Our Flagship Product: Synapse

Technology is quickly becoming a part of day-to-day business processes. As a systems development company, we are being approached by more and more organisations that want to take their processes to the next level, searching for more streamlined processes, better communication and a simpler way to report. Digital transformation is on everybody’s agenda. 

From beginning to end, system development can be a large task. For companies undergoing a digital transformation it is important to understand the full process, timelines and roles involved. This enables us to work together in partnership and deliver a project that fulfils your requirements, as and when you need them.

At Zinc, we operate within a tried and tested process. It’s helped us deliver exceptional work to many happy clients. 

 

Initiation

We start with conversation. We’ll invite you to our office, or come to visit you, in order to identify what your requirements are and ensure we’re all on the same page. We’ll need to know what you are hoping the system will function like, the problem it is solving for you, and the results you’re hoping to see. 

Once we’ve defined the objectives, scope, purpose, and deliverables, we’ll put together a project team. This ensures that we assign the best people for the job to your project, incorporating any specialist knowledge that will be needed. An average team includes a Project Manager for your day-to-day communication, developers and QA beneath them to complete the tasks required, and a Sponsor to supply resources and act as an escalation point. This team will then supply you with logs that will document the project as it progresses. This will ensure we keep track of the actions taken, the risks that could arise, and the lessons learned along the way. 

 

Discovery & planning

To make sure that your project will be delivered on time, and that we have all the resources we need to do this, we’ll lay out a project plan and a risk plan. These help us to manage expectations, time, costs and ensure we foresee anything that might become an issue. We’ll also lay out the communication plan to define the updates that you’ll get. This stage is designed to cover every eventuality and make an allowance that will still result in a product delivery at the end.

The end result is a fully planned, week-by week strategy that keeps both our customers and our team informed about what’s going to happen when. 

 

Execution

The execution phase is where all the planning comes into action. We work to an agile development methodology, which means that we plan in two week blocks known as ‘sprints’. This enables us to manage the project closely, addressing any scheduling issues and deviating from the risks. This also enables us to be flexible when it comes to adding different or new functionality, able to add this in with a view to how it may affect the project as a whole. Each sprint is prefaced with a sizing meeting and concluded with a review that helps us determine if we’re behind schedule or have encountered any issues in this sprint. We keep track of the sprint progress with a daily standup meeting and ongoing change management if required. 

During this time, we also complete QA testing, adding any fixes into our next sprint. Once this is all complete, we undergo a full end of stage review to summarise the actions and project. 

 

Closure

The final stage in the product life cycle, closure ensures that the project is formally closed and offers a reporting process to ascertain successes. We do this with a project closure report to summarize everything that’s been done, alongside a benefit and objective review which can be over a series of months to collect enough data. We’ll ask for formal acceptance from our customer, and then hand the project over to our Service Desk in the event that the client needs any further support moving forward. 

The project development process is detailed and technical for a reason. By necessity, it brings together a customer and developers, both with different needs and timelines who need coordination and consistent reviewing. With the right management of both of these parties comes a well-developed product that fulfills the specification. Throughout the entire process is communication, agility and improvement. 

 

If you’re interested in elevating your business processes with an application, speak to the Zinc team. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

WordPress has changed the world. It made setting up a website a far more user-friendly, less technical experience by harnessing the power of open-source technology. For those without much knowledge of site building, the hard work of hand-coding themes and plugins is done by developers who share their work on the online marketplace. It’s simply up to you to choose the look and features you need for your site. For developers such as the team at Zinc, WordPress allows us to develop our own themes that are then easily updated by our clients moving forward. For this reason, it’s one of our favourite CMSs to work with. 

Nevertheless, the open source nature of WordPress that gives it the power it has also comes with some caveats. With so many people contributing to the same platform, there are further opportunities for an issue to arise. That’s why updates should be a frequent part of your WordPress maintenance schedule. You’ll make sure that you’re covering your site in a few different ways: 

 

Security

The first point on many people’s minds with WordPress is security. As an open source platform that’s incredibly popular, it can be a target for hackers. This is because with open source comes the danger that anybody can find and exploit a vulnerability in the system. The WordPress team works continuously to firefight this, constantly fixing anything that could become a breach as soon as it’s noticed. These protections are released as updates. Therefore, if you’re not updating your WordPress system with the most recent update, there are known vulnerabilities that you’re not protecting yourself against. This goes for everything from the platform itself to any themes and plugins you have active. 

 

Compatibility 

With WordPress, you can do anything. That has pros and cons; unless you’re looking for red flags on your plugins, there’s nothing stopping you installing something that’s out of date and completely incompatible with the version of WordPress you’re running. If you’re not careful, your site can simply break. Look for an up-to-date version of a plugin and install it onto an up-to-date version of WordPress. This way, you’re making sure that your site has the best chance to work the way it should.

 

New features & bug fixes

Updates aren’t just about security. With each one comes a host of new features and software updates that will improve your WordPress experience. The older your version of WordPress, the less likely it is to offer the benefits that have come with recent updates such as improved image editing, dashboard health checks and accessibility improvements.

 

Speed & performance

In this day and age, site speed is an incredibly important factor for user experience, search engine rankings and overall site health. With every update comes improvements that can help your site load time. These are often followed by Theme and Plugin updates to match, each improving your site performance.

 

Staying on top of your WordPress updates is an ongoing task, but an important one. At Zinc, we offer a monthly site maintenance service which ensures that the sites in our care are always updated. If you’re hoping to manage it yourself, it’s a good idea to make a list and check off:

 

If you’re interested in discussing your WordPress site with a team of professionals, speak to Zinc. We look forward to hearing from you.

Your brand carries a lot of value in your business. At its core your business is known and recognisable for the colours it uses, the tone of voice it speaks in, and the logo you’ve chosen to represent yourself. Research has shown that for some businesses, 15% of your value is down to brand alone. For others that have made their branding their primary USP, such as Coca-Cola, the value of a brand can be 50%. Therefore, a rebrand is often one of the most valuable, yet risky, things that a business can do. 

A poorly planned and executed rebrand can be confusing and alienating to customers. Nevertheless, it’s a necessity for keeping your business current. For the Zinc Creatives, a rebrand isn’t just a logo. It’s something that has to be thought through from start to finish, honouring the previous brand yet bringing it into the present day. So, how do you nail a rebrand?

 

Plan ahead

It’s easy enough to contact a creative designer and say ‘I don’t like my branding’, but there are steps to take before that. You’ll need to review your brand as it stands, establish what you have at the moment and reflect on what’s actually working. This might not line up with what you do and don’t like, but if customers are responding well, it’s worth keeping. Surveys, employee focus groups and even Conversion Rate Optimisation can help you make the decision.

Consider your goals

You know you want to make things better, but what is ‘better’ in your book. Is it simply aesthetics, or is it about a change in perception or appealing to a new audience. Modernisation is usually the first thing people ask for, but it’s more important to think about the message that your brand is sending. Older logos tended to aim for formality and professionalism, whereas today’s logos are brighter and softer for a friendly feel. What is it that you are hoping to achieve as a result of this rebranding? 

Work on the foundations you already have in place

Your brand has seen you through this far. A rebranding isn’t often a case of tearing down everything that you are at the moment and rebuilding it all. Consider Google through the ages. They’ve worked out what made them recognisable – the colours – and modernised what was dating their brand – the font. Especially if you have an established customer base, using familiar elements in your rebrand helps you hold on to those that know you whilst improving the brand for new customers. 

Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone

Yes, you should be using elements of your existing brand if they’re working for you. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to let go of things that you are only keeping because they’ve always been that way. Data is your friend here to see how customers respond to new ideas. When we do a full rebrand we’ll start with some that might seem familiar to you, but also incorporate new things that we know will surprise you. Sometimes, they’re an effective new start. 

 

A rebrand is a big job, but the returns can be exponential. The power held in a good brand is the key to new customers, a better relationship with your current clients, and making a real impact on the industry you’re competing in. 

If you’re interested in a rebrand with a team that’s experienced and creative, speak to Zinc today. We can’t wait to hear from you. 

If you’re the owner of a Google My Business account – or many listings, as we are here at Zinc – you might have noticed an email in your inbox that says that your business profile has been updated. This isn’t an unusual thing to see with an active customer base. Questions, reviews and suggestions often come through for you to respond to or approve, but once your listing information is correct, these are infrequent. 

Our Google My Business Management team noticed a higher volume than normal of automatically generated suggestions in our inbox, and quickly began to investigate. 

This month, Google announced that they will now be removing the distance-based service area setting on the Google My Business listing. Previously, it was possible to set a radius around your location to encompass everywhere within this area. Now that these are no longer functional, any listing using a radius to show their service area has been automatically updated to the areas closest to them. 

The change is designed to give service area businesses a better chance on Google My Business, removing the need to base your service area around a specific location. In the long run, it will prove a better system that helps Google My Business users reach their audience more effectively. Unfortunately for unmanaged listings, this will inevitably result in a smaller service area, less reach and worse results from your Google My Business through automated updates.

Any automatic update to your Google My Business listing is something that you should review and approve or reject when managing the listing. The reason for this is simple: the automatic update will only encompass a certain area that’s chosen by an algorithm. If your service area needs to include certain areas, it’s important that you have gone into your Google My Business listing to check on these. 

To do this, open your Google My Business listing and go to the ‘info’ tab. If there has been an automatic update on the account, you’ll see the old information crossed out and the replacement information in orange. For many listings, the automated information isn’t as accurate or inclusive as the previous radius input. 


Edit by selecting the ‘pen’ icon and inputting every location you want to target. This can be wider selections (‘Northamptonshire’) or very specific locations such as a postcode area. There’s no limit to the number of service areas that you can put here, so don’t be afraid to cover every base.

Although Google has said that this change will not affect your local rankings, it’s likely that now the change is fully in place, listings will only show for the locations they’re set to serve. Therefore, if your automatic update is inaccurate or missing an important location, you will lose rankings. 

If you have any questions about Google My Business management, speak to the Zinc Marketing Team. We’re experienced at managing listings at both a large and small scale. 

The Zinc team work within a wide range of Content Management Systems, but one of our favourites is WordPress. For businesses of all shapes and sizes, WordPress offers a flexible way to manage your site without compromising on functionality. Nevertheless, with the open source nature of WordPress comes its own risks; security is often highlighted as a risk factor for WordPress sites.

The reason that WordPress is sometimes considered less secure is because it’s open source. This means that the code used to build WordPress is available for anybody to view, study and develop for. This enables WordPress to become the open market of plugins, themes and ideas that it is, and for businesses to have a site that looks exactly the way it needs to. Unfortunately, this openness has a downside. With the source code available for viewing, it’s possible to find and exploit weaknesses within it.

With the right precautions, WordPress is a fully secure option. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the most used CMS in the world. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep your site secure by protecting it with the following measures.

Update it regularly
Wordpress is run by a core team of people who manage the platform, alongside teams of independent developers who created each plugin and theme. Updates are sent out consistently for WordPress itself, which then instigate a wave of updates for each plugin and theme. These are to patch up any new security issues that have been discovered or protect against known malware. It’s important that whenever you see an update button on WordPress, you press it.

Protect your login page
Unless you change the address, everybody with a knowledge of WordPress can find your login page. Changing the URL of the login is one option, but it’s a good idea to stop this being an open door if it were to be discovered. Start with the basics: don’t use ‘admin’ as your username and make sure your password isn’t easily guessed.

Secure your site
An SSL should be a step one requirement for all sites. They protect the information being sent from the site with encryption; this means that any forms that contain personal information, payment details or contact information aren’t easily found and read. We recommend this across the board, but it’s even more important if there’s any risk that the site itself could become compromised.

Choose your plugins carefully
The open market of WordPress plugins enables you to build a site without any real knowledge of coding. From functionality to appearance, it’s likely you can find a plugin to add to your site to achieve this. With this freedom comes risk. Ostensibly, anybody can add a plugin. At best, it could be low quality, but at worst it can have been created with malicious intent. Make sure that you check whether it’s compatible with your current version of WordPress, whether the reviews are good, and the usage numbers when choosing your plugin to avoid adding poor or dangerous code to your site.

Backup your site regularly
If you get website maintenance, make sure that a regular backup is part of it. If you’re organising it for yourself, try services such as VaultPress, BackWPUp, and or BackUpWordPress. This enables you to recover anything that might be lost in the event that there is a security issue.

When you’re working with an agency like Zinc, there’s very little risk associated with a WordPress site. We create our own themes from scratch and offer ongoing maintenance that includes backups and updates as standard. If you’re concerned about security, it’s best to work with a provider that understands the system and removes the risk.

If you’d like to discuss a new WordPress site, or improvements on your current one, speak to the team at Zinc. We can’t wait to hear from you.

In the world of technology and development, there are two camps: Open Source & Closed Source. Closed source is development and coding that’s usually made behind closed doors, hidden from the outside to prohibit anybody else viewing or using the code for their own personal gain. Open source is code that’s publicly available for anybody to see, add to and learn from. 

There are pros and cons for both types. The value of well-written code is, and should be, high. Traditionally companies made their money from selling software, so it made sense to hide what made them unique and keep those benefits for themselves. Nevertheless, open source technology has revolutionised the world of technology by making it a collaborative, accessible place. 

In its infancy, the idea of open source wasn’t welcomed into the online world. Microsoft’s former CEO, Steve Ballmer, called Linux a ‘malignant cancer’ and suggested it infringed on the company’s intellectual property. Under new leadership, Microsoft is now the world’s biggest open source contributor and paid $7.5billion to acquire GitHub, one of the most popular places for open source resources, last year.

This U-turn is industry-wide. The programmes you might be using on a daily basis are open source. Linux alone is the power behind the backend of the internet, powerful supercomputers, your own mobile phone and AI applications. WordPress, another open source platform, runs millions of websites online. Firefox is the second most popular browser in the world.

The world of business is shifting. It’s no longer about protecting the assets that have been developed entirely in-house, but using the resources of millions of collaborators to create a product or platform that works in the best way possible. 

Zinc have used open-source software as a part of our development for each one of our four proprietary systems; Admin247, Sygnal, Synapse and Synergy. Although we have a team of talented in-house developers, we recognised that limiting our options to a small team instead of learning and benefiting from the millions of online developers wasn’t a smart move. As a team who have built our organisation around the concepts of innovation, entrepreneurship and excellence in development, we knew that open source was the way to go. 

Red Hat’s State of Enterprise Open Source survey has shown that these ideas are quickly becoming the norm. Their study found that 99% of IT leaders thought that open source software was at least ‘somewhat important’ to their enterprise IT strategy. Whether they know it or not, the biggest names in tech are using open source in some way, shape, or form. 

The true beauty in open source is the freedom it offers. As a business, the idea of being able to give our customers the functionality they need without dedicating hundreds of hours of development time is a win-win situation. We start with open-source, and use our developers to make sure it works in tandem with our existing systems and client needs. 

If you’re interested in talking technology with a team that understands how to deliver a product that will work for you, get in touch with Zinc. We can’t wait to hear from you.

The internet presents an incredible opportunity to the world; the ability to learn and experience almost anything. For those with disabilities, this opportunity can be unprecedented. For some, gaining access to this level of information about education, employment, healthcare, business and entertainment would have been far more difficult. For those creating websites, it’s important to consider the level of accessibility and make sure that there is equal access for all abilities. This is especially important for local authorities, healthcare organisations, and government, where the information needs to be universally comprehensible.

Unfortunately, at the moment, the internet is a largely unwelcoming place for many people with disabilities. Accessibility often relies on screen readers and mouseless scrolling which only work with a website that’s made with tidy code and labelled imagery.

If you want to experience your own site, or any other, as a visually impaired person, try turning on your screen reader (Command ⌘ + F5 if you’re on a Mac, enable Navigator if you’re on a PC). You’re likely to soon see how unclear the internet becomes when you’re unable to navigate properly, and the software designed to help you reads out every piece of information on the site before you’re able to find what you’re actually searching for.

If you’re a designer or developer, the responsibilities begin with you. An architect would no longer design a building that excluded a percentage of its users. As those building the internet, we should make the same considerations online.

Accessibility, built in
Especially when it comes to screen-readers, HTML is the most important factor. This is where these systems find their information. For this reason, don’t forget to include descriptive alt-text on images, user header tags to indicate important information, and use descriptive labels on forms to ensure that the fields are clear for everybody. Similarly, using a table to create a site layout can be very confusing and unclear, so it’s best to build without these if they’re not required. Dynamic content can result in ‘trapped’ users, so try to avoid the use of pop-ups or overlays.

Consider colours
Colour can become your most useful tool in design, and the same can apply for accessibility. There are, however, some things to consider. For visually impaired people, it’s important to use enough contrast between the text and background to prevent the two from becoming unclear. Similarly, those with red/green colour blindness are unlikely to be able to see the most common indicators of important information. Adobe Illustrator offers a ‘Color Blind’ mode within the Proof Setup area that can help you see from the perspective of a person with colour blindness.

Be descriptive
Just as with your alt-text on images, link text is the only thing telling a screen reader what navigation is available. Therefore, Calls to Action such as ‘Read More’ are far less effective than descriptive text such as ‘Read About Our Services’.

Use video wisely
Video is heavily used online, and for good reason. It’s a great way to convey information but for those who are hard of hearing, offers nothing. Make sure that your videos are captioned, or offer a written alternative for those who aren’t able to listen to it. The same goes for any audio-based content you may have on your site, such as podcasts.

Design for everybody
Often, good design becomes accessible without any further intervention. Consider those using a hands-free mouse and make sure that buttons aren’t too close together. Keep text readable, with clear fonts. Avoid flashing imagery or muddy colours to keep things accessible for everyone.

Get responsive
What should be a staple for any designer anyway is also a factor that can really help disabled users of your site. Not only are devices often easier to use, but responsive design removes extra imagery, makes text and buttons larger and reduces CSS. All of these are perfect amendments for an accessible site.

Making your site accessible can only do your business good. Not only is the easily crawled HTML and descriptive alt-text great for your SEO, but you are welcoming in an audience that’s often left out of the conversation online. In the UK, it’s estimated that £11.75billion is lost in a year due to users with disabilities leaving sites that were inaccessible to them. If your site stands out as a place that’s welcoming and easy to use, your customer base will only increase.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are resources available online that can help you tick every box, but an even better option is to speak with your audience and find out how you can deliver an experience that they are looking for.

Accessible sites don’t mean sacrificing creativity or losing a beautiful design. It’s about building and designing in a way that’s considerate of people of all abilities. If you’d like to speak to an agency that’s aware and accessible by default, talk to Zinc. We can’t wait to hear you.

In marketing, we hear it constantly: get ready for Voice Search. It’s something that’s been in the peripherals of a good SEO strategy for a few years, but as it isn’t yet a ranking factor, it isn’t ever the full focus. Unfortunately, because of this, research that analysed around 75,000 businesses has showed that only 4% of them were ready for voice search.

Voice search is everywhere. It’s how we use our AI assistants, search whilst we’re driving, or just From Siri & Alexa to Google, every major player is making their bid to become the name in voice search. It has developed far from the early days of Siri, where the standard response was simply ‘sorry, I didn’t quite get that’. Now accuracy is up 92% and the capabilities just keep growing. Google tells us that about 20% of their searches are from voice. As the technology grows and learns, that number is set to skyrocket. That’s why we think it’s already overdue to include voice search into the world of a good SEO campaign.

When it comes to business owners, it’s hard to ignore the potential that voice search brings. Typed and voice search queries tend to bring up different results, so an SEO strategy that doesn’t include any voice is missing out on traffic. The consumers who are adapting to using a voice search will no longer be able to find your business, losing your visibility and credibility.

As SEO experts who watch and analyse the market constantly, we think that it’s only a matter of time before Voice Search becomes a ranking factor, high on the list of what Google considers vital to gain placement online. For business who act proactively, the 20% of searchers who are using voice search are all yours. Then, when Voice Search becomes a ranking factor, you have a headstart on the competition when everybody else starts scrambling to get their websites in order.

Ranking for voice search starts with what we’d consider a ‘standard’ approach. There are on-site basics that would need to be covered, which would also contribute to your national and local SEO campaigns. It’s important to make sure your site is well optimised as a foundation before any specialisations are added.

We’d then incorporate long-tail keywords into the content onsite to capture the search terms that tend to be used with a voice search; questions that need answers and long phrases instead of a quick typed query. We’ll add structured data and snippet-worthy content that the Google crawlers are looking for to lift relevant data from a site. It’s important to prepare the site for both Bing and Yahoo crawlers as well – voice search doesn’t have the same monopoly as a desktop search.

The next steps are off-site. We’ll make sure that the data sources for local voice search queries (Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing) are all filled with the correct, consistent information.

Inside and out, a site optimised for voice search needs to use a tailored plan. It’s not just a case of hoping that Alexa will be able to find your site – you need to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.

If you’re interested in working with a forward-thinking, strategy based SEO team, talk to Zinc Digital.

Most people who have made an account online in the past few years knows that a secure password is vital for your online security. Nevertheless, year after year, we see lists like this with easy to guess, unsafe passwords. The problem is finding a balance between a password that is secure enough to protect you, but not so secure that it’s impossible to remember. 

Security should be at the top of your list when it comes to a password. Here are some things to bear in mind. 

Make it long

One of the techniques that’s used to try to break a password is to run a computer programme that ‘guesses’ every combination of letters until it hits the right one. For passwords that are three letters long, this would take less than a second to break. That’s why it’s recommended to choose a long password that would present more of a challenge to these softwares. 

 

Make it nonsense

There are a few easily guessed passwords that most people with access to your social media could guess. If you’ve got your maiden name on your profile, tagged yourself at the house you grew up in, or posted a picture of an old pet, there are clues to the passwords you might use. This is even more true for the names and birth years of your children, your hometown or your school, all of which tend to be easily found online.  

 

Make it unique

31% of people use the same password for multiple sites. This means that one breach can become ten very easily, with each new profile containing personal information about you. If you’re able to, make each password different. This isn’t to say it can’t be a variation of a theme – choose a core word or phrase that you’ll always use, then add in something that will always change like the colour of the site’s logo or letters in the company name to make it a unique password each time.  

 

Make it new

If you’ve been using the same password for years, there’s a very good chance it’s been collected by a cybercriminal along the way. One of the most common ways that breaches occur is through the sale of credentials online. On a yearly basis, a good habit to get into is a password overhaul. Update everything to a new password, then if your information is out there on the internet, you’re safe. 

 

If you’re worried about remembering everything, consider a password manager. There are plenty on offer, both free and paid, that can become your toolkit for a safer online life. 

 

The Zinc Support Desk manage users for apps, portals and more for a range of businesses. The security of these is paramount, so if you’re starting out as one of our users, make sure you take our advice to keep your account locked down. 

 

If you’re looking for more advice on how to use our portals safely, speak to our support desk today. We’d be happy to help.

Creative Design is one of the foundations of what we do at Zinc. We began life building websites, and even though we’ve grown to add new services and skills, great design is still at the heart of everything we do. A job as a Creative Designer is one of the most diverse jobs we have at Zinc. Between web design, print work, client workshops and more, an average week is full of variety. 

We sat down with one of our Creative Designers to talk about what an average day looks like at Zinc Digital. 

 

9:00

The workday starts at 9. I’ll get in and have a catchup with the creative team over a coffee to work out what we’re all working on. We work to a booked schedule, so there’s usually a good idea about what everybody is doing each day, but in an agency there’s always something unexpected that might mean I have to pick up something from somebody else’s list or shuffle things around. Once I know what I’ll be working on, I make a to-do list in my diary so that I can stay on track.  

9:20

Top of my list is a client who is starting a brand new venture. Her site designs are almost complete, but we want to make sure the colours we use reflect both the professional, business-focused side of the enterprise as well as the product itself, which is aimed at children. I spend some time comparing swatches and preparing some options to show the client.  

10:30

Next, I’m on to a big task. This business is undergoing a complete site overhaul. It’s a large job, so we’re working closely with the client to ensure that everything is exactly the way they like it. Together, we’ve already decided on colours and style, so I’m designing the details like blog pages so that the whole site is cohesive. This will then be sent over to them for approval at the end of the day. 

11:45 

I take a break from my big project to work on one of my regular tasks. One of our clients has an internal newspaper that’s printed and shared in their office, so I lay this out with their latest news and send it over to them. 

12:15

An existing client wants to update the lightbox imagery on their site, so I spend some time with speaking with a colleague to work out what development is required to get this put on the site. I send them a quote and book them in for a meeting later this week to talk about it more.    

12:45

I get back to the full site redesign, trying a few different options for the layout of a blog page. For this client, we’re going for a vibrant, creative feel so I have the freedom to try lots of different things to find something that really reflects what they’re looking for.   

14:15

I’m back from lunch and refreshed after a break. My next task in one of my favourites; a brand refresh exercise. We’re working with a company that’s relaunching, so it’s time for a new start when it comes to their logo and company colours. I lay out a document that shows different fonts, colours, imagery and styles so that the client can pick one that suits their new look.

16:00

The client who I’ll be meeting later this week about their imagery replies, so I make up some contact sheets to show them. These are sheets of thumbnail sized imagery that enable the client to look through all of the potential choices and compare them quickly. 

16:30

In my last hour, I go back to the design overhaul to refine the things I did earlier. Working at an agency can require a lot of juggling, so I like to look over things to make sure that the finer details are always looked after. Little details make all the difference, especially in creative design. 

 

For our Creative team, no two days are the same. The range of clients and mediums we work with ensures that we’re never bored, working with web design, branding, print and more. If you’d like to talk with our Creative team about what we can do for you, get in touch today. We’d love to hear from you.

You’ll see it splashed across agency sites and adverts all over the internet: We Guarantee Page One Positions. Everybody knows that in the world of SEO, page one positions are gold dust. They’re the first thing customers ask about when they come in to talk about digital marketing, and every agency knows it. 

Digital marketing is big business, so it’s no wonder that there are agencies out there trying to set themselves apart with big promises. After all, best guesses aren’t what most clients want to hear. We know that what you’re looking for is reassurance that your investment will work out.

The unfortunate truth in SEO is that if there are guarantees, you’re dealing with a company that’s either inexperienced or dishonest. Here’s why:

They haven’t done the research 

If on the first conversation they’re promising a number one position, they haven’t got anything to base it on. The likelihood of a number one position depends on the competitiveness of your industry, the SEO strategies of your competitors and the ins and outs of your site. Without a bit of digging, there’s no way to know. You want an SEO provider that can offer you answers based on knowledge, not hot air. 

It’s easy to get a worthless No.1

You want to be number one for the keywords that bring you conversions. If you’re a pizza restaurant, there’s no benefit to you gaining a number one position for a bakery, but a sneaky agency might take advantage of a keyword with low search volume or low activity to gain you a first place position, even though it wouldn’t make any impact on traffic or conversions. We’ve seen plenty of people who have no idea why they’re not getting improvements when they have lots of number one positions; it’s because those number one positions weren’t chosen for performance. They were chosen for appearances.

Nobody knows Google’s algorithm

The primary reason that everything in SEO is an experts best guess is because Google keeps their cards very close to its chest when it comes to ranking factors. Nobody outside of a very small team within Google knows what that algorithm is looking for and when it is updated, therefore nobody can guarantee that they are giving the algorithm exactly what it wants. If you’re looking for confirmation straight from the source, Google’s own help pages say it loud and clear: ‘No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google’.

They aren’t considering all the factors
SEO is a world of balances. When we evaluate a site, we look at several things that will be affecting the ranking. The build and content of your site, the link profile, competitor activity, the social media activity – all of this and more will be making an impact. What’s more, the external influences that are entirely out of our control need to be taken into account such as algorithm changes and natural fluctuations. Anybody making guarantees isn’t considering that an SEO strategy that’s perfect today could be entirely different next week.  
You’re talking to a salesman

No SEO specialist worth their salt will say anything about a guarantee. They will show you improvements on your own site and weaknesses in competitors that make us sure we can gain a strong position, but a guarantee will only come back to bite them if something derails that’s out of their control. A salesman doesn’t have this same understanding of SEO, and may say things that they think you want to hear to get the sale over the line. That’s why at Zinc, our sales team work closely with the departments to ensure they understand exactly what they’re selling and how it will benefit our customers.    

At Zinc, we want to get you the best results, and our experienced, qualified SEO team will do everything they can to achieve them. You need a team on your side that’s going to be honest and transparent about the highs and lows of SEO. We supply our clients with a monthly report that shows you exactly what’s been achieved and what has dropped in the rankings, and what we’re going to do about it. 

If you’re interested in working with an SEO team who will be clear about what you’re going to achieve and how we’ll be achieving it, speak to us today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

At Zinc, we work within an Agile development framework. This, in a nutshell, means that we work in an incremental approach on several different elements of a project simultaneously to ensure efficiency. There’s a lot more to Agile and the way it works, but one of the primary ways that we manage projects and people in this framework is through standups.

Agile has a few different ways of catching up with a team. It’s vital in the agile environment that everybody has an insight into the project; who is doing what, if there are any obstacles, and whether another team’s work will be impacting yours that day. Scrums and stand-ups are both ways to do this. A scrum is a meeting that must adhere to a set structure. It’s run by a scrum-master who ensures everybody observes the rules. It’s a 15 minute long time-boxed event where only the development team speak; it’s not time for the product owner or stakeholders to say their piece. A scrum is based on analysing the progression towards the sprint goal and identifying anything that would impede the project. It works to three questions:

What did I do yesterday that helped the development team meet the sprint goal?

What will I do today to help the development team meet the sprint goal?

Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the development team from meeting the sprint goal?

 

A stand-up is a very similar process to a scrum, but has some important differences that ensure it’s considered a different process. At Zinc, we’re working on several different agile projects at a time. In order to ensure that we can cover everything that we need, we chose to choose a stand-up instead of a scrum. A stand-up works in a similar way, but is less constrained by rules. 

A stand-up still happens every day, and but allows every member of the team to say their piece. We choose to follow the three question format, but allow for longer than the 15 minute total time limit, and include other members of the team aside from the development team. That’s because here at Zinc, our developers work closely with Product and Project Managers, Engineers and Analysts. It’s important that everybody working on a product has the chance to understand its progress and discuss the impediments it could be facing. 

Each member of the team will stand, go through each project they’re working on to align everybody with what’s happened in the last day, and the progress made. We work as closely as we can to the principles of communication, preemptive action and efficiency. 

If you’re looking for a development team that work to an agile framework and ensure effective, efficient product development, speak to Zinc. We’d love to be a part of the next step for your business.

Our design team lives in Adobe. We use InDesign for our print work, Illustrator for our logos and Premiere to edit videos. We were delighted when Adobe released XD, a way to design websites that enabled them to come to life. With this platform, we can visualise and present a design all in one place. It allows us to link pages together to simulate the navigation and flow of a site in a way that wasn’t possible before.

As we spend so much time in XD,  we’ve got to know it pretty well. Shortcuts make everything go more smoothly and keep our design process quick! Here are the ones we use every day, and the ones our team find the most useful

 

Duplicate Artboard

Mac: Select Artboard Title + CMD + D

Windows: Select Artboard title + Ctrl + D

 

Switch between design and prototype mode

Mac: ^Tab

Windows: Ctrl + Tab

 

See all connections in prototype mode

Mac: ⌘A

Windows: Ctrl + A

 

Share prototype online

Mac: ⇧⌘E

Windows: Ctrl + Shift + E

 

Show Layout Grid

Mac: ⇧ ⌘ ‘

Windows: Shift + Ctrl + ‘

 

Increase or decrease a value in a field by 1

Mac: ↑ or ↓

Windows:↑ or ↓

 

Fullscreen Mode

Mac: ^⌘F

Windows: Not available

 

Make repeat grid

Mac: ⌘R

Windows: Ctrl + R

 

Constrain

Mac: ⇧

Windows: Shift

 

 

Eyedropper

Mac: I

Windows: I

 

These shortcuts get used all day, every day by our design team. We’re always learning and looking for new ways to improve our process. It’s what makes us one of the best creative design agencies in the area.

If you’re hoping to work with a design team that’s all about learning and improving our skills, talk to Zinc. We can’t wait to hear from you.

In this day and age, technology is becoming a part of business in a way that couldn’t have been predicted 25 years ago. Woven into our daily lives, technology has become the way we shop, the way we travel, and the way we communicate. 

As a technology company, we know that businesses in every industry should be considering technology as a way to step up their offering. We’ve helped those in a range of industries, but in our work within the following sectors has shown us that there are untapped possibilities. For those working within these industries, it’s time to be amongst the first to take true advantage of the opportunities technology can bring.  

Healthcare

The world of healthtech has been developing with velocity in recent years. We’ve worked with both the NHS and private healthcare providers on portals, but we’re excited to see the disruptive innovation emerging. The private sector especially is seeing smarter ways to talk to a doctor, get a prescription and manage your health with technology. Because of this, the NHS is falling behind. Although the report ‘Preparing The Healthcare Workforce To Deliver The Digital Future’ proclaims optimistic plans to embrace artificial intelligence, digital medicine and robotics, this needs to follow through. It follows a succession of reports from previous years that reiterate the importance of these emerging technologies in providing the best and most efficient care to service users. Where private healthcare accelerates, our public system needs the support and momentum to catch up. 

Local Authorities

In the world of local authorities, efficiency is key. With limited funds, any time saved or process streamlined is money saved. This is where technology can become an integral part of the way that local governments work. There are endless possibilities when it comes to automation, which can help with revenues and benefits. There have even been experiments with the Internet of Things, which can be a great tool in Housing Association properties to manage their maintenance and usage. In general, the level of data and analytics that could become available to local authorities using an innovative technology solution would quickly become one of the most vital insights available. This is just the beginning. With all this focus on internal communication, technology could also make the channel of communication between local authorities and those they truly work for – the public – far more open.  

Security

We’ve been working within security technology for years. Of all the industries, this is one that we’ve seen grow from strength to strength, and the one that we see so much potential for progress within. Every security organisation from the military to retail asset management deserves a system that protects and enables those working within it. This doesn’t mean losing the valuable ‘boots on the ground’ approach. It means equipping those workers with better tools for a more efficient way to work. There are still great strides that can be taken within the security industry regarding AI. The possibilities of facial recognition, threat detection, incident management and data analytics that this brings could revolutionise the sector. 

The time and investment in emerging smart technologies in these industries would deliver a return on investment and contribute significantly to the progress of the sector. Digital transformation should be your future. 

If you’re an industry leader looking to be the first to make an important step with your organisation, talk to the Zinc Digital technology team. We’d love to be a part of your revolution. 

In the online landscape, site speed matters. You might think that a few seconds of loading time never hurt anybody, but in reality it can have far more impact on your bottom line than you might think. 

In fact, a slow loading website could be the reason you are losing customers and money. Research by Kissmetrics found that the average attention span for a site to load is short. 47% of people expect a website to load in two seconds or less. By three seconds, you’ve lost 40% of your original audience.

What’s more, a slow load time starts the customers who do make it onto your site out on the wrong foot. The same research showed that just a 1 second delay in load speed can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. This means if your business earns just over 33,000 each month, your load speed could be losing you over £120,000 every year. 

Although loss of traffic and revenue should be more than enough to convince you that speeding up your site is a good idea, there are even more reasons why site speed should be on your radar. Since the implementation of the Mobile First Index last year, site speed is a ranking factor for SEO. Not only does Google want to promote excellent user experience, but a slow site will be slower to crawl, which will negatively effect how many of your site pages Google can find. Therefore, a slow site will rank lower, further reducing your traffic and conversions. Slow sites are a slippery slope.    

There are a number of reasons why a site would be slow to load. Perhaps you have too many large images, lots of products to load, or slow hosting. Sometimes, it’s simply the case that your site was built a long time ago, and was never optimised for speed. Many of the actions that we would recommend to speed up a page’s load time deal directly with the way the site is built. It’s never recommended to make changes to your CSS or HTML without knowing how to fix a site if you break it. 

Speeding up the site requires an audit to analyse exactly what is taking the site so long to load, and then working on the site. It’s likely you’ll need to minify the css, reduce image sizes and clean up the plugins you’re using, in addition to a multitude of other internal fixes. We’d always recommend you get an expert to do this to make sure that you get the most improvement on your site. 

Is your site slow to load? The Zinc team will be able to help you. Whether it’s a quick cleanup or a full rebuild, you’ll see the benefit immediately. Talk to an expert today to get started. 

Sometimes, it seems like the world of marketing is one that has its own language. It’s an industry that moves quickly, with lots of sectors that all look at things differently. There are platforms, acronyms, data and more to get your head around. 

Luckily, you’ve got a team of Marketing experts on your side. The Zinc Marketing Team have got together to create a list of useful terms that can help you make sense of how marketing is working for your site. When you’re a client of ours, you’ll hear these terms on our monthly reporting calls and our catch ups with you. Here’s what they all mean:

 

Overall Website Health

A/B Testing

An integral part of CRO (see below), A/B testing compares two versions of the site, with a minor change, to see which your user base responds to better. You might change the colour of a button, the call to action you use or the location of a form, and then measure the way your users interact with it. It’s an excellent way to refine and improve the conversion of a website once it’s launched. 

 

Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most important tools in a Marketer’s arsenal. It’s a way to measure the activity on a site. Implemented using a piece of code on your site, it tracks how many people have visited you, where they went on your site and how much time they spent there. Here, we can see where they came from and whether they completed a goal when they arrived. 

 

Bounce Rate

Available to us using the Google Analytics platform, Bounce Rate describes the number of people who visited your site and then left immediately, without performing any other actions. It is calculated as a percentage, using the number of users who only viewed one page and spent no time on the page they viewed. In general, we would prefer for your bounce rate to remain low. Benchmarks vary from industry to industry, but we would usually aim for a bounce rate of less than 70%. If you have a one-page website, then it is natural for your bounce rate to be higher, as there is nowhere further for your visitors to go. 

 

Call To Action

You see Calls to Action on every successful website and in each advertising campaign in the world. It’s the ‘Read More’ or ‘Buy Now’ on the buttons your see, or the ‘Get In Touch’ at the end of this blog. A Call to Action is used to catch the eye of a user and to guide them towards taking the action you’re hoping for from your campaign. 

 

CRO

CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimisation. This is a form of marketing that analyses the effect of small changes on user experience. CRO implements heat/click maps to track the mouse movement of a user and A/B Testing to test and measure different site features. This helps us to gain the best results from a site for our clients. 

 

Conversion Rate

A conversion is essentially any action that you’re hoping for your customers to take on your site. It can be anything from a form fill or case study download to a phone call. Your Conversion Rate is the percentage of visitors to your site that take an action. Once again, this can vary hugely from industry to industry, depending on how big the action is. Far more people are willing to fill out a form than spend money on a large item, so each company’s objective conversion rate is different. 

 

Funnels

The Marketing industry uses funnels to break down the customer journey and evaluate what stage a customer is in. This enables us to tailor the best strategy for each kind of customer based on their point in their journey. A traditional funnel would have somebody who is simply aware of your company at the top of the funnel, and somebody who is making a purchase at the bottom. Each stage refines the customer further and guides them towards the final stage. 

 

Goal

A goal is used in Google Analytics to track conversions. We will talk about goals with you when you first start working with Zinc, so that we can measure the right actions on your website. When you see ‘Goal Completions’ on your monthly report, this is how many people have completed one of these actions. 

Heat/Click Maps
Part of CRO, a Heat and Click map shows us how a customer has behaved on your site. We’ll be able to see where their mouse has hovered, where they have clicked, and where they haven’t interacted with anything. This allows us to choose the best place for Calls to Action and forms, and to optimise areas of the site that aren’t getting enough attention. 

 

KPI

This stands for Key Performance Indicator. KPIs are one of the most important things we work with as a marketing department; a way to measure how we are working in relation to the way your business defines success. KPIs can vary depending on your business type. In SEO, it’s often keyword placement and in PPC it is often ROI (see below). In addition to this, we’ll often include purchases, conversions, clicks and more to measure how we’re getting on. 

 

ROI

This is Return On Investment, arguably one of the most important things from the point of view of a customer. As your marketing team, the primary objective is to make your business profitable. When you spend money on SEO or PPC services, we want you to make that money back, and more. This is a ROI. 

 

Organic Marketing

Algorithm

Although Algorithms have a place in many areas of maths and computer science, in SEO, we’re interested in just one kind – the Google Algorithm. This is the set of rules that Google has put in place to evaluate and place each site on a Google search. At times, the algorithm changes and most people experience significant changes in ranking. For some more information on Google’s most impactful algorithm changes, take a look at our blog here. 

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another Google tool designed to help Marketers manage their site. Here we can check on the keywords you’re ranking for, the way Google sees your site on both desktop and mobile, and whether there are any Google penalties on the site. 

 

Mobile First

One of the biggest changes in SEO was the introduction of the Mobile First index. This was announced in 2018, and alerted the world that Google was turning the tide. It now looks at sites as if it is on a mobile phone first, which has huge implications for sites that aren’t optimised for mobile. You’ll probably hear us discussing this when you’re getting a new site with us, to make sure it has the best chance of ranking well. 

 

Paid Marketing

CPL

CPL, or Cost Per Lead, is a way to keep track of how much you are spending per lead to your business. This is used across marketing, but is most commonly used in PPC. This is because when you’re paying money to push leads towards your business, it’s vital to monitor the profitability of the strategy you’re using. A good PPC professional will be working hard to keep your CPL as low as possible. 

 

Google Ads

Previously known as Google AdWords, Google Ads is the main platform that we use to promote your business using paid search. 

 

ROAS

This stands for Return On Ad Spend. Similar to Cost Per Lead, we want to make sure that you’re getting enough revenue in from the sales we help you make.

 

We know marketing is a minefield of insider knowledge and acronyms! That’s why it’s vital to have the support of a qualified team of Marketers, such as the Zinc team, on your side. We’ll be able to answer any of your questions and make sure that you know exactly how your site is performing. Get in touch with us today to discuss your marketing needs with our expert team. 

A Project Manager is one of the most integral parts of the Technology team here at Zinc. We’re often developing a number of platforms and portals at the same time, and our Project Manager is the person responsible for keeping everything on track. They’ll be the go-between for the clients and their development team, there from the initial meeting where we work out what you’re looking for from your product, writing up the technical specification and delivering it to the developers, and then monitoring the progress to keep things on schedule.

We asked one of our Project Managers to talk us through an average workday

Before Work

I like to get up early to get a headstart on the day. I’ll get up and get ready for work, then I’ll quickly check my emails to make sure that nothing urgent has come in overnight. Because we work with offshore developers it’s not unusual to get updates or questions through in the night, so I like to make sure that everything is going smoothly.

9:00

By 9am, I’m in the office and the workday has officially started. I always start with my inbox, sorting through the emails that have accumulated overnight and sorting these into priority levels. If there is anything that needs working on with the development team, I’ll make sure to jump on these first before their workday ends.

9:30

On this day, there was a meeting for the whole of the Systems Team to discuss the progress we’ve been making on our system upgrades as well as some new policies and processes. We met with the Technology department and directors to look at the plans for our future and how we were achieving them.

10:00

Our team does a daily stand-up to go over our aims and priorities for the day. This helps us focus and evaluate priorities in a fast paced work environment. Following this, I sat down with another Project Manager who wanted to discuss a project with me. We reviewed what had already been completed, discussed the options moving forward and whether we could add further value to the product.

10:45

There’s a call at 11 with a new client, so I spent a few minutes ahead of time to prepare for the call. I looked over the emails we’ve exchanged to date and realigned myself with what they’re looking for. When they call, I demonstrated our Synapse platform for them and talked through their requirements from us so that I can pass this on to our Technical Architects.

11:45

A key client needs an additional development on an existing project, so I meet with Paul (COO) to work out how we can work it into their project taking into account timelines, the impact on other projects, contractor options and stakeholder management.

12:30

I meet with one of our Product Engineers to discuss the roadmap for our Synapse product.

13:15

Time for a quick lunch break before my call with our Development team later!

14:00

Each Friday I have a weekly retrospective with the Developers to review the progress made and confirm the plans for the next sprint. This is before the offshore office closes at 15:00 UK Time.

14:30

We’ve launched a new live guarding feature to one of our clients, so I spend some time creating acceptance criteria in Gherkin language. This is a list of actions and outcomes that the client is looking for so that when developers receive their specification, they know exactly what’s required. This ensures that when the product gets to the testing stage, we’ll know what the intended requirements are. Gherkin is a way of writing that provides a structured document that works alongside our reporting software to keep everything in one place.   

15:00

I take a trip to a nearby client to see how they’re getting on with their platform and review the engagement that they’ve had on it over the last month.  

16:15

Once I’m back from my client visit, I’ll revisit my email list from earlier and send some answers to clients who have been in touch through the day.

17:00PM

Each Friday I get the Project Team together to discuss the key projects and goals for the upcoming week. This enables me to forsee any scheduling issues or client conversations I need to have, as well as making sure my team have all the resources they need to get everything done.

17:30

There’s a new prospect in the pipeline, so I have a phone call with them and create an initial proposal document for them with a suggested product based on their needs. This will be sent over to them to approve or discuss with me next week.

18:30PM

I finish preparing for Monday’s tasks, send my final emails to clients and set off for home! If it’s a Friday, the Team might be over at the pub so I’ll be able to join them!

Our Projects and Products team work long and hard to make sure that the solutions that Zinc produce are high quality. If you’d like a chat with the team, get in touch here!

Being creative day in, day out is harder than you’d think! Although it can sound like the best job in the world, when creativity becomes your day job, it’s easy to get burned out. Sitting down at a desk and waiting for ideas is tough, but agency life waits for no man. We’ve got clients excited for their new site, brands waiting for their new look, and more in the pipeline. So, how do we keep things fresh and the inspiration coming?

Although there’s an image that many people have of the isolated creative, we think that the best ideas come from a strong team. This way, we’re able to support each other and offer a fresh perspective on a design or concept that we know will work for the designer because we know their style and the way they think.

One of the ways we do this is through what’s known as a design workout. It’s an idea we stumbled upon that has become one of our team’s favourite ways to press the reset button on our creativity.  

If you or your design team needs a boost, here’s how to get moving on your own design workout.

Find a new space

The last place you should be doing a creativity workshop in is at your desk, the same place you sit every day and search for ideas. Sometimes it truly is as easy as a change of scenery to kickstart your creativity. Find a space that’s got enough room for people to loosen up and get creative, away from the usual space of your studio.

Get equipped

We like to use pencils and paper for our design workouts. When you’re working in front of a screen, shaking things up with the real thing is even more fun! If you’d like to keep things digital, just make sure that there are all the chargers, devices and gadgets you’ll want so that you don’t have to break up the day.

Always Warm Up

Creativity is like a muscle – make sure you warm up before you push it. Start with something small and light. Pick an item in the room and get a few logo options for it, start out a few personas to use later on, redesign your water bottle. Little things that will only take 15-20 minutes and get everybody moving.

Push yourselves

Now for some big tasks. Try some things that will get your team to break a sweat – pick out some of the personas you made earlier and design each of them a landing page for your product, get photoshop up and try to create something crazy around your office photo, or analyse a design you like and work out why their designers made the choices they did. Spend an hour or so on each one of these larger tasks.

Cool down

At the end, chat about the processes you went through and the reasons you made the design decisions you went for. Make sure it’s an open discussion that’s easy going an fun – this isn’t an appraisal, it’s a workshop.

Exercises like this help keep the ideas flowing and the morale up. We’re able to understand each other’s creative process and to use work we did when we were at our most creative as a jumping off point another day.

If you’re looking for a creative shake-up of your site or branding, talk to the Zinc Creatives. We’ll be ready and waiting to help.

We’re all guilty of ignoring that persistent little pop up or the exclamation mark in the corner. Updates always seem to arrive at the wrong time; when you’re in the middle of a task or a meeting. It’s so easy to click the ‘Remind Me Later’ button over and over, until it becomes a habit.

There’s a reason that updates seem unrelenting. The developers of the software you are using are constantly working to improve it. As a technology company, we know just how much work goes into every update we send out. Our flagship product, Synapse, is always undergoing work to keep it at its best. We send out an update every few months to add functionality, patch bugs, and keep the application clean. If you spot that little notification on your app, make sure you update it!

Updating is more important than a lot of people give it credit for. Here’s why:

You’ll get the newest features and functions

In technology, there’s no such thing as a finished product. There are teams of researchers, developers and testers planning out the next addition to a software. There could be a redesign in place that makes the processes that you don’t love far easier, a new piece of functionality that you didn’t realise you needed, or a way to speed things up.

The older your version of the software gets, the worse it is. If you’re keeping up to date on your device but not the software, or vice versa, the two will become incompatible and you’ll experience a lot of problems in the way it all looks and works.

It’s not just about features – it’s about security.  

A lot of work goes into making sure that an app is safe to use and protects the data it holds. Nevertheless, a product as expansive and complex as an app can still have flaws that their developers never found. Ongoing testing is usually going on behind closed doors to push the app to its limits, finding back routes in and getting them solved before they’re found elsewhere. In the event that somebody on the outside world finds a security flaw, it’s often reported to the developers to be fixed. If you’re using an older version of an app or software, there’s a good chance that you aren’t protected from the security issues that have been solved post-launch.

There is a very real threat to devices from unsecure software. Especially once an issue has been found, it’s not unusual for it to be exploited by cybercriminals to target those who have failed to update. This is known as a zero-day vulnerability. Last year, 76% of successful attacks on organisation endpoints made use of this type of vulnerability.

All the prompts and prods to update come from the creator’s need to protect the devices of those using their product. They know that it’s their responsibility as a developer to protect their users from data breaches and security risks, but can only protect those who accept the help.

If you’re known to click the ‘remind me later’ button, take a second now to go into your settings and update the device you’re reading this on. Use it as an excuse to take a screen break or make yourself a drink – by the time you get back, your device will be more secure.

If you’d like to talk apps, security, or technical support, Zinc are the team for you. Get in touch with us on the contact page here.

In almost every country in the world, when you hear the phrase ‘search engine’, you think Google. As of May 2019, Google holds 93% of the worldwide market share, so it’s natural to consider it the only option.

Here at Zinc, we have what is sometimes considered a controversial opinion: Never Forget About Bing. The way we see it, is that we want to reach the most relevant customers for our clients – and if 10% of those people are using Bing, then we’ll make sure that we’re there too.

The most important thing to know about Bing is that their audience may be small, but it is powerful. Bing users tend to be in the older generations, and therefore carry higher positions in business and have more buying power. More than a third of the Bing network audience has a household income of over $100,000. From a marketing perspective, its far better to have one qualified lead than ten that are simply caught in a wide net. Research has found that Bing users spend 8% more online than their Google counterparts.

Both disciplines in Digital Marketing have a place for Bing in their strategies. Here’s why you shouldn’t be forgetting Bing

For SEO

Transparency

In the world of SEO, it’s an accepted reality that you’re playing a game that you don’t know all the rules to. Google is notoriously quiet about the algorithms it uses and the rules that are in place. For Bing, however, it is a different story. There is far more transparency about the algorithms that are in place and the

Defaults

Bing is the default search engine on Windows machines and Internet Explorer browsers. Many people, especially those in higher age demographics or in workplaces, don’t bother to amend their defaults to a different browser, and will use Bing on a daily basis due to the ease of use it offers.

Yahoo

Bing and Yahoo use the same algorithms, and therefore an SEO strategy for one will be just as effective as the other. A strategy that considers Bing as well as Google will ensure that you are performing well on not only one of the leading search engines, but three of them.

 

In PPC

Bing Ads Network

Although Bing’s market share alone doesn’t always compete, the Ads Network definitely can. This combines the Bing and Yahoo networks into one advertising platform which together reaches 29% of search users, which makes up around half of Google’s market share. No well-considered marketing strategy would suggest eliminating 30% of your potential audience before you’ve even started.

Lower Competition and Costs

At the moment, a lot of people are missing out on Bing. This comes with a number of benefits – not only are fewer people competing for the limited space available, but there’s less cost to the advertiser to appear there. Costs per click on Google average at $20.08, whereas Bing averages at $7.99. Although your costs will always depend on the industry, market landscape and keywords you choose, adding Bing to your strategy can be incredibly cost-effective. In our own work with a client on Bing, our Paid Search team found that conversions increased incrementally by 26% at a cost per acquisition that was 54% lower than Google Ads.

From a marketing perspective, including Bing is a simple process that can reap incredible rewards. Although Google should be the first port of call, a well-rounded Bing strategy is an effective, cost effective way to boost your reach and conversions.

If you’d like to talk to a marketing expert about what Bing can do for you, get in touch with the Zinc Marketing team. We’d love to talk!   

Whilst browsing the internet you may have noticed that upon occasion you open a website and are faced with an alert from Google: ‘Your Connection Is Not Private’. It’s alarming, and usually most visitors do the same thing – they consider the site untrustworthy and exit the site immediately.

In truth, the sites that are displaying this message haven’t been hacked and aren’t usually trying to steal your data – they simply don’t have an SSL certificate.

An SSL (or a Secure Socket Layer) Certificate is a way to protect the information that a site is sending and receiving. If your site has a form, a login facility, a file upload, or an ecommerce platform, it’s transmitting data that contains personal information to other servers. Whilst the data is moving from your site to the destination server, it is at risk. The SSL ensures that during the journey between the two points, there’s no chance of anybody else accessing that data.

You can check if your site is secure quickly and easily – simply navigate to the site and look in the top right hand corner, in the URL bar. You’ll be able to see a padlock, or a ‘Not Secure’ marker.

At Zinc, we recommend installing an SSL as standard for multiple reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, the protection it offers it vital. The business impact of a data breach is severe, both financially and from the perspective of a customer who no longer trusts a company with their business. Especially with GDPR, it’s no longer worth the risk.

What’s more, the amount of customers who will bounce straight from a site that’s being reported as ‘Not Secure’ is incredibly high. Some aren’t aware of how to bypass the alert in the first place, and those who are won’t necessarily want to browse a site that isn’t protecting their information. Research showed that 84% of users would abandon their purchase if they realised the site wasn’t secure. Are you willing to lose that number of your site visitors?

Finally, from an SEO point of view, Google takes its responsibility to show safe, useful sites to its users very seriously. Sites that don’t have an SSL will be considered as less secure, and therefore rank in lower positions than sites that can offer their visitors the protection of an SSL.

With an SSL Certificate, your site will have an ‘S’ (for secure) after the http:// at the beginning of the URL, display the ‘Secure’ padlock and badge, and stop displaying the warning upon entry to the site. It’s an inexpensive process that can save you a data breach, lost customers and poor Google rankings.

If you’d like to talk about your site security, get in touch with the Zinc Team – we’ll be happy to help.

As IBM Chairman Thomas John Watson Jr said, ‘good design is good business’. At Zinc, we’re firm believers in this philosophy. The design of your brand, site and communications are a reflection of your company as a whole, sending a message to potential customers whether you like it or not. Whether that message is positive or negative often comes down to good design.

There are a lot of ‘golden rules’ when it comes to design. With creativity there’s no right or wrong, but at Zinc we work to our own version of best practice. For us, that means:

Consistency

Familiarity is your friend on a site. A patchwork site with lots of different colours, fonts, flows and styles will confuse visitors. In terms of design and User Experience, make it clear and clean. Use the same icons, a consistent colour scheme, and make sure that the way things work from page to page are similar. There are some design conventions – a logo in the top left, social media in the header or footer, a search bar at the top right – that should always be stuck to on sites – the same goes for application design. Keep things where they’re expected to be so that nobody is frustrated by looking for what they need, and can focus on your service.

Communication

We’re not talking Live Chat. When a customer is on the site, it’s a good idea to keep them up to date with what’s happening around them – it’s just good design. Progress bars on long forms, highlights on things they could have missed and thank you pages where they’re needed is all a way to keep your site visitor from being annoyed and lost onsite. When it comes to functionality, make sure that it’s clear what is required at all times.

Space and layout

White space is every designer’s favourite thing. Space can be used in a lot of different ways; to display imagery, to focus or direct attention, and to guide a user to interact in a certain way. At its simplest, it gives the elements on the page room to breathe. Don’t crowd the important bits with unnecessary information and be sure to balance your elements consistently.

Images

Images bring a lot to your site. They bring explanation, action, realism and personality as well as design benefits. Nevertheless, it’s got to be done right. Make sure to use high quality images that look good on any screen size. It’s also best to choose images that are human-focused and natural – they’re far more engaging than a cold stock image. For devices, images need to make the most of the small space they have available.

Colour

The stories that can be told with colour are endless. Through a change in shade, your brand can come across corporate, relaxed, emotive or creative. It’s not just about whether the colour is nice – it’s about whether it reflects your identity, ties in with your logo, complements the rest of the site and does the job you need it to do. Choose it carefully and use it well.

Talk to our design team today to talk about a beautiful new design for your website.

If you’re getting ready to launch a new site or even a brand new venture, you might think that a website is step one. You build the site, launch it into the world and wait…

The problem is, with no pre-launch marketing, nobody knows your site is there. This goes for everybody who matters, from your target market to the Google robots that are looking for new content to crawl. Instead of hitting the ground running, your new venture now has to play catchup.

Without a pre-launch marketing strategy, it’s hard for a website launch to fulfil its potential. If you’re hoping to launch your site with a bang, make sure you consider some of these important pre-launch actions:

Get your basics in order

There are some things that need to be considered as a first port of call, and one of these is tracking. At Zinc, we won’t launch a site without Analytics installed. For marketers, the more data we have access to, the better. Make sure that as soon as the domain is accessible, you’re tracking how many people are using it so that you can see the effects that your efforts are having. On top of this, it’s a good idea to get your Search Console set up, and consider if you need any remarketing tags ready for launch.

Start with SEO

If the site isn’t ready for Google to crawl, it’s not ready – it’s as simple as that. What you should be doing is making sure that you’ve got everything in place for when it is ready. Make sure that you’ve got plenty of content, set up your metadata, sitemap and robots file so that the second you’ve launched, Google can read all the valuable information you’re providing. Then when it’s launched, manually submit the homepage to Google to make sure it’s crawled as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to have a catalogue of blogs and other content to be ready on day one, so your site looks well managed from the start.

Get a landing page in place

If your new site isn’t ready, it could be ready for a landing page. A simple one page site that teases what’s to come can be enough to generate some buzz. It can be the perfect place for an explainer video that’s shareable and informative, or an email signup to start building a list up ahead of time.

It’s never too early for Social

Social media should be your home whilst you’re trying to build a conversation about your brand. Here you can start conversations with others in your industry, begin to build relationships with potential influencers and direct people to your landing page. Post teasers, development milestones, crowdfunding if you’re trying to raise capital. Here you could even invest in some paid media and start spreading the word ahead of time. Then, when it’s time to launch you’ve got a crowd of people waiting to see what’s going to happen.

Consider a press release

If what you’re doing is ready to change the world, the world needs to hear about it. A press release is a great idea for new products, innovative ideas and newsworthy names. It’s not for everybody, but can be a great option if you’ve got something that people will want to hear about.

Zinc Digital can help you with everything from your website design to your launch, in both creative and marketing. We’re here to be your team – why not call us and see how we can help today.

It’s springtime, and in most homes that means one thing – a spring clean. We like to treat our websites with as much love as our homes. If it’s not had much TLC in the long winter, why not try to bring it into the summer with a fresh new look.

Up-to-date visuals

Nothing ages a site like an outdated visual. Design trends come and go, so it’s easy to tell when you’re in need of an update. It doesn’t have to be a whole new site – just a few new banners can make a world of difference when it comes to the look and feel of a site. The people and products in your photography might not look the way they do now either. Be honest with yourself regarding whether this is a good representation of your business, and if not then book yourself a fresh photo shoot.

New copy

How old is your site? Would you say that everything you do is the exact same as it was when you wrote the copy for it? You’d be surprised about the things you say that are out of date, products that aren’t there any more and statistics that are so old they are now obsolete. We’d recommend updating your copy on a yearly basis – little tweaks can help keep everything correct. If it’s all looking a bit old, it’s time for an overhaul.

An SSL Certificate

An SSL displays to your customers and to Google that you’re a website that’s secure. It stops anybody being alerted that your site isn’t private, speeds up the site, helps you rank more highly and protects the information coming and going from your address. It’s a vital part of a well-managed website, but is often overlooked. If you’ve got one, make sure you know when it will run out. If you haven’t, it’s time to get one.

Responsiveness

Mobile traffic is making up an increasing number of your visitors – we can say this with confidence because it’s a trend that’s consistent across the internet. The phone is the go-to for a quick, easy search. You want to make sure that your site can deliver the answers that your visitors are looking for no matter what, so if your site isn’t responsive, this should go to the top of your list. Mobive design can come in many shapes and sizes, but the Zinc team recommend you develop responsive (not adaptive, which is tailored to specific screen sizes or a separate mobile URL). This will provide the best experience for a user, whilst maintaining one domain.

That Thing You’ve Been Putting Off…

Maybe this falls into one of the suggestions we’ve already made – in which case, that’s one thing off your list! Every site has a job that’s needed doing for a while but never gets done. What starts out as a housekeeping task becomes constantly moved to the bottom of the list, and then it becomes a problem. Don’t let it get to this point – get the little jobs off the list as soon as you can.

If you’re looking to freshen up your site, talk to your Zinc Team today. We’ll be able to help you from your SSL to your imagery – let’s get going!

Are you the kind of person who loves technology, problem solving, variety and a fast paced working environment? You could be the perfect person for a Technical Support career path. It’s an exciting line of work that enables you to learn and experience everything in the world of IT first hand. The industry is always growing and always looking for new talent.

There are three levels of support on most Service Desks, including the one at Zinc: First Line, Second Line and Third Line. These operate as you may expect, with the First Line Support Analysts being the first port of call for any ticket and escalating this up the ladder in the event that it’s a larger issue or something time-consuming.

The beauty of a career in technical support is that it allows you to build the job you want. Love being reactive and jumping on many problems? Be on the phones solving issues as they come in. Prefer to investigate and devote all your time and attention to one thing? You’ve got the skills and the knowledge to walk easily into a new role. Your Technical Support training has prepared you to move towards several other paths, or to become an expert on everything that a good Technical Support Analyst should know.

If you’re at the beginning of your journey, you’re likely to begin as First Line. You’ll need a base level of technical knowledge, such as Microsoft troubleshooting and an understanding of both software and hardware, but the main thing is to have excellent communication skills and an ability to work in a fast paced environment. To stand out from the crowd, consider these helpful hints from some industry professionals at Zinc:

Understand Sectors

Technical Support requirements comes in many shapes and sizes. Have a look into the sectors available to you and see the things each job description has in common. You might need an understanding of HTML, CMS, Servers or all of the above. Make sure that you’ll be able to answer some questions, even if you can’t answer all of them.

Ask questions

The reason for the tiered structure on our Service Desk is that often, a Third Line Support Analyst is there to handle the trickiest issues. They’ve usually sat in both a Second and First line seat, and can help for the tickets that arise on those desks too. Ask them and remember what they say – this way you can learn from somebody who has figured out the quickest and most effective way to do things. Write things down whenever you can, as a Service Desk always needs fast learners.

Train at home

There aren’t any qualifications that are a requirement for First Line Support roles, but some organisations will have their own requirements. The At-Home training you can do is to read and learn about coding, servers, CMS, and networking so that you can hit the ground running. This shows interest and drive that will be valued moving forward.

Train at Work

Moving up, there are many other qualifications from CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, ITIL and more. These can be expensive and require a higher level of knowledge, so are often supported by organisations who need their Service Desk to have this expertise. If you can find a company that will offer this, prove yourself as a good candidate by working hard, learning independently as much as you can, and requesting it when you reach the opportunity.

Don’t forget customer service

At their core, Technical support is a customer service role. You need to make sure that you are always professional, polite and considerate, even if they aren’t always. At a job interview, they’ll be looking at this just as much as any technical knowledge. If you can discuss a time where you handled a challenging situation well and diffused an upset customer, you’ll be able to prove you’ve got the attitude you need as well as the knowledge.

If you’re looking for a technical support role that’s all about learning, development and teamwork, see if Zinc are hiring.

Developing an app is a path that many businesses are going down in today’s modern age. It brings with it some incredible opportunities to engage your user base, improve their experience with you and expand your offering. Nevertheless, it can be a time-consuming process. You need to make sure that the app you create is planned to be as effective as possible, from design to implementation.

There are two major players in the world of app development: Android and iOS. There isn’t a simple answer to the question – there are a lot of factors that will come into the decision.  

Demographic

Your target market needs to be one of the first solid pieces of research you do in preparation for your app. You need to make sure the right people can find your app if they need it. Location should be your first consideration. Android is the most used OS in the world, but the concentrations of users are in Asia, Africa and South America. If you’re looking for the most used OS in the UK or US, it’s iOS. Therefore, you need to be considering if you want that worldwide appeal or a local approach. Additionally, if a tablet app is part of your strategy, you should be thinking strongly about iOS. Apple’s domination of the tablet market should be enough to know that this is the best place to build a successful app designed for tablets.

Platform Features

Though you might think that an app platform would have the same features for developers, there are some small but important differences that are important to consider. Android offers more developmental freedom, with free reign to the internal workings of the OS that allows you to apply more creativity to the end product. iOS only allows access to a certain amount of features, so advanced functionality can be difficult.

OS Release Cycles

In development, you need to be aware of when the platform releases an updated version. You’ll need to think about compatibility and how many people will be able to use the app you’re developing on their phone There are many outdated versions of Android still in use, with a surprisingly low percentage of people who are using an up-to-date OS. This could mean that more than 65% of worldwide users wouldn’t be able to use an app developed for the most recent version. Alternatively, Apple tends to be scheduled and strict about the version that their devices are on. There’s an almost mandatory update prompt that ensures that the vast majority of iPhone users are on the latest version, allowing you to focus on catering for the newer versions instead of worrying about an abandoned user base.

It’s not unusual to simply say ‘why not both’ when presented with this question. If you’re hoping for a wide reach and budget isn’t an issue, this is certainly an option. Nevertheless, for most projects, it’s a good idea to launch in the place your audience are first, and then consider expanding if you see a market on the other platform. Otherwise you’re likely to waste time and money on a platform that won’t work for you.

 

You should be carefully considering all of the above when making your decision. An app needs to be available where your audience is looking for it if there is any hope of success – nobody is getting a new phone purely to download an app they’ll find useful. They’ll simply search for your competitor.

Zinc have completed app development apps for both Android and iOS for clients who have faced this decision. With the expertise of our team and your own understanding of your market, the decision often becomes very clear. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to our tech team today.

No matter what you’re trying to achieve online, page speed matters. For customer experience, a slow-loading site will turn away impatient customers looking for an answer. For SEO, sites are penalised for long load times. With every additional second of load time, research has shown that your conversion rates drop by 7%. If you’re building a brand image of modernity and professionalism, your website should support that from the second somebody navigates to your site. If you look after your load speed, you’ll see better engagement, returning visitors and a boost in sales.

Page speed is a difficult balance to maintain. Most people like plenty of images, text, contact opportunities and on their site – but all of these will need to load. The more there is to load, the longer your site will take to appear, and the more users will bounce from your page.

If you’re not sure what your page load speed is, or should be, try using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to take a look. You’re hoping for a score of at least 50 overall.

Improving the page load speed can require you to go into the building blocks of the site and make improvements there. On the outside, it can look the exact same, but load far more quickly.

Start with hosting

Hosting is essentially the place your website is stored until somebody navigates to the site. If your hosting isn’t fast, your site is going to be slow no matter what you do onpage. Make sure that your hosting is delivering the site quickly, and consider switching to a more efficient provider if not.  

Prepare your images

Loading many large images is a surefire way to slow your site down. A good designer will be able to make sure site stunning without overloading on images, but it’s also a good idea to make sure that when you add them, they’re in the smallest format possible – ideally compressed, in JPEG form, and only as large as it needs to be. There’s no point uploading a large image file if it only needs to be 150px wide; save the big, beautiful image files for where you need them.

If you’re on WordPress, use plugins

In general, you’ll see people warning against plugins if they want to reduce load speed. This is because adding extra things to load such as forms and widgets is simply another thing on the list. However, WordPress has some excellent plugins designed to do the hard work for you when it comes to page load speed. They’ll compress the images, minify the HTML and help cache the site in one easy step.

Control your code

Websites often use a combination of Javascript, HTML and CSS to display everything. This can build up into a lot of things to load. It’s possible to minify this so that it is a quicker load and a lighter burden on the browser. It does take some knowledge to know how much of this process the code can take, so make sure you’re working with your developer.

Any good developer will build best practice for site load time into the site as they work, but time and added content will always take its toll. Make sure that you’re often testing and improving the site whenever you can.

Google Algorithms are a mythical, mysterious thing to many people – including many digital marketers. If you were to hear about Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Fred or Pigeon, would you know what you were hearing? And if you did, would you know the impact that they have on the search results we see every day?

Google has one goal: to provide their users with the most relevant, high-quality results available on the internet. There is constant development to ensure that poor quality results or deliberate attempts to fool the algorithms in place don’t rise to the top. In fact, Google sends out around 600 algorithm updates each year – that’s more than one per day.

Some algorithm updates are more impactful than others. The majority are minor, and will barely affect the majority of website owners. Others changed the face of SEO overnight. If you’re working with an SEO company or hoping to make some positive changes to your own site, you need to know about the most famous and influential algorithms in recent years. If an update indicates a big change, Google will issue a name and an announcement for them.

Of the many algorithm updates that have been rolled out recently, here are the ones that you’ll need to know about:

Panda
Implemented: 23th February 2011
Main Focus: Content

Back in the day, it was easy to fool your way to the search rankings. With one keyword-heavy page, you could rank in first place and then re-use that same page for every keyword you need moving forward. Then, in came Panda. The update sought to combat poor quality pages and encourage content that was well written and relevant to searches. They did this by targeting:
Low quality or low-word count – pages that had a small amount of content that wasn’t really relevant or substantial. These two traits tend to appear hand in hand, with poorly written, top level content.
Duplicated content – an old-fashioned SEO tactic was to write an identical service page for every location, switching out only the name of the city. This led to the web being flooded with duplicated content.
Misleading content – if the title indicated the page was about a subject, but the content failed to deliver any real information.
High ad/content ratio – sites that have prioritised advertising space over content space. This includes a high volute of affiliate links.
Content farming – dovetailing with the duplicate content penalty, some sites would be filled with poor quality content that was often collected from other sites or written by low-paid content creators for the express purpose of ranking. These were often too short, full of mistakes and stuffed with keywords.

How to avoid a penalty

It’s not difficult to stay on the right side of Panda – simply write well-written, unique content. Don’t copy from others or try to rank for something you can’t provide some good information on. Make sure that you write enough words (an absolute minimum of 400 is best). If you need content writing support, Zinc can provide bespoke content writing services to help.

Penguin
Implemented: 24th April 2012
Main Focus: Links

Links are an incredibly powerful part of SEO. They indicate to Google that the page is of value to others. The more links, the more trustworthy a site seems and the higher value they are. This is well-known, and often abused by low-quality SEO practitioners who are looking for a quick fix. Penguin has had many iterations, with additions to the update keeping it as effective as possible. The update attempts to combat poor link practice by targeting:
Bought or sold links – Google wants to know that the links to your site have been earned. It’s possible to buy links online, but these tend to be from low-quality sites with irrelevant content. They’re easy to spot, and will be penalised by Google.
Reciprocal linking – this used to be a well-used tactic for link building; offering a link for one in return. It’s considered poor practice now, and offers little SEO benefit.
Automated link builders – Some automated programmes can build links to your site. These will be built without any evaluation of relevancy or quality.
PBN links – Some black hat SEOs try to take link building into their own hands by building networks of fake sites to build links from. Once these are found, the entire network of links will be taken down.

How to avoid a penalty

To avoid a link-based penalty, it’s necessary to be constantly aware of your site’s link profile. You’re not in full control of who links to you, so if you notice a link that’s spammy or bad quality, make a note of it and investigate. You can contact the site owner to take it down, but if this doesn’t work then truly bad links should be disavowed using Search Console.

Hummingbird
Implemented: August 2013
Main Focus: Search intent

Hummingbird was a big change in the world of SEO. Unlike Panda and Penguin, which focused on solving one primary issue, Hummingbird was a reworking of the core algorithm and is rumoured to have affected many areas of the algorithm. Hummingbird is less about penalties and more about accuracy. You won’t necessarily lose rankings if you don’t follow its guidelines, but you will easily be beaten by other more effective SEO practitioners who do consider it. Hummingbird is looking to help deliver better results through targeting:
Keyword-stuffing – a tactic that’s come up before, keyword stuffing is often linked to irrelevant content. Hummingbird was a more intelligent algorithm that understood search intent. Therefore, if somebody was searching for ‘best pad thai in Northampton’, the search knows that you’re looking for restaurants, not recipes.
Local search results – As a result of the fight against keyword stuffing, local pages were hit hard. Knowledge graph (the box that brings up a snippet of information) was launched the previous year, and Hummingbird caused a lot of local results to appear in these with automatically collected data.
Answers to questions – it’s thought that the release of Hummingbird was a preparation for the future of voice search. The sites that rank well now are the ones that answer a question, instead of targeting a single exact-match keyword.

How to avoid a penalty

As outlined before, it’s not common for Hummingbird to lead to a penalty. However, in order to compete in a world where the search results are built on this foundation, it’s best to know what it’s looking for. Answer questions, don’t worry too much about an exact keyword, and focus on delivering a complete solution to a search.

 

Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird were game-changers in the world of SEO. Others have been named and announced – in late 2018, the Medic update affected healthcare websites across the internet.

The Zinc SEO Team are always on the lookout for an algorithm update. They’re not hard to spot – a consistent and severe fluctuation in rankings across all our clients sets the alarm bells ringing, and then it’s an investigation to find what we can do to cater to the new requirements and maintain results. If you’re hoping for an SEO Team who are always prepared to protect your site from Google’s changes, talk to us today.

‘Everything is online these days – why waste time with traditional marketing?’

There’s a reason that Zinc is a full service agency. Our phone is always ringing for digital marketing or website build enquiries, but our clients don’t always realise that the most successful campaigns don’t begin with a new site or a great campaign. Step one is always your brand.

Branding is more than a name and a logo. It’s something tangible, the soul of your business and the way that your customers relate and connect to it. It’s who you are, and deserves the time and effort to create a perfect branding that reflects your personality, embodies your values and offers a strong foundation for your future marketing endeavours. Without this start, every campaign you send and person you connect with isn’t fulfilling the potential it could.

In the digital age, your customers are being constantly bombarded with information. Every day they scroll through a minefield of shareable content, targeted advertising, clickbait blogs and alarmist headlines. The ever-changing landscape is creating an audience that’s always adapting to change and processing new information. The one thing that remains constant throughout all of this is branding.

With a strong identity, you have a powerful weapon in your arsenal. You’re able to gain a competitive advantage over others in your industry:

Build a consistent, controlled message

Stand out from the stream of fast paced, changing information with a clear message. Choose your values and stand by them, and make sure that you’re communicating them with every post you press send on. There are a lot of voices in your space, so make sure that yours is distinctive. This means that if a time comes when you’ll have to address negativity or speak on a touchy subject, you’ll be able to do so with the confidence of your brand behind you.

Foster a long-term relationship

Your business shouldn’t be about the one-time sale. It should be about building relationships for the long term, enhancing referrals and encouraging returns. With strong branding, you’re giving your business name a likeable face that is likely to bring people back for more. It’s beyond buying and selling – you’re able to show authority and trustworthiness, or a friendly new perspective that’s going to make sure that you’re the name they think of first.

Stay memorable

Your priority as a business owner is to grow. If you’ve become one of those businesses that nobody remembers, you need to take a step back and consider the brand that you’ve chosen. In the old marketplace, the only choice was stuffy and professional. Now, it’s necessary to forget old habits and think more deeply. By truly understanding the voice you want for your business, you’ll be able to make a deeper connection and a lasting impression.

If you’re looking for success in a competitive digital age, you should start with your brand. It’s a simple yet effective first step to ensuring a successfully converting website and an effective digital marketing strategy. Without this, you’re just another voice shouting for attention in an oversaturated digital world.

Zinc Digital love to build brands from the ground up. Whether you’re a new enterprise or need a revitalised approach to your branding talk to our team today. We’ll get to know you and your brand to help create a look, a voice, and an identity that’s cohesive, memorable and entirely you.

We’ve all had that awful moment where the computer has crashed and everything is lost. Suddenly, it’s as if everything you’ve been working on for hours never existed.

Now, imagine that for your entire business.

There are many ways that your business could lose the data that keeps it running every day. Cisco’s 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report tells us that malware is getting more intelligent every day. What’s more, the goal isn’t always simply profit, but the destruction of data. Local authorities and governance are often operating on outdated systems and downloading files from people they don’t know – opening them up to become one of the thousands each year who fall victim to a ransomware scam. It’s not just data and revenue you can lose. Over 20% of the businesses that experience data loss or a cyber attack lose customers.

It’s not simply limited to an online threat. Everything from a fire or flood, theft, or a simple spilled drink could wipe an important computer. This is why, as a business, a corporate backup strategy is vital. A data backup is simply a copy of the information on your computer, from software to files. In an ideal world, as a business, you’d have multiple regular backups that are securely stored in different places (such as the cloud and in an offsite physical copy) so that no event could take down every copy of your data. This enables you to:

Recover data simply
Especially with cloud-stored information, recovery can simply be at the click of a button. This is especially useful for short-term recoveries – open an email you shouldn’t have? Simply cycle back a few hours and you’ll barely be missing anything.

Quickly provide information for audits
Keeping business records is a big enough job without the need to scrape old information together if it’s been lost and then requested. With regular backups, you’ll be able to gain access to everything that’s relevant to a particular time or department by simply scrolling through the years. This is useful for for audits, which can arise following a data breach. It’s also great for taxes and for simply maintaining a line of sight of how your business has progressed.

Prevent downtime
If you were to lose every piece of business information you have, how long do you think it would take to build that up again? A week? A month? A year? Realistically, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to have the same database of information available, but the time it will take you to try to recreate it instead of growing and maintaining your businesses as you could have before is often the end of a business. The downtime it takes to get a business back and running after data loss can be extensive and detrimental.

Do your work once
There’s nothing more frustrating than pointless repetition. Losing the work you’ve already done is a tiresome task that’s completely avoidable with a backup. Even one document could have months of work behind it – now imagine this with every file your business uses on a regular basis. By making sure you’ve got a copy of these files securely stored, you’ll save yourself hours of time and frustration.

Gain a competitive advantage
The main casualty after a data loss isn’t something tangible such as finance or files. It’s trust. Your customers and clients have entrusted you with their information, and you’ve demonstrated that you don’t know how to keep it safe. If you have the ability to bounce back immediately, you’re showing your customer base that you’re reliable and responsible with their personal and sensitive information. If your competitors aren’t so prepared, their customers will become yours.

We’re in the mood for love here at Zinc Digital. Building relationships in business is just like building relationships in every other part of life – it takes work, resilience and strategy, but can reap infinite reward. With happy customers comes repeat business, referrals and retention.

So how do you create a lead generation and sales strategy that makes your customers fall head over heels for you?

Start with yourself

Just like in relationships, the best partnerships come to those who are comfortable in what they want. Before you even start looking you need to know exactly who you’re trying to attract so that you can be sure you’ll be able to deliver the best service. Look at the data you’ve got available to you – who’s buying, who’s enquiring, and who isn’t. You can then create personas based on these demographics, so you’ll know that when you create everything from your website to your paid campaigns, this is who you’re talking to.

The value of personas continues through to customer experience. By knowing who you’re targeting and what they want, you’ll be able to carry this knowledge through to the way that you deliver the service so that it feels tailored, fostering loyalty and bringing your customers back every time.

Be authentic

Gone are the days of the fast talking salesman. Today’s buyer is well researched, skeptical, and can tell when they’re being sold to. Just like in relationships, success comes when you show the real you. If you’re in sales and you’ve not heard of the ‘know-like-trust’ principle, it’s something that needs to become integral to your process.

Brand awareness campaigns can be looked down on by greedy business owners who want to see immediate conversions. Though the end goal should always be conversions and profit, the road to fostering these is know-like-trust. If they don’t know your name, like what you do and trust that you can do it well then your sale will never take off. By putting yourself out there, sharing value that your client wants to see (and not just talking about yourself) and showing that you’re consistent and considerate, you’ll be able to build an ongoing relationship that’s more valuable than a hundred short-term, low value clients.

Be transparent

It starts with expectation management. Just like a good relationship will communicate about where you both want things to go and what you’ll want in life, a business relationship needs to have a clear understanding of what you’ll be providing and the way it will all work. If a problem arises, tell your customers what’s going on and how it’s going to affect the product delivery as soon as you can. Most people are happy to allow for extenuating circumstances as long as it doesn’t come to light following a failure to deliver.

Show them some love

Relationships need nurturing. The worst mistake any business can do is let the relationships that were built during the sales process drop because they’re ‘no longer with sales’. Simply reaching out with a holiday greeting, an existing customer offer, or just checking in to make sure that they’re happy will make all the difference. Treating your customers like they’re on a production line will only ever mean that they don’t come back.

The world of Technology and Projects can be a confusing one. Our process takes a whole team, all with different technical specialisms that speak a different language.

For our clients, we like to make sure you know what’s going on with your project. That’s why our team is in consistent contact with you, keeping you updated with where the development is and what’s coming next.

Agile

Agile is a development methodology that we make use of here at Zinc. It enables us to break the project into phases which are completed step-by-step and allow for a flexible project. It helps keep our products to a timeline of fast delivery and ongoing releases.

Development

Development is the building blocks of every technical project. It’s the part of the project when our team are working with coders to create every part of the end product. It’s the most lengthy part of a project, because every part is being built and tailored to you.

Gantt Chart

Our project team plan out the entirety of your project using a Gantt Chart. It’s a way to lay out planned actions and the week they’re scheduled to be able to view at a glance the timeline that’s expected; when things will be done and ready for release.

Live environment

The live environment is the product that is launched and in use. Whenever you use your product, you’re using it in a live environment.

Pilot environment

The Pilot or Dev environment is a place to test out new functionality or developments without the risk of causing issues to a live product. It is where we can safely make sure that any bugs are ironed out and that our QA and UAT processes are complete before launch.

Phase

A phase is a part of Agile development. They are used to split a large project into different areas that are easier to manage and deliver, or to plan future developments in the product.

Technical Specification

In order to send something to development, our projects team need to write a technical specification. This is a document that lays out exactly what’s required and how it should be built to make it work the way you need it to.

QA

QA stands for Quality Assurance. It’s our internal testing process in which our Testing team go through the app with a fine tooth comb to make sure that every button and page is doing what it should.

Scope

Scope is what our team believe as being deliverable during the project timeline or phase. If a new feature is in-scope, it can be delivered in the current phase. If not, then we’d suggest adding a new phase of development.

UAT

UAT is User Acceptance Testing. This is a second stage of testing, although can often happen alongside QA. It’s when we send the product to a specific group of people for a small launch, in order to make sure it’s not only functional but fit for purpose.

Waterfall

Another development methodology, Waterfall doesn’t use phases. Instead, a full product is completed before any launch. This is used for smaller projects, or products that need to have every functionality completed ahead of launch.

SEO is an ever-changing world. The best performing sites are built with search engine optimisation best practice woven in, and have the design prowess to encourage conversions.

For a successful site, SEO and design should be working in tandem. Alongside beautiful design is the potential to rank highly and gain a wide audience to appreciate it. One without the other is worthless. That’s why an integrated approach is best.

If you’re a web designer, here’s what you should be bearing in mind this year in the world of SEO.

Mobile First

By necessity, pleasing Google is the top priority when it comes to SEO. In 2018, Google switched to a mobile first index – this means that the first measure of efficacy comes from how your site performs on mobile. This is because the internet is now primarily used on devices such as phones and tablets. Google’s priority is ensuring the best experience for their users.

To design with this in mind, the first thing that you need to do as a designer is be aware of how your designs will affect speed – a site that is slow to load on mobile will suffer when it comes to rankings. Keep designs as light on code as you can, with small compressed images and Google fonts instead of custom. Secondly, make sure that the experience for your mobile user is a smooth one. This usually comes in hand with good design, but it’s important to bear in mind that a site with a high bounce rate and non-converting users won’t perform as well in rankings as a site that has been optimised well.

Content is Key

Google is getting cleverer every day. It’s looking for good quality, informative content that’s relevant to searchers, and the old-fashioned tactics of keyword stuffing don’t work any more. You might think as a designer that this isn’t your remit, but it’s still important that you equip the content writers with the tools to do this job.

When designing, make sure there’s space for plenty of content. This can be in many forms – you don’t need to lose the balanced designs of your dreams to be able to make room for the amount of content required. Work in accordions or tabs to hide content, pack in lots of small bitesize pieces, and work in blocks so there aren’t walls of text. In general, it’s best to have around 500 words as a minimum on a page you’re hoping to rank. The more the better.

Structure your site well

Search engine robots behave in a similar way to humans when they’re exploring a site. They want to be able to navigate clearly and find the information they’re looking for easily. When you’re designing a site, you consider the customer journey; what they’ll do when they arrive at the homepage and how they’ll find answers.

The best thing about good site structure is that there’s one rule that works universally: make things easy. Don’t bury important content too deeply within the site – more than 4 clicks from the homepage is too granular for a search engine robot to consider the content important. Your customers and your rankings will benefit from a simple site structure.

As a designer, the performance of the website you create is a KPI. If you’re designing with SEO in mind, the likelihood of a strong website with plenty of traffic will only go up.

Our Support desk manage thousands of users for the apps, websites and portals that we’ve developed. A part of that is helping recover and reset passwords – and in that time we’ve heard some creative passwords! 

We’re all guilty of recycling passwords or choosing something that’s easy to remember over something that’s difficult to break into. Nevertheless, every year there are thousands of cases of preventable identity theft from easily guessed passwords.

A cybersecurity firm has released a list of the most hacked passwords from 2018. This list was gathered from millions of accounts that had experienced a hack. It’s thought that around 10% of people have used at least one of these passwords. There are some repeat offenders, with ‘123456’ and ‘password’ reaching the top two places for the fifth year in a row.

Take a look at the top 25 least secure passwords of 2018

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 123456789
  4. 12345678
  5. 12345
  6. 111111
  7. 1234567
  8. sunshine
  9. qwerty
  10. iloveyou
  11. princess
  12. admin
  13. welcome
  14. 666666
  15. abc123
  16. football
  17. 123123
  18. monkey
  19. 654321
  20. !@#$%^&*
  21. charlie
  22. aa123456
  23. donald
  24. password1
  25. qwerty123

If any of these passwords look familiar, it’s a good idea to rethink the passwords you use on a daily basis. This is especially true if you tend to use the same password across many sites, as one good guess from a hacker can lead to a breach that affects you significantly. At the very least, it’s vital that you choose a unique password for anything financial or that handles sensitive personal information.

To choose a strong password, try following our Support team’s Top Tips:

More characters equals more security

The best choice for a password is a long password. Many hackers use a dictionary based system, so combat this by combining two random words or misspelling them with numbers and special characters.

Stay unpredictable

There’s a reason that there are cliches about birthdays and first pets – this information is easier to find than you might think. The best thing to be when choosing a word to build your password around is unpredictable.

Don’t get into habits

We’re all creatures of habit. This is something that hackers love to take advantage of. They know that the password they’ve guessed for one site is likely to be used elsewhere, and will try to access other accounts with the same credentials. It’s best to change your passwords so that the same one isn’t used all over the internet.

Consider a password manager

Most people choose a repetitive, unsafe password for the simple reason that they know they won’t remember a different, complex password for every account they create. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to use a password manager that can help you keep track. You’ll be able to securely store your passwords in an encrypted program that does the remembering for you.

Your password is the first step to online security. With a weak password, or a one-size-fits-all solution, accounts are easy to break into. Following that, one data breach leads to many as the same password opens account after account. Nevertheless, a strong, secure password for every site seems like a big job. Remembering every special character and capital letter and what works for each site is a quick way to the ‘Forgot Password’ button.

Zinc Digital’s Service desk support a number of platforms, and with that many users it’s natural that we get a lot of calls about lost passwords.  

This is where a password manager comes in. It’s a piece of software on your computer that’s there to remember every password so that you don’t have to – no matter how complex. Depending on your needs, there are a lot of options on the market. Here’s what to look for in a good one:

Cost

As with any product, price is a factor for both sides. Most password managers have a good free offering, but you’re likely to be limited when it comes to the amount of passwords you can store or the number of devices you can use. If you’re only going to be logging in from one place, or just need to remember a few passwords, a free password manager will do just fine. Otherwise, pinpoint what you need from your password manager and choose one that gives you the best value for money when it comes to that service.

Encryption

The encryption is arguably the most important part of the password manager you choose. If this isn’t offering sufficient protection, all the extra features in the world aren’t worth it. There are several levels of encryption – make sure that yours is protected with AES standard encryption as a minimum. If you’re looking for the highest level of protection, go for AES 256 bit encryption.

Local or Cloud

Password managers vary regarding where they store their information. Some store the password locally on the device, and some are kept on the cloud. With local storage, you’re only able to store your passwords in one place, but a cloud storage solution is more vulnerable simply because it is in the public domain; although there will always be encryption in place. There is no right or wrong – it’s about what works for your needs. Some of the higher-quality password managers will do both, so you can decide what is kept where.

2 Factor Authentication

Any additional security in the place where you keep your passwords is priceless. 2 Factor Authentication confirms your identity with a second round of security checks, whether it’s a fingerprint scan, SMS, or pin. It’s a one-time measure on each device that will help keep your data even safer.

Password Importation

Inputting every password can become a mammoth task if you’ve got a lot and they’re stored all over. Some password managers can import your passwords in from your browser so that you don’t have to trawl through and input them individually. Some also come with autofill so that once your passwords are in, there’s no more searching.

Password managers come with a wealth of additional features – they could help you generate secure passwords in future, double up as a digital wallet to store your payment information and even digitally store secure data like birth certificates and passports. The most basic, most important feature however is security.

2018 is seeing a resurgence in the popularity of Print Marketing. Online brands are seeing the potential in print to engage, inspire and capture an audience who is bombarded with digital advertising throughout their day. Big names like Facebook and Amazon are straying from their traditionally entirely digital strategies by supplementing with a print marketing strategy. For Amazon, a printed toy catalogue is being circulated in the US to revive nostalgic memories of Christmas past. Facebook, on the other hand, is using print to make its public apology, supplementing the lost trust that the company is experiencing with the reassurance of words in print. For both, print brings with it the authenticity and trustworthiness of a time before an easily editable online medium.

The beauty of print is that it’s now become a medium that is underused. That means that, to an audience who is faced with digital marketing all day, the sight of a physical printed communication holds new weight. Alongside the cheap, unreliable information that saturates the market at the moment, it proves that the company that commissioned it cares. It suggests permanence, investment and thought. It enables a company to curate a more ‘human’ presence outside of the strategised online space. Research has found that forms of physical media, such as cards and mailouts, increased feelings of connectivity more than online strategies. Alongside this, with the right design and content, engagement is instant and action is often not far behind. It allows for complete focus, without the distraction of a notification, a scroll or another advert. In the event that there is a distraction, print media is always easily accessible to be picked up and perused again.

The benefits don’t stop there, however. With costs per click rising and print becoming more accessible, there is a shift in the balance that is making print a cost-effective option. What’s more, the returns on investment are often even better. This isn’t to say the two are mutually exclusive. The best campaigns are ones that use both print and digital media together as complementary services, providing multiple touch points across the user experience and sending a tailored message with each. That way, when your printed product hits the doormat, your client has already seen your name and understands what you do.  

Print can encompass everything from business cards and mailouts to the exhibition stands that stop you in your tracks at conferences. Some are essentials, some are niche, and some are to be used alongside a strategy to get the best return. Whatever you choose, working with a design agency that doesn’t just do things digitally is vital. Print design is a different game altogether, with restrictions and considerations that many digital designers haven’t faced.

Print marketing has been in the shadow of Digital for too long. The intention, credibility and tactile experience of printed media is regaining the strength it once had, carving a niche it never had when it saturated the market.

2018 has been an incredibly exciting year for everybody here at Zinc. In the past two years, we’ve experienced more growth than ever before, with lots of exciting new clients joining our books and bringing us plenty of projects to work on. As a result, we’ve welcomed a lot of new faces into the Zinc office to keep us delivering a great level of service.

Meet the newest members of the Zinc Digital team:

 

 

Sam Malloy – Product Architect

Our in-house CMS, Admin247, has been around almost as long as Zinc has. It’s had updates, improvements and additions over the years, but never a full overhaul. Sam has been working on both Admin and our incident reporting app Synapse to give them a whole new look and an even better experience for our users. He’s an expert in working with Angular, making him the perfect person to work behind the scenes on our products.

David Moorhouse – Head of Technical Services

With an ever-expanding technical team and plenty to do, we brought in David to help us keep us as efficient as possible. He joins us from a background as a Lead Business Analyst, supporting our busy team by applying his expertise in both technology and management to help keep the developers, support team and projects team communicating throughout. With his years of experience and his dedication to working to a client brief alongside the needs of the team, we’re excited to see where David will take our Technical Services Department.

Sandeep Jella – Lead Tester

Quality Assurance is a vital part of every technical project. It ensures that the end product has been put through its paces, working out every bug and making sure that everything does what it should do. With the amount of technical developments we’re now dealing with, a dedicated QA tester was at the top of our list. Sandeep is well versed in all types of testing, from UAT to GUI. With his skill set behind us, we’ll be able to continue to maintain a high level of quality throughout our development process.

Zinc is always on the lookout for talented people to join our team. If you’re interested in being  a part of a dynamic, innovative team, take a look at the careers page on our site today.

Technology makes our world go around today. We use it to get around, to stay connected, to entertain ourselves and to earn our salaries – yet we don’t realise the innovation and advances that have taken place in the last twenty years that have provided this to us.

At Zinc, to say we love technology is an understatement. Our Tech team can talk development for hours and argue about the best way to evolve a product but the thing we love most is the inspiration and innovation that has gone into the technology we see every day. It’s what keeps us at the top of our game when we plan, develop and launch our technology projects.

The household names we use each day are stories of determination and innovative thinking that everybody in Tech should all know and learn from.

Netflix

Arguably the biggest streaming service in the world, Netflix has had an immeasurable impact on the world. There’s the obvious: the fact that millions no longer sit down in front of live television every evening, and then there’s the ripples of mainstream TV networks who have been forced to step up their game to compete, creating a golden age of TV. The key to this success was their dedication to disruption and innovation. From launch, Netflix created themselves a value that nobody else was meeting by replacing VCRs before anybody else had realised there was a better solution in DVDs. Most importantly, however, they put their website at the centre of the entire idea before streaming was even a concept. By creating a seamless, personalised site that was a key part of the process, the move to an entirely online solution was easy for customers. It enabled Netflix to become the first to do online streaming well, with users in mind.

Amazon

In 1995, Amazon was a bookseller. It did one thing, and it did it well – a focus on service and speed. Then, in the next twenty years it has become one of the only names to know in ecommerce, selling everything from the books it laid its foundation on to food, cosmetics and clothes. So, how did they do it? Diversification. Amazon is always on the pulse of what’s about to be important, and isn’t afraid to try and fail. Its own music offering, Amazon MP3, was replaced with Amazon Music Services before it had the chance to become obsolete, the fire phone was launched and scrapped within a year and a half. With constant introspection, analysis and testing, Amazon has been able to drive continuous reach and relevance. With endless new markets and options, they’re likely to be a staple of the ecommerce world and more for years to come.

Tesla

Some would say that Tesla are innovative because they brought electric cars to the automotive industry. This isn’t the case. Electric cars were already on the market before Tesla existed, but they were a shadow of the product that they are today. They couldn’t exceed 50 miles or 40mph on their less-than-powerful batteries, they took hours to charge, and, of almost equal important, they looked ugly. All in all, electric cars weren’t getting the investment from manufacturers because they didn’t want them to become a desirable option. Tesla took a product that was treated like a compromise and made it not only desirable, but aspirational. This was through significant investment in the technology, addressing the pain points of the users and exceeding the expectations they had. Add in the personality that the company displays, the moral high ground that it occupies as an eco-friendly alternative, and a sleek design – you have an innovative take on a product that nobody wanted twenty years ago.

The Zinc Support desk is one of the busiest parts of the company on a day-to-day basis. Our phone rings more than 200 times a week, bringing us questions about passwords, security, site changes and everything in between. With this many calls, it’s natural that we find ourselves saying the same things over and over. Sometimes it’s a frequently asked question and sometimes it’s simply a technical term that isn’t commonly used. Our Service Desk wrote up a helpful guide to make sure that there’s no such thing as technical jargon.

 

Back End & Front End

In the online world, there are two ways to work with a website: the Front End or the Back End. Using Zinc Digital as an example, the website itself is what is referred to as the ‘front end’, and our Content Management System Admin247 is what is referred to as the ‘back end’. If one of our Support Team tells you they’re making changes to the back end of the system, it means they’re working on the part of the site that the user doesn’t see. These changes tend to be reflected on the front end in a more user-friendly way.

 

Browser

A browser is the tool you’re using to access the internet. There are a few that are commonly used: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. We’ll often ask what browser you’re using, as websites often behave differently depending on the browser you’re using. If you’re not sure, check on www.whatsmybrowser.org

 

Clearing the Cache

As you use the internet, the browser you’re using stores information about the sites you visit. To keep loading times at a minimum, the browser remember parts of a website so that the next time you go to that site, it can provide the information quickly. If we’ve made a change on your website, or something isn’t loading correctly, we might ask you to clear your cache to make sure that your browser is loading the most recent version of the site. If you’re not sure how to clear your cache, take a look at our quick guide here.

 

DNS

The best way to describe a DNS is by imagining a phone book. When we type in a website address, there’s another address which is known as your IP, which is what shows your computer where to go. Just as we find it much easier to read zincdigital.com, a computer finds it easier to read an IP. A DNS is the place where the two are matched together, making it easy to know which IP address leads to which site.

 

Domain

It’s common to confuse a website with a domain. Your domain is the name and address you’ve chosen for your website, but it’s possible to have a domain without having built a website. This simply means that you now own the name you’ve chosen, and could operate a website or emails from this domain if you wished.

 

Hard refresh

Just as you might be asked to clear your cache, we’ll often ask our callers to do a hard refresh. This will clear the cache for the page you’re currently on, loading the newest version so that we can see if there are any issues with it. To quickly do a hard refresh, press Ctrl + F5 on Windows or Cmd + Shift + R on Mac.

 

Propagating

Domain or DNS propagation is the process of transferring a domain to its new location. This can take a while to complete as every server in the world is updated with the new information. Usually we’ll ask for a day or so to make sure that everything is fully propagated and that your site loads correctly every time.

 

SSL

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a way to add an extra measure of protection to your website by encrypting the information it transmits. Our Service Desk are responsible for installing these and ensuring they are functioning properly. If you’d like to learn more about SSLs, take a look at our blog here.  

 

Server

There are many types of server – for websites, emails, networks and more. Put simply, this is a powerful computer located elsewhere that is responsible for providing your computer the data it needs to function. When you visit a website, you’re asking your computer to access the server that stores that website so it can load on your end. In the event that there’s a problem on the server, there may be a problem loading the emails or website that it stores.

 

Spam/Junk Folders

It’s more common than you’d think to lose an email. The first port of call should always be to check in your Spam or Junk folders to make sure that your email provider hasn’t automatically categorised the mail as malicious. Usually, this can be found beneath the Inbox, Outbox and Sent folders in your email client.

 

URL

Your URL is essentially your address on the internet. The URL bar is usually located at the top of the browser, and is the place that you’d usually type in an address such as zincdigital.com or google.com. If we ask for a URL, we’re asking for you to highlight the link in this bar and send it to us.

 

Uptime & Downtime

Uptime and Downtime are terms used to describe when a server is functioning or isn’t. In an ideal world there wouldn’t be any downtime, but in the event of a server issue or an attack there can be time when the site isn’t working. If this happens, we’ll let you know how much downtime there was.

 

Our Support Desk will be happy to help if you have a technical issue with a site, an SSL, or any other service we’ve provided to you. Give us a call on 01604 598999 for help.

The first meeting between a creative team and a client is one of the most important ones we’ll have with you. It’s the time where we get to know you, your brand, and where we’re going to take it all.

Meeting your designers doesn’t require a lot of preparation, but anything you can bring us helps speed the process along and makes everything more productive. If you’re getting ready for your first creative design meeting, why not bring:

The right people

We love a first meeting to be full of ideas. We want to meet the people who are going to be working with us as we design your site, so bring along anybody who’s likely to have input. That having been said, if it’s going to get crowded then send a delegate with some notes from everybody else.

An idea of what you want to achieve from your new site

The goals and expectations of your site are vital for everybody to understand. By this, we don’t mean what you want it to look like (although we’ll definitely be talking about that!). We want to know if you’re looking for people to buy from an ecommerce platform, read your content, use a contact form or something else.  

Some likes

Competitors, colour schemes, or just sites that you’ve stumbled across that you love – it’s all valuable. From the things you show us, we’ll be able to understand whether you like things minimalist and clean or bright and busy. Even if there’s just the one component that you like, bring it over to us for a look.

Some dislikes

The things you don’t like are just as valuable as the things you do. When it comes down to it design is all about personal style, and we want to make sure that what we’re designing is in line with yours. We primarily design for the end user, but it’s important to us that you’re just as in love with your website as we are, so if you can show us sites you’re not a fan of we’ll be able to get a feel for the things we should be avoiding.

The beginnings of a plan

We’ll walk and talk you through everything that we need to know, but if you’ve got an idea of what you need in a website at the beginning it’s invaluable for us. Think about the pages you’ll need and the kind of things you need on there. A mini plan with your navigation and what’s required is a great jumping off point for us.

To talk about your new website, branding and more, give the Zinc Creative Team a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

As a company with an extensive technology department, Zinc Digital have designed, developed and launched a number of apps, portals and websites that included a substantial amount of bespoke functionality. As part of this, we perform extensive testing to ensure everything works the way it’s designed to.

One of the most important forms of testing is UAT (User Acceptance Testing). UAT is the practice of testing the product as an end user, not as a developer. It’s not unusual for individual features and functions to have their own testing, but there can be issues associated with integrating the new piece of software that aren’t immediately apparent. This is where UAT needs to come in.

UAT is the practice of testing the product as an end user, not as a developer. It’s not unusual for individual features and functions to have their own testing, but there can be issues associated with integrating the new piece of software that aren’t immediately apparent. This is where UAT needs to come in. It’s no longer all about functions – it’s about the experience as a whole. Not only are your testers ensuring that everything works the way it should, but they’re making sure that your future users will be able to open the app, take any route and still be able to achieve the intended outcome of the app.

This is an integral part of app development that often gets overlooked or rushed. Without UAT, developers are delivering an app that can’t survive in the real world as it hasn’t ever been tested the way it would be after launch.

If you deliver your app without proper testing, your user base immediately becomes your UAT team. This is a quick way to a very public testing period in which your bugs and UX are picked apart in a public setting. Before long, you have a reputation for a difficult to use app, even if it’s a small part of the functionality that’s causing an issue.

Ideally, your UAT tester won’t have had much interaction with the product. By employing the services of a good UA Tester, you’ll not only be able to find bugs and functionality issues, but make sure that the product you’ve created fits the brief before launch, saving the time and resource you might need in the future to correct any issues. The result is a happier client, a happier end user, and a lift of pressure on your team who will no longer have to perform live fixes with feedback from dissatisfied clients.

The benefits of UAT significantly outweigh the investments. It has been found to save almost 30% of the total project time when the time taken is accounted for, improving your ROI and most importantly, your end product.

Good UAT is a combination of both software performance and human behaviour analysis. It’s ensuring that your technology is able to interact with your intended audience in a realistic way. With good quality software, your user base will naturally grow alongside your reputation. In the end, everybody wins.

SEO is an incredibly important step in your digital marketing journey. It’s the reason your future customers will be able to find you online, so it’s important to find the right agency that can get you the results you need.

Once you’ve researched an agency and made a few calls, how do you know that you’re dealing with a good quality agency? Make sure to ask them some telling questions before you start anything.

Any industry experience?

It’s natural to look for an SEO agency that’s got experience in your industry. They’ll already know the online landscape, the keywords that are valuable and have contacts that can help you build links. Nevertheless, it’s far more important for your agency to be an SEO expert than an industry expert. As long as they’ve got the case studies to show they’re great at what they do, any industry experience is simply and added bonus.

What other services do you offer?

Digital Marketing is a world that has a lot of options. It’s unusual to find an agency that is purely SEO, but an agency with other services can be incredibly helpful. For startups, a boost of PPC can really help gain traffic. Having a creative design resource can ensure your landing pages are optimised for conversion and having a content department will support your SEO strategy. If you’re aware and open to these options, a good agency will be able to show you a well rounded strategy.

What are the KPIs?

In Digital Marketing, success isn’t one thing. When it comes to SEO, we’re hoping to rank your website highly for relevant keywords, but that’s not the be all and end all. We also want to make sure that your traffic is going up, and that as a result of that you’re getting more conversions. If your agency is just telling you that you’re looking at rankings, they’re not looking at the big picture.

How long will it take to get results?

This is a quick way to weed out an SEO agency that’s just saying what they think you want to hear. A poorly run SEO agency will usually make promises and tell you that you’ll be on the first page of Google within a month. As much as we’d love for this to be true, it’s not always how it works. It’s far better to hear the truthful answer: it’s impossible to predict, but we’ve got a strategy that’s built around your business and your website as it stands.

How do you go about link building?

Link building is a contentious issue in the world of SEO. Having links to your site is incredibly important, but low-quality SEO practitioners often cut corners here. As a result, you’re far more likely to see penalties from low quality links than a high ranking. Saying they don’t practice this at all is either a mistake or a lie. The best answer is to find industry relevant websites and to find links through trusted sources or outreach.

How much input do you need from us?

This questions doesn’t have so much of a right or wrong answer – it’s simply whether they’re going to be working in a way that suits you. At Zinc, we will sometimes ask for input to gain access to your site and make changes, request sign-off on content, and suggest a monthly meeting so you’re in the loop. Some agencies will ask you to write your own content, some will prefer to be left to it and you’ll only hear from them every now and then. If you know what to expect, you’ll know if the agency is a good fit for you.  

In a world filled with SEO experts, it can be difficult to know if you’ve found a good one. If you’ve been able to find them through an online search, you can already be confident that they know what they’re doing, but it can take some industry insight to sort the wheat from the chaff. Luckily, you’ve got Zinc Digital to help.

If you’re looking for an SEO agency, we’re one you can trust. Zinc has been in business for more than 14 years, learning and adapting the way we work to get great results from tried and tested techniques.

We offer a free SEO health check that can tell you just what your current agency may be missing. Talk to us today to learn more. 

When it comes to mobile apps, there’s a life cycle. A user will have a need, search for a solution, download it and engage with the app. Following this, your users will either continue to engage with your app, or they’ll delete it. Gaining users for your app is only half the battle. The true measure of success is when they are retained, returning and engaging with you.  

The primary reason a user will delete an app is because they don’t use it. If your app doesn’t provide a user-friendly experience and deliver the solution they’re looking for, it’s simply taking up space on their device. This is valuable real estate, so you need to make sure your app is created to convert a first-time user from the moment they open it. Done well, you’ll foster a community of long-term users who are active and engaged. Alongside this comes increased usage, growth in brand awareness and by default an improvement in revenue.

App engagement is simply usage. If they’re opening your app and using it, you’re getting engagement. If they’re staying for longer, you’re providing them with the product they were hoping for when they downloaded your app. The app store provides a quick and easy road to your competitors if you aren’t able to do this.

In our experience as app developers and marketers, engagement is all about experience. Every demographic is different, but there are a few golden rules that will help your app get the engagement and dedicated users it deserves.

Simple Signup

Your first impressions count. If the initial action you’re asking your users to do is a long, drawn out onboarding process, they’re going to close the app and find a quicker solution. In a world of instant gratification, your user base isn’t going to wait. The fewer steps you have in your signup process, the better. Don’t ask for too much information, and if you can combine steps to keep things quick then do so. You don’t need to explain everything at the start or offer a tutorial – let the user explore or ask for help. If you do want to explain, replace text with icons and images to keep things simple, or give them an option to skip.

Personalise the experience

Use the information you gained in your onboarding to add personalisation to your app. Addressing users by name and tailoring the messaging to their needs will help deliver the experience your users were looking for. Welcome pages, in-app messages, notifications and landing pages can all be directed directly at your users, and can lead to a 27% increase in conversions according Braze.

Gamify It

Whether your app is all about fun or all about function, adding an element of reward and gamification can help improve the engagement from your user base. Ordinary tasks such as filling out a profile or changing a password can be encourages with a progress bar or badges. If there’s a way to make things competitive, incorporate a leaderboard where your users can see how their friends, or even other users across the world, are doing.

Make Use Of Push Notifications

If users aren’t opening your app, there’s not much opportunity to tempt them back. Some use emails, which can be effective, but the best way to get a user back on your app is to talk to on the same channel they associate with you. Push notifications are the perfect way to announce a tip, offer, new feature or to simply offer a gentle reminder that you’re there. For some, non-engagement isn’t a case of disliking your product but simply forgetting it’s there.

Engagement is the true measure of success for your app, but you should never leave it up to fate. Watch how your users are interacting with the app and where they start to drop off. Address the problems and make every step easy and intuitive. The most important thing is to never stop learning and improving.

For an expert app design that’s built to foster engaged users, speak to the Zinc creative team. We’ll work with you to create something that’s tailored to your demographic and industry, delivering something that not only addresses your needs, but surpasses them.

2018 has been a year of great change for Google Ads. It’s been re-christened from AdWords, and has undergone a full rebrand in the way it looks and operates. The next step in this year of reinvention is a step that means great things for advertisers and our clients alike: Responsive Search Ads.

Responsive Search Ads are the biggest change in the way Google Ads works since 2016, when Expanded Search Ads were launched. They changed the way that traditional search ads work for us behind the scenes, providing hundreds of new options for our customers on the front end.

With a traditional search ad, a static text ad is created with a single headline and text. Each variation is manually created, making testing a long process. With the new responsive ads, you’re able to write up to 15 headlines and 4 different descriptions that will dynamically combine to test over 43,000 ad options. As your ad runs, Google intelligently collects data on how they perform, collecting data signals on browsing habits, devices and engagement. With this data, the responsive ad will begin to show the highest performing variations more, optimising the adverts until they’re performing at their best.

Furthermore, Responsive Search Ads are bigger than their predecessors, allowing your ad to take up more space and push competitors down the page. When writing, we suggest getting truly creative. 15 variations of the same theme won’t make a good test – try things that are out of your comfort zone and your usual messaging. They just might work, and if they don’t, they won’t be shown as frequently.

As an agency running successful PPC campaigns for many clients, we’re always happy to see a development that offers more chances for our clients to gain sales and revenue. We can’t wait to see the positive effects that larger ads with a greater capacity for testing will have on our campaigns.

To get an expert take on Responsive Text Ads and to begin your journey into successful paid advertising, get in touch with the PPC team at Zinc Digital today. We’ll be able to guide you through best practices to help you create a dynamic, high-converting text ad.

Healthcare is one of the most competitive industries on the web, for very good reason. A Healthcare company that can be found easily online is benefitting from being the first thing that millions of searchers are seeing. According to Google, one in every 20 searches online are health related. If your business appears in any of those searches you’re reaching an incredible audience, building a relationship based on authority and brand awareness that will benefit you immeasurably going forward.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the practice of refining a website to give it the best chance of appearing high up in a Google search. The value of a high search engine ranking cannot be undersold; without it, you won’t be found. It’s as simple as that.

Unfortunately for most Healthcare providers, the competitive nature of the industry makes SEO a difficult task. It takes a professional knowledge of both the healthcare industry and the ever-changing world of SEO to be in with a chance of succeeding.

A successful Healthcare SEO campaign needs to include the following things:

A well-planned website

You might think that SEO all happens with keywords, but it’s been a long time since that was all it took. Now, search engines look at your website very closely from the code they’re built with to the content on the site. Everything has to have SEO in mind, so if your site isn’t up-to-date, or you didn’t build it to SEO best practice, you’re far less likely to rank. Even things you may not have noticed, like the green padlock that indicates a site is secure, might not be present if you don’t have an up-to-date SSL Certificate.

Depending on your CMS, it might not be as hard as you may think to solve this. WordPress offers plugins that can help bring your site up-to-date. For the best results, get the advice of somebody who will be able to audit your site and highlight any problems you might miss.

Mobile Friendly capabilities

Smartphones are used for 62% of health information searches, so you need to make sure that you’re accommodating for your audience not only from an SEO perspective, but a user experience perspective. Consider mobile appointment bookings, a responsive site and a way to find directions quickly to make sure that your mobile customers have everything they need at their fingertips.

When it comes to Mobile SEO, there are slightly different rules to a standard strategy. You need to be aware of your mobile page loading speed and the responsivity of your site, as well as the keywords you use. Mobile searchers tend to type differently to desktop searchers, so it’s vital that these types of keywords are accounted for in addition to the traditional keywords you may already be using.

A Focus On Local SEO

For the majority of healthcare providers, local business is the only business you want. A nationwide page one ranking is incredible, but the majority of your new patients will be arriving from your local area. Patients want treatment and products from a location that’s near to them. Identify the locations near you that you want to target and begin a local SEO campaign that addresses these places specifically. Local SEO combines citations, off-page links and your on-page content to distinguish which locations your business is serving.

High Trust Flow

Trust is vital in the healthcare business, and it’s no different in healthcare SEO. Just as your patients know that you’re a qualified medical professional with the skills they need, Google needs to know that your site is relevant and trusted by others. It does this by creating a ‘Trust Score’, evaluating the links to your site from other websites. If these links are from high-profile, trustworthy sites, you will see a benefit. Conversely, if they’re from low-quality sites, your site will lose ranking.

Trust Flow is often the decider between two sites that are well optimised on-site. If you have a great trust flow, you’ll rank more highly than your competitors who may not. To achieve this, create citations on online directories and reach out to other sites to gain a link.

Competitor Research

In an online world with lots of competitors, it’s in your best interests to know what they’re doing. Not only can you see what others are doing right, but you’re able to see the things they haven’t got quite right. With this information, a good SEO professional will be able to create a strategy that can take advantage of any missed opportunities, pushing your rankings above your competitor.

Competitor research requires some insider knowledge and some specialist software that’s hard to come by if you’re trying to optimise your site alone. For this part, an SEO professional will be able to audit your competitors and discover the things you should be making the most of.

For a competitor audit, an expert opinion or a full strategy that will help shoot your healthcare business to the top, speak to the expert SEO team at Zinc today. We’ll be happy to help.

Zinc is proud to be amongst the first to have our software platforms available on the new G-Cloud 10 Framework. We have a long history of providing government bodies, local authorities, the NHS and public sector organisations with the leading technology solutions and supported by a high quality service, which is paramount for their service delivery.

G-Cloud is a government initiative, incorporating hosting, software and support providers in a place where trusted suppliers can be compared and reviewed. The providers using the G-Cloud framework must fulfil a series of strict criteria in order to be awarded accreditation. This is a comprehensive set of standards that ensure the quality of the service provided remains high. They must comply with the G-Cloud 10 terms and conditions, the government technology code of practice and the digital-by-default service standard, as well as ensuring that they retain a high level of security and an affordable price point that enables public bodies to use it.

Since its initial launch in 2012, G-Cloud has undertaken regular relaunches. Each supplier must re-apply in order to continue to offer their services on the G-Cloud platform, ensuring that there is a consistently updated database of high-quality suppliers able to offer flexible solutions, ensuring that Government organisations get the best platform for them.

Zinc provides two services to G-Cloud 10 – our enterprise-level Content Management platform, Admin247, and our flagship product, Synapse, our actionable insight platform for incident reporting, intelligence gathering and communications. These products have been supporting government bodies and major UK brands with tailored functionality for years, and we’re delighted to have been awarded the accreditation once again.

Being one of the few organisations included on the G-Cloud 10 Framework highlights Zinc as an organisation trusted by government and public bodies, as well as the the thousands of users that use it on a daily basis.

View our listings on the G-Cloud 10 Digital Marketplace here and here, and get in touch to discuss the way that we could help your government organisation.

As a company that not only designs and builds websites, apps and portals for businesses, but has also developed our own flagship project in the form of Synapse, Technology is an integral part of everything we do here at Zinc Digital.

We’ve been a part of some incredible digital transformations, helping bring companies into the technological age. We’re often a part of the process right from the beginning, when a company has nothing more than a concept. We answer questions and offer support at every stage to help our client achieve the best possible product for them.

There’s one golden rule when it comes to technology. Often, our meetings begin with the question: ‘what are you hoping to achieve with this development’. The answers tend to be insular: better marketing possibilities, a way to gain customer insights, a way to showcase and sell products more efficiently. These are all great benefits of technology development, but they’ve got one problem.

There’s one thing that often has to be said: The consumer doesn’t care about you – what can you do for them?

It’s a shocking thing to hear at times. Nevertheless, it’s something that can truly revolutionise a product from being all about the business to being all about the consumer – and that’s what creates something successful. Some say it’s obvious, but time and time again there are businesses who release apps that are made to benefit them, when their focus should be elsewhere.

The best developers in the world and the most efficient project plan won’t help if your product isn’t considering the end user at every point. There’s no gain in your business spending time and money developing a system that won’t solve a point of pain. Therefore, instead of focusing on whether you can develop something to outdo a competitor or become the first business to take an innovative step, create something that will make an impact to the people who will make or break the product. Happy customers tell their friends, their social networks and use the product regularly enough that you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits you were originally hoping for, whilst creating something that will bring you more return every time.

The best technology benefits everybody, from the creator to the user. Why not come to Zinc with your ideas, and we’ll help you build them into something incredible.

Talk to our technology team today about your needs, goals, and most importantly, your audience today.

Google AdWords is full of underused accounts that are lying dormant. This could be for many reasons – you’ve focused your efforts on another kind of digital marketing, your past agency wasn’t working out, or even a forgotten password! These unused accounts are taking up valuable resources, and therefore slowing down AdWords for the users who are logging in and spending money regularly.

In a recent tweet, Google announced that it would be cleaning up these dormant accounts. From May, any AdWords accounts that haven’t spent in the last 15 months would begin to be cancelled. If your account hasn’t been used for a while, it’s likely that it’s up for cancellation.

The only way to avoid a cancellation is to begin spending money on your AdWords account. That’s where we can help. It shouldn’t be a case of spending a little and then letting your AdWords account fall into disuse again. AdWords is an incredibly effective way to boost sales and drive traffic to your account, so talk to our PPC team to revitalise your AdWords for good.

When your account is cancelled, you’ll not only lose access, but you’ll lose all the valuable historical data from any campaigns you’ve run in the past. You won’t be able to set up any campaigns and use adwords at all, but if you have any unspent prepaid budget, it will be returned to you. It’s possible to reactivate a cancelled account, but after reactivation, you’re up for cancellation again after three months of inactivity.

If you’re thinking of reactivating, it’s a good idea to get some professional advice. A lot has changed on AdWords over the months, so there might be new strategies that would work for you and better ways to organise your campaigns. Reviving an old, unsuccessful campaign isn’t the best way to find new success on AdWords.

For some, it might even be a better option to start from scratch and set up a new adwords account with the most efficient groundwork for you. This way, you won’t have any outdated information and you’re sure to be starting with your best foot forward.

If you’ve used AdWords before but have let it lapse, let the team at Zinc prevent a cancellation whilst improving your leads, conversion and traffic. Talk to us today to learn more.

E commerce has been an important part of the online landscape since it began. In the space of 20 years, the way that we research and buy products has changed beyond recognition. In the age of technology, progress is happening faster than ever before. That’s why it’s even more important to remain well versed with the trends and forecasts in the industry.

Statista predicts that global e commerce sales will increase to 4.5 trillion by 2021; we’re in the middle of a boom that’s showing no signs of stopping. Only the stores that can reach their customers online will be making the most of the potential for sales that they have.

The first step in achieving this is understanding the environment you’re about to go into. That’s why you should know the changes we’re expecting to see in the world of e commerce this year.

Mobile is a Must

Users today are increasingly mobile. 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using a device, and this will only grow. That’s why you need to make sure that mobile purchases are not only a possibility, but a priority when it comes to e commerce. It needs to be easy to navigate and make a purchase without a long load time or unresponsive pages. Without this, you’re missing out on hundreds of users who are researching and purchasing online.

Intelligence

As the world of e commerce becomes increasingly competitive, intelligence is the advantage that will separate the successful businesses from the rest. AI is already becoming a part of daily life – when it comes to e commerce, it will be used to make the buying experience more customer aware. Recommendations will be personalised towards each individual, and you’ll even be able to identify future customers based on their browsing habits and interests.

Automation

E commerce automation used to be the exclusive luxury of giants like Amazon and Google. Automated processes would follow a person’s behaviour on your site, and send a prompt email or suggestions when a user left a purchase uncompleted – and the technology behind it was a closely guarded secret. This potential is now available to businesses of all sizes, enabling a top level service no matter what resources you have.

Voice Search

As a digital agency, we see the trends developing in tandem across all of our service. Voice search is already gaining huge potential in SEO, and will grow with e commerce to match. It’s already possible to ask your phone or virtual assistant (such as Alexa) to search for something for you. Soon, you’ll be able to ask it to purchase a product without needing to even click a button.

E commerce is a business that will never slow down. Its growth in recent years has been exponential, and will only continue to bring success to those who are doing it right. In 2018, ‘doing it right’ means catering to an audience who need their e commerce experience to be quick, easy and tailored to them.

For help implementing a solution that will help your e commerce business adapt and grow, whether it’s marketing, technological or creative, speak to the team at Zinc Digital today.

At Zinc, we’ve worked with many charities. We love working with a diverse range of businesses, but charities might possibly be our favourite. Not only can we be a small part of something truly admirable, but we’re able to help these nonprofits grow by providing them with the guidance to really make a difference.

Many charities have been operating for years, but haven’t modernised their digital approach. To help, we’ve put together a checklist for nonprofits that can help you build a strategy for digital success. Some of this might seem basic, and some we might be able to help you with. All of it is key to growing your charity.

Before you start!

Website

SEO

Paid Search

Content

Email Marketing

Social Media

Zinc is here to help you as we’ve helped many others. Whether it’s a Google Grant or a full website overhaul, you’re in safe hands with us.

Contact us today to get started!

‘I’ve used Google AdWords before and it was a waste of money’. This is something we hear almost every time a new client comes in. We’ve heard all the horror stories, and we’ve cleaned up the messes that have been left by people who aren’t sure how to run a profitable PPC campaign.

And the truth is: yes. Google Adwords will waste your money – if you aren’t working to an informed, strategised plan of action.

It’s far too common for individuals, or even inexperienced digital marketers, to misuse Google Adwords. Unfortunately, this will lead to you wasting money on clicks that aren’t ever going to result in a conversion because they’re incorrectly targeted and poorly implemented.

You’ve not done the research

All too often, we see accounts that are delivering ads to nationwide, or even worldwide locations. They are targeting the wrong range of keywords, and have opted for a broad match on the ones they’ve chosen. These basic mistakes show that even the most fundamental level of research hasn’t been completed, and therefore your advert is being set up to fail. If you’re not sure about your audience, there’s no way that you can deliver them an advert that they’re likely to click on. It’s as simple as that.

You’re not using all of the features on offer

Adwords has a whole host of options for you to use that can help you build a set of higher converting ads. Ad Groups are a vastly underused feature, as are extensions. Advanced location targeted is hidden by default, and it’s even possible to set up your adwords account with ‘Standard’ features, which removes many of the options before you’ve even begun. When you’re using none of these features, you’re automatically at a disadvantage.

You’re sending them to your homepage

Your ads are getting clicks because your audience are interested in the information in the ad copy. Simply sending them to a homepage doesn’t retain this interest – it gives them an overwhelming amount of information, none of which is directly related to what they were looking for. A dedicated landing page which is tailored to your ad, and the offer you’re using, will help you keep that interest and direct it towards a conversion.

You’re not interpreting the data

With Google Adwords, you get an incredible insight into the way your ad is performing. Another far too common mistake is simply setting an ad to run and leaving it. You should be monitoring the data you’re getting and applying that knowledge to make improvements to each ad individually. This data is the closest thing you have to direct audience feedback, so you should be paying close attention to it.

You’re not dedicating daily time to it

Managing an Adwords account is a full time job. It requires regular check-ins to make sure that you’re not spending on a keyword you shouldn’t be or targeting an audience you hadn’t thought to exclude yet. Most people already have a full time job to be doing, so that’s where we come in. It’s not just about the expert knowledge that we’re applying – it’s also about the regular time that we dedicate to making sure that your account is doing as well as it can.

The best advice we can give to those who believe that Adwords is a waste of money is to let us have a professional look at your account. We offer a free PPC health check that can flag up the areas that you might be neglecting. It’s obligation free, but we welcome the opportunity to take an underperforming PPC account and show doubters just how successful it can be with the right management.

Join the list of Zinc clients who are happy to be proven wrong about Adwords – talk to our team today.

In business, innovation is the name of the game. Being the hundredth person to become part of something doesn’t make the same impact as being amongst the first. That’s why we love being a part of the technical transformation – working with companies to create something that will help them be a part of the future.

In almost every business, there is room for technical innovation. There are processes and functions that could be digitised in a way that would revolutionise the way that you work. In many cases, this can come in the form of an app.

Developing an app allows you to be a part of the most important change in the technology industry at the minute: the Internet of Things. Technology is becoming increasingly mobile, and your business could be developing alongside it.

There are a lot of reasons to begin developing an app – could this be yours?

Value

As a business, your primary objective should be to provide your customers with what they need. Providing a service of value is the best way to ensure loyal, happy customers who always come back to you. An app adds value through ease of use, digitising a process such as collecting loyalty points, ordering products, or sending information. The result is happy customers, more downloads and more conversions. Internally, value can be added alongside the speed and efficiency that apps offer.

Visibility

The modern user has a short attention span, so the more visible you can be to them, the better. An app allows you to be always accessible, in the event that a user needs to use your services. What’s more, a presence on their mobile device will make you a familiar name to your audience, ensuring that you’ll be a recognisable and trusted name to them. There are 2.53 billion smartphone users in the world – why aren’t you making sure that your business is operating where they are.

Engagement

With an app that’s built well and targeted accurately, you can make an enormous improvement on the engagement your business has. By being on a device, you’re already in a more social position. Mobile apps offer a more confirmed lead, as your user has already had to download the app itself. Following that, they’re more likely to take the actions you’re hoping for, as the layout of a mobile app enables you to drive targeted action far more effectively. If this is social sharing, the ability to swap quickly to a social network such as Facebook or Instagram will help you get a far better return than traditional desktop sites.

Connect & Learn

The digital age has brought something truly valuable to companies: the ability to connect with your customers in a way that wasn’t possible before. With an app developed to your specifications, you’ll be able to gain the insights you need – how it’s being used, what’s being underused, the regions it’s doing well in. All of this can be collected and used to fuel your future decisions.

The world is mobile – so why isn’t your business? Talk to our technology team today about your needs and we’ll be happy to help.

It’s often the worst nightmare for a webmaster: the dreaded email from Google via search console that informs of a manual action being taken against the website, which is likely to mean that your Google rankings are about to decrease.

At BrightonSEO, I attended a talk about Google penalties by Kaspar Szymanski, who used to work within the web spam team at Google. Kaspar spoke at length about the different types of manual actions that are applied against websites and the reasons behind them.

1) Spam

This type of manual action tends to relate to thin (which is generally considered by Google to be spammy) or low quality content such as doorway pages. Historically this was part of Google’s Panda algorithm, which was introduced by Google back in 2011. In 2016, Google announced that Panda was being incorporated into it’s core algorithm, rather than one off updates.

Usually, the penalty that comes with this action doesn’t mean your site will be completely removed from the search results, it just means that your site is less likely to be visible.

Removing this action will require a thorough review of your website and your content. Once this has been completed, a reconsideration request can be submitted to Google for your site to be reviewed by a member of their web spam team.

2) User Generated Spam

This type of action tends to relate to large community websites, such as blogs or forums, where the comments function is being exploited to add links en masse to other websites or other black hat tactics.

There are a number of ways that you can resolve this before submitting a reconsideration request to Google. This includes making sure your software is running the latest version and you’ve downloaded any recent security patch updates, keeping your forum or blog well moderated and limiting your users ability to link off to other websites.

3) Hacked Content Spam

You’d expect to see this manual action if your website has been compromised by hackers, where malicious code has been injected into the site. It is usually something that is associated with open source software, especially if themes / software / plugins haven’t been kept up to date.

This can not only be a time consuming exercise to fix, including having to possibly re-install your website from a backup, but it also has additional complications. This could be that your website being shown in the search results as being hacked, which in turn is likely lower your click through rate as visitors are unlikely to click on a result that has been hacked.

Once the malicious code has been cleared from your website, the site must be submitted to Google via search console for a reconsideration request.

4) Incorrect Structured Data

Many webmasters are huge fans of structured data. It is an increasingly popular way to jazz up your organic search results and make yourself stand out from the crowd. Whilst having this is an amazing way to increase your SERP click through rates, if not implemented correctly it can result in Google giving the site a manual action.  This will need to be cleaned up and submitted to Google for a reconsideration request. A good tool to use to check your structured data markup is https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/

5) Unnatural Inbound Links

This is by far, one of the most common manual actions given out by Google. This is where Google has deemed the links coming back to your site as unnatural. Often seen as one of the most severe penalties Google gives out, this particular penalty requires a lot of work to resolve, especially if the inbound links are being automatically generated and are continually growing. Often, even changing your domain name won’t help as Google may then apply the same penalty to your new website.

The best way of managing this kind of action, is to run a backlink audit, using tools such as HREFS, SEO SpyGlass or Majestic, which will then give you a list of all the links coming to your site. In the first instance, it is advisable (if possible) to get in touch with the webmasters directly to request for the link to be removed. If this isn’t possible, then a disavow file would need to be submitted to Google in your reconsideration request.

Historically part of the Penguin algorithm, which was first released by Google in 2012, in 2016, Google announced that there would be no further updates to the Penguin algorithm (after 4.0) and that this would become part of the core algorithm.

What else can you do if you receive one of these messages?

If you’ve got a technical understanding of Google algorithms and understand the reason why you’ve had the manual action applied to your site, then you’d be able to self manage, however, these manual actions are often incredibly complex and require an experienced SEO specialist to thoroughly investigate and diagnose the exact cause of the action.If you’ve had one of these emails from Google, which has resulted in a drop off in rankings and organic traffic, please get in touch and we can work with you to get your site back to where it should be.

On April 27th, the Zinc Digital marketing team took to the road and visited Brighton to experience the biggest digital marketing event of the year: brightonSEO. It’s a place to learn about the newest developments in SEO, which is an industry that’s all about adapting and learning.
Fili Wiese from Search Brothers led a conference providing help to those webmasters and site owners who struggle to optimise your website for search robots.
So, if you have ever wanted to know more about why Google does or does not index or crawl your content, then this is a technical blog post just for you.

Below are the top headlines and considerations for what you need to focus on in 2018 to achieve better website indexing.


1. Google bot needs to access your website; consider the importance of and issues of canonicalisation.

2. Be aware of error 5xx’s; how much time Google takes to download your pages.

Why invest in page speed?

Google bot is very conservative in the sense that it does not want to crash your website. If it feels it may crash your site, the bot will slow down and impact how much of the crawl will be completed.

3. Google search bot is chrome based, consider issues around crawling javascript and indexing issues.

4. Consider your web content and how available it is for users across multiple devices.


What is your crawl budget (prioritisation)?
You should know which pages of your website Google crawls.The first crawl may be the top down, then moving to a random crawl with a crawl scheduler as not all URLs are crawled equally.
5. Google may try to crawl URLS which dont exist in its search for new contents. It’s therefore important to manage 404 URLs correctly.

6. Links help discovery and prioritisation towards crawl, it’s important to have contextual internal links as well as a well planned menu architecture.

7. Google still loves new content, planning content around your crawl schedule is often overlooked.

8. External linking (new links coming to website) are still an important factor for assisting with indexing. Building links to new pages is consideration to drive bot and user traffic to your new content.

9. Do not link to internal redirects is still recognised as a major faux paux, it’s worth auditing your incoming links to ensure that they are correctly assigned you could be losing SEO authority from simply having your audience and publishers incorrectly link to your webpages.

10. Using breadcrumbs in your site navigation is a well recognised strategy for helping Google discover and crawl your website, even in 2018.

11.  Avoid duplicate content, this is unlikely to be crawled as a priority by Google Bot.

12. Canonical URLs can be ignored by Google, but Google cannot ignore a 301 redirect, it is well worth reviewing your URL redirect strategies.

Sitemaps – How do you get the best results?

13. It may sound obvious but do not include necessary URLs. Only those which should be priority or will return conversions and value for your business or organisation are required.

If you care about SEO we recommend to audit your website regularly, every 12 months; if you have questions about indexation and your website then give Zinc Digital a call on 01604 59 89 99 we’d love to hear from you.

As a digital agency, Zinc build and host hundreds of websites each year. Hosting is, essentially, where your website is stored. The site is kept on a server, ready to be connected to when a user goes online to visit it. There are many options when it comes to hosting, but Zinc offer the two that suit the needs of our customers the most: shared cloud or dedicated cloud.

Zinc only host our sites on the cloud. This is because cloud hosting provides us with better flexibility, scalability, performance and pricing options that we can pass onto our customers. It’s important to us that the sites we host are easily backed up, and can be recovered in the unlikely event of a server failure. With cloud hosting, we’re able to offer you more security and stability than with other forms of hosting.

We’ll always discuss your needs and requirements with you, and make a recommendation based on our experience. We want to make sure that you understand the options available to you from Zinc, and can always make an informed decision.

 

Choose shared cloud hosting if:

You have one or two sites that aren’t expected to have high amounts of traffic

You are hoping to keep the costs down

 

Choose dedicated cloud hosting if:

Security is a priority

You’ll be taking up a lot of capacity

At Zinc, we’re experts in everything digital. Our hosting is designed to give our customers the highest level of service with minimal downtime. That’s why we always make sure to recommend the hosting solution that works with your needs.

To talk about what your businesses needs from its hosting, talk to the Zinc team today.

When the Zinc Digital Team went to BrightonSEO on April 27th, we each had a different mission. For Chris, our Head of SEO, it was to meet as many fellow SEO geeks as possible. For Phil, our Digital Account Manager, it was to get the answers to some hotly debated questions in the Zinc office. So, as the rest of us took notes, Phil took to the streets and asked some of the biggest names in SEO a few very important things.

Zinc pride themselves on always being at the forefront of the newest developments in everything digital marketing. Thats why weve attended BrightonSEO for three years running, and we plan on being a staple of the conference for years to come! To find out how what we learned can help your business get onto the first page of Google, get your free SEO Audit today.

Zinc Digital sent our marketing team to the biggest digital marketing event in the UK – BrightonSEO. It’s the place where some of the best marketing minds in the country get together to talk about the latest developments in our field.

Khaleel, our Head of PPC, went to a talk by Arianne Donoghue where he learned about the Magnificent 6 – a toolkit of Paid Media resources that can help maximise the performance of Paid Media Advertising Accounts.

1. Identify Client Business Objectives

In order to successfully improve the performance of Paid Media Advertising activity, it’s vital we understand our client’s Business Objectives. This enables us to implement an extensive Paid Media Marketing Plan on how we meet our client’s Business Objectives from paid media advertising goals & targets to relevant paid media advertising channels.

2. Channel Strategy

All Digital Marketing channels play a key role in the customer journey,  however some businesses rely heavily on Google Paid Search. You may want to implement a video marketing campaign on YouTube if you want to raise the awareness of a brand or product & a Prospecting Display marketing strategy to acquire new users to your website. It’s really important to understand your channel strategy because a Digital Marketing channel strategy is unique to your business.

3. Attribution

One of the many buzzwords in Paid Media Advertising right now is Attribution. Many businesses only rely on “last click” attribution. However in 2018 & beyond businesses need to understand the many other attribution models for their business based on their channel strategy. This will enhance your Paid Media Advertising to understand what role each of your Digital Marketing Channels are playing in the customer journey.

4. Audiences

Another important buzzwords at the moment is Audiences. Audiences are playing a bigger role in Paid Media Advertising than ever before. Therefore it is important to tailor your creative based on the audience you are targeting. Just like your channel strategy, your creative needs to be tailored based on your audience. This will enhance your Click Through Rate & therefore improve your ROI.

5. Creative

On average users only spend a split second viewing online adverts – therefore it’s important to ensure your creatives are highly relevant to your users & also eye-catching. Your creatives will play an important role in the channel strategy depending on the Digital Marketing channels chosen in your strategy – You may have Text Ads, Display & Remarketing Responsive Ads & also Social Media Video Ads. Ensuring all of these Ads are tailored to your audience is essential for success.

6. Landing Pages

CRO can have the best ROI across all channels. Why? Because all Digital Marketing channels are driving new & returning visitors to your website – therefore making tweaks to your landing pages will improving the conversion rate of all users to your website & improve your ROI.

Zinc Digital are never afraid to try new things, especially if it means that our clients could be getting even better results from our Paid Search services. To see what a difference a professionally managed PPC page could do for your business, get in touch today.

On Friday 27th April, the Zinc Digital Marketing Team attended the biggest digital marketing event in the country – BrightonSEO. We like to be at the forefront of the newest developments in everything we do, so we sent our team armed with notepads and plenty of Zinc business cards. There were talks on everything from advanced SEO to the most experimental techniques around.

Our in-house Content Writer, Caitlin, attended a talk by Eleni Cashell where she explained the pitfalls, consequences and solution for duplicate content. This is an issue that Zinc’s SEO team can encounter quite regularly, and that we’d love our clients to know about as well.

The internet is full of duplicated content – 29% of it, and rising every day. In a situation when your site has the exact same content as another site, the Google crawlers don’t know who is the most relevant, or who the content originally belonged to. As a result, everybody’s ranking suffers.

Eleni works for a site that offers information for prospective students, to help them choose a university. Part of this involved content being supplied from universities to describe and sell themselves to the site visitors. However, the majority of the content supplied by their users was lifted directly from their own websites and marketing material, essentially filling Eleni’s site with hundreds of pages of duplicate content.

This duplicate content was having a significant negative effect on the site rankings. Clients were asking why the site wasn’t getting the traffic and attention it should, when in fact the target market were simply finding the information in the other places it appeared on the web.

Eleni then embarked on a mammoth mission: removing and rewriting every piece of duplicate content on the site.

As a Digital Agency, Zinc often requires our clients to send us the content that they want in their site. More often than not, this is content that is copied directly from a previous site or even from a competitor – and this can spell real trouble for your search engine rankings. If your site uses press releases or features product descriptions, you need to be aware of the amount of duplicated content on your site.

Once you know exactly what you’re dealing with, make the plan of action:

  1. Find and list every piece of duplicate content – you can use Copyscape or Google to pinpoint it all.

  2. Internally and externally communicate with everybody who will be affected by your content audit. Will you be rewriting it or removing it? Make sure that your clients and team are aware of the change, and those who will need to be doing the work are aware of what is happening and why.

  3. Formulate and stick to guidelines. You need to make sure that the new content is high quality, not still duplicated and delivered to you on time.

  4. Have a single point of contact for your clients to speak with, and have this person maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of the project progress. Allow feedback and listen to them.

  5. Maintain your content quality once you are finished.

As always, Google can take a while to show the benefits of SEO. Patience will pay off. After two years, Eleni’s site is now reaping the rewards of their unique content strategy. They’ve seen a 51% increase on entrances, and over 100% increase on postgraduate search as a direct result. That’s an incredible result, from a change that every one of us can make.

At the end, you’ll have a site full of exclusive content. That’s a USP that most can’t claim, so make sure that your hard work is not only appreciated, but celebrated. This is something that can appear on marketing collateral and social media, but only if you maintain that standard going forward.

Zinc Digital are here to help with your SEO strategy. We don’t accept duplicate content on our site, or for any of the clients we work with and write for. That’s why we get the best SEO results in Northamptonshire. Get in touch with us today to see what we can do for you.

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