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Twitter’s Expansion To 280 Character Tweets- Yay or Nay?

Twitter, social media

Twitter’s Expansion To 280 Character Tweets- Yay or Nay?

The days and the wait for Christmas may be getting shorter but Tweets are getting longer! This week the fast-pace micro-blogging social media platform increased its short and snappy Tweet length from 140 characters to 280 characters – and we reckon it was a wise decision.

The move to extend the character limit on Tweets has been a long time coming and comes as part of Twitter’s bid to make it easier to Tweet and to appeal to new users and increase the growth of the platform, with Twitter’s 330 million active users being dwarfed by the 800 million people who use Instagram and 2 billion people and organisations who are on Facebook.

We have to admit, when we have planned social media content for clients in the past, it was a challenge to convey an intelligent thought, pose a meaningful question or communicate a significant message in a tight 140 characters.  The job became especially tricky where the content we had to publish had to be articulated in a formal and professional tone to reflect the business we were representing, meaning succumbing to abbreviations, slang, ‘text speak’ and emojis wasn’t really appropriate.

Getting Around Twitter’s Old 140 Character Limit

Instead, we often resorted to using Twitter as a ‘gateway’, posting links to clients’ websites and blog posts where our clients’ followers could find more information. The link would merely be accompanied by a short description or comment in the Tweet to introduce the link. More detail on our clients’ updates or product/service offers could be found on their other social media platforms that we managed, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.

To get around Twitter’s restricted character count, we would sometimes see people posting an image of a screenshot displaying bullet points or elaborating on the message they wished to communicate in their Tweet or posting more videos where promotions and informative Tweets could be expanded upon.

Many business owners we came across found Twitter’s brevity a little daunting, whilst they took to Facebook like a duck takes to water. However, fears have been raised by fans of Twitter that the extending of Tweet limits would undermine the edge Twitter had over other social media platforms- its conciseness.

Exciting Opportunity

It remains to be seen whether Twitter’s new change will be a popular one. It has been highlighted online that many users would have preferred the introduction of an ‘edit’ function, providing the option to tweak tweets that have already been posted, whilst other critics of the change called for a focus on cracking down on hate crime sometimes seen on the network.

We think that, rather than clogging up people’s Twitter feeds, from a business perspective, it provides an exciting opportunity to convey more information about services and products our clients offer and company news they wish to share, whilst still enjoying a shorter character limit than other social media platforms, meaning Tweets continue to benefit from being brief, relevant and free from waffle.

In other Twitter news, the social media platform has also announced that it is not allowing users to extend their Twitter display name from 20 to 50 characters, meaning business names, for example, don’t have to be abbreviated or cut short.

Pivotal Web SOlution, Twitter, Twitter handle, social media

Note: The change doesn’t apply to your @username, known as your Twitter handle.

Twitter, editing Twitter profile, social mediaTo change your display name, (the name that’s in bold text on your profile) simply click ‘Edit profile’ on the right-hand side of your profile and click on your current name.

Pivotal Web Solutions, Twitter, social media

 

What do you think of Twitter’s choice to extend the character limit of Tweets from 140 characters to 280? Will your business’ digital marketing benefit from it? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

Karys Passes Google’s Squared Online Course!

You know it, I know it, we know it. If you work in any form of online marketing or even traditional marketing for that matter, you know techniques and ways of promoting a business and reaching the right people at the right time are always changing. With the rise in ubiquitous smartphones and the soaring popularity of social media, vlogging and online advertising, it can be like falling off the back of a constantly running speedy treadmill. It’s hard to keep up!

Google Squared Online, Google, Squared Online, course, Training, Karys Moffat Fortunately for all our clients, everyone here at Pivotal Web Solution loves what we do- so much so that we happily read articles on the latest digital marketing industry trends, watch helpful video tutorials to keep our fingers on the pulse and, most importantly, undertake regular training. Which is why we’re pleased to announce that in the past few months Karys, our WordPress and Website Developer, passed Google’s award -winning digital marketing leadership course, Squared Online with flying colours!

The prestigious 5-month course, which is recognised by a diverse range of world-class brands including Red Bull, Samsung, BBC and Barclays, consisted of a fusion of one hour weekly live online classes, hands-on practical learning, group work, online ‘real-world’ activities and guest speakers.

Google Squared Online Modules & Activities

Squared Online didn’t comprise of any exams. Instead, Karys was continuously assessed as she progressed through each of the 5 modules which were taught by leading industry experts at the top of their game in online business marketing. The 5 modules were:

1) Module 1: Karys learnt what the term ‘digital disruption’ means and how it has influenced the way brands and consumers interact with one another.

2) Module 2: She was then taught how current digital trends impact consumer behaviour, focusing on mobile and social media aspects of how consumers interact with brands.

3) Module 3: Next came the honing of her skills in multi-channel digital marketing, concentrating on video and exploring how paid and organic search can better position a brand to reach the right people in the multi-screen world we now live in.

4) Module 4: This module included Karys mastering data and insights in more depth and expanding her knowledge of Google Analytics, learning how to act upon this rich data to optimise online marketing campaigns for clients. She also discovered how to avoid mistakes and maintain an ethical approach to data privacy.

5) Module 5: The final module gave Karys the opportunity to stay ahead of the game, learning about the up and coming trends in the world of digital marketing and online advertising.

Practical activities included:

  • – Working in groups to create a ‘disruptive’ idea for a fictional product, creating a ‘disruptive’ business pitch for the new digital product or service and developing a digital marketing proposal for the launch of a new product to drive sales whilst building brand loyalty.
  • – Completing two individual online assessments
  • – Producing a Whitepaper in a group that predicts how a major digital trend will influence a particular industry.

Google AdWords certified, Google AdWords, Mobile Advertising

Google AdWords Certified Too!

We’re also enjoying a double celebration here at Pivotal as our Social Media Coordinator and Copywriter, Jayna also became Google AdWord Certified a few months ago.

To become accredited, she had to undertake a general AdWords Fundamentals online exam and then had to choose 1 other exam to take out of a choice of 5. Jayna opted for the Mobile Advertising Exam to better equip her to help clients as mobile overtakes desktop in the way that consumers access brands online.

We’re hugely proud of Karys and Jayna and reckon our current and future clients and their businesses will benefit significantly from the tips, tricks, knowledge and insights that they have gained from their Google training! 

 

What are the Web Design Trends for 2017?

The web is a rapidly evolving space. Technologies and development techniques can appear quickly. Ever improving tools allow for greater freedom when designing interfaces and interactions. And because of this, web design patterns and techniques can begin to trend within a short period of time.

Below is a list of web design trends to keep in mind during 2017. Some of them are new to 2017, some are styles that have been gaining and/or maintaining their popularity during 2016 which are expected to continue to be in common use for new websites launched in 2017.

Colours (especially duotones)

So, what are going to be the colour trends for 2017? Pantone has unveiled their 2017 colour of the year – Greenery. It’s been chosen as a symbol of new beginnings; a refreshing and revitalising shade. I don’t expect every website in 2017 to be green, but I’m sure there will be several web designs inspired by this. If you’re looking for inspiration regarding colour combinations, you can view some of Pantone’s recommended colour pairings on their Colour of 2017 page.

Geometric Design

A trend we’ve been seeing much more throughout late 2016, we can definitely see it continuing into 2017. There are various ways in which geometric shapes have made their way into websites. Be it the use of circles around images, photos that are geometric heavy, or the overall design of the site relies heavily on the use of lines and patterns.

Web Design

(Credit: Sequence)

Bold, Creative Typography

Fonts this year will get in your face and make you notice. Minimalism is out, big is in. Expect large, bold fonts to create a captivating and powerful visual, to inform you of what the section you are going to read is about without having to read the small copy.

Web Design

(Credit: Anyways)

 

Modular Design

We have seen a large trend of using custom grids, breaking away from the normal and using the canvas as a way of capturing attention and displaying only vital information that you want the user to take in, rather than scroll past because there is just too much content to read.

Web Design

(credit: Cantina Negrar)

 

Designed for Mobile sites

With Google’s big announcement last year that it will penalise any websites not optimised for mobile, alongside the fact that more people are using mobile search than ever before, it’s not surprising we expect to see design for mobile- simple, bold and easily stackable information.

Web Design

 

Progressive Web Apps

A website that acts like an app, basically. Apps have taken over from most websites with the introduction of smart phone and tablets, so it makes sense that website trends are heading in the direction of an app like design. If you’re wondering exactly what a progressive web app is, there’s more information here.

(Credit: Addyosmani)

 

2017 is sure to see some great websites, and these design trends will most definitely be seen on some of the best website designs yet to come.

If you need a website designing, some inspiration or just fancy a chat about upcoming website trends, get in contact or visit our website here.

How Virtual Assistants like Siri and Google will impact your SEO

The Rise of the Virtual Assistants

There’s been quite a noise over the last couple of years with regard to the kinds of virtual assistants that are slowly but surely taking over. If you’re one of hundreds of millions of iPhone users, you’ll know yours as Siri. If you’re part of the Google crowd, it’s Google Now. If you’re one of the comparatively few folks with a Windows Phone, you’ll know her as Cortana. And most recently, Amazon’s Alexa started taking over the scene with specific products like Echo Dot made simply for the purpose of becoming your Virtual Assistant.

The ease of the technology coupled with the time it saves means more people than ever before are swapping the written word for a simple voice command. Instead of going to a search engine and typing in a search query, users can now speak their desires. The numbers show exactly which was technology is swinging, where more than half of teenagers and adults use voice searching capabilities frequently and 55% of teens use voice search more than once a day, and those numbers are sure to grow even more in the future.

While users are simply happy to get their information more easily and quickly than ever before, there’s a battle taking place on the other side of the equation. Programs like Siri and Google Now are specifically tailored to respond to verbally entered text, which means there’s potentially a whole new avenue for companies to get noticed. After all, virtual assistants have to get their information from somewhere, making it essential for digital marketers to consider Voice searches in their 2017 search engine optimisation strategies.

As an online business owner, SEO company or digital marketer, you should be asking yourself a few questions:

  1. If users no longer need to click on an actual web page to access information, am I likely to see a decrease in organic search traffic?
  2. How can I deliver the same text-based information from my web pages via voice search?
  3. Speaking of voice, what is my brand’s tone and how do I convey it in as natural language as possible?

The age of relying on writing for robots and keyword stuffing is over, and in its place comes conversational search queries.

Virtual Assistants

Understanding Voice Inquiries

One thing to remember about virtual assistants is that they’re not always asked the same types of questions as your typical search engine. People might want to find out about your business, but they’re not looking for a lengthy blog about an industry topic. They just want basic information – business in the local area, their hours, and their contact information. If they want to read something, they’ll search for it on their home computers when they have free time. The virtual assistant landscape, then, is limited to only the most basic of queries.

Using A Natural Voice

Although you may be used to writing with SEO in mind, it might not be a bad idea to talk with SEO in mind. Verbally discuss the aims of your content. Identify sentences and phrases that link back to what people might search for, and include those very phrases in your copy. Approaching your content and your website copy in this way can have applications that go beyond assistant-based SEO. You may find that a more conversational tone can go a long way towards presenting a friendly face to new and current customers.

Think location first

If your business has a physical presence, it is even more crucial to optimise your content for voice assistants. Voice searches are often on smartphones are usually location-dependent, ending with “nearby” or “near me”, and will display different results based on the searcher’s proximity to your business.  It’s crucial that you make sure your business location is listed on all the major directories (Google, Apple and Bing Maps), and that details such as your hours and phone number are correct.

Include an FAQ page on your website

People use conversational speech when they use voice search, and they often ask questions with common phrases. These phrases include words like “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “how”. For example, rather than searching “Samsung VR”, people are more likely to search “What is Samsung VR?” To increase your business’ chances of being picked up by a voice assistant, use an FAQ page on your website with questions that begin with these common phrases, and include conversational answers. You ultimately want to focus on ranking as highly as possible for the questions consumers will ask about your product/service.

 

While voice assistants present a new challenge to marketers, they are also an additional opportunity to reach a target audience. Voice search will continue to grow, making up an estimated half of all searches by 2020. So make sure that you’re continually thinking about the conversation you want to have with your potential customers. Put yourself in their shoes, and act accordingly. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

Is Virtual Reality the future of Social Media?

Social Media – VR crossover

Back in 2014, Facebook bought the most famous virtual reality company in the world- Oculus VR for $2million. And at Facebook’s most recent F8 conference for developers, the company’s executives talked about the concept for “social VR”, in which Facebook would help users have social experiences within virtual worlds.

Social Media VR

By combining the world’s biggest networking company with the world’s biggest virtual reality company, you basically get a hybrid experience where you enter the virtual world via Facebook. Even now, we’re beginning to see this with the introduction of the 360-degree photo experience you can post to your timeline, allowing your entire social circle to experience virtually where you are and what you’re doing; a “virtual update”.

Facebook recently announced the 360-degree feature would be added to Facebook Live, in real time.  It’s the next phase for Facebook video, and the next battleground for video platforms, as competition for audience attention heats up the space.

The future looks to become even more immersive, with virtual hangouts where you can chat with friends as an avatar, giving introverts a chance to shine as we can see occurring in a new study commissioned by Facebook. The study, conducted by Neurons Inc revealed introverts connected best with others in the VR world.

Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he believes Virtual Reality is where Facebook, and indeed all social media, is heading;

“Pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just there, right there in person. Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want. Or being able to watch a movie in a private theatre with your friends anytime you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world that you want.  All these things are going to be possible. And that’s why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality. So we can hope to deliver these types of social experiences.”

Social Media VR

What else can Virtual Reality be used for?

Facebook has also mentioned other big uses they see happening in Virtual Reality. Check out a product before you buy it, see a hotel room before you book, test drive that new car safely, visit a virtual museum, browse a store or learn a new skill with a virtual teacher and simulation. The possibilities give you the world at your fingertips within your own home. It’s not hard to see why many people believe it’s the future.

But it may still be a way off.

The problem with VR right now is that it’s just too expensive and technically complex for most people to access. It’s only once the technology is simplified and made easily accessible for all that it’ll take off.

This is why VR will take time, and why we need stepping stone elements like this to move to the next level. It may not seem like a big deal – the announcement of 360degree Facebook Live, it may feel out of reach for you, as an everyday consumer. But it’s the next important development in evolving our online connectivity to the next level of shared experience.

It’s worth taking note, and considering what the next big content shift will be.

How effective is Social Media?

There are certain companies that are so successful you only need to hear the beginning of a jingle, a graphic or even a colour for their name to come to mind. Christmas is synonymous with Coca-Cola, Meerkats conjure up the compare the market ads and just the colour blue makes me think of Facebook. So how have these companies embedded themselves into our lives? The answer is the money, time and effort they put into advertising and social media.

But how effective is social media? How much importance should you put into it as a growing business? Earlier this week the 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report was published, providing an insight into how NGOs worldwide use online technology to engage their supporters and donors. From this report, Charity Digital News created an infographic to highlight how effective organisations think different forms of social media are- and it makes interesting reading.

social media infographic

Around 2/3rds of executive staff support prioritising social media in their online communications and fundraising strategies, finding that email updates, blogging, texting and Social Media platforms are the best way to do this. Through this, they can create online brand awareness, social change, recruit volunteers and event attendees and even fundraise effectively online for their charity. This is with almost no overheads (unlike printed or televised/radio advertising) and most of the work is undertaken by your actual audience through word of mouth, sharing on their own social media or spreading your message across platforms. It’s a win- win for any company.

So why don’t all companies take advantage of this? Well, the infographic explains that half of all executive staff has insufficient knowledge, a third of them don’t want to invest financial or staff resources and 9% of them worry about legal problems resulting from social media.

So what’s the solution? Companies you can outsource your social media to are not only cheaper than using your existing staff or employing someone new, but it also ensures that specialists in social media marketing are in charge, with the knowledge to create the most effective campaigns and the know-how to keep you free of any legal problems.

If you need help with your social media or want to take your digital marketing and online presence to the next level, give us a call on 01484 290100 or check out our website for more information.

Is Your Business Missing Out?

For most of us, the internet, social media and online shopping are ingrained into our day-to-day lives. We surf the net before work, scroll through social media on our lunch breaks and browse products online before bed. In short, we can’t imagine out life without them. But recent research reveals small businesses are having a detrimental effect- a potential £8.4bn effect to be exact- on the UK economy by not embracing the potential of the web.

In one of Growth Yorkshire’s latest posts, they reported that YouGov research revealed surprisingly 23% of small businesses surveyed have no website, while 40% of organisations who took part in the research have no social media channels to speak of and three-quarters are absent from an online marketplace. What’s more, 57% of small enterprises who lack a website said they had no intentions of changing this fact in 2017.

The effect of the country’s small businesses not getting on board with having a website or social media presence is highlighted in new statistics by Development Economics, commissioned by eBay, which found that the nation’s economy could be a potential £8.4bn larger if the remaining 23% of SMEs who don’t have a basic digital presence closed what has been dubbed the ‘digital gap’.

The research showed small businesses, like the one you might run, who are missing out on having a website, online marketplace and social media channels are missing out on £20.2bn annual revenue. This is equivalent to £20,000 in increased revenue or efficiency savings per business across all sectors.

Many small businesses provided the lack of time, knowledge and security concerns as reasons for not creating and maintaining a website to represent their business in the online arena. Is this the case with you and your business? 

online shopping, eCommerce websites, small business, online presence, digital presence, missing out

Lots of work has been done in Yorkshire over the past few years by global giants to bridge the gap between ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses that exist entirely offline and the power of online marketing and eCommerce websites.

Bids to get Yorkshire’s small business on the long-lasting online and digital bandwagon include Google’s Digital Garage featuring at the Yorkshire Evening News’ Expo Business Conference last October with an insightful Q&A and Presentation with Google Digital Experts and Microsoft and Superfast West Yorkshire offering over 200 Yorkshire businesses help with leveraging social media for leads as part of the ‘big Social Media Show’ held in Leeds during 2015. 

However, at Pivotal we want to do our bit by helping small business in West Yorkshire and beyond unleash their value and potential online. We offer handy and friendly 1-to-1 WordPress Website and Social Media training sessions to boost your knowledge of different online platforms and reach your customers.

You can tap into our smart social media management services so you can get on with doing what you do best while your social media presence is taken care of by us if you’re strapped for time.

Always having our finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest developments in websites and digital marketing, we also offer modern websites that are responsive to mobile devices and SSL certificates that are becoming increasing important to show visitors to your website that your site is secure.

Don’t become another statistic who’s missing from the online world. Stop missing out on revenue, conversions and priceless client relationships. Contact us today for help creating the online digital presence your business deserves!

 

 

5 Tips for Better Facebook Live Broadcasts

Thinking of going live on Facebook? Wondering how to get the most out of your Facebook Live broadcast?

With Facebook Live, you can show your expertise in real time, take people behind the scenes, and much more.

In this post, you’ll discover five tips to succeed with your next Facebook Live broadcast.

1.   Promote Before You Broadcast

Facebook Live allows you to target your personal network, the fans of a business page (if you’re an admin), a group, or an event. If you can’t find a group or event to meet your needs, consider starting one.

It’s important to let your audience know about your upcoming live video with news feed posts. Experiment with images and perhaps even a short video to tell them about the bigger video to come.

If your live video is important enough, you can boost your announcement posts as paid Facebook ads. Then, remind your audience again right before you go live.

Don’t forget about the world outside of Facebook. Invite your blog readers, email subscribers, and followers from other networks. Include a link to your account, business page, group, or event.

2.   Prepare and Practice

Before you broadcast your live video, you need to do some preparation to ensure that viewers will be able to hear you clearly without distraction, follow your future broadcasts, and participate.

Set Up Your Location

Here are some tips for optimising the location and setup for your live video:

  • Try to minimise background and ambient noise. While users will expect the production quality to be a bit raw and unrehearsed, be sure that they can see and hear you without undue distractions.
  • Decide whether to hold the phone yourself or use some type of mount. You could also delegate the job to a co-worker. For the live video, you can use either the front- or rear-facing camera.
  • Choose a spot that has a strong broadband connection.

Tip: Forward your calls to avoid distractions during your broadcast.

Set a Policy for Instant Feedback

Two new Facebook Live features allow viewers to provide feedback and ask you questions during the broadcast. They can click on the six emoji reactions that replaced the simple like. These will appear for a few seconds onscreen; Facebook compares them to applause and boos.

Users can also comment during the video, so you should decide in advance how and when you will acknowledge your audience. Facebook recommends that you address commenters by name and make it clear how much you appreciate their involvement. If you need to block a user, click on the profile picture next to their comment and select Block.

Do a Practice Video

Before you use Facebook Live for the first time, consider doing a practice run. To get all of the practice time you need, set Facebook’s Who Should See This? Privacy setting to Only Me. You’ll see the live video exactly as it will appear, but no one else will.

To launch your live video, open the Facebook app and go to the personal, business, group, or event page that you want to target. Tap to start a new post and look for the Live icon at the bottom of the screen.

Tap the Live icon and then provide a short description of your video. Put on your SEO hat and create a catchy description that humans will like and that algorithms will be able to parse successfully.

Don’t forget to change the setting back to Public when you’re done.

3.   Be Personable

When you’re ready to broadcast to your audience, start by relaxing, and don’t forget to smile. Make yourself comfortable and the audience will follow.

Introduce yourself and your company and tell the audience what you plan to cover. Unlike a pre-recorded YouTube video, viewers will have no idea of the time commitment involved so help manage their expectations. Encourage comments and other feedback.

Important: Be sure to end your live video with a call to action and tell your audience a bit about your plans for the next video. Ask them to share the archived copy of the video that will be in the timeline. Make sure that they can easily contact you with any follow-up questions.

4.   Optimise your Live Recording

Facebook Live videos are immediately archived, and it’s quite common for archive views to exceed live views.

Add a post-show comment thanking everyone again for watching. Encourage further comments and questions to get more news feed activity and engagement.

You can change the thumbnail, add or change the location and date, provide a longer description, and select a category.

5.   Analyse the Results

Facebook added two new metrics for live videos. You’ll be able to see the total number of people who watched at least a portion of the video, along with a running count of how many viewers you had at different points in time.

This could assist your plans for the length of future videos. Given the attention that Facebook Live is getting, there should be future releases of analytics that provide even more data about the interests and demographics of viewers.

Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and now Facebook have all realised the effectiveness of live video. Facebook is putting a huge emphasis on live video, and they offer the biggest audience. Social media marketers who invest now in live video are essentially partnering with Facebook and stand to see significant long-term gains in their social marketing.

Why you MUST have a Mobile Friendly Website:

“Do I need a mobile friendly website?”

Have you asked yourself this question recently? Smartphones and other mobile devices are fast becoming the preferred method of Internet access; if you haven’t already got a mobile website, you need to get one soon.

Why? Because your customers are increasingly going mobile.

Mobile Online Shopping Time Now Exceeds Laptop/PC Online Shopping Time

In 2013, there was a seismic shift in shopping trends. As of June 2013, the online shopping champions were – you guessed it – mobile devices. They officially passed desktop PCs and laptops, garnering 55% of consumer shopping time spent online, as compared to 45% for laptops and desktops combined. That number continues to climb. The latest statistics in 2016 show 97% of Millennials shop via mobile and 20% don’t use a desktop at all.

Mobile is Not Just a Must for eCommerce Sites

People are increasingly doing all sorts of online research using mobile devices.

A Google Survey found that:

  • 74% of visitors were more likely to return to mobile friendly websites
  • 61% were likely to leave if a site wasn’t mobile friendly, and
  • 67% were more likely to buy at a mobile friendly website

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re losing business.

Here are three reasons you must have a mobile-friendly website now:

1. It’s What Your Customers Want – and They Expect You to Provide It

mobile friendly ipad

Increasingly, your customers are on the go, and they’re accessing your website from their mobile devices.

What does that mean for you? If you don’t give customers what they want (easy visibility and navigation so they can browse and shop while mobile), they’ll go someplace else.

So how do you go about creating a mobile-friendly site? Don’t try to simply “tweak” your existing website to try to make it so. Traditional websites don’t display well on mobile phones.

Mobile phones have smaller displays and will often distort visuals on regular websites. Cut your mobile friendly website down to just essential features, with content that includes links to secondary information pages. You should also enlarge interface elements for easy touchscreen navigation.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore those customers who still use desktops and laptops, though. They still account for a significant portion of your customer base and new prospects.

Change Your Standard Website to a Responsive Website

Instead, opt for a responsive website. A responsive website recognises the device being used (laptop, PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.) and will resize itself accordingly for optimal viewing. You’ll be able to accommodate mobile and PC/laptop users alike.

2. Google will Penalise You if You Don’t Have a Mobile Friendly Website

mobile friendly

It’s true. From 21 April 2015, Google Search expanded its use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal, and there’s a reason for that. Google recognises that you don’t need a computer to surf the Internet. Many sites, however, still use content, images, and navigation structures that just don’t work well on mobile devices.

Users can only see those websites properly using a desktop or laptop monitor or screen, and smartphone browsers end up with a very unsatisfying user experience.

Why does that matter to Google? Because if a particular website isn’t mobile friendly, Google will recognise that and be less likely to display it as a legitimate search result.

That makes sense, since Google wouldn’t be doing its job if half the results displayed were useless to mobile users. Google’s goal is to increase search traffic, including mobile search traffic, and you can use that to your benefit by jumping on board.

So when you’re asked, “Do I need a mobile friendly website?” answer “yes.” It will help your organic search results. If you want to double check your website is mobile friendly enough, you can check using Google’s handy test, by clicking HERE.

3. You’ll Lose Business (If You Haven’t Already)

mobile friendly

You’ve probably already seen a decline in business if you still use only a standard website. If not, go mobile friendly before you do. Most aren’t yet completely ditching their desktops or laptops for their mobile devices, but an increasing number are.

Give your customers what they want with fast loading pages, easy navigation, and a streamlined site with great content and great products. Grab hold of that growing number of customers who use mobile devices to shop. Keep Google happy, too, and you won’t risk “disappearing” from search results.

Other Website Must-Haves

Is your website mobile-friendly? If not, what questions do you have about converting it to one that is?

Beyond just being mobile-friendly, do you know if your website is optimised to get YOU traffic and leads? If not, how can you improve it? Find out by contacting us at Pivotal Web here!

Should You Go On A WordPress Training Course?

Well, it depends on two things:

1)     Do you want to be able to manage the content and layout of your website yourself?

2)     Would you prefer a professional to do it for you?

If you answered yes to number 2, then that’s an easy fix. Email me at karys@pivotalweb.co.uk and we’ll sort you out with a support package.

If you answered yes to number 1, then there are a couple of things you need to think about before launching yourself straight into your website.

Do I need to go on a WordPress Training Course?

We all know that in business time is money. While WordPress is easy to use, it does require a bit of a learning curve to really get to grips with it. And, obviously, being able to find the exact section of your website that you need straight away will save you time in the long run.

People who attend WordPress training courses have sometimes tried to teach themselves using online resources or muddled through YouTube videos and have, in the end, had to give up. This is because WordPress is so easy to customize by plugging things into it or adding new themes that not all WordPress websites will look exactly the same in the backend. Through face-to-face training, you get professional help with your own website.

WordPress

Always pick a WordPress training course that mixes practical work with theory. See whether the trainer provides laptops for you to log in to your own website and make changes in real-time.

One-to-One Tuition or Group Courses?

Group training is beneficial when everyone is working at the same level and can help each other out. It also allows for longer sessions to cover more ground and it is not quite as intense.

One-to-one tuition sessions are mainly for people who have attempted to set up their WordPress websites and started putting content on it but have hit a brick wall. They just don’t know where else to go to make the changes they need. These are intense sessions but are tailored to the individual and their website.

A Semi-Advanced Guide to Speeding Up Your WordPress Website

How’s that for a catchy title?! This is a semi-advanced guide so you will need some knowledge of the back-end of WordPress and will require FTP access so if you’re unsure, get in touch using the comments at the bottom or send me a private message & I’ll talk you through the bits you don’t get.

The load time of a page on the web is 15.23 seconds for full rendering. 15 SECONDS! Sit in silence for 15 seconds and you’ll know just how long that feels. Obviously, the longer the load time, the more users will get bored and leave your site without even making it to the content. A page should be readable after 2 seconds – every added second after that decreases the conversion rate of your website.

So let’s speed it up.

[Stock photos are brilliant aren’t they!]

As always, take a full backup of your website before making any of these changes (I will not be held responsible for broken websites!).

Measure a Starting Point

First things first, you need to be able to measure the changes that you are making are actually making a difference so let’s take a baseline report of your website as it is now. Google’s Page Speed Insights tool will give you a number out of 100 for both Desktop and Mobile speeds so run your website through this and note down your score. It doesn’t, however, tell you the actually site speed. For this I use Pingdom Website Speed Test which gives you a huge amount of detail. For now, just jot down the site speed and performance grade. By the end of this guide you should see all these numbers improve (hopefully!).

[Step up Twitter! ^]

Image Optimisation

Images are the number one cause of slow website download speeds. There are two ways you can go about optimising images. The way that works best for me is by using Kraken and following these instructions:

  1. Copy the entire Uploads folder from wp-content (this might take a while if you have a lot of images so go make yourself a brew).
  2. The Uploads folder should be separated in years and months. Run each of the folder through Kraken.ioMake sure you choose LOSSLESS compression.
  3. Download the .zip file and extract the optimised images into the same folder. Copy & Replace the existing images.
  4. Do the same for each of the Month folders.
  5. Upload the whole Uploads folder up to FTP.
  6. Enjoy super-fast, optimised images on your website!

If you do this process every month or so then you’re images will always be optimised.

Moving Javascript to the Footer

Javascript files block the rendering of a web page so if they are in the header they will slow down the time that the content becomes visible. By putting them in the footer, we tell them to load at the end of the rendering process to eliminate render blocking.

You do this by adding this code to your functions.php file:

(You can find a copy & paste version here: https://github.com/karys1/website-speed/blob/master/javascript-to-footer ).

Make sure you test your site on desktop and mobile after adding this. If it all works, that’s great! If not, just remove the code from the functions.php file and re-upload it. If it doesn’t work, this guide gives a comprehensive guide on how you can move Javascript one-by-one to see which is causing the problems.

Load Javascript Asynchronously

So at the moment, all our javascript is loading one at a time in the footer. Whilst this is better than before, we could make this process even quicker. By adding an ‘async’ attribute to each Javascript call we can force them to load at the same time. You might as well use a plugin for this as it will continuously update the Javascript calls if any are added. This Plugin works well.

Minifying CSS

This is straightforward enough. Find your style.css file and copy it. Rename the copy min.style.css. Copy all the content in the new file and paste it in CSS Minifier. Copy the minified results and paste it back into the min.style.css file and hit save. Upload it.

Now is the trickier bit. We need to make sure your site is pointing at the new minified CSS file, not the old style.css. With any luck you’ll be able to pop into your functions.php file, find the bit that says wp_enqueue_style and just add a ‘min.’ to the beginning of your style.css file. Erm, an example might help here:

If you get to your functions.php file and can’t find a wp_enqueue_style it’s probably in the header. Instead of changing the header file itself, recreate the entire script shown in the above example and you should be able to overwrite your original stylesheet.

Remove Unnecessary Header Crap

WordPress puts a load of code in the header which can slow down load speeds. Most of it is from its blogging origins but are not needed in a business website. Add this code to get rid of a lot of it:

(find the copyable code here: https://github.com/karys1/website-speed/blob/master/remove-header-crap)

Compression & Caching

By enabling compression and caching you allow a users browser to remember your website so the next time that person visits your site, it downloads the content from it’s memory bank which is a lot quicker than downloading it from scratch every time.

To do this add this code into your .htaccess file:

(as always, code for this is here: https://github.com/karys1/website-speed/blob/master/caching)

Retest!

Make sure you test your website thoroughly on desktop, tablet and mobile to make sure nothing has broken. Run your website through the Page Speed Insights tool & Pingdom Tool and see the improvements.

Beginners guide to WordPress Security

As hacking becomes more commonplace, it is becoming more and more important to increase security on your own website to protect your own personal details and your website.

Security is not just about strong passwords. There are lots of things you can do to help keep your WordPress website secure.

Here are some tips on how to increase your WordPress website security (and some cheesy stock photos to go with it!).

Choose a good host.

Some hosting companies are more secure than others.  Your host should maintain and manage a lot of things you don’t want to or don’t know how to do yourself. For example, keeping your website’s PHP version up to date will help with reliability and reduce the vulnerability of your site. To run WordPress it is recommended (at the time of writing) that your PHP version if 5.6 or greater and MySQL version is 5.5. If that means nothing to you, ask your host!

Choose quality software.

If you install your own plugins are you picking ones that are developed by a security conscious developer? Always check star ratings of plugins and the number of reviews it has received. Checking the support section is also a good indicator as you can see whether the plugin developer regularly answers questions or acknowledges bugs and is working to fix them.

Free computer software can also affect your website by adding hidden software to your computer. This hidden software can slow your computer down, modify your security settings and occasionally steal passwords saved onto your computer to sell onto third-party companies, including your website login. Always check your software is coming from a reliable source; avoid installing ‘bundled’ software – where the install screen asks you to install other programmes as well as the one you want; and don’t click on popups about your computers performance!

Use a password manager

A good password manager, like KeePass, makes it far easier to have long, random passwords. You should have different passwords for all your applications and any websites you sign up to, including your website. Many password managers include a random password generator (although WordPress has its own) so you don’t have to think of a new one each time.

Two Factor Authentication.

More and more websites are using two-factor authentication to increase security. Two factor authentication is a process that uses two bits of information before allowing you to log in to your website. Some need you to enter your password and username and then complete an extra step on your phone or tablet before you can log in. Others will require you to enter a personal pin number in addition to your password and username.

It does make the login process slightly longer but it makes a big difference to security. Unless you have a high-profile site with millions of visitors a day, hackers and bots trying to access your site will likely give up if they can’t break in right away.

Two factor authentication is fairly easy to add to WordPress. There are many plugins that are available, all offering different two factor authentication options. Google Authenticator is popular, as is Clef and Duo WordPress.

Backup your website!

By far the most important thing to do! WordPress is the most popular platform for websites and so it is very attractive to hackers. Despite putting all these security measures in place, it is still possible to be hacked so make sure that your website is backed up on a regular basis, either through a plugin or by asking your host to do it for you.

Ten Tips to Harden Your WordPress Site

In June, I attended WordCamp Vienna (which is a huge conference that focuses on everything WordPress – not just an excuse for a holiday!). It’s a fantastic conference for everyone from the casual WordPress user to core developers. I learnt lots of new things, some of which I hope to share through our blog at www.pivotalweb.co.uk and here on LinkedIn.

One of the first talks I went to was by the wonderful Maurizio Pelizzone, an Italian WordPress Developer who whizzed through ten tips in ten minutes for hardening WordPress. After working through what Maurizio said and tweaking some of the code so it works better for us, below is what we found.

Disclaimer! Some bits require adding code to the .htaccess, wp-config.php and functions.php files of WordPress. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your web developer (or – shameless plug – call me at Pivotal Web Solutions J )

Why harden WordPress?

All systems are vulnerable. No matter what. And because WordPress is used by over 25% of all websites on the web (July 2016), it is by far the biggest platform to attack. There are five main dangers that could put your website in danger:

  1. Human errors. These are things we forget to do (because we’re human after all!). Removing the admin username, forgetting to add a strong password and forgetting to update to the latest version of WordPress are some of the most common.
  2. Exploitation. Attackers find an unpatched vulnerability in a plugin or theme and access your site this way.
  3. Social engineering. This is when hackers collect personal information from your website and using it against you.
  4. Brute force attack. A trial and error method used by bots that attempt to decode passwords and usernames to access your website.
  5. Write & execution permission. When permissions are left open it leaves a back-door for attackers.

Before you even launch a WordPress site make sure you have a good host that will protect your server from attacks. One you have done that, harden your WordPress website using the ten tips below.

Ten Tips for hardening WordPress against attacks

Before we even start the technical bits – ALWAYS keep your site updated. WordPress are constantly fixing security patches so having the latest version is a necessity.

1. Test your backup. You should be taking regular backups of your website. Make sure you test these occasionally before disaster strikes. This means you will be able to recover quickly if anyone does access your website. There are many plugins available to help you with your backup for example, UpdraftPlus and VaultPress, or you can do this manually.

2. Prevent user enumeration. Deter hackers by removing username information. User Enumeration is a process WordPress uses to create author pages (visit http://mysite.co.uk/?author=1 on your WordPress site and see where it directs you to). It doesn’t take long to be able to find the actual username in Page Source even if you are using a nickname. Add to your .htaccess file:

3. User permissions. Limit the amount of users and the permissions they have to an absolute minimum. This means if hackers do manage to get in to your Dashboard, they will not have full access to your site.

4. Hide your login. Move your login to a custom login page so the /wp-login and /wp-admin pages are unavailable. The plugin Custom Login URL plugin works well for redirecting the pages. Alternatively, you can hide the login page completely (WARNING! This means you won’t be able to log in either!) by adding to your .htaccess file:(Remember to change the key to a unique number in both cases below:

5. Don’t show errors & unnecessary info. Remove login errors, WordPress version and readme files to limit the amount of information provided to hackers.

Add to your functions.php file:

6. Deny PHP Execution – If hackers get access to your website, they can hide php files in folders that they should not be able to. For example, most access files disguise themselves in /wp-content/uploads/ folder. By disabling php execution in this folder you will improve your security. To do this, you need to create a brand new .htaccess file to put into the contents folder.

To this file, add:

7. Remove inactive plugins. Remove any useless or inactive plugins. If you have the knowledge you could integrate plugins functionality inside your child themes. In terms of plugins, less is more. The more plugins you have, the more you are relying on a third-party source to remove any vulnerabilities or problems that will allow hackers a backdoor into your website.

If you work on a website that has a few users, you can easily disallow front-end plugin and theme updates and installations to limit any problems.

Add to your wp-config.php:


8. Use a secure password. Everyone says this, but there really isn’t any excuse! Don’t be lazy, use a very strong password. You could use a password manager such as Keypass to keep them safe or use a method that is logical to you to remember them. For example:

Phrase + numbers + symbol e.g.:

  • My son likes playing with his red ball = mSlPwHrB
  • Addicted to WordPress = @ddic3d.2.WordPr3ss

9. Custom directory structure. WordPress comes in a standard structure (obviously) which you rarely see on the front-end of your website. The standard file structure is:

-WP-ADMIN
-WP-CONTENT
-WP-INCLUDES
However, by applying your own custom structure, you can not only make it look nicer but it also means brute force attacks will fail. For example:

-APPLICATIONS
–WP-ADMIN
–WP-INCLUDES
-PUBLIC
–WP_CONTENT
-UPLOADS

To do this, you will need to restructure your directory then add to your wp-config:

10. Set a Black Hole Trap. A WordPress black hole adds a hidden link to your website’s robots.txt file that forbids bots from following the hidden link. Bad bots that ignore the robots.txt rules will fall into the trap and be denied access to the rest of your website. You can also choose to receive information about the blocked bots via email. I’d recommend using Blackhole for Bad Bots plugin for this but if you fancy a challenge, or don’t want to add an extra plugin, you can follow these instructions on Perishable Press.

So there you have it. By using these methods, you can harden your WordPress site against attacks. If you don’t know how to edit your .htaccess, wp-config or functions.php files that are mentioned above, ask a web developer. Changes to these files can bring your website down if not implemented correctly. If you have any questions about it, or you know of other ways to harden WordPress please share in the comments.

For more chatter about WordPress, follow me on Twitter @KarysPivotal or drop me an email karys@pivotalweb.co.uk. Thanks!

A new way to get a cost-effective website for your business!

Does the thought of trying to build your own website with some online companies – not naming any names – fill you with dread? We’ve come up with a better solution (so we believe).

Many businesses can’t afford a brand new website that requires paying full whack for design and development. So we (Pivotal Web Solutions) have recently launched Website Rentals. And this is why we think renting a website will make you very happy:

1)     You get a free domain name. We can help you pick one that will reflect your business and offer suggestions for alternatives if you can’t find the perfect one.

2)     You get free hosting. Two free things so far, not bad! Our hosting server is super-quick, UK based and has nightly back-ups to keep your website safe.

3)     You pay a set amount every month (starting from £19 excl. vat) so you know exactly how much will be coming out of your budget.

4)     It’s setup by experts. We are full-time website developers with over 10 years’ experience so we know what we’re doing.

5)     Our designers will build a website customised to your business. Colours will match your logo, fonts will look nice and it will all flow seamlessly with your branding. This isn’t some ‘out-of-the-box’ rubbish design you know!

6)     Software updates included. Your website will be checked regularly for security and bug updates so it’ll be in top shape.

7)     Your website will be responsive and fit to tablets, mobiles and desktops so you’ll reach your target audience wherever they are.

8)     Free WordPress training. If you go for one of our WordPress packages we’ll give you an hour’s free training so you don’t need to rely on us to make your changes, you can just bob on and do it yourself

9)     It’ll be Google friendly. We’ll make sure it’s released to be indexed by search engines.

10)  Best of all: no contract! Honestly. You can cancel any time if you no longer need your website.

‘You’ve convinced me!’

Hurray! If you pop along to our website, you can see the full range of packages so you just need to pick one and get going.

‘That’s a rubbish idea!’

I’m a curious chap, so let me know why you think so in the comments or drop me an email at phil@pivotalweb.co.uk.

The Symbiosis of SEO and CRO

For many years I have been saying to website owners: “there’s no point having a fantastic website if no one is visiting it”, and, by the same token: “there is little point spending lots of money getting visitors to your website if, when they arrive, they find it difficult to navigate or find what they need, and it has no call to action.”

What I was really highlighting was that you should always consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) AND Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) together, and spread your digital marketing budget, no matter how small, across the board as a whole digital marketing strategy.

The CRO bit…

So ‘what is this CRO?’ I hear you ask. Well its nothing new. Good shopkeepers have been doing this for centuries: Making customers feel welcome, pleasantly asking what the customer is looking for today, placing products in the right place of their shop. Knowing what goes best where to entice the customer. Showing off the special deals and the price reductions on the way in and on the way out. Making sure the payment counter is clear and friendly.

Now imagine your website. Does it fill all these criteria and more? Try to think like a visitor. Just look at your website and see: is the navigation clear? Do your products stand out? Read your text out loud and see if it still makes sense. Of course, it’s hard to check your own work sometimes, so ask colleagues and friends if they would do a ‘usability test’ for you. Ask them to be honest, even brutal, and you will be on your way to a better and well thought out website.

You can start to be a bit more scientific if you like. There are plenty of applications and tools that will conduct a survey for you and even do complex split testing (show different versions of your site to different visitors so you can get data on what converts better).

It may be that a different font or font size may do better. A different colour pallet may get the customer clicking ‘add to basket’. That may sound silly but these simple style and format changes are proven to improve a web site bounce rate (or otherwise if you get it wrong).

However, if you’re not at the stage where you can employ a load of analysts, or perhaps just starting out, then for me, asking a load of friends and colleagues can be a very good substitute.

The SEO bit…

Once you’re happy with the look and usability of your website, and your ‘shop’ is looking good, you need to look at how to get more people inside it.

In basic terms, the more visitors you attract to your shop, the more sales or leads you are likely to make.

In our Victorian shop example of setting out (optimising) the shop to make it easier for the customer, now takes us outside and asks ‘how do we get more people to walk past the shop?’

You could put up a bigger sign with spotlights on it, so customers can search you out better as they walk along looking for services like the ones you provide. If your shop is in a town of other shops all selling the same thing (as typically displayed in a page of Search Engine results) then it might be important to be on the main street and not a back street, and maybe have a sign on the window highlighting your unique selling points that the others don’t have.

In the modern world of Digital Marketing there are many ways to attract ‘click through’ visitors to your website.

Search Engine optimisation can be a big part of that marketing, and in itself is a very wide subject that can make a huge difference to the number of quality visitors you receive.

So even on a basic level, make sure your titles and tags are all completed properly, your products have good descriptions, and refresh your content on a frequent basis.

Of course all this takes time and consideration. If all this is not the best use of your time but you see the rationale then please do not hesitate to ask Pivotal Web for a free consultation.

Turning Bad Online Reviews Into Opportunities

It can happen to anyone. A restaurant owner, solar panel installer, owner of a hair dressing company, you name it, many in the business owner community could, or is likely to already have, experienced the dreaded ‘negative public customer review’, no matter what industry or sector they work in.

Given that many business owners have invested admirable amounts of time, energy and effort into establishing and developing their businesses, it can be tempting to take a bad customer review of your services personally. Don’t! Business is business and must be regarded as so no matter how hard it is to separate the two.

A customer is likely to have had a grievance with your business not you and if they’ve named you specifically in their review, they are unhappy with your service and behaviour at work, not with your conduct as a person in general, outside of work.

Business owners need to have thick skin and make remedying the bad review and preserving their business’ good reputation their priority- not taking the complaint too much to heart.

With more than 70% of businesses asked in conversion experts, Invespcro’s researchreckoning customer acquisition is more expensive that customer retention, keeping existing customers happy and loyal has never been more important. Whats more, once a bad review is made public on social media, such as Facebook- which you can’t delete- the only ‘lifesaving’ option available to you is to soothe the situation by responding publicly to the aggrieved customer’s comments, according to Moz’s Miram Ellis.

Ignoring the complaint about your company on social media is also a big no-no. You wouldn’t ignore a disgruntled customer who turned up in person to your business premises would you? So the trick is to treat a customer complaining online the same as you would an unhappy customer in person: with diplomacy, respect and professionalism.

No pressure then! So what is the best, most effective way of dealing with a negative public customer review? 

We recently received a complaint (below) on our Facebook page from a member of the public that we had never dealt with before, who we later figured out was acting on behalf of another business owner we had done work for in the past. The complainant gave us a 1 star Facebook rating bringing our previous 5 star rating down to 3.7 in one quick review.

Our SEO and Web Developer Karys, promptly issued the following response:

Based on being on the receiving end of a negative customer review here are our top 10 tips for dealing with customer complaints on social media so the damage to your business is limited.

1) Address them by name. Disgruntled clients are likely to be appeased if you address them by their name if possible, so they feel valued, that their opinion matters and your response not just a careless, automated reply.

2) Apologies and accept responsibility prompto. No matter if you personally feel your business isn’t at fault, the matter still stands that a customer left your business feeling cheated in some way. If you hope to salvage you customer/business relationship with them and maintain a positive reputation for your business, you’d be the bigger man (or woman!) and respectfully apologise.

3) Avoid swearing or rude language. Regardless of the standard of language the complainant has used in their review don’t stoop to their level. It’s a bit like what your teachers warned you in the school playground- if you retaliate in the same way as those that have wronged you, you’re as bad as them, plus as a professional you should be trained in the art of good communication. Make sure your response is polite, clean and grammatically correct.

4) Don’t correct or instruct the complainant. You may believe the customer has no idea how your business operates, the work and effort you put in and so on but they are entitled to their opinion nonetheless. Respect that their thoughts are valid and thank them for their feedback. 

5) Explain that your company aims to deliver a good service or product. Outline your business’ policy around delivering the service they are complaining about and what standard customers should expect and deserve.

6) Show them you understand. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. How would you feel if you’d received a bad product, been made to wait a long time or had to deal with rude staff? You’re much more likely to pacify an upset customer by expressing empathy in a sentence or two of your response.

7) Avoid bombarding them with excuses. The customer came to you for a product or service and that’s it. You maybe overworked, distracted by the needs of other clients or have personal problems to deal with, but your customer doesn’t need sob stories, they need solutions.

8) Solutions and peace offering. Before apologising again, highlight what improvements your business has made to ensure what the aggrieved customer is complaining about won’t happen again and offer them a discount or, if possible, free product or service to make amends.

9) Avoid the superiority complex. Talking down to your complaining client isn’t going to quell their anger. I recommend using friendly, every-day language and making sure your response doesn’t escalate into an essay. Keep it fairly brief. It’s not how much you write to remedy the situation, is what you write.

10) Ask for more feedback. You may think you’re playing with fire welcoming more feedback after your bad reviewing experience but it shows your business values customer satisfaction, is willing to improve to meet client’s expectations and could even lead to the disgruntled client amending their review to a more positive one.

Last tip! A bad review can be a nudge to politely ask your clients to review your company on social media when they get time. Never ask them to give you 5 stars or a glowing review, just request their honest opinions.

With regards to Facebook, make sure they leave separate reviews in posts distinct from the negative review you’ve received. By merely commenting on the bad review left on your company Facebook page, however kind their words, they are simply bringing the negative review repeatedly to the forefront of people’s minds and Facebook screens.

Responding to bad online reviews in a respectful manner is always worth it. Your response is for all potential customers to read in the future not just the disgruntled client and your professional response can serve as evidence for these future customers that they will be treated fairly and with understanding if they were ever to make a complaint about your services or product.

We’re lucky enough to live in a country with freedom of speech and the internet has amplified the possibilities of that freedom. You can’t please everybody so there’s sometimes no escaping bad client reviews. But by putting effort and thought into a dignified and professional response to a bad review you can turn a negative review on its head; from a problem to an opportunity to restore your business’s reputation to a glowing one it no doubt deserves.

Safety First! Why SSL Should Be Top Priority for E-Commerce Websites.

As business owners we all want our customers to feel reassured, comfortable and secure, don’t we? This is especially the case when it comes to their data and security. If clients didn’t feel safe and protected they wouldn’t continue to use your service.

But how can you make your clients feel happy and secure when they visit you online?

An SSL Certificate that’s how! Standing for Secure Socket Layer, this security technology is rapidly becoming the industry standard- trusted and expected. It involves encrypting data sent between a web server (i.e. your website) and a visitor’s (for example, your customer’s) web browser. A valid SSL certificate ensures the session between your company’s website and visiting browsers is secure and private.

Chances are you have been on websites that have an SSL certificate installed on their servers but you’d be forgiven for not noticing them as you may not even know what you’re looking for!

When a valid SSL certificate is successfully installed you’ll notice that the ‘HTTP’ part of the URL in your browser search bar will change to ‘HTTPs’ with this little ‘s’ standing for ‘secure.’ The SSL certificate may represent itself as a small padlock symbol or a manifest itself as a green bar when you browse a website that has a verified SSL certificate installed. What the SSL looks like does depends on what web browser you’re browsing the net on and which type of certificate was purchased.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaae3aaaajgjkmjlhmda2lwjjmzqtngexmc1imgrhlwq3mdu5owqymzkwzq

SSL Certificates have to be issued by a trusted Certificate Authority and unfortunately paid for.

Why are SSL certificates such a worthwhile investment?

If your company operates online via an e-commerce website like many of our clients at Pivotal Web Solutions there are several reasons to take the plunge and invest in a SSL certificate for your business, including:

  • Protecting your clients’ details and website’s data with solid industry-standard 256-bit encryption so data- including payment details- is remains secure between servers and web browsers.
  • A secure website has to be a huge bonus, so it’s no surprise that Google has announced that having an SSL certificate influences how high your website ranks in search engine rankings and who doesn’t want to be top dog on Google?!
  • Every business owner craves those coveted high conversion rates. It’s been proven that SSL certificates have enhanced and boosted conversion rates by making sure sites are safe online places to buy from.
  • Gives your customers that peace of mind and confidence knowing they are on a safe website they can trust, so they can browse your website carefree. Happy customers are more likely to buy!
  • Another benefit is being able to prevent being hacked and your website being used or mistaken as fake as part of a phishing con. Phishing scams often entail sending unsuspecting people emails linking to bogus versions of legitimate websites. An SSL shows your business website is reliable and genuine.
  • Many SSL certificates come with warranty protection so your clients are insured against loss suffered from transactions carried out online.
  • It’s understandable if you’re a little sceptical and think SSL Certificates are just another ploy for digital marketing agencies and web developers to get more money out of you, but they really are becoming more and more common in the e-commerce world. Ranking and conversion rate boosting, they are surprisingly cheap and quick to install.

For a helping hand in choosing the right SSL Certificate Authority to buy from for you and support in implementing your company’s website SSL certificate drop us a line on: solutions@pivotalweb.co.uk or gives us a ring on 01484 290100.

 

Star Trek is here (apart from the Warp Drive)!

This was originally posted on my LinkedIn Pulse. For more posts like this connect with me on LinkedIn here or follow our LinkedIn company page!

 

Wouldn’t a virtual assistant come in handy? As a child I was an avid fan of Star Trek (still am truth be told), and the reason it captured my imagination was not so much the warp drive and interstellar missions, but how they could communicate with each other using small hand held devices, or tapping a badge and asking a computer a detailed question. A vision of the distant future?

 

VIV, artifical intelligence, virtual assistant

Connected: VIV’s creators aim it to be linked to a multitude of services, instead of routinely shuffling queries off to a basic web search. Image from: etcentric.org.

 

Well I suppose we’ve had the small communication device (mobile phone) for a while, and I guess asking questions to a computer has been around for a while also, with the use of Siri and others, but this virtual assistant is about to make a big leap forward, as the creators of Siri just showed off their amazing next generation AI assistant, Viv!

Hear from Viv’s creator as shown  on The Verge

It’s hard to imagine the implications of this type of technology, but make no mistake, the next 5 years are going to be a blast!

Is SEO Dead? Definitely Not!

There is quite a bit of chatter on the internet that SEO is dead. You have to wonder what these people understand as being SEO. By what definition do they interpret the term SEO?

If we remove the ‘SE’ bit and look at the definition of the verb ‘optimise’, this can mean several things from; ‘to take the full advantage of’  to  ‘find the best compromise among several often conflicting requirements, as in engineering design.’

As we would like ‘to take full advantage of’ a search engine by many various means, then by definition, SEO is very much alive.

For the second definition ‘find the best compromise among several often conflicting requirements, as in website design’  or in other words… ‘find the best word among several words to describe your product that will most frequently be typed into a search engine’.

SEO Search Engine Optimisation

So why not use all possible descriptive words? Cover all the bases? And for good measure mention them 2 or 3 times. In this case you might say then that, that area of optimising for a search engine is dead. Just as a visitor will be put off by badly written disjointed content, and be annoyed by overuse of the same word or similar sentence and lack of real content, so will the search engine.

To use a well-worn phrase, ‘content is king’. Content has always been king, long before a search engine was invented. But to the case in point, if you consider and write your content carefully to make sure it is worthy of your potential customer, you are optimising that content, and if it is optimised for a customer then surely that is optimised for a Search Engine?

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!” – Mark Twain (and SEO)

Similarly, if you type ‘SEO’ into a search engine, is it pure chance that most, if not all (at the time of writing), the first page contenders have ‘SEO’ in either their domain name and path, or as their Title line? No of course not. How else is a search engine supposed to know what your web page is about?! So if we remember to ensure our web page is set up with the correct titles, is that search engine optimisation? Of course it is.

 

Question for you… after typing your search term and looking at the search results list, do you automatically click on the first entry at the top? Or, like me, do you look quickly at the title lines of the top 5 positions before selecting, and even then scroll down to even the 9th or 10th if still not seeing what you expected?

Creating a great Title line for each web page is very important, and they can be changed easily. So try different wordings and phrases to see if it effects your click through rate (CTR). If the CTR is better with your new title then keep it, or make it even better, if not then change it back. This is optimisation and its for a Search Engine… Do you see where I’m going with this?

Ok these are simple steps and maybe quite obvious, but it is amazing how many websites out there have no page titles and poor (if any) content.

I take the point that SEO is evolving and that some tips and tricks for improving ranking are less effective, although even here I wouldn’t say they were completely dead, but as long as 2 businesses strive to be top dog on a search engine for the same product, and you can present a better more understandable way for the potential customer to find and click on you, then SEO will remain alive.

The key to all this is that you need to see your website analytics to see what your click through rates are.  To quote my personal favourite business speak cliché, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!’, which is a perfect segue into the next SEO post be released – ‘Why even small websites need Google Analytics’

If you’re interested in understanding how well your website is working for you, invest in our SEO Support Packages (no minimum term or fixed contract) and put yourself in control of your digital marketing budget and see the results.

 

Google Gambles With The Rainbow

Google is a search engine that has become ingrained in our lives, so much so that it has even become a verb! Our first port of call when searching for online news, information, maps, images and videos is more often than not to ‘Google It.’ It’s speedy, handy and easy. Yet the search engine giant has left many users disappointed with it’s new style change- swapping its recognisable blue search engine results links for black text in its first ever colour change to its results pages.

As Cara McGoogan reports for The Telegraph, the popular search engine appears to be A/B testing, also known as ‘split testing’ the new green hue. Split testing is the process of comparing two versions of a web page in order to see which one generates better results. You compare two web pages by showing the two variants e.g. A and B, to similar visitors at the same time. The one that delivers the desired results is the winner. This ‘testing’ element and the seemingly unpopular reaction to the colour change indicates that the change may not be permanent, although the organisation declined to comment on the future of its style and shades of text when asked by The Telegraph.

However, according to the newspaper’s website, a spokesman for Google said the company is “always” testing tiny tweaks to its results page. Regarding this recent colour change, Google admits, “We’re not quite sure that black is the new blue.”

Google, Google Colour Change, A/B Testing

Black the new Blue? It’s unclear weather the new black colour of Google’s results pages here to stay.

 

In 2015 Google dedicated months debating and testing whether or not to switch from red navigation links to blue links, eventually settling on the now familiar, blue.

The search engine has been known to experiment with colours down to minute detail- so much so it has attracted criticism. Former expert designer at the company, Doug Bowman left in 2009 after his fellow Google designers couldn’t decide which shade of blue to go with… so they proceeded to test 41 shades , in what was dubbed “50 Shades of Blue.” The A/B testing revealed users were more likely to click on a slightly more purple tint of blue. Bowman said: “I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.” A tad excessive maybe, but the meticulous experiment meant Google pocketed an extra £138 million.

What if you don’t like the new duller shade of text and want to change it back? 

Whilst there isn’t a “one way fits all” method to turn off Google’s Split testing, Google Search Help Forum users recommend logging in and out of your Google Account again to restore your search engine results pages to their former blue glory.

The Telegraph article cites a Reddit user who reported that disabling “Your searches and browsing activity” in Chrome’s settings reverts the links back to blue. Go to the Google home page, click on the grid icon in the top right corner and select “My Account” to disable the feature. Alternatively, in the “Personal info & privacy” box select “activity controls”. In here you can toggle a bar that turns off “Your searches and browsing activity”.

Do you reckon Google is wasting valuable time and resources on pointless activities? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page and Twitter! 

 

 

Facebook News Feed Ranking Shake Up

Have you ever wondered what influences what appears at the top of your Facebook News Feed, or, if you run a business page on Facebook, your Page Feed? Well the answer is quite a lot! Indeed, Facebook uses a complex algorithm based on analysis of your behaviour on the social media platform to try and tailor content that is displayed at the top of your News Feed, and indeed what appears in your News Feed at all, to your tastes and preferences.

Have you ever got annoyed or bored with the quality or type of content that keeps coming up when you scroll through your feed or find the content too repetitive? Perhaps you only see the same old articles in your page feed and can’t easily access interesting content to share to your business page fans that you think might entice them to engage with your page?

Well if this sounds like you, then you’re not alone. As Facebook Newsroom recently reported, the social media giant constantly tries to improve its News Feed for the sake of users’ experience, asking users under its Feed Quality Programme, how the company can enhance what its loyal Facebookers see when they log on, in a bid to keep articles in the feed more relevant to each individual user.

Facebook Page Feed, Facebook, News Feed

New Update: Facebook hopes to place more varied articles that you are interested in higher up in your Page or News Feed.

 

Whilst previously what appeared in your News Feed was influenced by how likely Facebook thought you were to share, comment or like content, feedback gathered from Facebook users has revealed that many people may not interact with an article, for example about serious news, but are still interested in reading and seeing it. To this extent, the social media site has now announced it will start taking into account predictions of how long users spend looking at an article on Facebook and consider this in News Feed Ranking. This is based on using how long people decide to spend watching or reading content as an signal of interest on that content and an indicator of how interested users will be in future similar content.

Facebook isn’t daft and knows that we all get frustrated by that dreaded buffer/loading symbol and get our ‘Buffer Faces’ on, so this new update to News Feed Ranking promises to only take into account the period of time you dedicate to reading or watching the content once it is fully loaded. The new change will also not give accidental preferential treatment to longer content that will naturally take up more of users time, only considering the time spent within a threshold.

online loading symbol, Facebook, News Feed

Ain’t Nobody Got Time: The new Facebook update won’t count loading time in the time you spent looking at content.

 

You can also wave goodbye to repetitive posts that become bland and make your Facebook experience predictable. The social media platform is integrating an update into its News Feed Ranking system that will cut the amount of times you see several posts in a row from the same source in your feed.

What do you think of Facebook’s News Feed system? Let us know on our Facebook page and Twitter! If you require any help with social media management for your business check out our social media services or consider signing up to our social media courses!

Happy 10th Birthday Twitter!

As social media management experts we can’t believe Twitter is ten years old today! With it being a dynamic multimedia platform for businesses to use as a microphone to network and promote themselves, charities to spread their message and garner support and people to connect directly to their business role models and celebrity idols, we thought it was only apt to wish Twitter a very happy birthday!

Also causing a buzz in the social media world, is the news that the social media giant’s CEO, Jack Dorsey has stated in an interview with TODAY that, contrary to previous rumours and hints, Twitter is not expanding it’s trademark short and snappy 140 character limit (that includes spaces between words) on it’s posts. During an interview with Today’s Matt Lauer on Friday to mark Twitter’s first decade, Mr Dorsey said: “It’s staying. It’s a good constraint for us, and it allows for of-the-moment brevity.”

We explored the pros and cons of what extended Tweets would mean in our January blog post, after the Twitter CEO alluded to the rising trend of users posting screen shots of lengthy passages of texts and Tweeted the question: (below) “what if that text [being screen shot] was…actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.”

Twitter, CEO, social media, tweet, Jack Dorsey

With hints like that from people at the top and the social networking site expanding the limit on private messages on the social network from 140 characters to a whopping 10,000 characters last July, the social media and internet world had been ignited in a flurry of rumours about what the consequences would mean for Twitter expanding it’s signature 140 character limit, with camps on both sides of the spectrum eagerly awaiting Twitter’s decision.

Some argued that, while it would be great to be able to air more of your or your organisation’s/business’ opinions, information and values in longer Tweets and have more freedom on the social site, it would mean Twitter would slow down, with people’s ever decreasing attention spans meaning users would ignore Tweets not having time to read expressively long posts. Others pointed out that being instant and quick to read and compose a brief Tweet on the go with the smartphones we are all armed with these days, was what set Twitter apart from it’s social media rivals, such as Facebook and Linkedin and what made it popular.

Twitter, social media, twitter character limit, Jack Dorsey

Does the 140 character limit on Tweets ever cause you any problems?

 

Whether the 140 character limit sticks in the long run, there’s no doubt social media is an ever evolving platform and each network needs to change in order to grow. It remains to be seen if Twitter’s popularity, which in the fourth quarter of 2015, declined with Twitter users falling by 3 million, to 305 million as reported by Variety, will wane or start to grow again with the decision to keep Tweets succinct.

Do you think Jack Dorsey is right to keep Twitter’s 140 character limit on Tweets? We would love to hear your thoughts- let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

Facebook Reactions: Everything you need to know.

Facebook reactions are here!

The new addition now means you can respond to someone’s status with ‘Love’, ‘Haha’, ‘Wow’, ‘Sad’ and ‘Angry’ in addition to original Like.

Today Facebook explained in a blog post ‘every day, people come to Facebook to discover what’s happening in their world and around the world, and to share all kinds of things, whether that’s updates that are happy, sad, funny or thought-provoking.’

“We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel.”

How to access the new reactions

If like us you were pretty excited to see the new reactions, head over to the Facebook app, close it and reopen it. Once you hit the Like button on a post, picture of video, a message will appear that asks you to hold down on that button to access the other reactions.

Be careful though, we’ve already heard of people already embarrassing themselves by selecting an inappropriate reaction for the story!

Will this impact my Page?

Facebook see this as ‘an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook.’ You will now be able to see the new Reactions in your Insights tab, and act accordingly.

Pivotal Welcomes Graphic Designer Amanda Seymour

Being a small, albeit tight knit team here at Pivotal, it’s always exciting news and a big deal when we expand our team, so we’re thrilled to announce that freelance graphic designer and branding expert, Amanda Seymour (above) will be joining our team.

We wouldn’t have gotten Amanda on board if she wasn’t right for the job. With a vast array of experience under her belt, Amanda is a big deal herself. After over thirty three years working in the graphics industry, complemented by a rich background in digital illustration, Amanda has had a colourful career, teeming with diverse jobs, encompassing brochures and packaging to online logos and digital artwork.

Most importantly her values align with ours at Pivotal. “I feel there’s a lot I can give to small businesses,” Amanda enthuses when asked what skills she feels she can bring to Pivotal.

“I understand that Phil’s [Pivotal Director] mainstay business is local business and, as I live locally, it would be nice to be a little bit more in touch with the businesses that I live near and support them as well,” she explains candidly.

“I already support a business in Leeds and how that works as a social enterprise and this is a similar thing but on a commercial basis, as in it’s in and around shopkeepers that I know and have already shopped at. It’s understanding them a bit better.”

As well as being driven by a passion to help grassroots enterprises, Amanda’s work is also fuelled by her wish to do a job patrons can be truly pleased with. “The best bit is a happy client really,” she admits.

It’s clear surpassing customers’ expectations is one of her top priorities as she outlines what she regards as the most important qualities a good graphic designer should have. “Someone who’s a good listener, someone who takes on board what the client is saying and what they’re asking for. This is the difference with some designers; it’s designing for the client and the client’s needs, not designing because it looks nice and that’s what they like.

“It would be really nice to sit there all day long doing the things that you actually genuinely like for yourself. However the end purpose is what is good for the client and making what you do functional and appeasing, that’s ascetically pleasing to the client too or, if they have an idea, interpreting that and taking it and developing it a step further.”

Working closely with clients to achieve their design goals is something Amanda thrives at, being perfectly at home with working on a freelance basis, operating under morrisseymour.co.uk. “I’m not what I call a ‘mover and shaker.’ I’ve only had about three actual jobs. In each of them I worked for about seven to eight years so I was ready to go and literally dip in somewhere and go for a couple of days, go for a week, go somewhere else.”

With her zest for design and expansive experience Amanda has seen a lot of developments whilst working in the field. “When I first started it was a case of you did graphics for packaging, that’s predominantly what I did but I think, as the digital age has appeared, the whole gamut of what you could be designing for has expanded. So what you may design for one thing that has multiple end users.”

Being no stranger to applying her fusion of commercial savvy with creative flair for digital visuals and eye for branding to businesses, Amanda is as excited to contribute her skills to our growing set of specialisms and to join Pivotal as we are to have her on board!

Tweets to become Tweeeeeets?

As Twitter expands the character limit on Tweets from 140 characters to 10,000 what does this mean for the social media giant? 

We all like to rant occasionally, especially on a subject that we’re passionate or knowledgeable about and some of us are just prone to waffling (I’m often guilty here!) but not many of us have the time or patience in today’s fast pace busy society to read other people’s lengthy ramblings, however interesting they might be. One social media giant in particular that excelled at curtailing people’s long musings was Twitter.

Famous for the 140 character limit (including spaces) that it uniquely imposed on users when they wished to post (tweet) their thoughts or information, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey alluded in a lengthy Tweet of his own yesterday (below) that the micro blogging platform will be extending the length of tweets to a generous 10,000 characters. That’s a lot of extra room and hails a huge change for Twitter, with it set to lose a feature that has made it stand apart from other social networks since it’s 2006 launch.

Dorsey highlights the trend of users posting screen shots of lengthy passages of texts and posing the question of: “what if that text [being screen shot] was…actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.” The CEO has a good point.

Twitter, CEO, social media, tweet, Jack Dorsey

The more open character count certainly grants Tweeters more freedom, and will allow users, previously frustrated at being restricted and unable to fully articulate their opinions or important information about their business in detail, to express themselves more.

Twitter Inc has clearly observed what users want and need from their site and would only make such a big change, expected to be officially announced at the end of March according to the Wall Street Journal, based on extensive research. But how has the decision being received by users?

As expected, the announcement has been greeted with a flurry of Tweets from users concerned that Twitter will lose it’s signature ‘short, sweet and snappy’ ethos and it’s sense of instant ‘real time’ news reporting, a trait it utilised and honed when it added new feature Twitter Moments back in October. Indeed, investors on the stock market responded negatively to the news, with Twitter closing down 2.17% on the day of the announcement to a new low of $21.89 per share.

Others are more optimistic pointing out that giving users more space to say what they want to say doesn’t necessarily mean they will be posting essays. To soothe those in a hoo-har about Twitter’s newsfeed looking like cluttered chaos, Recode’s social media reporter, Kurt Wagner also highlights that Twitter is aiming for it’s news feed to display in the same manner as it has always done. Only 140 characters of a Tweet will show and users will have the option to click on a ‘click more’ link to reveal the full post, similar to Facebook.

Recode, Kurt Wagner, social media, Twitter, Tweet

All things need to embrace change in order to grow. Expanding the length of Tweets seems the next logical step for the social media giant, after the length of direct messages (private messages between two users that follow each other) was increased from 140 characters to 10,000 in July following many users being  forced to send multiple 140 character messages in quick succession to carry out meaningful communication.

What impact the decision will have on Twitter remains to be seen. According to Expanded Ramblings, the social platform’s biggest rival, Facebook enjoys a staggering 1.55 billion active monthly users, whilst Twitter itself boasts 320 million active monthly users. Impressive but lagging behind. So whatever the long term response to the lengthening of Tweets, let’s hope for Twitter’s sake it’s a good one.

Do you use Twitter for your business? What do you think about the decision to expand the character count of Tweets to 10,000 characters? Lets us know on Facebook or on Twitter

 

Twitter’s New ‘Moments’ Hits the UK

The moment has come for…Twitter Moments!

Originally known as Project Lightning, Moments first launched as a news and tweets aggregating feature in the US back in October and made it’s debut here in the UK yesterday. Taking the form of a lightning bolt icon nestled between ‘Home’ and ‘Notifications’ tab in the top left corner of your Twitter dashboard, the new feature is designed to make it easier for users, especially those who find Twitter initially confusing to use, to find the ‘best’ posts on each day’s stories, hot off the press.

Twitter, characterised for it’s quick-fire instantaneous nature, promises to capture entire stories on the same topic at a glance, curating the best, most popular and interesting photos, headlines and links to keep users in the loop about the subjects everyone’s talking about.

As BBC Newsbeat reports, Moments will work by curators grouping together informative and engaging tweets on single subjects which users can then read, even if they don’t follow the people tweeting them.  For events, such as sport events where it’s necessary to have up-to-the-minute information on developments, users simply follow the event and unfollow when the said event is over.

Like Tweets, Moments can be shared anywhere and users are able to re-tweet and like content, which will be divided into Sports, News, Entertainment and Fun sections, located in a list form on the left hand side.

Twitter, Moments, Twitter Moments, social media

Although, the UK, which boasts 15 million active Twitter users, is the first European country to enjoy the social giant’s new gem, some people like Vlad Salov writing for The Verge aren’t impressed. He expresses his annoyance at the new Moments icon being located in the prime spot near notifications where he, along with most users, are accustomed to habitually clicking. This wouldn’t be a bad fact, if the information contained within Moments greeted users was useful and ‘serious news’ but, according to Vlad, ‘What are the chances of a white Christmas?’ and ‘What’s the best Taylor Swift video of 2015?’ are irrelevant, when the first UK astronaut has just arrived at the International Space Station and a Paris attack suspect has been arrested in France.

Perhaps Salov is right, but you can’t deny that Twitter is diverse in it’s content covering the ‘World Beard and Moustache Championships’  to harder topics such as ‘the evacuation of LA schools, plus separating Moments into different tabs means users can choose to absorb serious news or light entertainment at their leisure.

Twitter, Twitter Moments, social media, Moments

Salov also points out that, with content being curated and organized by small editorial teams in New York and San Francisco, there will inevitably be bias on the editorial team’s part to collect Tweets from people they are biased towards who are directly involved in the story or at the scene as it unfolds. That being said, someone has to collect the Tweets for Moments and we’re sure the teams tasked to do this will endeavour to choose the most interesting and representative Tweets.

Twitter hopes their new Moments will help cement their already glowing reputation as being a helpful source of real time news. We at Pivotal think change and developments in social media and SEO are inevitable and always exciting so can’t wait to see how Twitter’s new feature plays out!

Meet New WordPress Version 4.4 Clifford!

Christmas came early for all us SEO and web designer geeks, when the new WordPress Version 4.4 was released earlier this month.

According to expandedramblings.com a whopping 25% of all websites around the globe use WordPress and the popular blogging platform is the one we predominately run and maintain on behalf of our clients here at Pivotal.

With a name that pays homage to the late jazz trumpeter, Clifford Brown, the latest version of WordPress boasts numerous features that combine to help make sites more responsive and connected.

 

 

Features that have gotten us excited are:

Responsive Images- Images are able to automatically adapt their size to fit perfectly to whatever device you are accessing the page on, whether that be tablet, smartphone or PC. This is particularly handy given that Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report found that 33% of internet users deem their smartphone to be the most important device for going online compared to 30% who are staying loyal to their laptops. This marks a significant rise in the preference of smartphones as in 2014 only 22% preferred accessing the internet via this device, with 40% being pro laptop and it’s a trend that’s set to keep rocketing in 2016…

 

New Theme- A modern interpretation of a classic blog design, Twenty Sixteen is WordPress’ new clean and crisp default theme that promises to look chic on any device. Benefits of this theme include a flexible header, fun colour scheme options and a fluid grid design to make your blog posts stand out from the rest!

 

Embedding Ease- Now you have the freedom to embed your posts on other WordPress websites and it’s easy to do! Paste a URL into the post editor section and you’ll be greeted with an instant embed preview, encompassing the  title, excerpt and feature image (if you have set one) belonging to the post. Simple. Your site icon and links to enable commenting and sharing being added is a bonus!

 

Pivotal clients’ websites will be updated automatically and will enjoy the benefits that this great new version of WordPress has to offer.  For more information click here. 

 

Beat the Black Friday Rush by Christmas Shopping on Our Websites

There’s no denying it. With less than a month to go until Christmas there’s not a Scrooge in sight in the Pivotal office, with Phil itching to enjoy a festive glass of gin, Karys eagerly awaiting the Christmas songs to dominate the office radio and I’m just look forward to all the seasonal parties and get-togethers!

But all that might be far from your mind at the moment, with you being plagued with the worries and stress that Christmas shopping can bring. Will you get the right thing? Will you be able to find anything for your Mum? Is that too cheap a present for your sister? These might be the type of questions buzzing around your mind,especially with it being Black Friday today and Cyber Monday next week where shopping frenzies engulf retail centres and prices are slashed.

But don’t worry- here at Pivotal we support and manage two websites that offer the perfect gifts for all the special women in your life.

The ideal gifts for little ladies and sophisticated women

We have recently re-designed the website for popular children’s jewellery company Charm-It!‘s enhancing it with Mobile First features so it’s seamless to use and well suited for browsing on mobile and tablet platforms- the devices your little ones are most likely to be exploring the site on.  The layout of this bright and vibrant site now fits effortlessly into the mobile frame making for easy search-ability and readability, complemented by a menu that is easy to navigate around.

Charm It!, bracelet, girls, jewellery

Choices, Choices: Your little ones can choose from pretty designs or choose their own charms with Charm It! bracelets.

 

Any special little girl in your life, whether they be daughters, nieces or granddaughters, are guaranteed to be dazzled by the customisable bracelets that can perfectly reflect their personality and wowed by the limited edition necklaces, which allow customers to personalise them with unique charms of their choice. With pretty gift boxes and gift sets on sale and an assortment of delightful designs to choose from with free shipping on orders worth £50 or more- Charm It! Will be your first and last stop for Christmas shopping!

 

Homely Abode, Website, Christmas, Shopping

For the sophisticated and stylish: Homely Abode’s website is perfect for browsing for chic gifts for the special ladies in your life.

 

If you’re buying for someone with a more sophisticated taste Homely Abode specialise in all things chic and elegant, from an array of cosy cushions embellished with cute designs and an selection of wall decorations inscribed with warm and wise sayings, to an assortment of exquisite tealights and photo frames, stunning jewellery and stylish home accessories. Homely Abode offer Gift Certificates if you can’t decide which beautiful gift to get your loved ones. Always partial to holding stalls at fundraising events Homely Abode will be running a stall at Bradford Grammar School’s Christmas Fair at 10am-4pm tomorrow so pop along and give them a visit!

Homely Abode, Christmas, Shopping, furniture,

For a bigger gift: Homely Abode also sell unique and bespoke furniture pieces.

 

Why not pop along to Charm It! and Homely Abode’s websites and start shopping now? We promise you’ll like what you see!

new Facebook page layout

New Facebook Page Layout Coming!

According to the guys over at Short Stack, there’s a new Facebook page layout on its way, and unlike some of the recent changes we’ve all seen, these ones are bit more noticeable.

We’ve had a dig around on some of the most popular pages around including Facebook’s own business page, and it looks like the updates are yet to take place. However, Short Stack have shown us a steak peak, and we like what we see!

New Facebook Page Layout

1. Smaller Profile Pictures Coming To Desktop and Mobile.

So currently profile pictures are 80×180 pixels. These will be reduced to 90×90 pixels. The good news is Facebook will be auto-sizing existing profile images, so you won’t need to make any changes. However, if your profile picture currently includes text, we’d recommend removing it and sticking to your logo. Text will be almost impossible in the smaller profile pictures, even more so on mobile devices.

2. Cover Image Sizes Will Be Staying The Same.. (For now)

It looks like the cover image size won’t be changing in this update. But as Short Stack point out – “businesses that are co-ordinating their cover image with their profile picture, you may need to adjust your images so they align properly.”

3. Page Tab Links Will Move.

If you go take a look at your page now, you’ll see page tab links are placed in the middle of the cover image. When the new layout arrives, these will be moved underneath the profile and cover images and are aligned left. Again, nothing you’ll need to do about this; it just looks cleaner and less cluttered.

4. Like, Message and Share Buttons Have Moved

The ‘Like’, ‘Message’ and ‘Share’ buttons have all also moved underneath the cover image.

5. New Option for Viewing Page Layout
This next feature is aimed at you, business owners on Facebook. Currently when you look at your business page, you’ll see a slightly different view to what your fans see; maybe posts are in a different order, there’s likely to be new tabs and options, or maybe you want to see how people see your response time. Facebook have made this much easier and enabled page owners to view their Page as a visitor. By clicking on “View as Page Visitor” in the three dots menu next to ‘Messages’, the layout of the page will change. You will also be reminded that they you are viewing as a visitor and can easily switch back to managing the Page.

6. Call-to-Action Buttons Are Far More Noticeable.

For those of you who have Call To Action buttons such as Contact Us, Call Us or Sign Up, you may have been experiencing low number of calls or sign ups from this button. We’ve said for a while it’s too small and easily gets lost in the mass of tabs and buttons. We luckily our wishes have been answered and the new call-to-actions are more noticeable – now they are blue and the button has been moved underneath the tab links.

So now you may be asking “When is the new Facebook Page layout coming?..

Well we’re not entirely sure, and it doesn’t seem too many others know either. All we know is Facebook seem to doing the rollout a little different. Usually new layout updates are rolled out by a page-by-page basis but this time it looks like they’ve opting for a user-by-user basis.

So if you can see the new layouts before Team Pivotal, then we want to see! Take a screen shot and post it on the Pivotal Web Facebook page!

Google's Birthday

When Is Google’s Birthday?

The 26th? 27th? When Is Google’s Birthday?

Google users across the globe will today (September 27) be seeing a new Google Doodle to mark the search giants 17th Birthday. “So, all together now… Happy Birthday to youu” But stop right there, many are saying today isn’t actually their birthday. So, when is Google’s Birthday?

Google's Birthday

The new Google Doodle to celebrate its ’17th birthday’, is one to bring fond memories flooding back. We’ve got a now ancient looking plastic PC, a lava lamp, the “Google!” Logo from 1998 and the Linux Penguin.

For our 17th birthday, we offer a glimpse into our humble beginnings, when branded hockey jerseys were cool and Savage Garden had a number one single

September 7th was the day it celebrated its birthday – marking the day it became an incorporated company – up until 2005, but Google have marked the occasion on September 8th, 26th and now the 27th. So does anyone really know?

Well according to Google, even they are a little uncertain. Doodle Team Lead Ryan Germick when asked in 2013 “When is Google’s birthday?” replied “I’m not sure even we know. Still, while there’s some differing opinions about when to bust out the candles and cake, one fun fact is that our first doodle was posted even before Google was officially incorporated”

So as it stands we, and Google, don’t know when Google’s official birthday is, but all we know is we love seeing the new Google Doodles!

These are some of our favourites!

Traffic Lights Google Doodle

Muppets Google Doodle

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google logo comparison

New Google Logo

It’s all change at Google (Again)! Following their Alphabet announcement a month ago, Google has today revealed its first major branding update in 17 years -with a new Google logo unveiled.

In a post on Google’s official blog, Tamar Yehoshua, VP, Product Management and Bobby Nath, Director of User Experience, revealed a trio of different “elemental states” of the logo in its recognisable blue, red, yellow and green colours, targeted at different platforms, apps and devices.

“Today we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality and shows you when the Google magic is working for you, even on the tiniest screens. As you’ll see, we’ve taken the Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).”

    The word Google in a rounder, sans-serif font, replacing a thinner font with serifs.
    A large G featuring all four colours, which replaces its little blue “g” icon.
    Four perpetually re-arranging coloured dots that indicate when Google is working.

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So why did Google decided to make the change?

We’ve been following the news from Google for a number of years; from numerous updates to the Algorithm, introduction of Google+, and more recently a big name change (Alphabet). And one thing we’ve noticed is the impact mobile is having at Google.

From penalties being issued to websites that aren’t mobile friendly, to mobile orientated Google AdWords, and now this new logo. Google is no longer a site you visit on a desktop computer.

It is obvious that making a new logo that looks good on small screens was a major feature in Google’s design brief. The new rounder lettering is designed to scale better to smaller sizes – tablets, smartphones and wearable tech. It’s also supposed to be easier for Google to display on low-bandwidth connections: Google says the new logo is “only 305 bytes, compared to our existing logo at over 14,000 bytes.”

We’re already starting to see the new changes appear across Google already – and we like what we see!

is guest blogging dead - a post by Pivotal Web Solutions

Is Guest Blogging Dead?

Guest blogging for many years has been an effective part of many companies SEO strategies; building exposure, branding, a strong community, and increasing a websites reach.

But things took a turn back in January 2014. Matt Cutts, the head of the web spam team at Google, posted a hugely talked about blog post titled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.”

His opening paragraph had SEOs spitting their Monday morning coffees out in surprise.

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.”

And just incase readers of his blog weren’t 100% sure what he meant , he continued —

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a link building strategy.”

This left many digital marketers, ourselves included, questioning whether we should stop perusing the process and focus our time on an area of SEO that is preferred by those in charge at Google.

Fast forward to July 2015 (18 months since Matt Cutts’ blog post) and many in the industry are still wondering if guest blogging is an obsolete form of SEO. Well here at Pivotal Web Solutions we partly agree with Cutts’, but we’d just reword it slightly different. Something along the lines of ‘The decay and fall of bad, spammy, link begging guest blogging for SEO’

And like many of the other areas that have succumb to spammy practises in past, link building, keyword targeting and image optimisation, guest blogging is still important and a fantastic way to build a strong, knowledgable community, increase web traffic and showcase your expertise. But it’s all about quality content, guest post or not.

So what can you do to successfully host guest posts and contribute to other blogs?

  • Be sceptical
    As the the old adage goes, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ If someone contacts your business offering to guest blog for you, it’s likely to be spammy. The chances are they don’t know anything about you, your business and customers, and as nice as it is they’ve contacted you, it’s likely just for follow links. Do your research, find their past posts and ask yourself what benefit they will bring to you and your business.
  • Write for the reader, not Google
    Too often are bloggers engrossed in making sure keywords and phrases are scattered throughout the post, that they tend to overlook the most important part of their post, the quality of content. A blog post that keeps people interested and engaged, will be shared and read much more and ultimately result in more organic traffic, than a post written with as many keywords as possible.
  • Only allow high quality postings
    Just because they are a ‘content marketer for a high end digital marketing agency in London’ doesn’t mean they will provide any benefit to your business. Look for guest bloggers who can direct traffic to your site with the quality content they provide, as a way of a referral. Even suggest nofollow links for content that is posted on your site and only allow postings that are high quality, relevant, and useful to your audience.
  • Focus on building relationships instead of growing links
    The aim of guest blogging should be to promote an engaged community where people can discuss the themes of your blog post. It should be a valuable sources of information – not an advertisement. By making sure your blog posts are well written, appealing to the audience and promotes discussion, you’ll start to build a readership there that’s more valuable than a one-off guest post.
  • Avoid guest blogging farms
    This goes back to what Matt Cutts’ was explaining. Black hat tactics have always been used by bad SEOs – guest blogging farms are no different. They will publish any content on their site including irrelevant and badly written posts which will be penalised heavily by Google. Keep well clear of these sites, as you will receive a Google penalty. And they are very bad news.

Content marketing is and will remain to be a very relevant area of search engine optimization, whether you are publishing your own blog posts or other blogs. What really matters is making your content relevant, engaging and interesting without filling the text with spammy links that Google clearly dislikes.

social media tips for small businesses - a post by Pivotal Web Solutions

Top Tips: Social Media For Small Businesses

Social Media For Small Businesses

According to recent research, the number one problem facing most small businesses is attracting new clients, and 61% of SMBs believe social media is helping them solve it.

Social Media for small businesses is a fantastic way to generate new leads, build your brand and communicate with your customers on a personal level; but also, not approaching it in the right way can leave you fixing problems you probably don’t have time for.

But the benefits of a well though out social media presence far outweighs any issues which may arise. It isn’t a coincidence that 9 out of 10 small businesses are using social or have plans to.

Whether you’re a complete social media beginner or you’ve been posting, pinning and tweeting for a years, the following expert tips will help increase your social media following, and allow it to become one of your most used tools for lead generation and keeping in touch with your customers.

#1 Research, Research, Research.

Great social media campaigns for small businesses don’t just happen overnight, behind each one is a well thought out and research social media strategy.

Social media is all about connecting with your audience on an authentic level. Make sure you research your audience. Identify there age, gender, interests, profession, household income ect.

Then decide what your key message will be. Based on your newly identified target audience, write down what the key problems are, and how you plan to solve them through social media. Now, write down your three social media marketing objectives. These will become the focus of your entire social media strategy.

# 2 Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely

Just because Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are currently the most popular, it doesn’t mean your business should necessarily be using all of them. Look back at your research of who your customers are, think about what your business does or sells. Remember each social media platform has it’s own distinct demographic. This is a great infographic from AdWeek, that clearly shows who is using each of the most popular social.

# 3 Know What To Post And Where To Post:

Once you’ve decided which social media platform(s) you will focus on, you then need to know what to post. To avoid any backlash, we recommend avoided any controversial topics. However, depending on your business there maybe a news story, or something relevant to your industry, that would be a great opportunity to show brand as an expert and authoritative figure. But to be on the safe side avoid politics, war and topics which could cause offence.

# 4 Consistently is Key.

97% of all consumers search for local businesses online. This means it’s likely future customers will search for you on Google, Facebook, Twitter and more before making a purchase. Keep your posting consistent so your visitors can see the great personality of your brand, read reviews from past customers, and know there is an place where they can return for any information they may need.

If you can’t keep up with posting, we offer affordable community management packages which includes content creation, regular posting and detailed monthly reports. For more info click here – https://www.pivotalweb.co.uk/website-services/social-media-management.

# 5 Use Keywords In Your Posts:

Appearing high up on Google’s search page is vital in generating leads. Not only do you want people to find your business when they ‘Google’ your name, but also when they ask for help about a certain topic, or require a phone number for a local plumber, for example.

Over the coming months, even more of your social media posts will be indexed by Search Engines. For example; when you post updates to Facebook, that post will almost instantly be seen (indexed) by Google. So you want to use keywords that people use when looking for your products and services. If this sounds alien to you, don’t worry! We’re here to help. We are SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts, and would be glad to help. Visit our website, for more information on Search Engine Optimisation in Halifax.

# 6 Don’t ‘Sell’ On Social Media:

You need to be stealth like with your sales pitches on Social Media. The vast majority of people use social media to keep up with family and friends, and they quickly get turned off by blatant marketing and pushy sales tactics. Show off your friendly business personality, offer help and advice and give them a reason to engage with your content. Then post sales news, business announcements, and links to your website sporadically.

Pivotal Web Solutions are your local Website design, Social Media Management and Search Optimisation company in Halifax and the surrounding areas. We have a wealth of experience that we’d love to share with you. Whether you need a new mobile device friendly website, someone to manage your social media accounts, or get your business to page 1 of Google, we’re only a quick phone call away.

Call us today for a chat, or if you’re in the area, pop into our offices for a coffee.

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youtube logo

Happy Birthday YouTube Infographic

YouTube Infographic

Ten years ago in May, YouTube launched in beta mode. To say Happy Birthday and mark this historic milestone, we’ve put together a YouTube infographic with some amazing facts about the largest video-sharing website.

Feel free to share our infographic!

happy birthday youtube infographic

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Spring Cleaning Taking Place at Facebook

If you run a Facebook Page your page’s ‘like’ count is likely to be a little smaller over the coming weeks.

Facebook is having a bit of a spring clean which will start with them changing the way they count the total number of ‘likes’ a Page has. Rolling out over the next few weeks Facebook will start removing deactivated accounts and those owned by people who have died from the total ‘like’ count of each page.

No one really knows how many accounts will be caught up in the clean up, but Facebook have said to only expect a ‘slight dip’. However, this is all depends on the total number of ‘likes’ your page currently has. A page with 10 million ‘likes’ may see a larger dip in the total figure, whereas an average page with only a few hundred ‘likes’, may only lose a few ‘likes’.

The social network have said despite businesses potentially losing some ‘likes’, they will, however, benefit from a more effective Custom Audiences tool. The Facebook tool allows Page owners to create “lookalike audience” by finding people on Facebook who are similar to those who already follow the company’s page.

Lookalike audiences help you reach people who are similar to your current customers for fan acquisition, site registration, off-Facebook purchases, coupon claims and brand awareness.”

Hopefully this spring clean leads the way for Facebook to start removing the number of fake and bought ‘likes’. Here at Pivotal Web Solutions, we are looking forward to a more accurate way to track our and our clients customers who are engaging on Facebook.

What do you think about the changes to Facebook? Let us know on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

content is king guest blogging

Content Really is King

We’ve long been predicting 2015 to be the year of content marketing, and it seems Google is thinking the same too.

Many of the recent updates to Google search algorithm take engaging and compelling content into account.

Content marketing can be one of the most effective ways to generate and convert leads from your website, blog and social media pages, but as we are sure you know creating engaging content is both difficult to master and very time consuming.

We’re talking engaging your customer through blog posts, have them share your topical social media posts, and join in on timely discussions. All these are proven ways to convert a website visitor to a returning customer – who likes to shout about your business from the roof tops.

You may be asking yourself why, why is this all necessary?

Content Marketing Establishes Your Brand

By creating engaging content you can be assured both potential customers and existing customers will see your business as a trusted source of go-to information. If your brand can provide your customers with knowledge and factual information, you can be sure that they will remember you when they’re ready to buy in the future.

Content Marketing Boosts Your Website Rankings

If having your website appear at the top of Page 1 on Google is important to you (and it should be), embracing content marketing will put you one step ahead when it comes to SEO. Google are always changing how they rank websites in the search results, and good quality content is all the rage at the moment; and it’s not going to change anytime soon. More now than ever before, good quality content will have a direct impact on your website’s search engine rankings.

Content Marketing Is Link Building

You may have heard how important links are to your websites ranking success. Google sees a link from one website to another as a tick in the trust box. But building links isn’t easy, and they don’t come at a click of a finger. But with great content you can increase you chances of receiving those high quality backlinks.

And remember, people tend to link to quality content that is relevant and educates.

Content Marketing Drives Social Media Engagement

Social Media is Content Marketing. You’ve only to scroll through your own Facebook news feed to see just how much content is being shared all over the world. News articles, photo, videos, blog posts. Just think how many times you’ve seen a news article from the BBC on your timeline, or a fun post by BuzzFeed being shared by one of your friends.

And the good thing about content on Facebook and Twitter? The shorter the better. Even if you only write a sentence or two, social media is the method to give your audience the content they require.

Content Marketing Just Makes Sense… And it isn’t going away!

Those who invest in content marketing can win big, but only if they do it correctly. Here at Pivotal Web we’re experts in creating compelling and engaging content. With a wide range of experience, the chances are we’ve already researched your industry, and are well placed to draft an engaging blog post or press release.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help your business with creating content, then please get in touch!

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Love is in the air for Twitter and Google

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, it is Twitter and Google who have gone public with their new relationship. Twitter has announced it will be spending much more time with Google to make its 140-character updates more searchable online.
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In the first half of this year, people searching for your business on Google will also see your latest Tweets, thanks to a deal giving the Web company access to Twitter’s stream of data generated by the service’s 284 million users. You may be thinking you have always been able to search for Tweets using Google, but previously the search giant had to crawl Twitter’s site for the information, which will now be visible automatically.

Here at Pivotal we think this is a great addition to Google search for both businesses owners, customers and, of course, to Twitter.

Reaching a larger audience

By enabling tweets to be seen by more non-users, businesses will now be able to reach a much larger audience. Twitter will also be over the moon at this new relationship as it aims to attract more people to the microblogging service.

The new love interest benefits both companies, said Doug Anmuth, an analyst at JPMorgan. It means “more opportunities for Twitter to convert, and possibly monetize, logged-out users” he said. “It will also increase the frequency that people with Twitter accounts check the site” he added. “For Google, we believe search results will be enhanced by access to real-time tweets and a much broader amount of content”.

If your business is yet to join the 254 million other Twitter users worldwide; what are you waiting for?

For a free introduction to Twitter and to learn how to easily and quickly get your Tweets in front of more customers, please contact our Social Media expert Karys on karys@pivotalweb.co.uk

digital marketing company

Why Hire A Digital Marketing Agency?

As business owners ourselves, we know all too well how valuable time is. How many times in a week do you think to yourself ‘there just aren’t enough hours in a day,’ or ‘where has today gone?!’?

To run a successful business it is essential we not only keep the day to day business activities running smoothly, but also manage a team, meet creative deadlines and respond to clients quickly and professionally.

And then we are tasked with brainstorming creative ways to market your business and ensure your business can be found online, and then social media. Yes, that thing some people thought was a fad. We can promise you now, it isn’t.

One question we often are asked and see posted on Twitter, forums and industry blogs is: ‘Why can’t we just hire our own social media person to manage our Facebook and Twitter?’.

Here at Pivotal we’ve discussed the benefits of both at some length, and here are some of the many benefits to hiring a digital marketing agency vs. an in-house social media coordinator:

Wide range of skills and backgrounds.

We aren’t just website designers, SEO professionals, social media strategists. We are a small team of creatives with backgrounds in IT, business, journalism, sport, music and we’ve even got our own history graduate.

Each member of the Pivotal team brings with them a very unique skill set and past experiences that we draw from. You should see our creative brainstorms! We try to pair clients with our own expert in that field. And when we can’t, we burst with excitement at the prospect of learning the ins and out of a new industry.
is guest blogging dead - a post by Pivotal Web Solutions

Two heads are better than one.

When you choose Pivotal to become an extension of your business, you are not just hiring one social media expert, one SEO professional or one website designer, you will benefit from the entire team. So if two heads are better than one, then an entire tight-knit team working in an ever changing industry, we regularly meet to brainstorm ideas, talk about new trends in website design, SEO and social media. We take pride in expanding our knowledge and sharing it with you.

Above and beyond professionalism.

You’ve all heard of disgruntled employees posting damaging updates to damage their ex-employers reputation. That will never happen with us. Outsourcing to Pivotal Web Solutions ensures professionalism and security. We are also big fans of regular communication and face-to-face meetings with our clients.

Cost

At first glance it appears cheaper to hire a person in-house. But when you hire a digital marketing agency, like Pivotal, you are hiring many jobs in one. Within the budget set for hiring that internal social media manager you can receive a vast amount of services from an agency. We are experienced and enjoy researching and implementing solid social media campaigns that are linked seamlessly to email marketing campaigns, SEO and PPC strategies as well as appropriate pages on your website. Whether you require a monthly retainer or for us to work with you on a campaign-to-campaign basis, we are confident we can make a real difference.

Get started with Pivotal Web Solutions and get in touch with the team today!

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Based in Brighouse, Halifax, Huddersfield or Leeds? Pop into our office:

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Google Adwords Qualified

It’s official!

Here at Pivotal Web Solutions, we are Google Adwords qualified. After successfully passing both the Adwords Fundamental and Adwords Advanced Search exams, we are now recognised by Google as having the knowledge and skills necessary for running successful Google Adwords Search campaigns.
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To celebrate, we will match your first months Google Advertising spend in your second month, up to £150.

But what is Google Adwords?

When you Google something – anything – you will see directly underneath the search bar three results with a yellow ‘Ad’ box next to the Headline. This is a Google Search Ad. No matter how much time and effort we put into your Search Engine Optimisation, your website will never come above these results. You may also see results on the right-hand side of your screen. These are all paid adverts.

We’ll use a festive example:

Google Adwords

How do I get to the top?

Well, it is all to do with the Adwords Auction. A lot of business owners have dabbled in the Adwords Campaigns but to be fully successful (and not have to spend hundreds of pounds) you need to know the ins and outs of Adwords. This is not very easy to teach yourself (trust me, I’ve tried!) which is why you need a Google Adwords Qualified specialist.

How does the auction work?

It is based on your Quality Score and Maximum Cost-per-Click or Cost-per-Acquisition which affects your Ad Rank. Your Ad Rank determines how much you pay for each click to your website. The amount you pay is also dependent on the Quality Score of your competitor too. Still following?

So basically, you are bidding against your competitors for that top spot. Using the right keywords and effective targeting, we can help you pay less for higher click to your website. And we all know that the higher the website traffic, the more conversions you get.

Want to know more? Email karys@pivotalweb.co.uk for information.

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What Is The Best Time to Tweet, Post and Pin?

What is the best time to Tweet?

We often get asked what time is the best time to tweet, post and pin on social media. Unfortunately, like social media strategies this isn’t a one size fits all kind of answer. The best time to post, whether to be to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any other popular social media site, totally depends on your which of these sites you are using and ultimately what time the majority of your fanbase is are actively online and engaging. Luckily there are a number of tools out there to help us get a better idea about the best time to tweet.

The following infographic gives us a great insight into when people tend to be active on the most popular social media sites. But as this isn’t an exact science, we recommend using the whole host of free tools available such as Facebook’s Insight, ManageFlitter, SocialBro and SocialFlow, and applying a bit of common sense – people tend to log on to Facebook and Twitter during their downtime – before work, during their lunch break, during an evening whilst watching TV.

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Six Steps To Handle Customer Complaints Through Social Media

One of the most beneficial reasons for businesses to embrace social media is to engage with, listen to, and gain new customers.

It allows you to create a two way dialogue, learn about your customers and let your customers see the ‘human’ and trusting side of your business.

But social media doesn’t come without its issues. Things can go wrong – a substandard product, an disgruntled customer, a lack of communication. Then social media can open up your businesses to a world of criticism.

The way you handle customer complaints through social media should never be a knee-jerk reaction.
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So, how do you handle customer complaints through social media ?

Like each social media strategy, each case is very different. But by following our six principles, you’ll be able to deal with any social media complaints in a timely and effective manner.

Be vigilant

When the mention or review in question is posted on your own website or Facebook page, it’s quite easy to be notified and start the process of dealing with the complaint. But when these negative mentions happen away from your own pages, such as their own blogs, forums, Twitter and the hundred of other places, it becomes a little more complicated.
To be able to reply and deal with online complaints, you have to be vigilant for all mentions of your company, products and brands. You can begin to do this with a service such as Google Alerts. With Google Alerts you choose a number of keywords, and you are alerted to their usage online, for example “Pivotal Web Design”, “Pivotal Web” or “Pivotal Web Solutions”
For those of you who own or run the social media accounts for larger businesses, it might be worth investing in a monitoring tool such as Brandwatch or Radian6.

Be quick and don’t delete the complaint or review.

The general public have quickly realised a complaint online gets dealt with much quicker and effectively than via email or over the phone. Others complain in the public sphere to warn their friends off using what they believe to be a bad product. Others – the more social media savvy ones – will do it to try damage you and your brand and force you to pay attention and deal with the complaint.

Speed is vitally important. Acknowledge the customer’s issue as quickly as possible before it snowballs and gains momentum. At this point, you do not necessarily need to have a solution in place – but by making the complainant aware you have seen their message, article or mention, they will see you are in the process of dealing with it.
Just ensure you never delete their message, or the original post. This will only fuel the fire, give the complainant something else to vent about and encourage others to join in.

Understand why the customer is complaining.

A customer who has turned to social media to complain, is looking for answers and a solution. They don’t want to hear excuses.
Too many businesses begin the process of dealing with an unhappy customers by providing excuses as to why some things happened. Simply put – the customer doesn’t care.
Begin the reply with the customers viewpoint in mind. What happened to them, what it meant and, most importantly, what can be done to make it right.

Deal with the complaint out of the public eye

As mentioned before make sure the initial complaint stays online, and your first response is clearly visible to the complainant and other social media users. If the Facebook status, Tweet, blog comments are coming through thick and fast, use the built in features to ‘pin’ or ‘highlight’ your response to the the top of the page.
Then you need to respond and take the complaint out of the public eye, and into a place where you can respond and deal with the complaint properly – somewhere not limited to 140 characters, or where the complainant would be reluctant to soften their approach.

Apologise if at fault

They say“sorry” is the hardest word. And for businesses on social media this is all too true. It’s not easy to take the blame, especially when potentially a lot of people can see the conversation between yourself (the brand) and your customer.
But, even if you don’t agree with the customer, remember to look at it from their point of view. If it’s a complaint or review about customer service or a product, such as delayed delivery, damaged product, or a product not as described, then an apology such as “ Dear …. we’re sorry our service, on this occasion, wasn’t up to our usual high standards and did not meet your expectations. We can assure you that this will not happen again.” is a good start. Following this up with something more concrete – a solution. Maybe even offer the customer a money off voucher: to prove to them the service they received was a one off, and give them a reason to remain a customer.

Don’t fuel the fire.

Strangely and unfortunately, the social media boom as led to the creation of online ‘Trolls.’ They trawl social media looking for arguments. This could be with celebrities, well known brands and even small businesses. And more often than not any interaction from yourself, fuels their fire.
If you’re sure that their complaint or review are entirely fabricated or created to damage your business, the best long-term strategy may be to ignore them.
However, as mentioned previously social media is a highly visible, we suggest leaving one comment explaining what they are saying is inaccurate or maybe even a mistake. This will show others social media users, and potential customers the truth.
Luckily the benefits associated with having a strong social media presence for your business far outweigh the occasional hiccups you may encounter on the way. Fortunately, complaints on social media are isolated incidents, and can be dealt with in a way that even benefits your brand. But as in the ‘real world’ we all have to be ready to deal with any customer complaints, and social media is now different.
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If you have any queries with dealing with complaints and negative reviews on social media or other online platforms, feel free to get in touch via socialmedia@pivotalweb.co.uk, Tweet us @PivotalWebSol, or message us on Facebook at Pivotal Web Solutions.

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Pivotal Web Solutions Named in The Guardian’s Marketing and PR Excellence List for 2014!

Pivotal Web Solutions have been named in the Guardian’s Marketing and PR Excellence List for 2014. Organised by The Guardian Small Business Network the Small Business Showcase rewards innovation and best practice across the small business sector.

Entrants that meets the criteria will have their entry published on the Guardian Small Business Network website. The shortlisted businesses will then be invited to attend an awards evening, as well as receiving a 500-word case study in the business section of the Guardian newspaper.

We are delighted to be included alongside some other fantastic small businesses, and goes to show that hard work really does pay off. We’ve been putting in the hours to improve both our own marketing and PR efforts, in addition to that of our growing list of clients. Read what we have to say about our Marketing and PR efforts below or click here to view on The Guardian’s website.

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Twitter Announces Buy Button

Twitter Announces Buy Button! You may have read earlier this year the rumours that Twitter were planning to launch a ‘buy now’ button for its mobile users. Well those rumours are now fact. The ‘Buy Now’ button will allow Twitter users to make purchases right from a tweet. Twitter has chosen 25 ‘beta’ partners to test the success and popularity of the new feature. Those with access to the new feature mainly include celebrities such as Eminem and country star Brad Paisley, with brands Burberry and Home Depot (Think B&Q) also being invited to get in on the action. We can’t wait for this feature to be rolled out globally to all users. We can think of a few of our current clients who’d benefit hugely from the new feature.

For more information on this great new addition take a look at this video by Twitter:

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The End of the Facebook Like-Gate.

Facebook have announced that the Like boosting tactic the ‘Like-Gate’ will be breaking their T&Cs come November.

The Like-Gate is a feature which can be added to certain areas of the business page. It requires a Facebook user to Like the page before they can access exclusive content such as give-aways, watch videos or enter a contest.

Facebook explained the change in a developer blog post:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

It has long been apparent Facebook are pushing the fact that the quality of Likes is better than the quantity. Here at Pivotal Web we’re glad to see Facebook and Facebook users realising that having 150 engaged fans is much better to your business goals than 20,000 disengaged fans.

Although we ahve found the Like-Gate a helpful tool when boosting the fan-base and subscribers to our monthly newsletter. We used the Like-Gate to access our exclusive eBook, and as a result gained 40 new fans in the first few days. Luckily for us, these new fans are active Facebook users, who often engage with our content.

What do you think about the change? Head over to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

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Are you in Brighouse, Halifax, Huddersfield or Leeds? Pop into our office:

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Twitter planning marketing research tool to highlight ‘everyday moments’

Twitter is ready to launch a new tool which allows marketers and brand owners to search for keywords and phrases that relate to their brand, customers and industry. Marketers will then be able to analyse conversations that are happening around those terms over a week-long period.

Twitter describes the tool as an ‘interactive visualisation of conversations’ which offers marketers and brands a “hands-on, practical way of bringing conversations to life”.

The data will be presented in a set of different visualisations, with Twitter hoping that these will make it sufficiently easy to use. It is also currently unclear whether the new tool will be released globally or in the UK only.

Here at Pivotal Web we think this is a fantastic tool and will allow us to join in on relevant conversations that are happening at that very moment in time. This will also be extremely useful when managing Twitter based advertising campaigns.

Read more about it here

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/disciplines/advertising/twitter-launches-marketing-research-tool-to-highlight-everyday-moments/4011138.article

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new Facebook page layout

5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Be Using Social Media

As a business owner, I’m sure you’ve been told numerous times that you need to be ‘on’ social media.

“Get a Facebook page”, “you need to be Tweeting”, “network with me on LinkedIn”, “have you signed up to Pinterest?, Instagram?, Snapchat?, Vine?, Tumblr?”

But maybe they’ve never really explained why you should be putting so much time and effort in to using social media for your business, and what social media can bring to your business.

In no particular order, these are our Top 5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Be Using Social Media, and quite frankly should already be using social media.

1. Reduce your marketing costs.
This one is important. Compared to other forms of marketing such as print advertising, the costs associated with getting your business seen and heard on social are considerably less. And not only that, social media marketing allows you to monitor the success of your campaign or general presence, and gives you the opportunity to make modifications accordingly.

2. Generate more leads and sales.
Lead and sales generation using the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) has enormous potential. No other marketing platform allows you to show off your business at your exact target market with such precision. No matter what you sell or provide, social media can help you connect with potential customers and form relationships in business changing way. You can build relationships with your existing customers, potential customers, their family and friends, journalists, and partners and suppliers.
Only through social media can you get to know such a large percentage of your target market on a personal level and build strong customer relationships. And why do you want to do this? Because by understanding your customer; their personal preferences, their hobbies and their buying habits, you can modify and alter your overall marketing strategy based on customers and their needs.

3. Offer your customers a better service.
If you are looking for a way to field customer comments, concerns, and questions, then you are going to find social media to be extremely beneficial. Customers using one of the common platforms like Facebook or Twitter can easily communicate directly with you, and you can quickly answer them in a public format that lets other customers see your responsiveness.
If your business lacks a place for your customers to share their compliments, voice their concerns or post general queries, then social media is going to prove to extremely beneficial to you. Not only can your customers quickly and easily get in touch with you, you are also able to reply within minutes and in the public domain – perfect when a customer is complimenting your services or products!

4. Engage, Engage, And Engage.
By providing your target market with valuable and engaging content, whether this be educational and entertaining blog posts, Facebook posts, tweets or providing them with information, you’re placing yourself as a trustworthy, expert in your industry. Just think, every time one of your fans ‘Likes’ a piece of content, or Retweets your Tweet, even more people see it appear in their newsfeeds. Engaging content is vital when it comes to generating interest and awareness around your business.

5. Improve Search Rankings
You have more than likely heard the phrase ‘Content is King.’ This has never been truer, especially when it comes to search engine rankings and social media. Having a social presence increases your businesses visibility. In 2012, it was reported that those who are regularly using social media and engaging with their fans for two years or more have seen a rise in their search rankings.
The survey also highlighted that, 60 percent who invested at least six hours per week saw improved rankings and increased traffic. And don’t forget the higher you place on Google and other search engines, the more likely that potential customer is to visit your website and purchase your product or service.

 

The bottom line is this; if you are not currently harnessing the potential of social media, you need to start and right now.

These are just some of the reasons why we feel social media is vital for small brands to be seen and heard, if you have any other reasons, let us know by commenting below!

OR if you would like to get the ball rolling please get in touch with Pivotal Web Solutions today.

Like us on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Email:  Phil@PivotalWeb.co.uk
Or Call us on: 01484 290100

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Own Your Domain Name

One of the most important things to remember when owning a website, is to make sure you own and control your domain name. Over the years a domain name can gain authority and in some cases become quite valuable. To the business owner their name is like gold dust. Some companies may have bought there domain name when they bought a website, but later find it is registered in the name of the website company and not them. Its worth double checking that you own your domain name and have full access to its control.

TO check who owns your .co.uk domain go to Nominet

new domain names

New Domain Names Coming Soon

In 2014, the Internet will see the introduction of hundreds of new domain names, top level domain names (TLDs), which are designed to create a wide range of new opportunities for individuals and businesses to better promote their online presence.

Register your interest with someone like LCN.com and they will contact you when the domain extensions are set to launch.

Pre-registration with LCN.com is free and you’re under no obligation to register when the extensions become available. Learn more about how we will handle the new domain launch process here.

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