Jobs in the IT sector have grown at almost twice the rate of jobs in other industries in the UK. Access Training Academies, a long-time client of ours, is passionate about helping people to retrain and pursue exciting new careers, and they recently asked us to create a website dedicated to promoting a new selection of IT training courses.

Access IT Careers aims to give each student a comprehensive introduction to their chosen profession and set them up for a long, successful career. They offer courses in the following disciplines:

  • Network Engineering
  • Cyber Security Engineering
  • Infrastructure Engineering

Why did Access Training Academies come to us?

We have worked with Access Training Academies before – their main website, which was also created by Designer Websites, offers training courses in trades such as plumbing and plastering. We were thrilled when they asked us to work with them again on their latest exciting venture.

We made Access Training Academies’ IT site mobile friendly so that users can check out these exciting IT courses with ease even when they’re on the go. In addition to the design and development of the site, we also optimised the website to rank well on search engines like Google and Bing.

If you need a professional website for your business, please get in touch with the Designer Websites Team. Request a free, no-obligation quote for your project here.

Amsvest Ltd (owned by Lord Alan Sugar) are looking to invest in promising start-ups and other businesses who sell/manufacture a product or offer a specific service. The experts at Amsvest provide funding and support while also taking care of finances, HR and IT for their partner businesses, allowing successful applicants to focus on what really matters: taking their business to the next level

Several companies have already benefited greatly from Amsvest’s investment, including:

How Did We Help?

Amsvest needed a website that not only looked the part but was also easy for all visitors to use. The company contacted Designer Websites and asked us to create a brochure website befitting Lord Sugar's high standards - it would need to be both professional-looking and extremely simple for potential business partners to navigate.

One of the key parts of this brief was ensuring that all users would be able to access and experience the same professional design and complete the investment application form on any device, including smartphones and tablets. As a result, the new Amsvest website possesses a fully responsive design that looks great on screens of all sizes.

We’re pleased to announce that the new Amsvest website is now live - visit www.amsvest.co.uk to take a look!

If you’re looking for a bespoke, professional-looking website for your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Designer Websites for a free, no-obligation web design quote.

Alana Spencer has been a client of ours ever since she won BBC's The Apprentice in 2016 and asked us to design a new website for her handmade cake business, Ridiculously Rich by Alana.

Ridiculously Rich has been going from strength to strength since Lord Sugar invested in the company two years ago, and earlier this week, he and Alana announced their new Cakepreneur initiative, which promises to drive even greater growth as we head into autumn.

Here's an introduction from Alana and Lord Sugar themselves:

Building the new Cakepreneur system

The Designer Websites team have been hard at work over the last couple of weeks, striving to ensure that the website's new Cakepreneur system would be ready for its big launch.

We were asked to build an add-on for Alana's existing Ambassador system to accommodate a new type of reseller: Cakepreneurs. This was conceived as a more affordable way to join the Ridiculously Rich family - it costs £1,000 to become the Ridiculously Rich Ambassador for your region, whereas Cakepreneurs pay a one-off setup fee of just £150.

Cakepreneur Starter Kit

A Ridiculously Rich Cakepreneur starter kit.

Our skilled web developers created a sign-up area that makes it easy for would-be Cakepreneurs to get the ball rolling. Once the user has filled in their details, the website shows them an introductory video, then prompts them to take a quick online test. Those who pass this test can then pay the setup fee and order their starter kit (pictured above).

What do Cakepreneurs do?

Cakepreneurs earn commission by selling Ridiculously Rich cakes to...

  • Cafés
  • Delicatessens
  • Farm shops
  • Corporate clients

...and so on. Each Cakepreneur is given a unique discount code that entitles their customers to 5% off all online orders.

The system that we have designed and developed makes it easy for Alana's Cakepreneurs to sign in and manage everything. Each Cakepreneur can create their own Ridiculously Rich profile, add meetings to their own personal calendar, and sign up clients who will earn them commission with each order placed. The system also allows the Ridiculously Rich administrators to see how active each Cakepreneur is.

Additional development

In addition to the new Cakepreneur system, Designer Websites also built...

  • A new downloads section that allows Ridiculously Rich to share documents, videos, and other downloadable resources with their Ambassadors and Cakepreneurs all over the country.

  • 'Stockists' page (view here) that makes it easy for users to find nearby shops that sell Ridiculously Rich cakes.

  • A new 'Find My Nearest' page (view here) - simply enter your postcode to see a full list of Ridiculously Rich Ambassadors and Cakepreneurs in your area.

Alana explains why she chose to work with Designer Websites

Visit Ridiculously Rich > Get a Web Design Quote >

RJ Funerals Website

Robert D. Johnson Funeral Directors are an independent funeral service based in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan. This family-run business specialises in bespoke, flexible funeral services for families who are looking to make arrangements after the passing of a loved one. With extensive experience in funeral care, they ensure every family receives the service they’ve envisioned for their dearly departed – while alleviating them of the stress of organising the funeral arrangements during their period of grief.

Robert D. Johnson Funeral Directors offer the following funeral packages:

As an independent business, Robert D. Johnson offer a caring, personal service that large chains are sometimes unable to provide. Staff are selected on the basis of their professionalism and caring approach to their work.

How Did We Help Them?

We have created a user-friendly brochure website for Robert D. Johnson Funeral Directors. The new design is professional and befitting of the industry in which this client operates, and the website interface is very easy for users to navigate. Visit www.rjfunerals.co.uk to take a look at our work.

We provided:

  • Responsive Website Design – The RJ Funerals website functions well across all screen sizes whilst maintaining its sophisticated look. Regardless of the device used to access the website, the pages of the website maintain their look and ease of navigation.

  • Search Engine Optimisation – Every page on the new RJ Funerals website features high-quality content which is relevant to the user, effective in communicating the services offered, and carefully optimised for high Google rankings.

Do you need a bespoke, professional website to showcase your business and the services you offer? If so, get in touch with Designer Websites for a free, no-obligation quote.

Get a Web Design Quote >

google

What’s happening?

Google are officially rebranding Google AdWords – it’s been a long time in the coming, and after more than 17 years, Google are consolidating their Ad products to fall under one umbrella name & service. Henceforth, Google Ads will be the catch-all title for the vast majority of Google’s Ad tools. Other related products will fall into the categories of Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

Why?

After nearly 20 years of AdWords, what has triggered this rebrand, I hear you ask? Well, to answer that question we have to consider a few different strands. The official word from Google has come mostly in the form of comments from Sridhar Ramaswamy – Vice President of Ads & Commerce at Google.

Ramaswamy stated that the rebrand is at least partially a response to “consistent feedback” that the duplicity of Ad products offered by Google can lead to a confusing experience for the user.

Many have also predicted that the removal of the term ‘word’ from the brand name indicates an incoming departure from keyword driven advertising. Ramaswamy himself has been quoted saying the brand change “is indicative of where we have been directing the product” – but exactly how this new direction will play out remains to be seen.

When?

The AdWord rebrand was first announced at the end of June, but the official changeover is scheduled to take full effect on 24/07/18. From this point on, all users who wish to continue using AdWords will have to do so using the rebranded Google Ads platform.

Out with the old, in with the new

At a glance, we’ve considered some of the pros & cons of the new Google Ads interface.

Listed below are some of the ostensible & more significant differences produced by the rebrand:

  • Pro: advancement in reporting style – in the new Google Ads interface there is a greater level of detail afforded to the way data is displayed; including the ability to create graphs to visually display data from Ads.
  • Con: The major change in layout has meant those familiar with AdWords have had to learn how to navigate the new layout to find what they’re looking for; the new look is akin to the dashboard style used across other Google services. For the time being this change is making things a little frustrating for marketers.
  • Pro: Showcase Ads – this new Ad product allows advertisers to display a group of products (rather than just one) along with a small amount of text so that brands can more comprehensively introduce their business to a new prospect.
  • Con: Columns in the new Ad interface have been reset meaning specified information is no longer displayed when accessing Google Ads – the upshot of this is more time is spent  seeking out information, when you could already be processing it.
  • Pro: Promotion extensions – this new feature gives advertisers the ability to show and link to specific offers within Ad text. This new addition should result in far greater click through rates, which is always music to marketers’ ears…

 The bottom line

As with anything new, Google Ads has been met with a certain amount of reluctance; infamously, people don’t tend to like change, but we’re sure that brands and businesses will begin to adapt to the features of Google’s Ad rebrand – just as Google’s Ad products will continue to evolve based on feedback from users.

 

Life Gear Website

We recently finished work on a brand new ecommerce website called Life-Gear.com. This site is home to a huge variety of different products, including:

  • Climbing equipment
  • Protective clothing
  • Festival gear
  • Off-road essentials

The website itself has a user-friendly design that adapts to the screen it's viewed on, allowing adventurers of all stripes to make purchases on the go using their smartphones. In addition to the secure online checkout system, this site includes the option to pay in three different currencies (pounds, euros and Emirati dirhams), enabling the company to sell their products to a huge international market.

Visit Life-Gear.com now to browse the website for yourself, or click here to request a quotation for your own ecommerce web design project.

With clinics located in Barry, Canton and Whitchurch, and physiotherapists boasting BSc (Hons) degrees, postgraduate training and Chartered Society of Physiotherapists / Health Professional Council accreditation, David Bolwell Physiotherapy Services is one of the top physio clinics in South Wales. They possess extensive experience and provide treatments dealing with muscle, soft tissue and joint conditions, as well as post-surgery rehabilitation and sports injuries.

Here are some of the conditions that David Bolwell Physiotherapy Services treat:

  • Neck & Back Pain
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Muscle & Ligament Injuries
  • Osteoarthritis

These conditions are treated in various ways, including:

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Mobilisation & Manipulation

DB Physio Services asked us to give their old brochure website an enhanced look and feel, paying particular attention to the website’s usability on a number of devices and the ability to send enquiries with ease. We’re proud to announce that DB Physio’s new and updated website is now live – visit https://www.dbphysio.co.uk/ to see the new design.

What Have We Done?

In order to improve on the company’s existing site, we focused on a number of improvements:

  • Responsive Design – A key aim of the new website was to allow users on varying devices with different screen sizes to experience the same great design. The new DB Physio website now possesses a fully responsive design that works well and looks great on any device.

  • SEO – The need for high-quality content is imperative for any brochure website. We optimised each page of the new website and helped DB Physio to create information, high-quality content in order to rank highly on search engines like Google.

  • Enhanced User Interface – The new DB Physio website allows the user to make a swift and detailed treatment enquiry. The updated enquiry form contains that ability to select the user’s preferred clinic and appointment date/time.

If you are in need of a professional-looking website for your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at Designer Websites. Request a FREE, no-obligation quote for your project here.

Chatbots

The demand for customer service via instant messenger has recently reached new heights; since the revelation that messaging apps are more popular than social networking sites, companies have been scrambling to find a way to use instant messager to their marketing advantage.

The result? Businesses are investing in more forms of live chat – from those manned by humans, to 24/7 automated chatbots.

What are chatbots?  

Chatbots are a piece of automated computer software; they are programmed to mimic human conversation through a chat interface.

 As Artificial Intelligence (AI) develops, more advanced forms of chatbots are being released.  AI chatbots can utilise machine learning to convincingly replicate human conversation, and consequently improve user experience.

For the most part though, businesses are still using simpler chatbot software for customer service and marketing. In these instances, chatbots work on a rule-based system – they look out for trigger keywords and provide what is deemed to be the most relevant response. For example, if a user mentions a particular product and the word ‘stock’ the chatbot might reply with a stock update for the specified product.

Why the popularity?

In our world of convenience, user patience grows continually thin. We already know that mobile speed is an absolute must-have for successful websites and is even used as a ranking factor by Google.

Thus, it naturally follows that consumers don’t want to waste their time on hold when making a phone call or waiting for a response via email. Instant messaging provides a space where customers can submit a query and instantly receive a response. This service has business and marketing benefits too – quicker response time means the chance of your prospect going elsewhere before converting is greatly reduced.

The pros and cons: human live chat v chatbots

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both chatbots and live chat systems manned by human assistants. Here we weigh up the different considerations for both options:

24/7

 One of the most obvious benefits of chatbots is their availability. No matter what time of day or night, a chatbot can be active and open for queries – this is a pretty appealing prospect when the digital realm demands that information be readily available at all times.

Complications

Chatbots may be able to accept customer enquiries 24 hours a day, but one thing they can’t do is handle niche or difficult questions. The nature of a chatbots programming means that if a user asks a question which doesn’t correspond to a specific query or keyword, it won’t be able to help.

 A live chat assistant can be far more responsive to customer’s needs, meaning a more tailored customer service experience for the user.

The cost

Creating a chatbot is significantly cheaper than employing a team of live chat assistants. While having a single live chat operator may be effective for very small companies, in most instances one person isn’t capable of handling multiple enquiries at once – the upshot of this is delayed response time, which defeats the purpose of live chat in the first place.

 A chatbot can respond instantly to a large pool of enquiries at any given time, meaning no customer is left frustrated.

Human touch

Speaking of frustrations, chatbots aren’t without their own enraging issues. As touched upon before, chatbots can only respond to queries they’ve been specifically programmed to understand. They can even be tripped up by spelling errors and typos.

Comparatively, a human assistant would not struggle with a more complex query or typo. Having a real person responding over live chat means they can also provide the additional service of sales person, adding to the marketing benefits of live chat.

A chatbot can –  in a limited function –  recommend products based on what they think a user is searching for, but it’ll never be as persuasive or convincing as a personal recommendation from an actual person.

To conclude…

When it really comes down to it, on a one-on-one basis a chatbot could never beat the customer service provided by an actual human being. However, on a larger scale, the waters become more muddied. What works best for your company will depend on your particular business and the size of your customer base.

 Many organisations take the middle ground, using chatbots in the first instance, with a small team of human chat assistants ready to take over when things get more complex.  

With the current speed of AI advancements, we’re certain that most of these chatbot flaws will soon be a thing of the past – but for now, best not to hand everything over to the bots just yet.

Ultrasound Plus Website

We’ve just developed a new website for a leading UK ultrasound business with a range of clinics in London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent. Ultrasound Plus provide professional scanning for a range of needs and clients, including:

  • Baby Scans – 3D/4D, Early Pregnancy, Dating, Gender, Reassurance, Anomaly, Growth, and Presentation scans
  • Gynaecology Scans
  • General Scans – Upper Abdomen Ultrasound, Kidneys, Ureters and Bladder Scans and;
  • Musculoskeletal Scans

Why did Ultrasound Plus come to us?

Ultrasound Plus came to us because they needed a new website with a significantly improved customer experience, and an optimised website to improve their online visibility.

We designed a brand-new website with a clear target of maximising customer engagement and improving rankings on the major search engines. Click here to view the new and improved website.

The new and improved website has:

  • A bespoke and responsive design
  • A blog where the company can share news and updates
  • Improved Search Engine Optimisation

If you require a professional-looking website for your business, that is easy to navigate on any device, then get in touch with our team here at Designer Websites on 01446 339050 or request a free, no-obligation quote.

Sweets in the City Website

Sweets in the City is the company that's jointly owned by BBC Apprentice winner Sarah Lynn and her business partner Lord Sugar. If you watched the latest series of The Apprentice on BBC One, you should already be familiar with Sweets in the City and the beautifully-presented sweet gifts that they sell. These customisable products make perfect presents for birthdays, anniversaries, and all sorts of other special occasions.

Sweet Gifts

As you may be aware, we at Designer Websites have worked with a number of Apprentice winners in the past, including Ricky Martin, Dr Leah Totton, Joseph Valente and Alana Spencer. After the 2017 final aired and Sarah was revealed as the joint winner (along with recruitment consultant James White), she approached us to ask if we would be willing to work our magic on the SitC website. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity!

The new Sweets in the City website

Work on the new and improved Sweets in the City website is now complete, and you can view it at www.sweetsinthecity.co.uk.

Here are some of the new features that we hope will make 2018 a sensationally sweet year for Sarah and her business:

  • Brand new design - Our skilled designers gave the SitC website a completely new look. We think it perfectly encapsulates the company's high-end credentials (their products are sold in Harrods and Selfridges, after all) while still retaining a strong sense of sweetness and fun.

  • Improved site navigation - We have made it easier to browse SitC's product range and find exactly the right gift for any given occasion. Website users can now search by price, recipient, occasion or theme.

  • Letterbox treats - One of the big ideas that secured Sarah's Apprentice victory was the option for customers to send small, letterbox-friendly sweet gifts through the post. This idea has now been realised, and the new SitC website allows you to choose from 10 different box designs, add your own personalised text, and fill the box with whatever sweets you think the recipient might fancy.

  • Option to buy in bulk - What if, instead of purchasing a lovingly hand-packaged assortment of your best friend's favourite sweets, you just want to order yourself three kilograms of cola bottles? Well, thanks to SitC's new 'bulk buy' page, now you can!

  • Improved back-end functionality - In addition to the above, we gave the back end of the SitC website a complete overhaul, making it easy for the company to control the content of their web pages.

The new Sweets in the City website is a fantastic example of what the Designer Websites team can do. Our designers, developers and SEO experts are adept at creating sites that are carefully tailored to the client's requirements and target audience - if you need a new website for your business, please get in touch now to request a FREE quotation.

BBC Apprentice Winners

Quick SEO Tips

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a pretty complex subject. Gone are the days when all you had to do was pick a keyword and stuff it into your page copy as many times as possible - if you want to conquer the Google results in 2018, there are all sorts of different factors you need to think about. And of course, since the algorithms are always changing, you'll need to keep your eyes open and stay abreast of all the latest updates if you don't want to be left behind.

Still, perhaps you're not looking to become an all-powerful SEO guru. Maybe you're just looking for a few quick tips that will help you boost your traffic without paying for ads. If that's the case, we hope that these 10 tips (brought to you by the Designer Websites SEO team) will serve you well:

1. Check your site's health on Google Search Console.

Google Search Console (google.com/webmasters/tools/home) is an indispensable tool that all website owners should use. Once you've added and verified your website, check out our beginner's guide to make sure you know what to look out for.

Oh, and while you're logged in...

2. Submit your sitemap to Google.

Go to the Crawl section in Google Search Console and select Sitemaps. This is where you can submit your website's XML sitemap file to Google - this makes it easier for the big G to index your content, and the Sitemaps tool will also inform you of any problems that are affecting pages you submit.

3. Take a good look at your title tags.

There are many different factors that decide whether a web page makes it into the top 10 Google results, but the page's title tag may be the most important of all. A page's title tag should ideally be no more than 60 characters in length, and it should be a clear, concise, and keyword-rich description of what that page is for.

Use Moz's title tag preview tool to see what your title tag will look like on Google (this is a good way to identify whether your title tag is too long).

4. Make sure your meta descriptions are snappy and engaging.

Unlike the title tag (see above), your page's meta description probably won't have a huge impact on rankings. However, it can make the difference between a Google user clicking on your result and scrolling straight past it.

You know the short paragraph of text that appears under most Google results? Very often, that blurb is pulled directly from the page's meta description.

So be sure to make all of your meta descriptions concise, engaging and punchy. Sell your product/service and explain why people should choose you over your competitors...but try to do it in as few words as possible! (Google recently extended the maximum length for meta descriptions, but we still recommend keeping them short and snappy where possible.)

5. Check for keyword cannibalisation.

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when a website has two (or more) pages competing against each other for a specific keyphrase. It should be avoided, since Google may not be able to discern which page you actually want to rank for the keyphrase in question.

For more information on keyword cannibalisation and how it can scupper your SEO efforts, read our blog on the subject here.

6. Claim your Google My Business listing.

Google My Business listings are crucial for local businesses with bricks-and-mortar locations that are open to the public, but even if your business is online-only, you should still think about claiming your listing. Go to google.co.uk/business and enter your company details so that Google can show more information about your business - don't worry, you can keep your address hidden if you don't want people turning up on your doorstep.

7. Link to high-authority websites.

Some people will tell you that you should never link out to other websites, but the evidence seems to suggest that outgoing links can have a positive effect on your rankings when done carefully. Just make sure that you're linking to authoritative sites that are relevant to the topic you're focusing on.

8. Share your knowledge in blog posts.

If your company's website doesn't have a blog, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to share your expertise and get your brand seen by a wider audience. Google loves in-depth, well-written articles from people who know what they're talking about, and nobody knows your business better than you do, so what are you waiting for? Get writing!

To make sure you're writing blog posts that will actually drive traffic to your website, we recommend using tools like Google Keyword Planner and AnswerThePublic.com to find out what people search for when they're looking for information on your specialist subject.

9. Add alt tags to your images.

Google's bots are very clever when it comes to understanding and indexing text-based content, but they're not so good with images. In order to help them index your images properly (and potentially show them as results on Google Images), you should make sure that every image on your website has an alt tag that gives an accurate description of what the image depicts.

Not only will this help you to capture traffic from image searches, it may also boost the perceived relevance of your pages if the alt tag is relevant to the keywords you're targeting. For example, if you're trying to rank for the term 'how to fix a dripping tap', your page may rank better if it features some pictures of taps, pipes, plumbers, and other related things/concepts.

10. Above all, focus on search intent and user experience.

Search engine optimisation shouldn't be an attempt to game the system or 'trick' Google into ranking your website. Ultimately, your goal should be the same as Google's goal: to give each user the best possible answer to their query.

So, when targeting a specific search term, make sure your page meets the needs expressed by that term and gives people the perfect online experience. This can mean any number of different things, such as:

  • Making key information stand out more
  • Improving your website design
  • Reducing your prices
  • Giving more details about your products
  • Being more transparent about who you are and what you do with the information you collect from users

These are just a few examples. Put yourself in the shoes of an average website user and go through your website from their point of view - is there anything that could be improved, or any parts of the buying journey that are needlessly complicated or fiddly?

For more help with this, read our blog about search intent.

Do you need someone to take a proper look at your website's SEO? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today - we're great at boosting organic traffic and creating smooth user journeys!

Dr Kelly & Associates Website

From Doctorcall to Dr Leah, we at Designer Websites have a proud history of producing high-quality business websites for clinics and healthcare providers. Today, we're able to add another name to that list: Dr Kelly & Associates, a private clinic in the City of London.

Dr Kelly & Associates have been providing independent healthcare since 1989, and they offer a diverse range of services for individuals and organisations:

  • Private GP appointments
  • Home visits
  • Travel vaccinations and visa medical examinations
  • Employee health screenings
  • Walk-in STI clinic
  • Flu vaccinations

Why did Dr Kelly & Associates come to us?

The Dr Kelly team contacted Designer Websites because they needed a functional, professional-looking website that would allow them to showcase their wide range of services to corporate clients and potential patients. They also wanted to make it easier for users to:

  • Book clinic appointments online
  • Request doctor's visits online

We're pleased to announce that the new Dr Kelly website is now live - visit www.drkellys.co.uk to see our latest work. Not only does the website look great, we believe that the online booking system makes it super-simple to select the type of appointment you need, choose your preferred date, and pay for your appointment online.

Do you need a new website for your business? Contact Designer Websites now to request a free quotation!

 GDPR FAQ

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unlike some companies who have written about this topic recently, we are not running a GDPR course, and so we will not be exaggerating the issues to scare you into parting with your cash. This is merely an advisory post for Designer Websites clients, many of whom have been asking us about the new law that will soon be in effect.

If you're a business owner, odds are you've already heard about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will soon be in effect throughout the European Union. This new regulation is fairly complex, and many different claims are being made about it - not all of them accurate.

With that in mind, we want to do what we can to help you understand the new laws and what they mean for your business, particularly your website. You've probably got a lot of questions about the GDPR, and today we're going to attempt to answer some of them.

Please note that this post is for informational purposes only and should not be mistaken for professional legal advice. Designer Websites Ltd will not be held responsible for any other organisation's failure to comply with the GDPR or any other piece of legislation.

Contents:

  1. What is the GDPR?
  2. When will the new law take effect?
  3. Where does the GDPR apply?
  4. Why does my organisation need to be GDPR compliant?
  5. Who is responsible for ensuring that my organisation is compliant?
  6. How can I make sure I'm ready for the new law?
  7. What steps do the ICO recommend?
  8. Are Designer Websites GDPR compliant?
  9. Do I need to do anything about my website?
  10. Can Designer Websites help with GDPR compliance?
  11. Useful links

1. What is the GDPR?

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU regulation that aims to improve data protection for individuals within the European Union. The regulation will give individuals more control over their personal information and how it is used.

Under the GDPR, organisations that process people's personal data will be expected to keep that data secure, be transparent about its use, and report data breaches promptly when they occur.

Here in the UK, the new data protection law will be enforced by the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). An in-depth guide to the GDPR can be found on their website.

2. When will the new law take effect?

The GDPR was adopted in April 2016, but it is not yet in effect. It will be enforced from 25 May 2018 onwards. Your organisation will need to be compliant with the new law by that date.

3. Where does the GDPR apply?

The GDPR is an EU regulation, and thus it will apply to all EU member states. This will include the United Kingdom, even after Brexit.

The GDPR also applies to any organisations who process the personal information of individuals within the EU. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn are both based in the USA, but since they hold personal data on EU citizens and residents, these companies will be expected to comply with the new regulation just as if they were based inside the EU.

4. Why does my organisation need to be GDPR compliant?

Once the new law is in force, your organisation will be required by law to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. After 25 May, if you are found to be in violation of the GDPR, you will be breaking the law, and may thus be subject to a number of sanctions.

That said, the ICO have made it clear that they view fines as a last resort, and will only use them to punish companies who "systematically fail to comply with the law or completely disregard it". Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has stated the following:

"The ICO's commitment to guiding, advising and educating organisations about how to comply with the law will not change under the GDPR...we intend to use [our increased] powers proportionately and judiciously. And while fines may be the sledgehammer in our toolbox, we have access to lots of other tools that are well-suited to the task at hand...the GDPR gives us a suite of sanctions to help organisations comply - warnings, reprimands, corrective orders." [source]

So don't panic when you see people using scaremongering tactics and telling you that you'll be fined millions of pounds if you aren't GDPR compliant by 25 May - this is simply not true. The important thing is that you're making a reasonable effort to comply by being transparent about your data collection practices and keeping people's personal information secure.

5. Who is responsible for ensuring that my organisation is compliant?

Short answer: you are. If it's discovered that your organisation is not complying with the GDPR, it's your organisation that will be held to account.

The long answer is a little more complicated. The new regulation makes the following distinction between what the EU call 'controllers' and 'processors':

  • Controllers determine the 'purposes and means' of processing personal data (e.g. if you collect information about your customers and use that information to either communicate with them or make decisions about them, then you are a controller).

  • Processors are the ones who actually handle the data on behalf of a controller (e.g. companies like Sage, Salesforce, Infusionsoft and MailChimp are processors because they provide a service that involves processing data on behalf of controllers).

It is quite possible that you are a controller and a processor of some personal data.

Both controllers and processors have some responsibilities under the GDPR. Processors must keep accurate records of the data itself and of processing activities; they are responsible for keeping people's personal data secure, and will be held legally liable in the event of a breach. However, controllers may also be held liable if they use a processor without ensuring that the processor is GDPR compliant.

Since virtually all organisations process some personal data themselves - even if it's just their own employee records - nobody will be off the hook when the GDPR comes into force on 25 May. So now let's answer the most important question of all...

6. How can I make sure I'm ready for the new law?

The most important thing is to demonstrate that your organisation has made a reasonable effort to comply with the GDPR and protect the rights of the individuals whose personal data you store and/or process. As you've already seen, the Information Commissioner's Office will only be issuing fines to the very worst offenders - they're more interested in helping businesses to understand and comply with the new law in order to protect individuals' rights as best as possible. In fact, if this whole thing has you feeling completely lost, you may want to make use of the ICO helpline (open 0900-1700, Mon-Fri).

So what exactly will you need to do from 25 May onwards? Well, the right approach will differ from one organisation to the next, but here's a good rule of thumb: before you collect or process someone's personal data, make sure you...

  • Have a clear reason - and a lawful basis - for doing so. Know why you're collecting other people's information, and know whether that reason is defensible in the eyes of the law. Under the GDPR, there are 6 valid legal reasons for organisations to collect personal data: consent, contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public task, and legitimate interests. Details on all 6 lawful bases can be found here; for the majority of businesses, the most applicable basis will either be consent (the individual consented to you collecting and processing their information) or legitimate interests (you have a valid business reason for collecting the data, and you are not infringing on the personal rights of the individual).

  • Are only collecting what's necessary. You should only ever collect/process personal data if it is necessary to your stated goal. For instance, you might reasonably collect a customer's name and contact details so that you're able to reach them, but that's no reason to also collect information on their race, nationality, date of birth, etc.

  • Know how long you will be holding on to that data. The GDPR doesn't allow organisations to keep people's personal information indefinitely just because. Once you know why you're collecting personal information (see first point), you should also assess how long you'll need to keep the data in order to meet that goal. This doesn't necessarily need to be a specific number of days or months - it could just be 'for as long as that person remains a customer' or 'until that person unsubscribes from our newsletter'.

  • Will be able to keep this data secure. This may mean installing security software or making organisational changes to ensure that only authorised personnel are able to access the collected information.

  • Will be able to respect the individual's rights to access and erasure. Under the GDPR, individuals have the right to view all personally-identifiable information that an organisation holds on them. In addition, they usually have the right to request that this information be deleted. Ensure that your data subject(s) will be able to make these requests, and that you'll be able to honour them in a timely manner - requested information will need to be supplied within 1 month of receiving the request, and while there are certain circumstances under which you can refuse to delete personal data (see 'When can I refuse to comply with a request for erasure?'), you will generally need to comply with deletion requests as quickly as possible too.

7. What steps do the ICO recommend?

The ICO have put together a helpful list of 12 steps that organisations should take ASAP in order to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation. By now, you hopefully have a reasonably clear idea of what your responsibilities will be under the new law, but if you're not sure what actions you now need to take, this list is a great place to start.

So let's go through the 12 recommended steps in a little more detail:

1) Make sure everyone's aware of the new law.

Speak to the key decision-makers within your organisation and ensure that they understand the new law and what it requires of them.

2) Document all personal data you currently hold.

You probably already have at least some personal data on record. Now is a good time to review:

  • What data you hold
  • Where it came from
  • Whether you still need it
  • How you're using it
  • Who has access to it
  • Whether you have a lawful basis for keeping it

An information audit may help with this step.

3) Review your privacy policy.

People who interact with your organisation should be able to access a copy of your privacy policy (most companies publish it on their website). Read over your privacy notice and revise it if necessary to ensure that it complies with the GDPR.

If you're not sure what your privacy policy needs to include, you may wish to refer to our own privacy policy as an example - however, please bear in mind that every business is different, and your privacy notice may need to cover certain things that ours does not.

4) Make it easy for individuals to make information requests...

As we've already covered, data subjects have the right to know what information you have on them. Try to make it as easy as possible for data subjects to submit information requests - for instance, you might put a contact form on your website for this purpose, or set up a dedicated email address for right of access requests.

Larger companies may choose to provide an automated system to allow their customers to view, update and delete their own personal information manually. However, developing a tool like this would probably be overkill for small/medium-sized businesses who do not expect to receive many requests.

5) ...and ensure that you're able to respond to these requests.

In addition to the above, you need to make sure that your systems allow you to quickly retrieve and, if necessary, delete people's personal information when they request it. Ensuring that this can be done in a timely manner will help you to comply with the GDPR, and it will save you valuable time if and when a request is submitted.

6) Identify a lawful basis for your data collection / processing.

Remember, there are 6 lawful bases for processing data - make sure you understand them, and identify which one applies to your activities. Bear in mind that you can't change your mind later (e.g. if you collected a customer's contact details on a 'consent' basis because they agreed to receive promotional information from your organisation, you cannot use those details for other purposes on the basis of 'legitimate interests').

Your choice of lawful basis should be documented in your privacy notice - see step 3.

7) Check how you establish consent.

If you collect people's personal data on a 'consent' basis (see above), you need to:

  • Give individuals a clear way to give - or withhold - consent
  • Make it clear what individuals are consenting to

For instance, if there is a form on your website that requires people to enter their contact details, you need to be EXPLICIT about what you plan to do with those contact details. If you're going to send promotional emails, say so. If you plan to share the individual's details with your partner companies, make this clear.

Consent should never be the default option. Here's something you've probably seen quite often on the Internet:

☐ Tick this box if you do not wish to receive promotional emails from us.

In this example, users are automatically consenting to receiving emails until they tick the box. Under the GDPR, this sort of thing will not be allowed - the message above would need to be changed to 'Tick this box if you wish to receive promotional emails from us' or something similar. Make sure you're ASKING for consent instead of giving the option to withdraw it.

8) Think of the children!

Children under the age of 13 cannot legally consent to the collection and processing of their own personal data. A parent or legal guardian must consent on their child's behalf.

If you think that children may interact with your organisation, it may be necessary to implement some kind of age verification system on your website and/or set up a simple way for parents and guardians to consent to data processing activities.

9) Know how to respond to a data breach.

If a security breach allows unauthorised personnel to access the personal data that you hold, you will be expected to respond to the breach properly. Make sure you have an established procedure in place for detecting, reporting and investigating data breaches. (Remember, if you're based in the UK, breaches must be reported to the ICO within 72 hours.)

10) Familiarise yourself with the guidelines.

You're already reading up on the General Data Protection Regulation, but now is also a good time to familiarise yourself with other relevant guidelines, especially the ICO's code of practice for conducting privacy impact assessments.

11) Designate a data protection officer.

While everyone in an organisation has a role to play in keeping data secure and complying with the law, you should appoint (formally or informally) a data protection officer to take overall responsibility for compliance and security.

12) Determine your lead data protection supervisory authority.

If you solely operate within the UK, your data protection supervisory authority is the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). If you hold information on individuals in other EU member states, you should identify the authorities for each of those countries and determine which is the 'lead' authority for your organisation.

8. Are Designer Websites GDPR compliant?

Yes, we are. In fact, we have always been compliant; from the very beginning, we were always extremely careful to store / process customer and staff details securely.

We keep our servers (which hold the data we collect and record for our customers) in a purpose-built secure data centre with firewalls, secure access and activity logging. We have our own defined procedures in place for tracking and using the data that we record. We have always had a designated data protection officer, and we have an up-to-date privacy policy.

When an enquiry is submitted via our website, we do not store the submitted information in a database - we simply receive an email containing the content of the submitted form. These emails are deleted after 12 months.

9. Do I need to do anything about my website?

As stated earlier, all businesses - and all business websites - are different. We can offer some general guidance to help you ensure that your website is GDPR compliant, but please remember that it is your responsibility to familiarise yourself with the new law and ensure that every part of your organisation is following it.

With that said, we recommend the following:

  1. Update your privacy policy and cookies policy. Make sure these documents are accurate and exhaustive. Explain all the ways you collect people's data through your website, how that data is used, and how people can contact you to request access to / deletion of their information.

  2. Review the forms on your website. If your website contains any forms that ask users to enter personal data, you must declare why you are capturing that information and what you intend to do with it (e.g. 'we will use this information to inform you about future offers' or 'we reserve the right to share this information with our partner companies'). This should be stated on the form itself as well as in your privacy policy (see above).

  3. Stop making consent the default option. If you use pre-ticked checkboxes on your web forms (or require the user to tick a box to opt OUT of something), you will need to stop doing this before the GDPR comes into force. Ensure that users cannot consent to anything through a lack of action - for instance, users should have to tick a box when they DO wish to be added to your mailing list, not when they want to be kept off it.

  4. Make sure you have consent for any data you already hold. If you have collected people's personal details in the past, you should make sure they are still happy for you to keep hold of them. For example, you may need to make it easier for people to unsubscribe from your mailing list if they no longer wish to be on it.

  5. Ensure that people are able to view and delete their personal information. As we mentioned earlier, you may wish to set up an automated system that allows your customers to manage their own personal data, but a contact email address is sufficient if you're not expecting a lot of requests. Just make sure that anyone looking to access their personal data has a clear way to do it.

10. Can Designer Websites help with GDPR compliance?

It is ultimately your responsibility to comply with the GDPR law, but if you need any help from the Designer Websites team then we will of course assist you wherever possible.

For instance, if you need us to make your web forms compliant, or if you need help with your website's privacy policy, please email info@designer-websites.co.uk and ask for assistance. This work is chargeable (our usual rates apply), and each website is different, so we would have to add you to our list of requests and assess how much time would be needed to make your site compliant. Please bear in mind that we manage hundreds of websites, and it may be some time before your changes can be made.

11. Useful links

Why Won't My Website Show Up on Google?

It's frustrating when your website can't break onto the first page of Google results for that high-volume keyword you've been trying to target, but it's even more frustrating when your website isn't showing up on Google at all.

Why does this happen?

In order for a page to appear as a Google result, it has to be included in Google's index.

When Google notices a new website for the first time, its bots 'crawl' the site and report back so that the site's pages can be added to the index. However, Google don't index all pages indiscriminately – even they don't have the luxury of unlimited server space.

For this reason, if a page doesn't meet certain requirements, Google won't bother to index it. Their algorithm might even decide that none of your pages add any value to the Internet, in which case your whole website may be excluded from the index. And if you're not in the index, you can't show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Check to see if you're indexed

If you think Google isn't showing your website in the search results – even for terms that you really ought to be ranking for – the first thing to do is find out whether or not you're even indexed.

Here's how to do that:

1. Open Google Chrome (or go to google.com).

2. Type your website's URL into the search bar, preceded by 'site:'. For instance:

Google site: search

3. Hit search. Google should now show you a list of your web pages - if none of them are indexed, you'll see a message like this:

No Results Found

If you use Google Search Console to manage your website, you can instead log in and take a look at the Index Status report. This tells you how many of your pages Google currently has indexed, if any.

If none of your pages are indexed...

Here are some of the most common reasons for Google to exclude an entire website from the index:

  • Google hasn't noticed your website yet. If your website only recently went live, it may just be that Google's bots need a little longer to get around to crawling it. You can hurry them along by adding your site in Google Search Console and submitting your sitemap file in the Sitemaps report (or using the Fetch as Google tool – be sure to click 'Submit to index').

  • Google's bots can't access your pages. If your web developer has mistakenly a) blocked your website in the robots.txt file, or b) placed a 'noindex' tag on pages that are supposed to be indexed, this will prevent Google from accessing and indexing your content. If neither of these apply, there are several other reasons why Google may be unable to view your site – perhaps your site was down when Google attempted to crawl it, or maybe your pages take too long to load or cannot be viewed without logging in.

  • Google has penalised your website by de-indexing it. Sometimes, Google will exclude websites from the index as a punishment for breaching the search engine's guidelines. If you have been engaging in unnatural link building practices, filling your site with low-quality or duplicated content, or otherwise doing something you shouldn't have been, your absence from the Google SERPs may be a direct result of your bad behaviour.

If your pages are indexed...

So you've checked, and your website is indexed – you're just not ranking for the keywords you care about. Here are some possible explanations for that:

  • All of your pages are indexed...except the one that matters. Just because most of your site is indexed doesn't necessarily mean that the bots haven't missed something. It may be that a crucial page has been excluded, probably because its content is too similar to that of another page on your site. Google won't waste server space indexing two pages that are near-identical, so make sure your key landing pages aren't being edged out by other, lower-priority pages.

  • Your content needs to be improved. It may be that you're not ranking for that high-volume keyword because Google doesn't think your content meets the needs that the query expresses. Look at the sites that do rank for your chosen keyword, then compare them to your site – what do they do that yours doesn't? Do they provide a better answer to the searcher's question? Does their user interface provide a better, smoother journey? Do they offer a better product range, or more information on the products they sell? Ask yourself these questions and make sure your pages are as good as they can be.

  • You need to boost your website's ranking signals. If all of your pages are indexed and your content is utterly perfect...and you're still not showing up in the SERPs...it may simply be that your website doesn't carry as much weight as other sites do. Google's algorithm takes dozens of different factors into account when deciding which websites should rank the highest, but links are among the most important ranking factors of all. If your competitors have links from lots of high-authority websites (e.g. trusted news outlets, authoritative academic resources, popular content platforms like Buzzfeed), then you'll probably need to get some similarly high-powered links – AND make sure that your content is better than everyone else's – in order to outrank them.

If you need help getting your website ranked, please get in touch with the website optimisation experts at Designer Websites. Contact us now to discuss your requirements.

New Google Search Console

About a month ago, Google announced via their Webmaster Central Blog that the new version of Search Console (originally made available to a limited set of users in August 2017) was going to be released to all site owners who use the tool. The big roll-out has taken a few weeks, but the majority of users are now able to access the redesigned Search Console interface.

Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) in an indispensable tool for website owners, and so we'd like to take a moment to walk you through the new version and explain hpw it can be used. The new Search Console is still being built, and certain reports have not yet been migrated into the new version, but what is there is well worth exploring if you're serious about looking after your website's health.

How do I view the new Search Console?

To access the new version of Google Search Console, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to www.google.com/webmasters and click the big green 'SEARCH CONSOLE' button.

  2. Sign into your Google account to continue.

  3. Once you're on the Search Console home screen, select the property (website) you'd like to manage.

  4. Go to your Messages (under 'Dashboard' in menu).

  5. Look for a message with the title 'Introducing the new Search Console for [website URL]' and open it up. (If you haven't received this message then you probably don't have access to the new Search Console yet - it is still being rolled out, so be patient and you should be granted access soon.)

  6. Click the 'Open the new Search Console' button in the body of the message.

I'm in! So what's new?

The first thing you'll notice upon accessing your new and improved Search Console is the sleek new design.

New Google Search Console

As we've already mentioned, the new Search Console doesn't yet offer as many different reports as its predecessor. The main features of the new version are as follows:

  • Performance
  • Index coverage
  • AMP
  • Sitemaps

Let's familiarise ourselves with these reports one at a time...

Search Console Performance Report

Performance

The 'Performance' report is more or less identical to the 'Search Traffic' report in Search Console Classic. The interface is a little different, and interestingly, there appears to be some disparity between the data in the 'Performance' and 'Search Traffic' reports, but it's still essentially the same tool. Use it to see which queries drive clicks/impressions for your website.

 

Search Console Index Coverage Report

Index coverage

Of all the features that the new Search Console brings to the table, its 'Index coverage' report is unquestionably the most exciting. One of the most frustrating things about using the old Search Console was spotting that Google hadn't indexed some of your pages...but having no way to find out which pages the algorithm had passed over.

The 'Index coverage' report aims to give site owners a clearer idea of which pages have and haven't been indexed (and, more importantly, why). Blind Five Year Old wrote an in-depth blog post about this report back in October, but here's a quick summary of what 'Index coverage' shows you:

  • Error - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed because of some kind of error (e.g. server error).

  • Valid with warnings - Pages that HAVE been indexed, but with some issues that you may want to inspect.

  • Valid - Pages that HAVE been indexed successfully.

  • Excluded - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed, usually (though not always) intentionally. For instance, a page with the 'noindex' tag or a canonical tag that points to an alternate URL will show up in this section of the report.

This report makes it easier than ever before to see which of your pages aren't getting indexed, and to establish what you need to do about it.

 

Search Console AMP Report

AMP

If your website includes any AMP content, this report is worth keeping an eye on as it will inform you of any errors on your accelerated mobile pages. This isn't anything new, though - the old version of Search Console includes a very similar report under Search Appearance > Accelerated Mobile Pages.

 

Search Console Sitemaps Report

Sitemaps

Again, this is just a nicer-looking version of a tool that we've been using for years (find it in the old Search Console under Crawl > Sitemaps). You can submit sitemaps and check the status of all submitted sitemaps here; handily, you can also click through to an 'Index coverage' report for each sitemap you've submitted.

And that's just about it - for now, anyway. Google are still building the new Search Console, so keep your eyes peeled for additional reports as 2018 progresses.

Do you need an expert to look after your website and make sure it's running at peak performance? Contact Designer Websites today - our website optimisation specialists will help you to achieve online success!