The Benefits of Colocation

Earlier this month the team at Zebra Internet Services expressed their thoughts on why a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is beneficial for business owners. Our VPS’ live in data centres, which is how we ensure the integrity of your information. This week we are going to explore the benefits of collocating your mission critical data in data centres as opposed to in-house systems, as offered by our Zebra Internet Services team.

Maximise Business Potential: Not every business has the technical skills and infrastructure to operate servers from their office space, and having a techie with ample knowledge of such systems is essential. Ask yourself – if your server were to crash, or you had a power cut, would you be at risk of losing valuable data?

A business needs to carefully look at their infrastructure before committing to housing their own server. Collocating to a datacentre instead ensures your data has access to crucial power solutions, including diverse power feeds and distribution paths, constant monitoring of the system and various cooling systems to protect the servers from overheating.

Whilst the initial cost of colocation can seem unnecessary to businesses, adding that extra layer of security and safety actually makes it a much more cost effective option should anything go wrong.

Backing up data can also be easily overlooked if you manage your server in-house. At Zebra Internet Services, the data on your servers can be regularly saved, so if you lose any important data, our expert team are able to restore it from the point of the last back up.

Securely Located:
Data centres are considered highly secure and safe locations. This maximises security of your infrastructure; typically a data centre has 24/7 security, as well as the relevant specs to ensure the protection of your data at all times.

Data centres are fully prepared for incidents such as power cuts. They often have large banks of power and batteries which keep the electricity flowing whilst a power failure is fixed.

Need a home for your server? Contact our team today on 0191 2612252 for a rack quotation and further information on the Colocation support offered by Zebra Internet Services and
Domaincheck.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Sean Cardus

Sean Cardus is Head of Systems at Zebra Internet Services.

Why Choose a Virtual Private Server?

Cloud Virtual Servers, also known as Virtual Private Servers (VPS), are online solutions for businesses who have exceeded the need for shared hosting, and want the provision for their business to grow. VPS solutions are a cost-effective and efficient resolution for businesses who want their data stored in a secure environment. Here at Zebra Internet Services we’ve rounded up the key benefits to using a Cloud VPS.

Improved efficiency: any updates or maintenance to the server equipment is managed within the cloud itself. Next time you access the server, you will see the updated features although you do have the option to install more powerful software and resources if needed.

Costs are reduced: with cloud virtual servers there is no need to install or purchase any equipment such as rack space as it’s all hosted online within a data centre. This means your data refresh, power and maintenance costs are taking care of. Further to this, customers can choose the solution which suits their needs which includes, memory and disk space, monthly bandwidth allowance and security updates with the ability to upgrade/downgrade where appropriate.

Improved security: a virtual private server is hosted in a secure data centre, with some servers hosted in dual locations to improve disaster recovery methods. A disaster is when threats such as spam, hackers and virus’ try to attack your valuable data. At Zebra and Domaincheck we offer an added option of security management to omit such threats before they reach your server – this minimises the downtime which can affect your daily business operations.

Simple to set up: finally a VPS is very simple to set up, with little time and effort needed so you can focus on the important goals of your business and leave the cloud VPS to the experts.

If you are interested in the VPS solutions offered from Domaincheck, part of Zebra Internet Services, visit www.zebra.co.uk today for more information. If you want to be kept up-to-date on our latest blog posts follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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.

The Importance Of Search Rankings For Businesses

When you type in a search query or keyword into Google you expect to see relevant results with the top results being the most accurate to your search. The positioning of these results are known as search engine rankings. The team at Zebra Internet Services have gathered their knowledge to explain why rankings are so important for businesses.

Relevancy

Where your website is ranked for each keyword search is based on how Google crawls your pages and indexes them. It’s vital that the copy and content on the page is relevant to the keyword search, you don’t want your page to be mis-leading. For example, if you had a page on your site which sold gardening tools, you wouldn’t want ‘kitchen tools’ as one of your keywords as you would be attracting the wrong kind of visitors who would immediately leave your site once they realise it’s not relevant to their search query. This can damage your brand if people associate your site with regular wrong results, they will not use your site in the future.

Trustworthy

Research conducted by HubSpot last year found that 75% of people don’t scroll past the first page of search results. We believe this is down to trust, users believe that Google will bring the most legitimate websites to their query in the top results (unless of course they are paid for), and if not, they will reword their search until they get the results they want to see. Therefore, it’s important that your web copy and Meta data is up-to-date and that it describes the content on the page.

Authority

Google not only crawls your website based on your keywords and copy, but also by how many quality sites are linking to yours. The more quality websites you have linking to your website, the more authoritative Google views your site and this indicates that you are a professional in your area of business, which in turn pushes your website up in the rankings.

In order to attain positive rankings, you need to bring in the experts, such as the team at Zebra (not to blow our own trumpets!). So, if you are interested and want to find out more how Zebra Internet Services can help search rankings for businesses today, contact Zebra. As well as our online reputation management services, we also offer domain names and web hosting and VPS solutions, visit www.zebra.co.uk to find out more.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Stephanie Hutcheon

Stephanie Hutcheon is Content Marketing Co-ordinator  at Zebra Internet Services.

Unravelling Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation, also known as SEO, is the term given to a process which attempts to improve the organic visibility and ranking of a website in search engine results. Here at Zebra Internet Services, we offer online reputation management which covers all of the search engine optimisation best practices.

The SE part of SEO is the process when a search engine sends out its crawlers across the web to gather all of the content and information it can, in regards to a user’s search query. The crawlers then bring all of the content back to the search engine which then builds an index. The index is then fed through an algorithm which tries to match all of the data in your search and provide you with the best possible websites. Some of the most important factors which go into a search engine’s algorithm are as follows:

  • Link Authority Features – this factor relates to the number of quality links coming to and from your website and how trusted these links are;
  • Link Features – this includes factors such as the PageRank (PR) of the links coming to your site and the quality of the links sources;
  • Keyword and Content Features – this area looks at the quantity of content on your site and whether it will relevant to the search query, based on keywords;
  • Social Metrics – social metrics looks at the quality and quantity of Facebook shares, Tweet links and Google+1s of your site links;
  • Brand Features – this factor looks at your brand as a whole, and looks for mentions of your website and brand in the news, press and media.

The O part of SEO comes in many forms. One area of optimisation is content; this includes writing quality copy for your website ensuring that your keywords are highlighted throughout (not keyword stuffing though!), and that you have internal links linking to different areas on your website. In order to improve your organic visibility, it’s highly important to actively write and share your articles about your business, both across social media and the web to quality publishing sites. This enables greater chance of your articles being read, which in turn will increase visits to your website.

Another area of optimisation is the onsite activities which includes reviewing and editing your site’s Meta data, such as Meta descriptions, title tags and image alt tags. Another activity within onsite optimisation includes reviewing the structural and technical stability of the site, and if needed, developing the suggestions to improve the site further.

So, that’s the basics of understanding SEO, if you’re interested to find out more, and to see how Zebra Internet Services can help your business contact Zebra. As well as SEO in Newcastle, Zebra also offer domain names and web hosting and cloud virtual servers.

 

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Stephanie Hutcheon

Stephanie Hutcheon is Content Marketing Co-ordinator  at Zebra Internet Services.

The Key To Content Marketing

Content marketing is fast becoming the most important trend for digital marketers according to a survey conducted by Smart Insights in 2015. Not only does it inform consumers about a brand or business but it also engages and provides people with expert knowledge, to help them through the buying decision process of many products and services. Here at Zebra Internet Services we have gathered the top reasons as to why content marketing is key for any business.

Promote your business and provide expert knowledge

Content can be anything from articles, blogs, videos, infographics, how-to-guides, the list goes on; basically anything that isn’t a mission statement or press release which can be shared across the web to your customers, followers and fans. The content created is your time to shine; it’s time to show your existing and potential customers how much you know about your business and really share your expertise. The main achievement from content is to inform and teach your readers about your business, products and services, and how they can benefit from using them. You want to make the decision process easier for the customer, not more confusing, so use language that your target audience would use.

Increase traffic to your website

Good content which engages the reader will make them want to visit your website to find out more about your products and services, and even try to dig a little deeper to find out about your business as a whole. Having a call-to-action such as your website, your phone number or email are all good things to include at least once in your content so the reader knows the next step they need to take. Further to this, good content equals sharing around the web, if someone likes what they are reading they will share it across their social media sites and blogs creating a whirlwind uplift of awareness around your brand and business. The team at Zebra are professionals in the social media marketing field and can help to increase traffic to both your social accounts and website.

Increased conversion rates

Usually, we find the more content that is marketed across the web, the bigger chance your business has of converting website visits to enquiries and sales. As mentioned previously, the knowledge which you share in your content will be highlighted throughout, showing the customer you know what you are talking about and you can give professional advice on any question which may arise from a potential customer. Customers prefer to use products and services from businesses who are trustworthy and confident within their industry, so tell no lies as they will catch up with you one day!

Improved ranking in search engines

Finally, we find quality, targeted content to be key for improving website rankings in search results. When producing content you need to ensure that keywords relevant to the content and to your business are included. For example, if you are writing a blog promoting summer gardening tools you need to ensure that ‘gardening tools’ is highlighted throughout with at least a few links to your website to the relevant gardening tool pages. Further to this, the greater your presence across the web, the greater chance of your website, social media accounts and blogs ranking higher in Google and other search engines.

As well as online reputation management, here at Zebra Internet Services we also offer Domain Names and Hosting, Cloud Virtual Servers and Pay-Per-Click Marketing. You can read and follow our expertise on our Zebra Social blog.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Stephanie Hutcheon

Stephanie Hutcheon is Content Marketing Co-ordinator  at Zebra Internet Services.

We are living in a smartphone society!

At first we were unsure whether it was just the team from Zebra Internet Services that noticed the increased usage of mobile phones in everyday life, from walking down the high street to constant use within our home. Thankfully, recent research from Ofcom has confirmed our thoughts that smartphones are now the leading device for browsing the internet, and accessing social media, banking and shopping applications. The OfCom 2015 Communications Market Report which was published in August 2015 discovered a number of interesting statistics – the following facts we find truly noteworthy.

There has been a significant rise in the use of mobile devices over laptops, and in 2014 only 22% of internet users reached for their phone first before their laptop. However, in 2015 this increased to 33% in such a small space of time. It’s not only 16 to 24 year olds that are fixed to their phones either, over two thirds of UK adults now own a smartphone which has risen from 39% in 2012 and now 50% of 55 to 64 year olds in the UK have joined the smartphone revolution.

The introduction of 4G from EE in 2012 found more users using their smartphones to do their shopping and banking online (55% of 4G users), watching more TV and videos from their devices (57%) and sending more photos via SMS (49%) and interacting via instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger (63%). O2 and Vodafone jumped on the 4G bandwagon in 2013 and by 2014 subscriptions for 4G internet shot from 2.7million to 23.6 million by the end of the year.

The mannerisms of how and when we use our smartphones is changing too, so what exactly is acceptable? 55% of people in the UK still think it’s unacceptable to check your phone during dinner, and here at Zebra Internet Services we totally back this up, food always comes first at the dinner table! Unfortunately, 4 in 10 people have this dinner table habit. As well as table manners, 34% of adults check their smartphone within 5 minutes of waking up, whether this be for work emails or social media browsing. Although we can be fixated with our mobiles, 38% of people choose to write a birthday card to their loved ones in comparison to 15% using social media and only 7% sending a text.

As well as over taking laptops for the chosen device for browsing online, smartphones have also replaced digital cameras and are the most popular device to take photos from. 89% of 16 to 24 year olds and 60% of adults are snapping photo shots at any chance. In the past year alone in the UK, over 1.2 billion ‘selfies’ were taking with 31% of adults openly admitting to participating in this global craze!

So, there’s our round up of our favourite statistics from the report. Here at Zebra Internet Services we offer online reputation management, domain names and cloud virtual services. For more information please visit www.zebra.co.uk.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Stephanie Hutcheon

Stephanie Hutcheon is Content Marketing Co-ordinator  at Zebra Internet Services.

 

The Business and Organisational Cultural Case for Upgrading your CRM

Recognise this picture?: – you have a great team and some great clients but your gut is telling you that efficiency and productivity could be even better. Sales are coming in, people want to do business with you but customer satisfaction is not quite as high as you’d like?

You take a mental step out of your company and examine the processes, the lines of communication and your organisations social networks and you are surprised to see that although everyone gets on with each other, they are operating in departmental silos and not maximising opportunities for cross selling and efficiency. And even more surprisingly, this is despite there being only 15 people in the organisation, you are all based on the same site and there is cross-over in people’s roles.

Zebra Internet Services was in this position three years ago, so we mobilised a hit team to create a new plan that involved a huge shift in gear – we changed our mission and strategy, consolidated our services, adjusted our target market and re-launched our brand. A key feature in the plan was the implementation of a new CRM system. We needed to be slicker in our record keeping, client care and team communication. And boy, has it worked!

Since we have rolled out MS Dynamics CRM everything has begun to fall into place. The sales department activity is more transparent and less of a mystery to the Tech and admin people and the tech team administer client issues through Cases so the account handlers are completely up to speed on every action being taken relating to their clients. The importance of relationship building is now valued by everyone in the whole business and the team spirit and comradery that is involved in on-boarding new clients, satisfying old clients and supporting each other is brilliant.

We have also satisfied our Head of Finance (hard man to please) as reporting is better at every level, including Leads, Opportunities and Closed deals. The effect on everyone’s activity and communication has resulted in increased productivity, profitability and levels of customer service. Boxes ticked all round.

My advice to any business owner looking for cost cutting, improvements in efficiency, improvements in culture, take a look at how you manage information flows through your operation. Do you capture all client details, do you know when every next action needs to be taken for which client and by which team member? You either need to get a better CRM or you need to reassess how you use your current one. And if you come to Zebra for SEO management, data centre services or domain name registration services you can be sure that your experience will be second to none.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Annabel Cornish

Annabel Cornish is Managing Director at Zebra Internet Services.

 

Happy Birthday .uk! Domains for just £1!

.uk domain offer

.uk is one year old, and both Nominet and Domaincheck are making a big noise about it!

To celebrate, until midday July 31st you can register a new .uk domain name for just £1+VAT for a year!

Do you know what .uk is all about? This is what Nominet have to say, and you’d be mad not to listen to them as they have been regulating the whole UK namespace (.co.uk, .org.uk etc) for twenty years.

‘The new .uk domain represents a new opportunity online. The domain for a generation of digital pioneers, it is the modern domain for the future – UK values with a global reach. The new .uk domain will be defined by the people who grab it and use this exciting new territory. If you are fearless, forward-facing and ready to be part of the new UK online, this is the domain for you.’

Have you got what it takes to be part of the online future? Stephen Fry has! He was one of the first to register and uses his .uk because he was so delighted that it had been released, he’d been after it for years. Fry’s opinion is that you should be able to get to a web site as quickly as possible with the use of only three keys. Check out his site at http://www.stephenfry.uk/2014/06/10/three-strokes-and-youre-out/

The special offer is a great opportunity for those of you who already own a .co.uk domain to take up the .uk equivalent, that you have the rights to (as the nice people at Nominet recognise that if you own a .co.uk you probably don’t want someone else hijacking the new .uk) at a great discounted price! And if you’ve got a great idea for a domain but you’ve yet to act then take the chance to register your .uk today for just a pound; that’s your business, idea and piece of the future secured in one go!

Head on over to the Domaincheck shop and place your order using your existing account details or if you’re new to Domaincheck set up a new account in minutes. Any questions

Give us a call on 0191 2612252 – we love talking about Domain Names and have for over 20 years!

 *future renewals will be charged at the standard rate at that time (currently £8.99+VAT for one year)

* Multi-year registrations are NOT included in the promotion

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.

Facebook Instant Articles: What does it mean for content marketing?

A new Facebook initiative is set to transform the way that people read news articles online. Though the initiative has already rolled out in America, the BBC and the Guardian were the first media companies in the UK to sign up for Instant Articles, which has been designed to streamline the process of reading articles through Facebook.

We all know that Facebook is a major player in the online world, so it’s not surprising to hear that the social networking site has become an increasingly important source of traffic for news publishers producing online content. However, Facebook itself has admitted that the process of reading articles published through the network on mobile devices is one of the slowest parts of the app.

When you read an article on Facebook through a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet, you have to click on a link that takes you to an external web page. Users doing this have to wait around eight seconds for the article to load, which in internet terms might as well be hours! Following the Google Mobile update last month, the focus on mobile internet access has never been stronger and so it’s clear that some changes need to be made.

Thanks to the internet we are all living in a more fast-paced world, something that’s impacted on the attention span of the average internet user. We no longer have the patience to sit and wait for an article to load up – we expect it immediately.

So how will Facebook Instant Articles work? Instead of an external link, news stories will now run within Facebook for what the company describes as a ‘seamless loading experience 10 times faster than the current system.’ Since making the announcement several news sites have signed up to the initiative, including BuzzFeed and the National Geographic. For the European publishers that have signed up, articles will be published through the new system later in the summer.

From an SEO perspective, Facebook Instant Articles seems like it may be too good to be true. Concerns have already emerged surrounding the initiative, specifically how much user data Facebook will gain access to. Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice-president of media partnerships and global operations, claims that the initiative will provide further insights into how people read stories and how they engage with content. Facebook Instant Articles allows publishers to bring their branding through to the social network, giving readers the illusion that they’re on the site the article came from.

Facebook Instant Articles is also set to support traffic measurement including Google Analytics, allowing these publishers to access audience data, which then drives their advertising campaigns. On the whole, Facebook Instant Articles seems more like a new way for people to read content rather than completely transforming the way that articles are written and published, but it does suggest that the social network is on its way to being a major channel for the publishing of content; perhaps in the future it will be usable by individuals as well as major organisations like the BBC.

At Zebra Internet Services we’re always interested in any major changes to the way that content is produced and published online, but traditional content marketing efforts remain just as valid as they ever were and Facebook isn’t the only major publishing source out there. Of course, with mobile phones becoming so important over the last few years and Facebook dominating mobile advertising space, it’s definitely something that we’ll be keeping an eye on.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Camille Taylor

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

@CamilleTaylor34

Crumbs! Another Google Update…

The Google update for mobile, optimistically dubbed ‘Mobileaggedon’ by various experts in the SEO industry, successfully rolled out on April 21st as planned. You might have read our blog about it and gotten in touch with us to make sure your site was mobile-friendly and what to do if it wasn’t.

So we know that Google know ranks sites depending on how well optimised they are for mobile, but is there anything else that’s happened? Though the algorithm’s been updated, there are still a few things that you might need to know about the way that Google’s Mobile search results are presented. Specifically, the update has changed the way that URLs are displayed in mobile search.

Mobile search results no longer display the actual URL of the site, but a breadcrumbs-style format of the URL Structure. This particular change has been rolled out worldwide.

The second change to the Google update has only been rolled out in the US so far, but there’s nothing to suggest that this won’t be rolled out worldwide in the future. The second change to URL structure for mobile is that you can display the site name rather than the domain. For example, if you were to type ‘Zebra Internet Services SEO’ into Google through your phone, instead of being displayed as www.zebra.co.uk/ seo-online-reputation/ it would instead be displayed as ‘Zebra > Seo & Online Reputation.’

As it turns out, Google has been planning this change for years, testing it through mobile and web search before deciding to roll out the worldwide changes. By the look of things, this new breadcrumb structure is set to change the way SEO is done yet again.

This update puts a new focus on well-structured URLs, so if you have organised your website in a silo structure with your folders laid out logically then you’re in luck. Based on the actual page URL or the navigation breadcrumbs on the page, the Google update will display the structure in a way that it determines to be the best representation of the way your page fits within the site.

A well-structured URL will effectively communicate what a page on your site is all about, and ideally your pages will be within a few clicks of the home page for the best results. What matters is that your URLs provide Google with context, such as the names of product pages and categories that those product pages fall into.

Implementing breadcrumb navigation in your site will give you a significant advantage when it comes to SEO, because the links that you create better helps Google to understand what your site is about as well as creating a more user-friendly site for your customers to navigate. It’s also a great way to assert your site’s authority through links, as a logical and well-laid out breadcrumb path will naturally pass link juice up to your main landing pages.

If the ability to display breadcrumb URLs under your own terms becomes available worldwide then you’ll be able to present your website to users through organic search the way that you want. From a branding and advertising perspective, it’s yet another opportunity to get your site seen by customers through easier brand identification and recognition. It seems that Google’s trail of breadcrumbs is set to lead a lot of websites out of the woods and into the warm light of a strong online presence.

Zebra Internet Services specialise in SEO & Online Reputation Management. For more information on our services, including Pay Per Click Management and Social Media Management, you can visit our site at www.zebra.co.uk or give us a call on 0191 261 2252.

Who’s your #TeamZebra expert?

Camille Taylor

Camille Taylor is Head of SEO and Online Reputation Management at Zebra Internet Services.

@CamilleTaylor34