Recent Blog Posts

Think You Don’t Need a Website? Here’s Why You Do

Heads in sandI recently had a conversation about a website with a local business owner here in Tenbury Wells.  When I pointed out that he hadn’t got a website his response was that he didn’t think he needed one because it wouldn’t bring in any additional business, most of which came from local referrals.

You know what, he was right on that! But he had missed the point. I think he was sticking his head in the sand!

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Know How: What to do if your website doesn’t show on Google

Is my site listed in Google? That’s a question that I often get asked by clients after their websites have recently gone live.

Is my site listed in Google?

Take the following situation.

Your new business has been in operation for a couple of months. Trade has been good and now that your new website has been live for a  couple of weeks ago you’re expecting to see trade take off as soon as people start to find the site and start using the online shop.

But, so far, you’ve searched for the site on Google using various keywords and you can find no trace of it. Why? Has the site been listed at all on Google? Or has it been listed and none of the pages been high enough for you to see them?

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What’s the Purpose of Your Website?

So you’ve decided that you want a website? What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Look at the websites of similar companies to yours and get an idea of the design you’d like? Approach a number of web designers and get a bunch of quotes? Start designing it yourself? Sign up for one of the self-build services such as 1&1 My Website?Website Planning

 

Pick any one of these and you’d be on the fast track to throwing away your money and effort.

The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want the website to do for you; decide what the purpose of it is in other words. What do I mean by this?

There are a number of different types of website and the results you should expect from each vary. For the purpose of simplicity, here are three of the most popular types.

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Is Technology Affecting Your Productivity at Work?

Wasting time at workA recent article in the Daily Telegraph “Internet ‘fuels procrastination and lowers productivity‘” started me thinking about my own experiences (I’ve been developing and using internet technology in business for over 30 years), so I thought I would post my guidelines for using email.

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A Little Know Secret about Website Design

Content is KingThere are many myths about the internet, not least of which is the one about web design. Most people think that in order to be successful you simply need to design a website that looks great. Some businesses spend a fortune with a web designer in order to get a website that looks fantastic.

Let me let you into a secret. These days, with content management systems such as WordPress, designing a nice professional looking website is easy and well within the capabilities of most people who can find their way around a computer……

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How to get a Website and Fail

Need a website? Looking for a web design company to design it for you? Stop.

Don’t go any further until you have read this article

Website Designer

Traditionally, web design companies work like this.

  • You approach them and ask them to develop a website.
  • They then ask you for you requirements. Sometimes this will just be a set of verbal questions; sometimes they may have forms to fill in.
  • They will usually ask what kind of site you want: brochure site, eCommerce, blog, content managed etc. They will probably ask you about colours, some idea of layout, numbers of pages, and possibly ask you to give them some examples of similar sites that you like.
  • They will design the site and they will require you to provide the content in the form of text and graphics.
  • They then go away and build the site with dummy content and show it to you for your comment.
  • After tweaking it to you liking, they then take your content, add it, test it all and, hey presto, job done.
Can you see the flaw in this?

When you approach the web design company, what you actually want is something that will get you more business, and therefore more profit, by using the internet.

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Ten Things to Consider When Setting Up an eCommerce Website

online shopping“We’d like an eCommerce website”. That is a familiar sentence that most website developers have heard from time to time. But when you ask me that question what do you really want?

Developing a eCommerce website is pretty easy. eCommerce platforms, such as Zen Cart or OsCommerce, make the job little more than a load and configure operation. What’s more they are free.

But I’m afraid that’s not what you really want. What you really want is to be able to trade online and that’s not the same thing as setting up an eCommerce website. So how do you do this?

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Spending a Fortune on Marketing? Try Inbound Marketing

You may have heard the term “inbound marketing” bandied around recently. But what does it mean?

Inbound Marketing

Traditional, or “outbound marketing”, involves sending out messages about your products or services to potential customers. Outbound marketing uses methods such as advertisements in newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, telemarketing and cold calling. The key characteristics of outbound marketing are an advert and an audience. You effectively push that advert in from of the audience.

But people are now becoming immune to this kind of marketing. Do you watch TV adverts and get a message about the product or company? Or, like me, switch off and ignore it? What do you do when you get a cold call about mobile phones or anything else? You probably find them irritating or down right annoying. I do.

Outbound marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective. So what can you do? Enter inbound marketing.

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Blog Writing Tip – Correct Grammar

English grammar

One essential component of any good blog is to use correct language. Bad spelling or grammar will make your blog look cheap. Here’s a tip that will stand you in good stead for blog writing and writing in general.

Many of us have difficulty knowing when to use I and when to use me. Take for example these two sentences.

  1. My son held a birthday party for my wife and I.
  2. My son held a birthday party for my wife and me.

Which one is correct?

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How Not to Lose Money in Your Business

“Britain’s small businesses could be losing more than £800m of sales a year by not taking credit and debit card payments”.

So says a news story that is currently doing the rounds. Whether or not you believe the figure of £800m, the fact does remain that many small businesses such as, corner shops, local tradesmen, market traders, and numerous mobile businesses, can’t take card payments.

PayPal card reader

These businesses an only accept payment in cash or cheque. I don’t know about you but I rarely carry much cash around and I never carry a cheque book so, no card payment, no sale.

On the other side of the fence, I hate it when customers give me a cheque. They put a cheque in the post, which can take who know how long to arrive, given the vagaries of the Royal Mail, and then it takes another 5 days to arrive in my account after I’ve paid it into the bank.

The excuse for not accepting cards has been that card payments are expensive. But that’s not true any more.

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A Little Know Secret for Tracking Your Marketing Campaigns

It is so easy to waste money and effort on marketing that turns out to be ineffective. The key to good marketing is to measure and then improve, then measure again and improve again, etc. But how many of us actually does that, or even knows how to do it, particularly from our online marketing?

Google Analytics

If you send out bulk email campaigns, can you determine how many visitors to your website came from the campaign you just sent out? Perhaps you use paid search – Google Adwords? If so can you determine how many visitors come from Adwords? Can you determine how many came from specific keywords on your Adwords campaigns?

Let me guess. The answer to all these questions is probably no? You probably use Google Analytics or something similar to get the basic visitor stats from your website, but did you know that there is a way to get the answers to all the questions I posed above? Let me tell you the secret.

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Hummingbird – Google Search Has Changed

Recently Google announced, what it described, as a “complete overhaul of its search algorithm”. Codeworded “Hummingbird”, the update is aimed at making search results much more relevant to users. Hummingbird seems to have created quite a stir so I though I would give you my take on it together with some practical advice.

Google Hummingbird

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Know How – The Best Way to Archive Emails from Outlook

A client recently called my for some advice on the best way to archive emails from Outlook. This particular client had a number of separate client folders under his Inbox and wanted to archive each onto DVD for storage and, possible, restore at a later date.

The best way to do this in Outlook is to create a new Personal Folder for each of the client folders, copy each of the client folder from the Inbox into its own Personal Folder, then copy the personal folders onto DVD, and finally remove from Outlook.

Any one, or more, of these Personal Folders can be copied back and re installed into Outlook if required in the future.

Archive from Outlook

You create new personal folders by clicking the Data File Management option under the File tab. This opens a window where you can add new Personal Folders, and remove existing ones (note this only removes them from Outlook, it doesn’t delete them). This window also shows the location of each Personal Folders which you can use to locate and copy the files.

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Know How – Solve Windows Problems With System Restore

Recently I realized that my notebook, which I use for email, stopped automatically going into sleep mode. Not a catastrophic problem, I know, but it’s better to have devices go into sleep or standby when not in use to avoid unnecessary heat build up. Why had this suddenly happened I wondered?

Computer problemThe reason, I eventually discovered, was Windows Update. From time to time Microsoft issues updates to its software which, if your computer is set to do so, will be automatically installed on your machine. Sometimes these updates don’t always do what Microsoft intended and have side effects. In this case my problem turned out to be down to an update that had the effect of preventing my notebook from sleeping automatically.

The solutions was simple. I did a system restore to revert my machine to the state it was in before the update. (See this article on how to do a system restore.)

In order to avoid similar, or worse, problems occurring in future, I then switched off automatic updates and set Windows to simply inform me when new updates are available and I will then choose to install them manually. If a problem then arises, I can revert back to the original state with system restore immediately. (See this article on how to configure an use automatic updates.)

The moral of the story. Don’t put your systems, and your business, in the hands of a 3rd party even if it is Microsoft. Keep control yourself.

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16-Year Old Uses Internet to Devise a Test for Cancer

I recently came across this amazing story about a 16-year old , Jack Andraka, who recently devised a revolutionary medical test for detecting the almost always fatal disease, pancreatic cancer. I urge you to watch the 10 minute video below. It will blow you away.

The reason I want to share this with you is because Jack, having no previous medical training and not even knowing what a pancreas  is, managed to produce the test by extensive research on the Internet.

I’ve previously expounded, in this blog, about the power of the Internet but Jack’s story illustrates this to a tee. A mere thirty years ago it would have been almost impossible for a layman such as Jack to achieve such a feat.

If the internet can do this and enable Jack to produce such a result, just think what it can do for your business.

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Know How – Twitterfall

Twitterfall is an app that lets you monitor new updates to Twitter.

Twitterfall

Those of you who’s business relies on the most up to date information in your field or those that just have an interest in the latest trending topics on Twitter should check out Twitterfall (www.twitterfall.com). The application runs in real time and filters tweets based on search criteria that you define. You can search on keyword and geolocation to narrow down your search.

So for example, let’s say you want to find out about the latest Apple announcements at the forthcoming Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin,  then you could search on “apple, consumer electronics fair, berlin” and see all relevant tweets in real time.

Twitterfeed is used by professional journalists working for organizations such as the BBC and Daily Telegraph. For any business owner, it is an ideal tool to help you stay one step ahead of the competition.

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Six Dos and Don’ts on Writing Blog Posts

Clients often ask me what they should write about in their blogs.

Small Business BloggingIt’s easier to answer this question by turning it around to say what they shouldn’t write about. I’ve also included some general points about what you should do in the list below.

  1. Don’t write sales pitches. A blog should be informative not a platform for sales pitches. So stay away from blog posts that try to pitch your products. The purpose of your blog is to attract interest and, whilst you might be interested in the latest variant of your xyz widget, most of you blog readers won’t. The only exception is if you’ve just brought out something so different, or even revolutionary, that it will immediately attract interest.
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How To Make Web Links Look Pretty In MS Word Documents

A client recently called me to ask how he could put shortened versions of links to specific web pages into documents.

His specific problem was this. Some of the pages on his website had links (URLs) that a contained many characters. For example http://www.examplesite.co.uk/index.php/team-building-a-activities-for-groups/activities-for-groups. Occasionally he needs to respond to client inquiries and direct them to pages with URLs such as this. He wanted to know how he could use a shortened version of such a link to make his reply document look tidier.

One obvious was was to use tinyURL to provide a shorter version but, whilst this results in a URL that is much shorter, it still doesn’t look the neatest.

A much neater and simpler way is to use a word or phrase and embed the link behind it. So, using the example above you could write “activities for groups” and then embed the link so that when clicked it will take the user to the specific web page.

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Understanding Computer Jargon – Part 1

Computer Terminology

Are you bewildered by some of  the terminology that computer geeks like me use? If so, read on.

As someone who has been in the IT industry for many years I tend to use words that, to me, are commonplace. However, for many people who have only got to grips with technology recently, or who are still trying, many of these terms are baffling.

So I thought I would start a series of posts to try and explain some of this terminology in layman’s terms. This first post in the series is really just an introduction. Future posts will go into more detail.

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What To Use Instead Of Google Reader

Google ReaderAs I posted on this blog back in March this year, Google reader is being withdrawn by Google after 1/7/13. Google’s announcement claimed that the number of people using the product has declined and Google wants to focus its efforts on fewer product offerings. Despite protests from users of the product, it seems that Google is still going ahead with the closure. So what’s the alternative?

I looked around and finally settled on InoReader (https://www.inoreader.com/).

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