Thursday, 7 December 2017

SEO Meta Tags Explained (2017)

Although many internet marketers know that they need meta tags, they hardly know how to use them properly.

In fact, many discussions about meta tags is about how poorly they are used.

Used properly they can help you generate significant leads.

Many think that the best thing to do is use as many of them as you can.

This is wrong and just takes up space. You should use the meta tags that best describe what you are trying to sell.

Proper use of meta tags is not enough. If you want SEO investments to work for you it is important that you focus on several other aspects.

The first is content. Always keep in mind that search engines are in the information business, so they will rate your website based on the information that you provide on it. It should be relevant and up to date and it should be written clearly, in good English and with good grammar.

It must also be logically laid out - if crawlers find it easy to read the information on your website they will give it a higher ranking. If you don't have the time to work on your content you should leave the job to a SEO professional.

Most internet marketing companies have professional web content developers who can get the job done for you.

Back links are also very important. These are links from authority sites that lead back to yours.

It is a sign that these sites trust the information on your site, which tells search engines that they can trust it too.

Do not be tempted to develop back links the wrong way - it can lead to your site being banned from Google.

Good back links take time to develop and if you do it too fast crawlers take notice. You should also never buy back links - they are no good.

When hiring an SEO agency to do meta tags, content and back links for you make sure that you choose one that has been around for some time - if it is new it may not have the necessary experience.

You should look into their track record and find out whether they have done similar SEO campaigns for other companies successfully.

They should also be well ranked themselves. One such company is Total SEO Services.

Located in Sheffield they have a very good record of successful search engine optimisations campaigns.

You can find out more on their website here: Total SEO Services.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Virgin Media Business - They want your business but they certainly don't care about it!

A few months ago Total SEO Services received a sales call from Virgin Media Business offering us a better service at our new office than our current line with Zen Internet, for less money. We were initially sceptical as we had been receiving such a great service from Zen Internet, but they were already running the line into our second site and having both locations serviced by the same provider can mean a complete loss of service at both sites if there is a catastrophic failure with them. We pushed the sales guy hard and pointed out that we heavily rely on our connection and would need to run, among others, crucial services such as a range of static IP addresses, persistent IPsec VPN tunnel to our other site and a Mail Server & Web Server.

We were assured that by paying for the enhanced SLA on the fastest line Virgin Media Business could supply, we could expect to receive a stable connection with lots of spare bandwidth, a reliable modem that would not need us to retire our own trusty firewall based on Pfsense (, UK Support if we had any issues whatsoever and no traffic shaping or bottlenecks at busy periods. In other words, we were pretty much guaranteed to be happy with the product so we signed on the line and eagerly waited for the installation.

The line was installed with a friendly service from the two engineers who came to do the installation, we had the obligatory demo on his laptop plugged straight into the new modem showing a solid 220Mbps down and 20Mbps up and he was on his way. We had a router password and our IP range scribbled on the cardboard box of the modem. Strangely enough though, no manual for the modem, no information regarding our Virgin Media Business username or password that had been pre-configured and no information as to how to configure our firewall to utilise our static IP addresses.

No problem though. Although our previous experience of having two separate lines from Zen was different, where, by the time the engineer turned up we had received a full run down of the configuration options, our IP range, which IPs were usable and our connection credentials, We knew we had paid for the enhanced SLA and could expect great support.

Sadly, this was not the case. On getting through to the support team, albeit based in the UK as promised, the response was clear - "We don't support customer hardware, we will not be providing any information as to how to configure your firewall / router to use your range of IPs". Frustrating, but manageable. With a lot of trial and error and testing which of our IPs we were able to assign to our router, we were eventually up and running.

Now to get the IPsec VPN tunnel up and running.

This proved impossible, the tunnel was established and stable but packets were fragmented and the firewalls on both sides were filling with errors. No traffic could pass through the tunnel. Back to the highly qualified support advisers to see if they could help shed some light on the problem - No such luck. The response was the same as before - "We don't support customer hardware, we will not be providing any information as to how to fix your tunnel as it is clearly an issue with your firewall". The line was 'tested', everything was normal and it was up to us to fix our gear.

The next week was difficult to say the least, even though we were using the same hardware, with no configuration changes, our tunnel was not functional and crucial services that needed to sync over the VPN were not working. We had further issues appearing by now with high latency and connections to remote servers not over the VPN randomly dropping out. Eventually, we decided to check the logs on the Hitron CGNV4 modem that Virgin Media Business had installed. After finding lots of errors in the logs, we reverted back to the Virgin fault line. The news was good, they were aware of a fault with our modem when used with static IP addresses that was the likely cause of our connection issues. The office breathed a sigh of relief, we just needed to wait for Virgin Media Business to fix the bug and we would be up and running. Not so.

When the technician was pushed for an estimated time to fix it, he didn't have one. When asked how long the problem had been known about, he refused to answer. This was a serious issue for us as we couldn't be sure as to whether the timeline matched up with the problem with our VPN or whether we needed to recheck, again, our own hardware. "Has it been present for days?" "Yes.". "Has it been present all week?". "...Yes". Big pause. "Was this problem known about when we ordered our service?!". ".......Yes".

By now, it was becoming clear that Virgin Media Business was not going to be up to the job. Fortunately a quick Google search returned their Terms & Conditions and we could pull the plug on the line within 14 days - a standard cooling off period. The big shock that came was:

Virgin Media Business customers do not receive the same 14 day cooling off period that residential customers receive. In fact, there is no option to cancel as soon as the line is installed.

We fortunately had the direct dial number of the original sales guy who, to his credit, admitted we were not receiving what we had been promised and should be able to cancel. On a phone call that lasted an hour, we were put through to no less than 5 different advisers as each one refused to allow us to leave without paying their cancellation charge. When we eventually got through to someone based 3 miles down the road from us in Virgin's Sheffield office, after being passed backwards and forwards to the Philippines twice, if it hadn't been for the threat of such a large cancellation charge (over £1,000), the situation would have been almost comical. Virgin Media Business finally accepted that they had let us down and agreed to terminate the line at the end of the month with no installation or usage charge. Although our business is crawling along with staff working from home, frequent unnecessary journeys to and from our second site.

We have since been told that Virgin Media Business would definitely offer compensation to a business that has been mis-sold a product that has had such a drastic effect on the company's ability to work, however:

"It is Virgin Media Business' Policy not to pay compensation"

What is most frustrating is Virgin Media Business' refusal to acknowledge this problem, especially to businesses that stipulate how much they are planning to rely on the service. We have been informed that we could fix the latency and fragmentation issues by reverting to a static IP address but this would render our line useless.

In summary:
  • Virgin Media Business continue to sell a service they KNOW is faulty
  • When pushed and depending who you speak to, customer services will tell you that the problem only affects between 1% and 6% of customers with a static IP address, interestingly enough though they admit a replacement modem will not solve the problem because the problem is on all modems - so it seems an impossibility that such a small number of customers are affected.
  • Virgin are not informing new or existing customers of the potential problem with static IP configurations unless you really push them on it.
A quick Google Search can reveal several instances on Virgin Media's own forum that this problem has been present for well over a year!

It's not just business customers who are being supplied with faulty hardware either

Sim UK has released this scathing review of Virgin's preferred router for residential customers on his YouTube Channel:

Fortunately, we have experienced technicians here who have been able to prove to Virgin Media Business that there are problems on their lines. Before this, the wall was put up and we were on our own. We are also a small enough team to be able to relocate people and keep the business running. Others may not find it so easy.

If you are looking for a reliable, fast internet service that is critical to your business,


As a testament to Zen Internet, when we went back to them, cap-in-hand to say we needed a replacement line as quick as possible, the adviser we spoke to first offered to help us trouble shoot the problems we had with Virgin! Virgin Media Business' competitor was more inclined to help us fix their problem than they were. We politely declined the offer as he had just proved why we should never have left them in the first place. The Zen Internet line can't get up and running fast enough.

In the meantime, more and more Virgin customers are being sold expensive Broadband lines with equipment that Virgin know full well is faulty.

Hopefully this will stop a few potential customers of making the same mistake we made.

If you are in need of web or email hosting services, feel free to contact Total SEO Services. We offer a wide variety of hosting services, which all come with decent uptimes and warranties.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Why You Should Switch All Your Web Sites to HTTPS!

As a business owner one of your priorities is to rank highly in local searches.

What you may not realise is that it all comes down to one small letter: 'S'.

If you and a competitor are battling for a keyword adding S to HTTP will get you ahead of the race.

This is because when search engine crawlers find 2 web pages that are otherwise equal they will rank HTTPS higher than they would HTTP.

HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is a more secure domain, and search engines like secure domains.

In addition to higher ranking there are several other reasons why you should switch all your websites to HTTPS instead of HTTP:
  • It helps to secure your website. Many people think that HTTPS should be used on websites that handle sensitive information. This is not true; all websites should have HTTPS because it helps keep them from intruders who may tamper with information and lead to a loss of leads and miscommunication with users. You will also prevent malicious ads and spyware that would affect the information on your website.

  • If you want your website to render faster on mobile devices you need to move it to a HTTPS domain. More and more people are shopping on their mobile phones and you can be sure that if your rival's website loads faster than yours users will go there. In other words, with the move to mobile search you are losing a great deal of leads if you haven't yet migrated your website to HTTPS.

  • Another reason why you should switch to HTTPS is that increasingly, browsers are now showing HTTP websites as not secure. When users see this, especially if they are looking to buy from you, they are less likely to trust you. Online sales are based on trust so if you lose that you can be sure that your bottom line will be negatively affected.

How do you switch from HTTP to HTTPS? It is simple - all you need to do is contact your hosting provider and ask them to provide you with an SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate contains the key that communicates to browsers that your website is secure.

All communications between your site and client browsers will be encrypted which makes it safe from intruders and users will feel safe buying from you.

Moreover, as is described in this article :

In some cases like demonstrated in the above article the service providers of services such as paid for internet access in for example an airport or hotel lobby can changed the  websites they serve up by tinjecting i.e. adverts. It will look to the end user as if these were adverts approved by your company were they never were. HTTPS will stop this from ever been happening to your web presences.

Google's security blog also mention the importance of switching to HTTPS and why.
Read more here: 

Why not get in touch us Total SEO Services?

We are experts at implementing effective SEO strategies and marketing.

You can go to find out more.

We offer webhosting for HTTPS websites or we can upgrade your website to use HTTPS.

We will make sure the switch offers does not affect your current rankings or authority. We can assist you if you own your own webserver with the installation and configuration of your webserver with the newly purchased SSL certificate or provide HTTPS hosting on one of our secure web servers.

Just give us a call on  01142 667 996 get started.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

'SEO Is Always Changing'... or Is It? Getting Back to Basics

One of the reasons why many Yorkshire businesses continue to ignore SEO is because they have been made to believe that since it changes all the time it is a complicated affair that is hard to stay on top of.

The truth is that while search engines issue algorithm changes often, the basics never change. If you pay attention to just a few areas you will find that you are getting ahead of your competition, and eventually you will start to see a change in the bottom line.

So what are these areas?

The first is content. You need to make sure that all content on your website is of high quality.

It should not just optimize for the right keywords - it should also be relevant and informative.

Make sure that you change it often - search engines reward new content by giving you better rankings. If you don't have the time to write good content yourself find a professional to do it.

Do not be tempted by websites that offer cheap content - it is usually written by people in third world countries whose English and grammar aren't very good.

You should also pay attention to backlinks.

Backlinks are vital because they tell search engines that the content on your website is trusted by authority websites.

You may be tempted to buy backlinks - don't!

Search engines know that it takes a long time for a website to develop good backlinks so if they see that you have developed yours too fast they will know that you are using black hat methods and you may be penalized for it.

Take the time to grow your backlinks and remember, for it to happen you have to have content that authority sites are interested in.

Site structure is very important.

Remember crawlers are programs, not people.

They are programmed to work in a certain way and they look at content in a very specific manner. If there is no logic to the way your content is laid out search engines will assume that you have a poor website and you will never rank.

Make sure that your content it laid out logically and that there are no easy links in it. Buy buttons and social media icons should be on every page and should be easy to find.

Why not get in touch with Total SEO Services?

They are experts at implementing effective SEO strategies and marketing.

You can go to find out how they do it.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

How-to choose a hosting provider for web and email services?

Your Yorkshire business badly needs a hosting provider for web and email services but who do you choose when they are so many?

This is a question that many business owners have to grapple with - the fact that there are so many of them makes it very hard to pick one.

There are some that are big and others that operate out of garages. It is up to you to do some research and find out what you should be looking for in such a service.

Here are some tips to get you started:
  • Find out how long the service you are looking at has been operational. The longer the better - it means that they have been doing a good job which has enabled them to keep their doors open. The company that you choose should be operational for at least 5 years.
  • Ask the company to give you references. They should be able to provide you with contact details of at least 3 businesses that they are currently servicing. When you call ask them if they are happy with the web and email service that they are receiving and whether they would hire the same company in the long term.
  • How much downtime do they experience? Downtime is time when servers are offline and if it happens often it means that you are losing business. The company that you hire should have very little downtime if any at all. Also, in the event of server failure how long does it take them to get things back up and running?
  • You should be very careful about security especially if clients leave you their personal information or if they are able to buy directly from your site.
  • Are they able to support mobile platforms? With so many people buying items through their smart phones and tablets it is important that you hire a web hosting company that has the capacity and the ability to work with mobile devices.
  • The best companies provide a comprehensive service - they are able to provide you with hosting services, a domain name, email addresses and even web design and SEO services. This means that you will not have to shop for these services from other providers.
Lastly, make sure that you compare costs before you hire - you want a web and email host who is affordable but who provides a top-notch service.

Total SEO Services comes with all of the above and more.

For more information on our hosting offering please visit

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why you should use a proxy server when optimising content for SEO

SEO’s use Proxy Servers to hide or change their true IP address. There are several reasons you might want to do this:

  • If you access competitor websites a lot for research, their web servers log your IP address and may be able to trace your activities back to you. By routing your requests via a Proxy Server, your true identity is hidden
  • If your agency manages lots of Social Media accounts on behalf of clients, eg Facebook and Twitter, your agency will be making lots of requests for many different accounts but all from the same IP address. Facebook and Twitter may accidentally detect this legitimate activity as if you are spamming, and so block you. Routing each of your clients’ Social Media activity via a different Proxy Server makes it look like normal activity with each account’s activity coming from a different IP address.
  • SEO agencies tend to send lots of queries to Google, Bing and other Search Engines. If you’re all on the same office network, all that activity from the same IP address, especially if you use keyword ranking software, looks like a potential Denial of Service attack to the Search Engines. They might then block your IP address, preventing you from further searching. Sending your queries via different Proxy Servers mitigates that, and can thus also be used to speed up your keyword ranking reports.
  • To surf as if you are in another country. Many websites, especially Search Engines, serve up different content depending on your country. They determine it by detecting your IP address and looking it up in a commercial Geo-IP database (Google being Google of course are believed to use their own proprietary algorithms for working it out). For example, if your SEO Agency was based in the UK but you had a client in the USA, the results you get from are going to be different than your client’s results. This is because Google is very helpfully trying to “personalise” the results. Several SEO packages like Advanced Web Ranking, WebCEO and Rank Tracker can mimic this by tweaking the parameters it sends to Google to “trick” it into thinking you’re in another location. I’ve seen SEO’s report different levels of success with this technique, with AWR getting the best results in my experience. But as Google particularly seeks to “personalise” more and more, they are suspected to increasingly be taking your IP address into account when they personalise the SERPs. And this technique doesn’t work with all search engines or software. Therefore we see a lot of SEO Agencies who have clients overseas use Proxy Servers based in their clients’ countries, to ensure they get the same personalised results as their clients.
Total SEO Services

Monday, 14 August 2017

How can my business protect itself against 'Ransomware'?

Ransomware is becoming a real threat to businesses in the Britain and abroad - not too long ago the NHS and many businesses came under attack and lost substantial sums of money (Wanna Cry, Wanna Crypt).

As a Yorkshire business owner it is important that you take the necessary steps to protect your business and customers from such malicious attacks.

Start by implementing the following steps:

  • Make backups on a regular basis - the reason why many businesses have to pay to get their computers operational after a ransomware attack is because they cannot access their data.
    This is something that you can easily prevent by making regular backups and implementing a  company wide backup strategy, policies, guidelines and rules.
    It is not enough to back up your data every month any more - you should look into doing automatic and scheduled backups every few days, and if you hold very sensitive information at the end of every day.
  • One of the most common mistakes made by businesses is keeping their backups in the same location as the original data. Malicious people and 'black hat hackers' can still gain access through the desktops that you use every day, lock the data down or even worse destroy the backup servers before they lock down your desktop systems. All backed up data should be secured off-site in for example a fire proof safe. Alternatively you could employ the services of specialised companies who will come and collect all data and store it off site for you in specially secured locations fit for this purpose of data storage.
  • Make sure you desktops have up to date virus and malware protection. Also make sure your firewall, web and database servers and email servers have similar protection. Yes, this is a ongoing exercise where the spam and malware rules need adjusting for each and every business use case when for example looking at emails or web services hosted in house.

  • Train your employees to spot suspicious emails. The most common way that businesses get infected by ransomware is through email. While these emails may be hard to spot at times there are ways that you can tell real emails from malicious viruses or malware. If, for example, they don't recognise the sender, or the address itself looks suspicious they should immediately report the incident to the in house IT department and our outsourced IT services provider.
    Ideally your company deployed a policy and training for staff to help understand and fight this problem better. Make sure the policies are reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Make sure you have robust firewalls in place. Choose products that are hard to penetrate - hackers are smart and come up with new ways to attack firewalls all the time. You should be keen on updating all protection software in time. Again, dont count on your ISP to do all this for you, nevertheless try to chose one which offers some form of guarantees or outsource your firewall to a specialist in the field.
  • Have formal protection policies in place. They should be developed with the help of an IT expert or your IT department and should be implemented on all desktops, mobiles, applications and servers which contain or have access to your or your customers' data.
  • Make sure that your employees including agency and temporary staff all understand the value of strong passwords, which are updated on a regular basis. Every password should include letters and numbers at the very least and it should not be something that can easily be guessed.

Total SEO Services can help protect you from ransomware threats as we are a Yorkshire based SEO and web services provider. We strive to stay ahead of all these issues and have invested considerable efforts in achieving these goals and are confident to be able to offer you an outsourced service package which would benefit most businesses in Yorkshire.

You can read more about this on our website which explains all services we offer in detail.

Feel free to give Total SEO Services a call on 01142 667 996 if you need help, advice or a consultation, this might put you on the right track to ensure your company too can surf the web safely and with confidence that your customers' and business data is safe.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

GoDaddy Revokes 9,000 SSL Certificates due to their own 'Software Bug'

Users of GoDaddy SSL certificates may have been in for a shock over the last 24 hours as news breaks that they have been obliged to revoke 9,000 SSL certificates with almost no notice.

UK users were among the most inconvenienced due to the time zone here as many clients were notified at 3:30AM that their certificate was about to be revoked. By 9:00AM the news arrived that the certificate had indeed been revoked and users of secure websites and email services were all being notified that they were attempting to use a potentially unsafe service.

An excerpt from the notification from GoDaddy notification email:

"Due to a software bug, the recently issued certificate for your domain was issued without proper domain validation. In accordance with industry standards as a Certificate Authority, we were required to revoke your certificate as a precautionary measure as of January 10 at 9pm Pacific Time.

Please note that the software bug that created the issue has been remedied. We continue to closely monitor our system."

Essentially, when you buy a certificate from GoDaddy, they have an obligation to verify that you are the owner of the domain that you are trying to secure. It transpires that this crucial step in the order process has been getting completed automatically for some time.

The email goes on to state that "Your website will not go offline and should continue to resolve without issue even though the certificate is revoked. However, visitors to your website might see error messages and/or warnings, which are issued by the browser used by your website visitor".

By now, owners of websites secured with GoDaddy SSL certificates will know that this is likely not the case as most browsers will point blank not allow you to continue to the website.

Total SEO Services uses GoDaddy SSL certificates to secure some of our services and have been hit by this inconvenience. All mail web services affected should now be back up and running, please don't hesitate to contact us should you have any enquiries about the issue or if you need assistance reinstating your own GoDaddy SSL certificate.

And don't forget to ask for compensation for the inconvenience. At the very least you can expect GoDaddy to re-issue the certificate with an extended expiry date!

Total SEO Services