Tag Archives: Zebra Internet Services

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.

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

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.

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 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.