The Cookie You Don’t Want a Bite Of

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We accept ‘cookies’ on the internet every day. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may be wondering why you haven’t yet received a packet of Oreos from every single website you’ve visited – I know I am.

And that’s because the concept of cookies aren’t explained to us. Okay, so we know they’re something to do with websites, and data and the internet, but what do they actually do? Why do websites have to check if we’re okay with accepting them first?

Today, a member of our technical team here at Zebra Internet Services gave us a cookie masterclass, and I think it’s worth sharing…

He’s One Smart Cookie…

It all started in 1994, when some bloke named Lou Montulli at Netscape Communications decided that there needed to be a way to track items placed in online shopping carts, something we very much take for granted just 22 years later.

Credited with inventing the concept, Montulli placed a small text file within a web browser, effectively ‘saving’ that information when the page is navigated away from. This was initially known as a ‘Magic Cookie’.

You Actually Need Them…

We need cookies to improve our browsing experience, allowing websites to save things like preferred language, login information, colour scheme and font size – in other words ‘teaching’ the website to understand and remember your requirements.

This information is usually remembered for the duration of your browsing session, and by default, the cookies are set to ‘expire’ once that session is closed or over. Pretty handy when you think about it.

Tough Cookies…

There are some cookies that don’t ‘crumble’ (this is almost too easy) when you close down your browsing session. Some are set with a specific expiry date, and thus will last for multiple sessions, sometimes years.

You can check which cookies remain active in your browser history settings – worth a look just in case there’s any information in there you wish to delete.

Third Party Cookie Monsters…

The website you’re visiting may not be the only one storing your cookies. Most websites nowadays call on third party resources like Google Analytics, who also track and store your browsing information by installing their own cookies on the sites.

Well that’s A Bit Crummy…

Cookies are vulnerable to security risks, but less so than they used to be. When you sign into a website, you’ll be assigned what’s known as a ‘session cookie’. This is proving that it’s you that entered the information, and if you select ‘remember me’ then that cookie is valid for an extended period.

If an attacker manages to capture and hijack that cookie, they could sign in to that website as you. For this reason, most cookies are set on an encrypted connection, so that they can’t be deciphered. This is why we’re often asked to re-enter our password when we want to change account information – cookies shouldn’t actually contain it.

Cookies Are A Legal Requirement…

In May 2011, EU Cookie Law (yes, really) was introduced in a bid to ensure that all websites made you aware that they were collecting cookies. That’s why we get those cookie requests to either ‘accept’ or ‘deny’.

Make sense? If you’re concerned about cookies, or any other security measures on the web, then contact or technical team for advice on 0191 261 2252, or visit our security solutions page over at www.domaincheck.co.uk.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Camille Taylor

Camille Taylor is Head of SEO and Online Reputation management at Zebra.

@CamilleTaylor34

UK Domain Price Rise: What’s going on there?

As has been reported in the national media recently, the wholesale price of UK domains provided by Nominet is increasing on 1st March 2016.

This is affecting not just the registrars who face higher costs, but the registrants who’ll have those costs passed on to them by the majority of registrars.

The affected domains include .co.uk; .uk; .org.uk; .me.uk; .ltd.uk & .plc.uk

Andrew Carter, Head of Domain & Hosting services at Newcastle based Zebra Internet Services think’s that while the increased costs may look terrifying to many, that it’s hopefully not going to be too detrimental to the industry…

“The UK domains which Nominet orchestrate have always been popular. There are well over 10 million in existence and those registrants will obviously be concerned by this price increase. Our experience at Domaincheck [Zebra’s long standing domain registration arm] is that UK domains have always been cheaper to source in comparison to generic TLD’s such as .com/.net, other country-code TLD’s like .de and .fr and even more so in comparison to the new TLD’s we’ve seen launched recently such as .cloud and .wine. This allowed us to price them lower for a very long time. The pricing hasn’t changed since 1999 which is why this is coming as a shock to most people. Prices of other TLD’s have fluctuated regularly in that time.”

“Being UK based we probably see a much higher bias towards UK registrations than some registrars will, but we’re not too worried. The new pricing may seem like a huge increase, however the cost of registration with Domaincheck will remain less than that of a .com and many other gTLD’s.”

“We’re hoping not to see too many cancellations as a result of this. Like a lot of registrars we’ve been open, honest and forthcoming with information to our client base and most of the registrant’s we’ve spoken to understand the price change, which has increased from £8.99 + VAT per year, to £10.49 + VAT per year at Domaincheck.”

“The best advice we’ve been able to give to our registrants, regardless of the size of their portfolio, is to lock in the current pricing for as long as possible. UK domains can exist for a maximum period of ten years, so most people registrants will find they can extend their registrations by 5-9 years dependant on the expiry dates saving them a reasonable amount long term and having the added benefit of having the domain secured too. One less admin job for the future can never be a bad thing.”

Nigel Meek, Business Analyst & Data Manager at Premier Foods Group Limited was one of those who followed that advice “The team at Domaincheck were really helpful when it came to how to approach the upcoming price increase. They’ve looked after our domains for years and have helped us to consolidate and renew our key domains long term which means we’ll not only save in the future, but crucial and valuable domains are secure”

“Premier Foods Group Limited were a great example” said Andrew. “A company who we work closely with seeing an opportunity and taking our advice to renew long term, not just for the financial savings, but for the knowledge that those domains were secured for the future.”

If you want to lock-in the current pricing with Domaincheck as Andrew suggests, give their team a call on 0191 2612252.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

New TLDs - Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter is our resident Domain  Name Expert, and Head of Domain and Hosting Services for domaincheck.co.uk.

Changes to UK Domain pricing – Renew now to save!

As you may be aware Nominet, the governing body of the UK namespace, have announced an increase to wholesale costs of domain registration. This will mean increased costs to domain registrars like Domaincheck and as such we’re going to have to increase the fees we charge our customers (Sorry!).

The affected domains are as follows:

    • .co.uk
    • .uk
    • .org.uk
    • .me.uk
    • .ltd.uk
    • .plc.uk

The costs will increase at the end of February from the current £8.99+VAT (1 Year) / £6.99+VAT (multi-year) to a standardised £10.49+VAT per year. (Which is still less than a .com!)

If your domain renewal order has already been issued you can renew at the current rate until 9:00am Monday 29/02/2016 when Domaincheck will be reissuing any outstanding renewals at the new rate.

We’re recommending to you all that you lock in the current lower rate for as long as possible by renewing your domain names long-term, up to a maximum of 10 years, before the rates increase. If you’ve been thinking of registering any new domains, now is the time to do so!

If you have any questions or wish to renew/register long term please call us on 0191 261 2252.

Kind Regards,
The Domaincheck Team

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

New TLDs - Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter is our resident Domain  Name Expert, and Head of Domain and Hosting Services for domaincheck.co.uk.

Can Your Customers Find You On Google?

That might sound like a silly question, but the unfortunate reality is that so many businesses nowadays forget to include SEO and Online Marketing as part of their mandate.

We’re approaching a very important time in the business calendar, when next year’s budgets are finalised and we’re making growth projections and targets for the financial year ahead, and it’s vital that you consider web presence marketing as part of that strategy.

SEO, in its most basic terms, means taking action to ensure that your website is shown when someone searches for your related products and services in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. It’s about showing the search engines that you deserve to be ranked at the top, whatever your industry. If you’re a piano teacher, you want to appear when somebody in your local area types that into the search box, and if you’re an online retro sweet shop, you want to appear when people search for products that you sell. It applies to almost every business, yet only around 20% of UK businesses factor in SEO as part of their marketing plan.

At Zebra Internet Services, we’re all about helping businesses like you make a success of yourself online. For over 20 years now we’ve been working with clients across the world to add value to their digital presence, right through from the initial purchase of a domain name, to looking after social media accounts when business owners just don’t have the time. We’ve worked with companies of all shapes and sizes, from micro-businesses to multinational household brands, and we’re proud of the success our clients have seen over the years.

As well as a website having a strong structural integrity, one of the biggest influences a business can have on Google is a dynamic content marketing strategy. This means writing, sharing and blogging about key trends and events in your industry, and sharing that knowledge across the internet in order to earn serious kudos with the search engines. The goal here is to show the likes of Google that you have a level of influence or authority in your marketplace, and thus you should rank highly for your keywords when potential customers are searching for them.

As you can imagine, this is certainly not an instantaneous process. Just like with human relationships and interaction, respect and authority is not assumed, it’s earned. SEO is nobody’s one-hit wonder, and requires commitment, strategy, and execution if you want it be a success. That’s where Team Zebra come in. Our SEO and Online Reputation team are trained and managed to the highest standard, coming from a variety of backgrounds in technology, journalism, PR and physical marketing. This means they can construct a solution that not only fits your business, but adds value to it.

If you’d like to find out more about Zebra Internet Services, then please visit www.zebra.co.uk, or call our team on 0191 261 2252 today.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Camille Taylor

Camille Taylor is Head of SEO and Online Reputation management at Zebra.

@CamilleTaylor34

Twitter Plans To Redefine its Character Limit – But Why?

We’ve all heard the rumours about Twitter’s recent plans to greatly expand their character limit from 140 to 10,000, but what does it mean and why is relevant to you?

Well, for marketers, this is good news. Twitter has been searching for new ways to boost engagement with its current users and invite new ones for a while now, and this just might work!

While the move was met with initial outrage for long-time Twitter fans who have learned to adapt to the 140 character constraint, marketers have identified it as a great opportunity to engage with users.

We’ve embraced Twitter for what it is – a way to post simple, quick updates and engage with friends and followers. In business terms, this is great. However, if current plans go ahead, Twitter will become a new way to publish all of your content in one place without relying on other publishing platforms and restrictions. So, Twitter becomes a publisher within its own right.

If Twitter does this well, users will be able to consume more content, without needing to click on links that lead to other websites. This is another opportunity for a potential bonus – when someone clicks a link to leave Twitter, Twitter has no way to record their engagement levels and track their actions. By publishing the content on Twitter, the site will have more data for analytics, which is good news for advertisers. Of course, we are expecting for there to be some sort of charge in place for promoted articles.

For eCommerce brands who use social media as a way to draw people in to their website, their practice will remain mostly the same. Although, the kind of content they can create to redirect users to their websites will have huge potential to improve. An article in a tweet could carry a call-to-action button to either redirect to a featured product or possibly buy directly via Twitter.

So, we can start to think of Twitter as more than a way to publish a quick headline to attract readers to the real content, to more of a content sharing website, while keeping all of the familiar things we know and love about it already.

Let us know what you think of the plans @the_zebras!

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Zebra Internet Services

Sam Dawson is Content Marketing and Social Media Co-Ordinator at Zebra.

The Importance of Social Media for your Business

Today, social media is everywhere. It’s a big part of how we interact with friends, family and colleagues in day-to-day life.

In recent years, social media has become a more fun, quick and convenient way for people to interact with businesses. One of the real benefits for you as a business is that social media marketing is an easy, cost effective way to maintain relationships with your customers and boost your online reputation to a wide audience.

The areas for engagement on social media are practically limitless. Whether your business is small or large, or you’re quite new to business in general, you can reach the people you want to speak to. Of course, all businesses want to grow, so this is good news for attracting new customers! People love to talk and social media is an excellent way to make conversation. When good feedback is shared, your customers are promoting your business from an unbiased point of view, which is great for brand awareness.

Using social media from a learning point of view, it’s important to stay competitive and up to date with what is going on in your industry at the moment. Social media is a useful way to see what your competitors are doing, how they’re engaging with their customers and what their customers are saying to them.

While social media is easy to monitor, we understand that keeping on top of your accounts can be a time consuming task which can mean engagement falls behind when you have so many other things to focus on. If this sounds familiar, then we have a perfect solution! Zebra Internet Services offer a full social media management service which means you can rely on us to engage with your customers, monitor and respond to their feedback and comments. Whether you’re quite a small business, or you’re not fully familiar with social media for business, we can help to keep you on track. Of course, if you’d still like some input into your social media, this doesn’t mean we’d fully take over. You’ll still be able to post whatever you’d like on there too and advise us on the content.

We also offer a full social media training service if you’d prefer to stay in full control of your accounts but feel you could benefit from some training. Our training will provide you with the skills you need to make the most out of social media and make it work for you.

Whatever you’re looking for, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on 0191 261 2252 or contact us on our website.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

 

Zebra Internet Services

Sam Dawson is Content Marketing and Social Media Co-Ordinator at Zebra.

An Introduction to PPC Marketing

Pay Per Click, also known as PPC, is an online advertising method used to drive sales, traffic and conversions for a website or online presence. Every time a user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays a fee to the advertising provider (Google for example) in exchange for the link through to the website. PPC marketing is most commonly used with Google Adwords, and is primarily used as a quick way to appear at the top of search results for your keywords and phrases.

When managed correctly, businesses can achieve short-term return on investment with their campaigns, and be able to compete for terms that are more difficult to achieve in the organic SERPs.

Sadly, PPC isn’t the most simple way of marketing, and requires a lot of knowledge, training and time if you’re going to do it effectively. Even the language used in this form of marketing can be a little overwhelming, kind of like learning a new language. So, to make things a little easier, here’s an overview of some of the more commonly used terms in PPC advertising and why they may be relevant to your business:

PPC: in a nutshell, pay per click marketing is a paid advertising campaign, where advertisers must pay Google every time a user clicks on their ad. A daily budget is set to ensure the advertiser doesn’t overspend, as some clicks for competitive terms can be very expensive!

Broad match: this is a keyword matching method used in Google AdWords, where an ad is matched with searches which are similar to the keywords in a campaign. For example if a user was searching for ‘buy Christmas socks’, the search may return results which are misspelt or are related to other Christmas searches.

Exact match: another keyword matching method used in Google AdWords, where an ad is matched exactly to the user’s search. The symbol used within Google AdWords for exact match keywords is [Keyword].

Phrase match: similar to exact match, phrase match is a matching method which only shows exact, or very similar phrases in search results. The special symbol used for a phrase match is “keyword”.

Negative match: this kind of matching method ensures ads are never shown with searches which include a specified negative keyword. For example if you are targeting male t-shirts you would have ‘–women’ as a negative keyword. This matching method is used for keywords which are very competitive and can show varied results.

Geo-targeting: quite simple, this term is related to targeting ads to certain geographical regions. For example if a company only wanted to offer their services in the North East of England, they would create ads which only targeted the North East. Geo-targeting can be adjusted at any time during an ad campaign.

Content placement ad: also known as contextual targeting, this process matches ads to relevant sites in the Display Network which use your terms. It’s a simple process where Google’s system spiders every webpage to see if any of the content is relevant to your keywords, language and locations, amongst other factors. This kind of ad only works when a campaign is set to Display Network.

Impression: an impression is counted every time your ad is placed in Google search results, and other websites or apps. When using Google AdWords you are able to see how many times your ad has been potentially been seen, although this doesn’t necessarily always end in a click-through to your website.

 

This of course is only a tiny insight into the terms and processes used in PPC advertising. If you’d like to learn more, contact Zebra Internet Services today, and ask about our Pay Per Click Training courses. We also offer full PPC setup and management for clients who prefer third party management of their online marketing, in addition to organic SEO campaigns and Social Media Marketing strategies.

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Camille Taylor

Camille Taylor is Head of SEO and Online Reputation management at Zebra.

@CamilleTaylor34

Protect Your Mailbox With SpamExperts, Available From Domaincheck

SpamExperts

Is your mailbox always manic? Filled with emails from users and companies who you don’t recognise? Although some of the emails may be of relevance to you, many of them are not can be nasty threats such as viruses. Here at Domaincheck we offer an exceptional anti-spam and anti-virus mail filtering service to protect yourself and your computer from such threats.

The service is called SpamExperts, and as the name implies, has a single mission – to provide security to email worldwide and diminish any spam mail you may receive.

SpamExperts are a technology focused company, who put a lot of time and investment into research and development, to stay one step ahead in the industry. All of the technologies are developed in-house and are constantly updated with weekly new features and real-time engine updates.

SpamExperts unmatched spam intelligence is a direct result of processing millions of emails every second of every day. The company applies continuous improvements in secure data collection and analysis, detecting new patterns and identifying attempted trick emails instantly. That accumulated intelligence is shared real-time with all SpamExperts users’ worldwide, assuring timely protection against new threats.

At Domaincheck we have been protecting mailboxes with SpamExperts for some time now. Their commitment to providing the best service to you, our valued client, is key. Since we implemented the service in January this year almost 10 million emails have been scanned, and over 80% of these emails were identified as spam and eliminated before even reaching the mailboxes and target client! As well as filtering out spam, the service offers other benefits too such as increased email continuity, improved resource efficiency and improved employees productivity.

It’s simple to add SpamExperts to your service, and you can add it to all of your mailboxes on your domain name for only £2 + VAT per month! If you want to find out more about how the system works or to sign up, you can read our guide or call the Domaincheck team on 0191 261 2252 today!

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

New TLDs - Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter is our resident Domain  Name Expert, and Head of Domain and Hosting Services for domaincheck.co.uk.