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Launching a website? Follow these SEO tips

By KATIE CHODOSH, content consultant at TopLine Comms

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There is an abundance of small businesses in South Africa and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) could be the key to getting them off the ground. SEO isn’t easy, but it’s crucial for company growth. When done right, it can help businesses beat out their competitors (both on a national and global scale) and secure quality leads. As a B2B SEO agency, we spend a lot of time working with clients on their company’s SEO strategy (both in South Africa and the UK) and have seen them reap the benefits. 

Launching a new website provides the perfect excuse to create an SEO strategy. As tempting as it is to get writing straight away, there are many elements to SEO that you need to consider before you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). We’ve managed plenty of site launches from an SEO perspective (including our own website, TopLine Film, earlier this year) which means that we have a blueprint to work from.Here’s what we’ve learned over the years. 

Get ready to launch

There’s a lot of planning that goes into launching a websiteand you need to have a good understanding of SEO before itgoes live. Google’s resources on how search works and its SEO Starter Guide are good places to start.

Next is your keyword research. Keywords are what your audience are actively searching for and the terms that you want to rank for. The research itself will help you get a better understanding of your target market and might even get you thinking differently about your business. Moz has a good beginners guide to keywords and is also a great tool for carrying out keyword searches.

Once you’ve identified your keywords, you’ll want to sort them by bottom, middle and top of funnel. Those at the bottom are the closest to checking out (i.e. they already want your product). Those in the middle are looking for further information and those at the top are just browsing, generally looking for answers to a problem they’re having (their keywords tend to be questions). From there, you can plan your parent and child pages, as these should be based on bottom funnel keywords. 

Then you can plan your site directory. You need to organise your website in a way that Google deems logical. It’s worth checking out Google’s own resources on site hierarchy to make sure you get it right.

After you’ve completed all these steps, you can think about drafting your website content.

Start writing

Now that you’ve done all the preparation and have all your keywords to hand, you can get writing. The main things to consider are:

  • Your key messages. Make sure relevant key messages are included throughout.
  • Top, middle and bottom funnels. Remember those in the top, middle and bottom funnel, and consider whether your content is catering to them.
  • Consider your target audience and their intent. Try to consider what the searchers are looking for, rather than just giving the information you want them to have. Focus on their pain – if they’re asking a question, answer it before moving on to your key message. You want your audience to feel satisfied with the information they’ve been given, not hoodwinked into purchasing your product.
  • Content length. It’s worth looking at the current page one results for your target keyword to see what the content looks like so that you can write something better.
  • Keywords. Make sure your target and secondary keywords are mentioned throughout (without being too forced – Google will punish you for that).
  • Relevant details. There are certain details that you need for an SEO friendly page, including a title tag, header tagand meta description. All should include the target keyword.
  • Your URL. Ideally, the URL will include the target keyword and be under 60 characters.
  • Images and video. If you’re including images and video, help Google out by giving them descriptive captions, file names and surrounding text.
  • Internal links. Make sure you’re linking to other pages on your website as often as possible. Also make sure to give those links a proper description (i.e. don’t say ‘if you want to see more, click here.’ Instead, say ‘click if you want to learn more about XYZ’.).
  • A content calendar. Google will reward you for quality over quantity, so it’s worth spending time creating a content calendar of about two interesting blog posts a month. 

Once you’ve got your content down, you can find a web agency and produce a brief or get ready to do it yourself. Either way, you’ll need to start tracking your keywords and doing technical spot checks with Search Console. SEO doesn’t stop the moment your website launches – it’s a long-term game that needs constant attention. But it’s all worth it when you start getting some quality leads. Keep at it and it could make a significant difference to your business.

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How to power your SME when the lights go out

Tips for maintaining your IT – and your sanity! – when Eskom does the darkness, by AARON THORNTON, managing director of Dial a Nerd

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While the recent wave of load shedding may have inspired more of us to indulge in candlelight dinners and non-virtual activities (yes, really!), it has been highly disruptive for SMEs. And while we all may be holding our collective breath to see what happens next with Eskom, the more intelligent move is to simply prepare for the worst. For savvy SMEs, such preparation need not break the bank. In fact, our tips will help you trim operational costs in the long-term. Bliss!

 1 – Utilise the short-term happiness of the UPS (it’s clean!)

Okay, so we know that you despise acronyms: ‘UPS’ stands for Uninterrupted Power Supply and is essentially a battery that will keep electronic devices running for a short period of time. This can be a true lifesaver when you need to complete those essential tasks. Beyond the short-term relief, a UPS is even more valuable in that it will also (by virtue of its composition) provide ‘clean power’. On the other hand, while those noisy generators certainly can provide more continuity, generators often cause electrical spikes that damage equipment over time. In other words, generators produce ‘dirty power’.

2 – Purchase Surge Protectors (Simple but Critical!)

In line with the statement concluding Point 1, beware of electrical surges! And no, we are not talking about the surge of emotion you feel towards Eskom (or variants thereof), we’re talking about, well, real electricity. After a spell of load shedding, the danger is that when the power comes back on, it arrives with a spike or surge that can burn out or damage electronic equipment. Hence, we strongly recommend that business owners place surge protection plugs on all electronic devices. This is typically an investment of a few hundred rand – for devices that cost well into the thousands.

3 – Look for Power Savvy Hardware (hint: it’s under your nose)

While laptops and smartphones are useful fallbacks when the power goes out, SMEs can also opt for microcomputing devices such as the CloudGateXs – a locally developed mini-PC that uses less than ten percent of the electricity that a typical desktop requires. This type of energy-saving device enables SMEs to continue operating for a longer time (with much of the processing power and storage capabilities that traditional computers offer). No, this isn’t too good to be true…and yes, it’s highly affordable! 

Now that you can equip your SME with the means to operate efficiently in the dark, you can also enjoy those candlelight dinners in peace!

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Parents worried about online – but few discuss with kids

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84% of parents worldwide are worried about their children’s online safety, according to the latest survey commissioned by Kaspersky and conducted by the market research company Savanta. Despite this, the report shows that globally, on average, parents only spend a total of 46 minutes talking to their children about online security through their entire childhood.

Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager of Kaspersky in Africa, says: “Although global figures, I feel that this situation is likely mirrored in the local market and something that needs attention to change. With the digital world expanding continuously, offering opportunities that cannot be ignored, we tend to be quick on the uptake of exposing children to all things digital, to support their schooling requirements and recreational activities. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the digital world is also a dangerous playground, filled with bullies and strangers that just like in the real world, pose risk to children.”

Using technology has quickly become a daily norm. Not only is the working world tech-reliant but globally the education sector is evolving towards more tech-related learning – meaning that children today need to understand how to use technology to successfully get through their schooling career.

It is not surprising then that the Kaspersky survey found that of the respondents, over 9 in 10 children between 7 to 12-years of age globally now have an Internet-enabled device, smartphone or tablet. Naturally, and considering this reality, children’s privacy and security online are becoming one of the parents’ most prominent concerns – but what are parents doing about it?

Some of the most dangerous online threats globally, according to those parents who participated in the survey include:

  • Children seeing harmful content, such as sexual or violent (27%);
  • Experiencing Internet addiction (26%); and
  • Receiving anonymous messages or content inciting them to carry out the violent or inappropriate activity (14%).

Over and above these, there is also the concern of cyberbullying – which is particularly relevant in the local market.

Adds Badenhorst; “In the local market, we are hearing more about cases of a loss of life due to suicide as a result of cyberbullying. Having children of my own, this is a harsh reality that I am very concerned about and especially considering that a 2018 report, by research company Ipsos Global Advisor, shows that among 28 countries South Africa showed the highest prevalence of cyberbullying.”

To reduce the potential risks children face, parents and/or guardians need to take the time to explain – and consistently – the dangers of the Internet and teach their children or their wards at consistent intervals about safe Internet habits and practices. While globally 81% of parents say it is a joint responsibility between parents and schools to teach children about online safety, 86% believe that parents are better positioned to undertake this important teaching as children generally trust them more.

Dr Tertia Harker, a Social Worker with a Doctorate in Psychology in private practice in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, says; “Today people look to technology as much more than a series of tools that can be used to complete certain tasks. In fact, for many people technology has become so integrated into every facet of their lives that it is viewed as a ‘lifeline’ that people feel they cannot live without – and content people are consuming through the use of technology affects their view of self. Essentially, people are looking to technology and the world around them to fill an internal void – and children are particularly sensitive to this as they are still very innocent and rely on feedback from the world around them to begin to form their view of self and the world.”

To protect children and encourage children to be safe when engaging on the Internet, Dr Harker indicates that it is important to:

  • Form a nurturing and trusting relationship (between parent/guardian and child/ward), by:
    • Teaching children self-awareness and self-acceptance
    • Teaching children mindfulness and to be fully present in the moment
    • Building children’s self-esteem
    • Encouraging open and honest communication as a priority in your home
    • Guide and support children to form an identity outside of technology, including:
    • Supporting children to connect to nature and friends – with no technology present
  • Teaching children to entertain themselves with no technology present
  • Teaching children to not compare themselves with others on social media
  • Encourage children to speak out about harmful content and predators they may come across online
  • Always set a good example by your own actions when using technology

Badenhorst says: “While schools are and will continue to play a key role in supporting the education of online safety, ultimately this is a task and duty that parents/guardians should be driving forward and taking very seriously. We do unfortunately have to accept that the Internet allows children to encounter content we never want them to see and while we know how difficult it is to sometimes talk about these concerns with children, if parents/guardians feel uncomfortable or not well equipped to do this, there are various resources available to support them and that they should look to leverage on.”

To help families protect children from various Internet threats, Kaspersky recommends:

  • If you know what your child is looking for online, you can offer help and support, and teach as you go about using the information carefully.
  • Discuss with your child how much time they can spend on social media, if they have social media accounts and teach them about what information is not okay to share online (school, where they live, contacts details etc.).
  • Try not to limit your child’s social circle online and teach them to take care when choosing friends and acquaintances. The same ‘stranger-danger’ principle applies in the online world.
  • Subscribe to the Family edition of our Kaspersky Security Cloud. The service incorporates Kaspersky Safe Kids and helps to guard your family and private data, plus protect your kids online and beyond.
  • For younger children, parents can seek guidance from  a book by Marlies Slegers called Kasper, Sky and the Green Bear – a short illustrated story for kids ages 6 to 9 (which are considered good ages to expand a child’s knowledge of online safety) that was written to be fun for kids to read and that can help them understand what is OK in the digital world and what is not: https://www.kaspersky.co.za/blog/kasper-sky-book/21974/

To learn more about the most common fears, threats, experiences, and tactics when it comes to Internet safety for children, click here to download the full report.


Methodology

Kaspersky conducted an international study of parents with 7 to 12-year-old children to explore trends, practices and challenges of keeping their kids safe online. Covering nearly 20 countries across each region of the globe, Kaspersky surveyed nearly 9,000 parents and explored how Internet enabled devices are being used at home, what are the biggest concerns when it comes to online security, and how parents are tackling them.

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