Best Practice When Moving from HTTP to HTTPS

Changing a site from HTTP to HTTPS is considered (by the search engines) to be a site move. Changing the structure of a site at the same time as implementing https is a sure way of losing organic traffic. To implement https, first ensure your HTTP and HTTPS sites are identical.

Implementing HTTPS can be a great business move, but if you try to do too much the search engines will react and you are almost certain to take a major hit.

A site migration will almost always result in a temporary loss of traffic — search engines need time to process the change and update accordingly. A well-implemented migration can minimise traffic fluctuations and in time Google will treat the new site as if it were the original.

Migrating to https offers user security (when filling in forms etc) and there should be a slight SEO gain, but there will be a period of transition.

Never do a site migration without first testing everything on a test server. Verify that the redirects work properly and do all of the checks before going live.

A well-planned and monitored migration shouldn’t permanently affect your traffic, but you should plan for a temporary dip. A move is best performed during a slow time of the year (think bars/restaurants in January!)

Benchmark exactly what you have before the move

Make a copy of your Google Analytics data. You will need this information so that you can quickly identify if any traffic is lost after the migration. Also, information from Search Console for your http property should be downloaded for analysis after the move.

If any traffic is lost, export the Analytics data from your new site and run a side-by-side comparison with the data from your old site, so that you can identify precisely which pages lost the traffic. In many cases, a loss of traffic will be isolated to individual pages, rather than taking place across the entire site.

As mentioned, resist the urge to make any other changes when implementing https. The URL architecture should be identical to the old one. A site migration may seem like the ideal time to make structural changes, but you should be aware that doing so may cause Google to see it as an entirely different site. Also, if you do both at the same time, you will not be able to determine whether any losses in traffic is a result of changing the architecture or https.

Update all internal links

The HTML links on your new site should point to the new https site, not the old one.

This might sound obvious, but as you go through the process, you will quickly realize how tempting it might be to leave the links unchanged, since they will redirect to the new URL anyway. Do not succumb to this temptation. Apart from the server load, which slows down site performance, the redirects may dampen your PageRank.

The ideal way to rewrite the links is by performing a search and replace operation on your database – wordpress has a plug in to make this easy.

Canonicalisation

Canonicalisation tells search engines which web page is the original and should be indexed in the case of having duplicate pages. If you have identical http and https pages (that you will have), make sure the canonical is set to the new version (https) on every page.

In combination with the redirects, this tells Google that the new site is, in fact, the new location of the old site. URL parameters create duplicate content that should always canonicalize to the parameter-free URL.

Duplicate content

If both multiple versions of a URL are published, it results in duplicate content. Canonicalization should take care of the issue, but also set up redirect rules in .htaccess so that only one version of the page is accessible.

Make sure that links are consistent to avoid redirects from internal links.

Verify that only HTTPS or HTTP is used and that only the www or non-www version of the site is accessible. The others should redirect to the proper site.

If your site has a search function, the search result pages should be noindexed.

Update and submit sitemaps

https will need a new property setting up in search console. Do this, update your sitemaps for https and submit for indexing.

Redirection

Use a regex expression in the .htaccess file of your old site to redirect HTTP to https. The regex expression should simply swap out HTTP for HTTPS.

Test your redirects on a test server and verify that this works as expected.

Keep in mind that once the redirects go live, your site has effectively been migrated. The new site should be in pristine condition before setting up the redirects.

Monitor traffic, performance and rankings

Keep a close eye on your search and referral traffic, checking it daily for at least a week after the migration. If there are any shifts in traffic, dive down to the page level and compare traffic on the old site to traffic on the new site to identify which pages have lost traffic. Those pages, in particular, should be inspected for redirect errors. You may want to pursue getting any external links pointing at the old version of the page changed to the new one, if possible.

It is equally important to keep a close eye on your most linked pages, both by authority and by external link count. These pages play the biggest role in your site’s overall ability to rank, so changes in performance here are indicative of your site’s overall performance.

Mark dates in Google Analytics

Use Google Analytics annotations to mark critical dates during the migration. This will help you to identify the cause of any issues you may come across during the process.

Update PPC and all other platforms

Update all of your PPC accounts, social media profiles, bios, other websites you own, forum signatures, and any other platforms you take advantage of, so that the links point to the new site and not the old.

Monitor your indexed page count

Google will not index all of the pages on your new site immediately, but if the indexed page count is not up to the same value as the old site after a month has passed, something has definitely gone wrong.

Conclusion

Keep all of the above in mind if you are planning to migrate your site to https, and it should go off without a (permanent) hitch.

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Marketing to the Fashion Industry – Fashionrider.com

Marketing to the Fashion Industry.

Solutions for Designers, Photographers, Stylists, Make-up Artists and any business that is interested in marketing to the fashion industry.

Working with top fashion network, Fashion Rider, Online Customer Solutions are providing help to some of the most interesting and engaged fashion creatives in the UK.

Support and marketing to the fashion industry
Fashion Rider

Set up by Susie Doenhoff in 2011, Fashion Rider provides a platform for independent designers to showcase and sell their designs. Susie’s objective is to help as many members as possible achieve greatness in the fashion industry.

Online Customer Solutions owner, Rob Wilkinson, has been working with Susie for the past 6 months to raise awareness and increase the number of network members. Rob is also working on a marketing platform, designed to open up the creative audience to suitably aligned businesses.

Related: Online Marketing for Small Business and Freelancers: Social Media

At the time of writing Fashion Rider has the following reach:

  • Nearly 4k Facebook followers.
  • A 9k Twitter audience.
  • 3.5k Pinterest followers.
  • 2k+ Instagram followers.
  • An engaged email subscriber list of over 2k.

Major players in the fashion world contact Susie for help sourcing creative resource. Setting up a profile is essential to raising awareness and getting more paid work.

The Fashion Rider Marketing Service

Strict controls apply when it comes to allowing access to the Fashion network. Only businesses with ethical ambitions, aligned with Susie’s, should apply.

  • Fashion houses looking for new talent.
  • Businesses large and small with products and services relevant and interesting to the creative audience.
  • Photographers promoting shoots and offers, or looking for stylists and new clients.
  • Designers – Looking for brand exposure resulting in more clients.
  • Business support services looking for creatives as clients. For example accountants, marketing companies, other creatives.

Fashion Rider have a number of marketing plans to support businesses of any scale, from the independent designer; to the multinational fashion house.

Membership profile prices start from free, and marketing packages start from £300 for a 1-week promotion package. This includes distribution across all of the Fashion Rider social networks.

Find Out More

If you are interested in connecting with the UK Fashion network – or looking to raise your profile and find additional work – then have a look at the www.fashionrider.com website today!

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Independent Website Due Diligence – Investor Research

A Website report is an essential part of Due Diligence to establish company value.

 

If you are buying or investing in a company you need to understand exactly what its website contributes to the value. Company valuations depend on many factors and often have a subjective element. Similarly, how much a website contributes is not just about sales.

Some factors to consider are:

  • How many visitors does the website get?
  • How many convert to customers?
  • What is the customer profile?
  • How well does the website perform compared to sector competitors?
  • How much room is there to improve?

Making the decision to purchase or invest in a company is often made with insufficient consideration of its website.

What should be included in a Website report as part of the Due Diligence?

History and Overview

This should include a general summary of the website’s role, objectives and history. When was it established, what technology does it use (is this good or bad?), is it mobile friendly? The website background can often be very different to the company background.

Current Online Marketing Activity

What is the current digital strategy and how is it being implemented. Is it being carried out in-house or by a third party? How is it being measured, how much does it cost and what is the return?

How many followers, friends or likes does the website have? Is it active on social media or pay per click?

Search Engine and Website Performance

Which ‘keywords’ does the site ‘rank for’ at the moment? Are these relevant to the company objectives and is the SEO strategy performing efficiently? How is the website performance monitored, are all the basics in place or is there room for improvement?

Website performance

Analytics

Visitor numbers and conversion (sales or enquiries)

How many people visit the website and from which source. How many of these convert to paying customers.

Local SEO
local seo growth over time
Traffic Trends

What types of customers are buying from the website. For example, do they only purchase once, or regularly. What is the split between returning and new customers? Which marketing activity is driving the most number of visits?

Online Reputation

Does the company (via the website) have a good reputation? How many positive reviews are found on either social media or the site itself? How many negative? What is the general online perception of the website / company? Online reviews need to be managed and responded to, how is this completed?

Competitor Research

Who are the main competitors and how does their website perform in comparison? Include an overview and commentary about the positives and negatives of their sites.

Cost

What is the overall operating cost of the website and supporting function? From hosting costs, to security, payment processing and customer service.

Opportunites / Threats

Include a list of the opportunities and potential threats to the website performance.

Website Oversight

Based in the North West, an estate agent contacted us in order to review their website. Our contact had purchased a business and reached out to discover how he could improve its website performance.

In summary, our client’s new website just loaded 3rd party content. Consequently, in Google terms, their website didn’t exist!

On the positive side, our client had bought a company that had a website with a great deal of opportunity!

Another client had looked to make an investment in a mail order company. Their website was clunky but was taking orders. Understand the customer data behind the orders. Highlight opportunity that the website could realise. Outline the effect this would have on the bottom line.

Before Making an Investment, Carry out Website Due Diligence

It almost doesn’t matter which industry or sector you are looking to invest in. Even (especially) for companies that have no online presence, getting a view of the online landscape will offer insight and opportunity.

Contact us for more information about our website due diligence service.

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How Much Does it Cost to Set-up a Website?

How much a website costs to set-up depends on what it needs to do.

One of the most commonly asked questions on our keyword report is: How much does it cost to set-up a website? Below we try to give a simple answer, but remember the costs and options below will vary depending on the exact requirements. Or, in other words, it really does depend on what you want your website to do!

Find out how much it costs to set-up a Website

Online Customer Solutions provide the below guidance:

  • A basic 5-6 page website costs £300 + design (c£80) + Hosting and domain name (£65 per year).
  • Customised WordPress site (Blog) or another Content Management system: £450 + design + Hosting
  • E-Commerce (OpenCart) website: £750 + design + hosting.

Read more about how to start selling online here.

Of course, if you want a corporate website with bespoke requirements and multiple languages, the cost from your average web development company is going to run into the thousands. Typically if your e-commerce site requires unique functionality and multiple interesting payment options then the costs are going to be higher.

For most small businesses wanting either a brochure website, blog or e-commerce website, the costs above will be there or thereabouts.

Alternatives to Outsource Website Development

There are alternatives to using a low-cost UK based web development company such as Online Customer Solutions.

You could do it yourself using a self-service website generator, for example, WordPress or other blog type sites. But you’ll tend to find that the free or very low-cost options come with limited options. For example, you tend not to be able to have your own domain name or business email address.

Outsourcing your website development should also mean that it is optimised for search engine results. A web developer will ask you questions like: “Who are your typical clients?”, “How would you describe your services?”, “Can you explain a recent project or product that you provided or sold?”.

Although you will still need to provide some of the website content – after all – no-one knows your business better – your web developer will optimise for keywords pertaining to your site.

All this means is that a web developer should have an appreciation of who your website is likely to appeal to and ensure that your site attracts visitors to boost your sales. This practice is called search engine optimisation, you can read more about SEO basics here.

Slow website growth SEO
Cost of setting up a website is relative to the value of the results

The Offshore Option

Offshore website development companies tend to send a lot of unsolicited emails with eye-catching low prices and promise first page results on Google. Although there will be some reputable companies that could do a good job, getting fast search engine results will undoubtedly mean using ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques that will eventually get your website a Google penalty. Also, many offshore companies will not understand the local UK market and not spend too much time trying to help your business grow. They will just put up a site, get paid and move on to the next company.

Although there will be some reputable companies that could do a good job, getting fast search engine results will undoubtedly mean using ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques that will eventually get your website a Google penalty. Also, many offshore companies will not understand the local UK market and not spend too much time trying to help your business grow. They will just put up a site, get paid and move on to the next company.

Our Process

After an initial fact-find, if a customer wishes to proceed with the website build, the process for setting these things up is fairly straightforward:

  • A service agreement letter is sent to the customer confirming what has been agreed to be delivered.
  • Assuming everything is ok, we then send over some design ideas for you to have a look at and we’ll work out what the site is going to look like. During this stage, if you have any design requirements – for example, pictures you want on the site or colour preferences – please let us know.
  • After the design comes the content. If you have any words (leaflets or existing marketing) that would be a good starting point. If not, we’ll need to schedule a call and you can tell us about – Your background; Services you offer; Typical clients; contact information etc.
  • At this point, we invoice for a deposit, usually 25% of the build cost.
  • Once we have all the information we build the site and put it on a test server for you to have a look at. At this point, you’ll probably have additional ideas or content that you want to include, so we’ll work together until you are happy with it.
  • Once finished, we’ll put the site live and raise an invoice for the remaining 75%.

A Website is Just the Start

Building a website is usually the start of a marketing process. A professional website is optimised to appeal to your target audience. The SEO process then needs to be followed and there are a plethora of online marketing options that should be taken into account when looking to grow your business.

In conclusion, the question should not be: how much does it cost to set-up a website? But instead, “How much will it cost to set-up and promote my website and how much value will it return?” To help answer that, you need a website and online marketing partner.

Why choose Online Customer Solutions?

  • Motivated to deliver business growth.
  • Detailed knowledge of online marketing including SEO, PPC, Email, affiliate recruitment, content marketing, social media and display re-targeting.
  • Experience with Google Analytics and other reporting suites.
  • Technical Knowledge: HTML, PHP, MVC, OpenCart, MySql, WordPress
  • 12 years website and SEO experience
  • Constantly up to date with the latest SEO developments and trends.
  • Proactively looking for new ways to continuously improve the performance.
  • Experienced across a variety of industries.

Find out more

Based in Cheadle, close to Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions specialise in helping businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

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Affordable Web Design Services Manchester

Looking for affordable web design services? Templates and open source platforms are the answer. Affordable website design and development can start from as little as £150. Perfect for small or micro businesses.

Open Source content management systems (CMS), for example, WordPress, are great for creating high quality, low-cost websites. Installation and running of a WordPress site is free. However, the domain name, hosting, setup, template cost and customisation are all chargeable.

It is possible to do all this yourself. However, if you are busy doing the day job, affordable web design services can be a good choice.

Affordable Web Design Services – E-Commerce

Read more about how to start selling online here.

Like most things, the simpler something is and the less time it takes, the cheaper it is going to be. But even for complicated e-commerce sites; using open source platform, for example, OpenCart, can save a lot of time and money. Just that setup and customisation is going to take a bit longer. Find a good web development service and it can be easily affordable to get your shop up and running within a few weeks.

Remember, having a website doesn’t mean everyone will suddenly start visiting it. Have a look into search engine marketing!

Find out more

Based in SK8, just south of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide solutions to a range of business but specialise in helping small businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

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Small Business Website Essentials

An online presence is crucial to a small business. A good business website will attract visitors and convert them into paying customers.

Small Businesses account for more than £650bn of GDP. There are over 4.5M small businesses employing less than 9 people.

Small companies fighting hard to attract the attention of would-be customers. A quality website is essential if you want your business to punch above its weight.

Most small business website sites aren’t fit for purpose in today’s digital world. Sites that are based on out-of-date technology. “Static”, limited to five pages, and offer no content management. Being able to post photos and publishing reviews is essential.

Small business websites rank very low on a Google search. Even when they do attract visitors, they rarely convert them to paying customers as they project a poor image online. These businesses missing huge opportunities to grow.

Many businesses want to do more in this area – but most don’t know how they can start the process without spending thousands of pounds.

Small Business Website Essentials

A new dynamic and up-to-date website will be more relevant to a visitor. It will also give repeat visitors a reason to return. News, specials and testimonials are a few ways of making a website more exciting and dynamic. And best of all, updating your content regularly makes it more search-engine friendly.

A professionally designed website makes all the difference. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune though as there are website templates that look fantastic and can be customised to match your company brand and logo.

With millions of websites in the UK alone, you must make your website visible to your customers. The way to do this is to climb search engine results.

If your website hasn’t been optimised to help it up the rankings, you can’t independently reach out and help potential customers find you. Despite having a website, you’re still working off-line!

Find out more

Online marketing company in Cheadle : Online Customer Solutions, provide websites, SEO and online services to help businesses grow. We work worldwide with businesses small and largeContact us today.

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Make Sales Online – E-commerce solutions

Whether you are starting a new business or just a new website, Online Customer Solutions (OCS) can provide everything you need to make sales online.

E-commerce used to be very expensive and take a long time to setup and manage. Small businesses used to spend a fortune (£20k +) getting their shop online. These days there are a number of low-cost platforms that not just save a lot of money, but also provide an exceptional solution.

Solutions include as Paypal, WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce (WordPress), Magento and OpenCart.

Read more about how to start selling online here.

OCS recommend OpenCart. It is flexible, powerful, open source and has a solid support system via a large number of users. It is a low-cost solution enabling small businesses to make sales online.

The number of features out of the box is huge. All the standard stuff is there; account setup, stock control, order and payment processing (via extensions), email confirmations etc. It is completely customisable, ensuring that it looks exactly as you want.

There are also nice extras including wish lists, newsletter management, built-in affiliate system gift vouchers and much more. 

Setup costs start at £250, and running costs (which includes hosting, management, ongoing support) starts at £50 per month.

Monthly costs depend on how much help you want. OCS can also setup and manage your online marketing and provide help and advice when it comes to social media, content and affiliate marketing.

Make Sales Online

Online Customer Solutions can provide everything you need to make sales online. OCS have many years of development and online marketing experience and can install, setup, manage and market your e-commerce site. We can also provide training.

Based just south of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide solutions to a range of business, but specialise in helping small businesses grow.

Find out more

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

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Help Setting up a Website

Online Customer Solutions specialise in providing help setting up a website. OCS can replace an existing site or help create a new one and provide a cost effective solution.

It is essential that your website captures peoples attention within the first 15 seconds of a visit, so you need a compelling proposition, tell your visitors what you do and how you can help them.

Using new and established applications to keep costs down, OCS works with you to setup your online presence.

OCS will help build anything from a simple two or three page site, to a full e-commerce solution. OCS have sourced a library of online tools to make setting up a website as simple as possible.

With low setup and running costs, OCS help you minimise your capital outlay and manage your monthly hosting costs.

Help Setting up a Website

From the purchasing of a domain name, to hosting the website, payment gateways and security; Online Customer Solutions provide help, support and advice when setting up your website.

Online Customer Solutions also help with your online marketing and increase visits and sales or leads.

Find out more

Located in Cheshire south of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide solutions to a range of business, but specialise in helping small businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

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