What’s in an Email?


Email is something we all take for granted, and the modern world would probably come to a halt without it. While most of the time we get to ignore the way email works, we are all too painfully aware of it when it doesn’t.  So it IS worth understanding a little bit about the humble email account.


To complicate life there are three related things: Domain Name, Email Account and Website. Put simply your domain name is just that, a name. Something like yourdomain.co.nz. This domain name does two main clever things. 1) It points website traffic to your website. 2) It points email to your email account. To really complicate things, these three can all be ‘hosted’ or be situated in different places! OR they can all be in the same place. Confused yet? It’s quite possible for your domain name to be hosted by a domain company. You may have bought it directly yourself. Then you website and email account may be hosted together at a web hosting company. You may even have your domain and email managed by an IT support company, and the domain just points the web traffic to your website hosted with your web company. There are a lot of configurations.


Email accounts themselves can be made in many different forms. The simplest and least robust is POP3. This doesn’t lend itself to scaling up to lots of accounts, or to large amounts of storage of emails. Typically you set up your POP3 email account in an email program like Outlook, or you may access it directly online through an online email portal. But more and more these days people are setting up POP3 accounts directly into their Gmail and also onto their phones. The options and settings are endless.


Historically when email for larger businesses became a problem the solution would be a mail server. Dedicated and expensive, but relatively robust and secure. This involved investing in hardware in the office or located at your IT support company. These still have their place.


A few years ago we started to notice some of our clients setting up enterprise mail through Google. This isn’t an advertisement for Google or Microsoft, but in recent times we are noticing more clients setting up with Microsoft Office365. Both of these options simply require some details setup with your domain name hosting (Remember the part earlier about domain name pointing mail traffic to your email account?). From feedback we’ve heard and from our own experience this is a really seamless way of doing email. The interesting thing is that you get the same sort of robustness and security as you got in the past with a mail server. Office365 appears to be very scalable for the small to medium size enterprise and at a very reasonable monthly fee. I would recommend it to anyone wanting something better than POP3, feel free to ask us if you need to be referred to an IT support company that can help you with this.


With the myriad of setup options around mail there can be all sorts of issues. For instance POP3 has a tendency to ‘go down’ meaning you can’t access email at times. We’ve all experienced that.

Depending on your setup, mail may be left on hosted mail servers and not downloaded to your email program. This happens with POP3 in Gmail. The hosting company we use has recently indicated some clients doing this have too much email stored on the server, beyond what they term ‘fair use’. In this instance email needs to be deleted off to free up space, or the space will be charged. We will be in touch if this affects you. If you are in this position, we can arrange for email prior to a certain date to be deleted off the server.






NZ & Co – The .nz Domain Extension



UPDATE: When we first wrote this post the .nz extensions were new and it was still to be seen how popular they would be. The real test of that is to ask yourself how often you see marketing with domains name ending in .nz as opposed to .co.nz? How many email addresses are you coming across that end with .nz?
Even if .nz hasn’t taken the country by storm, as a business you need to think about how you might feel if someone bought your equivalent domain ending in the .nz instead. There are plenty of low cost domain sellers where this domain can be purchased and essentially kept in reserve if you have concerns.


This could be interesting for you. You may have heard by now, the familiar .co.nz ending to our New Zealand domain names, now has a companion.


The powers that be have released a new domain extension (the bit on the end). They release new domain extensions every now and then. The new .nz is shorter than .co.nz to type and remember. We still need to see if everyone with an active .co.nz domain will want to duplicate it with the .nz version too.


It isn’t just convenience to consider. If you don’t purchase the .nz domain for your business, someone else will be able to. This could lead to confusion and lost business as the extensions are very similar. People will quickly become familiar with remembering .nz and could easily go to a competitors website.
To ensure you have first rights to the .nz domain you are after, you should already own the equivalent .co.nz domain.

Something to keep in mind!





Website Spring Clean



Website spring clean


Ok it may not actually be Spring, far from it! But now is always a great time to Spring Clean your website regardless of the weather.


There are lots of little things you can do to blow away the cobwebs. Where to start can be a problem. We’ve made it easy, here is a checklist to make sure you touch on all the important things.


*  Your home page is the most important page when it comes to telling the Google search engine what you do. It is also the page most likely to show up first in the search engines. You may not have time to go through the Meta Titles for your whole site, but at least go and take a look at your homepage Meta Title. Make sure it has the important search phrases towards the front, is unique, is close to 70 characters.


*  Next look at your homepage Meta Description. Remember this shows up as the summary on the Google search page, so write it as if you are directly making an offer to a client. Mention your location, your service or products, and how you would love to help them find what they need.


*  Check the headings on your homepage in particular. Are your search phrases appearing in headings across your site?


*  Take a look at your homepage and make sure there is a clear call to action. Do you tell the visitor how to learn more (draw them into the site) or how to contact you?


*  Glance over contact pages and staff profiles. Remove anyone that has left, including their email address if it appears anywhere. If you have time, add the new people.


*  If you make use of galleries, upload a few new images. If you can, add a whole new exciting gallery on a new product or category.


*  Add a few new images across the site. Some cool stock images or something snapped on your iPhone, either way new images freshen things up. Don’t forget to complete the Alt Text field for Google image searches!


*  This list wouldn’t be complete without reinforcing how important it is to be adding new content on a regular basis for Google to stay interested and keep ranking you nice and high. After all content is king.






Simple Links Page Template


Here is a links page strategy ready to go.

Everyone knows relevant links into your website are like gold dust.


Not to the same level, but links within your site and out of your site can also contribute. So a simple link page is useful for your Google optimisation, and it can be a really handy resource for visitors to your website.


Creating a links page is not as hard as it sounds. If you are unsure on how to make links, it is well worth watching the help videos on the subject.


Here is a simple template for creating your links page content.


Do a Google search for useful Blogs, Government Sites, Information Sites.

Basically any site that doesn’t compete with yours, but is on your topic and might be useful to a visitor. You can link to any website you can browse to. As you are just pointing to them, there are no copyright issues.


Create a heading. 

Just a nice text heading. You can usually find something obvious on the site you are linking to. You want to make this heading into a link using the URL from the site you browsed to. Make sure you set these links to open in a pop up window. If you aren’t sure how, watch the help video on Pop Up Window Links.


Paste the full link in under the heading.

It helps to have the heading as a link, as it has nice SEO key phrases in it. But its nice to provide the full link below it too, so people can see where it is the link will take them. Make sure you set these links to open in a pop up window. If you aren’t sure how, watch the help video on Pop Up Window Links.


Copy and Paste a few lines of text from the website.

Just grab a couple of lines from the website you browsed. Something that gives a brief summary of what they are/provide. Make sure you paste this into the editor as plain text! Watch the help video on pasting as plain text. This is all good content for your links page, and Google will have something to read and store away.


This is how it might look:

Stuff.co.nz About Stuff


Stuff covers every aspect of news and information, from breaking national and international crises through to in-depth features, sports, business, entertainment and technology articles, weather reports, travel services, movie reviews, rural news… and lots more.


There you have it. It won’t set your SEO world on fire, but it is a simple strategy for building outward bound links, and creates some nice relevant content for you along the way.





The Anatomy of a Google Search Result




When I get to explain the pieces of a Google search to people, it often results in an Aha! moment.


We take it for granted these days that we ask Google a question and it answers it. No time is spent thinking where these pieces of highly useful information come from. Why would we? We are in far too much of a hurry to get to the content we want.


And that word Content is the key. As a website owner, it is incredibly useful to understand where the pieces of a Google Search result come from. It’s not particularly complex, which makes the Aha! all the more fun.


Here are the pieces of the search result and where they come from.




Blue Text Link at the top of the result.
This is the Meta Title from the page on the website. Often it is the homepage that shows up earliest in search results, so it is the homepage Meta Title that is most likely to be seen. I.e. it is the most important one!


Green Webpage Link below the Title link.
Often it is the homepage that shows up earliest in search results, so it is the homepage URL that shows here. Something like www.yourdomain.co.nz. If your website ranks particularly well, more of your pages will show in the search results. The full URL will show. So the filename of the page will also be readable. Something like www.yourdomain.co.nz/widgets-we-sell.php. This is one reason to give your filenames nice long tail descriptive names when you create new pages on your website. All this information can be read by potential visitors as they scan search results deciding what to click.


Black Summary Text below the Green URL Link.
Most people assume this is a bit of text taken from the page. And that is true. Google will take a piece or pieces of the page content that matches with the key phrase searched.  However! Write a good content relevant Meta Description for the page and it will appear here instead! Think about that for a moment… Here is your opportunity to literally write your own little advert for every page on your website. Especially the homepage and popular pages that rank well in the searches.


These are the key three pieces of the anatomy of a Google Search Result.


There are of course other things that appear on the page. Below a link there may be a Google+ page link, or to the right Google Places For Business listing images and information. Google may place Google Maps and Google Images results if they are relevant. Sometimes Google plays around with the format of the search result page and things can change.


Hopefully you’ve had a great Aha! moment today.