Wednesday, 5 November 2014

10 Top Tips for Shopping Online Abroad

Most people now are aware that they can shop online abroad as easily as at home.  And with many international online stores offering pretty much global delivery, what do you need to know to make sure that your transaction is safe.  It’s all too easy to click and regret later.

The new EU Consumer Contracts Regulations came into effect in the EU from June 2014 and replaced the previous Distance Selling Regulations.

Many rules for basic online shopping are the same:

1.   Make sure that a physical address and telephone contact number are shown on the website you’re considering purchasing from.

2.   Keep a file for all of your online orders – a folder within your email maybe – so that you know what you’re waiting for and exactly what you bought from whom.  This should include any services such as gym memberships.

3.   Make sure you know what the cancellation/returns terms are for the retailer you’re buying from.

4.   Return any unwanted item as soon as you possibly can, but always within 7 days.

5.   Check on any shipping and likely duties that may apply and make sure you’ve factored them into your purchase cost.

6.   Use a credit card for payment – you have more protection, and will be backed up by your credit card company in the case of a dispute.

7.   Cooling off Period – you have 14 days (EU) to decide if you want to cancel an order or service unless you have used the goods or commenced the service and there is no fault to either. 

8.    There should be a standard cancellation form available on the suppliers website although you are not obliged to use this.

9.    You should receive a refund within 14 days of your goods being received back by the retailer.
10.   Retailers are responsible for making sure that goods are as they are stated on their website when they arrive with you.  Even if the normal refund time has run out, you have up to six months to insist on repair or replacement of faulty goods. 

Note that consumer rights may differ from country to country – for example, in the US the cooling off period is 3 days, not 14 as it is in the EU, so never assume, always make sure you know the individual retailers terms and conditions, and also the distance selling laws of the country you are buying from.


Information on consumer shopping across the EU
Buying from an overseas seller outside Europe
Shopping online in the USA
Revenue and Customs - Importing from abroad

Friday, 10 October 2014

Two Essential Apps for Getting Around in Paris

Getting to Paris is simple, you fly, or if you can get to St Pancras easily, you take the Eurostar, which brings you out very close to the centre.

Getting round Paris is not so easy unless you’re prepared to jump into a cab every time you want to go somewhere, and that’s not always easy either.  The traffic is mostly terrible, the driving can be scary.

Paris Metro App LogoBy far the best way to get around Paris if you’re going somewhere you can’t walk to is the Metro, which goes usually within an easy short walk of just about everywhere.  So before you leave for your trip download the Paris Metro Map and Route Planner, which makes travelling around simple.

This app will not only give you the Metro map, but you can enter your start station and destination and it’ll tell you which line you need and if you need to change.  Also how long your journey time is likely to be.

One thing to bear in mind where the Metro is concerned is that you can walk for what seems like miles between train and exit, and there are lots of stairs.  Comfortable shoes are mandatory – I’ve learned this the hard way.

My second favourite Paris app is the Ulmon city map of Paris (and many Ulmon Paris City Mapother cities).  The beauty of this app is that once you’ve downloaded it it’s offline, so you can use it from anywhere whether you’re online or not.  You can enter a Metro station name, place name, road or restaurant and instantly see where they are.  Save them as a favourite, click on the tiny Metro cab sign near your destination to see where the nearest station is and what it’s called, and what else is nearby. 

If you have any plans to visit Paris in the near future I suggest you download these two apps immediately.  They’re essential to make getting to your favourite store, restaurant or museum without any stress.  Sephora anyone?

Monday, 29 September 2014

Where to Find the Best Hotel Deals – Travel Pony Website Review

Travel Pony Logo Always looking for the best cheap hotel deals - I only came across hotel booking website Travel Pony recently and have had a good look round, comparing prices of a few of the hotels offered with the proprietary hotel’s website, and also other various booking sites.

There’s no doubt there are some excellent deals here – just for example, luxury lover that I am I created a fake booking at the London Savoy Hotel.  Three nights in October would cost approximately £1,509 on Travel Pony, £2,100 on Booking.com, and slightly more on the hotel’s own website. 

Cancellation and Payment Rules:
Savoy Hotel Website – You can cancel your booking up to 6pm the day before your arrival.  (different rates may apply for different offers)
Payment on departure.

Booking.com – You can either pay in advance, or select a cancel the day before option which is quite a lot more expensive.  If you pay in advance it is not refundable.  You’ll find these options on many of the hotel booking websites.

Travel Pony -  You can cancel up to 72 hours beforehand for no fee, and if you cancel within less than 72 hours you pay for one night.  However, your credit card is charged straight away so you will be refunded by Travel Pony if you need to cancel.

You won’t find quite the range of hotels as you will on some other hotel booking websites offering ‘cheap hotel deals’, but there are quite enough here, with good location maps and over 3000 destinations worldwide.

Travel Pony is different in that it is social media driven, with their marketing via Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin rather than advertising, so they ask you to sign up using your social media logins (although you don’t have to). So once you’ve booked they ask you to share your experience with Travel Pony to your friends online.  Clever – and they’ll be copied I’m sure, but well worth taking advantage of right now.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Hashtag Etiquette on Twitter

Hashtags I have to admit that having been one of the very first to be asked to talk about Twitter on BBC Breakfast (Plane, Hudson River, Social Media etc), not knowing much but being a quick learner, I haven’t paid enough attention to it until recently and particularly hashtag etiquette.  That’s not to say I was doing the wrong thing, I wasn’t using them enough.

I always look at my recent followers to see who I want to follow back (rather than following everyone) and sometimes at their tweets.  Twitter has become a virtual market place, and the mix is extremely important, of conversations, re-tweets, responses, humour, interesting facts and news, and marketing.  Some concentrate only on the latter, not realising that that’s not the way to make it work properly, and others send out endless quotes.  I’m not sure what this achieves, particularly if they’re buffered and just pop up every hour.

Anyway on to the # hashtag, one of the most useful Twitter tools.  Think of them as identifying words or phrases in search, in twitter prefixed by a #, which group tweets together.  As soon as you use one you’ll see if it’s being used by others, or you can create your own.  You can use a hashtag in the middle of a sentence or at the end of your tweet.  It’s all up to you. 

Use hashtags to identify words that others may pick up on, or occasions such as #MFW (Milan Fashion Week) as W Magazine (@wmag) has done above.  Click on the hashtag and you’ll see who else is using it and what they’re saying.

Hashtag Etiquette

Manners – I’m totally against swearing on Twitter.  So many do.  Don’t take it to the next level and use a swear word in a hashtag, please.

Relevance – Hashtags should be relevant to what you’re tweeting about, otherwise they’re quite simply spam and being used by people who want to get on to a trending list.

Overuse – you may like a particular hashtag, but don’t use it too often.  It gets boring and will make people switch off.  Again it can become spammy.

Hashtag Stuffing – in the same way that keyword stuffing is not acceptable, neither is hashtag stuffing, in other words, filling your tweet up with them.  I sometimes use two or three to make a statement about what I’m doing or where I am but that’s all.  They’re there for emphasis and to make you easier to find, not as a short cut. 

Some seriously do not understand that hashtag stuffed tweets a) won’t get read, b) are impossible to read and c) are boring…..

Short and sweet is best.  Keep your hashtags short, meaningful and relevant. No hasthtag sentences needed.

So now you know:  The word ‘Hashtag’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014.

More about hashtags

Thursday, 18 September 2014

iOS 8 Five New Features – The Simplified Version

Apple iOS 8 iOS 8 has lots of new features and tricks, and it's going to take a while to get through them all.  Claimed to be the biggest and best iOS update it certainly took a while to download.  Here are my first impressions and already used iOS 8 features.

1.  Predictive typing is the bane to many, particularly those who have been used to thApple iOS 8 New Predictive Keyboarde easy keying  of a Blackberry.  Now predictive has gone even further, and iOS 8 will guess the complete word you’re typing before you’ve put in more than a couple of letters.  You get three options in the space above the keyboard, click on the one you want and it falls into place.  So far this feature has worked very well for me.

You can also change your keyboard to a 3rd party app such as SwiftKey.  However there are some privacy issues with these apps as they have access to everything you type including passwords.  Apple has improved its keyboard with iOS 8 and so for the time being I’m sticking with that.  Be aware that if you give a 3rd party keyboard app full access even if you switch it on and off your information may still be available to the developer.

2.  Reaching your most recent contacts: If you’re in a hurry and want to get to the most recent people you’ve contacted just double click the ‘home’ button and the most recent five will appear at the top of your screen, as icons you can then click on.

3.  Mailbox – Swipe to the left on an email and you can mark it immediately as read.  Swipe right, and you can bin it, flag it or more (such as forward or move to junk).  I still wish you had the option to bulk delete emails but that hasn’t happened yet.

4.  Audio Messaging.  Forget texting – now you can send audio messages as well, just by holding down the microphone icon beside your text box.  Then you can play it back and delete if you want to.  So the full options are traditional texting, sending photos and now audio messaging.

5.  The new health app that now appears can bring together in one place all the information you may use, and you can share it as  you see fit with your doctor and others.  Most useful of all to me is the Medical ID contained in it which records emergency contacts, conditions such as allergies and anything else you want people to know in an emergency. Essentially it can be accessed without unlocking your phone – ie – in an emergency.  To reach it within the lock screen click on Emergency and then on Medical ID.
Apple iOS 8 Family Sharing

Also:  Sharing on other devices via Family Sharing.  You can set up to share music, movies, tv shows and apps with up to 6 family members in total.  You can set up one credit card for all the shared devices, and set up a notification if anyone you’ve flagged as a child tries to use the card to buy something and prevent them from doing so.

This is great in many ways particularly as you don’t have to share everything.  Movies, music etc that have been purchased by one family member can be downloaded from the iTunes store, together with the option of hiding purchases you don’t want to make available to all.

You can also select which photos are added to your new family photo album, and opt to share (or not share) your location.  You can also hide your device from family members if you wish to.  There are plenty of options, some of them could be quite risky if you’re not paying attention.  Here’s the full run down from Apple on Family Sharing.

iCloud Drive – if you ‘just’ own an iPhone and use a regular PC or laptop then this isn’t for you at this time.  However iCloud Drive is going to become more and more useful as you (of course) add to your Apple Devices.  But don’t click this one yet.

What iCloud Drive does is update all your Apple devices so that you can start updating on your iPhone and finish editing on your Mac or iPad.  As they say ‘Edits you make on one device appear on all of them’.

But:  Read Mashable on why you shouldn’t update to iCloud Drive right now it’s clear and concise and basically says ‘wait’. 

To me most of these new iOS 8 features are excellent and helpful, and as we work inside them we’ll all learn more.  There’s certainly a lot to take in.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Should I Remove it Software Review to Speed up your PC or Laptop

http://www.shouldiremoveit.com/
PCs and laptops seem to slow down infuriatingly as time goes on, and you sit there waiting for programs and pages to load.This can be down to a number of different reasons, from malware to cookie overload to memory shortage, but frequently it will be due to software lurking in the background, that you've clicked on by mistake, trialled a while ago and forgotten about, or that was loaded on to your PC or laptop right at the very start that you never asked for and need to say bye bye to.

Click through to your program list and you'll no doubt find software you don't know anything about, and one of the worries is that if you should delete it, what will happen to your computer?  You can of course spend a while going through each program,  looking it up and uninstalling it.  Of you can download Should I Remove It - a relatively new piece of software which is fast, simple to use and does the job it's supposed to excellently. 

Make sure you download this from www.shouldiremoveit.com, and not one of the myriad other sites you'll be offered where frequently it's all too easy to click on yet another download for something you don't want and which you'll later have to remove. And even on this site make sure you click on the right download icon, which is clearly marked.

Save it with a desktop icon, click on it and allow it to do its job, listing all of your software.  You'll see beside each piece of software listed how many stars it has, what percentage of people have deleted it and then you have the option to click on 'what is it', which opens in a new browser to give you more details if you're in doubt, or to click on the 'uninstall' button.

All I can can say is that having used this on both my PC and my laptop, which was running frustratingly slowly, is that I deleted many unwanted pieces of software and both are now running much faster.  So give it a try.  It's an excellent tool.




Thursday, 21 August 2014

Top Ten Apps for Fitness and Travel

You probably have dozens of apps on your smartphone and if you haven't already it's probably time to organize these into folders because inevitably you're going to be adding to them.

Here are the top ten apps I've picked up recently which have become indispensable for all kinds of reasons.  Read on.

 Fitness App for Women
Fitness:
1.    Argus.  Argus is an activity tracker for which you don't need to attach yourself for a physical device.  You iPhone (at the moment only on iOS) will do it all for you, and although Argus does drain your battery quite quickly, it's also an excellent way to see how much activity you're doing each day.  It has a very attractive honeycomb design and links through to a heart rate monitor and GPS - yes that's why your battery goes down so fast........

2.     Sport.com All in Fitness.  The best thing about this app to my mind is the huge base of exercises including videos for each one, plus workout plans.  This app has been designed specifically for men  and includes workouts for all levels, plus the facility to design your own workout.  There's also a calorie counter.

3.      Fitness for Women - Again from Sport.com Fitness for Women again has ready made workouts and an excellent base of exercises.  Choose from ready made workouts, select from their base of exercises or create your own individual program.  Oh and of course you can 'share' everything you've achieved.

4.      Instant Heart Rate - if you like keeping track of your heart rate but don't want to invest in or wear a heart rate monitor then this could be excellent for you.  From Azumio, you just download the app and place the tip of your finger over the camera lens to get your heart rate within just a few seconds.  You can hook it up to Argus (above) as well.

5.      Map my Run - With Map my Run you can map your route and track your activity, log your run and plan new ones.  I personally think that the 'Create your Route' facility is one of the most interesting things here as who doesn't get bored with running the same route every day or so?  Route Genius will give you new ideas within your target distance.  Available on both Apple and Android.


 Ulmon City Guides
Travel:
Flight Aware.  You're probably using some form of flight tracking app already, but this one is slightly different in that Flight Aware will show you not only how the flight you're tracking is doing, but historical data on average arrival times so you can see if your flight is 'likely' to arrive early or not.  There's loads more here for flight enthusiasts so download this if you're a frequent traveller.

Trip Advisor.
  Of course you've heard of Trip Advisor, but are you yet using this travel (and everything else) review app to find out where the best places are to stay or eat?  Last week I found a restaurant for my son and his friend in Bergen, Norway, somewhere I hadn't a clue about, and it was excellent.  Personally I wouldn't go anywhere without checking it out on Trip Advisor - the reviews may put you off but if they do it'll be for good reason. 

Travel Safe Pro.  For the price of around 99p this simple but well thought app gives you access to emergency services wherever you are in the world.  Thinking of dialling 999 in France?  It won't do you any good there, but click into the Travel Safe app and using location technology it will give you your local emergency numbers for assistance for the police, medical emergency and fire.  You can also record your own emergency contact details within the app.  Communication is by text or phone.  Both for Android and Apple.

Uber.  Uber hit the ground running in 2009 and this innovative taxi service is now available in 44 countries although not in every city.  You can select which type of taxi service you want, including sharing, and via the Uber app you can see where your pick-up for each type of ride is and how long it may take to get to you.  Set up your profile and payment details in advance you'll be picked up momentarily.

Ulmon City Maps - Available for most countries, having downloaded the app you just click on the country name to get the list of cities there's a City Map for and then download it onto your smartphone, so you don't need the internet to access the information.  This includes not just street maps (which you can search) but also metro/subway/tube maps, hotel guides, tourist attractions and much more.

Of course there are thousands of apps out there for everything, these are some I have tested and used and found to be invaluable.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Why you Shouldn’t be using Social Media for Customer Service

There are some who  hide behind their website identities worrying that customer reviews may damage them – they don’t, as we’ve seen over and over again, they create even more loyal customers by the ability to display responses to problems.

But there are some who go the other way, and, not offering direct contactability, force customers to complain via social media in order to get a response.  By that stage anger and frustration towards the brand have usually escalated to a point at which Twitter and Facebook (and LinkedIn) are bombarded with complaints and messages.  If the person complaining has lots of followers, then lots, possibly thousands of others will see the exchange and note the poor customer service ethics of a particular brand.

I had this experience recently with a major brand, and anyone following me on Twitter would have been able to view my increasing annoyance, particularly as the problem lasted for days.  Is that what you would really want?

With reviews, as with social media, everything is out there and obvious.  With reviews the brand can usually respond, visibly and everyone can see.  With social media everything is moving so fast that frequently only the complaint is seen, not the resolution.  Brands who care about customer service, no matter how large, should offer direct contactability.  Period.

Customer service help desks should not be relying on Twitter or Facebook.  Or any other type of social media.  They should deal with a problem long before the customer starts venting publically online and becomes a brand enemy rather than a brand advocate. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Customer Reviews – How to get Customer Reviews that Matter

Review Stars Customer reviews are becoming essential to the online decision making process, with over 75% of consumers reading reviews first before buying.  Online reviews are becoming as relied upon as personal recommendation, and rarely do we go out to buy now without reading reviews online, even if we don’t buy online.  You may not even have realised how much your buying habits have changed, the the web has changed them dramatically.

One problem with customer reviews is that it can be hard to get them.  Happy customers frequently can’t be bothered to write reviews and say how delighted they are, unhappy customers are much more likely to.  Amazon has led the way with customers reviews, and been able to do so mainly because it has such a huge customer base even though only roughly 1 in 1000 leave a review.  So if you’re a small business publishing reviews can be difficult.  0 reviews can be ambiguous. 

There’s the problem, because if you’re a small retailer asking for reviews you’ll probably be finding it extremely difficult to get enough to make a difference, and I know that I, for one, don’t trust product or service reviews where there are just a very few.  How can you be sure that the retailer hasn’t written them themselves, or asked someone to on their behalf.  We don’t just look for one or two reviews now, we look for many, and those products move fast.

How to get Customer Reviews that Matter:

Invite customers to review products they’ve purchased, by email
Offer an incentive but make it clear this is for a review, good or bad
Make your questions as short as possible
Ask for simple star rankings
If possible ask for basic information about the reviewer – people are more likely to buy products purchased by ‘people like them’ (Examining the Relationship Between Reviews and Sales)
Put review invitations in other places, such as newsletters ‘review your recent purchases’

Don’t be afraid of bad reviews.  If you get enough reviews you will receive both good and bad.  Make sure if possible you can be seen to answer any bad reviews – replace products promptly and ensure that everyone can see that you have.  In this way you can use bad reviews to increase brand loyalty and turn a lose into a win.

If you just sit there and  hope that customers will review your products or the service offer they won’t.  You have to be proactive.  And reviews are increasingly valuable to improving conversion rates.  This can only grow.

Monday, 16 June 2014

HidemyAss - How to Watch British or US TV Abroad and a Tried and Tested VPN

HidemyAss is HidemyAssa VPN, which if you’re not in the know stands for Virtual Private Network.  This not only makes your internet connection more secure, a connection within a connection as it were (and most businesses use a VPN), but allows you, depending on which VPN you choose, to change your ISP to that of another country, therefore giving you the freedom to watch and stream tv shows and movies wherever you are, from wherever you want.

I’m not going to go into the other uses of a VPN, and why everyone should be using one because of the huge security benefits, you can read all about it in this article by LifeHacker, however for all globetrotters a VPN gives you a huge advantage and an end to the frustration of landing up in a country where normally you can’t continue to watch your favourite programmes on Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video etc etc.

There are many free VPNs – read the article above, however in this case you really do get what you pay for, and after some research I decidedHidemyAss2 to use HidemyAss and haven’t looked back.  (and they have a special offer at the moment so have a look and go for it if you’re about to travel).  You are also likely to get better security, more privacy, more reach in terms of coverage and higher bandwidth with a paid for VPN.

HidemyAss is one of the fastest growing and the biggest of the VPN service providers.  I particularly like it because for a non techie like me it just took seconds to download on both laptop and tablet and is extremely easy to use.  There’s no free trial but a 30 day money back guarantee and right now they’ve slashed their prices.  Here’s the HidemyAss current pricing.  One subscription pays for two devices.

Changing countries couldn’t be easier, you just use their drop down menu, so you can ‘fool’ your device into thinking wherever you want it to.  HidemyAss ‘provides 591 Servers in 69 countries – providing a possible 73000+ IP addresses – and this number is constantly growing. They also offer the three most common protocols: LLTP, L2TP and OpenVPN and easily allows you to change between them (depending on device).’  Read the review here.

If you’re someone who travels or about to go on holiday and you don’t want to miss the latest episode of your favourite show, or simply to be able to have the freedom to watch what you do at home, then this will be a great service for you.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Facebook Page New Layout - So What's Changed?


Your New Facebook Page Layout

Whether you like it or not your Facebook Page will update to the new layout on June 14th.  Best to get a handle on it now so that your ready, and update on your schedule rather than theirs.

Layout:  Personally I think this is so much better.  How confusing was it to make everyone try and take in two equal columns - there was an outcry when it launched in 2011 and finally Facebook has listened and returned to the logical, which is one wide column for reading and taking in information and one narrower column for all the other stuff.

So out with the old:


and in with the new:


As with everything online, it's usability that matters, and from the reader's point of view this is much easier to use.

News Feed:  This only really changes so that the main update column is wider and more visible.  This is a change seamlessly affecting both mobile and desktop so that both appear the same, giving users a much more consistent experience.

Utilities/Tabs:  On the old layout, About, Photos etc were directly underneath your main cover picture with a linked photo above.   Now the layout is much cleaner, the tabs are still there without the photos.  Like this:

                             
This is much cleaner and draws your attention to what you're really looking for.

Overall the new Facebook layout offers a much better experience for users, along with better functionality and cleaner design.  Don't wait for the 14th June.  Switch over now and play around with it.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Why you Should List Your Skills on LinkedIn – and How to Add, Edit and Hide Them

LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements have grown up somewhat, and although they can be a force for good, for attention getting and for disinformation, you can’t get away from the fact that you should have listed your skills on LinkedIn by now.  It’s a bit like getting your custom LinkedIn URL…..some have and some haven’t mostly because they don’t know how. 

The fact is that once you’ve listed your stills you need to show endorsements, otherwise people may think you don’t have any, does that matter?  Not necessarily, but LinkedIn is about offering the complete picture about you, what you do, who you are and what others think of you.  The problem, of course, is that some endorse just to get your attention, on skills they can have no idea you have, in the hope that you’ll a) contact them to thank them and b) endorse them back.  But honest endorsements are well worth having, and when I’m creating or updating LinkedIn profiles for clients I always include them.  You can hide or edit them later on if you want.

You may scroll down your profile and not see any section for Skills and Endorsements.  This is because you haven’t added any.  So here’s how to get started.
1.  Click on ‘Edit Profile’ when you hover your cursor over ‘Profile’ at the top of the page.
2.  Scroll down and you’ll see a field marked ‘Skills’.  Click on ‘Edit’.
3.  Start to add in your Skills by starting to type the name of a skill until one that matches appears.
4.  Click on ‘Add’, and then ‘Save’.
5.  Click on ‘Done Editing’ at the top of your profile if this is all you want to do.

To Edit or Remove Skills and Endorsements on LinkedInFollow steps 1 and 2 above
3.  Click on the ‘x’ beside any skill to remove it.
4.  Click on ‘Save’.
5.  Click on ‘Done Editing’ at the top of your profile if this is all you want to do.

Important Note – if you haven’t added in any Skills the field for Skills and Endorsements will not show at all on your LinkedIn Profile, and people (who you may or not want to endorse you) won’t be able to.

How to Hide or Reveal an Endorsement

If you receive an unwanted endorsement you can do the following:

Follow steps 1 and 2 above
3.  Click on the ‘Manage Endorsements’ link beside ‘Add and Remove’.
4.  When you then click on a Skill you can see who has endorsed you for that skill.
5.  Uncheck the box beside any person whose endorsement you want to hide, or check the box to reveal it.
6.  Click on ‘Done Editing’ at the top of your profile if this is all you want to do.

If you don’t want to show your Skills and Endorsements on LinkedIn

Follow steps 1 and 2 above
Click on ‘No’ beside I want to be endorsed.

You May Also Like – How to Get your Custom URL on LinkedIn.
Find me on:Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Responsive Design – 5 Reasons Why You Should Change your e-Commerce Website

Marks and Spencer Responsive Design Responsive design means that a website is built in such a way that it offers the same shopping experience across a raft of devices, from PC, to laptop to tablet to smartphone.  In other words, the site is designed to adapt to whatever your are reading it on, but to offer the same information and the same feel.

Shoppers in the UK spent 91bn in the UK in 2013, and this figure is set to be on the rise, with IMRG forecasting a 17% increase in 2014.  Mobile is accounting for more and more of web traffic, diverting it away from PC and laptop.  We shop whenever and wherever, on the train, on holiday, out shopping and we want to be able to browse prices and products with the same brand experience wherever we choose to do it.

5 Reasons why you should change your website to Responsive Design:

1.  Responsive design results in a single URL and no need for redirects.  As a result, it is easier for Google to crawl and more likely to improve your rankings.

2.  It is the best way to design a website that will look beautiful and reflect your brand on any chosen device.

3.  It is as mobile friendly as PC friendly, and with mobile internet usage predicted to overtake PC internet usage in 2014, and 67% of users more likely to buy from a mobile friendly website, there’s no question that this has to be the right move.

4.  Responsive design offers a much better user experience.  Without a website specifically designed to be mobile friendly you are going to lose orders and potentially damage your brand.  We’re used to finding what we’re looking for fast online, and if we don’t we move on.  With the growth and power of mobile purchasing there’s no alternative to re-thinking your mobile strategy if you haven’t already.  The option of ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’, is long past.

5.  SEO is much easier to manage on a responsive design website, as you need to manage one SEO campaign instead of two, saving on management and SEO strategy time.

e-Commerce is more and more competitive, we want the right product at the right price and we want it FAST.  If you want to compete in today’s online market you have to have an attractive, brand conscious website designed to be fully functional and easily navigable whatever the medium used to access it.  Intelligent responsive design offers all of this.

You might like also to read these:
Marks & Spencer Launches New Website (econsultancy)
How Important is Responsive Design (Huffington Post)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Internet Safety and The Heartbleed Bug

Heartbleed Logo There’s been a huge amount of information recently about the Heartbleed Bug, what it is, what it means to you and how to stay safe online.  However personally I have found much of it to be quite confusing. 

It would appear that I’m not alone in that, as although 64% of internet users have heard of the problem, only 61% of those have taken any action (The Wire, April 30 2014). 

Having been informed by reputable sources that Heartbleed is a virus (which it isn’t), or that you should IMMEDIATELY change all of your passwords, which in some cases could make matters worse for you, and conflicting versions of each, let alone that this is the end of the internet as we know it, I decided to try and simplify the important facts.  So read on.

In essence Heartbleed is a recently discovered two year old fault in the functionality of widely used OpenSSL.  When this software defect is exploited, the attacker can retrieve memory from remote systems such as Yahoo, Instagram,  and the Canadian Revenue Agency (where an attacker has been caught after stealing 900 taxpayer details).

Are you affected by Heartbleed? (from Heartbleed.com)
‘You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet.

Your popular social site, your company's site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL. Many of online services use TLS to both to identify themselves to you and to protect your privacy and transactions.

You might have networked appliances with logins secured by this buggy implementation of the TLS. Furthermore you might have client side software on your computer that could expose the data from your computer if you connect to compromised services.’
A practical example of how people have been affected is this (Forbes 17th April 2014) ‘Mumsnet posted an article outlining how the attacker was able to log in as the founder of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts after using Heartbleed to steal her username and password. This demonstrates practically how Heartbleed could cause damage after many of the debates between experts last week.’

So what action should you take to stay safe online?

Your passwords for certain organisations/providers may have been stolen.  But if the organisation/provider has not yet patched the fault, you will be more likely to lose your details in the event of an attack.  You should be informed by your provider if there is any need to change your password. 

This has created a wealth of confusing and contradictory advice as to what to do, so I suggest you read this article below and take action.

On Mashable – The Heartbleed Hit List – the Passwords you Need to Change Right Now

Further Reading:
Avoid Heartbleed Hype
Password Best Practices

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

SEO Tips – Trends for 2014

Throughout 2013 Google continued to drive against what it considers unfavourable SEO tactics – anything that derives of creating links simply for rankings, rather than adding genuine value to users.  And it can be confusing, because what used to benefit your business can actually harm it now.

Google’s drive against unacceptable linking methods has included everything from purchased links in directories to links within guest blogs.  And if you’re still stuffing keywords into the keyword field in your website admin area you better delete them immediately.  They went over cliff a while ago. Genuine relevant keyword rich but not stuffed content is what’s left, and has created a lot of work particularly for smaller business who can’t afford external SEO companies, nor the time to re-vamp their content.

It has to be said that this has all been good for search, even though some who haven’t been keeping up have plunged in the rankings, usually through historic ‘black hat’ SEO tactics.  Even if these have been in the past they can still haunt you.

Beating the competition now simply depends on having a better website with better content and products – and one that works across a raft of devices, from PC to smartphone – and from one URL.  This presents a challenge for those with older websites, as responsive design is relatively new (a design which responds to which device is accessing a particular site to make it easy for the same content to be viewed on each), however search rankings will be improved where there is just one URL rather than a different one designed for different devices.

SEO Tips for 2014
Consider re-vamping to a responsive design site.  Cries of anguish at the thought of the cost?  For sure….however this is the way to improve rankings and the way that website design is moving/has moved.  It may be time to move in this direction if your site is a few years old.

Everything comes back to content.  Look at your website content and revaluate what’s there.  How long ago did you write it?  Is it totally relevant to your products and customer today?  When did you last update your keyword research?  Your meta titles and descriptions?

Consider SEO across all areas, from newsletters to blogs to articles and social media – SEO has an important part to play in every post you make or newsletter you send out.  Make sure that everyone is aware you need to be fully optimised, but make sure you’re always creating content with readers and relevance in mind.

Focus on Social Media.  Make time to ensure that you’re updating your social media platforms regularly and communicating with your market.  In SEO terms Google+ is particularly valuable so don’t forget to update your profile and posts as well.

The message is content, content, content.  Make sure yours is current, relevant and interesting, and includes your keywords without over pushing them.  All the old SEO methods (other than keyword research) have pretty much gone out of the window, and you have to tread carefully to make sure you’re not doing anything that Google might object to.

Monday, 17 March 2014

5 Reasons to put your Brand Name in your Title Tags and Where should you put it?


John Lewis Title Tags
There are so many different views on this I thought I would add mine to the pile.

Title tags have always been, and still are, the most important indicator to search engines and site visitors alike as to what each page of your site is about.  Which is why each title tag on your website has to be unique.

What has changed over the past few years due to Google updates is that they now need to be written not so much just for search but for humans to read as well.  And they therefore need to be individually descriptive, contain the relevant search terms for each page and at the same time be interesting for your visitors to read.  Out with keyword stuffing and in with writing sentences you or I might be interested in if we were looking for that particular product or service.

To me a title tag which doesn’t contain the brand name lacks definition.  It could be from any website and/or brand.  You may be selling workout clothing, for example.  Your title tag could read ‘Nike workout and fitness clothing for men and women’.  And so could the title tag of 100 other websites.  Or it could read ‘Nike workout and fitness clothing for men and women | XK Sports’.  Which immediately tells me where I’ll be buying from, should I choose to click on the link.  Otherwise, I feel, it is just too generic.  And if it’s good enough for John Lewis and good enough for M&S frankly it’s good enough for me.

5 Reasons to put your Brand Name in your Title Tag
1.  Brand recognition.  Don’t you want your brand name to be out there over and over again?  You don’t just want your products to appear, you want people to see immediately that they’ll be buying from you.

2.  Usability.  Make it easy for your visitors to know who they’ll be visiting when your carefully researched keywords come up in search.  Not just that they’ll be buying a blue laundry basket, but a blue laundry basket from you.

3.  Reduce the competition.  Your brand is what makes you unique, not what you’re selling (most of the time).  With so many websites out there competing to sell the same products it’s your brand that sets you apart from the rest.
4.  Helping interaction with your brand.  The title tag is the first thing someone searching for a product or service comes across.  Especially if your brand is not well known, you want readers and searchers to see it loud and clear.

5.  You’re writing for humans, not search engines.  By including your brand name, rather than just keywords in your title tags, you’re are being informative and relevant at the same time.  And Google loves relevant title tags that are written for readers.

Where should you put your Brand Name in your Title Tag

I suggest you put your brand name at the front on your home page, and at the end of all of your title tags.  You can either include them as part of a sentence, or use the pipe bar | to separate your brand name from the main part of your title tag.  Neither will affect your ranking.

Keep your title tags short, 60 – 70 characters, and use one strong keyword or phrase per title.  Don’t stuff with keywords.  That went out with the ark.  Practically.

Find me on:
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Friday, 21 February 2014

Your LinkedIn Profile – How Not to Connect on LinkedIn - 6 Tips


I received a LinkedIn invitFacebook 2012ation today which I might have been interested in but when I looked at the LinkedIn profile of the person who wanted to connect there were so many things missing I decided not to.  So if you’re on LinkedIn…..just, but really don’t want to have your invitations accepted or join up with past colleagues and possible future employers, this is how to do it.

Don’t bother with a Summary – after all who’s going to read it?  Don’t bother to tell people your background, a bit about yourself and what you do.

Don’t fill in details about your current and past experience in the Background section.  Just put a single line, as briefly as possible, for all current and past activities/positions.  Again, of course no one is going to bother to read it so why do it?

Be as brief as possible about your education.  Really…..it’s not of interest.

Don’t list your interests, no one wants to know if you like sports/reading/gym/food/films etc.  Would you put it on your resume?  Maybe.  Here?  Forgetaboutit.

Don’t bother to get your personal LinkedIn URL.  You’re there, aren’t you?  So why would you worry about that.  Many others don’t.  Ok it looks good if you don’t have that stupid string of number after your name but who really gives a damn.

Ignore possible Groups to join.  You don’t have much time, you really don’t know why you’re on LinkedIn in the first place and you’re not that interested in hooking up with like minded people so let’s give that another ‘ignore’ tick and move on.

You’re there aren’t you?  You’ve put up your picture and filled in a bit and surely that’s enough for people to be able to read between the lines about you. Why would you want to do anything else.  Who has the time?  So you’ll sit there, month after month, trying to connect and wondering why most people ignore you.  Wouldn’t you?  Ignore you if you saw your profile?  What’s interesting about it after all.  Enough said……..

Here’s how to do it, just in case you’re interested….

5 Ways to Improve your LinkedIn Profile
How to make LinkedIn Work for You
How to Get your Custom LinkedIn URL

And you’ll find more on LinkedIn at WebHints Here

Find me on:
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com if you’d like help with your LinkedIn profile

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Why Pictures Sell Products Not Words

Alice by Temperley Red Summer Dress Stills From my days in fashion online, and running photo-shoots, I learnt several things, not the least of which (understatement) was that a picture will sell a product first and foremost.  The words come second.  Most people only bother to read the words if the picture has ‘got’ them.  Think ofAlice by Temperley Red Summer Dress Styled Model Shot the picture as the page headline in terms of effect and it makes more sense.  In the same way a poorly shot picture can put people off instantly.

There’s so much competition now to sell products, particularly fashion, off the screen, and it doesn’t matter what the product is, if you’re not attracted by the picture you won’t bother to go  any further.  Alice by Temperley Red Summer Dres Back View

Some brands and even large department stores seem to think they can get away with just stills shots or just model shots but if you want to shift volume you simply can’t any more.  Nor will you sell if the styling is off.  Styling has to match both the product and the demographic of the brand’s median purchaser but even so heavy or frumpy accessories such as footwear (for example) will put off potential buyers whatever the demographic is supposed to be.

We’re in a feeding frenzy for more and more fashion online.  And photography and styling are expensive, they were when I was doing it, they’re even more so now even with the racked-up number of shots per day (same backAlice by Temperley Red Summer Dress Detailground, same styling, same model/s  just a different dress/coat/jacket).

There’s a formula for great product photography and you don’t need to look further than online  stores such as Net-a-Porter or Harrods (or Karen Millen or Reiss) to see what it is.  You may be selling products for an older or younger (or less cash rich) customer, but that doesn’t mean your pictures need to reflect that to the extent that you put everyone else off – after all surely the wider the audience attracted to your products the better?

For those who aren’t looking at what the competition are doing, I suggest that you do, then you can stop wondering why that coat/dress/jacket/pair of jeans didn’t sell.  All will become clear in a flash.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Importance of Great Title Tags

If you don’t have properly set up title tags, no matter how much money you throw at marketing, you’re missing one of the most important ways of getting your website ranked by search engines and found by prospective customers.  These SEO tips are here to make it easier.

Writing great title tags is not rocket science and it is key to your website’s success. It's also worth spending some time on.

There are six main rules in setting up your title tags:

Length – They should be no longer than 70 characters for the complete title tag to show in your browser.

Keyword Research – Time intensive?  Definitely.  Important?  Essential.  Take the time to research the most relevant keywords and phrases applicable to your goods and service, preferably incorporating relevant ‘long-tail’ keywords where there is less competition. There are keyword tools that you can pay to use but Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner is effective and free although you do need to sign up for an Adwords Account if you don't already have one.

Relevance to the Page
- Each title tag must be unique and totally relevant to the page that it's on.

Keyword or Phrase Placement
- Put your main keywords or phrases at the front of your title tags.

Brand Placement – My advice about this is that you should place your brand name at the front of your title tag on your home page, and thereafter at the end – of every single one.

Readability - Make your title tags readable to Google and site visitors alike.  Gone are the days of a string of keywords.  Create a sentence with a call to action such as 'Buy', 'Browse', 'Find'.  Put your main keyword or phrase at the front, and your brand name with 'at' in front of it, or a pipe bar | at the end.  I prefer a proper sentence as opposed to using the pipe bar because it's more reader friendly but it's up to you.

By the way to find the pipe bar on your keyboard you need to hold left shift key down and press the forward slash key next to it.

Once you have established the main keywords and phrases that are being searched for for your products and services these should filter down into your on-site SEO, your page titles and copy, making your on-site search as relevant as it could be.

I come across a lot of websites for both large and small companies where title tags have either been overlooked entirely or have not been set up properly.  This is often in part due to lack of knowledge, shortage of time and/or entrusting your SEO to the wrong person.

SEO is not the dark art it’s often painted to be, it has multiple facets and each will be key to your success.  It’s well worth getting to know the basics, and then either carrying out the work in house or entrusting it to a specialist.

This post has been updated Feb 14

Find me on:
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Why you Need Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Tool - Tried and Tested

Malwarebytes is an anti-malware tool which will sit side by side with your anti-virus software to provide defence and protection from the millions of threats out there and works extremely well.

Quote 'When a Trojan or other malware gets a foothold in your PC's innards, clearing it out can be tough. The nastiest ones fight back, interfering with your attempts to install antivirus software.'  Er......this sounds something like trying to shut the door after the horse has bolted.  The answer is to not wait for the attack but to make sure you're set up well in advance.What is Malware?

Malware, or malicious software, has many forms.  Most will get stopped by your anti-virus software, but some infections can slip past and disable your system or slow it right down. There are those who say you shouldn't run two anti-virus/malware software tools at the same time, but I find that Malwarebytes works very well with the Norton anti-virus software I use and have so far had no problems.

Malwarebytes comes in a free version which works perfectly well, however the investment of roughly £21 for the lifetime license for the Pro version which scans automatically and protects your system without your having to think about it seems well worth the cost.

There are those who think that if they browse carefully they will avoid attack by malware, those who forget about it until their computer/laptop slows down to a crawl and those who just don't bother.  And installing Anti Virus software, although an essential start, particularly if like most of us you spend hours browsing, just isn't enough.

Your anti-virus software, as with anti-malware software, is only as good as its updates, as new viruses are being invented all of the time, so make absolutely sure that yours is up to date always.
Here's a review by PC World on what's available anti-virus wise.





Friday, 31 January 2014

5 of the Best Travel Apps - Tried and Tested

As someone who loves to travel but managed to forget her iPad a couple of trips ago, loves to find bargain flights and always wants to know how many $$$ she'll get for her pounds I've put together a list of my favourite travel apps which I use all the time, for flights, train times, currency conversion and where to find my nearest bank/store/movie theatre.

1.  XE Currency Converter
This app does exactly what it says on the tin.  Have it set up on your iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android or whatever you use and you'll always know instantly what rates you should be getting, and how much that new pair of boots will cost, wherever you are.

2.  FlightTrack
Whether it's you taking a trip or your daughter flying off to Milan you can put in as many flights as you want (and this app will help you search for the right flight) and then track them as they take-off, land, or are delayed or worst cancelled.  You can also set up alerts for each flight to tell you what's happening and what gate the flight will land at.

3.  TrainTimes
Not flying but want to know live departure and arrival times of trains in the UK, then download the TrainTimes app from National Rail.  It's incredibly fast and easy to use.  You'll find it in the iTunes Store and also for Android Phones.

4.  Skyscanner.net
This is one of the major flight (and hotel and car hire) comparison sites and it just goes on getting better and better.  I find that the interface is cleaner than some other flight comparison sites, but that's just my preference, and you should check www.kayak.com as well to see which you prefer to use, you almost certainly won't find any difference in prices.  Be aware that flights tend to be cheaper in the middle of the week and away from major holidays, and the earlier you can book the better.

5.World Around Me (WAM)
If you want to know what's available immediately around where you are then WAM it with this app which will tell you the nearest pharmacies, doctors, hotels, restaurants, movie theatres, clothes stores, gas stations and more, together with phone numbers, website details and links through to Google Maps.  Rated as one of the best local guide apps by National Geographic Traveller you'll love to take this with you wherever you go.

There are thousands of travel apps - these are just five of my favourites - let me know yours......

Friday, 24 January 2014

Google Gives Guest Blogging the Thumbs Down

In the same way that Google has targeted spammy backlinks, keyword stuffed prolific articles and content that is written just with rankings in mind, Google now has their eyes on guest blogging, which may be a blow to many.

To be clear, Google is not trying to stop multi-author blogs, nor authentic high quality guest bloggers who are invited to write for other websites offering entertaining insight and information and well written posts, but those who perceive guest blogging as just a way to get up the rankings and offer to pay for the opportunity. I'm sure that the line will be blurred with some blogs and Google may come down hard on some unfortunates who have done nothing wrong - blame those who have made guest blogging another form of black hat SEO.

Guest blogging has grown hugely in the past year or so, ever since Google started targeting other content strategies, so it's not really surprising that this is now happening.  Don't you, as I do, get endless emails from people asking if they can write a guest blog post for you to include a 'relevant' link or two within the copy (about the subject of your choice), and offering you some kind of recompense if you let them do so?  Avoid these like the plague.

Basically this is back to paying for backlinks - a spammy practice that Google has frowned on for a long time and as with any kind of paying for improvement in page rank may well get you penalized - so it's time to stop and really consider what you're doing.

This is unfortunate as there are many high quality guest blog posts being written, totally authentic, which are now going to get caught up in this mix, however as a strategy for SEO purposes it's not going to work any more, as the risk is that Google will pile all the guest blog posts into one 'we don't approve of this' pot, largely because of those who have scrabbled around looking for some other way to improve their rankings post Penguin and Panda.

Of course this comes back to you writing relevant content for your website, using keywords and phrases totally in line with your product and services, and which you know, from your research, your audience/customers are looking for.  Relevance is the key word for 2014.

Read more about this on Matt Cutts Blog

Find me on:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

5 Ways to Improve your Product Page SEO – 2014

Profile Pic Patricia Davidson The temptation with most smaller e-commerce (or otherwise) websites is to optimise all the pages on the site and leave it at that.  However, if you’ve been keeping up in any way with all the changes that Google has been making to the way that it ranks websites you’ll already have that feeling in the back of your mind that more work is needed to bring your site up to date.  Lots of work.  And nothing but spending time on this one will help you out.  You’ll be benefitting all the competition if you don’t get with it.

You’re told that the cornerstone of getting to the top in the rankings is high quality backlinks, but you can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get these and they can be hard to get, so although you should never give up on this, there is far more you can do to your website in real time that will benefit you and your conversion rates.

This is what you need:

Re-Visit Keyword Research
You may or may not have carried out organised keyword research for each of your products, creating a table of keywords, meta tags, descriptions and content.  The fact is that whatever you did in the past may still be working for you (and I wouldn’t advise changing anything that is working), however what people are searching for has changed, and you should visit the Google Keyword Planner to make sure that you’re using the most relevant keywords and phrases for each product, updating where necessary.  Yes this is a long job.  No there are no short cuts.

High Quality Content
The days of allowing others to write paragraph after paragraph of non relevant/non customer friendly content stuffed with keywords in various places are over.  If you’re still doing that then stop now.  The word you’re looking for is ‘relevance’.  Content that is well written, and relevant to the page and product is what you want.  Go for quality.  Content writers need strong direction.  How to do keyword research (cannot be learned in a couple of seconds), where to place keywords, how to make them stand out and most important of all, how to write content that your visitors are going to want to read.

This means high quality content for each and every one of your products, after you’re done your research.  No guess work here.

Title Tags – Page Title – Meta Title Tag
This is the one that appears in the top of your browser.  It should contain 70 characters or less, relevant to the page, and preferably starting with that page’s main keyword.  It should also be reader friendly, so no keyword stuffing.  Create a sentence beginning with your main keyword or phrase.  Don’t worry about your brand name too much, at this point people are searching for products, not you who they may not have heard of, and the product will lead them to your website.

Your Page URL
Your page URLs may well have already been indexed by Google, and although it is better overall for them to match up with your Title Tags it’s not essential.  If you have control over your URLs and you’re working on pages that have not been ranked as you would like then consider changing them to include your keyword or phrase.

Meta Descriptions
In all the keyword research and on page content writing endeavours you may overlook your meta descriptions.  Well don’t.  These snippets which will hopefully be picked up by Google and other search engines are important and should not be missed out.  Think of them as ad copy for each page of your website and write something short but compelling, again with your keywords or phrases near the front.  Each meta description has to be unique, and be totally relevant to the page to which it refers.  End your meta descriptions with a call to action to entice people to click through, and make your meta descriptions friendly and inviting.

To try and put all this information into one post is a bit of a stretch, so I’ll be breaking it down over the next few days with more detailed tips for each area. 
Find me on:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Why you Should Update Blog Posts

Glamoursleuth Blog Updated So you’ve written how many posts?  And each one goes lower down the totem pole as new ones are added.  But…..how often do you check your analytics and discover that an old post has suddenly attracted interest and is being viewed again daily, by hundreds?

Then think about it.  That old post will probably have reached the top because of the keywords you’ve used, and may well go on doing so.  Which means that everything you said is being read again.  Links are being clicked on that are most likely out of date.  And those reading, who may well not have checked the publication date, will think you completely daft, or unprofessional, or both.

You can make popular blog posts work for you and go on working but you need to update them from both a wording and a link point of view.  It’s well worth the time and effort, particularly on an ‘I’m out of ideas’ day. 

Tips.  Go into your post and make any changes you want at the same time and before you re-publish by changing the publication date, and bring your post back to the top of the totem pole.  If it intrigued, interested and inspired before it probably will do again, and your new readers will be taken straight to one of your most successful posts and drawn in.

Don’t do this with too many of your posts, just those that have the highest number of page reads and interest.  And always tell people that you’ve updated, either in a footnote, or in the title, so that those who read it before will see you’re being entirely honest and not trying to fool them that this is all new.
Find me on:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Thursday, 2 January 2014

LinkedIn - Why you Shouldn't Link your Email with LinkedIn

I connected on LinkedIn recently with someone I knew very well from a short while back.  Immediately I was offered page after page of ‘people you might be interested in’ to find contact details for non LinkedIn acquaintances (and non acquaintances), LinkedIn contacts with whom I have nothing in common whatsoever, some who I knew a long time ago, and some who I was interested to connect with.  And there was no hook between my email contacts and LinkedIn.

My question was, how did LinkedIn select these potential connections?  I understand, through a little research, that LinkedIn is mining not only my own connections, but connections of connections, using a points score basis to come up with recommendations.  Ok.  I am still in the dark as to why and how LinkedIn could recommend an email contact off someone else’s list.  Other contacts have told me that they unwittingly sent invitations to everyone on their contact list.  More than once.

It's quite clear that unless you're willing to put your email contact list in someone else's 'hands' that you should not hook your email up with LinkedIn, however tempting that might seem.  Not only will you probably end up unwittingly spamming your list, but this will be repeated over and over again. 

I think that LinkedIn is an excellent tool, and has always been the upstanding social media site for professionals.  However, it is obviously in growing mode, and the tools it may choose to use to do that may not be those that you are happy with.  This doesn’t mean that you should come off LinkedIn, but that you should be aware that LinkedIn, as other social media sites, is constantly changing its Privacy Policy and you are almost certainly not keeping up.  Who, after all, reads the small print regularly if at all.

This is the page you need to read very carefully: http://www.linkedin.com/legal/privacy-policy.  Do this now.

I also suggest that you go to Privacy and Settings (click on your pic top right corner to get there), and go through all of your Profile Privacy Controls. Review them all.

One thing you might like to consider - in Groups, Companies and Applications, under Privacy Controls in that section, is to un-tick ‘Turn on/off data sharing with 3rd party applications’ as you will most likely find that this has been automatically ticked.

You may want to do the same for ‘Manage settings for LinkedIn plugins on 3rd party sites’.

Examples from the Privacy Policy at Jan 2nd 2013
’We collect information when you use the LinkedIn website, LinkedIn applications (for example, LinkedIn for iPhone or Android), and LinkedIn platform technology (such as “Share on LinkedIn” plugins for publishers). For example, we collect information when you view or click on ads, import your address book, join and participate in groups, participate in polls, install a LinkedIn mobile application, and share articles on LinkedIn.’

and

’You may use the LinkedIn contacts importer to upload individual contacts or your entire address book into LinkedIn. LinkedIn stores this information and uses it to help you manage it with “LinkedIn Contacts,” which can be your primary resource for storing, organizing, and utilizing your contact information. We also use this information to enhance your LinkedIn experience by helping you to grow your network by: identifying your contacts already on LinkedIn; providing a template to send invitations to your contacts that have not registered with LinkedIn; and suggesting people you may know but who may not be in your LinkedIn Contacts.’

Don’t ever assume that any social media application has your privacy protected, that has to be your job, and if you don’t take care too much will be known about you by too many, and far more than you suspect……….