A recently published vulnerability in Woocommerce version 3.4.5 could allow attackers to take over an account with the Shop Manager role and gain full Admin privileges. This flaw has been fixed in Woocommerce 3.4.6 and you are advised to update at the earliest opportunity
A recently published vulnerability in Woocommerce version 3.4.5 could allow attackers to take over an account with the Shop Manager role and gain full Admin privileges. This flaw has been fixed in Woocommerce 3.4.6 and you are advised to update at the earliest opportunity
13 Nov, 2018
Woocommerce vulnerability – make sure you have updated
A recently published vulnerability in Woocommerce version 3.4.5 could allow attackers to take over an account with the Shop Manager role and gain full Admin privileges.
This flaw has been fixed in Woocommerce 3.4.6 and you are advised to update at the earliest opportunity.
The latest release for Woocommerce is 3.5.1 which as a major release, should be tested for compatibility with your website theme and plugins before upgrading.
If your website has SSL certificate issues in Google Chrome 70, but you know your certificate is valid, we will explain what the issue is and how you can fix it.
18 Oct, 2018
Why your SSL certificate is now showing as insecure under Google Chrome 70
We recently happened to view a customer website using the Beta version of Google Chrome and we saw it had SSL certificate issues in Chrome 70 whereby it showed the certificate as invalid. We knew the certificate was OK and it only showed as problematic under Google Chrome 70.
So what’s the story?
Google (as the defacto internet police) are about to make a bunch of websites show as INSECURE and display the dreaded warning page before allowing a user to open a website when Chrome v70 releases.
The current version is 69 and according to their development schedule 70 is due to roll out from 16th October 2018.
Although this has been reported in the tech press already, it hasn’t really been that visible lately so hasn’t been on our radar.
It seems this all stems from Google thinking Symantec did a rubbish job of validating SSL certificates a while back and deciding they would mark them as insecure. A stay of execution was reached when Digicert acquired Symantec…but that grace period has run out.
The certificates in question will be from Symantec, GeoTrust, Thawte, and RapidSSL and were issued before 1st Dec 2017.
We are delighted to welcome local business D&M Kitchens who have subscribed to our Standard Website Plan. With over 30 years experience in designing, supplying and fitting kitchens in the Maidenhead, Windsor and surrounding areas, this family run business takes great pride in offering a personal service from start to finish.
Look out for their new website in the coming months as they look to showcase their work and products on offer.
If you are passing their Knowl Hill showroom why not pop in and meet the team.
In 1997 SHOC began work helping thousands of homeless people in Slough and the surrounding area. SHOC is a day centre that exists to provide care for the homeless in Slough and those at risk of becoming so.
Their dedication has been recognised by awards of Slough Mayor’s Charity of the Year 2011 and a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2012.
We are delighted to be working with these wonderful people by bringing their website up to date and providing ongoing management.
Recently I’ve spoken to some of our customers who are naturally worried how this will be seen by your site visitors. Are you planning to remediate your site and avoid the user warnings?
If so we can help by:
Carrying out a website conversion and replace insecure links within the database with secure ones
Install a free SSL certificate (or your own, hosting dependant)
Finally, we’ll apply a configuration change to force all users to use the secure website.
Naturally, all work will be done and tested on Staging before converting the Live website.
This will ensure your site is default secure in operation and free from “mixed mode” SSL errors. When Google pushes the new version of Chrome, you can relax whilst admiring your shiny new green padlock and the improved security and trust.
If you want to avoid the Not Secure message for your visitors then we can carry out your site conversion for a one-off fee of just £99.
We are expecting an increase in requests related to this once Chrome 68 is released so if you would like this done then please get in touch so we can get this scheduled in good time.
Another customer signed up for our Premium Site Plan – welcome to Commercial Lighting Ltd – a Southampton based UK manufacturer and distributor of high-quality energy efficient lighting systems.
As well as offering reputable interior and exterior products from significant international partners, Commercial Lighting designs and assembles its own range SOVEREIGN at its Southampton factory, providing lighting solutions for all types of applications; from retail to industrial, residential to public, and office to art installation.
The web development team at GorillaHub are working hard to deliver a new e-commerce based website with PDF specification generator for this customer and we look forward to a long-term relationship with them as we provide ongoing digital services to them through our Premium Site plan.
For a number of years, we have been a customer of Ascot Promotions so we are loving the opportunity to emulate the service they have given us in the past. No pressure then..!
Established in 1999, Ascot Promotions is a family run business based in Berkshire which specialises in supplying printed and embroidered clothing for both commercial and personal use.
In need of a website refresh and the addition of some new features to streamline their business, Ascot Promotions subscribed to an enhanced Standard Website Plan which will offer their customers a fast and easy to use site with which to engage with them and place orders directly.
Look out for their new website in the coming weeks and in the meantime if you need any embroidered workwear or promotional clothing we highly recommend them.
This year we’ve been investing in our tools and methods to better serve our managed clients. One of our biggest enhancements is in automated cloning for a WordPress Staging Website.
The same reason many website owners avoid (and many developers don’t offer website maintenance) is because it takes a lot of time and effort to do it properly. Of course, you can set your website to update automatically but this can result in your website breaking due to any number of issues or compatibility problems with WordPress, the website theme, plugins and custom code.
Personally, I wouldn’t. OK – I’m biased. But I don’t like it mainly because I’ve been there and had too many late nights due to automatic patching that has gone all Terminator.
But it’s still better than not updating at all.
Until it isn’t. Leave it for the mum bloggers.
So to reduce this risk changes should only be performed on a copy and tested first – but cloning client sites to make a WordPress Staging Website takes time, especially for someone like us with oodles to look after.
Seems simple enough, copy a bunch of files around, make some DNS changes and voila – a staging website. Turns out it’s not that simple. If we bring a new site on we’d need to have already set it up on staging (manually), the database won’t be compatible due to something technical called serialised arrays (I must really find out exactly what that means) and a bunch of other niggly problems that all would all need to be solved first.
So my team and I got together to work out how to do it. It took about 2 weeks of coding and testing but it’s done…and it’s glorious.
So how does it work?
Each night your website files and database is copied to our staging server, a number of database changes are made to work under a new domain (and protect those serialised arrays) and the WordPress Staging website is password protected to prevent viewing and duplicate content penalties from Google.
This gives us an EXACT copy of your live site, with all content, layouts, media and configuration to work on each day. We use this to test upgrades, plugins, code and changes and allows you to see the effect without touching your Live site. We replace plugins and try new security enhancements, often breaking things in the process.
Each night the site is magically reset.
This gives the team freedom to experiment and you’ll benefit from that. Not being frightened of trying new things is massively liberating for a developer
Or so I’m told. I just like the fact it protects you from human error. I guess I’ll never shake my corporate operational risk-management roots.
You can take advantage too
You can benefit from this tech wizardry, too. We can provide you access to this copy so you can work on the website yourself to try things out without risking your Live site. If your website has been built with Divi you can also safely make design changes too before touching the Live website. If you want to take advantage of this, just book some time (up to 7 days) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting access to your WordPress Staging website. We will put the automated cloning into manual mode so changes don’t get overwritten each day. When you’ve finished, we’ll switch back to auto and reset the site to match Live.
Trust us when we say this is a find of a big deal and not typical behaviour for a web agency. We’re also excited by the additional opportunities this technology offers and we’ll be developing this further.
As we count down to May 25th website owners across the UK are busy looking at their websites, privacy policies and consent mechanisms. One area at risk of being overlooked is the humble cookie – so it’s time to take a look at cookies and how they are affected by GDPR. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at Cookies and the compliance requirements within the GDPR.
As you may know, a cookie is a small file that is created on a website and sent to your device. These are designed to perform a wide range of roles, from saving your session on a shopping site to authentication, remembering your preferences, recording site visitors or providing targeted advertising. Most business websites use them.
Broadly speaking, cookies fall into 2 categories. Essential cookies are required for correct operation of a website and provide information required by a user. Any other cookies are classed as non-essential and are used for analytics, advertising, 3rd parties and identifying returning visitors.
THE CURRENT POSITION
COOKIES AND GDPR
In the GDPR, cookies are referred to in Recital 30, which says:
NATURAL PERSONS MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH ONLINE IDENTIFIERS…SUCH AS INTERNET PROTOCOL ADDRESSES, COOKIE IDENTIFIERS OR OTHER IDENTIFIERS…. THIS MAY LEAVE TRACES WHICH, IN PARTICULAR WHEN COMBINED WITH UNIQUE IDENTIFIERS AND OTHER INFORMATION RECEIVED BY THE SERVERS, MAY BE USED TO CREATE PROFILES OF THE NATURAL PERSONS AND IDENTIFY THEM.
Basically – cookies are now deemed as Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Like any other PII, consent from the subject must be given before use. This must be an informed choice so a simple opt-in or implied consent will no longer apply.
Cookies in use should be listed (a link to a policy page is a practical solution) as well as an opt-in / out choice for non-essentials cookies. If consent is not given non-essential cookies cannot be used. A technical solution will also be required to control cookie behaviour.
Let your users know what types of cookies you use and for what reasons
Display a clear policy that explains cookie use and options available to the user
Categorise all of the cookies in use on your site and give the user a choice for each
Review cookie use regularly
We are considering putting together a compliance support pack to help small business website owners with GDPR compliance, comprising of document templates, checklists, technical audits and GDPR compliant solutions for common website technologies such as forms, cookie management, email opt-ins and consent forms. Get in touch if this is something you might be interested in – anticipated cost will be £499.
Disclaimer: Obviously we are a technology company, not a law firm and offer advice only to be helpful. We recommend you seek legal advice and cannot be held liable for issues resulting from any information provided.
As a small business owner, having a well thought out website is one of the best tools you can have to promote your business. You can upload photos of your products or write descriptions about your services. You can use it when reaching out to potential clients and it servers as a permanent advert for your business. Before you get to do all those cool things though, you need to get it built. As we mentioned Tuesday, you can use a custom website design or one of the many existing WordPress themes.
As a reminder, custom website design means building a website from scratch. Developers write their own code to make your website look and function the way you want it to. Wordpress themes are pre-made designs that you can fill with your content and edit accordingly and which we covered yesterday.
Both methods have pros and cons but today, we’ll look into why custom design may not be the best option for you.
Custom website design is unique but it comes with a price
Since custom designs are built from scratch, you can be as creative as you want to be. Custom design gives you the freedom to add whatever feature you would like and personalise your site to give a unique user experience. This freedom comes with a price tag though which may not suit your business. Like anything bespoke the price comes from the hours spent crafting. The output may be superior, but the extra investment may not matter that much to your website users.
We’ve built simple informational (not ecommerce) websites that cost as little as £1200 and as much as £20000 and only you can decide the real value to your business. You need to consider how much you’re willing to spend for your custom design.
More freedom isn’t necessarily a good thing
A bespoke design generally means starting from scratch. Every decision for functions, layouts and content will need to be made as there is no baseline to modify. This can make populating the site a time-consuming process compared to replacing something that already exists. Content addition is typically the phase most web development projects lose traction and stall.
Alternatively themes are often designed for very specific purposes. It usually comes with what you need to have a working website and by replacing text and images you can quickly have a working website.
Bespoke takes time
After making the decision to set up or refresh your website, how long can you wait?
This is an important thing to consider as time means money and you could be losing potential customers because you don’t have a means to showcase your business online. The sooner you can have your website meeting your business needs, the better. Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.
A bespoke design and build doesn’t happen overnight. Building a website from scratch can take many weeks or months. This is not the case for themes and a simple site can be ready in a day. This is because development time is shorter when using themes as most of the features that you need are already included in it.
You don’t know what to expect until you see it
The design process starts as an idea. An idea can be very hard to visualise at times. It requires action to transform it into something that can be perceived. With that in mind, you may have a very limited grasp of what your website will look and feel like until it is in its final stages of development.
One way around this is to ask your designer to produce a full set of visuals or a design prototype. Of course, this requires time too.
Of course, with a theme, you get a preview of what it would look like. You will know exactly what you will be getting. No guessing required.
Making the Right Choice
A custom designed website will always be superior to a theme, but at a significantly higher price point. Custom design might be the right option for bigger companies who have the resources and budget to support bespoke web development. Conversely, a well thought out and executed themed website can often trump a poorly designed and planned custom web development project so it doesn’t mean it can’t compete.
Small businesses can still get many of the same features and benefits even if they choose to use a theme.
Tomorrow we’ll introduce our solution, a hybrid of both combining the speed and lower cost of a theme with the personalisation benefits of a theme.
A WordPress website theme is one of those words that, along with “plugin”, can evoke an involuntary shudder from many a website owner. It may not come as a surprise but for those who are uninitiated, a website theme is not exactly ‘plug and play’, despite what the developer says. To a certain extent, they need tweaking to fit a brand, to add a function, or to perform a certain way. On top of that, there are thousands of themes to choose from with different features and designs. With such a wide scope, what are the things that one must know about using themes? Here is 5 quick pointers from our tech team:
1. Don’t Use Themes Out of the Box
Usually when you first install a website theme, it will most probably look like the sample- albeit, with some of your content spread across the page. You would NOT want this. Using a theme as it is means that some elements of the theme like images could be the same as EVERY other website using the theme. To avoid that, it’s best to customise it further to suit your needs. You wouldn’t want your site to look like a sample page. Find some new images from your photo library (or stock sites like pixabay.com)
2. Choose Themes that are Relevant to Your Business
It’s all there in the title. If you own a restaurant, there are multiple customisable themes that you can use with the right plugins and features that you need. Although in principle any theme can be used to fit any business this is usually beyond most website owners. Don’t download a website theme meant for mortgage advice when all you really want to do is sell your delicious spaghetti bolognaise.
3. Pretty Themes are Cool but Functionality is Better
We’ve all come across websites with lots of nice things going on- a dynamic page that changes images every few seconds to showcase different products, video and music that stream automatically. It’s all great until they slow down your website – especially on mobile. Always choose a theme that’s simple and straight to the point. Your users will appreciate faster loading times more than that fancy splash page.
4. Keep Things Updated With Your Website Theme
Just because you’ve used a complete theme does not mean that you don’t have to maintain it. Chances are, your theme came with widgets or plug-ins that allow your website to work. Updating them ensures that your website runs smoothly and efficiently. Keeping them up to date also lessens compatibility and security issues.
5. Be Cautious When Modifying Your Theme’s Shortcodes
Essentially, themes are just blocks of code that work very well together. Known as shortcodes, these prebuilt sections can be dropped in to any page. Edit them at your own risk as you can easily break your site. Be very careful. If you need help, ask from someone who knows how to.
One of the most powerful features of WordPress (alongside plugins) is the ability to install a pre-built WordPress theme to change the look and operation of your website. This has been one of the big factors in why WordPress runs on millions of websites and is the most popular choice for self-hosted websites.
Using customisable themes isn’t a new thing but with cleaner, simpler designs for mobile they make a compelling argument over a custom website. Of course, they are not for every business There might still be a need for custom website (a design built entirely from scratch) but for those who want a fast and cost-effective solution, using themed templates are the way to go.
As a small business owner, opting to use a template might be more beneficial. What are the benefits though and what might you get for your money?
We are making the assumption here that the installing, modifying and launching of a new small business website is an area requiring outside assistance. If you have these skills already, good news as you won’t need as much outside help. If you do get stuck, our support team are ready to help
1. WordPress themes can be considerably less expensive than custom websites
Using themed templates to create a website is a more cost effective option for many sites. It takes less time to set-up and you don’t need to hire designers to create the overall look for desktop and mobile.. Themes also often come with their own ready-made features that you can use to fit your business. This means you might not need to purchase anything else unless you want to add another feature to your website.
But not always. Choosing the wrong theme or extensively modifying a theme will increase the time and costs to build. Additional code will introduce additional bugs and require additional testing. Sometimes this can end up being more expensive than a custom site from the start. Write down your objectives for the site and ensure your developer or partner is offering the right advice based on time = money. There is a sweet spot that avoids “wheel reinvention” and still provides the flexibility to shape the site to fit your needs.
2. Quicker to get going
Building a website, for the most part, is a long process. Design needs to be discussed. Features need to be coded and added in. Basically, you create something from nothing and it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take many weeks / months to complete an entire website. In it’s simplest form, with a prebuilt theme, you can just download the theme you want, install it, and change certain elements like images and some colours.
3. Lots of choice
There are thousands upon thousands of themes that you can choose from. And while you might run the risk of seeing a website that uses a similar template to yours, it doesn’t really matter. This is because you can customise it. You can change colours or the order of items in your navigation bar. You can add your own images or add more pages. The point is, you can personalise your website to suit your needs and your branding. Choosing a theme relevant to your business makes things easier but some of the most creative sites will be using a theme originally designed for another purpose.
Again – it all depends on how much time you want to spend (or pay someone else) to replace the stock images, colours, typography and layouts and make the site personal to your business.
4. SEO and mobile is generally built into the design
Modern designs often have features built into them that optimise your website for search engines. This means that you don’t need to worry about the design elements that search engines use to help your site appear in web searches. Themes can help your site to meet SEO standards.
5. Additional features are often included
WordPress themes can come with many built-in features to to help you promote your services, highlight content, get in touch or maybe even a few administrator options that make changing some elements of the site easier. Built in features remove the need for adding plug-ins, both removing additional complexity and optimising performance.
6. Updates Keep Your Site Functional
If you’ve purchased a WordPress theme from a reputable source, chances are, you’ll have free updates to keep you site secure and up to date. Note that whenever WordPress updates and decides to make changes, it might cause some problems to your theme. Updates from your theme developers are often fixes to resolve compatibility issues with WordPress or to further improve the performance of the theme. So be safe be sure to only use themes that are being actively developed, have a large install base and are marked as compatible with your version of WordPress.
So what are the cons?
Its NEVER as easy as the theme developer makes out to recreate the sample site. Even our developers struggle at times to get features working and fix issues – with mobile especially
You need to be both experienced in managing WordPress and have patience. Expect that some things will be a compromise and you will spend many hours googling if you are not a web developer
You spend too much time “tweaking” to make it look your own
….or not enough and your business site looks just like your competition
WordPress themes can be a great choice and are worth exploring if you are looking to refresh your site of get something new built quickly. Tomorrow we’ll tell you why custom design may not be the best option for you.
Want to talk more? Don’t hesitate to send us a message or click on the chat icon if you have any enquiries.
Being the world’s most popular website content management system (CMS), many small businesses use WordPress as their go-to platform for their website. The power of plugins and open-source licencing has created a vast and rich ecosystem to allow for almost anything to be easily built.
In this short article, we’ll go through essentials of what you need to know to create a WordPress small business website.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system that allows you to create and manage your website online. It’s easy to use and offers an impressive library of plug-ins that add functionality to the websites being created. From simple blogs to full-blown e-commerce sites, any scenario you can think of could be built using a combination of plugins and custom development.
Name your website and choose your hosting
WordPress needs to be hosted and installed on a server for it work. Now is a good time to search for reliable web hosting services. This is an area it’s best to pay a little bit more for – slow hosting will kill your site. We use and recommend SiteGround.
Build your WordPress small business website using custom design or a pre-built theme?
Once you’ve chosen a web hosting service, the next thing to do is start building your website. You can create the website from scratch (custom design) or you can use many of themes for WordPress.
If you have no coding knowledge, you can hire a web designer / developer to create the site for you. As a bespoke offering this can take a while and prices may vary depending on the complexity of your site and its design.
If you opt to use themes, you can download and install it in less than an hour and you’ll have a working website. However, it’s always best to edit the theme you just installed to give it a little personal flair – or hire a developer to do this for you.
Extend your website’s functionality by adding plugins
Plugins are what make WordPress websites work efficiently. There are plugins that help with loading speeds. Some help you create contact forms. Other plugins add new functions to your website.
Installing a plugin is very easy. You can search for plugins within WordPress itself and install from there.
Quick tip: Keep a list of features you want your website to have. Use that to guide you on your plugin search.
At this stage, you already have a working website but it’s far from finished. In fact, it’s just the beginning. You need to manage the site and its plugins, make sure that it is updated regularly. WordPress security is dependant on you keeping your site updated. Think about SEO and content to increase traffic, too.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about using WordPress themes to create your small business website.
As a small business owner, your website is one of the essential tools you can use to promote and showcase your products. It is an effective way of engaging your clients through the content you post in its pages. You can use it to tell your story and what your company is all about. Ultimately, it helps build and strengthen connections between you and current and future clients. More often than not though, small business owners tend to fail at managing and maintaining their websites. These can have a negative impact on your brand and could lead to you losing customers instead.
In this post, we will talk about some common small business website problems and how you can fix them.
1. Outdated and Poor Design
Website design has been constantly evolving since internet use boomed in the 90s. The introduction of mobile internet devices such as internet capable feature phones, smartphones, and tablets have changed the way sites are structured too. While most small business owners realise the importance of investing in a website to establish a web presence, design maintenance isn’t one of their priorities. Some websites are not optimised to be viewed in different devices. Keep in mind, a website viewed on a desktop or a laptop may look completely wrong on mobile. Consequently, old websites that have not been updated in ages will start to look clunky when compared to updated sites with modern designs. These will not only look bad but will be full or problems due to incompatibilities too.
Having an outdated website design or an unresponsive site doesn’t build confidence. In fact, it ruins your chances of converting your leads into sales.
If your website has not had a change in more than a few years, you’re probably due for a design update. Customers need a mobile site that is as easy to use as the desktop version. Google search prefers websites that are mobile-friendly and the tech giant considers it a requirement if you want your site to come in search results.
A simple, clean responsive design that looks great on different devices is required. This needn’t be expensive and in the age of mobile, simple designs are preferred.
2. Forms That Don’t Work
So, you have a good design and everything looks cool on a PC and a smartphone. Someone wants to enquire about your products and services but your contact form just refuses to work. What happens now? Obviously, your potential customers might just go away.
Having fully functional forms provide your site visitors the opportunity to fulfil their own needs. Are they curious? Are they making a purchase? Forms help the client interact with your site and your business. At this stage, you’ve already hooked them in. The only thing left to do is for you to give stellar support. Go the extra mile by making sure your forms are working and they are safe.
Forms that don’t work may be due to many things. Some parts of the code might have been edited or deleted altogether. It might be a server issue. Or, something just changed and updated and it messed up your set-up. If you’re using a plug-in, this might be the case. An update could generate compatibility issues and render the forms useless. If you don’t have the confidence or the skill to go look into it yourself, you can have an expert investigate. Always consult with someone who has knowledge in these things. You might do more harm than good if you try to fix it yourself.
Another tip is to always make sure that the forms you use are secure if you plan to get information through fields that people can fill in with their information. Having a secure connection for financial transactions and a confidentiality clause or terms of agreement can make your site visitors feel at ease.
3. Poor SEO
Who wouldn’t want more visitors to their websites? Many small business website owners complain about their site not attracting enough visitors. The question is whether they’ve made efforts to make their website discoverable on the internet.
An effective marketing campaign might be able to boost visits to a page but it can cost more in the long term. The quickest way to find things in the web is to use Google or a search engine. For this to work, websites should be structured specifically for search engines to recognise and recommend. This is what Search Engine Optimisation is all about. Sadly, website owners fail to do this and their sites fail to appear in web searches.
Have an SEO campaign that improves your search visibility. This means using all the right keywords, having updated quality content, a responsive and secure website, among other things. There are tons of benefits of having a secure website. Developing your website around the elements that affect SEO generally improve overall website performance.
4. No Social Media Presence
Another problem that small businesses have a hard time trying to solve is their social media presence. Business accounts are created but they are not being updated regularly or they are not being utilised to their full potential.
Social Media can be a powerful tool in digital marketing and it provides another channel for interacting with potential and current customers or clients. This also makes the business ‘more human’ as lighter topics, conversations, and stories can be utilised to spark interest. Social media can give a business the face and the soul that it often needs.
Link your website with all of your social media accounts and do the same for each platform you use. Create a social media strategy document. It doesn’t need to be a formal and final word file but it can be a work in progress until you develop clear goals and objectives. This is where the use of all of your social media accounts will revolve. Share articles and stories that are relevant to your business and add a personal spin to it. Just be creative and update regularly. Interact with clients and those who post questions. Being a responsive business owner pays in the end.
Your business may be unique. Your small business website problems are not.
While no 2 businesses are the same, website challenges are common. With the right resources and the expertise required to solve the more technical bits of owning a website, management and maintenance shouldn’t be a headache. We have years of experience managing websites for businesses and have a range of support packages to help remove the headache.
If you have any questions or are interested to find out we can help improve your small business website, feel free to contact us.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for any small business owner. SEO works to make your website become more effective at promoting your products or services by ensuring its visibility in search results. Whether it’s for your restaurant business or hosting your products, having your website optimised for search engines will help more people find it, increase traffic, and even help convert the visit into a sale. With all these benefits, basic SEO is just common sense for any small business website.
How do you improve SEO?
There are many factors that can affect your SEO and these can all make or break your website. The best case scenario is having each one of them work together to achieve your goals. While these may seem daunting to do at first, it becomes easier as you slowly work your way up.
1. Quality Content
Content is King! This phrase is nearly as old as a the web and remains true to this day. It is no surprise that having quality content is top of our list. Your content is what defines your site. It’s what people are after when they first click on that search result link. Good content simply means that your business pages, blog posts, product pages or any other page found on your site has all the relevant information that a potential visitor would like to see. Format also affects the quality of the post. In a nutshell, your pages should be comprehensive, readable, and interesting.
Keywords remain one of the factors that affect SEO too. SEO keywords are words or phrases that people often use to search for things in search engines. Imagine yourself looking for something on Google— the words and the phrases you type into the search bar is collected by the tech giant and then analysed along with millions of other searches that are similar to yours. They then come up with a set of keywords for that specific search. That’s the reason why google can come up with a search suggestion before you even finish typing.
When a website uses keywords in its content, it makes it easier for google to put the page on the search results. However, just putting random keywords on a page without it being relevant to the content negatively affects SEO instead.
3. Backlinks, Outbound Links, and Interlinks
Another one of the more important factors that affect SEO are links and they can be three types. These are:
Backlinks (links TO your website from an external one)
Outbound links (links to external pages from your page)
Interlinks (links from one page to another within your own site)
While this bit might be confusing at first, this should not deter you from using links effectively.
Backlinks: Try and get your site linked to from external sites where possible. Common sources are social media accounts, industry membership / professional bodies and business directories. Comments on forums and blog posts work well if that is relevant to your business.
Outbound links: Adding external links to an article you wish to publish on a page already affects your SEO score— for as long as the link is relevant and it comes from a reputable source, you should be fine. WARNING: A quick google will turn up lots of offers from people to do this on your behalf – but there is a real risk they will use unscrupulous methods to do so and attract penalties from Google – which is the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve. Take the time to do this yourself or outsource this to a reputable company only.
Interlinks: For those who have blogs or stories in their websites, linking old posts with new ones also improves your score. Existing articles that you have that are relevant to your new posts give your website a boost in credibility and make a better user experience – which adds to visitor time onsite.
4. Mobile Site Optimisation
Because of the trends in mobile technology, Google has made a shift toinclude mobile versions of websites as a factor for SEO. This means that having your website optimised for viewing on smaller screens helps google recommend your site to potential visitors. The key here is that Google wants their users to experience only the best. Whether they be on a desktop or mobile phone, website visitors should be able to access the best content optimised for the device that they are currently using.
As a small business, competition for media mileage and exposure is tough but it doesn’t have to remain that way. The use of mobile phones to access websites have grown in recent years and developing a mobile version of your site is an investment that will not only help your business but improve SEO as well.
5. Fast Web-page Loading Times
It’s not new that loading times affect user experience when visiting a webpage.Kissmetrics has illustrated that websites that load longer are often abandoned by visitors. 25% of users abandon a site at 4 seconds and abandonment increases with each passing second. For businesses, this could be devastating because of two things: you lose potential customers and your site won’t be optimised for search engine results.
6. It’s All In The Tags
Tags come in various forms – header tags, title tags and meta tags, Of these, Header tags and title tags are relevant.
To differentiate, title tags are html tags that give the user a brief description of what the webpage is about. Header tags are html tags that differentiate content through headings and levels. While gone are the days where header and title tags were very strong factors for improving SEO, having relevant title tags and effectively using header tags in posts still have a place. Title and header tags improve click rates while highlighting the relevance of your page.
7. HTTPS Encryption and Security
In this article, we included the importance of HTTPs in SEO ranking. Google’s stance on using HTTPs has been firm over the years. With its browser (and other majors ones) flagging websites not using HTTPs as unsafe, a conversion should be due. Businesses, in particular, benefit from using the more secure HTTPs as it protects customer’s information from being used elsewhere. Your customers will thank you for using a more secure connection for their payments and transfers.
8. Social Media Sharing
People are social creatures whether it be in real life or online. We love our social networks and the existence of many platforms to maintain our social connections is a testament that we will be this way for many eons to come. It would be common sense by now to use social media to share your interests or your business. Building a good social following and an online presence improves SEO. And while there is an ongoing debate about backlinks from social media platforms, engagement means more people visiting your site. That is always a good thing– especially for a small business.
Wrapping Things Up
The world of SEO is ever changing with new algorithms and procedures to further improve user experience when searching for products and content on the internet. Though it may seem like there is no end to keeping up with the trends, there will always be factors that matter most. By investing in any of the above, you’ll work your way up. Optimising your site to improve discoverability through SEO doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Find yourself a good team to help you improve your site’s SEO.
If you have any enquiries about how you can start improving your website for SEO, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d be glad to help you.
As we’ve written about here and here already – If you’re using Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or any of the popular web browsers to surf the net and visit websites, chances are, you have probably come across a website that has been flagged as ‘unsecured’. It could be a warning pop-up on Firefox or a not secure icon and text on Chrome’s address bar. Find out what these things mean, why should you care about your website’s security and why you need an HTTPS website in 2018.
How does HTTPS work?
Websites that have log-ins, contact forms or fields that require personal information such as credit or debit card details need some form of security measure to keep these information safe from hackers and wrong doers.
The first line of defence against these villains lies in the form of a protocol called Secure Sockets Layer or SSL installed in websites. When you visit a supported site, it will send an SSL certificate to your device to create a special safe and secure connection. Once it has been established, all information will be encrypted.
3 Major benefits of having a secure website?
1. You And Your Visitors Are More Secure
AnSSL certificate encrypts your website visitors information whenever they log in or input sensitive information such as bank details, PINs, and the like. To ensure that no one else is privy to all those details, the certificate generates a random key that your website uses to decrypt information sent from your visitors.
The cool thing is, all these technical bits happen in the background. With an SSL certificate installed, there is no need to worry about your website visitors information being leaked into other parts of the internet.
2. Consumers Trust A Safe Website
We now live in a world where online transactions seem to be the norm for most people. According to asurvey completed in December 2016, 87% of UK internet users have made at least a single purchase online. This trend is expected to rise as more people are discovering the joys of making online purchases.
People are more likely to make purchases from a safe and secure website. You’ll miss out on the fun if your website is flagged as unsecured. Google, through their browser, has supported using HTTPS and has rolled out versions of its browser that indicate whether a site is secured or not. Mozilla Firefox has also implemented a similar feature.
Google and other search engines love secure websites as it protects their own users from being redirected to fraudulent and unsecured sites. If your website is secure, you might boost your rankings against similar websites who are left unsecured. The company has confirmed thatHTTPS is an important factor in its rankings.
We’ll help you become secure
At GorillaHub, we are committed to helping everyone use the internet more securely and will be launching a low-cost website conversion service for small business websites in January. If you have any questions on SSL certificates / HTTPS or how you can get your site converted, please get in touch
We hope its been a successful one for you as you start to think about winding down and enjoying the holidays. While you might shut down, you won’t want your business website to, but relax. We have your back.
We are very excited about 2018 and bringing out some new services specifically designed for small businesses. We’ll let you know more soon.
As you’d expect with Gorillas based in multiple countries, we don’t have a shutdown period as such but please bear in mind we do take some well-earned time off during the festive period. Support clients will be covered as normal. Submit any requests via email as usual (while we are happy to work on your site on Christmas Day, we can’t offer turkey cooking advice I’m afraid 🙂
Clients with development projects scheduled over the period will have had their individal plans communicated already by their project lead.
Last-minute work next week
If you are anything like us, you still have some things to get done next week. Running out of time? – we can help out up until the 22nd December to give you a bit more time for shopping (or the pub).
So all that leaves is to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas from all of us at GorillaHub and we look forward to continuing to support your business in 2018.
Leadership Coach Christine Locher needed a cost-effective solution to add more prominence to her services. Rather than bespoke development, we suggested a new WordPress theme installation to freshen up the look and improve the user experience on mobile.
Christine provided a shortlist of themes she liked and we selected the best fit before the new WordPress theme installation and testing on a Staging copy of the site.
Only some minor development work was required to adjust the theme. Once approved, our technical team migrated the Live site. All communications were managed through the ServiceDesk
Christine was thrilled with a fresh new look to her homepage and an improved mobile experience for a modest outlay.
Christine Locher Leadership Development:
Christine offers a portfolio of coaching and consulting services in the leadership and organisational transformation space. She’s also writing a book and was looking for a way to make her offerings clearer and more prominent on her homepage.
I had a fairly fuzzy idea how to possibly make that happen and didn’t want to spend vast amounts of money but wanted it to look good. The team from GorillaHub made a very pragmatic and cost effective suggestion which they executed beautifully and in a way that I can administrate and build on myself as things evolve.This was exactly the kind of support I needed as a small business with big plans. They are reliable, patient, helpful above and beyond in explaining things and taking an idea out of your head and making it happen. Highly recommended!
Use this handy SEO setup checklist and make sure your site has the basics covered
SEO is often described as a black art but in truth basic SEO best practice can be mastered using a few simple rules.
For this TechTuesday article we’ll focus on the technical aspects of SEO related to site structure, link format and page layout. By applying these tips you will set your site up to increase both traffic and awareness in search engines.
One of the most important rules is to make your site for humans, not a search engine bot.
SEO is an ongoing commitment and all new content much be checked as it is added. If you don’t want to worry about this, remember that Site Management clients benefit from a monthly SEO health check of new content and site setup.
SEO Setup Checklist
Add your keyword to your site title tag. Try and make the title meaningful and relevant. Also add your keyword to your site meta description and again, make it compelling
Ensure every page has only one H1 tag and ensure that it sits above any H2 / H3 tags
Use a reasonable page length – aim for over 100 words. Use plain english and write for your audience, not a search engine bot
Add descriptive ALT tags and filenames to all images
Running a secure (HTTPS) website improves security, trust and Google will love you for it. Let us show you how you can easily add a free SSL certificate to your website using LetsEncrypt.
Last time out we explained what HTTPS is and what advantages it brings. This week we’ll show you how you can get a free SSL certificate and install it on your web site.
Aren’t SSL certificates expensive?
They can be, as they often come with financial guarantees and you can be sure the largest sites on the internet spend many thousands of pounds on security and the certificate is just one part of this. If you are reading this the chances are you don’t need this level of cover and a more basic certificate will do.We love LetsEncrypt as a great free solution – there really is no reason not to run SSL on your site nowadays. Of course, you can choose to purchase an SSL certificate from a provider, but we’ll be focusing on doing it with LetsEncrypt in this article.
Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit. It is a service provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).We give people the digital certificates they need in order to enable HTTPS (SSL/TLS) for websites, for free, in the most user-friendly way we can. We do this because we want to create a more secure and privacy-respecting Web.
How to install through your hosting provider
Hopefully, you’ve chosen one of the many hosting providers that have chosen to support LetsEncrypt, as this makes it trivial to set up and automatically renew your SSL certificates. The full list of providers can be found here. Log in to your hosting control panel and look for the setting in and simply follow the instructions there – a few clicks later and you’ll be all set.If there is an option to “enforce” SSL then select this to automatically redirect site visitors to the secure version of your website.
How to install on your own server
If you maintain your own unix-based web server, then there is a simple command line application called CertBot that looks after certificate generation and installation. Head on over to the CertBot Website and enter your details for configuration instructions specific to your setup. Although CertBot was primarily designed for linux / unix, there is also a port for Windows Server / IIS called LetsEncrypt Win Simple that reportedly works well.
Need more help?
If you’d like help with this or any other areas of website security, or to find out more about our hosting and site management services that include SSL and other benefits built in, then please get in touch below.
A common topic that comes up when talking about hosting and site security. So what is HTTPS / SSL and what can it do for your website?
Put simply, it’s an encryption layer between websites and browsers to ensure other people cannot see your web traffic. This may not seem important (especially if it’s not a shop site) but read on to find out why your site should be using it.
It provides encryption
Normal web traffic is sent in “plain text” and is vulnerable to being intercepted and read, leading to the following:
Leakage of personal data such as name and address from forms
Stealing of user credentials and passwords
Changing data and redirecting visitors to malware or phishing sites
As you can see, credit card information isn’t the only data that should be protected from eavesdropping and the good news is there is an easy way to protect your site visitors.
It provides authentication and trust
A popular tactic with criminals is to clone a website and attract visitors to it with the sole purpose of harvesting logins, personal data and credit card details.These “phishing” sites will look identical to the real thing and even perform similar functions and then return the user to the correct site leaving them unaware that anything is wrong.With SSL you can be sure the site you are connected to is the real one.
To be issued a certificate, the website owner must prove they own the relevant site and there are varying levels of identity checks and varying levels of trust applied to certificates.Ecommerce sites may require certificates with a higher level of authentication and trust such as an EV Certificate (Extended Validation).For most websites,a low cost or free SSL certificate is often sufficient.
Any other advantages?
As if that wasn’t enough, Google are leading the drive for ubiquitous encryption across the web.The last few releases of their Chrome browser have contained indicators where a site is not using SSL and all the indications are there that these will become more prominent and serious looking. Fjrefox has also followed suit this year. Whether you agree or disagree with this approach one thing is for sure – the average web user will trust an SSL website more than others.
For the first in a series of Tech Tuesday articles, let us explain what PHP7 is and why your website should be using it.
PHP is the backend to countless websites and is one of the most common languages in use across the web. As a server-side scripting language, it’s function is to interpret website code, perform a function and then return the results to a site visitor’s browser. In fact, you are seeing it in action right now, as this page is rendered dynamically using content stored in a database. Created by Rasmus Ledorf in 1995, originally to power homepages, PHP has been actively developed since and the latest version, PHP7, was released at the end of 2015.
More speed, Scotty.
The most noticeable and useful improvement is speed.PHP7 applications run over twice as fast PHP5.6 ones – and who doesn’t want a fast site.With Google also ranking on performance, having a fast site is clearly beneficial and PHP7 helps that.If your hosting provider isn’t using it, we’d recommend you look around for one who is.
With the improved performance comes improved efficiency– so your site can serve more concurrent requests.
Improved error handling
Have you ever come across a website showing a blank white page?This happens when an error occurs under older versions of PHP.Definitely not a good look for your site.Developers rejoice as they can finally handle errors properly and avoid a “white screen of death”.
It will work with existing websites
Typically, if your site runs under PHP5.6 today, it will operate perfectly under PHP7.Legacy applications using deprecated functions may have issues.
So as you can see, there’s no reason not to have your site powered by PHP7. If you are unsure your site is using or can take advantage of it, get in touch and we’ll let you know straight away.
WordPress is twice as fast under PHP7 and as fast as HHVM (Facebook’s PHP interpreter)
Building Contractor Roath Renovations needed a brand and online image to match their reputation for outstanding work and craftsmanship.
Roath Renovations approached us to design a brand and online image that would showcase their services and works.Their one page site can easily be expanded in the future and now forms part of the marketing strategy that we are delivering for them.In addition to the site, we have provided logos and artwork for branding of the vans and work-wear.
Refresh of online vehicle catalogue site, with complete redesign of data structure and dynamic content in order to keep the site up to date with minimal administration effort.
Vansdirect.co.uk is the UK’s largest independent retailer of new commercial vehicles and sell 100’s of new vans each month, meeting the needs of 1000’s of customers across the UK.Having built and maintained the existing site for a number of years, we were excited by the opportunity to work with VansDirect again to refresh the site to meet their new business objectives:
Improve SEO by promoting vehicle ranges
Mobile experience to match desktop
Simplify inventory and pricing management within the CMS
Use dynamic data to ensure site content is consistent
Using the existing site as a baseline, we worked closely with Vans Direct’s design and marketing teams to understand all the desired changes. This started with a complete redesign of the data structure, allowing both bulk upload of vehicle specifications and pricing from spreadsheet.Another powerful use of structured data is the ability to automatically pull data within pages when needed, such as the vehicle dimensions and pricing.
A dedicated Project Manager supported and coordinated development and design activity for Vans Direct and GorillaHub teams and progress reports kept the stakeholders informed on status, progress and risks throughout the project.
CSV data import to reduce inventory management effort
Dynamic content throughout site
Structured data hierarchy based on manufacturer and type
Stitch Design’s online store provides each school with a bespoke themed shop, product display and ordering options. With a high rate of site changes they rely on GorillaHub’s technical expertise with on-demand development support.
Stitch Design is a school clothing and workwear supplier that provides full access to its entire product range through the website. Participating schools have a branded website carrying a predefined project range and parents order and purchase entirely online.
The site is made up of a number of mini e-commerce stores for each school, presented on user login. Automated inventory and pricing upload reduces manual effort and a built in order amalgamation process batches orders for delivery.GorillaHub supports Stitch’s operation as their technical partner. Site issues or change requests are communicated through our ServiceDesk and following review, an estimate is returned for approvalPer-request pricing allows Stitch to prioritise requests and track costs and all communications are centralised, providing a clear picture of web development requests and progress at any time.
Our client wanted a contemporary design and PDF upload functions for menu and offers upload to ensure site content remains current. We delivered a fresh new site with bespoke WordPress CMS development
Daisys In The Park operate two cafes in Pinner and Radlett and approached us to give them a more professional online appearance.
We provided a number of concepts before the client selected a very contemporary design using quality photography to showcase their locations and menu.
The client required a number of features designed to make the site easy to administer and we built a number of custom PDF upload features into each page. This makes it very simple to upload menus and offers to ensure the site content remains current.
We’re honoured to have been asked to provide the website for the Holyport Fair 2017.
As a Windsor and Maidenhead based digital consultancy we are more than happy to do our bit for the local community and related charities.
Close to Windsor castle the small village of Holyport represents the quintessential English village. Established in 1946 the Holyport fair is much loved local event and a central part of the summer calendar. Whether sipping Pimms on the green and enjoying the hog-roast, taking part in the tug-o-war, watching the dog show or admiring the classic cars – there’s something for everyone.