March 1st, 2011

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Welcome to the latest NorthStar New Media Ltd newsletter, the first of 2011. This year we have already made a number of improvements to site control systems, administration systems and have launched four brand new sites for local businesses.

This document has been censored, with the full version being available to our maintenance
customers.

Why not take a look at our latest projects;

  • Pentland Ferries – A website development aimed at public promotion and information presentation for Pentland Ferries.
  • Orkney Fishermen’s Society – A website development aimed at public promotion and information presentation, with an administration control system permitting the instant update of site content and management of the registered users’ document management system.
  • Shearers Orkney – A website development for John G Shearer and Sons aimed at promotion and information presentation of the Car rental, sales, servicing and service station sides of the business.
  • European Jet Ski Challenge – A website supporting the European Jet Ski Challenge (in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and Make a Wish Foundation). The site features links with a donation management system, sponsor advertising, challenge countdown timer, social networking integration and areas of ongoing development and update.

 

Introduction

In this newsletter we will be discussing and providing some useful information about;

  • Spam – What is Spam, how does it come about, and what can be done to stop it.
  • Web browsers – Which one should you be using, and what difference does it make?

In this Newsletter we’ll concentrate on letting you know a bit more about what Spam is, where it comes from, what you can do in the short-term, and what we recommend as a long-term treatment.

Spam is a nuisance which is by definition difficult to treat as it is so broad in application. Similarly, the struggle against virus attacks and other security related issues is a matter which needs consideration, especially where your computer forms a vital component of your business, whether for communication, accounts or administration. Your internet browser is the first “front”, and it is of critical importance to keep up to date. We will be suggesting ways you can easily improve your security, without needing to learn all over again, as well as ways to build a brand new approach.

Spam

This document has been censored, with the full version being available to our maintenance
customers.

Introduction

Everyone experiences Spam on some level, whether it be through web systems, email systems, telephone (cold-calling for example) or normal post (junk mail and leaflets which are liberally sprinkled through the day’s mail). Email spam can be the most frustrating as it can become a big problem very quickly, and as with all forms of Spam – there is no silver bullet.
For the remainder of this analysis we will be considering only the Email form of Spam.

Where does it come from?

Spammers (those who create Spam) generally tend to use two methods of creating their recipient lists;

  • Email collection
  • Automated email generation

It is incredibly difficult to stay off a Spammers’ list forever. The likelihood is that through some method (potentially one of the above) they will eventually come across your email address, and once they have it, it becomes practically impossible to either trace the method by which they came across your address, or to get your address removed. It is big business.

What should I do?

The golden rules on fighting Spam are;

  • Do Not reply to Spam.
  • Do Not choose to opt-out.
  • Do Not click any links in the email.
  • Carefully check any forms.

What can be done?

Anyone who promises to remove all your Spam issues is almost certainly marketing a scam, or will offer a ludicrously expensive service reserved for large companies and industry level communication systems. There is no Silver Bullet for spam, but we can help treat it.

Identification

If your Spam filter is too tight you’ll need to spend time going through your filtered messages to make sure nothing genuine is in there, and if it’s too loose you’ll spend time manually deleting messages. It’s a case of finding a suitable balance which improves the situation for you.

Our solution

Our solution is installed and managed on your NorthStar recommended hosting package, so you don’t need to install or configure it to start seeing the benefits. All you need to do is check the daily digests to make sure everything is running correctly – the rest is done for you.

How does it work?

Our solution uses a scoring system to rate each email for its Spam likelihood level, and then assigns an appropriate treatment for each email.

So, you have a spam filtering solution installed – is that it? Many Spam filtering solutions need to be continually taught new lessons as spam evolves, much in the same way that methods of fighting crime need to evolve as criminals get smarter. Our solution however is self-learning, and it should be very rare that you need to ask us to make any manual adjustments.

Reviews

Since the early days of NorthStar offering web services, we have used the recommended Spam filtering solution, and while we have tested many other systems, we find this the best solution. It’s ease of use means that we spend very little time initially sorting emails through the day, and checking the daily digests become second-nature very quickly.
Simply put, we would only recommend solutions which we know through long experience provide good value for money. This is no exception.

Microsoft has previously suggested that over 97% of the email sent in the world is Spam, and with our recommended solution you can help prevent it from becoming a major problem for your business.

How do I get it?

Drop us an email, letting us know your email address, the type and volume of Spam you’re getting on a daily basis, and we’ll get back to you with some further details on a solution which should help you.

Browsers

This document has been censored, with the full version being available to our maintenance
customers.

Introduction

If you are running a good anti-virus package on your computer you may not be as protected as you thought – you should also consider your browser carefully when accessing the internet.

The Browsers

There are many browsers available, but we will be concentrating on Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome in this document since they are the most significant according to market share.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s default browser has long been the bane of the web developer and IT support person’s life, but recent upgraded versions are turning one of the worst performing internet browsers into something more respectable. However, you absolutely need to be using the latest version. Old versions of Internet Explorer are known to have significant security risks associated with them.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is one of the better all-round browsers. We use Firefox as one of our main browsers at NorthStar and it is one of the favourites among those “in the know”. It has always surpassed Microsoft’s security level, and continues to be a browser which is compliant with all web standards and embraces all new technology.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a relative newcomer, packing great performance and security protection. Google do a lot of things right, and Chrome is fast becoming one of the leaders of the browser market. This tends to be the chosen browser for designers and is set to take the lead from Mozilla Firefox in the industry market share statistics.

Which one should I have?

Our recommendation is to get the latest Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome browser. NorthStar New Media developed websites are designed to function correctly on all up to date web browsers, and are tested at launch to ensure this.

July 14th, 2010

Is it time to freshen up the content on your site or consider developing your position in the Search Engines?  There’s more to content than just accuracy, and more to SEO than you may be aware of.  NorthStar can offer advice and services to suit your situation.

This document has been censored, with the full version being available to our maintenance customers.

At NorthStar we continue to develop our products and services to offer a more comprehensive range of options to our customers.  As a maintenance customer we are able to offer advice on a range of topics regarding your website and can provide services to attend to the majority of these considerations.  The experience we have in web development ensures that we are able to deploy solutions that meet requirements and fit with all other services and systems relating to the overall web package.

This newsletter is aimed at letting you know a bit more about;

  • Site updates and how they can be used to help your online profile
  • What part your updates play in your Search Engine performance
  • What Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is
  • And what services we provide and recommend to help keep you moving in the right direction

Advertising is the primary role of most websites, and this advertising effort relies on two major factors;

  1. Initial advertising power (including visibility/exposure)
  2. Quality of service (including user and visitor satisfaction)

By attending to these items, your online presence can be optimised to both your users and to Search Engines, ensuring both that people can find you, and that when they do they like what they see.

We hope the supplied information is of use.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the points presented within the document further, please give us a call or drop an email to us at info@northstar-newmedia.co.uk.

Site updates

There are 3 main areas we will discuss within your advertising strategy which are affected by the update of your website information.

Accuracy of information

It is crucial that information presented on a website be kept up to date, and refreshed, in a similar way that you would insist upon updating other aspects of your business to ensure you present a clean and professional impression to your customers.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

Returning user experience

To a degree this is linked to the previous item, in that they are both targeting users who have found your site and are looking for the information they required.  In this case we consider that users who are returning to your site should be able to see the business or services moving forward.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

A good way of drawing users’ attention to updates, especially if your site has been visually unchanged for a while, is to consider a design development or redevelopment.  We’ll be looking at the redesign and development process in later newsletters, but if you’d like to discuss this in the meantime, please email us at info@northstar-newmedia.co.uk.

Search Engine performance

This is often considered to be the main factor in online advertising, but there is much more to Search Engine Optimisation than meets the eye.  NorthStar provide Search Engine promotional services as a component in most of our maintenance packages, further details of which will be discussed later in this document.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

Recommended action

There is a lot that can be done “behind the scenes” with a regularly updated website with regard to the promotional effort and services provided by NorthStar.  The tools and procedures NorthStar New Media uses to optimise websites and promotional devices are enhanced by an updated site, and depending upon the level of your maintenance support contract you will be entitled to have these updates implemented without additional billing.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

Search Engine Optimisation

NorthStar New Media has significant experience with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) gained from many years of promoting some of Orkney’s top sites.  These include the Visit Orkney site, which ranks top in Google for searches for “Orkney” and EMEC who score top for “marine energy” and position 4 for “marine renewable energy”.

The web industry changes fast, and to reflect the changes in information available, the search engines change fast too, modifying their algorithms to ensure they act more efficiently at identifying the websites which provide information relevant to users’ searches.

NorthStar will only provide or recommend SEO services which are considered to be legal by search engine terms and conditions and which/who have a proven track record.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

NorthStar SEO services

As reported in our last newsletter, we are continually monitoring the search engine market and continue to develop the services which are provided on this front to help keep and improve your positioning on the Search Engines.

For situations where you have specific keywords or phrases you want to target, with an aim for your site gaining more preferential ranking in results for those searches, please contact us and we will be able to offer advice on the best way to move forward with this.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

Sponsored links

Of the “paid-for” advertising systems available through the search engines, the most popular is the Google Adwords system.  When you do a search on Google for something like “Orkney accommodation”, you’ll see the adverts as links to the right and above the main search listings.

NorthStar can help with the preparation for, installation, and monitoring of an Adwords campaign.  The campaign would be targeted to help your users find you early on in the results of a Google search.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.

Advanced SEO service

While NorthStar continues to develop the range of promotional services which are provided as a standard component of maintenance, some situations require a strategy which is more advanced.  Such situations could include websites that require a high ranking position for a popular key phrase such as “scotland property”, “holiday accommodation” or “architect services”.   In these type of cases, the search phrases are quite sought after and the more competition there is, the more advanced the level of service is required.

NorthStar have been working with a professional and dedicated SEO specialist to prepare materials which allow us to offer professional level SEO services to our customers.  Our recommended SEO specialist is dedicated to providing a professional and measurable response to your requirements for online promotional strategy, and has a proven track record with a range of high profile national customers with key phrase targets.

Dedicated SEO is a new service that NorthStar is offering now, so if you have a requirement to drive increased traffic towards your website, and have a budget to assign to this activity, please let us know and we’ll be able to get the ball rolling with a cost analysis of your requirements.

Further information relating to this element is available to NorthStar’s maintenance customers.