ITCS News

Adwords is giving me clicks – so where are all the customers?

Google Certified Adwords specialist, Lisa Baker, discusses why self-managed Adwords campaigns rarely attract the right traffic and what customers can do to fix it!

It’s important to remember that customers may not actually buy online, but call your phone instead, especially if using a mobile, so your ads MAY be working better than you think.  However that’s another story.  It’s true to say that self-managed Adwords campaigns often waste huge chunks of budget because customers don’t know how to get the best from them.

“Adwords didn’t work for us”

“Adwords didn’t work for us” is maybe the most common thing I hear when it comes to speaking to new SEO clients.  Desperate to get a bigger share of the traffic for their keywords, many of them have invested considerable resources, sometimes thousands of pounds per month, only to see no return on their investment.

These same clients are the ones who give us a try and are surprised when a month later, they are getting more telephone calls to their business, a lower bounce rate, more leads and more conversions from the same Adwords budget – even after they have paid our management fees!

SEO and Adwords management is often seen as a ‘dark art’.  However, ITCS customers won’t find me waving a magic wand and chanting under a full moon to improve their Adwords performance – it’s actually just a matter of common sense.

The good news is that people like me use the same Adwords portal that you do – we just know how to use it better!

Here’s two ways you can make fast improvements:

 

Avoiding Broad Match Traps

The first tool in your kit needs to be match types – if you don’t know what they are, chances are you will waste 50-80% of your budget.

Google has four different match types – knowing how to use which type and when is critical in getting the right traffic.  Getting it wrong is the most common mistake we see.

Most ‘DIY’ managers only use broad matches and assume Google will only match when the customer search includes their term.  This is a costly mistake.

Broad matches, where a phrase is just written normally, allow for similar or related search terms.  This means in practice if you type in ‘Van MOTs’, Google will also match for Car MOTs, Van Sales, ‘My Van failed it’s MOT’, ‘What does an MOT cost’ etc.

This means two things will happen:

  1. Your budget will go fast, because there are lots of these irrelevant searches and
  2. All those clicks will do nothing to gain you business.

Our advice is:

  1. learn all about the different match types so you know what to use, when – and use broad matches with extreme caution, and
  2. Look into negative keywords use them to avoid irrelevant matches.

 

Getting it right: Quality Scores

Google assigns each keyword a quality score, from 1 to 10.  No matter how much you offer to pay, a keyword with a low score won’t get many ad views, and those it gets will be more expensive.

That’s because Google wants to deliver what customers are looking for.  So, if you don’t sell red shoes on the page your ad takes customers to, and you don’t mention red shoes in your Google Ad, chances are your quality score for the term red shoes will be low!

If you go to the keywords tab, within Google Adwords, you can modify the columns to show your Quality Scores.  If you also add the ‘ad relevance’, ‘landing page experience’ and ‘expected click through rate tabs’, you can see why Google has given your keyword that score, which tells you where you can start to make improvements.

Here’s a handy little infographic to show you why getting Quality Scores right could save you money.

Infographic Provided by Wordstream

Why choose an Adwords professional

While these two points will almost certainly reduce your wasted spend, in the right hands, you could see real gains for your business by getting Adwords right.  Just like adding an extension to your home is something usually best done by a qualified builder, you will get better results by using an expert to manage Adwords.

There is far more to managing Adwords than can be gathered in a simple blog post, Google Certified specialists have to undertake exams every year to maintain their status, and in order to get the best results, our advice is always to use a Google Partner like ITCS.

In case you are wondering what your matches look like, ITCS offer a free review, and will be happy to show you where you could make savings.

Ultimately, Adwords is no different to any other power tool.  In the right hands, it’s an investment in your business – getting it wrong should not be an option.

If you’d like your free Adwords review, click here.

WebAdwords is giving me clicks – so where are all the customers?

‘World Password Day’ flooded businesses with password advice – that fell on deaf ears!

With each weekday bringing another new ‘World Day for xxxx’ on social media, businesses can’t help but become a tad cynical – but some advice is still worth following.

May 3rd was officially World Password Day – a rather odd thing to celebrate, but nonetheless social media was flooded with advice for businesses on what to do, most of which probably got overlooked by the very businesses that nonetheless hit like and share!  With new reports finding that one in five UK businesses have been hacked, and that nearly half of all UK attacks target UK manufacturers, password security is something businesses cannot afford to ignore.

ITCS spoke about it to Welsh Business News about the issue – click here to read the full article

Web‘World Password Day’ flooded businesses with password advice – that fell on deaf ears!

How thinking within the box helped a major client improve business resilience

The ITCS projects team are regularly asked to ‘think outside the box’ – but a recent disaster recovery project saw us thinking very much within it!

One of our established clients, a huge international automotive specialist, had approached the projects team to commission and build a back-up data centre solution for their site in South Wales, which employs over 500 people.  The client had identified that existing backup switches were not sufficiently remote to the main site, so if a disaster such as a fire or flood occurred, the back-up would be equally vulnerable.

ITCS were initially tasked to identify a good, secure location for an additional data centre within the existing building complex, but having inspected the site over several hours, Projects Director Glyn Pearce was unable to identify a suitable location which would not be equally affected by any disaster that befell the main data centre.

As the project would need an exterior site, Glyn needed to find a solution for a custom structure which would be affordable, reasonably fast to complete and sufficiently strong and secure to act as a disaster recovery suite.  Having seen containers used for all manner of purposes, Glyn came up with the idea of using a shipping container to create a disaster recovery suite, completely customized to meet the company’s exact needs.

Shipping containers are made from weathered steel, so offer good fire resistance and are secure.  Unlike traditional buildings, a container was quick to build and could be located anywhere, so finding the right spot sufficiently distant to the main building would not be a problem on the large site.  The location chosen would then require the ITCS Projects team to lay a 3000m fibre data cable from the main site to the disaster recovery suite, ensuring connectivity in a crisis.

Glyn presented the solution to the client, who loved the idea and instructed ITCS to go ahead with the build.

    

The build itself took 6 weeks at the ITCS site in Bridgend.  The team took an initial empty container, and the other departments at ITCS watched with interest as the projects team converted it into a complete office suite with both the hardware and comfort required to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster.  The next step would be installation of the disaster recovery suite at the clients site.

Logistics and transport were the next challenge.  Thankfully, ITCS have a good working relationship with local heavy transport experts Smiths Heavy Haulage.  We were able to work with them closely to manage the logistics of transporting a heavy container to site and we were well equipped to handle the installation.  We employed contractors and managed the entire on-site project including health and safety during both installation and the laying of the 3000m fibre cable.

The result is a completely custom, robust disaster recovery solution that has seriously increased our client’s business resilience.

The client was over the moon with the final result, which was implemented on time and on budget.

Glyn

Projects Director Glyn said:

“What seemed an initial challenge was easily overcome.  I always joke that working in the projects team means being able to think outside the box – I’ve now had to agree it means thinking WITHIN a box sometimes!

“This is a perfect illustration of how good planning, creative thinking and good relationships with logistics and contracting teams can deliver a complex project and make it look effortless to the untrained eye.  We’ve already had enquiries for similar projects for other large companies in the South Wales area, and it feels great to know that no matter what life throws at our clients, we are able to help them ensure business continuity.”

 

WebHow thinking within the box helped a major client improve business resilience

M.D. Brian celebrates latest ITCS ‘award win’

ITCS Managing Director Brian Stokes is used to winning awards, they sit proudly on his windowsill.

Over the years the company have won a number of trophies, including Fast Growth 50 three years in a row, the Best IT Support company in Wales award, and Bridgend Business Forum’s business of the year to name just a few.

However, there’s a new one appeared on his windowsill, of which he’s especially proud.  ITCS donated a computer to local playgroup Standing to Grow playgroup in Maesteg, and the group were so grateful they drew Brian a lovely card to say thank you – and the ITCS team have noticed that it’s now got pride of place!

Brian said:

“We didn’t expect the card, it’s such a sweet gesture, everyone has commented on it and I’m just as proud of this as any other award!  We started out in a little shop in Maesteg, I still live in the town and giving back to the community that have given us so much support over the years means a lot to me.  I hope the group enjoy using it – the card will continue to take pride of place!”

 

WebM.D. Brian celebrates latest ITCS ‘award win’

ITCS Web Team welcomes New Lead Web Developer

The ITCS Web and SEO teams grew solidly throughout 2017, and we were pleased to welcome new Lead Developer Ethan Flynn-Harding to the team in early 2018.

An experienced developer, Ethan brings leadership and a wide range of coding skills to the growing team.

Ethan said:

“Joining such an experienced, established team as a Lead Developer was daunting, but their commitment, enthusiasm and very warm welcome has made it an absolute pleasure.  Few web teams have this level of experience and I’ve been impressed with the variety of skills within the team.

“I’m looking forward to growing the team even further as the company continues to expand.

Web  & SEO Team Manager,  Amanda Deere, added:

“Although he has only been here a short time, Ethan has definitely made an impact, both in terms of his coding ability and in his ability to lead a strong team by example.  We’re already seeing the benefits of his expertise and this will definitely be a huge asset going forward.”

WebITCS Web Team welcomes New Lead Web Developer

The essential questions website owners have to ask – fast!

Google certified SEO specialist Lisa Baker discusses the issues website owners need to consider in 2018

2018 is bringing huge changes for website owners.

Not content with new GDPR rules throwing a huge spanner in the works, Google are also making a major change to their algorithm which will leave websites that aren’t fully responsive out in the cold.

In plain English, if your website won’t work as well on a mobile phone as it does on a desktop, your Google rankings will be affected.  Furthermore, if you don’t have an SSL certificate for your website, Google will now flag your website with the warning ‘not secure’.  This is an even higher priority if you sell online.

Chances are you’ll need to do some updates – ensuring compliance is your responsibility unless you engage a company to do that for you.   Even if your company has been checked for GDPR compliance, it’s important to check your website too – with possible GDPR fines of up to 20 million Euros, you can’t afford not to.

Here’s the vital questions website owners need to be asking:

  • Is my website cookie notice GDPR compliant?
  • Do I use third party tracking cookies?
  • Is any data we collect online stored in a way that is GDPR compliant?
  • Does my website have an SSL certificate?
  • Does my website work well on a mobile phone?  (you can test this by clicking here)
  • Have you checked your website terms and conditions are GDPR friendly?
  • Is my website secure enough to protect vital data from potential hackers?

Web Team Manager Amanda Deere advises:

 “It’s becoming increasingly complex to keep up to date with Google and the legislation, and both are essential.  ITCS has a full web compliance team and we’ll be happy to not only answer those questions for you, but also to provide the solutions if your website doesn’t comply.  Click here to contact us.”

WebThe essential questions website owners have to ask – fast!

Gone Phishing!

ITCS Cyber Security expert, Wayne Harris, discusses the growth in ‘Phishing’ attacks – and how ITCS are protecting their customers

Information is now the lifeblood of most businesses, and the more we do on-line, the higher the risks of cyber-crime and greater the rewards for the attackers.

Let’s face it, we all receive a mass of emails every day, and as good as the email spam filters are getting, inevitably rouge mails will get through.  Your next line of defence are your users, and this raises the importance of adequate cyber security awareness training, and the investment in your staff.  I meet with companies on a regular basis, who are looking to invest in their information security, but often they haven’t covered the basics when it comes to their staff training.

So, what is ‘phishing?   A phishing email (or sometimes SMS or instant message) is an electronic message sent to a user (or group of users) purporting to be from a trustworthy organisation or government department.  These messages invite you to open a link (such as viewing an online invoice), or an attachment that will lead the user to a malicious website or install malicious software on your devices (such as ransomware).  These malicious websites are designed to draw you in, and may look genuine to a casual user.  This year we have seen attacks masquerading as energy providers, parcel delivery notifications, and popular on-line auction and e-commerce sites.  They all have something in common – they all invite the user to click the links!

Great care should be taken with these types of attacks, as they are either designed to infect computer systems, steal personal details, user credentials (and often users will use the same password on multiple accounts), or to coerce the user into paying fake invoices and initiate banks transfers.  Our advice to users is to never click links on emails unless you are absolutely certain that it is genuine – if you are in any doubt, check or better still, go directly to the genuine website.  We also advise that any bank details provided via email should be double checked directly with the provider before making payment – use the existing information you have for them, don’t reply to the email, and speak to a known contact.

At ITCS, we have gone to great lengths to protect your systems, where possible through the implementation of software restrictions, and enhanced spam filtering, and offer next generation security solutions to further enhance the security of your network.  In the event of a successful attack, our Backup and DR solutions will ensure that your data is protected and your business can recover quickly.

Over the last year, we have run cyber security briefing sessions for our business customers, and have offered over 100 free places to our business support customers.  In addition, we have written and delivered bespoke user training to various customers throughout the UK at their own sites to further protect their business information and financial assets.

For further information, or to book your free cyber security briefing session, please call 08456 444 200, email support@itcs.co.uk or visit our website for more information.

WebGone Phishing!

IT’s Great – when IT Works!

ITCS Managing Director, Brian Stokes, discusses the challenges and the successes of the past 12 months.

‘IT’ plays a huge role in business these days.  Whether it’s a single electronic till or a complete, fully functioning cloud-based network with hundreds of users, few businesses can survive without IT.

Of course, as businesses increasingly rely on IT, when tech fails, it isn’t just annoying, it has a detrimental impact on your business.

Despite another year of rapid growth for the ITCS team, it’s been incredibly challenging at times.  Like most providers, we saw a massive increase in hacking and cyberattack attempts on both us and our clients in 2017.  The thought that individuals and organisations are out there, solely with the aim of creating chaos and destruction, often for kicks, is soul destroying when you see first hand the impact that these attacks cause.

We’ve had to respond to these threats with a robust defence, including hiring some of the best talent in the business, as well as investing in hardware and software to offer increased protection for our clients.  We’ve also supported our clients with free workshops on IT security and GDPR, and we’ve been invited to work with South Wales Police to share our knowledge and best practices with them going forward.  We can’t stop the attackers from trying, but we will do our utmost to prevent them from succeeding.

When all you read in the news is that cyber threats are growing, it’s easy to forget the massive benefits for business that the latest IT technology can bring – it’s definitely not all bad news.  We’ve had some major client successes recently.

We were delighted to work with Meritor, a huge international automotive supplier on their server replacement project, using the latest Nutanix technology.  We recently replaced 50 servers and a 250 seat telephone system without so much as a second in downtime – almost unthinkable with older technology.  Their I.S. Manager was delighted, saying:

“At last, we are confident that we are finally getting the most from our IT systems.  ITCS have helped us to reduce downtime, improve productivity and control costs; it’s a relief to know that we are finally in safe hands”.

We were also very proud to work with Welsh Women’s Aid, providing them with a new private cloud service.  Eleri Butler, CEO, was full of praise, saying

“The private cloud service from ITCS has given us enhanced security and improved our agility while minimizing our environmental impact.  It’s a win-win situation.”

It’s great to get this kind of feedback, and we’ll keep striving for 100% satisfaction no matter how large our customer base grows.  Over the last few months, we’ve expanded our team of engineers, web developers and SEO talent, and as our Midlands office is expanding rapidly, we’ve also appointed a new Regional Manager to head up the Midlands team.

We’ve invested in talent elsewhere in the business too.  We recently promoted Matt Muttlow, who started with ITCS as an IT engineer, to our Operations Director.  We’ve been continually impressed with his management ability and talent over the years, he’s is now continuing to prove his worth at board level and an integral part of ITCS.

Of course, we have more expansion plans for 2018, but in a continually evolving market, I’m sure we will have a few curveballs to deal with too.  However, the one thing I’m certain of is that our team are more than up to the challenge.  I have to thank each and every one of them for their dedication and hard work this past year, I look forward to working and growing with them as we keep IT working for our clients moving forwards.

WebIT’s Great – when IT Works!

Trying to pick the right mobile network? Why not pick all of them!

Choosing the right business mobile network for your business can be challenging.  ITCS partner with all the major networks, but up until now, business owners have had to make a decision as to which network to use – so how do you choose the right provider to ensure good coverage for your staff?

Sure, you can look at network maps and see who offers the best signal for your area, but if your staff include remote workers, on-site engineers and sales teams, chances are they won’t be in the same location (or even the same town) every day. 21% of the UK has partial ‘not spots’ which includes 10% of A roads and 16% of B roads. This is most acutely felt in rural areas, such as mid and West Wales, where coverage by each individual network is patchy at best.

The ITCS business telecoms team are therefore rather excited about their latest product. Teaming up with business-only network Gamma, the company are now able to offer multi-network SIMs. Using the MultiNet bolt-on, connections made on Gamma’s new 4G service will now ‘hop’ seamlessly from one carrier network to the next strongest one, wherever there is a signal in the UK.

Rhiannon Edmunds, ITCS Telecoms Specialist

ITCS Telecoms Specialist Rhiannon Edmunds explains:

“The new multi-SIM service is designed to empower business mobile users by removing the hindrance of poor coverage – and it comes from a network with a reputation for first class customer service. We’re proud to partner with Gamma on this service, and expect take up to be high.”

ITCS offer a range of business mobile deals with tariffs including Pay-as-you-go, single user plans, shared user plans and unlimited plans, and their specialist team will work with you to tailor a flexible package to suit your business needs. For more information, please call our Business Telecoms team.

WebTrying to pick the right mobile network? Why not pick all of them!

ITCS appoints new Regional Manager to head up Midlands expansion

South Wales IT support & business telecoms specialist ITCS has continued their national expansion with the appointment of a new regional manager to head up the Midlands region.

The company, which started from a small office in Maesteg 14 years ago has grown rapidly into a UK-wide IT support and Business Telecoms specialist, and employs more than 40 people in their Bridgend Head Office.

Whilst the national expansion continues, the client base in the Midlands region has expanded most rapidly and the company have therefore appointed Ajit Rai to head up the company’s Midlands operations.  Based in the company’s Rugby office, Ajit will bring strategic leadership to the region, as well as contributing to the company’s ambitious growth strategy.

Ajit brings a wealth of IT and business development experience to the company, who are also responsible for developing leading estate agent software package, AgentPro.

Commenting on the new appointment, Managing Director, Brian Stokes said,

“Ajit’s extensive experience and warm personality is a perfect fit for our ITCS family.  We have big plans for growth this year, so having a strong leader in our Midlands region will enable us to meet those targets,  Meanwhile, his track record in sales will I’m sure be a phenomenal asset.”

Ajit added,

“I am pleased to be part of a vibrant, customer-focused company that has already achieved so much, and look forward to being part of the company’s huge expansion plans for the Midlands region.  The team already here are doing a fantastic job, and I’m looking forward to working alongside them to increase our presence in the area.”

WebITCS appoints new Regional Manager to head up Midlands expansion