Archive by Hamish Stafford

A Guide to Keeping Children Safe Online 2.0

30Jan

original: 12/06/2014, updated: 30/01/2017

Child Safety Online

The growth of the internet has provided an invaluable learning tool for children. However, the increasing ease with which children are able to access the web has given rise to a number of problems relating to child safety. The potentially most harmful problems young people can encounter using the internet include:

  • Inappropriate contact from people who may wish to abuse, exploit or bully children.
  • Inappropriate conduct due to their own or others’ online behaviour or the sharing of personal information. They may also become either targets or perpetrators of cyber-bullying.
  • Accessing Inappropriate content such as sexually explicit, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material

Playing online video games, engaging with social media, and searching for inappropriate content can have potentially harmful consequences to users who have yet to develop the emotional maturity to view critical situations subjectively.

There are a few steps a parent or guardian can take to combat the above. The first and perhaps most important step is to educate your child about the potential dangers posed by the internet; this way they will be more likely to recognise these dangers and/or avoid them completely. It’s equally important to teach them what to do when something happens – consult a parent, guardian or teacher or, if they do not feel comfortable doing so, have an online discussion with a Childline counsellor or give them a ring on 08001111 at any time (it’s free).

Another issue which has been exacerbated by the availability of the internet through mobile phones is the sharing of private or sensitive information of images. Many children or young people do not understand that anything shared online or by mobile can end up publicly accessible, and that personal or sensitive content should never be shared online.

1. STAYING SAFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Most recent studies suggest an increase in younger people opening social media accounts. On top of that, a quarter of 11-16 year olds have experienced something upsetting online.

The most popular social networks among 8-16 year olds in the UK are Snapchat and Instagram. Both platforms offer solutions to keep children safe:
Instagram’s minimum age for users is 13. They also offer an extensive guide for parents on keeping their children safe using the image-based social media networking.
Snapchat’s minimum user age is also 13. But the picture and video sharing app offers an alternative for users under the age of 13, called Snapkidz. Parents can read up on the different features here.

Other social networking site’s guides for parents can be found here: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest.

However, being of the minimum required age to join a social networking platform in no way guarantees a young user is developed enough able to keep safe without a parent keeping an eye on their activities.

 

2. STAYING SAFE WHILE PLAYING GAMES ONLINE

Chatting and communicating with other players

For online games which do not feature moderation systems, it’s important to be aware what is and is not possible. Depending on the sorts of games, players can typically communicate with each other by:

  • sending messages which can be typed as part of the game
  • chatting online while playing the game
  • physically speaking using headsets/microphones

This can place your child at risk of cyber-bullying or contact from potentially dangerous strangers, so it’s important to educate your child of the dangers early on, and inform them of what to do if they feel uncomfortable or upset. It’s unlikely that games consoles will be able to offer the levels of moderation that can be offered by website based games so particular care should be taken with these platforms

More tips for staying safe while playing online

You can help keep your child stay safe whilst gaming online by following these tips:

  • chat to them regularly about their gaming and ask who they are in contact with
  • read reviews and parental guidance on games before deciding whether or not they are appropriate for your child
  • check the game is appropriate by either playing it yourself or watching your child play
  • encourage your child to use a ‘screen name’ which doesn’t give away any personal details
  • advise them to never give out personal details such as their email address, phone number or location
  • encourage them to tell you if there are any users they feel uncomfortable about – many games have inbuilt functionality to ‘block’ or ‘report’ other players
  • report any threatening or suspicious behaviour to the game’s administrators or to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP)

Useful Links

Tips for keeping children safe online from getsafeonline.org: Visit Site

Google’s advice on ‘How you can protect your family online’:Visit Site

Know the Net from Nominet offers an overview of online child safety: Visit Site

Advice from the NSPCC, for parents about keeping children safe whilst online: Visit Site

Advice from NIDirect Government Services on keeping children safe online: Visit Site

SAFE Network offer guidance on keeping children and young people safe online: Visit Site

Childnet International educates parents, guardians and teachers so that they can keep children safe online: Visit Site

 

3. FREE TOOLS TO KEEP YOUR CHILDREN SAFE ONLINE

Google SafeSearch (free)

SafeSearch is designed to screen sites that contain sexually explicit content and remove them from your search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, SafeSearch helps you to avoid content that you may prefer not to see or would rather your children did not stumble across. Find out how to turn on Google SafeSearch –READ MORE.

Safety Lock on YouTube (free)

YouTube has Community Guidelines that describe the type of content that is and isn’t allowed on the site. However, there may be cases when you’d prefer to screen out content, even though it meets YouTube’s guidelines. Read more about using the safety lock on YouTube – READ MORE.

TalkTalk HomeSafe (free to TalkTalk customers)

HomeSafe protects your whole home online through every device connected to your TalkTalk broadband. Its three features are Kid Safe, Virus Alert and Homework Time (a tool to help prevent distractions at homework time!). Find out more about TalkTalk online safety – READ MORE.

McAfee Parental Controls for Sky (free to Sky customers)

This software helps you control when your child can be online and it lets you keep an eye on their online activities. It also lets you control what websites they can visit. It can be used on up to three Windows based PCs for free. Find out more about McAfee for Sky internet – READ MORE.

Norton Family (free basic version)

See your kids’ activities at a glance with an easy-to-read activity report. Norton state that “you’ll get to know your kids better and gain a deeper understanding of their online interests, so you can protect and guide them” – READ MORE.

BT Family Protection (free to BT broadband and dial-up customers)

This system allows parents to set up accounts which are not allowed to see certain content. Before a child can access the internet they have to enter their account log-in details, so they’re then free to surf the Internet without the danger of seeing inappropriate content – READ MORE.

Virgin Media Security (free to Virgin Media broadband customers)

Virgin Media’s free Parental Control software is a simple and effective way to stop your children watching unsuitable content online. Rather than being dedicated parental control software it is provided as part of the Broadband package. – READ MORE.

 

3 Things in SEO This Week

26Mar

top3-seo-header

Mobile Yet? –Better Get Moving!

As of 21st of April, Google will be introducing a change to their algorithm that non-mobile friendly sites won’t like. Google is to reward those sites which users can access via tablets and mobile with improved rankings as this will be introduced as a ranking signal moving forward.

Google has since said that the algorithm updates will have a “significant impact” on search results worldwide for users. Simply put, sites which have a mobile-friendly experience for people searching on mobile devices should see improvements whilst by association demote those sites which don’t. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, do get in touch with our team who deal with all sorts of responsive web design in London.

It’s worth noting this update will be done on a page by page basis meaning each page’s mobile friendliness will be judged separately. But if you want our advice? Get ready and get mobile. Despite this update affecting search results more and more people are using mobile devices and if your site isn’t up to scratch then people won’t visit and see all your wonderful products!

Agency vs In-house SEO?

I read an interesting article a few days ago about whether or not companies should employ an agency [or any third party] to carry out their SEO work and I found myself agreeing with it wholly. And yes, I may be a little biased here but not in a matter of fact kind of way – I just agree!

Marketing can drive sales when working in a collaborative environment.  When you have people who aren’t as close to your business as yourself ideas which may have not been brought to the table before could make the difference to sales increase. Especially when content development is key to SEO success in 2015 and the in-house team may not have the capabilities to manage this.

Social media marketing, though, is usually the best bet as authenticity and a direct communication is so important to a brand.

Another point about agency vs in-house is that SEO is a multifaceted channel and can change so often and quite often, dramatically. Algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin and the mobile-friendly update mentioned above are all examples of this. On a number of occasions I have seen in-house companies using outdated methods to create link opportunities and failure to keep up to date could harm a brand’s overall SEO performance.

SEO campaigns also require a breadth of skills and encompass a number of different on and off-page activities which can be both creative and technical.  A campaign will involve technical specialists, strategy, copywriters, content outreach specialists and researching – will an in-house team deliver that? Most likely, no.

Brands [some] may have had bad experiences in the past where they have been overcharged [or undercharged!] and not had the level of service that they would expect and been left confused about what their agency was trying to tell them.

Since “black hat” practices have been around and some people using them, still, we would always recommend doing your homework when selecting an agency. Go on their website – check out the case studies, speak to the brands which feature on the website and ask them if they would be good to work with.

Due diligence is important but once you have the agency you feel is right for you then you can start working on driving the right traffic to your site and generating the leads you might not have gotten if you kept the SEO in-house.

SEO Conference Season

It is that time of year again where buds begin to bloom; the evenings get lighter and marketing aficionados all gather at an SEO conference or three. They come they drink, party and even attend a talk or two to try and scoop up any new nuggets of information that will help theirs and their client’s sites to stay ahead of the pack.

This year I will be representing Passion Digital and be attending the Brighton SEO Conference which will takes place over the 9th and 10th of April. This will be my first Brighton SEO adventure and I am assured that it is a perfect blend of networking, fun and useful and actionable tips to take away and help my clients.

One interesting point was I found out that a certain TV show winner will be there – need to enquire about this ‘human touch’ they refer to and what sets this apart from all the hard-working account managers in agencies up and down the land…

SEO Basics Pt. 7: Keyword Mapping

29Oct

keyword-mapping

Keyword mapping is the straightforward process of ensuring that certain pages on your website mention certain words and phrases, so that they then rank in the search results for those certain words or phrases. This heavily influences site content and structure.

So let’s imagine that you sell cheap fancy dress for all sorts of occasions – Halloween, Christmas, St Patricks Day etc. You’ll firstly want to have a landing page for each group of costumes, so that searchers can be taken directly to a page dedicated solely to helping them out with their quest for the perfect Halloween costume, for example.

On that landing page you’ll want to make sure that the phrases ‘Halloween Costumes’ and ‘Halloween Fancy Dress’ are mentioned because lots of people search for these and they are totally relevant to what you have on offer.

A cursory glance at some tools also shows us that people are often looking for inspiration when it comes to costumes. So you could reflect that with the content on your page and make sure that you write about Halloween costume ideas and inspiration on it as well. Alternatively you could create a separate section on the site dedicated to this inspiration aspect.

On the individual Halloween product pages, you’ll want to identify where search volume exists in each niche, before making sure that you address that in your product descriptions. That means that you’ll want to mention that your products are either ‘Scary’ or ‘Funny’ because in relation to Halloween costumes, there’s a sizeable amount of people looking for costumes which fill this criteria.

Where do I start with keyword mapping?

  • Firstly you’ll want to investigate where people are currently landing when they click through to your site from a search engine. If someone types in ‘Halloween Costumes’ into Google and then sees your site in the SERPs, are they taken to the most appropriate page? If not, then ask yourself why this is the case. Is it because of meta data, copy, links etc.?
  • Identify the numbers of people searching for your keywords. This is just the first factor to consider when deciding which keywords you should really push for on core pages.
  • Then take time to analyse which keywords it makes most sense for you to target. Ask yourself which ones are most relevant to your landing pages, how much competition surrounds them and which ones could provide you with the best financial return.
  • Identify which pages you can optimise for certain keywords and crucially where new ones need to be created.

Where do I put the keywords? 

Don’t just place the keyword a page is targeting in the meta data of that page.

It should be in the body text, the alt text, the H1 etc. If your page is all about a certain type of costume then everything should revolve around that. You never want to deceive search engines and get people arriving on a page which won’t be of any use to them.

Internal links pointing to your landing pages should also contain your chosen keywords, or at least variations of them. The more signals you can provide indicating that a page is about something specific, the better chance it has of ranking well for a chosen term.

How do I know if my keyword mapping has been successful?

If you’ve succeeded in getting specific pages of your site displaying in the SERPs for specific search queries, then you should notice an improvement in Analytics in terms of user behaviour. As visitors are arriving on pages which better answer their specific query, they will be more engaged on your site. Visit duration should increase whilst bounce rate should decrease.

You might also measure it in terms of transactions made if you are focussed on getting your product pages ranking well for very specific product focused keywords. Also remember to check in Analytics and see what data is being pulled through there with regards to how people are arriving on your site. Despite the increase in ‘not provided’ you’ll still get a good idea about what words people are typing in to arrive on your site – assuming your site already receives a decent amount of traffic.

Take time to analyse which keywords it makes most sense for you to target.

Missed parts 1 to 6 of the Passion Digital SEO Basics series? If so, here are the links to the other sections of it:

SEO Basics Pt.1: Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

SEO Basics Pt.2: On-page Tips and Tricks

SEO Basics Pt.3: How to get (natural) links

SEO Basics Pt.4: How to Conduct Outreach

SEO Basics Pt. 5: Avoid Duplicate Content Issues

SEO Basics Pt. 6: What is Keyword Research?

PR and SEO: A Natural Digital Evolution

21Oct

Once upon a time, SEO and PR existed as two separate entities and provided very different digital marketing solutions. Fast forward to today, and you will see that this is no longer the case. At present, PR and SEO are now working more closely together in a new evolved and integrated digital landscape.

Evolution of man

But how did this happen?

Well, to begin with, Google began placing a lot more importance on high quality content that premium websites were linking to. So, in order to appear high up in Google’s results pages, you now need to create and share appealing and insightful content. But if you work in PR, then this will be something you are already familiar with. Today, content has very much become the glue that binds PR and SEO together.

SEO and PR Joint Goals

It is no secret that currently in 2014, engaging content that is targeted at the right audience will not only increase brand awareness but also inspire individuals to share what they’ve read across the web. These after all, are the two primary goals of any PR and SEO individual. Furthermore, the connections that PR professionals make with powerful bloggers and publishers are a huge benefit for anyone working within SEO. This is why today you’ll see many SEO’s and PR executives working more closely together on a project. In a nutshell, joint SEO and PR goals can create stronger digital marketing strategies that help to ultimately spearhead brand visibility.

But there are many specific activities that PR teams can get involved in that can boost sales if SEO aims are combined, and vice versa. Below are just a few examples:

Joint Activities

• Content calendars
• Events
• PR Stunts
• Blogging

Today, SEO and PR are combining their skillsets and working more closely together on joint activities. One such activity that is shared by both departments is content management, and in particular, content calendars. Previously, content calendars would be solely used by PR professionals for creating and scheduling topics for stories and press releases. Now, SEO professionals are incorporating content calendars in to their content marketing strategies. In particular, content calendars are really essential in helping SEO’s keep up-to-date scheduling enticing content ideas around seasonal events. Seasonal events that are relevant to a client really need to be included within a content calendar as this helps SEO professionals plan ahead when coming up with creative topics to blog about. In comparison, innovative PR stunts and events can also help generate huge attention and links to a company.

Today, content has very much become the glue that binds PR and SEO together.

But how do you manage the crossover of PR and SEO activities?

Like any relationship, communication is key. So when it comes to an SEO department working closely with a PR team, the two departments really need to talk. Problems may arise when the two marketing channels do the same activity but fail to keep one another up-to-date with developments. Make sure you communicate when working on joint projects and don’t end up end up duplicating your workload.

Final thoughts…

The relationship between PR and SEO is growing from strength to strength. In 2014, the evolution of SEO and PR is well under way and as both sectors continue to learn from one another and merge together, the future is an exciting one for digital marketing professionals.
Find out about our SEO training for you or your PR team

 

 

We're recognised by
Digital Marketing Agency London +Mike Grindy