Sunday, August 10, 2014

HTTPS Everywhere - What is it?



In a nutshell HTTPS is a secure way for you to browse the Internet. You'll have recognised that most URL's start with HTTP:// in front of the usual www, but with the extra 'S' in there it makes your website secure.

In the past using HTTP means that it is relatively easy for criminals, crooks, and Ahem Government Agencies to effectively spy on what you're doing.  Increasing marketing agencies and data collection companies are doing this as well - It's part of the big brother culture we live in.

Privacy Advocates have long campaigned to stop our privacy being eroded and while most of us don't really care that much, occasional we do care when we're endless called by the same marketing people or we've been a victim of internet fraud.  Like most crime - it does actually hurt when you're effected.

Technically when you click a link or button on a website - it sends a message across the internet to come other computer out there which responds and shows you the next page you want.  All the while that your 'command' is travelling across the internet it can be accessed and monitors.  Simple tracking software makes it easy to see what forms you're filling in or what web pages you're looking at.

HTTPS makes this more secure - it shambles your commands as they traverse the website and at the other end the website unscrambles the message and sends back a scrambled result for your computer to understand.  Anyone accessing that data won't understand it unless they have the 'key' which only your computer and the website will have.

The Solutions
The onus to sort this out is on the website owner.  They are the ones that need to make sure their websites are secure and protected so that their users can use their websites safely.  Thus my explanation here.

In the past all this was very expensive and a bit complicated to install, but these days it is all much cheaper and there are plenty of services that can do it for either a low monthly cost or a one off annual cost.

To get HTTPS you need to either subscribe to an only system such as www.cloudflare.com - costing about $20 per month where they do everything for you, it is seriously easy - just sign up and make a small change to your domain.

Or you can get your own SSL Certificate - install it on your Hosting Package and it will start working.  The cost is in the region of $100 per year.

SEO Implications
It's worth nothing that as per the Video above Google have become strong supporters of HTTPS and if you look when using Google you'll see that all their websites are now secure.  Google are fully recommending that all websites are made this way by default and are prepared to give websites that are secure a boost on their rankings.

Our Recommendation
For the SEO improvement alone I would recommend using HTTPS for your website, we are also strong believers in making sure that people feel comfortable using your website.  This leads to a better user experience and people will be more likely to buy into your service or product, leading to more sales and enquiries.

In the fuller circle of website marketing for the cost of a few hundred quid being secure on your website is no longer the expensive option it once was.  In fact the opposite these days it can easily lead to more success, new customers and better rankings on Google.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Have you missed the Facebook Boat?

I get a weekly report from Facebook about all the pages on Facebook that I manage, if you're not sure what Facebook Pages are - they are the 'company' side of Facebook where you can follow the brands, artists, shops, topics, companies, organisations, charities or anything else... instead of befriending someone you can just 'like' a Facebook page and you'll see snippets about them on your personal timeline.

So back to my weekly report - it's one of those Facebook emails that comes automatically, I tend not to pay to much attention to it as it's main purpose is t get me to Post more things more often.

However, it does list the 10 most popular pages that I manage and what I have noticed over the past three months is the incredible slow down in 'growth' these pages have had.

I manage Facebook pages of all sizes, from less than 100 Likes to over 200,000 and looking back I can see growth rates of 5%, 10% frequently, even the larger pages were doing well hitting 3%, and 3% of 100,000 Likes is alot of extra people being added all the time.

Then it all stopped, the average growth rate of the Pages I manage is now around 0.1% if I'm lucky, worse for the bigger pages most of whom are in decline.  It seems Facebook has come to a full stop.

New pages remain relatively easy to get 30 or 40 people I already know to Like them... i.e. tapping ones own database of contacts, but after that it's an uphill struggle to get anyone to Like a Facebook Page at all.

There are reasons for this, they are quite difficult to put into words, but for now I want to address the question of whether or not - you've missed the Facebook Boat.  The answer is almost emphatically Yes!

Just thinking about it, if you have 10,000 Likes, you've got an audience, you might have built up those likes a little dubiously, but you've got them for the time being.  However each time you Post a Status Update it will be fired out to about 3-4% of your 10,000 Likes, i.e. about 300-400 people.  Some of those people will Like or Pass it on... you can see the numbers game going on here.

You gain more Likes by encouraging your existing Likes to share your content... As they Like, Share or Comment on your Updates - it goes out to their friends.  You're in a decent position and providing the bulk of your 10,000 Likes are geniune followers of your Page, then you can expect to be able to continue to market effectively to your audience.

Now if. you've got 100 Likes and your Status Updates are only sent the Facebook 3-4% then you're in trouble, the chances of people Liking you are significantly less.  Facebook is still a numbers Game. You have missed the boat.

Facebook has made it far harder to gain geniune and desirable Likes... literally when you Post something a random 3-4% of your Likes will recieve it and even them most of them will miss your Update because they are swamped with all their other information.  You're becoming a needle int he haystack.

Facebook's solution is to get you to spend money, Advertise on Facebook and your Update won't just reach your Likes more effectively, but it will extend well beyond and depending on your defined criteria it exposes your Updates well beyond your Likes.

But now you have a quandry, Facebook is still controlling who is seeing your Updates - and advertisers are actually reporting great success with this Advertising... but be careful on analysis the quality of people that respond to an Advert is far far inferior to the quality of people that Like you because they want to.

I need to repeat that - building Likes in a natural and self recommending way means people that want to follow you will... People that Like you because they've seen your advert for a special offer, or some incentive - will do so, but that's often as far as their interest goes.

And the quandry is that if you concentrate on building Likes through advertising you gain Likes, but then when you do a normal Status Update it will only go out to the 3-4% of Likes... and now you have a considerably less interested audience.

Advertising on Facebook remains a dubious choice to make, by natural definition you are shooting yourself in the foot and reducing your Facebook effectiveness.

Soltuions - I do like to end on a decent solution or two:
  1. If you want to succeed on Facebook you've got to Post a lot of information.  Post every hour... 24 times a day.  Why?

    Each time you post it will go to a Facebook selected 3-4% of your audience... the chances of annoying someone are therefore actually quite slim... they might get 2 or 3 of your posts, but rest assured they won't get 24 a day.
  2. Photos work best - not Albums - Videos only if you have to... people remain visual and seeing a photo is quick easy and should convey everything you want to convey.
  3. Do NOT Brand anything - I know it's tempting, but the object is to get people Sharing and Commenting on your Photo or Update - anything that is branded is an immediate turnoff to most people, even that little watermark in the corner.

    Besides when you share something, it will go out with your name and even after it's been shared copiously and even then it can be traced back to you.
  4. Have a purpose - create a theme, make it industry wide and NOT about your company.  Create an interest about your interests.  Constantly battering your Likes about a special offer or some product you're launched will be the quickest way to lose people's interest.
  5. Share - don't be afraid to share other people's content - even competitiors, if there is something happening in your sphere of interest share it... let people hear it from you.
And as always, respond to everything, if people leave comments, answer then, encourage the conversation, respond to customer service enquiries, put up answer to common questions and finally enjoy Facebook.

Maybe another day I'll rattle off a few reasons why Facebook has become so much harder to Market on... but this is enough for now.  Have you missed the Facebook boat?  Yes - a lot of businesses and people will have done so.  Is it a salvagable situation - Yes - but it's a return to basics, be natural on Facebook, use it as it was meant to be used (instead of trying to twist it to suit your purpose) and it will all come right.


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Friday, July 04, 2014

Busy Days - Keep Blogging no matter what

A short blog post from me this month as you'll see I've not been blogging recently, a victim of my own advice, things have been wonderfully busy.

But when we're busiest is precisely the time we need to be Blogging and letting people know what we're doing, in that way we can prepare for the quieter times ahead or keep more clients content, knowing that we're hard at work on their behalf.

So what news:

  • Expansion - we've now two full time employees in Dorset and we're looking to expand the London side of the business.
  • We broke a record with simultaneously working on 5 current websites, I remember the days when we tried to publish one website per month.
  • We're about to finish one mega project and about to start another, no names, but watch this space.
  • We currently have 109 websites under management.
It's not all roses, I am sorry to say, we have lost a few clients recently and we'd like to make it clear that while we're going through this period of expansion it's been very hectic indeed.

Some clients have loved our response times being so quick and reliable, and as the team expands this is increasingly hard as we work out the best methods to delegate and communicate internally.

I think the key is support@ncompass.co.uk.  If you want something done quickly and efficient on your website then email us using support@ncompass.co.uk.

No matter what - we all have to keep blogging and that is what we intend to do.
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Google Update their Search Engine with Panda 4.0

Did you even know Google actually update the way their Search Engine works? It's a bit like upgrading your computer or just about anything else these days. So yes Google have announces a massive change in the way they rate websites, in their constant quest that the right website shows up depending on what you are searching for.

Example - it's been reported that eBay traffic is down between 50-80% - that's a big problem for them.

Two snippets for you if you are interested:

There is a concern across the net that - as with all previous updates - it's aimed at removing low level and low quality pages from its search results. It is specifically aimed at websites with poor quality content from working their way into Google's top search results.

To make sure that this doesn't effect any of our clients, these steps we will be re-emphasising on.
  • Writing high quality original content
  • Clean & well-structured design and navigation of the website
  • Keep Meta Data unique and relevant to the page
  • Post fresh content on the website (Blogposts)
  • Increase Social Media efforts - Google consider this as a strong signal that your content is high quality
For those without websites - take note of the websites that show up when you search for things. You might see a lot less eBay.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pricing Updates for NComp@ss Services

It's always a sad day when we have to impose changes to our pricing in an upwards capacity, but that unfortunately is inflation and also a sign that we are getting dramatically busier as the recession moves on and the activity we undertake on your behalf grows.

Below is a list of our current 'fixed' prices with an approximate idea of what has changed.  Some of our newer clients already pay the new rates and we have to take that into account.  But we also like to reward our older clients for their loyalty, so while prices might go up, they might not yet be at full value.

That sounds complicated, but please bear with us, we want to reward loyalty while also realising that new clients need an incentive and we have to adjust for all our relevant needs.  If you have any queries over what you are paying, please contact accounts@ncompass.co.uk.

  • Domains
    - .com, .net, .org - £17.50 per year (unchanged)
    - .co.uk - £17.50 per two years (unchanged)
    - others - price on demand

  • Hosting
    - Monthly SO - £24.95 per month (unchanged)
    - Annual - £199 per year (raised from £159)
    - Advanced - superior or personalised Hosting at quoted price (unchanged)

  • Design
    - Price on demand - we will always quote for a website

  • Maintenance
    - Monthly Contract - £200 per month (raised from £185)
    - Ad Hoc Updates - £10 min (unchanged)

  • Search Engine Optimisation
    - Basic Onsite SEO - from £160 per month (raised from £150)
    - Basic Offsite SEO - from £160 per month (raised from £150)
    - Combined On and Offsite - from £280 per month - (raised from £250)

  • Pay-Per-Click (Adwords) Marketing (per website)
    - Basic Admin - £25 per month (unchanged)
    - £100-£300 Spend - we charge 20% of your spend between £100 and £300 (unchanged)
    - £300-£5000 Spend - we charge 12% of your spend between £300 and £5000 (unchanged)
    - £5000 over - we charge 10% of your spend over £5000 (unchanged)

  • Social Media
    -
    from £250 per month - we will usual quote depending on the services required

  • Consultancy
    - Price on demand - we will always quote for a website
This price list is not definitive, but it gives a rough idea of our core services and costs.  If there are other service that you pay for and they are not listed here - please assume no change in your pricing has taken place.

Please note these prices will take effect from the 1st May.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Has LinkedIn lost it's way?

I need a Blog Post... have you wondered about how to remember and idea, well writing a quick blog posts seems like a good idea.

LinkedIn - we've worked out Facebook Pages and they are crucial, Twitter just bangs out updates, but its real strength probably lies in customer service.  Google Plus is essential for Search Engine Optimisation, I mean would you risk it?

So what happened to LinkedIn? Last year 2013, it was the darling of Social Media, profitable and on the up and up, this year - frankly not a lot.

Our take on LinkedIn, is that it's for industry and for professionals, you're not going to sell any widgets here, nor sign up the odd client even.  But you might 'connect' with useful people.  When you update your LinkedIn Stats - it's not so much when, but IF!

Then there's the Birthday Reminders and Job Anniversary emails - as if either are reliable or accurate, I wished a few people Happy Birthday and then rather wished I hadn't for invasion of privacy reasons and the rather oddness of it.  I know it's nice to be remembered, but just for the sack of it?

So what to do, what to do?  We've always propounded three things about LinkedIn - see if you agree?
  1. You should only connect to people you know - that keeps things tidy and means you have more meaningful relationships with those actual people... no room for companies here

  2. The only way to 'market' your activities (self or business) is to join the conversation, get involved with Groups and actually join in... this is the only point within LinkedIn that your name extends beyond the people you may know.
  3. Keep your Company/Corporate Page updated with your services and products.  If someone wants to find out who you work for - then it's essential your keep this updated.
It's the last bit that we need to focus on now, LinkedIn have realised that having a 'corporate' profile is probably more important these days than having a personal one.  In the game for attention (which this Social players all work in) and for LinkedIn to remain relevant they have to join the game of followers.  Unless people get regular value from LinkedIn they will see their users disappearing.

In this age of Mobile LinkedIn is regularly used as a source of news of what all your 'connections' are up to and that includes companies people follow... and there in lies the game plan.

The same rules apply to LinkedIn as to Facebook or Twitter - if you're not regularly updating your LinkedIn Company Page - you could well be missing a trick.

LinkedIn has realised this missing piece of it's puzzle and is hungry for people to take their company pages seriously.  The big advantage they have over Facebook and the main reason I encourage this is because the quality of LinkedIn's users is exceptionally high.  This target market might not be after your widgets, but they are almost all paying into a higher Tax Bracket.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Future of Gmail

Before I start - this is not just about Gmail... it'a about Hotmail, YahooMail and Gmail, with a little bit of Apple thrown in for good measure.

Clients are reaching their limits - inboxes are full, back up arrangements limited, computers replaced with iPads and mobiles, you know me - I've been on about this for years.  So what's the future holding right now.  And I'm only really talking about email for the moment.

I think it's a given - we all want our email 27/7 and on any device we choose, i.e. desktops, tablets and phones.  It's slightly questionable wheather we want access to our email from any computer - because we're usually most comfortable working from our desks in our offices, but we like the idea of being able to work from anywhere even if we in truth don't actually do it.

The next factor that springs to mind is the devision of personal and work email - the line is increasingly blurred, on the one hand it makes total sense to keep the two apart - increasingly this is hard to actually acheive - who hasn't used their work email for a private comminucation.  So I want to keep this in mind as well in terms of the future.

Lastly, multiple addresses - we often want multiple email addresses for slightly different businesses or representations of who we are and this also needs to be factored in.

The good news is that the core big four know all this, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple, they've got it down to a tee and are making massive strides to making email what we want it to be, always there, everywhere.  No social media type thing has come anywhere close to replacing email, so we can confidently say email is going to be with us for the medium future.

The not so good news is that these companies are vying for our business and attention, some of what we need is free, but there are certain deal breakers that are expensive and in some instances it can all get rather too expensive.  It's the usual business model for the Internet age - offer a free service and charge a premium for the perks.  The only query is how soon you need the perks.

At this stage the costs still very much make sense.  If you've offices with under 20 or so people it's going to be far more reliable and cost effective to sign up to the one of these four (less so Apple).  Even if you have a big office with hundreds of people there would be a business case for outsourcing email to these services.

What's basically happened is that very careful data analysis has gone into the cost of running email and a price of about $5 a month has been put on it.  This includes everything from Hardware, Software, Servicing and Upgrading of everything - all told each individual email address is running at about $5 a month... it's definitely low cost... But it's also a cost many are not familiar with.  i.e. when they buy their new computers and callup the IT department to ask for a password, no cost is put on that time.  Let alone the cost of getting the IT Department to transfer legacy email to the new computer.

Therefore we can say the hidden cost of email has for too long been exactly that - hidden.  In the future the hope is email management will be a thing of the past, the incredible uptimes and redundancy and investment into the main four providers should remove the problems from email.

And by and large it does.  All you need to know is your password.

There is a cog in the works though - as there nearly always is.  In this case the cog in the works is that once you go with a 'provider' you usually have to commit to their way of 'doing it'.  If you choose Gmail - then the best way to work with Gmail is to use it, that might mean giving up on Outlook and 'your way' of managing email and subscribing to theirs.  Using Microsoft's Office365 system (which is essentially Hotmail), it is definitely more os a strugglr using Apple products,  Particularly, AppleMacs, using Yahoo - it's less customisable and does not include many of the benefets of these other suct as the extensive Office suites.

You do have a choice, but it is limited to choosing one of the four.  At the moment I would narrow that down to Gmail or Office365, and I think for the future that is going to remain the case.  The downside is a small monthly fee, the upsides however are there to be had - BUT only if you subscribe to their way of 'doing things'.

Incidentally I last looked at this question a year ago, when I firmly came down in Gmail's favour, it's nice to see Office365 fighting back.
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