Website Security - 5th May 2017

Website security is more important than ever with more hackers & scammers using all kinds of dangerous methods to steal data, redirect website traffic too dangerous websites or even break them which can ruin businesses. Fortunately, there are a countless number of measures you can take to fully properly yourself regardless of whether you have a one-page website or a 400 page eCommerce website.

The most simple thing you can do is make sure your website was built by a reputable company as poorly written code can pose a massive security risk by allowing scammers to steal data or inject dangerous code. It doesn't matter how much other security you apply to your website if the code uses old deprecated methods and is poorly written it will never be secure.
This generally only applies to content management sites and eCommerce websites.

Another simple measure you can take is by purchasing something called an SSL certificate, it stands for 'Secure Socket Layer' and encrypts any data that is sent from the server.

In layman’s terms, it provides the green padlock with HTTPS you see at the top.

When you fill out a form and press send, the data is secured with an encryption and no one can access it other than the server the website is on.

As a plus SSL certificates are also a ranking factor for Google, sites with them generally are seen as more legitimate and as such Google prioritises them above non-secure sites not to forget the more professional look.

There are multiple different types of SSL available but your hosting provider should be able to inform you in more detail about these and which one is best suited to your website.

If your website uses something called a CMS or 'Content Management System' (somewhere to log in and make changes) then make sure you use a strong password using alphanumeric & special characters to make as hard as possible for people to gain access. For example 'simple' may become '$imP!e' as this is much harder to guess.

Again make sure to not use this elsewhere, keep all your password unique and change them every few months. Avoid writing them down or storing them in an obvious file on your PC or laptop.

Do you have a contact form on your website? Let's say you do, does it have a captcha of any kind?

A captcha is something which only humans can complete, it may say 'repeat the numbers and letters shown in the above box'.

Not having one opens your email inbox to spam, we recommend Google's reCaptcha as it's incredibly secure and easy to complete if it's your first time on the website.

If it's not your first visit Google's reCaptcha will ask you to tick boxes or complete some other kind of verification to avoid spam.

Again if your website utilises some kind of user based area either account or comments section, ensure you use a captcha to stop spam accounts from being created or advertisements in the comments section.

If you are unsure about any of the above or would like to know more HWS would be happy to assist you, email us at info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk or call now on 01423 313230.


The Importance of Website Statistics - 8th February 2017

How well is your website performing? Do you have up to date statistics on your website? If not you are missing out on important information regarding your website and its’ visitors.

If you don’t use Google Analytics or other statistics software such as AWStats, how can you tell where your website traffic is coming from and what pages people are dropping off?

Using statistics you can tell which pages on your website are bringing you business, and whether or not people spend time on your website.

You can also find which searches people used and how many people accessed your website via your social media accounts.

All in all, it is important to know how your website is performing and how the performance can be improved, and statistics can aid with this a lot.


How Much Should a Website Cost? - 27th January 2017

A website can do many things. They can have the ability for you to make changes to the website's text, update images or even add products to sell. Every feature requires a different amount of work and therefore comes with a different cost.

Different companies value different features at different costs so quotes for the same specification can have a wide range, it is totally dependant on the company and not the quality of work produced.

This article gives a very basic overview of typical pricing and is a good place to help set a rough budget for the work you want to do.

For a more specific quotation, call Harrogate Web Solutions on 01423 313230 and arrange a meeting to discuss your specification.


Is Your Website Mobile Friendly? - 24th January 2017

Last April, Harrogate Web Solutions explained what a mobile friendly website is and why it is important to have a website that works on every device.

What if your website is not mobile friendly and you don’t want to upgrade it? Maybe the cost of upgrading is too much, but in actual fact, the long-term financial disadvantages hugely outweigh the short-term costs in most situations.

It is important to know where most of your traffic comes from – tools such as Google Analytics or AWStats offer this for free. How many of your visitors come from mobile or tablet devices?

If a high percentage of users are not from mobile devices, it is because search engines such as Google are valuing other websites ahead of your own as users can easily use them on their phones.

If a high percentage of users are from mobile devices there is a good chance, if your website is not mobile friendly, that they will be frustrated by having to pinch to zoom to read text or click links, which reduces the chances of them contacting you.

If you need your website revamping or a mobile site attaching, please call Harrogate Web Solutions on 01423 313230.


Do I Own My Website? - 8th November 2016

How much do you actually know about your website? Today Harrogate Web Solutions will go through some questions you should be asking yourself about your website.


Do I Own My Website?

This might seem like a trick question, but it is surprising how many companies don’t own their website. Services such as Wix and 1&1 allow you to build a website for low fees, but if you wanted to change hosting, it would prove difficult and expensive, especially as you don’t own it.


Can I Transfer My Website Anywhere?

Leading on from the previous question, being able to transfer your website to an alternative hosting company is incredibly easy or difficult depending on the website and domain you have. For example, moving a hand built (php) website on a .co.uk domain name could take as little as 5 minutes for the files, and 24 hours for the domain name.

Conversely, a WordPress or Magento website on a .com domain name takes at least a week to transfer the domain name, and due to the huge amount of files, at least 2 hours to transfer and setup the website.


Who Has My Domain Name And Who Is It Registered To?

Wherever possible, Harrogate Web Solutions register domain names to the client who bought them, despite paying the renewals each year. However do you know who your domain name is registered to? Ensuring it is you makes moving in the future exponentially easier.


Are My Details Correct On The Internet?

This point expands away from just your website. Are your details correct on Facebook, Google Maps, your business cards even? The smallest typo could spell big potential losses due to people not knowing how to contact you.


How Many People Actually Look At My Website?

Analytics are unbelievably important when it comes to improving anything, your website included. If you don’t know how well your website is performing how can you know what pages are or aren’t pulling their weight?


As the world embraces the internet more and more, having control of your own domains and keeping details up to date is a necessity.





The Importance Of Client Testimonials - 19th October 2016

With more and more people searching for services online as opposed to ‘traditional’ means such as phone books, SEO becomes increasingly important. One widely known component of SEO is updating content which many people choose to do via a blog. Another useful method is by uploading client testimonials to your website.

Blogs can provide interesting content for your website’s visitors, but testimonials also give your potential clients the insight into how well your business operates, and the client satisfaction you provide.

Currently many businesses choose to showcase testimonials on platforms such as Google Maps and/or Facebook, but don’t have them on their website. Having testimonials on your website is extremely useful for the website as people will stay on the website longer than usual and read them.

However, one thing that we have noticed over the years is that no reviews is better than old reviews. If you can’t upload them on a regular basis, potential clients will more than likely ask themselves why the last one was dated as last month or year. This can cause potential clients to lose interest in your company almost instantly.

An alternative to having testimonials directly on your website is to have them vetted through an organisation such as the BestOf Harrogate. Organisations such as the BestOf promote the best local businesses, and one way they do that is with vetted client testimonials. You can read ours here.

Overall having testimonials shows potential clients why they should chose you over one of your competitors.

If you liked our testimonials, please call us on 01423 313230 to enquire.





3 New ECommerce Websites Going Live Soon! - 28th September 2016

Its been a busy couple of months at Harrogate Web Solutions and now we are delighted to to announce the imminent arrival of 3 new eCommerce websites.

Watch this space for more updates!





New Website Live For The NHS - 1st August 2016

Harrogate Web Solutions are very proud to launch the brand new website for Lingwell Croft Surgery in Leeds.

The new website is a full CMS website and can be found here.

If you would like a new website, whether it is a CMS, E-Commerce or Portfolio website, please call Harrogate Web Solutions on 01423 313230.





What are Cookies? - 28th June 2016

Cookies have always seemed a grey area to many people, and since the cookie law passed in 2011 they have seemingly disappeared, but what actually is a cookie?


A cookie is a small text file that stores information in your browser (such as chrome, safari or edge) that contains data about

  1. your stay on a website + returning visits

  2. data entered into a website (such as log in details for that particular website)

  3. data about websites you have visited (this is usually for advertising through Google AdWords)

Unfortunately some websites took cookies too far and used them to gather data from web users, so the cookie law was passed so people would know if cookies are in use on a website, and what their purpose on that website is.

The law doesn’t state how a website should notify the user about the use of cookies, only that in the privacy policy of the website it tells the user what they are and how the website uses them (see ours here). Harrogate Web Solutions prefer to ensure the user knows what is being stored in their browser rather than a tiny, unnoticeable, link in the footer. To confirm users remember, every 30 days the banner is reset and will be shown.

If you have any further questions about cookies please ask, we will be more than happy help.





Harrogate Web Solutions and the Local Community - 16th June 2016

As a business who cares about the local community, Harrogate Web Solutions are always proud to build websites for businesses in and around Harrogate. Today we launched a website for a local company who really makes a difference in peoples lives.


The Brain Collective

The Brain Collective are Neurotherapists based in Windsor House. They help people with all kinds of issues such as Autism, Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia. They make real changes to peoples lives, and we would really appreciate if you would show your support by visiting their website.


1940's Day

We are also looking forward to this Sunday’s 1940’s day in the Valley Gardens organised by Friends Of Valley Gardens who we proudly support. Hopefully we will see you there between 10:30am and 5:00pm!





Hosting Upgrades - 15th June 2016

This week our hosting company announced major upgrades to their servers at no extra cost to their customers. This means that anyone who hosts through us will get better website performance and loading speeds.


What this means for our customers

This only means good things, as search engines take loading speeds of websites into account in their ranking algorithms. Also if a website loads quickly, a better user experience is offered, which inclines people tend to stay on the website for longer as opposed to bouncing off instantly.

It is important to note that page speed isn’t the most important ranking factor, but it is very important for user experience.

If you would like to take advantage of the hosting upgrades, please call 01423 313230.





Which Social Networks Should Your Business Be Using? - 2nd June 2016

With there being so many Social Networks around it can be hard to decide which are worth your businesses time and which ones not to bother using. Harrogate Web Solutions today will explain the pros and cons of some of the major Social Networks and whether or not your business should be using them.


Facebook

Pros: Facebook is by far the biggest Social Network based on the number of users it has, and as they all ‘like’ things, Facebook collects the data to accurately recommend you to potential customers.

Cons: Must have a personal account to create the business page.

Summary: You should seriously consider using Facebook for your business.


Twitter

Pros: Instantaneous, updates occur in real time and users react quickly too.

Cons: As a micro-blogging platform, there is a character limit on posts. Text posts tend to go unnoticed, images are recommended to catch peoples attention.

Summary: Twitter is the network we recommend the highest due to the real-time updates, so many potential customers are available on demand.


Instagram

Pros: Instagram is great for showing the personal side of a business, and is a useful tool for showing off products.

Cons: Without interesting content you will be most likely ignored. Also content posted to Instagram must be posted from a smartphone.

Summary: If you have regular, interesting content to share, Instagram is recommended.


LinkedIn

Pros: Primarily for businesses trading with other businesses, and it can create connections with other businesses very well.

Cons: Not great for generating sales if you don’t sell to other businesses.

Summary: Usually a LinkedIn account is useful, but not essential for businesses who sell only to the general public.


Google+

Pros: Integrated with Google Maps, which benefits SEO greatly. Also integration with Google Hangouts which can be used for webinars or presentations.

Cons: Similar to Facebook in how it works, but with less users.

Summary: Google+ is recommended simply for the integration with Google Maps, posting updates is up to you, try it and if you get a response keep going.


YouTube

Pros: Worlds largest video sharing platform. Was also recently integrated with Google+, so webinars/presentations can be uploaded or livestreamed to YouTube via Google+. YouTube can also be used to show off new products in use.

Cons: If you have no content to share in a video format it wouldn’t benefit your business.

Summary: If you create webinars or have interesting content to post, we would recommend a YouTube account.


Pinterest

Pros: Similar to Instagram in that you can share photos, not only that but you can create albums (‘boards’) of photos, however unlike Instagram you can link to content that isn’t uploaded direct to Pinterest. For example you can ‘pin’ a YouTube video to a board.

Cons: Pinterest requires a lot of work than the other Social Networks mentioned to get a response.

Summary: If you have the time available for regular pinning and repinning, Pinterest can be successful for you.


Closing words

It is important to note for all of the Social Networks you chose to use that content you upload is relevant and interesting, spamming followers with boring content or posts that either paint you in a bad light or is irrelevant to your business is generally ignored and could harm your brand’s reputation.


Social Media is becoming more and more important for how brands are grown, so it is important that businesses learn to use it to its’ full potential.
If you enjoyed this blog please feel free to like our Facebook page, and follow our Twitter and Instagram accounts.





The Importance of User Friendliness - 26th May 2016

Microsoft came under fire recently about their change to the notification that appears every time a Windows 7 or 8.1 user is on their PC. This is of course referring to the notification asking you to upgrade your PC to Windows 10.

Windows 10 Upgrade Notification Box

At a glance, nothing seems wrong, however if you take a closer look there are only options for upgrading and not ‘no thanks’ or ‘later’ buttons. The more controversial part however is that if you decided to press the cross in the corner to close the notification, the upgrade was scheduled anyway!


This has obviously caused a big stir on the internet, which is highlighting just how important it is to ensure user-friendliness with any product on or offline.


How to ensure user-friendliness

Below are the steps Harrogate Web Solutions follow when ensuring a website is user-friendly:

  • Easy to navigate about

  • Buttons/links should be far from each other, so people on mobile devices don't accidentally click the wrong one

  • The website should be accessible to all users, including blind, deaf or elderly users

  • The website should be fast to load - slow loading websites put off users and they will tend to bounce off if the website takes more than a few seconds to load

  • The website should work well on every browser – this one is often overlooked by many people, however many people use different browsers on different Operating Systems which can cause the websites to look differently


"My website isn't user friendly"

If you would like to contact us about designing a new website for your business, please call 01423 313230 or email info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk.





Why SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Is Important For Your Business - 19th May 2016

When you want to find the answer to a query you have by using Google or Bing, how often do you stray onto the second or third page? This is why good SEO is important, being on the first page of a search will hugely increase the amount of clicks your website gets.


Why not just use paid clicks?

Pay per click is very useful, as it can give you the top 3 position on a Search Engine Results Page, however it is no substitute for good SEO. In the long run it is expensive and will only get you displayed for certain keywords, as opposed to many with good SEO. This could lose you potential sales.


Unoptimised website

If you have a website without any SEO, it will generate little to no hits as it will be very difficult to find, which just makes the website useless until you do something about it.
If you would like to boost your online presence, please call 01423 313230 or email info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk.





What Your Website Can Do - 11th May 2016

Does your website bring you business? Or is it just sitting on the web, looking good but ultimately not doing anything?


What should my website do for me?

Your website is very much your shop front on the internet, upon seeing it people will judge it, then either spend time on it or leave, depending on how relevant it is to what they’re looking for, how quickly it loads and if it works well (and looks good) on the device they are on.


Your website shouldn’t just be a standalone entity however, it should be optimised to work with search engines, so you are able to be found for relevant searches for what your business does. This can be done by utilising the meta description and keywords tags, and by properly setting up the XML sitemap for Google and Bing webmaster tools.


When done properly, search engines will be able to index your website a bit easier, and can display like this for searches of your business name:

indexed website

What can my website do for me?

As mentioned above, websites aren’t just for show, they can be used to keep in contact with clients or show off the latest product you’ve released.


One of the most common things that we’ve been adding to both new and existing websites are blog pages. They work really well with websites as they keep the content updated and give readers a reason to come back to the website (if the content is interesting enough to them).


Almost as common as blogs are gallery pages that can be updated by the owner. These are especially effective for companies like ATI Kitchen House and J & J Kitchen, as they have products to show off that will entice readers to convert into customers.


Another thing that is becoming more and more common is adding the functionality of being able to purchase products off websites. These websites are more expensive generally than normal however allow people who wouldn’t normally be able to get to your location to become customers.


Behind all of the above examples are CMSs (Content Management Systems). Templates such as Wordpress and Joomla provide CMSs for free however a big flaw with these is if you can break the entire website by accident if you make a mistake. That is why Harrogate Web Solutions prefer to custom build their CMSs, as they can only edit what the client wants to edit, and can’t break the website if a mistake is made.


That isn’t everything you can do with your website, the new website for Harrogate District Swimming Club allows SMS updates to be sent from the website, and Restaurant 92 can send out newsletters using their website.


If anything in this blog interested you, please call Harrogate Web Solutions on 01423 313230, or email info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk today.





Why You Need Reliable Web Hosting - 5th May 2016

Recently one of the largest web hosting providers in the UK accidentally deleted websites off 67 of it’s servers (source). Fortunately many were restored, but the event served as a wake up call to many business owners that they need to keep a close eye on their data, as even the most trusted sources can occasionally encounter problems.


Backups

Creating backups for websites (or any files on or off a computer!) has always been important, however unfortunately many people hold the attitude of “It won’t happen to me” or “I’ll do it ‘later’”. By not backing up any of your data you are putting yourself at risk – will you remember the contents of every document if it were to be deleted?


Whose responsibility is it to backup my website?

If your hosting company promises to back up the contents of your website, it is their responsibility, however at Harrogate Web Solutions we still prefer to keep constant backups ourselves to give you that extra piece of mind.


Whether or not your web designers choose to keep a backup of your website, you should know where any backups are held and how often they are updated.


If you are unhappy with your current web host, or simply want to switch to our UK based hosting company, please call 01423 313230 or email info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk today.





Productive Week! - 18th April 2016

Here at Harrogate Web Solutions we had a very productive week last week - not one but three new CMS websites went live!


The first of the three to live is Harrogate District Swimming Club - a voluntary association which exists to promote the enjoyment of competitive swimming in and around Harrogate. Click here to visit the new website.


Second to go live was HPC Recruitment - a cosmetic and beauty recruitment company based in Harrogate with over 20 years experience in the industry. Click here to visit the new website.


Finally it was the turn of ATI Kitchen House - a versatile kitchen designer in Ilkley who blend a mix of traditional cabinetry and modern contemporary furniture to create design solutions for all spaces. Click here to visit their website.





Mobile Friendly Websites - 8th April 2016

Over half of all search engine queries are done on mobile devices. This means it is essential to have a website that works on any and every device.


Why should your website be mobile friendly?

If your website is mobile friendly, search engines don’t penalise your ranking – this makes being found by new people much easier. When someone visits your website, they find it easy to navigate and are more likely to spend time browsing the whole website.


If your website is not mobile friendly, search engines reduce your rankings significantly, due to the growing number of mobile searches. Users will also find the website harder to navigate, which will irritate them, which ultimately leads to them leaving the website quickly.


How can I tell if my website is mobile friendly?

Google and Bing each provide free tools so you can find out if your website is mobile friendly.

Google mobile friendly test

Bing mobile friendly test




What next?

You can either:
- Attach a mobile website to your existing website,
- Or revamp your existing websites
Attaching a mobile website to your current website is the cheaper option, however if you choose to revamp your website, it will work on every device, and will be more up to date. You should NEVER have to pay extra for a website to work on different devices.

It is imperative for your business that your website is mobile friendly as mobile searches continue to grow. For more information please email info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk or call 01423 313 230.





Google AdWords Changes - 26th February 2016

Last Friday (19th February 2016) Google updated the way its AdWords worked; adverts on the right hand sidebar have been removed. To counter the change, the number of adverts at the top of the page have been increased to a maximum of 4, and the bottom to a maximum of 3.


What Does This Mean?

Upon hearing the news, you may wonder about what this means for your AdWords campaigns? The competition for the top of the page will increase for many keywords – this will surely push up the cost per click of these more popular keywords. Maybe even more adverts will appear on Yahoo and Bing if the Google AdWords gets too expensive.


Why Have Google Done This?

Many people may wonder why Google made this decision – surely it would reduce their overall revenue? Along with the above point, the number of mobile searches is ever increasing, and earlier this year they overtook desktop searches (source). Smartphones don’t show the right sidebar so as smartphone searches continue to increase, the AdWords there would surely become more and more irrelevant.


The Benefits

For the desktop and tablet users, the right sidebar isn't leaving – Google Maps for business is remaining along with Google shopping. This will hugely benefit e-commerce websites who use Google shopping, as their products will be shown higher up the page.


The Problem

The main problem with the change is that organic search results will be pushed down a further spot on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) at least. This means that SEO is more important than ever to prevent your website from being buried under other results.

To improve your SEO, please email: info@harrogatewebsolutions.co.uk or call 01423 313 230.

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