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Has your web developer covered all the SEO bases?

by Simon Thomas from Toucan Internet LLP

29th July 2016

Post Type: New Member Article

Has your web developer covered all the SEO bases?

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation

We’re all trying to make sure our web pages are best placed in the search results on the key search engines such as Google or Bing and these days it is much more of a meritocracy than ever before; the genuinely good websites rising to the top for their sphere of authority.

That’s not to say that they can’t be influenced. Please dispel any ideas of the black hat techniques of the past and concentrate on writing quality websites that are genuinely better than their compatriots, better content, better written, better composed, better liked, better coded, basically fundamentally better by any real measure.

Today we’ll consider ten key on-page items that make websites perform better in the search results. In other editions we’ll go deeper into this as well as looking at other off page factors. Follow us @Toucan_Group for later editions of the SEO Checklist.

Let’s now look at the on-page items that we consider mandatory for good SEO in this session. There are hundreds of items to consider but here is a snap shot of ten very important on-page items. Don’t shoot the web developer if these are not implemented exactly as prescribed here in your site as it can depend on the brief you’ve given them and the mission for the site.

To check many of these you’ll need to see the code that makes up your pages. This is browser dependent but is normally under a term such as “view page source”. In Chrome on PC, right click and you get that option.

  1. Keywords in the Title Tag
    The title tag is the webpage’s second most important piece of SEO content and it therefore provides the search engine a high SEO ranking.
  2. Title Tag Starts with Keyword
    Title tags that start with a keyword invariably perform better than title tags with the keyword elsewhere in the word order.
  3. Keywords in Description Tag
    This is a less relevant tag than in the past however these still make a difference to ranking with some search engines.
  4. Keyword Appears in H1 Tag
    H1 tags are the next most important item to get right after the title tag. These send another relevancy signal to Google as they reinforce the title tag.
  5. Word Count
    The extent of the content on your page with more words expanding on the relevant topic is a ranking signal and will affect the Search Engine Results Position. A bare minimum of 100 words is a fair rule however 300 words of more will give better results.
  6. Cross linking within the site using Keywords
    In the text within the site use links on the keywords to navigate to other sections of the site. Google picks up on these as items that are of high relevance within the site.
  7. Page Loading Speed in a browser
    Google and Bing monitor page loading speed as a ranking factor. Poorly built sites with no code minification, bloated code, badly compressed images and alike all increase page load time. For an impartial test of your site go to https://tools.pingdom.com/
  8. Duplicate Content
    Never use identical content anywhere in a site, it will be spotted and the site penalised in the search results as it is a negative indicator of quality. This includes all tags, meta and image except the keyword tag.
  9. Image Optimisation
    Images with a page provide search engines relevancy signals and usability factors. Use the file name to be descriptive, use alt text to describe the image so that text readers for partially sighted get an explanation and consider adding title, description and caption.
  10. Page html errors
    Poorly coded web pages are indicative of a poor website. If the code doesn’t comply with standards then there’s a chance the search engine spiders may even baulk at indexing it altogether and not all browsers will render it properly. The standards book is W3C and they provide a validation tool athttps://validator.w3.org/. Once again don’t cane your web developer too much if there is the odd Warninghowever if there are many Errors, then you should delve further.

Further publications will deliver further manageable bite-sized advice on this enormous topic. All announced @toucan_group.


 

This information has been written and collated by Simon Thomas, active in commercial web development and online marketing since 1996, who understands the need to stay current with standards and methods almost week by week.

simon@toucanweb.co.uk
@toucan_group
01279 871 694T Bird 72ppi


Afternoon Tea, Anyone?

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

20th July 2016

Post Type: New Member Article

Swivel Boxes and Complex Presentation Packaging

 

It isn’t unusual for GWD to receive requests for some pretty difficult items of packaging. Occasionally, external designers will come up with an extremely complex presentation packaging solution and get it signed off by their client before actually checking that it actually can be manufactured. Occasionally (and it is very occasionally) the product cannot be produced in its original design. That said, here at GWD we love a challenge and more often than not our experienced cardboard engineers can remedy any problem thrown at them!

One of the more complicated designs came earlier this year from a well known Brasserie located in one of the Country’s leading dept stores. The task was to provide a box for cakes and delicacies from which to serve Afternoon Tea. The brasserie is extremely salubrious and it’s stylish interiors and fine menu position it at the high-end of dining establishments.. Any packaging products would, naturally, have to reflect the  status of the brand as well as having a certain ‘wow’ factor.

Within the dept store, The Brasserie finds itself in close proximity to the millinery department, with its extensive collection of high-quality headwear and fascinators. It seemed appropriate that the provided packaging should come in the form of a hat-box. GWD ltd have a long history of providing round or  ‘hat’ boxes for many companies looking to add extra value to their products through presentation packaging, indeed we are one of a very few companies to provide that service from the UK.

After consideration, the designers at GWD decided that their perfect solution was to create a ‘swivel box’.

swivel box packaging manufacture uk

Octagonal ‘swivel’ box for chocolates

GWD had made a number of ‘swivel’ boxes in the past, primarily for flowers or for chocolates (such as the one above). Introducing a ‘swivel’ into a circular box is considerably more challenging than doing so in a square or octagonal product, as the lack of any straight edges makes fixing it difficult. Also the client wanted to introduce a further element – a semi-circular tray which acted as a third, removable, layer at the top of the box (see below), so the top layer required a built-in collar for the tray to rest on. Fortunately, as previously mentioned, GWD have been in the presentation packaging industry since 1985 and have a very knowledgable workforce of cardboard engineers and designers who were able to bring all their experience to the task.

Hat boxes and round packaging boxes UK

Hat boxes and round packaging boxes UK

The interior of the product was laminated to make it grease-proof so that the the contents of the box did not stain the outside. The final result can be seen below and both the Client and GWD were very pleased with it.

Where can I find circular swivel boxes?

The ‘Afternoon Tea’ box showing all its compartments


If you or your company have any complex packaging needs, or if you feel that such packaging would be beneficial please don’t hesitate to contact us. The Managing Director of GWD Ltd is Noel Greenwood.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: www.gwd.ltd.uk


Are you paying too much business rates ?

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

12th July 2016

Post Type: Education Item

 

UK businesses pay £26 bln a year in business rates.  From 2013 onwards local government has retained 50% of this money and by 2020 it will keep 100%.  Central government funding will be correspondingly reduced.

Business rating periods usually span 5 years.  The last rating period was due to run from 2010-2015 but was extended to 2017.  In preparation for the new 2017-2022 rating period the rateable value of every non-domestic property in the UK is currently being re-assessed.  The results will be finalised by October 1st and applied from April 2017 onwards.

Only one appeal per rating period is allowed.  You may have made a 2010-2017 appeal, but now is an opportune time to consider your position from 2017 onwards as any reduction will benefit for the next five years. It is also better to seek a lower rating from the start rather than overpay and fight to recover your money.

Vacant properties and those who have undergone change either internally or through external factors are of particular interest, but all non-domestic premises should investigate this opportunity.

The assessment and challenge of business rates is a highly specialist area.  Auditel – the largest independent cost managers in the UK – have arranged a relationship with a rating specialist.  Unlike their more aggressive competitors they do not employ sales staff but have grown solely by recommendation.

An initial desk survey should be conducted to assess the likelihood of a successful appeal.  This is fast, free and without obligation – it requires only a recent rates bill.  Based on their assessment you may wish to instruct a formal appeal for 2017-2022.  If successful, the fee is 25% of the saving in rates payable (not rateable value !!)

Please contact me if you wish to invewstigate this opportunity.

 


Make Corporate Responsibility Work for your Business

by Amy Jacobs from St Clare Hospice

06th July 2016

Post Type: Newspaper Article
Make Corporate Responsibility Work for your Business

A partnership between a business and a charity is a strategic and mutually beneficial alliance between two organisations who have found a common purpose and value base. Partnerships bring much needed funding and commercial advice for the charity whilst the business will benefit from increased visibility, brand building, good PR, a chance to ‘make a difference’ for the local community and will contribute towards overall business objectives. Businesses globally are aligning positive social and environmental outcomes with their core purpose and vision. A Corporate Responsibility (CR) programme is now widely recommended for a sustainable business.  As board and family member of the Ford Motor Company William Clay Ford said, ‘Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals – they are both essential ingredients for long-term success.’ Corporate responsibility is being given increasing prominence on the business, localism and national Government agenda. ‘High on the list of the UK Government’s priorities is to achieve sustainable and balanced economic growth across the UK, as well as building a stronger, fairer society. We see responsible businesses as being central to this.’1

Business in the Community report on the seven key benefits of Corporate Responsibility from over 60 companies in The Business Case for being a Responsible Business2:

  • ·         Brand value and reputation – charity partnerships support companies to build public trust
  • ·         Operational effectiveness – improvements and innovation in business practice as a direct result of being responsible
  • ·         Risk reduction and management – benefits from corporate responsibility efforts that improve the business’ ability to identify exposure to risk
  • ·         Direct financial impact – improving access to capital, reducing costs and improving shareholder value
  • ·         Organisational growth – new markets, new product development, new customers, new partnerships from responsible business strategy
  • ·         Business opportunity  - new opportunities or innovation generation created for all stakeholders specifically because of business’ efforts in corporate responsibility
  • ·         Employees and future workforce – aligning values with a reputable charity improves recruitment and retention

St Clare Hospice is your local charity that provides specialist palliative care for the community in West Essex and the borders of East Hertfordshire. Our approach to care gives patients and their families the strategies they need to enjoy the best possible quality of life. The service is free and with costs that reach £3.75 million and with only 34% of our funding coming from the NHS, we need to build strategic partnerships with our local businesses. An annual partnership with St Clare Hospice helps to fund the free service that we offer to over 1,500 patients (and their families and loved ones) every year. There are also tangible rewards and benefits for our partners and so a partnership with us makes good business sense. The annual partnership scheme will take the form of a St Clare Hospice Business Club which will launch in April 2016. The club was formed in 2016 in response to a national movement of businesses away from philanthropy and non-strategic donations. It is designed to bring vital annual funding for St Clare while also helping businesses to succeed over a sustainable period of time through dedicated partnership management. Essentially, this partnership puts business at the forefront of a significant local community need, which forms part of a national movement.

There are a number of other ways to work with us. We run a number of events and challenges throughout the year which have earned their place amongst local community landmarks. Event sponsorship is a fantastic marketing opportunity and gives businesses a ready made platform to profile their services to a willing audience.

As a recent example, Local law firm, Barnes and Partners, are partnering with St Clare Hospice to help deliver the charity’s biggest event of 2016. The ever-popular Midnight Walk is the largest event in the St Clare calendar. Barnes & Partners have committed a groundbreaking £15,000 in partnership on the event and will receive a great return, including; local media coverage, brand alignment, employee engagement and the benefits of an intensive local marketing campaign all of which will help to meet their business objectives. They are making corporate responsibility really work for their businesses.

Nigel Barnes, Founder and Managing Partner said: “As a local firm who is dedicated to serving families in our community, we are delighted to be able to help our local hospice. Like St Clare, we help families at those big moments in their lives – buying a house, getting married and making a will - and are committed to serving our customers. We are proud to support the incredible work of St Clare and to help them to care for local families now and in the future.”

We hope it is just the start of a long term mutually beneficial relationship between our two organisations where the values fit so perfectly.

If you would like to know more about how to make CR work for your business or specific strategic partnerships with St Clare Hospice, please contact Amy Jacobs amy.jacobs@stclarehospice.org.uk

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Another Royal Connection for GWD

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

23rd May 2016

Post Type: New Member Article

Packaging for the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations

We have written previously in this blog of GWD’s connections with holders of The Royal Warrant, notably Cornelia James. Recently, we were contacted by Taylor’s Bulbs of Holbeach, who hold The Royal Warrant as Bulb Growers to Her Majesty The Queen and have won the distinguished Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for 23 years consecutively (better check this). The owner of Taylor’s Bulbs, Lord John Taylor, Baron of Holbeach CBE PC FRSA, is currently also Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords.

Taylors had bred a new bulb called ‘Gentlemen at Arms’ which was to be presented in person by Lord Taylor to Her Majesty at a Royal garden party at Windsor Castle in May 2016, on the occasion of the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations. The company wanted a bespoke, one-off presentation packaging solution to display the bulbs in the best possible way and approached GWD Ltd to create it.

The box in our factory

The box in our factory

The deadline was quite tight (four days from start to finish!) and the quality was to be of the highest standard so there was some pressure with the job. At GWD however, we have been creating bespoke packaging projects for over 30 years, so we have the experience and the team members to carry it off. The box itself was 700mm tall in deep purple with two central ‘windows’ die-cut into it to display the bulbs. It had a top lid and cords (also in deep purple) so Lord Taylor could carry it when presenting the flowers to HRH The Queen (who, no doubt, received it whilst wearing her Cornelia James gloves!)

'Gentlemen at Arms'

‘Gentlemen at Arms’

The overall effect, especially with the marvellous blooms included was, in Lord John’s words ‘Magnificent’. Helen Chambers, Key Account Manager at Taylor’s Bulbs said: “He (Lord John) was delighted with the whole look…the flowers fitted perfectly through the window section.” She added: “Many Thanks to you and all your team for making this a successful project and in such a small space of time, we appreciate the speed and attention to detail given.”

We can’t be sure of Her Majesty’s reaction we like to imagine that she was quite impressed too:-)

The Baron of Holbeach

The Baron of Holbeach


 

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: www.gwd.ltd.uk

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