Sunday, 11 October 2009

Argyll Now On Video!

There are many web sites about Argyll and Kintyre online, many are lacking in quality content or professional appeal but here at Net Visuals we are spending many hours each week developing new and innovative web sites to deliver a competitive edge over other areas of Scotland to stimulate and prevent declining tourism.

The 'youtube' phenomenon has grown and grown over the last couple of years and provides a place for primarily the under 25s to watch and share video content, a lot of which is useless and of no cultural or intelligable benefit. However 'youtube' can be ineffective and unprofessional when it comes to promoting tourism in your area.

Recently, over several months, Net Visuals travelled across Kintyre and Argyll spending hours upon hours taking high definition video footage of many interesting locations, animals, buildings, coastlines and much more to deliver a professional and interesting video resource that may aid tourism. This is still ongoing.

Apart from some old cine footage, every piece of video (shot in High Definition 1080i) was taken by Net Visuals using the latest professional HD video equipment and edited in house with titles and scene transition. This has resulted in a consistent and professional resource.

The web sites to visit are, Kintyre Video, and Argyll Video. Additional dedicated video web sites are in development.

It is possible to have some of these video clips available through your web site for a small annual fee, and you can have your business included on these web sites free of charge when you purchase the Net Visuals video service from only £199 + VAT.

Please contact us for more details about this product and getting your business video enabled.

Advertising opportunities for these latest web sites also exist from only £15 + VAT per month. Please contact us for more information.

Search Engine Optimisation

Everyone wants that top spot on Google, compared to Yahoo, Bing and other popular search engines Google remains King delivering 10 times as much web traffic as its nearest search competitor.

Here is some advice to get to that top spot on Google!

First of all, free web traffic is not the be all and end all, a focused offline marketing strategy directed cleverly toward your target customer demographics can be far more successful, although much of the time is expensive and can cut into profits.

Second of all, ignore all emails that tell you they will get your web site to number one on Google and other search engines, they do not work, the very fact that you have received the email demonstrates they have found you on the internet!

I'll give you an example - I receive emails like that all the time, recently claiming to get my web site to number 1 on Google. Tarbertlochfyne currently resides at number 2 on Google for the search term Tarbert, and in the top 7 for the search term Loch Fyne, so performing excellently for the key words of my target demographic for that web site. Now, there are several things that I need to do to get to number 1 on Google, and I know exactly what they are (as you will find out from the advice below) but to change the content and site may result in being number 1 on Google for the search term Tarbert, but lower for Loch Fyne or vice versa. More people search for Loch Fyne daily than Tarbert, so this would be detrimental to free traffic, so you see number 1 for one keyword can have an adverse effect on other keywords.

Our advice, of course is to ask for Net Visuals advice, we know exactly what we are doing and have years of experience and an understanding of getting the best for your web site.

So back to how to get your web site high on Google and other search engines.

Step 1 - Choosing your domain name.

You can reserve domain names and get your web site to work in one of two ways. The first way is to reserve a domain name that reflects your business name, so for us means if people search for the two words Net Visuals, this is a direct domain name match and gives us 'bonus points' in the search engine and will give us priority in search.

The second way is to try and capitalise on general searches rather than your business name, for instance we could choose with the objective of capturing web traffic of those who search for Web Design Argyll, in the short term this can have its advantages, particularly if competition is low or web traffic searches for this keyword phrase are high, but on the down side this will affect ranking for the search term Net Visuals.

Its a bit of a double edged sword, and both can work well, if you promote your business adequately offline and online through advertising and proactive marketing, then the first way is the best, if you do little advertising or little marketing then the second way may be the best choice, but of course it is dependent of your business and you should contact us to discuss it further.

Here are some tips on reserving your domain names, you should always reserve them with us, we manage them for free and also automatically renew them on your behalf so you do not lose them.

Domain Name Tip Number 1

Always reserve the .com domain name is available, this has two systematic benefits;

1) The domain name is the highest domain name available and if the same site existed on a .com or domain name (unless it was local search) the .com will always come higher
2) The .com domain name gives you official dns preference so if your business name was typed in the URL bar on the browser a dns resolution will deliver your web site over any competition with the same name!

Domain Name Tip Number 2

Always reserve the .com domain name AND the domain name, it is easy to forget as a customer whether the business has a or .com domain name and this ensures that if someone looks for your web site and types it in wrong, for example as a new customer remembering an advert from a magazine they had read a day or two ago, then you will still capture that customer.

Domain Name Tip Number 3

If you are considering having a web package from Net Visuals, in particular the mobile design plus package, reserve the .mobi domain name along with your .com and domain name. This ensures you have the right domain names for the future.

Step 2 - Designing your web site

Just uploading PDFs or using large images with no HTML content is no good, and using outdated tools such as Frontpage are no longer acceptable or helpful in delivering an optimized web site. The site has to be designed correctly, with correct HTML tags and using search engine friendly scripts. Only professional developers such as Net Visuals are able to do this.

A further aim of your site is to develop high levels of web traffic, this can be done by providing free content or interactive elements when your web site is designed and should be discussed with your developer.

Step 3 - Writing your content

Your web site must contain your key phrases, up to a certain optimized percentage which is usually about 5 - 7% of total page content. So for instance our web site benefits from the header containing our business name Net Visuals, our business address contains the phrase Net Visuals, and where possible in the main content we also repeat the words Net Visuals. This ensures that our content is optimized for our main search matches.

Step 4 - Promoting your web site

Once you have your domain name, you have written your content and you are satisfied that this should work well with the search engines you need to get it promoted.

There are numerous ways you can do this, and the reason why you must do this is that in order for your web site to be kept high, and ranked high is through high levels of web traffic comparable or higher than your competitors. Relevant and high traffic will get your web site seen.

The first thing is to submit your site to those search engines, occasionally your site may be found and crawled by the robots but it is best not to rely on this and using Net Visuals Web Trafficdriver product is a perfect way to get your web site listed on over 100 top search engines in 6-8 weeks or less.

The second thing is to submit your web site for free links or as part of a strategic online and offline advertising campaign as described in our marketing suggestions further below. This will generate web traffic.

Marketing Your Web Site

People search in particular ways and use particular phrases, for example particularly in the Scottish tourist industry people are likely to find your web site at one of four levels;

1) national - going to the Visit Scotland web site and learning about areas
2) by area - such as Argyll and Bute and browsing Argyll web sites
3) sub area - selecting an area of Argyll and Bute such as Islay, Bute or Kintyre
4) town/village - selecting a destination and viewing sites for that town or village

advertising at each of these levels on web sites is essential as this will bring you web traffic to your web site which has a potential high conversion rate.

You should get as many quality web links as you can, reciprocal links hold less value than solo inbound links, and avoiding web farms (mass link strategies) should be avoided completely.

You should market your site offline, display it on your business materials, in social networking, leaflets, writing articles to local newspapers or relevant magazines. If your business has historical interest that may develop customers, make sure your business is featured in the relevant news titles or web sites.

At least every 3 months you should test the search engines for key phrases that people search for and find out the web sites that are likely to give you traffic, for instance if you have a hotel in Kintre, you need to know the web sites that are delivered when people type in key phrases such as Kintyre Hotel, Kintyre, Tarbert, Machrihanish, Campbeltown, Carradale, Argyll etc and make sure your web site is listed or included for the area, town or village you are in.

This is the basic starting point for getting your web site noticed online by potential and existing customers and should help you generate or improve your current free web traffic. Remember though, on balance you want to advertise but maximize your customer conversions per pound, so getting as much relevant free web traffic may reduce your need to advertise.

How do you know where your web traffic and customers are coming from? The first and most conventional way is to ask your customers where they found you, include a 'where did you find us' field on your contact forms or limit your advertising to specific publications and web sites from year to year, month to month.

The second way is to get Net Visuals to manage your web site, we install the free Google Analytics plug-in and this allows you to see where your web traffic is coming from, how much traffic you have daily, monthly and annually. You are shown what keywords people search for to find your web site, how much is direct traffic (e.g. from adverts offline) or indirect such as search engine or referred from other web sites. It is an incredibly useful tool and we encourage any customer to use it, it is accurate, and removes the possibility of your web designer faking web traffic to your web site!!

Contact us today for more assistance with your web site in an easy way you can understand and that will not cost you a small fortune.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Time To Go Mobile ?

According to the latest edition of a popular web developer publication, and something that has clearly been gathering momentum over the last couple of years, is the importance and popularity of mobile devices for using the internet. Having your web site or business featured on web sites accessible by mobile phones and devices is becoming increasingly important if not essential.

Where people used to read newspapers, look out of windows or shuffle paperwork on trains and public transport, a complete shift in making the most of our 'spare' time and mobile devices are now an integral part of our day to day life, phones, handsets, consoles and of course the familiar laptops and notebooks.

So what about the figures, well, for a start mobile devices outnumber home personal computers by almost 4 to 1 in the UK, and on average even at home people spend more time online than watching television. This is extraordinary and we predict the ratio is likely to increase further particularly as on demand products such as BBC iPlayer expand and evolve.

Web sites, even today by most developers are just brochure sites aimed at the home computer. Unless you have had a bespoke solution developed it is likely that your web site is incompatible with 95% of mobile devices, and that is the same for most modern and graphically intensive web sites. Mobile web sites are completely different in their resolution, structure and need to be adjusted to optimise any media content. 2010 is going to be a incredibly important year for the internet and mobile computing.

What can I do to make sure my web site is accessible on mobile phones? Well there are numerous solutions available. The first solution, is to ensure that your business is on social networking sites, with Facebook or Twitter being the two most popular and used sites by mobile users today - while this does not make your web site viewable on mobile devices, you can promote your business free of charge on a popular and web compatible platform in a potentially mass marketing environment. The second solution would be to have your web site developed so that it can be displayed on home computers and mobile devices - this is possible but would reduce the impact of your main web site particularly on home computers and not really recommended. The second solution is to have a second web site for your business, so you have one for home computer users and one for mobile device users. This involves having a normal domain name and web site - - but also the proprietory domain name - - for mobile web site. The data for both sites can be shared or you can deliver two web sites with two different aims or objectives, such as news delivery, booking system or online shops.

Each of the solutions has its advantages and disadvantages, and these vary from customer to customer. There are also numerous other mobile savvy solutions depending on what industry customers are in.

It is no longer acceptable to have a simple brochure web site and it is no longer sufficient to rely on search engine traffic bringing you customers as competition grows. The Internet has just grown up and has become a proactive business tool, those businesses that are slow to embrace the benefits of mobile web site delivery may lose out considerably.

Contact us about our web products including our new mobile web package!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Stress Kills

High and sustained levels of stress are damaging.. to our health, it hinders our ability to be creative, it can prevent us thinking clearly and affect our ability to maintain important and trusted business relationships, equally low stress levels and short lengths of exposure to stress can be just as detrimental.

Stress affects us all, if you do not suffer from stress it is likely that at one of your friends or colleagues will. There are even reports of teenagers feeling "stressed" as a result of trying to pass numerous secondary school exams.

Now in in its 6th year of continuous business, Net Visuals is growing, and during the early period of establishment and growth incredibly long hours were needed to build the business, this led to some very stressful periods and in reflection only now can I fully understand just how much stress can damage creativity and the ability to deliver high quality goods, despite this I have consistently delivered high quality work, but with hindsight this could have been a lot easier.

Despite all the aforementioned, stress is often an important contributing factor in achievement, drive, ambition, learning and success. Managing stress and applying it in a timely and productive manner can be incredibly advantageous and help us work that little bit harder, and achieve more than competitors while still appearing as if work is somewhat easier, and that more is achieved on a daily basis.

At the time of writing, Net Visuals, is one multi-skilled individual offering professional web site solutions including hosting, design and media creation. Net Visuals has many equally important customers to collaborate with and work for and there are times when co-ordinating and supply demands can increase pressure and subsequent stress levels significantly.

For the benefit of maintaining a high level of personal health and in the interests of serving customers over the long term, managing stress and pressure is an invaluable skill to have and something which I apply in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way. This is why Net Visuals is able to juggle numerous tasks and skills successfully such as programming, support, consultancy and design, and continues to deliver professional and world class web solutions in shorter timescales made to order on a per customer basis.

Let's take for example Google. Google is regarded, particularly in the U.S based offices as having probably the best working environment of any modern business to reduce stress and pressure, with incredible exercise and leisure facilities helping employees to relax and keep fit and healthy. This kind of environment is fast catching on even in the UK, with some business even diversifying with leisure and having staff managed gardens. Employees are encouraged to become "green fingered", the benefits of fresh air, exercise, pressure free thinking and with "home grown" produce to eat as the end result(the down side of that however, is that employees only have the lunch hour to do it in, so unless you can use a shovel and eat a yogurt at the same time, there is likely to be a tough juggling act!)

With approximately 90% or more of Net Visuals business time spent at a desk, programming, communicating, planning, designing, accounting, completing VAT returns and numerous other business tasks this can have a particularly detrimental effect on creativity and concentration.. so how is Net Visuals able to continue to develop error-free high quality web solutions and provide such quality services for so many customers?

The main answer is that Net Visuals is a flexible business, changing working hours and goals proactively from week to week on an ongoing basis to meet the needs of customers. For instance, a customer may need to meet during the evening one week because it fits in with their work schedule, or some urgent work may need to be carried out for a customers computer during the weekend, this type of situation is becoming increasingly frequent. This level of flexibility is to be embraced and is all part of operating a customer focused business, particularly in the current economic climate. We are all going to have to do more during the recession and work longer hours, even though in a majority of cases we will be earning less despite the increase in hours and business commitment.. that's how it is and how it is going to be for some time. The overriding point to this is I do what I do because I love it, I enjoy it, it gives me a sense of satisfaction.. and above all I'm bloody good at it, I'm driven, passionate, and want the best I can give for my customers. Whether I was earning £10,000 p.a or £1,000,000 p.a. I would still be providing the same friendly customer focused, flexible high quality product and service. This is my niche.

So what's it all got to do with stress? The very fact that I have created this new blog, and that I have time for it is due to managing customer demand, stress and time and something that I would never have managed a number of years ago. I have many competing demands such as designing web sites for customers, creating customer tools, photography, email newsletters, creating new tourist web sites but the work is getting done. In fact just being aware of time and its constraints can help prevent stress. In the last two days alone I have designed three fantastic bespoke branded web site layouts for customers, this demonstrates to me that I am not stressed, and that creativity has been free flowing despite like every other business needing to meet quite pressured targets such as statutory VAT returns and annual accounting.

Part of this success is that I have split up my working time during the day and taken time to workout allowing myself a switch off period letting the brain "breathe", using a home gym and also cycling for 15km! Only two days ago it was 10km.. taking care of health, takes care of stress, takes care of productivity and creativity. And if you feel as though you do not have time for a walk, for exercise or for a coffee and some light reading then you most likely are stressed and should do exactly that!

Achieving more can happen, even if we think that its not possible by proactively managing stresses and anxieties caused by work and desire for achievement. Remember stress has an optimum operating level, and once you go beyond this peak you are running risks to your health and creativity.

A final note.. Net Visuals is creative, achieving, growing, succeeding and delivering flexible customer focused solutions day in day out meeting targets and removing excess stress all at the same time... healthy... professional... and looking after the future interests of our customers as they would expect.

If your web developer has not got time for you, not updating your web site efficiently and promptly, or your not getting the flexibility you desire from your supplier - hosting, domain name registration, design, photography - or any other service then Net Visuals should be your next telephone call, you can remove unnecessary stress too!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Web 2.0 & Social Networking Technologies

I had made a conscious decision not to be a part of the social networking phenomenon, principally knowing that the oblivious supply of information on public social networking platforms on a personal level can provide businesses and other users with "power information" which, when delivered with a certain naievity could be detrimental in many ways.

For instance, as if to demonstrate my point, as I type this first blog post, on another browser tab, the Facebook profile management sidebar to the right displays a colourful and eye-catching advertisement for a t-shirt displaying my birth date which has been recently entered upon creating a Facebook account. If I was perhaps a little younger, had more disposable income, there would have been a sale right then, because actually it was something that I didnt own, and I would not see in a retail outlet within 50 miles.

The results of harnessing and processing even the smallest piece of information are apparent immediately and constitutes just one of the many ways in which embracing Web 2.0 and social networking can benefit business.

Realising then that Web 2.0 and Social Networking Technologies are incredibly important, particularly to small and particularly unrecognised businesses, Net Visuals is adopting a forward thinking strategy and hopes to be able to provide web customers with a consultation and advisory service to enable new and existing customers to adopt and embrace Web 2.0 and Social Networking Technologies and as part of a powerful set of business and information tools.

There are distinct differences in using Social Networking Technologies for personal and for business use, and the major difference should be quite obvious. Social Networking for business is really a duplication of what already exists but made available through various portals that allow your business to connect with new and exciting customers, suppliers and "fans". Most of the information that you may deliver through this avenue may be available in a brochure on your business premises, or on your own web site already. Social Networking for personal use is all about personal beliefs, interests, habits and lifestyle which would normally be available through conventional methods of communication to friends and family, and of course this information is likely to be selective in normal circumstances depending on who "needs to know".

It is important to recognise that Web 2.0 and Social Networking Technologies are not a replacement for other avenues of marketing and promotion either online or offline, and certainly will not necessarily reach all demographic customer groups to which your business or product is aimed.

For an exhaustive list of Social Networking Sites throughout the world you should visit Wikipedia and search for Social Networking or alternatively click this link to visit. The two most popular Social Networking Sites are Myspace with over 250 million users, and Facebook with over 200 million users but there are a myriad of other sites which may prove useful and appropriate for your business.

For a full definition of Web 2.0 you should also visit Wikipedia and search for Web 2.0 or alternatively
click this link to visit the Web 2.0 page.