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6 02, 2018

Record CCTV footage carefully and store it safely to comply with GDPR

By |2019-01-30T21:20:47+01:00February 6th, 2018|Blog, Content|0 Comments

Personal data according to the general data protection regulation (GDPR) refers to anything that can identify an individual including CCTV cameras. Footage can be used as surveillance to deter or identify intruders and if so, must be available to the Police as required. It must be stored securely and encrypted wherever possible.

GDPR is a new European regulation governing data protection but the UK is introducing a very similar piece of legislation which will apply after Brexit. Personal data includes CCTV footage, email marketing, social media posts, names including newsletter recipients, European cloud storage, IP addresses for websites as well as data already in scope under existing data protection law. GDPR is overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO.)

It allows individuals to request a copy of any CCTV footage where they are clearly identifiable. If the request is valid, the organisation must show the footage to the individual within 30 days. GDPR will take effect in just over three months’ time on 25 May this year, 2018, and businesses need to be ready. It is very important that organisations get the use of data right because they can face fines of up to 20 million Euros or 4% of global turnover if they get it wrong. GDPR is overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who set the fines.

Individuals must give active consent that is, ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’ so implied consent will no longer be sufficient. Organisations must make CCTV cameras very obvious and may need to obtain further explicit consent from individuals to record them.

CCTV footage

Security operator looking at CCTV footage

To remain on the right side of the law, organisations must make sure that they can switch CCTV on and off and access a specific recording upon request. Footage and sound recordings should be captured separately to avoid being excessive and must be stored securely. Take care with sound recordings because it is intrusive to record conversations of staff or the public unless there is a strong and explicit justification which is unusual.

Access to footage and sound should be restricted and safeguards need to be in place to prevent interception and unauthorised access.  Footage should be deleted when it’s no longer necessary.

All CCTV footage needs to be underpinned by a written information retention policy that is understood by all operatives. Staff need to know how to respond to requests from individuals for access to footage and recordings. Individuals also need to know if they are in an area covered by CCTV and that they have a right to access recordings and footage.

CCTV camera

CCTV security cameras must be clearly visible

1 02, 2018

How to remain GDPR compliant – protect your data

By |2019-01-30T21:20:48+01:00February 1st, 2018|Blog, Content|0 Comments

Currently data in the UK is regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998 that followed the 1995 EU data protection directive. However, this is now being superseded by the EU General Data Protection Regulation which brings the law up to speed with new ways that data is being used. There will be tougher fines for breaches of data protection and the regulation gives individuals more say over what companies do with their data. GDPR standardises practice throughout the EU.

Even after Brexit if UK companies want to trade with companies in the EU, they will have to comply with GDPR and the UK is introducing a very similar piece of legislation. Personal data includes email marketing, social media posts, names including newsletter recipients, European cloud storage, IP addresses for websites as well as spreadsheets, photos, CCTV footage and documents.

data protection

Personal data is data that identifies a person, data under the Data Protection Act will fall under the scope of GDPR. People can ask for data at reasonable intervals and controllers have a month to respond. Controllers and processors should explain why the data is being processed, how long it will be kept and who will see it. An individual can ask for the data to be corrected or completed if they think it is incomplete or contains errors.

You need to get active consent from everyone you hold data about and you need to be prepared to delete files as required. Failure to opt-out no longer defaults to consent. Consent must be explicit and intentional. Consent gained before GDPR became law must meet the new high standard to be current. If you are in doubt, get updated active consent from all your subjects to ensure GDPR compliance.

Individuals can request that their data is deleted after it has been used which is called the ‘right to be forgotten.’ The same rule applies if they withdraw consent or dislike the way it is being processed. The controller is responsible for telling Google, for example, to delete links to copies of the data and copies of the data itself.

Businesses such as Google and Facebook share user data. GDPR has been introduced to regulate this to build trust and standardise data protection across the EU. This should reduce legal fees considerably.

GDPR will take effect across the EU from 25 May 2018 in its current form without the need for Member States to introduce their own national legislation. It applies to controllers of data who have strategic oversight of the data (such as a government) and processors (often IT companies) who process it. Controllers can be liable for a breach by one of their processors.

The clock is ticking before GDPR takes effect.

Controllers need to check that personal data is processed lawfully, transparently and for a specific purpose. When it is no longer needed, it should be deleted. Controllers need to record active consent to keep the data which can be withdrawn at any time.

Data breaches

Data breaches in the UK need to be reported within 72 hours to the Information Commissioner’s office. You should explain what data has been exposed, what impact this will have for the people involved and what steps you’ve taken in response to the breach. You must also tell the people affected or face a hefty fine. Fines are becoming much bigger and are often 2% of annual turnover rising to 4% if a controller or processor does not follow procedures. Fines still need to be proportionate and evidence of compliance with GDPR will show good faith and should reduce the fine.

13 04, 2017

Semantic Search Why Is It So Important?

By |2019-01-30T21:20:48+01:00April 13th, 2017|SEO|0 Comments

Companies are now spending millions of £’s in ‘long tail work’ looking at Semantic Search. We spend hours trying to use our knowledge trying to optimise the best of search working our way around what we think the Bing and Google algorithms  are doing. We are trying to maximise the use of our micro meta data our keyword density and our organic data strategies to scrape every little bit of search rank real estate to influence our position. The algorithms that drive bing and google are becoming ‘self learning’ so as to become artificially intelligent. The implications of which will lead to ever increasing changes that will effect contextual and Semantic Search results.

The conversion holy grail that we all strive for is increasingly being influenced by the semantic search elements of the self learning algorithms of bing and google. Thats why we must focus on a good user ‘read’ or experience that will drive conversion rather being wholly obsessed with trying top stuff and manipulate the keywords into an article at the expense of adding anything useful to a reader.

So What is Semantic Search?

Semantic is Mid 17th century in origin from the French sémantique and from the Greek sēmantikos meaning significant. In simple terms Semantic search basically takes any elements associated and related to an article, website, image and now even voice. The correlation from all the other billions of data elements that both Bing and Google have gathered over time are interrelated in virtual contextual ‘links’. This huge repository of information acts like a database that is matched by the algorithms according to the ‘semantic’ or significant elements of that particular searches intent. This ‘leaned’ ability over time delivers more personalised and highly relevant results. The semantic search results are nicely summarised in Googles knowledge graph.

Why is Semantic Search so Important for the User?

The user of any search will not know or quite frankly care about the fact that semantic search plays such a large part in their experience online. The contextual results that are displayed are a result of Google, Bing and all the major search engines trying to deliver the best user experience possible. The mass of semantic search data will result in a deeper understanding of the users intent for the search engine, more relevant data available for the user and less spam. So the semantic searches are the real key behind driving a better user experience for searches online.

Explosion in Data

The explosion in data growth which predicts data demand growing to more than 4300 % annually by 2020 will all help in usability. A new term Zettabyte having to be invented to cope with the data increase. (A Zettabyte unit of information equal to one sextillion or 1021 bytes.) Is not hard to see where search is going. As we sit hear in 2017 with voice now becoming the method of search preferred semantic search will get even more sophisticated and sort the wheat the from the chaff in user experience delivery.

Very particular mathematical models have been created to help in semantic search to improve the user experience such as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which is the method to determine relationships between terms and contextual content. This is the most common way of determining the phrases and words on a page or image which are most important. Another important parameter is how the sentences or phrases are constructed and the subject matter that is part of that structure. So similarities in word structure is also very important here as it will stop spamming. This particular model is called natural language processing or Latent Dirichlet Allocation or LDA. 

Another commonly used element within the semantic search algorithms is Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency or TF-IDF which was first devised in 1972 and is used for the term relevance factors in a piece of text. This is very important and why the use of tittle tags, h1 tags including your key words are important in helping your article phrase or keyword being associated with the semantic context of the piece.

Why Entity Based Search Helps in Semantic Search

Entity based search also correlates to semantic search by associating an entity, which are people, places or things and places an identifier to the various elements within that phrase. How this phrase is broken and deconstructed is important in deriving the context of the conversation. Lets take a search for Nicole Kidman for example. Here are the results.

Within these results you can see the news, bio, pictures, movies and social and various stories and articles where Nicole Kidman has been tagged and discussed at length.

Semantic Search Box

Browser with Nicole Kidman selected to show the difference elements of Semantic Search and how it works.

The search context are shown below. They show the pictures, bios. text, directories, news results which show how the information is related to the ‘entity’ definitions.  does and the importance of its role in semantic search.

Semantic Search Results Example.

Search results example for Nicole Kidman, the 41 m searches show how the entity elements go to make up all the various branches from the different nodes.

You can see why Semantic Search has had more importance placed on it over recent months. The power to include more keywords that relate to the focus keyword and content on the page is huge and is something every marketing manager should be looking at.

Let me know what you think about Semantic Search and whether you will be going back through your content to improve your SEO?

8 02, 2017

Possum Update

By |2019-01-30T21:20:48+01:00February 8th, 2017|Algorithm Changes/Updates, Google, SEO|0 Comments

Why! This could be big.

Possum! has arrived locally to you. Well done Google! Here is the inside track on the local effects of the Possum search update now that we have had a little time since its arrival…….

…….with Google’s core search engine also being updated.

The effects of the Possum Update have seen a 59% increase in local SERP results in the Google algorithm changes affecting Google local pack traffic. The changes represent a huge impact on local search results but also a slight change in the search engine at a national results level. So what?

Democratisation of the web that’s what, and that is a big deal especially if you are a smaller business. The impact really is great news for smaller businesses (which is nice to see) at the local level – where it was increasingly hard to see local traffic get visibility due to the dominance of the big ‘national brands’. This has surely got to be good news for regional businesses. We are holding our breath for further increases in local results with ever increasing relevance.

Carrying on the theme of significant search updates beginning with a ‘P’ is Penguin and Panda, the latest iteration has been named ‘Possum’ by the search community. One of our fun tools is the MozCast which is a superb indicator that things are a churn in the Google algorithms.

The impacts are pretty much rolling out and have gradually been effecting search results over the past month. The Domain Diversity is fantastic as it shows the growing number of domains present in search and that has got to be a good thing for the web. The domain diversity is now showing a higher preference of local results according to the great results shown in the Mozcast Domain diversity figures.

The Local/Map results contain the largest impact in movement and change in Search Results. The reduction in desk top organic SERP results to between 7 and 9 results on page 1 and the removing of the adverts on the right hand side of the SERP’s page in early 2016 versus the increase in advertising has helped increase Google ad revenues. However the increase in the local pack results will be a welcome benefit for local businesses.

We looked at a random subject area – ‘garages in Brighton’ and the following came up in the results pages.

Standard results page with mapping at the top. We swapped the use of ‘local’ and also added ‘Brighton’ to the end of the search. The results either placed the ads before the Map in 80% of cases or at the very top of the page. The extended ‘More places’ we think has got bigger, but what we really notice is the resultant map that appears following this has a lot more businesses. We then repeated this for other service functions for B2C companies and then swapped out for B2B.

The advertising that sits at the bottom has pushed the results on the organic SERPS which used to be firmly 10 down to an average of 7. These 3 ‘missing’ places have been replaced by the adverts you see at the bottom of the page. OK this started to happen back in April this year when the right hand advertising block disappeared from Google only to be added to the top and bottom of the page.

So Google local search has got better for the user and for businesses locally.  What we are constantly amazed by is the local businesses that were still not using Google + , Google My Business. With the ever increasing search by Google for relevance it seems mad that this does not happen more.

We wanted to find a little more about the Microsoft side of the story by talking to Bing ourselves to get their take on all the changes in SERPS in the Bing search engines.

Read next time our interview with Bing for information on how the local search results are changing from a Microsoft perspective.

For more on another big Google update, check out Stuart’s post on the Penguin 4.0 update. Or see how we can help your Search Engine Optimisation, taking into account the most recent algorithm changes.

17 01, 2017

SEO vs PPC

By |2019-01-30T21:20:49+01:00January 17th, 2017|Google, Keyword Research, Keywords, PPC, SEO|0 Comments

SEO vs PPC

“I want to grow my business in the online world, what do I focus on and the question of SEO vs PPC is maybe not a clear cut as we think.”

This is a question that digital firms hear all too often. Both can have a massive impact, but the answer depends on your business. Are you large and established? Do you sell a product or service? What are your budgetary needs and concerns? Are you a local business?

The Benefits of SEO

What’s it all about and what is it useful for?

Now, it is important to know that SEO is not simply about optimising your content with keywords (although the use of ‘Semantic keywords’ is very helpful in organic search). Consider the plethora of information search engines use to measure a company’s online potential. Amongst many other factors, search engines monitor your services in the offline world, your social media interactions and the ‘relevancy’ of the content you produce to help prospective clients at crucial touch-points. This information has much larger ramifications on your overall marketing strategies outside of the digital world, as well as in. In fact, one of SEO’s primary functions is about discovering and finessing these touch-points.  

In practice, SEO is a long process of measurement and research. It is heavily content driven and time consuming because of Google’s semantic search technology. Your primary goal should be to understand the keyword landscape of your market, honing in on the variety of search terms the consumer is using and gaining a better understanding of their intent. Investigating the why, as opposed to the what, is a much larger benefit to your future marketing efforts. So, SEO is very useful for businesses that have some time. Getting your pages to be indexed for ideal keyword search terms is a gradual process and fluctuations are to be expected in highly competitive markets. The margin for error is much larger and strategies are as exploratory as they are results driven. From a UX point of view, one serious benefit of SEO is that your efforts will have made your site a lot cleaner. On a bridal website, for example, instead of having headings like ‘Wedding Dress Accessories for Vintage Weddings’, you can go with ‘Wedding Dress Accessories’ or the more specific but still high volume ‘Vintage Wedding Dress Accessories’.

Don’t be discouraged by the indefinite nature of SEO. It will bring you the most qualified leads over time and will directly influence your PPC results. Since SEO has no fee per keyword, you shouldn’t shy away from high competition words, especially as it will help you to qualify for longer tail keywords (something particularly useful for local businesses). Primarily, SEO is an integral framework for your digital marketing efforts. In the short term, it is a form of good ‘house keeping’ that can be used as a solid jumping off point.  Everything counts towards understanding your market’s behaviours and this is why a good SEO strategy can often be useful for small and local businesses, if they have the time. SEO vs PPC is the question that we have been asked more times than any other. Its generally good practice to engage with your knowledge and we think that writing at least one article of 300 – 600 words.

The Benefits of PPC

How does it differ to SEO and how can it benefit my business?

PPC is a great way of kick-starting your business’s digital efforts. It is a very concentrated way of driving potential leads to your site. However, it is a vastly different process to SEO. PPC consists of bidding on and competing for specific search terms that appear in display networks. As a result, you need to be absolutely precise with your keywords and copy, always keeping one eye on the cost per click and one eye on the quality score. You must make absolutely sure that your ad copy is tightly correlated with the corresponding landing pages and that your campaigns are tightly categorised. This approach makes it much easier to cut away ads that are not working. Due to the fastidiousness of PPC, the margins for error are much smaller, simply because it costs you money every time a mistake is made. Although Google does not always put the ‘highest bidder’ at the top of its sponsored results, affording PPC long term can be tricky.

In practice there should not be a choice between SEO vs PPC, PPC is very useful to a business that does not have the time to wait for the long-term benefits of SEO. Lets say you have a brand new product that has to be launched in the next 3 months. You could use a campaign to gauge the demand for the product, by bringing attention to it quickly and taking an early look at its reception. This data will not only inform your longer-term SEO efforts, but also your overall marketing strategies. Another huge benefit of PPC is something called the ‘panic scenario’. With many small businesses that are still trying to establish a steadfast form of revenue, PPC offers the possibility of gaining traffic quickly. And, because of its highly targeted nature, this can be relatively inexpensive in the short term.

However, if budget is not a large problem, PPC does have some very serious long-term benefits as well. Often, SEO consultants cite the classic ‘most people have trained themselves to actively ignore the ad spaces on search engines’. Whilst this might be true sometimes, they are forgetting the deeper value of a high-ranking ad in the search results. In an article from Search Engine Land, a study found that 82% of ad clicks are incremental when the associated organic result is ranked between 2 and 4, and 96% of clicks are incremental when the brand’s organic result was 5 or below. Google says that those visits would not have occurred without the ad campaigns. What is important to consider here is that as a result of having a strong ‘ownership’ of Google’s ad space, the appearance of that business in the organic search section seemed more ‘clickable’. Thus, the biggest long-term benefit of a PPC campaign is reputation, and how that reputation directly affects clickthrough rate and conversions.

Conclusion of SEO vs PPC?

Whether it’s a much-needed source of traffic, or necessary architectural changes that will stand up in the long run, both PPC and SEO have their separate uses. In fact, the only way to ensure success in the digital landscape is to use both in tandem at different times. A good digital firm knows this. So don’t be swayed by a consultant that offers you one service to fix all as this really isn’t good practice. The question of SEO vs PPC will not disappear for a while and will be enhanced even further with Google and Bings increasing emphasis on Semantic keywords becoming more important. So SEO vs PPC will never a choice between the two, but the two being used in a smarter way together. 

Please see other articles that you might find interesting.

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