Monday, 26 October 2015

Online Training

A while ago I found a great online learning tool called Futurelearn. Futurelearn offers a wide range of courses or MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and I am currently taking part in one on Digital Marketing.

These courses offer courses that could be useful in the workplace, like the one I am taking at the moment, plus some that learners may take as a recreational course. They are run by various universities and looking a the learner map for my current course there are people from all over the world taking part.

I decided to take part in the Digital Marketing course as this is an area that I am particularly interested in and I run the social media accounts for my business Convallis Software and the local sports centre, Chulmleigh Sports Centre, where I am a trustee and volunteer.

I am currently part way through the first week and have already learnt about storytelling and how it can be used in your marketing plus the range of social media options that are available. You work your way through the course at your own pace offering comments on each module if you wish to. This course also has a Facebook group and a Google + group to enable me to link up with other members of the course if I wish to.

I really enjoy working at my own pace and increasing my knowledge and I've already discovered through the comments section that a friend of mine is doing the same course!

If you are looking at training that is free why not consider a MOOC, and some courses also offer the opportunity to purchase a statement of participation at the end.

Friday, 16 October 2015

5 Quick Tips to help get Website Traffic

Your website is one of the most important aspects of your business.  It is normally one of the first places a potential customer will go to find out about your business, you products and services and you! It is also where many potential customers will find out how to contact you, usually via a contact page but also your other means of communication, for example a phone number or social media links.

The more visitors you have to your website the better your sales and profits (one would hope!). These tips presume you know your niche and your keywords. I also presume that you conduct regular keyword research to stay on top of what's popular within your niche.

  1. Make sure you are actually tagging your keywords.

    Online, one of the most significant keys to success is getting website traffic.  The more visitors you have, the better your sales and profits.  Presumably you have a niche and you know your keywords, and regularly conduct keyword research to stay on top of what’s popular.  Based on those assumptions here are five quick and easy tips to get website traffic fast!

    Do you spend a lot of time optimizing your content and then neglect to tag them on your webpage?  Tags are where search engines look and if there are no tags they’ll pass right by your web pages.  Here’s a quick brief on tags.

    There are a number of tag types including,

    * Title tags.  Title tags are quite possibly the most important place to situate your keywords.  Here’s what they look like - <title>Primary keyword phrase here. </title>

    Your title tag is where you place your primary keyword or keyword phrase.  The sentence will describe your business in less than 90 characters. 

    * Header Tags.  Header tags are next in order of importance to search engines.  They’re ranked in order of importance and look like this - <h1>Primary and/or Secondary keywords here</h1>

          The “1” designates this header as the most important header on the page.

    * Meta Tags. Meta tags provide the small descriptive text found underneath the title tag on the search engine results page.  Like title tags these should be kept brief, informative and up to date.

    * Alt Tags.  Alt tags are used to provide a text description of a graphic.  Each graphic on your site should have a description and an alt tag. 
  2. Add content to your site regularly.

    Content is essential for traffic and a top search engine ranking.  Content is what search engine spiders look for and index - without it there’s nothing to index or rank.  Give visitors and search engines a reason to visit and index your site. Make a commitment to provide regular, optimized content and your traffic should increase.
  3.  Procure valuable and relevant incoming links

    The more websites which link to your webpages the more valuable search engines perceive you to be, though not all links are created equal.  Search engines give more leverage to links from sites which are popular and credible and from sites which are relevant to your website topic. 

    There are different types of links.

    - A direct link looks like a basic website address, for example,

    - A text link occurs when the webpage address is embedded in the text.  Readers simply click on the link and are redirected to a new website page. 

    - If the link is to an internal web page, for example an article published on a website, rather than the home page, it is called a “deep link.”

    You can encourage linking to your website by:

    * Adding content to your site. 
    * Submitting to article directories. 
    * Publishing press releases. 
    * Blogging and participating in social networking forums, chat rooms and social networking sites. 
  4. Be Social!

    Now more than ever before, internet marketing is about building a community.  Whether you offer a forum on your website or you participate in social networking sites, social networking is a valuable traffic generating tactic.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter can be powerful tools for generating links and traffic to your site – create a profile and then post comments, links to your site and ideas which generate conversation. 

    Get involved - many chat rooms and forums are industry specific, find those which cater to your industry, and begin participating.  Speak to and connect with a highly targeted audience. 
  5.  Advertise for more exposure and traffic

    Advertising, when handled strategically, can be used to promote your content and products or services.  PPC advertising is often the tool of choice because you control the advertising budget on a daily basis and have the tools to test and track your advertising efforts.  Once you’ve honed your PPC ads the return on investment can be phenomenal in terms of traffic and purchases.   

    I hope that in this blog there are some tips that you can take back to your own business to help gain more traffic to your website. Although no expert, these are some of the things that I have learnt over the years and have helped me with my business.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Why use Cloud Technology?

'Why use cloud technology?'

This is a question I get asked quite often now in these evolving days of technology. I hope to give my personal opinion in this blog whether you agree with it or not.

Cloud technology allows you to work more flexibly, whether you are out and about or sat in your office you can have access to all your documents, files, work etc. Rather than have an existing (possibly expensive) server sat in the corner of an office or a dedicated room a lot of the cloud technology is purchased on a subscription basis, based on the number of users. This means that as things change in a business (staff numbers etc) you will only be paying for what you use.

An example of a popular cloud technology is Office365 from Microsoft that we use here at Convallis Software. As the name suggests this is the familiar Office suite of applications but in a cloud environment using secure servers. Another example is our own product, ConvallisCRM, a customer relationship management solution that has a desktop or cloud based option. Most of our customers are now subscribing to the monthly cloud option which allows the flexibility of usage.

In my personal opinion cloud technology is certainly the way to go for a modern business. If you want to find out more how this works please take a look at the following video from Microsoft showing an example of how it works for a small business in the UK.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

What does Database mean to you?

The word database can mean different things to different people. To some a database is their collection of names, addresses and telephone numbers of contacts for their business be it either on a spreadsheet, an address book, entered in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution or as a batch of business cards in a box somewhere.

For others a database is a list of stock available for sale or any list to do with their business.

According to Wikipedia, a database is an organised collection of data. The data is typically organized to model aspects of reality in a way that supports processes requiring information.

If you have multiple databases you sometimes find that information is duplicated or you cannot find the data you are looking for. Here at Convallis Software we are specialists in the development of bespoke databases and can help you get your business databases organised.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, we offer a free initial one hour consultation (depending on location) to discuss your personal requirements.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Windows 10 launch date - when can you get it?

It has been announced that the launch date for Windows 10 (there will not be a Windows 9) will be Wednesday 29th July 2015.

Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for current users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and you will have a year from the launch date to upgrade for free.

Why upgrade?

Well for a start if you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 as I said before the upgrade will be free. You will have the most up to date and secure version of Windows and don't forget that eventually support will end for earlier versions just like it did for Windows XP in April 2014.

I for one am looking forward to this new version of Windows, as much as I like Windows 8.1 it's always interesting to get the new versions and to learn how to adapt to use them. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

No Windows 9 - Windows 10 to be launched later this year

Microsoft have announced that their latest operating system, Windows 10 will be launched 'later this year'.

It's interesting that they have decided to skip straight to version 10 omitting version 9, may Windows 10 rolls off the tongue better! I will certainly be interested to see the changes when I update my laptop to the new OS.

Microsoft say there has been a low uptake of Windows 8, but I personally think it's like anything new, don't knock it until you've tried it. I have used it for quite a while now and introduced a couple of clients to it and they said after the initial few days of getting used to the controls it's not too bad to use at all.

One thing we must remember if you are using an old operating system the support for these do eventually come to a natural end, I think that it's fair to say that no one should be expected to support something that is out of date and many years old.

What else do we know about Windows 10? This is an example of the few things happening, to find out more read the complete article that I used for reference.
  • For Windows 8 and 8.1 users the upgrade will be free for the first year
  • For Windows 7 or users of other operating systems there is currently no word on pricing
  • Cortana, Microsoft's voice recognition software will be incorporated into the operating system
  • Windows 10 will be unified across all Windows devices including phones and tablets
  • The 'Start' menu will be returning
I'm certainly looking forward to seeing and using the new operating system and will let you know how my experience goes. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Microsoft's OneDrive to become simpler in the future.

Reading some of the recent technology news, I came across an article regarding Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage system and how they are going to be changing it to make life simpler for users. This prompted me to think about my use of OneDrive here at Convallis.

I actually use OneDrive more than I thought, backing up things like photos, saving documents such as my car insurance documents that I may need elsewhere. I also use it to for business to back up certain documents or photos, plus I share files/documents with one of my customers as they allow me access to share certain files.

The article mentioned that some people have had a problem with reliability with OneDrive, well for me I have never had an issue, but the great thing about what Microsoft are doing is that there will be a single sync engine for both business and consumer use, this will certainly make life a lot easier.

Whatever cloud storage system you use, be it OneDrive, Dropbox or any of the others available I'm sure you will agree that the more user-friendly it is the better it will be for us all and there will be less complaints!