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Creating a strong online presence

  • By Alexis Kaliszewski
  • 07 Jun, 2017

When thinking about marketing your business, your online presence can be pushed down the list, especially if it’s something you have little knowledge of or time to get to grips with. However, presenting your company online, in various forms, is now one of the easiest and most effective ways to generate new business.

Get a website that wows!
You don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to get a great website. For example, Cotswold Web offer affordable websites for small and medium businesses that won’t break the budget. However, it’s also true that you get what you pay for, if you don’t invest enough. Low-cost or free websites usually produce second-rate results – with limited functionality, third-party advertisements and dire SEO rankings.

These days, customers find suppliers online and then make a judgement about that company’s capabilities through how they present themselves. Is your website clear? Is the branding consistent? Do you have spelling errors, too many or too few words ? Does your website tell your customers what they need to know to make an order or booking? And does it stand out from the crowd?

Your website must also have strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to ensure it ranks highly on search engines such as Google or Yahoo. This means including terms in your content that your customers use to find your business, and that metadata (the backend stuff) also reflects those keywords. So, when Joe Bloggs types ‘web design company Cotswolds’ into a search bar, the best web design websites come up top of the list. (It’s a bit more complicated than this, but you get the gist!)

Investing a bit of time and money in your website will pay dividends when you realise that customers find it easy to do business with you, and so return for more or recommend you to colleagues.

Get to know your customers online


Social media is powerful, you only have to glimpse at any app to see the influence it can have on big topics such as politics. Most of us find having some kind of online profile whether that’s through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ useful to keep in touch with others, and, as a business, having a profile is just as important.

The beauty of social media is that it offers you direct communication with potential customers. You can use your pages to engage people in thoughts and ideas, special offers and promotions, and offer advice and expertise about a latest product or innovation. There is so much you can say online, and people want to hear it! Providing consistent and interesting content directly to people who are already interested in what you offer will only help your business to grow. Social media can also be used at minimal cost, so transforming enquiries into orders can be a big gain for very little input.

It can feel easy to be intimidated by the sheer volume of online platforms and data that are available; however, a simple starting point would be to set aside time each month to plan your social media communications calendar, as you might do for work you have going through.

Things to consider might be:


What is big news in our industry this month?
What pages of my website can we promote?
What words of wisdom can we share?
What new clients do we have?
What work have we done recently?

If you’re dipping your toe into marketing through social media, it’s a good idea to choose perhaps one or two platforms initially to get to grips with how it works and establishing a routine. And, if you’re really too busy, you can get someone to help. Cotswold Web offer advice and support with all aspects of SEO and social media marketing – whether that’s getting you started or maintaining your online communications long-term.

Doing business online needn’t be difficult, and any company can benefit from it, if it’s done well.

To find out more, contact hello@cotswoldweb.co.uk

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By Alexis Kaliszewski 27 Oct, 2017

It’s just six months until the biggest piece of European data protection legislation in 20 years is introduced in the UK. And it will affect us all. We know that lots of our customers are already preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and as a web design agency we are too.

But are you ready for GDPR?

What is GDPR?

In the wake of breaches of personal data, affecting companies of all sizes, and the rise in online crime, GDPR will place greater restrictions on what personal data companies can hold.

It gives people more control over their own data held by companies. They will have the right to access, correct or delete any personal information a company has stored. People need to give their explicit consent for their data to be used and companies will then need to save this consent.

Will it affect my business?

If you are a company operating within the EU (this applies in the UK regardless of Brexit) which handles or stores any personal information, these new rules will apply to you. It doesn’t matter what sector you work in or if you are a multi-national or a one-man band, you need to comply.

So if you email customers or potential customers as part of your marketing, they now need to agree to your emails before you send them. This is likely to mean you have a smaller email list to work from and may have to work harder or differently to generate sales leads.

As web designers, we have responsibilities not just to our own company, but to our customers. We have to make sure your website meets the requirements of GDPR before you sign it off and it goes live. That’s why, if you have any concerns, it makes sense to work with a responsible and forward-thinking company like Cotswold Web to make sure your website is compliant with GDPR.

What if we don’t comply?

The penalties for non-compliance are severe – up to 4% of a company’s annual turnover, or 20 million euros, whichever is higher. You don’t need us to tell you that that sort of figure could be enough to wipe some businesses out altogether.

What do we need to do now?

With around six months until the implementation date of 25th May 2018, now is the time to take steps to ensure you have everything in order ready for GDPR.

The first step is to understand exactly what data you hold, where you hold it and who has access to it. Employees at all levels who use customers’ personal data need to understand the new rules and exactly what they mean for the company. Ignorance is no defence.

Once you know what data you do hold, the next step is to update your data protection policies in the light of the new regulations. This should include a system on dealing with any breaches, which must be reported within 72 hours under the new legislation. Companies should have a data protection officer, who has an understanding of data across the business.

 

GDPR may seem like a huge task right now, but non-compliance is not an option. You need to ensure the long-term safety of not only your business, but your clients’ personal information.

You’ve still got time to get your systems in order and the sooner you get to work on it, the sooner you will be protected.

 

If you need any support with GDPR compliance, please talk to us about how we can help.

By Alexis Kaliszewski 17 Oct, 2017
You may have noticed an increasing number of websites recently with an addressstarting with ‘https’. What is it for? And should you have it too?

The answer is yes for two big reasons – it’s more secure and Google loves it!

The addition of the s onto http simply stands for ‘secure’. When a website is securedby an SSL certificate – meaning the connection is secure and sensitive data isprotected – HTTPS appears in the website’s URL.

When a visitor to your HTTPS site looks at your web address, they will see apadlock, giving them the reassurance that their information is safe.
Using HTTPS means your website is authenticated and visitors can feel confidentthat their data and privacy are being protected. It provides encryption when sendingor receiving data, such as credit card details. This protects against theft of personalinformation, eavesdropping by less reputable organisations or tampering with thecontents of the communication.

A visitor or customer to an HTTPS website can feel pretty confident that they arecommunicating with the site they want to communicate with, rather than an impostortrying to steal their personal information or bank details.

Once upon a time HTTPS was used mainly by companies taking secure paymentsover the internet, but it is increasingly becoming the norm for all websites.

The websites we design at Cotswold Web come with SSL as standard. So whether you’re going for a small brochure site or a large ecommerce site, you can be sure that security is at the top of our agenda.

And if security isn’t enough to make you want to switch to HTTPS, maybe Google will?
We all know that our websites are worth next to nothing without Google. If your site doesn’t rank highly on Google searches, nobody is ever going to find your business or your products.

Google wants to protect its own integrity, as well as the safety of the internet and its users. So when users connect to a site through its search engine, Google wants to know that the site is going to be secure. And the best way to ensure security is through a HTTPS site. The knock-on effect of this is that HTTPS sites will rank higher in searches than plain old http.

Ultimately, Google would like to see everyone on the web using HTTPS as standard to keep us all safe on the internet. Making the switch really is a no-brainer.

If you haven’t done it yet, what are you waiting for?
By Alexis Kaliszewski 07 Jun, 2017

Helping businesses create a strong online presence is something we think we’re rather good at, and this was recognised by Kirsty Muir, one of the founders of Business & Innovation Magazine at NK Media Ltd in Cirencester.

Business & Innovation Magazine is a print and online resource for businesses in the South-West region, covering Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, North Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Its aim is to get businesses networking to make best use of local resources and expertise while also supporting the region’s economy.

Kirsty approached us to create and maintain their new website . The brief was to present Business & Innovation Magazine as the best business magazine online, as well as in print.

We were inspired by both Kirsty's and Nicky's enthusiasm for getting local businesses working better together and we created a website that looks professional but also has a fresh and fun edge. We love creating new websites for all our clients, but there’s something about working for a new start-up that is just so exciting.

The magazine has lots going on to interest all kinds of businesses. Why not take a look at the website, or even sign up for the print magazine, which at just £28 a year is fantastic value for money?

See: https://www.businessinnovationmag.co.uk/

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