technique is pretty simple to grasp, because all you’re doing is just simply plotting how where features will be placed prior to development. If you’re resourceful enough, you can also do this on pen and paper.  Take into account these wireframes are derived from evaluations, testing’s, surveys etc.  So take your time at this part of the process. At this point the importance of UX DESIGN should be abundantly clear. I hope this article helps you as much as it helped me sharing it. Images credited to the respective owners: UX Spectrum – http://randsinrepose.com/archives/a-design-primer-for-engineers/ Wireframe example – http://webarmy.co.nz/portfolio/ For a more in-depth read on UX check out this great UX Checklist

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[email protected] August 21, 2015 0 Comments

New Mobile update from Google – What’s there to know?

To ensure the highest usability and quality Google has launched their new update in their algorithm especially for mobile friendly usage all around the world. The update was over thereports/news for the last two months like a hot beverage. With being mobile friendly now a crucial part of SEO. Launched in 21st of April Google named this update “Mobilegeddon”. It even sounds exiting, doesn’t it! In any case it’s new and it’s trendy and it should matter the most right about now.

Exmaple of GOOD and BAD

MobileGeddon FAQ

MobileGeddon FAQ

Some people might think that this new update is quite useless in fact it’s making things even worse. Some website are losing their momentum by the lower traffic since the update. But it isn’t trying to get any website out of business. Rather than hurt any single website or to hamper its reputation, Google is aiming for higher performance according to the new trend which is smartphones. Its main intention is to increase user’s usability to its fullest. And by far it’s achieving its goal quite nicely.

Some of the key features of Mobilegeddon:

  • With this update you will be able to see mobile apps in their best ranking according to app indexing. But this facility will only be allowed for  users who are signed in.
  • Mobile ranking factors will completely change its ways by determining through their new algorithm website rankings according to the site’s Mobile Usability.
  • According to Google, most users will get more accurate search results which is suited for their device.
google mobilegeddon facts

mobilegeddon facts

Reasons behind Mobilegeddon

Google has been considering for this new update for quite a long time, it’s not like that they invented it as a fluke. After careful consideration they have decided to verify if a page is mobile friendly or not. Most searches are from mobile devices. The testing tool provided by Google will also determine and detect the issues of a non-friendly site so it’s fairly easy to update and fix the website. Users searching through a mobile phone can experience this new update and its usability’s to the fullest. But other than that users who are using tablets, laptops or even desktop won’t get this feature. For those users the results will be the same as always.

The right thing to-do:

mobile friendliness

mobile friendliness

Google said this is expanding on its mobile ranking demotion algorithm launched back in 2013.

Google also said “Users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices.” This update in Google’s algorithm only effect mobile searches from Google, not any other devices. So, if one particular site doesn’t have good traffic according to Google then one probably shouldn’t think about changing it, it won’t be worth the time and money both. Non-branded site queries are being demoted rapidly in the searches because according to Google it’s even worse to rank a website at the top which is not mobile friendly, even if you search for the exact same website. Updates can also be valid on per paged bases. So, making even a single page mobile friendly will not go in vain. UK Web GeekZ commented on the update and they have reported increased rankings for mobile optimised websites. To check if your site is mobile-friendly, you can examine individual pages with the Mobile-Friendly Tester check the status of your entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools.  

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Welcome to Bournemouth: The top emerging hub of digital economy

Recently there’s been a huge buzz about the digital industry thriving in the UK, with countless of digital marketing agencies and tech startups such as self-storage comparison site like WhatStorage. Now is the most popular time for starting a digital agency in the country, especially in Bournemouth and Poole of Silicon South. Thinking of starting a digital business in Bournemouth? That seems to be the trend! Graftene, a Bournemouth based web design digital agency explain what they’ve learned while setting up their web development and digital marketing business. Bournemouth, a coastal British town, is home to a number of creative digital agencies that provide services and products such as website design, app development and digital marketing services. It is the top emerging cluster of the digital industry with 24 percent of the start-ups created within 2013 and 2014. The digital industry has played the most important role in the UK’s economic recovery with new sectors and businesses emerging continuously. The first Tech Nation report has provided amazing insights of the current and ongoing situation of the digital economy in the country.

“12.4pc of our GDP is attributed to technology and digital business, that’s the highest in the G20. We are the most digital nation in the world and it is important that government policy makes the most of this enormous potential.” -Baroness Joanna Shields, Chair, Tech City UK

What is Tech Nation?

Tech City UK is a Government supported Cluster Alliance dedicated to helping the digital entrepreneur and accelerating digital growth thus creating the ‘Tech Nation’. “The digital sector is growing and creating jobs, economic growth, and national prestige. “ Says Baroness Joanna Shields, Chair of Tech City UK. According to Gerard Grech CEO of Tech City UK, now is the right time to shine the spotlight on this exciting network of digital clusters, and map out the prospects for professionals and investors. The Tech Nation Report analysed 47,200 digital companies in the UK and 2,000+ of them were surveyed. The results were fascinating. Even though the public had a partial idea of the flourishing digital economy in the country it wasn’t clear until now that it is the nation’s booming industry. But the research that shows how one of the top clusters of digital is Bournemouth is even more astonishing, no one was expecting that.
Bouremouth statistics-1

Bouremouth statistics-1

A closer look at numbers and facts

A cluster is an economic phenomenon formed of digital companies in a region. This is why the Tech Nation Report focuses on clusters as the core focus of the research. The nations digital companies are 98 percent small businesses, 50 per cent of them were formed from 2008 and onward. The largest increase being between 2010 and 2013 where Bournemouth took the lead with a high 212 per cent of emerging start-ups. Last year 56 percent digital companies in the UK saw a rise in their revenue, whereas this year 90 per cent are expecting a blast in sales. The digital industry is outrunning traditional industries and new sectors of the digital are being born, creating a larger demand for new skill sets and more employment opportunities. It is expected to outperform the traditional industries in job creation by 2020; today, 7.5 percent of the UK workforce is employed in the sectors of this industry. In the Dorset area, 7,272 people are a part of a digital business. Currently there is a skills shortage in some of the digital sectors, which is why agencies and initiatives such as the Bournemouth Silicon Beach festival and Digital Day Bournemouth are engaging in discovering potential employees and talented students from Bournemouth University. In fact,a major part of the digital businesses that were interviewed for the Tech Nation report stated that the reason of growth of the digital cluster in Bournemouth is due to the availability of talented individuals with key skills in the top growing sectors of the region.

What makes Bournemouth so special?

The most notable growth of the digital economy in Bournemouth is in the ecommerce sector. Last years revenue growth was 55 per cent, but this year this number has risen to a stunning 77 per cent. According to the Tech Nation Report, the key benefits of the Bournemouth cluster are access to social networks and access to talent.
“Bournemouth has a vibrant network of meet-ups and events, feeding off its community of creative and app development agencies.”-Matt Desmier, Founder Silicon Beach

The top three digital industry sectors in Bournemouth:

  • Marketing and advertising
  • Ecommerce
  • Games development and production

The top five capabilities of the Bournemouth cluster:

  • UI and UX design
  • Mobile and tablet development
  • Visual and audio design
  • Content and media production
  • Digital marketing
Bouremouth statistics-2

Bouremouth statistics-2

Creative start-ups of Bournemouth

Graftene, as well as a number of the creative emerging start-ups of Bournemouth are part of these sectors. This digital agency provides services such as web design and development, logo and graphics design, digital marketing services such as SEO and mobile app development. It is a small business of five members, but this creative team could be the next little digital star of Bournemouth. Since their establishment they’ve kept their success rate on a high level, providing their clients from local and international locations with high quality websites and mobile applications. But what makes Graftene stand out from the crowd are the affordable prices they provide in the sector of growing competition.

So you want to be the next digital start-up in Dorset?

You’ve probably already thought about starting your own digital business if you haven’t maybe you should think about it. Whatever the case, now’s the right moment to go digital because the UK is blooming with the digital industry and it will continue for years to come. But before deciding to start your own digital business there’s a variety of things to consider. Read on for some great advice that will help you start off. Specialists and experienced entrepreneurs will agree that there is a series of steps that should be followed in starting your own business.

The core of these steps boil down to the following actions:

  • Define your idea
  • Define SMART goals
  • Research the market
  • Plan your business
  • Find sources of funding, suppliers and possible partners
  • Register and set up your company

Common mistakes and things that you should be aware of when starting a business:

  • Risks and failures are a part of having your own business
  • You must be ready to face all kinds of challenges and obstacles
  • A major part of business failures is due to lack of planning, especially financial planning
  • Hiring the wrong people can often be very harmful
  • Inadequate research, especially of competition

Get help and support from other organizations and initiatives:

The Dorset Growth Hub is a business support programme founded by WSX Enterprise, the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bournemouth Borough Council and Dorset LEP, and funded by the Regional Growth Fund. The web portal offers extensive information and support for starting and growing a digital business. These include educational courses, online information and financial support in the means of finding grants or loans. http://www.wsxenterprise.co.uk/ http://www.dorsetgrowthhub.co.uk/ http://www.dorsetlep.co.uk/ http://www.bournemouth.gov.uk/ Other government organizations that provide help and support services for business start-ups: https://www.gov.uk/starting-up-a-business http://www.poole.gov.uk/business/business-support-and-advice/starting-and-growing-a-business-in-poole/business-advice-and-networking/ Tech City, the authors of the Tech Nation report whose mission and vision is to create a Tech Nation of Digital Business in the UK: http://www.techcityuk.com/ Schofields Online are the go to for finding an accountant: http://www.schofieldsonline.co.uk/ Start Your Own Business is a very informative web portal with lots of resources and information for new and growing businesses: http://www.syob.net/ Outset provide free business start-up support programmes: http://www.outsetbournemouth.co.uk/

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eCommerce: How Product Packaging Influence Buyers Decisions

Selling online is twice harder than putting the products in grocery store. Even if the other products in an aisle with the same function, how a product packaging design makes a huge buying decision making factor. So how does a buyer decide to buy one product vs. another? Is it the colors, logo, price or how it is placed or perfectly well-done dieline? Too many options to consider for a simple decision to do – to buy or not to buy . First ensure that product packaging content is accurate. Software such as Global Vision Quality control platform helps to eliminate any errors in packaging.

Using this cues we have listed will enable you to make necessary moves for your products to sell on your ecommerce store.

Packaging influences subconsciously

– first impressions last in business. Basically the product is a representation of the company. If the company promises quality and experience. It should be telling the customers that in the packaging itself.

Product Convenience and Keywords

– effective alignment of product name, keywords and description helps customers find the product they are looking for. Making the decision to purchase easier.

Recognizable Icons

– Icons easily captures customer’s eyes in products. When a product has a personal and emotional touch even for an icon that promotes environmental awareness it suggests straightly that they need to purchase the product. A lot of best selling products are triggered by emotional memories since most of the consumer’s decisions to buy a product are based on its needs. So what better way to utilize that advantage than getting your products selling?

Typography and Colors

– just as keeping your website clean, clear and concise and pleasing to the users. So as the products should be easily read and have direct impact to the customers. And by that means, customers should be able to read the packaging easily without the migraine of so many redundant typography and flashy distracting colors.

With careful planning and consideration of your users, customers, products and packaging design, you can easily use your product as a powerful marketing tool for your business.

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[email protected] February 25, 2015 0 Comments