The Great Reflex Giveaway!

The Reflex team were pleased to exhibit at this year’s Digital Marketing Roadshow Preston Expo this week.  As well as chatting about the range of services we offer, we wanted to attract a little attention to stand out from the crowd.  After a little brainstorming, The Great Reflex Giveaway was born.

As part of our print portfolio, we offer fabric banner displays which look ideal at exhibitions.  However, what few people realise is just how easy they are to construct.  So, to help demonstrate the point, as well as provide some giggles and much needed warmth on a cold November day, we challenged visitors to the Expo to Get It Up For Reflex.  The aim of the competition was to get the fabric sleeve on to the frame in the fastest time.

It certainly became competitive with onlookers watching to try and establish the best strategy to use when their time came.  We witnessed all sorts of methods and we were amazed by the times came in, even those who came towards the bottom of the leaderboard.

When the final scores were in, the winner was Safyian Rafiq from Momentum Legal . Momentum were the proud winners of the stand with a branded fabric cover designed by ourselves.  Runners up prizes were also given to Tamarind Tree Consulting and Lancashare.

If you’re interested in any of our future offers or competitions, please sign up to our newsletter by clicking here, alternatively if you are interested in our range of fabric displays, get in touch for a brochure.


SEO: 10 Tips and Tricks

Although we do offer SEO as service, we realise that people want to have a go themselves.  For a gentle nudge in the right direction, take a look at this infographic to get you started.


Tips for Social Media Success

Serious about kick starting your social media marketing or taking your social media to the next level? Then you have come to the right place! Check out the following tips that will help put you on the path to social media success:

  1. Do Not Spread Yourself Too Thin
    There are so many social media platforms out there it can be hard to choose which ones to go for and as a start up it can be tempting to go for too many. You need to focus on 2 or 3 platforms to start with as anything over that you simply wont have enough time for and you will not master any platform. To choose the platforms for your business you have to think first off what sort of content you will have available, will you have nice images or unique editorial content? As if you don’t really have any images to share you shouldn’t be wasting time with the likes of Instagram and Pinterest. You also need to consider your target market, by now you should have a good idea of who your business is targeting (if not, you have bigger problems than social media to be thinking about), you need to find out what platforms they use and focus on them. For example, if you are targeting teenagers, they tend to gravitate towards Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube, you won’t find them scrolling through Linked In and if you are targeting to 50 plus age category you want to be focusing on Facebook not Vine etc. If you are unsure where your target market are hanging out on social media either simply ask your current or potential clients about their social media habits or speak to professionals like ourselves.
  2. Growing Your Twitter Following
    We always hear things like “I can’t get people to follow us on Twitter” and yes it is hard to get past a certain point on Twitter when it comes to followers, as once you have got all your family and friends to follow you and your current clients are following you where do you go? The next step is to find industry and thought leaders and then give them a follow. Also check out who is following them and give them a follow as these people are obviously interested in them same things. If your business is targeting just a local area then find a Twitter account specific to your area such as the local newspaper’s Twitter account and scroll through their followers, 90% of them will be from your town/city and therefore a potential client of yours. The more people you follow the more people will start following you in return. But remember, who you follow is a direct reflection of your business so don’t just go on a crazed following spree make sure you have a quick glance over their account first. Another great place to find relevant people to follow is your competitor’s Twitter accounts. People following your competitors, who are offering similar services to you, are most likely to be interested in your business too. They probably don’t know you exist until they receive a notification that you are following them.
  3. LinkedIn Messaging
    LinkedIn is a great platform and I would highly recommend you and your employees set up personal accounts on LinkedIn, whether you actively use a business page on LinkedIn depends on what your findings from point 1 were. The great thing about LinkedIn is that it is a huge network of professionals and it it is a great place to get recommendations on things you are looking for and to also be recommended by someone.  It is also a great place to stay up to date with industry news.  But when it comes to LinkedIn, our top tip is this: When connecting with someone that you do not know, drop them a message briefly explaining what you and your company do, just 3 or 4 sentences nothing too long and do not overload on information or they will not read your message. If they are interested they will ask for more information.  But here is what sets your messages apart from others: ask them to explain what they offer so you can keep an eye out for leads that might be of interest to them, so that you want to help them out as well.  Networking is a two-way street; don’t just message them telling them what you do, expecting them to be interested and know another 10 people who are also interested, you have to build a relationship first. The biggest no no of them all when it comes to LinkedIn messaging is to send a generic sales pitch to every new connection straight away and just change the name at the top of your message, your message will not be read and they will probably delete you.  As a marketing company you would not believe the amount of messages we receive offering marketing services!  People simply do not spend the time to research who it is they are messaging.
  4. Facebook Ads
    When it comes to boosting Facebook page likes we won’t lie; it is very hard! But Facebook ads are a huge help thanks to their targeting features. When you are boosting a post on Facebook it gives you the option to select preferences such as age and gender, so you can ensure that your posts are hitting your target audience. Whatever you do, don’t just select a budget and hope for the best; you will waste your money. If you are confident with Facebook Ads, make sure you check out the Ads Manager which gives you more targeting opportunities.
  5. Plan Ahead!
    With this point it goes back to the good old saying fail to prepare, prepare to fail! You need to have a clear plan with social media and what you want to use it for, be it customer service, driving people to your website or just sales in general. You need to know what you are posting, when you are posting it and where you are posting it. We recommend using a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your posts so no matter how busy you are your posts are still being shared.

If you have any quick questions on social media or want some professional help, please do not hesitate to contact us today!


SEO Horror Stories

SEO Horror Stories

SEO Horror Stories 

First off, Happy Halloween everyone, we hope you had a great weekend! But what would Halloween be without a few horror stories.  But what type of horror stories?  Well we have the worst kind for you… SEO horror stories!  Yes, we are going to go through some of the most spine-chilling SEO stories you have ever read, as when it comes to SEO it isn’t just witches that wear black hats!

First of all, let’s go through some points from Google’s Webmaster guidelines which detail the do's and don’ts when it comes to SEO. They advise against all of the following (and more):

  • Paid links / link schemes
  • Cloaking
  • Hidden text / links
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraped / duplicate content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Auto generated content

These are just a few things that can get you in trouble when it comes to search engine rankings.  For more information on Google’s webmaster guide you can read it in full here.

Now let’s get into some of the SEO Horror Stories and first up we have BMW.

 

BMW 

This brand needs little introduction and is a huge player in the car market and they also tried to be a bit of a player when it came to SEO.  Way back in 2006 BMW used a tactic called doorway pages.  Doorway pages are web pages that are created for spamming the index of a search engine.  This is done by inserting results for particular phrases with the purpose of sending visitors to a different page.  This is now classed as a very black hat SEO technique but back in 2006 when BMW used this technique it was much more common and Google was nowhere near as strict back then (ah the good old days!)  This technique did work for BMW and their rankings were very high for all their keywords, but once Google found out they were quick to punish them.  Google was not impressed at all and took BMW page rank right back down to zero!

So what can we learn from this mistake?  Well, first off obviously do not use doorway pages, this method may get you high rankings in a short space of time but with how strict and smart Google is this method will only come back to haunt you (Halloween pun intended).  As you can see from this, your domain authority could be ruined and it could leave you with a penalty which can be extremely hard to recover from.

 

Toys R Us   

Here we have another huge brand which has had a fearsome encounter with Google’s algorithms.  However, this time it wasn’t due to black hat SEO techniques but there was a waste of five million pounds!  Back in 2010, Toys R Us made the purchase of the toys.com domain, a great move for the toy giant on paper and one that should have massively help them out.

But when it came to the new site there was one massive oversight, they forgot to add 301 redirects from the original site’s URLs which had built up the sites domain authority over years of hard work.  So when the new site launched and google re-indexed all of the pages without the old domain’s link equity, they basically dropped out of the search results and wasted years of hard work, losing huge amounts of traffic to the site.

Again, the lesson here is obvious, if you are re-launching a website or moving domains, make sure you have all the correct 301 re-directs in place or you face dropping right out of the rankings.

 

Interflora   

In January 2013, Interflora’s marketing team seem to have been handed a large budget in order to boost the rankings in the run up to Valentines.  Prior to this Interflora were pretty much ranking number one for most generic flower search terms, but by the end of January they weren’t even ranking for their own name.  Google well and truly threw the book at them and Interflora dropped off the SERPs pretty much over night.

But what did the marketing team do to cause such a terrible penalty?  Well after many experts researched this case it turned out that Interflora had paid for newspapers to publish advertorials on their own websites with links back to Interflora’s site. They were paying newspapers left right and centre to run stories, which were only there to get links to improve their Google rankings.

When it comes to SEO, advertorials are very rare but can carry a lot of weight for your domain. They have to be taken with care. Interflora clearly went and did as many as humanly possible and went too far.

Google's regulations for paid advertorials state that advertorials which feature links must attribute a nofollow tag - which Interflora did not include.  A nofollow tag provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines not to follow a link and in turn not pass any link equity over to the website.  Basically Google doesn’t want people buying links which can influence Google search engines results.  Buying links is probably the most popular black hat SEO technique, but it also carries big penalties so stay well away!

We hope we didn’t scare you too much and you enjoyed our SEO horror stories. If you have any questions on SEO or want to make sure your SEO company isn’t potentially damaging your site get in touch with us today for a no obligation chat!


social media fails

Biggest Social Media Fails!

When it comes to social media there is one important thing to remember: once you post something, it is out there for the world to see! Nine time out of ten, this is good news for your business as you are sharing great news or an informative article, but let's take a look at some of those times that it has gone horribly wrong!

  1. US Airways – This is probably one of the biggest PR disasters an airline has ever seen thanks to social media! No matter how many times we look into this one we can not see how some one made this error of biblical proportions. So let's set the scene: a customer tweeted their disappointment in a delayed flight which resulted in the following reply from US Airways (which in their words was an honest mistake):Social Media FailsThe tweet was obviously quickly deleted but not before hundreds of retweets and screenshots. The airline released the following statement explaining what happened “US Airways were in fact trying to flag the image as inappropriate. However, in doing so the picture’s URL was also copied. This link was accidentally pasted into a tweet which was sent to another user. Whilst the two tweets were live, they linked to one another. It was an honest mistake.”
  2. Twitter is a great place for people to share their experiences with companies or public services, and after the New York Police Department received a nice picture from a member of the public they decided to start a new Twitter campaign looking for more using #myNYPD. This is how it started:Social Media Fails
    But it soon turned sour and they got the following:socialmediafails4socialmediafails9
    To be fair, you can see what they were trying to do but unfortunately it did not end well at all.
  3. Keeping on the trend of hashtags going wrong, remember family favourite singer Susan Boyle? Well, to promote the release of her album, her PR team decide to start a hashtag trend to build awareness of the upcoming album party. Unfortunately, they didn't proof read the hashtag and went with #susanalbumparty and it doesn't take long to figure out what is wrong with this hashtag!Social Media Fails
  4. HMV - Time for another PR disaster! As you probably know HMV suffered a bad financially patch recently, this forced them to have to fire their digital marketng team. But they forgot one major thing! To take away their access to Twitter which lead to the following:Social Media Fails
  5. British Gas – It is important when running a large corporation that your social media team know what is going on so they can prepare for certain things. This didn't happen at British Gas as on the same day as a 10% price increase, their Twitter team decided to do a Q & A session, which soon turned into quite the back lash!Social Media Fails

We hope these fails gave you a chuckle but that it also reminded you that once you post something it is out there no matter how quickly you delete it! Let us know of any other social media fails you have seen by commenting below!


Google Penguin 4.0

The Penguin Returns!

If you dabble in SEO or have had a website for any amount of time, you will probably be well aware of Google's tendency to update its algorithm from time to time. These updates are quite often just minor adjustments and tweaks, but every so often Google come up with a blistering one to keep us on our toes, usually named after a cute cuddly animal of some description. However, there is very rarely, if ever, anything cute about a Google algorithm update, particularly a Penguin.

Penguin???

Google's Penguin algorithm was first seen back in 2012. It acted as a filter aside from Google's "everyday" algorithm, running periodically to discourage websites from using "black-hat" SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and duplicate content. Websites employing such techniques saw reduced rankings as Google aimed to provide a better search experience for its users and place high quality, relevant content towards the top of its listings.

And Now???

Over the past few weeks, there has been widespread chatter across the search engine world surrounding a potential new major update to Google's algorithm. Site owners and SEO's saw their rankings fluctuate significantly and unexpectedly over a short period of time. Google initially put the changes down to "normal fluctuations" but it felt like more than that. Finally, on the 23rd of September, Google confirmed the release of Penguin 4.0.

Penguin 4.0 is designed to refresh in real time and be a part of Google's core algorithm, rather than a on-the-side filter which periodically refreshes. This is good news for all concerned as it means that recovery from any "penalties" can be more swift and straightforward as Google will reevaluate these the next time it crawls your website rather than months or even years down the line. Penguin 4.0 is also designed to be more "granular" than its predecessors. What does this mean? Well it's open to interpretation at this point as it's still early days. However, being that previous Penguin versions would penalise entire websites in the rankings for spam like behaviours, the general train of thought seems to be that this version will just affect the rankings of pages or sections of a website. This is also good news for some.

Does this mean SEO just got easier? Probably not because it looks like link profiles will need to be monitored even more carefully than before, especially in the early phases of this update. Websites which provided good link juice when the link was built, may no longer do so if they have become low quality in some way since the link was built.

Advice?

If your website is clean in terms of SEO, you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about with this update. As we always advise, page content should be informative and engaging and the associated meta data should be relevant to the page content. Keep your links natural. There is nothing wrong with building links as long as you keep in mind that one high quality link can be worth much more than several low quality, irrelevant ones. The key, as with many things, is quality.

If you would like any further advice on SEO, please feel free to get in touch.


flash player support

The Final Demise of Adobe Flash?

Following in the footsteps of other major browsers such as Google Chrome and Safari, Mozilla have recently announced plans to begin to retire Adobe Flash starting on August 2nd 2016 with the release of Firefox 48.

The phasing out will begin with a small blocklist, the majority of which will contain URLs of Flash files which Mozilla have identified as being "supercookies" (meaning cookies that are more difficult to detect and delete than usual).  This stage is said to be undetectable to users, but Mozilla are standing firm with the assertion that this will be the beginning of the end of their support for Flash.

The plan is to gradually add elements of Flash which are invisible to users on to the blocklist, the hope being to improve overall browser stability for Firefox, reducing crashes by as much as 10%.

Eventually, in 2017, user experience will change noticeably with Firefox making Flash content completely "click to play".  Various Flash applications will remain viewable, but permission will be required on an individual basis to interact with each one.

Although a clear "the death of Flash is nigh" statement has not been given by Mozilla as of yet, it clearly seems that they are nudging along in this general direction.

But this is not a new idea.  Flash is generally not supported on mobile devices due to its heavy resource usage and security vulnerabilities.  Added to this, the world's leading web browser, Google Chrome, has also made definitive steps towards shutting down the plugin.  In 2015, Chrome blocked auto-playing Flash ads and videos, pausing them by default.  There have been plans unveiled by Google to phase out full support for the Flash software on Chrome by the end of 2016, leaving it enabled by default on just 10 websites, including YouTube, Facebook and Amazon, all of which will be granted an effective "stay of execution" on usage of the technology.  All other sites will have to be manually enabled by the user.

Webmasters currently using the Flash on their websites are encouraged to convert to the more secure, stable HTML5 technology to stream video to their users.  HTML5 has evolved massively in recent years and will provide a richer user experience to website users, playing video seamlessly as browsers look to auto-detect HTML5 players on sites as the preferred alternative player to Flash.

If your website currently uses Flash to display content, we recommend that you look towards converting to HTML5.  This can be very straightforward to do and will ensure that your business does not fall fowl of browser updates, as potential clients click off your website, frustrated by continuous prompts to play resource hungry Flash content.


magento image upload

How To....Bulk Upload Product Images to Magento

This is an post taken from our old website.  It was originally posted in 2013 to help with an issue which many people were having with Magento CE at the time.  We have deprecated our other old blog posts but have decided to keep this one as we believe it is still useful to some… (please note that this was written alongside Magento CE 1.7 but I believe it still works up to the 1.9 release)

So, we have been tinkering with Magento CE lately and hit a stumbling block when it came to making somewhere in the region of 16,000 product images display on the frontend. The solution didn’t present itself clearly for quite some time, so here goes the basic guide for all those store builders who have more images than they can individually upload via the backend…
Assuming that your products are already listed without images:
Upload your images to media/import. If you do not already have a folder named “import” within your “media” folder, just create one.
Log into the admin area of Magento.
Click System > Import/Export > Dataflow – Profiles
Click Add New Profile
This is the screen you’ll be presented with (Click on the image for a larger version):

Make sure the “Enclose Values In” field is blank. Under the heading “Field Mapping”, enter the image categories you require, this example is very basic, but you get idea. You can add categories such as image labels, the choices appear in the dropdown menus each time you add a new item. Be sure to include “sku” as Magento uses this value as the product’s unique identifier.
Save your new configuration.
Create a new CSV file in your normal editor such as Excel for example. Create columns for each of the fields you created in Dataflow. (sku, image, thumbnail etc). List your sku numbers in the appropriate column (copy and paste from the original stock list works well here) and input your image titles. Be sure that the image names begin with / as in “/web-design.jpg”
When all details are complete, save your CSV and return to Magento. Within the Dataflow profile you have created, click “Upload File” then select the new file and click “Save and Continue Edit”.
Finally, click the tab “Run Profile”. Select the file you have uploaded from the dropdown menu and click “Run Profile in Popup”. Magento should do the rest for you.
Alternatively, if this basic guide is still beyond you, give your web designer a shout, we’re always happy to help….

Well, hopefully the oldies are still the goodies.  Magento is such a powerful, fantastic e-commerce platform, as well as a complex mind-boggling beast at times!


web design wigan

What's Wrong With Your Website?

If you’ve invested hard work and hard earned money into a brand spanking new website which just isn’t pulling its weight, it can be frustrating.  What’s the issue?  It looks pretty enough, it has your logo on it, it’s even featuring on Google.  But you still don’t seem to be gaining the results you were hoping for in terms of return of investment.

Before you slip into complete despair, it’s worth taking the proverbial step backwards and try looking at your website through the eyes of your target audience.  Are you capturing their attention by giving them the necessary information easily or does it take forever to find what they are looking for?

We put together a checklist to help with your personal website review:

Is Your Website Responsive?

The majority of online browsing is now done via a mobile device.  If your website isn't responsive to different screen sizes, your audience could lose patience and look elsewhere.  There is nothing more frustrating than constantly trying to zoom in on content or scroll side to side to read all the copy on a web page.

Media Which Auto Plays?

My biggest bugbear!  There is nothing worse than having a quiet browse online, only to be interrupted by some loud theme tune or somebody loudly telling you how great their product/service is.  Online media is great, in it's place but many people don't want it forcing on them and will click away from your website.  Easily fixed: give your users a "play" button!


Is Your Navigation Straightforward?

When you're building or designing your website, it's easy to get involved to the point where you can't see the obvious: how do you get to the relevant pages.  Once your user is on your website, how do they navigate to the place they want to be.  People can get frustrated by poor website navigation and look elsewhere, we are no longer patient with the internet, we want our information fast!  Make sure you have clear links and call to actions buttons to help your audience take their next step and ultimately to do business with you.

Can You Boil a Kettle Faster Than Your Page Can Load?

Ok, maybe not but if your web pages take an age to load, people will go elsewhere.  As mentioned above, we simply are not patient anymore!  Make sure your image sizes are as small as possible and use tools such as Pingdom to check your site speed and see which elements might be causing loading lag.

Cheese Overload?

It's not always possible or affordable to have a professional photo shoot done especially for your website.  It might be that you work in an environment that wouldn't lend itself well to attractive images or you simply might be on a tight budget.  Stock images can work really well, but tread carefully.  Some of them can be cheesy to the point of nauseating and come across as clearly not being of your business.  This can be off putting to customers who want to see a genuine company, so try to strike the balance right.

Pop Up and Up and Up?

I recently viewed a website which I have been on many times before.  The owners are pushing a new product and have obviously decided to employ the use of pop ups.  This is fine, except said pop up appeared on every page I clicked on.  Annoying!  Even more so as it was on mobile and filled my entire screen.  I lost patience eventually and took my business elsewhere.  Need I say more?  Use them, just not too much.

Albeit a basic list, give your website a quick DIY audit today and see if you can improve upon the user experience it provides.  User experience really does matter and even search engines such as Google measure how long people stay on your site and whereabouts on it they “drop off”.  This goes on to have a bearing on your search ranking.  With this in mind can you really afford to neglect a poorly performing website?


social media agency wigan

Facebook Promotion Guideline Changes

You may not know but Facebook has had some pretty strict guidelines when it comes to running promotions on your Facebook Pages in the past. It is always essential to make sure you’re not in breach of any of these before running a promotion and to make things easy for everyone Facebook are constantly changing these guidelines. But the reason for this blog is that their recent big algorithm change turned the Facebook marketing world upside down.

Here’s some of the guidelines that Facebook has changed for running promotions:

Before: All promotions on Facebook must be run within Apps on Facebook.com, this could be on a Canvas Page or a Page App.

Now: You are now allowed to run promotions on your Timeline or by using a third-party application.

Before: You could not condition entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.

Now: You can now require a Comment or Like on your post for entry. However, you still can’t ask fans to enter by sharing your post on their own Timeline or to tag their friends.

Before: You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting tool for a promotion on your page.

Now: You can now not only ask fans to Like or Comment on a post to enter your competition, but you can use Likes as a voting feature.

Before: You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) / Pages.

Now: Facebook has relaxed this guideline, so that you can now use the comments section, status updates, your own blog or even Twitter to notify winners.

These are only a few of the main changes but you can see all of Facebook's guidelines here https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php or if you have any questions give us a call and we would be happy to help!