Cybercrime is everywhere these days, in 2020 cybercrime cost UK businesses an estimated £21Bn* with an estimated 40% of UK businesses being subjected to to some kind of cybercrime in the previous 12 months. So, how can you minimise the risk to YOUR business?
There’s lots of advice on passwords, I regularly write about them, and other security measures that you can take but did you know that even a trip to your favourite coffee shop could end up being far more expensive than the price you pay for your Triple Grande Decaf Soy Latte Macchiato and blueberry muffin.
Imagine the scene, you’re between meetings and decide to drop into your favourite coffee shop for a cup of coffee, a cake and to tap into their Wi-Fi to read your emails, refresh your knowledge in time for your next meeting or simply to surf the web.
Spoof Wi-Fi Hotspot When you sit down and try to log-on to the Wi-Fi there’s frequently a selection of hot-spots to choose from. How do you know which is the free service provided by the venue and which is a spoof.
It’s very easy to set up a Wi-Fi hot-spot using a mobile phone, Mi-Fi type of device or laptop and allow other users to connect through this free connection. This means that all of the traffic can then be intercepted by the person providing the spoof account, what sort of important information is passed from your laptop through this connection? It could be your details to access your online banking, the log-in to your company network or the necessary information required to access your corporate email account.
Time for a comfort break
Then the urge hits, you look around and see that everybody seems respectable enough so you head off to the toilet thinking that your laptop is safe on the table. After all, nobody would nick in sight of all those customers, staff and CCTV cameras would they?
You’d be wrong. Laptop tracking service provider, Prey, found that areas offering free Wi-Fi were the second most common target for opportunistic laptop thefts, the only riskier place being left in a visible place in your car.
If stolen, it’s not only the inconvenience of replacing the laptop, reinstalling your applications and copying back your data [you do back-up your data don’t you?] it’s the additional costs that aren’t covered by your insurance.
The Ponemon Institute, a US cyber crime consultancy, put the real cost of the loss of a laptop and it’s data at nearly £31,000. This was broken down into £4,000 for the loss of Intellectual Property, forensics and legal bills adding around £1,500 with a staggering £24,500 attributable to the loss of income, customers and competitive advantage associated with a data breach
So, the next time you stop off for a cup of coffee and decide to log-on using their free Wi-Fi, just make sure you know which network that you’re connecting to and that you don’t leave your laptop unattended.
Back in the early 80s, when I was undertaking quite a bit of management training I became familiar with 7Ps. Proper Preparation & Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance*.
When I moved from IT Support Engineer and Consultant in to Internet Marketing I learned about a different 7Ps, the 7Ps of Marketing:
Sometimes, when I introduce myself as a marketing professional, some conclude that I work with “advertising”. As you’ll see as you read on, you’ll see that advertising is just one part of marketing communications, which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.
I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please get in touch if I can help you work through anything in particular, email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 01793 238020.
This is just a snapshot of the breakdown of marketing. But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.
Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
What makes you different from your competition?
Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
How well do you treat your customers?
Which profitable customers can you win from whom? Who? How? Why? Where? When?
Have you built value into your pricing?
Are you competitive?
Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
How do you set your price?
Will you discount?
How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
What do your competitors do?
Keep It simple
How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
What are the opportunities to extend these?
If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?
Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
What type of leader are you?
What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.
One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s. Ask yourself:
Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
How effective is your sales process?
What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/
Physical Evidence (Brand)
Your brand is defined as
Signs by which you are known and remembered
A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
A reflection of personality
A statement of position.
Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?
Your brand is so much more than your logo. Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto? Will they recognise this as being part of the same business? Have you had your website made mobile friendly? Really important.
A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense.
Just a few from the hundreds of options
Face to face
Word of Mouth referral
Telesales as part of a process
Exhibitions and events
Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
Events and seminars
Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market? Don’t be dazzled by offers…
Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader? Are you making regular blog posts and updates? Have you considered more SEO, more PPC, back links, etc
Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options.
Social media – which platforms should you invest time in?
So then, back to the management version: Just think how powerful your marketing strategy will be when you combine the planning from my original 7Ps with the focus provided by the 7Ps of marketing.
Combining your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan using the 7Ps of Marketing coupled with the the 7Ps of Management managing implementation will surely lead to improved business performance.
But there are few quick wins when it comes to marketing, the more you work at it, the better it becomes. So, remember to take time away from working IN your business, (doing the business stuff) to work ON your business, doing the stuff that makes your business better. Set aside time on a weekly basis – little and often on a regular basis.
Remember though, I’m an Internet Marketing specialist although I’ll be more than happy to talk over other elements of your marketing activities and help where I can, Digital Marketing is where my skill set lies. If you have any questions, call me on 01793 238020, email email@example.com or just search Chief SEO Officer
*Oh, and of course we didn’t learn “pretty poor performance” we used a far more pithy term than “pretty”
We’ve all had that feeling at one time or another when surfing the internet and felt that everything was running slower than it should? You could reboot your computing device, PC or Mac, Laptop or Desktop, Phone or Tablet but things won’t be much better.
You reboot your router in the hope that will make a difference but after the 5 minutes that it takes to restart you realise that you’ve forgotten the password and your master password list is stored in the cloud so you get on your phone and struggle to log on to Google docs. You get there eventually, find your password and key it in – only to remember that you changed it 2 weeks ago and forgot to update your master list so you try to log in to your router from your phone – but can’t remember the password so you Google how to reset your router and make a note of the master password.
Finally, you are back online but nothing has changed, accessing websites is still like struggling through deep snow.
You run a speed-test and everything appears as it should be and yet everything still feels slow, just like when you input an address into your SatNav and it lets you know that the journey will take 1 hour, you set off at 2pm and don’t arrive until 4:30 but you didn’t get caught in any traffic jams, there was just way too much traffic on the roads.
You go to your favourite search engine to see whether anyone else has the same problem and the interweb is full of people with the same complaint.
The reality is that the interweb is just too congested, too many people are using it, there are just too many bits, bytes and bobs zooming around and it’s going to get worse. More and more people are buying phones and tablets to get online whilst out and about, Smart Thermostats are connected to the internet so that people can turn their heating up and down whilst out and about, light bulbs are getting internet connections so that you can turn them on and off, up and down and even change colour whilst away from the house.
Fridges are getting connected so that they can order groceries as soon as you take them out of the fridge, connected microwaves will enable you to zap your food when you are minutes from home so that it’s ready for you the moment you walk through your front door even spectacles will soon be useless without a connection to the internet.
And on top of all this, your toilet will soon be connected, emailing an analysis of your urine or faeces directly to your GP for close examination
However, Enterprise Online Marketing Solutions has been snooping around some of the hidden places on the interweb and have discovered that a solution could be close at hand.
You won’t have heard about it yet because it’s a big, big, big secret but we’ve found about it, tucked away in an article in Hello magazine when they were covering Benedict Cumberbatch’s sixth wedding anniversary plans.
Apparently Benedict had a lot of very smart people around for tea and discussions about his choice of Covid Friendly venues one afternoon. Being a bit of a geek he’d got some of the brightest tech people together to crunch this difficult problem. Bill Gates was there, as was , Tim Berners Lee, Vint Cerf, Brian Cox, Dara O’Briain and even the late Stephen Hawking & Steve Jobs (by seance).
The conversation meandered (as they do) and one of the topics touched on was the frustration caused by the slowness of the interwebs and they decided to work on a solution, there and then, and the solution they reached will blow you away with its amazing simplicity.
All that needs to happen is the introduction of another w and all we need to do is get used to this. www. is changing to wwww. and we have a year to get used to it because the Wider World Wide Web is being introduced on April 1st 2021 .
You can discover how this is being achieved at wwww.enterprise-oms.uk
A lot of the work that I do for my clients is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This involves working on websites to move them higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most of the time, when talking about SEO, I talk about Google because Google is, by far and away, the most used search engine on the internet. Notice I say “used” rather than “loved” simply because a lot of people use it because it’s Number 1 but they don’t trust Google due to the amount of data it grabs and the huge power it wields.
But enough of the pre-amble, I want to tell you that there are other search engines available and there may be excellent reasons for using them. If you regularly check Google Analytics, or other web analytics applications, you may already be wondering about the traffic sources that appear.
And if you are not regularly checking a web analytics program to understand how your website is performing, the see me after class.
From my perspective, the work that I do on SEO actually works for ALL of the search engines out there so, without further ado, and in strict alphabetical order, here are the world’s top search engines
Ask.com – Founded 1996
Ask.com, started out as Ask Jeeves, a butler style service to help you find the answers to your important questions. Ask Jeeves has quite some history. It was founded in 1996 but in 2006 dropped “Jeeves”. Ask uses a unique algorithm to help you find the answers that you are looking for. It is designed to answer questions (hence the name) and favours expertise on a topic – instead of popularity
Baidu – Founded 2000
Baidu was founded in 2000 and is the dominant search engine in its country of origin, China. They have a market share of 75% in China whilst Google comes in with 3.76% – which is surprisingly high seeing as Google is banned in China. As with most Chinese entities, they are heavily policed which means certain images are censored and pro-democracy websites are blocked. Even so, if you are looking to break in to the Asian market, Baidu is were you have to be.
Like Google, they are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars. Sound familiar?
Bing – Launched 2009
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it was launched in 2009, which was when it replaced MSN Search. Later that year they also started providing search results to Yahoo, added AOL and Ecosia to the list of sites they support and Bing accounts for around 10% of US searches.
They are competitive in the Ads market too, although their total share of the market is small, compared to Google, so the impact is a lot less
DuckDuckGo – Founded 2008
DuckDuckGo is the search engine that looks after your privacy, touting itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, and it doesn’t collect or store any information about you either. You’ll still see Ads (powered by Microsoft) but they won’t be personalised, based on your browsing history.
Ecosia – Founded 2009
Ecosia was launched in 2009 and it’s the first environmentally friendly search engine.
Ecosia is CO2 negative. To achieve this Ecosia donates 80% of profits to tree-planting projects which means that for around every 50 searches carried out on Ecosia, a tree is planted.
Ecosia have also built a solar power generation facility so that it can run its servers on clean, eco-friendly, energy.
Ecosia buys search results in from Bing and tweaks them with their own, unique, algorithms.
Google – Founded 1996
Founded in 1996 Google is the search engine of choice for millions around the world and has over 86% of the search engine market globally. As well as powering Google itself, the company also provides search results to a range of smaller search engines, such as ASK
Google has tremendous computing power but it comes at a cost to the environment.
Huge data centres dotted around the world use huge amounts of electricity and although Google is working hard to mitigate their environmental impact a lot of CO2 is generated by every single search.
Search-Wise – First Seen 2005
If you watch a lot of TV, particularly Dr Who and EastEnders, when actors are using a search engine they’ll use Search-Wise to carry out their internet searches.
Search-Wise is actually non-existent. It has a “home” page that has been mocked up and that’s all you ever see – there’s no technology behind it. Search-Wise is a digital prop, that’s all.
Start Page – Founded 1998
StartPage may just be the perfect search engine. It was launched in 1998 and is based in the Netherlands.
What makes it the almost perfect search engine is that, like others in this list, it buys in its results from elsewhere. StartPage actually buy their results from Google but StartPage’s USP is that it doesn’t track you, doesn’t pass your IP address to Google and doesn’t use trackers to gather data about you.
This means that you get the benefits of access to all of Google’s search nous but none of the privacy threatening downsides. See what I mean when I said that StartPage might just be the perfect search engine
Yahoo – Founded 1994
Once upon a time, Yahoo was the Number One search engine and was a mighty company. How things change. Yahoo now buys results from Bing and has about 3% of the global search market. Although a small percentage, that 3% translates in to 1 billion users, 600m of whom use Yahoo on their phones and tablets.
In a cross business deal, Microsoft makes use of Yahoo’s Ad engine to provide Pay per Click advertising.
Yandex – Founded 1997
Yandex is a Russian search engine, Yandex standing for Yet Another iNDEXer and the domain Yandex.ru was launched in 1997. Yandex is where you need to be if you are targeting Russia for business.
Yandex is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belarus. It’s available in both English and Cyrillic.
In 2011 Yandex went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the search engine currently powers 42.35% of Russian searches
What can you learn from this
The reality is that no single search engine covers 100% of the World Wide Web although Google probably has the most comprehensive index. However, it’s a trade off between depth of coverage and the value you place on your privacy.
What I can say, though, is that if you are looking at targeting China or Russia you really need to focus your efforts on the search engines that cover these territories, Yandex and Baidu, for maximum visibility
If you need help with making your website more visible in the search results, increase visits to your website AND increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Elmer Wheeler got his start in sales shortly after losing his job at the newspaper that employed him. After his boss told him all they needed was more people in sales, Wheeler decided that he was going to work in sales. It was as a salesman that he coined his now-famous phrase “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.” Which is why Wheeler is known around the world as Mr Sizzle. But what does “sell the sizzle” actually mean?
When we buy steak, we buy the sizzle in the pan, the smell as it cooks and the taste as we salivate over the delicious flavour. We don’t “buy the cow”. But how does this translate in to the sales you try to make on a day to day basis. How do you SELL your sizzle, not your steak?
I reckon that at least 7 out of 10 websites that I am asked to evaluate fail on one fundamental content presentation issue. Businesses love to talk about their cow (features) but rarely mention their “sizzle” (benefits). That’s because it is so easy to talk about the things we do, to list the things we love doing, which makes it easy to overlook the benefits that our customers gain from engaging with us.
And yet, if you go through any form of sales training, you’ll learn that people (you and I, customers in other words) buy benefits not features.
As a bit of background, a long time ago I used to sell washing machines for a living. I also used to train new sales staff. When a new model arrived the sales people would give it a once over to understand where the key controls were and then take a deep dive in to the spec list to see what it could do.
Untrained sales people would focus on things like the spin speed, the weight of the load and the number of programs. Staff who had benefitted from sales training would latch on to the facts that a high spin speed meant that it would be better at drying clothes, that a large load meant that it could wash a family’s clothes in one go, saving cost and that it would have enough programs to wash every item of clothing in a wardrobe.
What they were doing was converting features in to benefits and by focussing on what people actually base their decision on, they were the ones making the sales.
It’s easy to convert your own features in to benefits. Simply take a feature, “this washer has a 1,200 RPM spin speed“, and use the phrase “which means that” to convert it in to a benefit. “This washing machine has a 1,200 RPM spin speed which means thatit gets your clothes drier than the competition can manage“.
Soon, salespeople don’t even need to mention the actual spin speed, they go straight in with the benefit – “this machine gets your clothes drier than all the others here“. They keep the feature in reserve in case they’re asked how the benefit is achieved.
Salesperson: “Mr and Mrs customer, this is the machine that will dry your clothes the best”
Customer: “Oh, how does it do that?”
Salesperson: “By having a 1,200 RPM spin speed”
This is how the conversation could go, but in my experience about 85% of the time, the follow-on is not needed – but by having product (or service) knowledge, it’s there, in the sales armoury, to be deployed, but only when required.
I provide a wide range of marketing services*, and they all have features but it’s far simpler to talk about the benefits, and the core benefit is increased profits. [More enquiries lead to more opportunities which lead to more sales which lead to increased profits]. That’s why my sales pitch is based around 2 key benefits, “win more customers, make more profit“.
The “how” is a conversation that can be had, if required, but always with benefits.
I’ll take care of your search engine optimisation. This will make your business easier to find in the search results, drive more people to your website, encourage more enquiries which will lead to more sales – provided your website has been put together with this goal in mind.
If you want to increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Call me on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.
*SEO, PPC, Website evaluation, Social Media Marketing, Blog writing, podcasting, email marketing and more
Believe it or not, this post was inspired after listening to an ad on the radio. I’ll let you know which one right at the end (if I remember)
Imagine the scenario. You’ve popped out to lunch and drop in to Costa/Starbucks/favourite coffee shop. Food’s on the way, your lovely Espresso/Cappuccino/Cortado/super sized hotta mocha choca machiato is in front of you and you realise that you’ve not replied to a very important email.
You get your phone out and remember that, despite all the fuss about 5G, your town hasn’t even sorted 4G but you’ve been here before and know the cafe has free Wi-Fi.
You remember that the Wi-Fi’s called “Stephen’s Wi-Fi Network” so that people can find it easily. You search for it, find it and don’t worry that you log-in seamlessly although you do notice that the signal is a little stronger than normal.
You open the email app on your phone, find the mail that really needs the reply and peck one out on your phone’s keyboard, hoping that the message in your phone’s email signature, saying that this was sent from your iPhone, will help overcome your mistypes and slightly terse language.
You’ve still got some coffee left and it’s pay day so whilst sat down you decide to check your bank account to make sure your pay has gone in. It has, and you have more than you thought. Enough to buy that gift for your lovely partner. For security’s sake you haven’t stored your card details in your phone. Out comes your wallet and you add your card details to the order screen. Click “confirm” and the order’s on it’s way
As you get up to leave you spot the homeless looking chap in the corner. He’s got a really tatty looking laptop and you feel sorry for him, until you see he’s got a huge grin on his face – you walk on by and head back to the office.
At the end of the day and you’re shutting everything down when your phone rings. It’s your partner – you’re puzzled, they don’t normally call you at work
You answer and hear tears at the other end. They’ve been shopping, found a lovely winter coat and decided to buy it but their card, which is on a joint account with yours, was declined.
You are confused. When you checked the account at lunchtime there was more than enough to cover the cost of the gift you ordered and this coat………where did all the money go?
You log in to your account and it’s empty. You can see your gift order but have no clue what all the other transactions are, you’ve not ordered anything else – and neither has your partner.
The Man in the Middle
What’s happened is that you logged in to the wrong Wi-Fi network and your data has been stolen. No, it wasn’t the homeless looking chap it was the chap you never really paid attention too because he looked like a businessman. And he was, its just that his business was theft, theft of credit card details like yours.
He had set up his own Wi-Fi network using a portable hot-spot, hidden in his backpack and connected to his laptop AND the cafe’s network to provide the broadband. He’d given it a name that was so close to the one that you were used to that it was easy to log on to it, rather than the “real” one.
The cafe’s Wi-Fi was “Stephen’s Wi-Fi Network” and the “man in the middle’s was “Stephens Wi-Fi Network” so when you logged in, all your data flowed through his hotspot to the cafe’s Wi-Fi network and on to the internet. With his laptop he was able to access everything that passed from your phone through the hotspot, including your card details when you made your purchase and off shopping he went.
How to avoid the man in the middle
Either be 100% certain that the network you are connecting to really is the network you want to connect to or avoid Wi-Fi hotspots like the plague. I do………unless there’s no other alternative. And in this scenario I only ever browse the web.
Wow, what a year. One thing’s for certain, 2020 is one year that will never be forgotten. Covid, Lockdown, Furlough, words that have been added to the canon of speech this year. And, to cap it all, Christmas is just around the corner and the world is still full of massive levels of uncertainty.
Whether you are working from home, #WFH, working in an office or still out and about I know that as Christmas approaches the big wind-down starts to feature in our minds.
Nothing wrong with looking forwards to Christmas but it’s important that you don’t allow your Cyber Security guard to fall too.
Why not? Simply because the hackers and cyber criminals won’t – if anything they’ll be upping their activity because they know that our minds will be on other things. In previous years we’d have been looking forward to Christmas Markets, Christmas parties, gifts, food, television and everything else that’s associated with the season of goodwill.
Our vigilance MUST remain high, both in the office and when working from home. Keep your eyes open for suspicious looking emails, especially those coming from unexpected quarters, with messages that promise much, such as tax refunds or deliveries of items you don’t remember ordering. Also beware of emails with links to websites that look OK but in reality will do harm.
It’s also a good idea to take a fresh look at your password security. Turkish researcher Ata Hakcil analysed more than 742m passwords that have been revealed in data breaches (hacks) that turned up on the Dark Web. Ata went on to make a worrying number of discoveries.
Of the 742m only 169m were unique which just goes to show how frequently we reuse passwords and how many passwords are used by a lot of people.
Worst passwords of 2020
Unfortunately, not a lot has changed over previous lists
1/ 123456 (same place as 2018 & 2019) 2/ 123456789 (up 1 place) (same as 2019) 3/ passwords (up one place on 2019) 4/ qwerty (a fall of one place on 2019) 5/ password (slips two places) 6/ 12345678 (up 1 on 2019) 7/ 123123 (a new entry) 8/ 111111 (up from No. 10 in 2019) 9/ 1234 (yes, I kid you not, 1234) 10/ 1234567890 (a new entry in this Top 10)
Disturbingly, at least 1 in 10 people have used at least one of these poor passwords – I hope you’re not one of them.
Data breaches are inevitable. To be as secure as possible you need to use strong, unique passwords for each individual account that you have. This makes the theft of one password much less of a disaster than if you use the same (or close variant) across all of your accounts.
What’s a Strong Password?
A strong password isn’t a word at all. The best ones are passphrases comprising of a random combination of words with 12 characters or more, using mixtures of alphanumeric, UPPER & lower case characters and symbols.
Think of a nonsense phrase, or even a line from your favourite song. Science Friction Burns My Fingers for example. Noe, run the words together, use hyphens, underscores and number substitution.
That’s one password – you need a unique one for EVERY account that you have. Now, that’s a challenge to remember so you need a password manager. Because of my work, I have access to 789 accounts of one sort or another and I have 789 different passwords. Obvious there’s no way I could remember all of those – I struggle to remember 4 important ones which his why I use a password manager. Not only does it store all of my passwords in a safe place it also generates new, random, ones for me.
Top 10 Password Managers
There are loads of great password managers out there. I use LastPass because it was one of the first to integrate with my browser AND be available across all of my devices, desktop, laptop, Chromebook, phone and tablet.
TechRadar recently reviewed Password managers and their top 10 free and paid-for password managers is as follows
You can read TechRadar’s reviews here. And don’t forget, your web browser probably has a password manager built in and may even generate new ones for you but it may not synchronise across all of your devices
And PLEASE, if this applies to to you – STOP USING PASSWORD or 12345678 and use one of the above instead
Have a great Christmas, a happy new year and I look forward to communicating with you in the new year. If you need any help, please, just ask. You can reach me by phone – 01793 238020 – email – email@example.com or just hunt me down on Social Media.
When I started using the internet to access the world wide web, back in the early 90s I had a 14″ monitor with a 640×480 resolution. That’s 640 pixels (dots) wide and 480 pixels high, smartphones did not exist and connection was made via a modem (US Robotics) and a dial-up (phone line) connection.
Then I started working for an IT company and moved up to a 15″ screen with a 800×600 resolution and could get more on my screen. I was really excited when I moved to a 17″ screen with a 1024×768 resolution. Not only could I be more productive but we moved to an ISDN (digital connection) and the world was a better place.
Although I had been using a smartphone for a while (I am a bit of a geek) the adoption of a phone with a screen really took off in 2007, when after 2 years of development, Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone.
This introduced a problem for web designers and developers. Screen resolution was 420 x 480 and sites developed for traditional monitors tended to not work very well on Smartphone screens. Monitors were wider than they they were taller – SmartPhones were taller than they were wider and so a lot of horizontal scrolling was required. And this was just horrible.
As a consequence, web developers started to design mobile only websites. A bit of code on the home page would identify whether the site was being visited by a desktop (or laptop) PC or by a mobile device and the visitor would be seamlessly forwarded to the relevant site. The mobile site would commonly be identified by an m. so the regular site would be www.website.com and the mobile version would be m.website.com.
However, this meant that web developers had to build two different sites, which took time and money so wasn’t an ideal solution.
By 2008 work was well underway developing a technology that would overcome this and allow a single site to be developed. One that would automatically change its size depending on the device being used to access it. Initially these were called by a variety of names, “flexible”, “fluid”, “elastic” and “liquid” being the main terms used. In May 2010 the word “responsive” was used for the first time, by 2012 “Responsive” was #2 in Top web Design Trends by .Net magazine and 2013 became the Year of Responsive Web Design according to Mashable. In the same year Google announced that it was going to reward responsive designs with improved rankings and the flood gates opened.
By 2014 mobile web access exceeded desktop access for the first time and in 2019 Google switched focus from desktop first when evaluating websites to taking a mobile first approach.
Now, barely a website is built unless it’s “responsive” but this brings it’s own set of problems.
In my experience, most companies who request a Responsive site rarely take a detailed look as to how quickly the responsive site loads, how it looks and how easy it is to use. They quickly check on their phones and, provided the site looks OK, they accept the design they have been given.
And that’s where the problems start. It’s very easy to build a Responsive website, especially in WordPress, and even easier to make it slow to load (remember, you have less than 3 seconds to get your site open and just 2/10ths of a second for the visitor to understand what’s on offer)
Lots of sites still use carousels, those scrolling images that feature at the top of web pages (you can read about my dislike of carousels here). This means that all carousel images have to load first and the worst responsive sites with a carousel simply display all the carousel images, stacked one above the other.
Although people can scroll easily on a phone, they have to understand what they are scrolling for and a lot of people simply won’t bother, especially when faced with 2 or more images.
How good is your website when viewed on a smartphone?
How do you know that people don’t like the Responsive version of your website? It simple, log in to your Google Analytics account and look at the initial “quality” metrics for the three device types, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablet.
Three Quality Metrics
For a quick site performance overview I always look at the average length of each visit to a website, at the average number of pages per visit and the Bounce Rate – the number of visitors who reach your website but leave without clicking on anything. By navigating in Google Analytics to Audience/Mobile/Overview you’ll see a chart, similar to the one below,
Remember my simple Bounce Rate scale 0 – 20% = Excellent (and very rare) 21% – 50% = Average +51% – Investigate
In the above example you can see where the problem lies, Desktop and Tablet Bounce Rates are comfortable, around the 40% mark whereas visits from Mobile devices have a Bounce Rate of nearly 64%. That means that 2/3rds of ALL visits from users using their phones leave without doing anything. Totally wasted opportunity and even if the company increases it’s marketing to attract more visits, this will only continue unless action is taken.
What should the site owner be doing
It’s really simple.
You need to fully understand the goal of your website. I know that sounds simplistic but so many people have a website because they feel they need one but don’t really have any specific goals.
Your site should have clear goals and it should be immediately obvious what those goals are. Do you want visitor to your website to
Place an order
Subscribe to a newsletter
Make contact to ask a question
Now all you have to do is open your site on your phone and take a good look. How fast does the site open? How quickly can it be used? How obvious is the primary goal? How easy is it for a visitor to carry out the primary goal.
Make notes about the performance and have a conversation with your web designer to sort everything out and if you need help, you can always get in touch for a chat (no cost, no obligation) or you can leap straight in and book a website review – Saving £50 in my autumn 2020 Special Offer.
I can provide advice, help, and support. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there
Podcasting is simply the audio equivalent of blogging. It’s where you create an audio recording and share it across the internet
Why should you podcast
There are many reasons to podcast. Let’s start with learning types. We all have differing ways in which we acquire knowledge and information but the three primary ways are through the written word, through pictures and video and through listening. All three are equally valid and have their own, unique, benefits and co-exist comfortably alongside each other.
There’s been a huge increase in the range of podcasts over recent years, both the number of pods that you can find and the wide range of platforms that you can listen to them on. You can find Podcasts on Spotify, Apple platforms, Google and elsewhere – they are a simple way to reach a wider, different audience to those who may not receive your email newsletters, watch your videos or tune in to your social media.
How to podcast
You don’t need a sophisticated recording studio. Just a quiet room, a recording device and a decent microphone.
The easiest way to record a podcast is to simply use your phone with some audio recording software – there’ll be loads to choose from in your App Store.
It’s worth remembering that your phone’s microphone is optimised for phone calls and so may not give you the best quality. To overcome this it’s a good idea to invest in a better quality microphone – even more so if you are planning on including other people in your podcast. Tie clip, also known as lavalier microphones are a good place to start. Just make sure to buy one that has the right connection for your phone.
Although a phone is great for recording when you are out and about it’s not the easiest platform on which to edit your audio and my preferred route is to do the majority of recording on my PC and I use free software that’s called Audacity
If you have a laptop, you have a device with a microphone. If you use a webcam on a PC you have a microphone. However, these may not be the best microphones available simply because your recording quality will be heavily influenced by the room that you record in, and in a lot of cases your recording will sound as though it was recorded in a cave. Have a listen to the following clips to hear the difference a decent microphone makes to recording quality.
Once you have recorded, and edited, your Podcast you need to find a way to make it available on the internet.
There are many sites that you could consider. I use Podomatic – it has a free account that’s a good place to start. It also provides an RSS feed.
Click on the link if you want to understand more about RSS feeds but the reason why one is important is that it makes it relatively easy to get your podcast published on all the major podcasting platforms that include
And best of all, there’s no cost. It’s all FREE so all you have to do is market your podcast through your website, Social Media and every other platform that you use to reach your clients.
If you need help recording your Podcast – just get in touch. I can provide advice, help, support and even have a small Podcast studio. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com and we’ll take it from there
I’ve been a fan of Google’s web metrics tool (Google Analytics) since it was introduced in 2005. For most businesses, it’s free to use. The necessary tracking code is easy to add to your website and provides a wealth of information about your site’s performance but the Bounce Rate is one of the most powerful metrics, a powerful insight into the minds of the people who are visiting your website.
And yet all the Bounce Rate does is record the percentage of people who visit your website but leave almost straight away without doing anything more than viewing the page they landed on.
With 15 year’s experience, my view of the Bounce Rate is as follows
0-20% – Phenomenal. In 15 years I think I’ve only come across 4-5 sites with a Bounce Rate in this area and one of those was only because the site hadn’t installed Google Analytics correctly.
21-50% – Most of the sites that I work with fall into this region. One where between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 visitors leave the site without doing anything
+51% – Any website with a Bounce Rate of 51% and higher really needs the reasons investigating. These sites are hemorrhaging visitors and, more importantly, opportunities but HOW do you go about analysing a high Bounce Rate and turning things around.
Remember, a 51% Bounce Rate (BR) means that over half of the people that you have persuaded to visit your website, whether that’s by SEO, Google Ads, Social Media (And Social Media advertising), e-mail and video marketing or simply word of mouth are just leaving without doing anything meaningful. If your website were a shop, they’d be sticking their head through the door, shrugging their shoulders and moving on. As a consequence, this has to be worth investigating. After all, if you invest in more marketing, all that’s going to continue to happen is that over half of those you attract will just do as the 51%+ have done before – and leave.
Working to reduce the Bounce Rate. Where do you start?
First, ensure that you have a really good understanding of your website because if you don’t know what you want your website to do for your business how do you know whether it’s doing it – or not.
What are the goals of your website? Here are some common ones.
To sell something
To attract newsletter subscriptions
To encourage inquiries
To allow people to download something
If your website has a high Bounce Rate where do you start looking? There are many ways to approach this, but I always like to start by taking a look at the website itself. What message is it sending to visitors?
Let’s say, for example, that you sell widgets and those widgets are used to attach the engines to an airliner.
Having a large photo of an airliner at the top of your home page probably looks good to you. And, because you know that your widgets play an important part then it sends a message – to you, and you alone. To everybody else all it actually says is “here’s a pretty picture of an airliner”. Questions that could come into the visitor’s mind might be “is this a travel company?” “do they make the whole airliner” – not – “aha, these are the guys that make the widgets that hold this airliner’s engines on”.
Remember, although you may have 3 seconds to get your webpage open in front of your visitor that’s an eternity compared to the 2/10ths of a second that a visitor takes to “get” your website……..or not!
Once happy with the website the next place that I’d look would be at marketing activity. Are the messages being broadcast by the marketing actually delivered by your website? For example, it’s no good talking a two-for-the-price-of-one offer if there’s no mention of it on your website, or if the offer is difficult to find. Visitors won’t look around – they’ll leave (bounce) and may never come back
Now that the marketing messages align with your website, and your website is as good as it can be, it’s time to dive into the data provided by Google Analytics.
Using Google Analytics to troubleshoot the Bounce Rate
The first place I look is the source of your web visitors.
Google Analytics/Acquisition/All traffic/Source/Medium will answer this one
Traffic Sources Key
Any entry that’s tagged “/referral” is where a visitor to your site has followed a link published on a 3rd party website. This could be an indicator as to how your online marketing is performing
CPC = Google Ads
Google Organic = Google Free Search Results
Direct = Either Google can’t identify the source or people have entered the URL directly in their browser
Bing Organic = Traffic from Bing (Microsoft search)
UK Search Yahoo Organic = Traffic from Yahoo UK
Yahoo Organic= Traffic from Yahoo
m.Facebook = Traffic from Facebook on a phone or tablet
Google.com = Traffic from Google.com
Traffic from a third party website
Traffic from a third party website
For this particular website, you’ll see that the Bounce Rate is very high for the majority of traffic sources and particularly high for visitors from Google Ads. With the majority of sources having a high Bounce Rate it would appear that the problem either lies with the marketing that is attracting the wrong people to the site, the website is failing to meet expectations or the problem lies elsewhere.
Bearing in mind that one of the earlier exercises was to ensure that marketing was sending the right message it’s obvious that, for this website, the problem with the Bounce Rate lies somewhere else
Geographical Source of traffic
Navigate to Audience/Geo/Location in Analytics
Scroll down past the map to see the countries where the traffic is coming from. You’ll see the Bounce rate for each source country. If you are targeting the UK and your UK Bounce Rate is OK then the next step is to try to understand how your marketing is promoting your traffic outside of the UK.
It’s possible that your website is attracting visitors from markets that you don’t serve. I have seen a number of sites that have attracted a lot of visits from the USA. When American visitors have landed it becomes immediately obvious that the website can’t address their needs so they leave immediately (Bounce).
The reality is that there is probably very little that you can do about this but it’ll be a relief to see that the Bounce Rate for your target locations is OK.
For this site, the Bounce Rate is high for all countries so the answer doesn’t lie here and the hunt continues
Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Age in Google Analytics
Although Google can’t identify all visitors to your website it’s still worth checking the visitor demographics. You can check that your website is reaching the age groups that your business is targeting.
Again, for the website being used in this blog, the Bounce Rate is high across the board so the answer lies elsewhere.
Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Gender in Google Analytics
Some companies target specific genders and this enables you to make sure that your visitors are coming from your target demographic. Once again, with a high Bounce Rate for both genders, the answer isn’t here. The hunt continues.
Web Browser Issues
Navigate to Audience/Technology/Browser & OS in Google Analytics
Web browsers are complicated pieces of software and it’s not unusual for websites to hit problems with some browsers and not others. This screen looks at the browsers used by visitors to your website and the Bounce Rate per browser. If a particular browser has a high Bounce Rate, but only delivers 5% of visitors (or fewer), it’s not worth paying too much attention. The cost to investigate, and resolve, the problem probably outweighs the benefits
This website is performing poorly in all browsers so the problem isn’t here either and the hunt continues.
Navigate to Audience/Mobile/Overview in Google Analytics
We are all used to accessing the web on our phones, but how well does your website work on small screens. It’s possible that this is the cause of the high Bounce Rate.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Desktop visits have a Bounce Rate in the comfort zone (44.50%) whilst phones and tablets are well above 50%.
Take a detailed look at your website, using your phone. Try to act as a customer and see whether you can spot any problems. Is the site slow? Is the navigation poor? Is excessive scrolling required?
Ask friends, colleagues, family to do the same, and feedback their findings and thoughts.
Next, take it up with your web developer.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Overview in Google Analytics
I think we have gotten to the nub of the problem. This is a slow website. Although the server is quite slow to respond (0.36 seconds) the technical elements (screenshot above) taken to find the website and start to open it on a device are still under 1 second so the problem lies with the content of the website itself.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Page Timings in Google Analytics
This page looks at the performance of every page of your website and details the speed of each page as a + or – when compared to the site average. It helps to identify poor performing pages.
Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Speed Suggestions in Google Analytics and Google will provide information and recommendations as to the actions you should take to improve the speed of your website. This might be a list that you take up with your web developer
Another way to identify issues is to put your website URL into https://www.webpagetest.org . This site runs a speed test three times and then displays the results as a waterfall graph, highlighting the speed of each element of a website, enabling you to identify problem areas.
So, there you have it, a detailed look into the Bounce Rate, and the ways that you can use Google Analytics to identify issues so that you can take corrective action.
Thanks for reading and you need more help with your website’s Bounce Rate or anything else to do with your web marketing all you have to do is get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have.