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Stay safe on Facebook

Seven Facebook safety tips

John Sileo is an identity theft expert whose motto is the rather dispiriting ‘think like a spy’. It would be a shame if we all became that paranoid in our online dealings – one of the joys of the new, social web, is its openness – but he has a point. By putting so much of our lives online, we have opened a completely new, lucrative front for the bad guys to get at our stuff.     

Here are some tips from John designed to keep you safe on the biggest social network of them all, Facebook.

The first is to lie, a little. John suggests not using your real name on your Facebook profile, add a nickname or tweak the spelling. Getting their hands on your real name is the first thing identity thieves do, why make a gift of it.

He also suggests opening multiple accounts. It’s against Facebook’s rules, but if you have a business then you can muddy the waters a little by doing this.

For number three, we’re back to lying again. In fact, Sileo is an advocate of publishing as little information as you can online – if you don’t need to share it, then don’t. Here, he recommends giving yourself a new age – we’ve all wanted to do that – as date of birth and age are key pieces of ID recovery information.

Fourth: never store your credit card details on Facebook.

Next, he recommends remembering that real life and online life can actually interact. Be wary of boasting about expensive new purchases, you never know who’s listening. And think like a thief: is there a jigsaw of information online that could be used to get hold of your stuff? For example, a post saying you’ve bought a new Merc, and a photograph that shows the keys hanging in your kitchen. Geotagging your photographs tells thieves where you are, checking in at a restaurant tells the world you’re away from home, announcing a holiday announces a two-week window to break in.

Sixth in John’s tips is an historical clean up. Go back through your timeline and check that you haven’t left any personal information up there – did you moan about your bank and reveal where your accounts are?

His final tip is the rather drastic, “deactivate your account”.

None of us will do that, the benefits of social media – for most of us, most of the time – far outweigh the possible risks. However, it is incumbent on all of us to take our online security seriously – those annoying password rules, which make them so hard to remember, are worth following as they make them equally hard to crack. And never use one password across multiple accounts, that could turn an annoying Facebook hack into a bank account-draining attack on your finances.

Toolkit can help your business get the most out of your social media accounts. From setting up a blog to making effective use of Twitter for marketing we’ll help you maximise the time you spend across these exciting new platforms. Call us on 02380 633644 or email support@thetoolkit.co.uk to find out more.

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web designers Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.   
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The most important panda on the web

The most important panda on the web

It’s not some viral video of the lazy, cuddly Chinese bears doing something unbearably cute. No, the most important panda on the web lurks somewhere in Google’s HQ in California and has a say in deciding whether browsers find your site or not.

Google’s massive dominance in the search engine market is dependent on providing good results for searchers. It’s a precarious position, it only takes a couple of clicks for the world to set a competitor like Bing as their home page, so Google are constantly working to improve their search processes.

Working against Google are the ‘black hat SEO’ merchants. Search Engine Optimisation is the techniques that sites can use climb up the search rankings. The guys in the black hats are essentially trying to trick Google’s software into ranking the sites that pay for their services whether or not they provide a good answer to a search query. You may have encountered their work if you’ve ever landed on a page that is nothing but links, or is stuffed with a nonsensical blizzard of keywords – “cheap plumber in Southampton”, for example.

Google’s two latest updates, Panda and Penguin, have had a huge effect on the web and got the SEO industry buzzing, according to some pundits they may even have killed SEO off.

That’s almost certainly overstating things, but Penguin and Panda have certainly changed the emphasis, which is now on high quality, unique content, written with authority.

In previous blogs we’ve advised on SEO techniques. It’s simple enough, keep your content high quality and useful and don’t try to trick the engines – they don’t like it. Any business online that thinks it can beat Google is going to find there is only one winner.

Learning how Google works is a vital part of any web designer’s work and it’s something we try to keep on top of constantly at Toolkit Websites. 

If you receive our newsletter, you’ll know that we can now offer a new Site Analysis Reporting service that uses our Google knowledge to look at your site in the same way that the all-seeing god of the web does.

We will crawl your site in exactly the same way that Google’s spiders do, looking at the coding, content and layout.

We’ll check how well your social media and other links back to your site that should help boost its ranking are performing. The Site Analysis Report will check if the layout is user-friendly – a key Google rating – with clear navigation and good internal links.

The result will be a simple, easy to understand score for your site and, crucially, what you can do to improve your rankings.

If you are interested in putting your website through our Site Analysis Report please get in touch with us on 02380 633644 or email us on support@thetoolkit.co.uk.

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow. 
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Mid Month Blog - Six Top Website Tips

Don’t just let it sit there – how to keep your website working for you.

So, you’ve got a beautiful website that perfectly represents your business and is easy as pie to use. Job done, right? No, job started. A static website will soon disappear in cyber space. But keeping your site vital and lively isn’t difficult; it’s a brilliant way to talk to new and existing customers and can even be great fun.

Here are six simple rules for keeping on top of your online presence.

1 – The Name Game

It’s worth putting some effort into choosing your domain name. Google, Skype and Firefox are three great examples of naming perfection. They’re short, catchy and unique. Use a name that reflects your business; if you sell kites, put kites in the name.

Google your name, the fewer results the better. Don’t be too clever, Google has recently clamped down on misleading urls that mimic search terms.

2 – Content, Content, Content

Google constantly improves how it searches for and orders its results. Good quality, well-structured, authoritative content is now king. Your customers will appreciate it too. Remember how easy it is to click away from your site so keep things short and to the point as well as engaging.

3 - Lost in the Woods

Make sure the design of your site makes finding that content easy. Layout should be clear and light on clicks for the visitor. Don’t fall for gimmicks. A real world shop would never ask its customers to jump through hoops, and you shouldn’t online.

Toolkit’s Page Dressing service will give your site the once over with a professional’s eye to sharpen up your layout and provide you with a template you can replicate across all your pages. 

4 - Easy on the Eye

People navigate the web with their eyes, so looking up to date is important. Image-led design is very in at the moment, but always check the copyright of pictures you use.

By far the fastest growth in web use is browsing on mobile devices, so as well as visiting your site with all the common browsers, check it out on smart phones and iPads too.

Toolkit’s designers can refresh and redesign or start from scratch to give you a stunning site. We offer logo design services, headers and sidebars for each page, and much more as part of our bespoke design service.

5 - Searchers

You need Google to know where you are. Follow all their rules and keep on top of how they change them. Links are now less important, but good quality ones still count, and social media is playing a bigger role in how Google indexes sites and orders search results. Keep on top of your social media presence and integrate it with your site as fully as possible.

Toolkit offers a full social media service so you can manage Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Blogger without compromising your brand identity.

6 - Never stand still

Keep moving or die. Use a blog, Twitter and Facebook to tell your customers what you’re up to and direct them to your site. Email marketing is still a cost-effective means of tempting visitors back when you’ve got something new to offer.

Toolkit will set up your blog so that all you need to do is type and can design eye-catching email templates that will get your customers clicking through to your site.

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web design Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow. 
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Social media in thirty minutes

If social media is getting on top of you, there’s an interesting post at Search Engine Journal on how you can get some of your time back with five software and online tools. And, they’re all free, at least to start with.

The list, by Christopher Jan Benitez, promises you can deal with all your social media in just 30 minutes a day, which, if it’s true is great news for the many businesses research suggests are finding the plethora of platforms a time sink.

At the top of the list is Hootsuite, which Bentiez calls ‘one of the most useful social media tools out there’. Hootsuite lets you manage up to five social media streams through just one interface. It also allows you to time updates, posts and tweets so they appear online while you’re busy doing something more useful.

Next up is InboxQ, which can be used in conjunction with Hootsuite or your web browser to find people who may become customers. It works by allowing you to define keywords related to your business and it’ll scour Twitter for you finding the people who are asking questions which your product can answer for them.

Third is Commun.it, a tool which aims to filter out the Twitter followers who it’s worth spending time on. Tweeters who mention your business’s name are sorted out and you can also use keywords to find users who might be after your services. The free version of this tool has a limit on usage, but you may want to stump up for the full version if your experiments with it prove successful.

Joint fourth choice for Benitez are the social search tools Topsy and Social Mention, which he recommends as tools to ‘augment positive feedback’. Topsy’s free service is a teaser for it’s full, paid-for analytics, and it allows to you interact directly with Twitter on its search page. Social Mention offers trending topics and a quick guide to the character of comments: for example, my Abraham Lincoln search gave the president an 11% strength rating, a 4:1 positive to negative sentiment ratio, a 79% passion score and a 79% reach.

If these tools really can cut social media down to a manageable half-an-hour a day, then many businesses will be very grateful to Mr Benitez, whose post you can read in full here.


Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web design Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.   
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Battle of the video sharing apps

If the brevity of Twitter’s 140 character limit is your thing, then the company has a new way for the straight-to-the-point among us to communicate, six second video clips.

Twitter has bought Vine, so now it has its own video sharing service that aims to be the Instagram for the moving image. Like all the latest social tools it’s designed for quick sharing and uses hashtags to organise and search its content.

According to the Vine blog: “Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They're little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They're quirky, and we think that's part of what makes them so special.”

They also loop automatically, which – certainly on a full size screen – makes them quite hard work to watch and if you leave the sound on extremely disconcerting to listen to. You can see Vine’s own example, here, and a ‘how to make steak tartare’ video made by Dom Hoffman that Twitter boss Dick Costolo chose to retweet, here.

There are now two big (having Twitter behind you makes you big) video sharing apps out there and the main difference is time. Viddy allows its users a whole 15 seconds to talk to the world and has some big-name users, including Justin Bieber and Bill Cosby.

There’s also Socialcam, which like Viddy offers Instagram-style filters, and has been successful with some big brand users.

But while these newbies play, a giant is stirring in the jungle. Google’s YouTube now has an app too. Called YouTube capture, reviewers have liked the ease of use and seamless sharing as well as some clever image enhancing software.

While Viddy has 39 million users and SocialCam 56 million monthly users, the YouTube website is one of the big daddies of the web and last year’s stats include the staggering figure that over four billion hours of YouTube videos are viewed each month.

Vine is free from the iTunes app store.

Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Web Design in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.
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Are you communicating with your customers using social media?

Is your business able to react to consumers on social media? Some major US businesses are deciding that older communication channels are the best way to deal with customer complaints.

Charter is a major cable TV company in the States and has this week shut down its social media customer services team.

And Charter isn’t alone either, New England’s biggest grocers Wegman’s told its 8,000 Facebook fans to find another way to talk to the company.

The companies cited two different reasons for their decisions. And they’re ones any business with a social media presence should bear in mind.

Charter is simply stopping dealing with customer service issues via social media; it will still maintain its channels.

Perhaps the public nature of complaints put them off. It also says its customers have multiple ways – phone, in person, live chat on their website – of speaking to customer service teams.

The decision hasn’t gone down well with social media commentators, but then it wouldn’t would it, who have pointed to the decision in the same week by Charter’s competitor Cablevision to recruit a social media team.

Reuters spoke to J D Peterson of customer service consultants Zendesk about the decision. He warned that some businesses are struggling to deal with the volume of contacts and that some businesses really aren’t set up to deal with customers this way. However, he also cautions that businesses with a major web presence but no social media profiles aren’t doing what their customers expect of them.

For Wegman's, time was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Its staff simply weren’t able to keep up with comments coming in to their Facebook page, they had real life customers to serve, and in the end the company decided silence was better than a one-way dialogue of unanswered consumer queries.

Back in August, Conversocial followed America’s top 100 retailers and found that many of them aren’t that hot on Twitter customer service.

Only 13% of complaints received a response with five of the top 10 clothes stores just ignoring complaints. And when they did reply it often took a long time: 37% of complainants had to wait 10 hours or more for a response. Ten hours in which they probably shared their frustration with their followers.

So, it’s clear that if social media is going to work for your business you need to make a commitment to it and you need to be sure your platform is a good fit for both you and your customers.

You can see ZenDesk’s infographic on the survey here.

We believe that our customers should be able to contact us in the way that is easiest for them. Because of this we have Social Media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for any and all customer queries.

However we also have a team available on the phone by calling 02380 633644 or emailing our support@thetoolkit.co.uk address.

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.
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Facebook’s New Graph Search

Facebook’s new search tool could be solid gold for marketers. Graph Search is in beta at the moment, and the launch blog post warns that it’ll take a while to get beyond that stage, and you can sign up to join the waiting list to use it here.

One of the first differences to standard web searching is that Graph uses ordinary phrases. The example Facebook uses is: "my friends in New York who like Jay-Z".

With plenty of bad publicity in the past Facebook has also been careful to announce that Graph will respect privacy, so it won’t take you to private content.

The first roll out of Graph Search is focused on four Facebook staples: places, people, interests and photos.

Some more examples from the Facebook blog: “friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park,” "people who like things I like," “photos of my friends before 1999,” "photos of my friends taken in New York," “cities visited by my family,” “tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like,” “books read by CEOs.”

It’s not hard to see how useful this could be for businesses who want to connect with their fans.

The people at Mashable are among the lucky first users and they had some fun with their first searches.

They discovered that people who liked Star Wars also liked KFC; engineers like the geek comedy Big Bang Theory (I could have told them that), musicians like Tetris, Google employees like Pink Floyd while Apple’s people listen to David Guetta; people like uploading old pictures and in Chicago they snap their pizzas before they eat them.

It’s fascinating in a trivial sort of way but could be extremely useful marketing information too. KFC now knows a Star Wars giveaway is likely to be a hit and if your customers tend to like a local restaurant perhaps it’s time to team up with them for a voucher deal.

If everything goes to plan then Facebook could become an even more powerful tool for businesses.

If you are not already on Facebook we do have a fantastic Facebook set up service where we will create an account for you.

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, website design Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.  
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Happy Birthday Internet

Surely no invention in the history of humanity can have changed the world as quickly as the one you’re looking at now. The Internet was 30 years old on January 1.

Anyone over 30 will have seen extraordinary changes in how we communicate and do business over that time. Those born since then and growing up as so-called digital natives will struggle to imagine what the world was like before so many of us logged on as part of our daily routine.

Google asked a man who was there, Vint Cerf, to write a post at their blog to celebrate the anniversary.

Cerf records the ‘great adventure’ that started with the testing of packet switching for a US military programme. The first problem they hit was the lack of a common language in which networks could talk to each other. So they came up with Transmission Control Protocol or TCP. This was soon joined by Internet Protocol, called IP, and on January 1, 1983, all hosts not using these protocols were shut off and the landmark we’re now celebrating as the ‘switching on of the Internet’ was passed.

The team behind the switch to TCP/IP celebrated with good old fashioned badges; today, thanks to what they achieved that day, there’d be blogs, tweets and a whole host of social media fuss.

Cerf writes: “I feel immensely privileged to have played a part and, like any proud parent, have delighted in watching it grow. I continue to do what I can to protect its future.”

Cerf, who is now a vice president of Google as well as the company’s Internet Evangelist, wants to protect that future by campaigning to keep the internet free from political control.

With that in mind he’s also written a blog about the December meeting of the International Telecoms Union (ITU) in Dubai on the agenda of which was a new treaty which – in simple terms – would have allowed governments to control the Internet.

After the meeting, 89 countries had signed up while 55 had not. Cerf and Google are with the 55 and they’re urging all of us to raise our voices against this new agreement.

You can sign their pledge:

“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”


Cerf Blog on Internet birthday: http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/marking-birth-of-modern-day-internet.html?m=1

Cerf Blog on Dubai ITU meeting: http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/keep-internet-free-and-open.html

Google pledge sign: https://www.google.com/intl/en/takeaction/what-you-can-do/

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, website designer in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow. 
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