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Google Announces Plans To Identify Slow Websites

Google Identifying Slow WebsitesIt was recently announced by Google that they are planning to identify and label websites that are slow to load through a badging or labelling system on Chrome. Google are currently working on several “speed badging” systems that will let visitors know why a page is taking a long time to load. This could be in the form of a text warning e.g. “usually loads slow” or a symbol that indicates the site takes a while to load.

We all know how frustrating it can be when you have to wait a long time for a website to load. Google are also aware of this frustration and want to help indicate to users which sites are slow to help improve their online experience. Speed is one of Google’s core principles which is why they constantly work on ways to improve this.

It is currently unknown how slow websites will be labelled. It is to be expected that a lot of testing and experimenting will be done before the best option is discovered that visitors receive the most value from.

If the identifying system takes place, it could indicate to users before they click on a link whether it will be slow or not, which in turn could affect the decision of whether or not they want to click the link anymore. This could heavily impact the traffic on sites that are currently extremely slow.

The long-term goal of Google is to also highlight those websites that are quick to load and offer a high-quality experience. This will be based on the website’s speed but also on other determining factors which are currently unknown.

Although they are still working on a plan which will inevitably evolve and adapt over time, it is never too early to think about optimising your website. Ensuring your site is as quick as possible and offers an efficient and great customer experience will not only benefit you now but will also benefit you when the labelling system from Google Chrome arrives.

If you would like any advice on how you can improve the speed of your website, then the DBS Web Development team are here to help. Give us a call on 01522 811688.
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End of An Era for eCommerce Giant, Magento


Magento

The clock is ticking for Magento 1, the eCommerce platform of choice for many small and midsize businesses (SMBs), as developers have announced it’s the end of the road for the platform that forms the backbone of many eCommerce retailers.

Originally, Magento 1 was an open source platform designed with SMBs in mind. More than a decade later, the classic orange and white logo is a familiar sight. The brand is recognisable to anybody in the industry. It truly has made its mark.
Over the years, functionality has grown with the times, aesthetics has remained up-to-date, and as the platform begins its decline and the developers phase support out, it leaves behind a legacy-a legacy that only one platform can live up to. Yes, you guessed it, it’s Magento 2.

Magento 2 is not just a clever name, it really is the second coming of the platform that supports some of the largest eCommerce sites out there. Before you wonder what all the fuss is about, here’s a little history.

Magento sold a minority stake of its shares to eBay in 2010, who then, the following year bought the rest of the firm.

The Magento debut community gave mixed reviews in early 2014. At a time when many of Magento 1’s issues were being ironed out, Magento 2 came with its own set of teething problems, such as being cumbersome to install, slow product speed and the requirement for complete training across most of the platform even for seasoned users.

Many of us may have thought the product had been shelved. Magento 1 was working well. News of the giant’s baby brother quietened. Until in 2015, Magento was sold to private investors and behind the scenes Magento 2 was revived, repackaged and relaunched.

Running side-by-side with its older brother, Magento 2 has been developing its own fan set, but with the announcement of support being canned for Magento 1, now is the time for Magento 1 users to start planning transition.

With many bugs and fixes being ironed out by Magento’s Head of Product Management, Paul Boisvert, new features have already been added. The revised feature set includes, elastic search, content staging and in-site transactions, which means that customers are never redirected to a payment gateway, improving security and user experience.

While the sun might be setting on a platform that has silently been running some the internet’s eCommerce giants, it rises on what is to be the next era in the world of online retail.

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12 Tips for Social Media at Christmas

Christmas  Celebration Party Xmas ConceptAdding Christmas spirit to your social media channels is a great thing to do. With more and more people shopping online and especially through their mobile, social media is an increasingly influential channel which should not be ignored. Taking the time to plan your social media during the weeks before Christmas can help boost engagement, increase sales and is a great way to have some fun and show your brand’s personality. Here are 12 of our top festive social media tips.

1.    Give your profile a Christmas make over
This is a simple one but can make a big impact. You don’t have to go over the top, but simply adding a festive spin to your logo and or your cover photo can help get people into the festive spirit. People browse social media a lot at this time of year, so refreshing your cover photo can motivate people to click on your profile. Always ensure that your brand remains recognisable and that you continue to reflect your brand personality in a seamless way. Always use your cover photo to reflect your brand or a key selling point. Do you have a Christmas promotion or seasonal products? Then social media can be a great place to highlight this.

Ensure all your social channels look similar to maintain a theme for a consistent, professional look.

2.    Giveaways and Competitions
A popular method to increase engagement and brand awareness is by hosting a giveaway or competition. You could run one big competition that lasts throughout the festive season or create excitement with multi-day giveaways (e.g. 12 days of Christmas or an advent-based giveaway).

In addition to being lots of fun, running a giveaway over several days will entice people back to your page. If you are offering a prize that would make a good Christmas present, ensure the cut-off date for entry ends early enough that you have plenty of time to pick a winner and get their prize sent to them before the day itself.

3.    Christmas Offers
Christmas is one of the biggest purchasing seasons of the year. People expect to see offers and promotions so create an offer if possible. Create some urgency by running short promotions, such as for one-day only. You can also run several offers within the festive build up. Don’t feel like you must stick to one.

The benefit of running several offers is that not only does it grab the attention of the customers but also helps providing valuable information for your business about what offers work with particular audiences. You can then use this information for future promotions.

When planning promotions just be careful to not run too many at once as this can cause customer confusion and have the opposite effect.

4.    Create conversation
Social Media is named social media for a reason. The platforms are designed to facilitate communication and Christmas is the perfect time to start a conversation with your followers. Ask them what their favourite thing about Christmas is or what their favourite festive film or food is? Although the questions may not be directly related to your product or service, it helps create excitement and shows that your brand is sociable and approachable.

5.    Have great customer service
As Christmas is such a busy time, you may have an influx of customer queries to deal with. Always ensure you respond quickly and as helpfully. Even if you are dealing with a complaint, dealing with it efficiently and politely could lead to them becoming a repeat customer. Ensure you have enough manpower to deal with the increase in customer queries, even if this means hiring temporary staff. Customers will be eager to know when their parcel will be delivered so make sure your opening hours, delivery information and returns policy and clear and easy to find.

6.    Make the most out of hashtags
You can improve your reach by using festive hashtags. If you are running a Christmas campaign, then you can create your own hashtag. Encourage your customers to use this hashtag when they purchase products and use a hashtag as part of a competition to significantly improve reach and engagement.

7.    Try Paid Ads
If you have a particular product or message you want to push, then consider using paid ads. They are available across the main social channels and ensure that your message is being seen by the right people as you can target who sees them. Organic posts from businesses are being less and less due to family and friends’ messages being given higher priority, meaning that paid ads are an effective way of pushing a particular sales message.

8.    Go Live
If your business is doing something Christmas related, then going live is a great idea. Your customers and followers will like to have behind-the-scenes access and live videos are a great way to do that. On Facebook and Instagram, your story can have video content that lasts 24 hours (unless you save it to a highlight) This makes it a great way to reveal offers that only last a short amount of time, answer questions from your audience or just have a chat.

Remember that stories and live videos can be more informal so use it as an opportunity to have a nice conversation with your followers and show your brand personality.

9.    Have some fun
Christmas is a time to have fun. Share the festive fun you have in your office. Share your Christmas playlist or show how your office has been decorated. A popular option is to take part in National Christmas Jumper Day. Not only is it a great way to donate to charity and back a great cause, it is fun to see members of staff where festive jumpers. The cheesier the better!

10.    Keep an eye on competitors
Competition is at its most vigorous over Christmas so always keep an eye on competitors. You should never copy your competitor, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of any marketing tactics being deployed. 

11.    Make shopping as easy & nice as possible
Buying Christmas presents can be stressful so ensure you make it as simple for customers as possible. User experience is a huge factor in online sales. If your website is hard to navigate, slow to load or there are too many barriers, customers won’t return. Always link your social media posts to your website. If you are pushing a particular product, send them to that product page rather than your home page or a page with lots of products on. If you are an ecommerce company, you can tag items directly to your Facebook Business page, which opens up another channel for sales.

12.    Wish them a Merry Christmas
It is tempting to have a break from social media between Christmas and New Year as the traffic may be slowing down. However, continue to post regular updates. Social media activity increases on the days between Christmas and New year as customers are not only looking out for the Boxing Day sales, they are also wishing each other Merry Christmas. So, why not do the same?

On Christmas Day and New Year, try and post something to wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from your brand.

These are just 12 tips for social media at Christmas. It is important you try and make the most out of this increased traffic as it can not only lead to sales but also improve brand awareness and customer loyalty. 

If you would like any more advice about social media marketing, then the DBS Internet Marketing team will be happy to help. Give us a call on 01522 811688.

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How your business can use structured data to optimise your website

Structured Data#

Structured data is code written in a machine-readable format which allows Google and other crawlers to better understand content on a website. This allows search engines to harness this additional information to provide rich snippets in search results providing additional exposure for your business. This blog discusses in more detail what structured data is and how it can be used to help your SEO and optimise your website.

Structured data can help crawlers to understand the basic business information (Company name, address, opening hours etc) but can also be used for more complex information (articles, upcoming events, recipes, products etc). Structured data is organised and tagged into specific groups to help Google and other search engines understand the context and use it to provide accurate and rich results. This tagging is also called mark-up.

How can it help your business?

Having structured data can improve your SEO as it aids search engines and helps them to understand your website and content a lot better which can only be a good thing. We have also seen an increasing trend for people seeking personalised online experiences. Using structured data helps Google provide the most accurate and relevant search results for people. If you use structured data, it is never guaranteed that you will appear on the page, but you are more likely to be more visible to potential clients and it can also help increase your click through rate.

Do you need a web developer to get started?

In most cases it beneficial to involve your web developer to ensure structured data is being used on your website and ideally in a way which is automatically added whenever something is updated on your website such as an event or product (this is especially important if the section is changing on a regular basis so you don’t have to always update the code on the page manually). You can use Google’s Structure Data Mark-up Helper to submit a page and tag different sections of the page. Once you have tagged your page, the tool will generate HTML which you can download and add to your site.

Examples of structured data

  Structured data shows up on search result pages in a range of ways. Carousels are sometimes used at the top of search results to show movie actors if you are searching for a film or will show songs from a featured artist you are searching for. This sometimes happens with products, news articles etc.

Featured snippets are another type which includes information search engines believe is relevant to the search taking place. This may include answers to questions. These snippets do not count as one of the organic results on a SERP, so winning the snippet on a page can mean your business can show up twice on the same page.

Knowledge panels (or knowledge graph cards) are another common type of structured data. If you have every searched for someone famous you will more than likely see information about them show down the side of the search results page which includes a picture, their birthday and more information about their career. This is a popular example of knowledge panels in action.

In conclusion, having structured data does NOT guarantee you to show more on SERP, and does not affect the position of your organic listing, but it can impact where your business shows on SERPS and this can improve your exposure significantly. Incorporating it into your SEO strategy in the long term can help you reap the benefits. Moving forward, structured data is likely to continue to be used more, meaning if you think about starting to use it now, you can get ahead of your competitors. If you do not have it as part of your SEO strategy, you are potentially missing out on opportunities to rank higher. There is no guarantee that Google will provide a rich snippet of the page you are looking add, even if you have added structured data. All you can do is hope Google will use this extra information you have provided.   The main thing to remember is to be patient. You will not see results overnight, which is common with SEO in practice, however you can reap the benefits in the long run.

If you need any more information or help with structured data, then please contact the web development team on 01522 811688 and we would be happy to help.

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Google Ads: Google confirms payment issue


Sankt-Petersburg, Russia, August 31, 2018: Google Ads AdWords application icon on Apple iPhone X screen close-up. Google Ad Words icon. Google ads Adwords application. Social media networkGoogle has confirmed that they are aware of a payment issue that has caused identical payments to be collected twice within some Google Ads accounts. The issue is connected with how they process direct debit payments.

A number of Google Accounts have been affected and Google’s technical team are presently working to resolve the issue.

As of yet, Google has not provided a statement on what will happen next as a decision hasn’t been made regarding this but we will be staying in regular contact with Google until this is resolved.

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Cookie Consent Update- Is your business compliant?


hand about to click on Accept Cookie pop-up message

On 3rd July 2019, the ICO (the UK data protection authority) updated their guidance on the rules regarding the use of cookies and other similar technologies. Here, we discuss in further detail what these new guidelines include and whether you your business needs to make any changes to your website in order to be completely compliant.

What are cookies?
Cookies are text files which typically contain 2 pieces of information: a site name and unique user. They work when you visit a site that uses cookies for the first time, as a cookie is then downloaded onto your computer. The next time you visit that site, the computer checks to see if that cookie is still relevant and sends the information in that cookie back to the website. This all means that the company then knows that you have visited the website before. Some cookies are more sophisticated than others and can record information such as how long you have spent on that website, where you have clicked and what is in your shopping bag, providing the business with valuable information. Cookies are good in the way that companies can use this data to provide a better online experience for their customers, however there are some concerns over privacy and how the companies use this data.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently ruled that any consent box that are pre-checked within a cookie banner is not legally valid. If you currently have a cookie banner which involves a user having to untick a box to opt out of cookies, then you need to redesign the banner.

The new guidelines the ICO have released also includes the following information that businesses should adhere to:

•    You can never imply that a customer has provided consent. -  Avoid using statements such as “by continuing to use this website you are agreeing to cookies”. Statements such as these do not comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which requires the customer to clearly state they want to be part of it. Pre ticked boxes, and sliders defaulted to ‘on’ are also not allowed if the cookies are not essential.
•    Be careful with use of banners and pop ups-  Pop ups highlighting the use of cookies to obtain consent are useful however you need to ensure that non-essential cookies are not used if the customer doesn’t click on the accept button in the banner and instead continues to click on a different part of the page. This is suggesting that they didn’t directly give you permission.
•    Cookie walls are not allowed- You cannot use cookie walls which restrict access to a service until the customer consents to cookies. This is because the customer has no genuine choice to opt out, even if they wanted to.
•    Remember GDPR- If you are a company not in the EEA (European Economic Area) but still do business within Europe, you will still have to comply to GDPR legislation which will impact the use of cookies.

Considering these guidelines, it is important for businesses who currently use cookies to evaluate how they use them and ensure they are being presented to customers in the correct way. If you would like any more information on cookie consent or would like help changing your cookie policy then the DBS web development team will be happy to help. Give us a call on 01522 811688.

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David’s trip to Everest Basecamp

This September, DBS Director and founder David Clarke undertook a great challenge and trekked to Everest Base Camp. Being thousands of meters above sea level, long days of walking and torrential rainfall meant the trip was far from easy, but made the achievement at the end so much more impressive.

In total the trip took 8 days to get up to base camp and an additional 3 to get back down. During the trip, there were inevitably highs and lows. When I asked David what his favourite part of the trip was he said he had to be the moment he finally arrived at base camp. What was the worst? Day 7 - as it when the altitude sickness kicked in. Nausea, sickness, headaches and eyes that were almost swollen shut made it difficult to get through.

His daily routine started at 6 am when his alarm went off, breakfast was served at 7 am with the walking starting at around 8 am. Most of the days finished around 3 or 4pm.

David decided to take on such a big challenge as he turned 60 earlier on in the year and he thought it was a now or never thing. Would he do something similar in the future? Apparently he has no plans as of yet. But he is having a good think about whether to do high altitude again or not. 17,500 ft is a long way up and puts a big demand on your body.

Finally, I asked If he would recommend other people giving this challenge a go, “Yes, but it needs a huge amount of training and dedication to do it justice”

Well done David, the whole DBS team are really proud of what you’ve done!

Here are some of the amazing pictures from David’s trip:

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David had to take a helicopter out of Kathmandu as Lukla Airport was closed due to cloud. They ended up landing 600m below Lukla which added to the trek.

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Day 1- The trek began with putting duffel bags on yaks and heading for Phakding

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Day 3:  The group undertook an acclimatization walk to 3900m. This picture was taken on the descent into Namche Bazar. Torrential rain all day did not make the trek easier!

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Day 6: Plastic bottles will be banned on Everest from next year but the photo shows how every bottle of water arrives

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Made it to Everest Base Camp. A whopping 5364m high

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