Google introduces a 'Disavow Links' tool

Disavow Linx - Sorry I couldn't resist it!!We have always warned against some of the “Get your site to the top of Google” SEO offers, and this week saw an example as why this advice is sound. One of the ways that less reputable SEO companies have worked their “magic” in recent years has been to build vast networks of links to spammy and non relevant content, and then to link these into their clients websites. In the short term this ploy worked well and people saw their sites rising up the Google rankings. But Google started to realise that this was producing skewed search results and with recent algorithm changes, Google have been focusing on link quality rather than quantity and have been heavily penalising sites that have used this technique. As a result, some sites have slid down the rankings, or even disappeared all together! The problem is that once these inbound links to your site are in place, it can be very difficult, or even impossible, to get rid of them! To enable website owners to get themselves out of this mess, this week, Google launched a Disavow Links Tool. This tool let’s you tell Google to ignore links from spammy sites that are hurting your search listings. I am sure that no one who reads our blog post will have fallen into this trap, but if you suspect that your search listings are being affected by spammy links, feel free to get in touch. We would be happy to help you address the situation.  

How many passengers, a BSA Brain Teaser….

Imagine the scenario, you are in London and jump aboard an iconic, Routemaster bus. Climbing upstairs you witness a fight going on. Being a right-minded type, not to mention a black belt in Judo who can take care of yourself, you wade in and calm everything down. Talking to the 2 combatants (who happened, by pure coincidence, to be called Barak and Mitt) you discover it all started over a mathematical debate. This was the issue: Barak insisted that there was a better than 50:50 chance that 2 people on the bus celebrated their birthday on the same date and Mitt just wasn’t having any of it and he was letting Barak know this! As it happens, Barak was correct! How many people must there have been on the bus (before you got on) (by the way, Barak was ignoring people born on 29 February) Answer next time  

Stop form spam and read books

Form spam (from spammers who trawl the net looking for and auto filling in contact and comment forms)  is an inevitable part of running a website nowadays. If you have received blank contact forms or forms filled with junk & links, you know what I am talking about! However, there are some great tools for helping to get rid of this nuisance. None are perfect, but they will definitely reduce the problem. One of the most widely used is the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). These are the (sometimes annoying) systems which ask you to decipher distorted words & enter them into a text box. The logic is that this task is relatively easy for humans, but difficult for automated systems. One very useful implementation of this system is the Google reCAPTCHA tool, which is a free captcha generator/processor that can easily be incorporated into any form. But, as I learned this week, this system has an interesting secondary purpose. It is assisting in the digitisation of works of literature. To digitise books, a system called OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is used to recognise the scanned shapes of letters and convert them into text. OCR is not perfect, and some words are not identified correctly. To address this issue, Google feed these words into their Captcha system, and ask users to decifer them. You can  find out more about the process here. So remember, they may be slightly annoying, but at least you are helping to make more and more literature available on line,  and it seems to work! If you would like some help using implementing the system on your site, get in touch.

Mailchimp Workshops Deliver Results

Last week BSA Marketing launched a series of workshops focused around the MailChimp email marketing platform. Run in conjunction with the Tameside Business Family, the hands-on workshops aim to support people who are looking to add email to their marketing kit bag. MailChimp is a great tool, but like SEO, PPC and all the rest, it is just that; a tool, a means to an end. To get maximum benefit, these tools should be used as part of a solid, sustainable and joined-up marketing plan, with well defined objectives. As well as running through the key technical aspects of using MailChimp, the seminars  offer practical advice on actually using email marketing properly and appropriately. The aim is to ensure that participants email marketing campaigns are sustainable and deliver real results for their businesses. Feedback from the first in the series was very positive with all the participants rating the seminar as “Good” or “Very Good”. Here are just some of the comments from delegates:

  • Helpful advisors who answered every question.
  • Happy with what I learned on the course and looking forward to the next one.
  • Found it very useful for hands on experience + someone there to answer questions.
  • We have found the programme to be very well presented
  • Questions and queries were dealt with efficiently and confidently.
  • Excellent.
  • Excellent all round.

If you missed this series, don’t worry, we are currently planning more dates at venues in Tameside and across the Peak District, so watch this space and be sure to follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn and we will keep you posted as soon as new dates are announced.          

Are your email campaigns getting through?

When implementing an email marketing campaign deliverability is key and whilst design, copywriting and testing can go a long way ensuring that your campaign does not fall foul of  spam filters, the key question is “Does your email get through to the recipients inbox?”

On an individual basis this is virtually impossible to assess, but in-box monitoring goes a long way to measuring the effectiveness of your campaign in this respect.

With in-box monitoring, we add email addresses supplied by the relevant providers to your list and monitor which of these are delivered to the in-box. We can then use this information to assess the proportion of your campaign that is actually delivered to recipients in-boxes. It can also be used to identify deliverability issues that were not picked up by spam testing. We monitor the following in our campaigns:

  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • AOL
  • Hotmail
  • Apple
  • Hotmail.co.uk
  • Yahoo.co.uk
  • BTInternet
  • Exchange
  • Google Apps Email
  • Outlook.com
  • Lotus

Although this process can not identify whether individual emails reach their intended recipient, it does go along way to providing detailed information on the deliverability of your campaigns right through to the in-box. We can add in-box monitoring to any campaign run by BSA Marketing. For more info, please get in touch.

Not all web hosts are created equal!

How much do you know about your web hosting service? Web hosting is an essential element of all online marketing yet many people simply take their hosting for granted. If the site can be seen that’s good enough. Not all web hosting is the same! It is undeniable that a site that loads quickly will be seen by more people. How many times have you clicked away from a website because it is taking too long to load? Let’s compare 2 types of hosting (both offered by BSA)

  • Hosting on Shared Servers
  • Hosing on a Virtual Private Server

The vast majority of websites (probably including yours) are hosted on Shared Servers. The chart below highlights one key difference between these two hosting scenarios.

There is a 3rd option hosting on a dedicated server (also offered by BSA), but this tends to be overkill for most SME businesses (and unnecessarily expensive!)

Hosting on Shared Servers

Sites are hosted on a server shared by many other websites (over 1000 is not uncommon). This offers an inexpensive and (assuming you choose a good host) reliable hosting environment. However there can also be risks as you have no control over the other sites on the server. This can lead to unacceptable levels of down time for your website, but more commonly leads to the  reduction in website page load performance – as shown in the chart above. A second potential issue is that inappropriate behaviour and/or content on other sites hosted on your server can lead to that server being blacklisted. Although this is rarely a problem for the UK, we have had issues where target audiences for the site are overseas (eg China and some Middle Eastern countries).

Hosting on a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

Virtual Private Servers are still shared but BSA Marketing has 100% control over the sites hosted. We guarantee a maximum of 10 sites on any server so you can be sure that server performance for your site will not be overloaded. As all sites on our VPS servers belong to BSA clients, we also have access to the content of these sites which removes the issue of blacklisting. This is praticularly beneficial if you wish your site to have international reach. The flip side of this is that VPS hosting is more expensive (but still only around 15% of the cost of a dedicated server with virtually all of the benefits) Where used appropriately the additional costs are easy to justify on the basis of improved reliability and speed. If you want to look at whether VPS hosting can deliver real benefit to your business, give us a call

Strategic partnership reinforces joined-up marketing approach

We have always said that the best marketing is a joined-up process rather than an isolated event and a new development at BSA Marketing helps us to make our services more joined-up than ever. We are pleased to announce our strategic partnership with Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media and Pay Per Click specialists Orange Tree Digital headed up by Michael Wignall. With over 15 years digital marketing experience, Orange Tree Digital are ideally positioned to compliment the marketing, email marketing and web development services offered by BSA. Orange Tree Digital have recently opened an office with us in Glossop Gasworks so not only are our services extremely complimentary, we can really offer a one-stop-shop for your all your marketing services:

  • Marketing planning
  • Email marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Pay Per Click
  • Website Development
  • WordPress Websites
  • Web data management systems
  • E-commerce websites
  • Social Media

If you would like to make your marketing even more joined-up, give us a call