1. How to tell if a website is using SSL

    lock-2Right, with all the buzz going on regarding Google and SSL now being a ranking factor I figured it would be beneficial to explain what SSL is and how to tell if your site uses it.

    What is HTTPS?

    HTTPS is a secured version of HTTP, a protocol that allows all websites to function and load. HTTPS works by using hashes to ensure that your browser is only talking to the webserver that has the key that matches what your computer expects. It has been previously used on financial and banking websites to try and prevent various different methods of attacking and stealing data.

    Why do I want HTTPS on my site?

    Not only to give you the extra benefit within Google but in many cases it also adds an aspect of customer trust if they are on a website entering personal information; from signing up to a newsletter to paying for the latest purchase people feel more comfortable using a site protected for SSL.

    Why is this blog not on SSL yet?

    Its a work in progress, George will be planning the migration of the blog at a later date, at this time our focus is on our client sites.

    How to tell if my site is HTTPS enabled?

    Try and connect to it, however in the address bar type https://mywebsite.com rather than http://mywebsite.com – certain sites may report errors, some may have certain bits of content and others may have security warnings.

    If it is working, you will get a green padlock/address bar and you can view information about the connection;

    ssl-good

    If not then you can get error messages or broken sites;

    ssl-bad

    Want your site to be protected by SSL?

    Get in touch today and we can talk you through the various options available and what is best for your website moving forwards.


  2. Benefits of Using Google Pay Per Click

    google-adwords

    Understanding Google Pay Per Click

    Google’s version of Pay Per Click advertising was first introduced in the year 2002, this was two years after the release of the Google AdWords online advertising tool in October 2000 that allows advertisers to create text ads which can be placed within the Google search engine. The Google AdWords advertising tool is a powerful piece of kit and it was launched ten months after Google first started search engine advertising in December 1999.

    Google Pay Per Click otherwise known as PPC or referred to as paid search advertising or search marketing is a specific type of online marketing that allows you to purchase sponsored links on search engine results pages, websites, content sites or blogs. The cost of the PPC advertisements are calculated by a formula using a mixture a factors including the number of impressions and clicks; this can be a highly effective way to generate traffic quickly towards your site showing immediate results.

    Advantages

    Google PPC can often seem overwhelming and sometimes complicated to new users however, a well-managed PPC campaign can be a cost-effective form of advertising with high returns on investment. PPC has been designed in a particular way to target individual site visitors who have already expressed an interest in a product or service usually by selecting and clicking on specific advertisements and searching for particular keywords.

    There are many reasons why you should use pay per click campaigns, a few of them are:

    1. Speed to Market
    Organic search engine optimisation can be a highly competitive market, it all depends on the nature of your business and how niche your keyword selection is. Pay Per Click advertisements can combat this, as they are launched quickly and gain you a sponsored position at the top of search engine results; they help generate targeted traffic and qualified leads.

    2. Reach
    Your target audience can be carefully selected; you can limit your PPC campaigns to certain geographical locations i.e. Towns, Counties and Countries etc. This can be particularly useful if you have an e-commerce website for example and wish to target UK customers.

    3. Targeted Website Traffic
    Aside from limiting your traffic reach to certain geographical locations you can also set up your campaigns to target particular demographic groups, this is useful if you’re pushing a product which should convert better depending on the age of your audience.

    4. Testing Abilities
    Campaigns can be a cheaper method of testing keywords as you can limit your budget enabling you to have a play around with different advertising methods to see what works best for you.

    5. Maximising Return on Investment
    It is important to constantly measure your Google Pay Per Click campaign, not only by investigating the stats that Google provides such as your click through rate and cost per click but also your conversions, cost per conversion and most importantly cost per sale. You can carefully tweak your campaign and achieve your overall goal, which is to get as many actions as possible for as low cost as possible, be careful not to be fooled by Google as their goal is completely opposite, their goal is to get as many clicks as possible at the highest price possible.

    Overall

    Google Pay Per Click is a quick and effective way to immediately display your products within search engine results pages, websites etc. A well-managed campaign can see great results and return on investment. Remember to be careful using Google’s Tools as they can sometimes be misleading in order to entice you into buying more clicks at a higher price.

    Still unsure?

    If you are still unsure about Google Pay Per Click Advertising, you can contact us for help and advice here: Contact Thomas Cole Here


  3. How Slow Websites Cost You Money

    Slow Websites Cost You Money

     

    It is proven that prolonged website load times have a significant negative impact on sales revenue. Various research and studies show that as technology advances faster load times are expected and user’s patience levels decrease.

    A study released by Akamai in September 2009 showed that:

    • 47% expect a two second loading time or less
    • 40% abandon a site taking three seconds or more to load
    • 14% will switch to a different site if loading is slow, 23% will either stop shopping or walk away from their computer.
    • 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their site will go somewhere else next time.

    Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah from the University of Nebraska has said that tolerable wait times are now no longer than just two seconds. In 2006 this time was four seconds and a study conducted in 1999 by Zona revealed that up to one-third of your visitors are lost if your site takes more than 8 seconds to load.

    Website speed can also affect people’s evaluation and the attractiveness of the content of a web page. Therefore, if your website is slower, people will automatically like your content less even though the quality of your content is the same regardless of speed.

    Not only will your website visitors notice slow loading times, Google also take into consideration site loading times when determining the ranking of a site.

    “You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.”
    - Google Webmaster Central Blog

    Google uses various different methods to determine the speed of your site, Google regularly ‘crawls’ your site with their bots gathering data for indexing and ranking. Googlebot will record whenever your site is taking longer than usual to respond on a consistent basis.

    Google also measures the speed of your site by gauging how well users respond by its bounce rate. When a user enters a search into Google and clicks on to your page, only to shortly go back and click on another result, Google will see that the user did not like the content you provided. If it becomes a recurring issue, Google will adjust your website ranking so that it is further down within the results.

    How well does your website perform? Try this useful speed test at tools.pingdom.com


  4. The Art of a good CV

    curriculum-vitae-T

    [This Post originally appeared on the GM Chamber of commerce website as a Guest Blog post by Tom Linn, Thomas Cole Project Manager]

    During my time as project manager I have had to spend time when hiring employees looking over multiple CVs sent in applying for various roles we have had advertised.

    One thing that has always surprised me is the quality of some of the CVs that come in. I thought I would put together a checklist of tips and things to avoid when sending in your CV for a job application.

    Things to avoid:

    - Misspellings and grammatical errors
    - No examples of work (if possible to provide)
    - Irrelevant content at the top – get to the point, if you are applying for a job as a designer put your design experience at the top and examples of work along with any qualifications.
    - A lengthy CV – don’t make it five pages long, sometimes too much information can go against you, so condense where possible by removing irrelevant information.
    - An unprofessional email address – keep it professional! Not something like “ibizamassive2012@hotmail.com”
    - Sending the same CV to multiple jobs without tweaking to fit the job spec.

    Tips for a good CV:

    - A well set out page so it is easily readable.
    - A bit of colour where relevant can sometimes help to break up the text
    - Add relevant experience at the top
    - Add your contact details
    - Send examples of work (if applicable)
    - Get somebody else to read over it and give their opinion
    - Write a covering letter
    - Add on any additional training you’ve undertaken
    - Keep it up to date

    You may be surprised how you can find yourself at the top of the pile by following these simple steps.

    On a recent job I advertised, only 4-5 of the 40 applications matched the above and naturally they were all offered interviews.

    Thanks for reading.


  5. Social Media – Keeping it Social

    Tom Social Media

    [This Post originally appeared on the GM Chamber of commerce website as a Guest Blog post by Tom Linn, Thomas Cole Project Manager]

    Social media can sometimes be an area that businesses know they should be getting involved in, but just don’t know where to start or how to use their time effectively. For lots of organisations, what they also have to realise is that social media is an extension of your brand online and not necessarily a direct sales tool.

    The key to social media is to be social. By that I mean if you have social profiles on Twitter or Facebook then to get any response from them at all you have to interact with other users. Adding a tweet now and then and expecting a barrage of phone calls will not happen.

    Interaction can be done in different ways. Below are ways to interact on three of the main platforms.

    - Twitter – Re-tweet, favourite tweets, tweet other users, reply to users.
    - Facebook – Like status updates, message users, add interesting updates to gain likes, comment on updates.
    - Linkedin – Connect with people you know, connect with possible sales targets, like posts, comment on posts.

    Here are some key points to think about when working with social networks:

    - Research and understand the different social media platforms. There are lots of them out there and they all work in different ways. The graphic at this link gives you a tongue in cheek quick run through. https://twitter.com/TomLinnUK/statuses/453821305553309696

    - Think which platforms would suit your business more. Also look at what your competitors are using and how they use them.

    - If your competitors are not using them then maybe you should be? Have a look around to see if they look like the kind of tool your customers would use.

    - Nobody knows your customers better than you and your organisation so although you can outsource social media, the person or company doing the social media needs to have an in depth knowledge of your business as anything they say/do is a reflection on your brand.

    Once you get a better understanding of how the different platforms work that is when you can make the decision on which to use and how to interact with others.

    If you would like any more information or a quick chat connect with me below:

    Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/thomaslinn
    Twitter – @tomlinnuk
    Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/+TomLinnuk/posts
    E-Mail – tom.linn@thomascole.net