HERTFORDSHIRE: HDA17 Launched With Nimbus And Entry Is Now Open

Entry for the Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2017 is now open.

The third HDAs is set to be the biggest yet, following the sold-out event in September.

Nimbus Hosting returns as Headline Sponsor of the scheme, which was set-up in 2015 to celebrate the online achievements of businesses, charities and schools from across the county.

Also backing the HDAs once again are the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the UK Government’s Department For International Trade, Hertfordshire Mercury and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

The Awards is open to businesses from every industry sector and digital agencies are allowed to enter work for clients, even is the client is based outside of the county.

There are 15 categories to enter including Website, Use of Social Media for Business, Mobile App, Use of Video for Business and Blog.

Nimbus Hosting – which will present the Website award at the Presentation Evening – is a dynamic IT firm which specialises in offering web hosting services to the digital agencies and commerce sites.

It supports clients across the UK from its headquarters in Hertford and one of the company’s missions is to allow digital professionals to focus on core projects rather than dealing with “hosting headaches” and the, often, complex details of IT.

Robin Bailey, Chairman of the independent HDA Judging Panel, said: “We are delighted to welcome Nimbus Hosting, a highly credible and very success Hertfordshire firm and big friend of the Awards back to the HDAs.

“And we are equally excited to open entry for the HDAs once again.

“We received hundreds of high quality entries in 2016 and we cannot wait to share and celebrate the best in what Hertfordshire has to offer on digital platforms.”

The HDA17 Presentation Evening will take place at Knebworth House on September 21, 2017.

To enter the Hertfordshire Digital Awards for free click

For more information about Nimbus Hosting click

HERTFORDSHIRE: Fluid Studios Discuss Winning Gold at HDA16

Following the Hertfordshire Digital Awards on 23 September, we caught up with Baldock-based web designers Fluid Studios – who took home Gold for Use of Social Media for Business, and Bronze for Website:Lifestyle & Culture – to get their take on the evening and find out what winning means to them.

Could you tell us a little about your organisation?
Fluid Studios is a leading website design and development company based in Baldock. Over the last 12 years we have been refining and building our large online portfolio, with a huge variety of clients from sole traders to international corporations. You won’t get a normal website design experience from us, there are so many things that set us apart. We’re a small team of talented individuals with skills in both design and development. We have a massive focus on customer service so you can be sure of always getting a quick and friendly response. We’re bursting with so many ideas we’ve taken to drawing them on our studio walls, honest!

What made you get involved in the HDAs?
Being at the forefront of all things digital and technological is a huge part of our industry, so the Hertfordshire Digital Awards were an excellent opportunity to not only showcase some of our recent designs and development projects, but to also find out more about what the rest of Hertfordshire has to offer.

What does winning gold at the HDAs mean to your organisation?
Winning Gold for ‘use of social media for business’ means a great deal to us, we absolutely love all of our social media platforms, so are over the moon! We have made some great connections through social media and it is a tool that greatly helps to support our business development. Our Marketing Manager, Jessie Lansbury, has worked extremely hard over the last year to build up our social media accounts and help to improve our online presence. Our online brand in particular is something that we have put a lot of time in to, and as a website design company, it is something that is very important to us. We take great care to keep our content well branded and in-line with our brand guidelines. Over the past few years this has helped our posts be instantly recognisable and has greatly helped us build our online presence. Being recognised as being at the forefront of the social media industry in Hertfordshire is just amazing, and something that we are truly proud of.

Where will you be putting your award?
Our gold award will be going in pride of place in our reception area!

What was your most memorable moment from the HDA presentation evening?
There are far too many to choose from! We had an absolutely amazing evening, and it was so lovely to meet and catch up with all of the other finalists. We also loved the quiz – but were pipped to the post by table 5!

What’s the best thing about the Hertfordshire business community?
I think the best thing is the community spirit we have! There are so many instances of Hertfordshire based Businesses working with each other and supporting each other in a whole range of different projects. It’s also amazing to see how many Hertfordshire companies are digital advocates, and taking full advantage of all the digital services that are available to them!

You can find out more about Fluid Studios right here.

HERTFORDSHIRE: HDA16 Presentation Evening Report

THE online achievements of businesses, charities and schools across Hertfordshire have been celebrated at the second Hertfordshire Digital Awards.

Accolades across 15 categories including “Website”, “Blog” and “Use of Social Media for Business” were presented to deserving organisations at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, on September 22.

Compering the event was former BBC broadcaster Robin Bailey who presented Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes to a host of worthy winners.

Special guests included Tim Dunton, from the headline sponsor Nimbus Hosting, Tom Shurville of Associate Sponsor, Distinctly, Carole Luck from Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Ian Webber of Lexus Hatfield and James Selby from the Department for International Trade.

The Hertfordshire Digital Awards was set up in 2015 solely to showcase online work.

Bishops Stortford College saw double after scooping Gold in the flagship “Website” category and in “Website: School, Education or Charity”.

Also walking away with two top-placed accolades were Stevenage-based design agency Tutch Media who won Gold in “Website: B2B” for their work on behalf of Oakmont Construction and in the “Website: Lifestyle & Culture” for Wildgoose.

Red Bullet landed the top Award in the “Website: Tourism & Hospitality” classification for its Visit Hertfordshire website design and Fluid Studios, from Baldock, won Gold in the “Use of Social Media for Business” area.

Online poetry and gift retailer Bespoke Verse, in Berkhamsted, made it a third double-haul by claiming Gold in the “Online Retailer” and “Website: Marketing & Creative” sections.

Leading the way in the “Blog” category was Deep Phat Digital and the plaudits went to Elstree studio Cincera in “Use of Video for Business”.

Watford retailer 1,000 Mile Sportswear by The Creative Clinic landed Gold in “Website: Sports & Entertainment”.

HDA16 was sponsored by Nimbus Hosting and Distinctly

It was also backed by the Mercury, Lexus Hatfield, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, the Department for International Trade and Capricorn Media.

Also victorious were Harpenden and Hitchin’s Lyndhurst Financial Management in “Responsive Website”, and Holiday Tots by Advanced Web Designs, in Hertford, for “Website: Small Business”.

There was also a ‘Spirit of Hertfordshire’ award which was handed to the film and TV centre Elstree Studios, the home of Star Wars and Strictly Come Dancing, who were commended for ‘going above and beyond the call of duty for the betterment and promotion of Hertfordshire’ through their digital work.

You can see a full list of the winners from HDA16 here

HERTFORDSHIRE: 8 SEO Must-Know Trends for 2017

The day of the Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2016 has arrived and to celebrate, we asked our Associate Sponsor, Distinctly, to share the latest wisdom on all things SEO.

You can meet Dave & the team at the HDAs tonight, if you want to find out more.

Here’s what they told us.

8 SEO Must-Know Trends for 2017

Yes, it’s that time! Time to start planning for 2017.

If you’re into digital marketing, what needs to be at the top of your agenda, next year? Below, we have compiled eight hot topics that you’ll hugely benefit from knowing inside and out in time for Christmas.

Mobile

2017 marks another year for mobile! From ensuring your content marketing is mobile first (because the majority of people read while commuting, in bed, or in front of the telly), to updating older websites with new shiny responsive designs… Mobiles are going to continue to be at the forefront of digital marketers list of considerations.

Site Speed & Image Optimisation

Following on from the above, one of the best things website owners can do to improve their mobile experience is improving their websites page load times. The quickest, easiest way of doing this is simply by compressing and optimising images. So get squashing.

Local SEO

Local SEO is growing rapidly in the UK. Recent Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) updates coupled with people’s migration over to mobile has brought local SEO to the forefront. It’s made SEO far more accessible, actionable and cost-effective for many SMEs. It should be near the top of everyone’s marketing plans in time for 2017.

 Schema

One of the core enablers of a local SEO campaign is “Schema Markup”. Traditionally, schema is HTML code which “mark-up” your pages with to help the search engines return more informative results for users. However, it’s proven difficult to implement and hard for developers to prioritise – only a handful of adventurous websites really used it.

Google have now integrated Schema principles into Google Tag Manager making schema mark-up far more actionable. Really, it’s a no brainer.

HTTPS

You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing personal details on a non-secure website and Google knows this. HTTPS is a protocol denoting a secure website, making it much safer for users. Google has threatened to demote “non-secure websites” for ages and it’s now getting close to happening. If your website is not HTTPS certified, get it sorted immediately and make the internet a safer place. It could even improve your search visibility.

Digital PR & “Real” Marketing

Links are always going to be important in SEO-land and the discipline has evolved so much over the years:

“Link Building” > “Social Link Building” > “Outreach” > “Link Earning” > and now “Earned Media”

“Earned Media” is a PR term. Ergo, link building has become PR only in a digital domain.

Digital PR makes so much sense. Why separate and dilute your marketing across several siloed channels when you can be collaborating on campaigns that drives all channels? In this environment, the campaigns cost-in more effectively, and ROI is far greater.

(Oh, and want to know if your brand awareness marketing is working? Get an SEO to look at your brand impressions in Search Console!)

SERP Changes

Google has a knack for changing the layout of its “search engine results pages”, often favouring paid ads. Over the coming months, Google plans to move further in this direction pushing paid ads up, organic results down.

Whist this is something to be concerned about, it’s actually not all that bad. However, it’s important to re-examine the expectations and KPIs for SEO and PPC. The key is to best-leverage “user / keyword intent”.

PPC should lean towards converting search terms as it always has.

SEO will likely lean more towards discovery topics and keywords where there are fewer ads. For example, using keyword research to identify content needs that attract researching customers, leading to conversions though brand affinity. Essentially, relying more on getting customers through the backdoor, instead of the main gate.

User Query Led Content Marketing.

Neatly following on from the previous point: Online content in 2017 is likely to start becoming generally more useful and “User Query Led”. I.e. using search data to inform the content strategy, or in other words, creating content that people are searching for and actually want to read!

Dave Clough is Natural Search & Content Manager at Distinctly, Hertfordshire’s leading search marketing agency, based in Rickmansworth. For more SEO reading, check out the Distinctly Search Marketing blog and if you would like to ask a question or make a business enquiry, contact [email protected].

HERTFORDSHIRE: A Few Minutes With… Nimbus Hosting

At the HDAs it gave us great pleasure to announce recently, that we’d teamed up with Nimbus Hosting, true masters of their field.

But what exactly is”their field”?

We caught up with Matt Cooper, Account & Marketing Manager at our Headline Sponsor, to chat all things website hosting.

He told us why making the right decisions about where you host your website can transform your business.

A Few Minutes With…..Matt Cooper of Nimbus Hosting

Why is website hosting important?

As a digital agency, or even a website owner, exactly where you host the websites you’re developing is a big decision. Although hosting is something that is almost background noise in the creation of a website it can have a huge influence on the speed and security of your sites and therefore your clients.

How can hosting help with site Speed?

Speed can often be considered the most important factor for your websites as it is a factor that directly affects the users. Although hosting is only part of the equation when it comes to speed as the way a website is built will have a far greater effect on the way the site performs, a responsive server will definitely contribute to the speed of the site. In a shared hosting environment, sites can be sharing server resources with hundreds, sometimes thousands of other sites which can limit the level of control you get and when one of these sites becomes greedy it can cause reliability issues.

How is security maintained and monitored?

There are so many factors to consider in terms of security and your clients are relying on you to make sure their website and data is stored in a safe secure environment. It’s important to look at who has access to the server, whether back-ups are included and managed, where the data is physically stored and the level of security that the data centre has.

It’s also essential to know exactly who is responsible for which parts of maintaining security and who the maintenance of security patches and updates of the CMS that the sites run off.

What’s the depth of the support?

When it comes to your customers and the digital campaigns that you’ve created for them, you want to ensure everything is running smoothly infrastructure wise. Many will assume that going with a large hosting company will be safer, as there is a safety that comes with size and although this makes sense, it’s not always necessarily true. One of the challenges that the bigger providers struggle with is that every time you contact them; you’ll likely be dealing with a different person and have to explain everything every time, instead of someone who knows your business and projects already which can be much more effective and time saving, particularly when working on campaigns or to deadlines. Responsiveness is likely to be a huge factor when deciding who will host your client’s sites, make sure you to find out how different hosts compare in this respect by dropping their tech support a line to see how many rings before you get through, and check out their online reviews at multiple places such as Review Centre and Google Reviews.

Do I need to be thorough about the Service Level Agreement?

This is the boring bit but the most important parts to look for within a Service Level Agreement is the uptime guarantee, no hosting provider can absolutely guarantee 100% uptime, it’s just not realistic, but look for a hosting provider that has a near perfect uptime promise. Keep in mind that you can ask for proof of their uptime as all decent hosting providers will have a record of their monitoring.
Another thing to consider is the hardware and technology that the company invests in. In this respect you really do get what you pay for so make sure that whoever you choose to partner with is staying ahead of technological advancements and using the best hardware and redundancy options within their infrastructure. Most hosts will have a service status page, and most decent hosts will also have a history section on this so you can check out previous network/hardware incidents. Be wary of any which have no history despite reviews/their twitter account alerting to some.

How flexible can they be?

The nature of your business is improving your own or your client’s web presence which can often mean making changes, fixing issues and having to upgrade their hosting needs, sometimes at a moment’s notice so you need to have a web host that not only make this possible but liaise with you to make the process as seamless as possible. If you need short term solutions would this be possible or do they only offer annual billing cycles?

Where your sites are hosted is an important decision not just for the agency that is working on the site but for the sites owners. Cheap hosts may save you some money to begin with but they may not be reliable which can severely harm your business in the long term. Make sure you choose a host that you trust and can handle the needs of your business.

At Nimbus we specialise in hosting for digital agencies. By creating managed hosting solutions that allow you to get domains and websites up and running quickly and easily, scale packages to suit your immediate needs and provide accessible support and advice, we pride ourselves on building dependable hosting partnerships for agencies.

For more information about Nimbus Hosting and the services they offer, click here

 

 

 

 

HERTFORDSHIRE: 2 Weeks Left To Enter

There are just two weeks left to enter the Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2016.

Entries have flooded in for the 15 open categories, which include “Mobile App”, “Blog”, “Use of Video for Business” and “Website” since entry opened in March.

The last day entries for HDA16 can be received is JULY 22, at 5pm.

The scheme is open to businesses, from any industry, schools and charities from within the county border.

Designers based in Hertfordshire can submit work on behalf of a client outside of the county.

Entry is free and simple to complete.

Enter here.

The Headline Sponsor of HDA16 is Nimbus Hosting and Associate Sponsor is Distinctly

Media Partner for the scheme is Hertfordshire Mercury and the Key Supporters are Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Hertfordshire LEP.

The Presentation Evening will take place on September 22 at he University of Hertfordshire, in Hatfield.

 

HERTFORDSHIRE: Distinctly Joins HDA16 As Associate Sponsor

Hertfordshire’s leading SEO and PPC agency, Distinctly, has joined forces with the Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2016.

Distinctly, based in Rickmansworth, has signed up as “Associate Sponsor” for HDA16 and will present the “Online Retailer” Award in September.

Distinctly was founded in 2009 by Managing Director, Tom Shurville. He believes linking up with the HDAs is an “exciting collaboration” for Distinctly, which boasts an impressive portfolio of clients including electronics manufacturer JVC Kenwood and international furniture retailer, BoConcept.

He said: “We are delighted to be involved with the HDAs, a scheme that celebrates and promotes the digital economy in Hertfordshire.

“For the past seven years we have been working extremely hard to help our clients improve their online visibility and at Distinctly, we pride ourselves on providing innovative and creative solutions that deliver tangible business benefits.

“I think that one of the principal reasons businesses continue to choose Distinctly is because we recognise that every client and every campaign is different. Thoroughly understanding all our clients’ business objectives ensures we set them up for success.”

Distinctly – which also counts the University of Hertfordshire and manufacturer, InSinkErator among its clients – will now take a prominent position at the Awards and a place inside the HDAs logo.

Robin Bailey, Chairman of the HDAs Judging Panel, said: “We are thrilled to welcome a company of Distinctly’s calibre on board.

“Distinctly has proven over several years that they are a most effective, professional and progressive digital marketing agency and I’d recommend them to entrants of HDA16.”

Entry for HDA16 closes on July 22 and the Presentation Evening will take place at the University of Hertfordshire on September 22.

For more information about Distinctly visit https://distinctly.co or call 01923 728191.

HERTFORDSHIRE: Herts Chamber Joins Forces With HDA16

AN organisation at the centre of the Hertfordshire business community for 92 years, has given its support to the HDAs.

Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, which has a membership of more than 1,000 businesses from across the county, has signed up as “Key Supporter” for the scheme, which is also backed by the Hertfordshire Mercury and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Chamber – which lobbies all levels of government for the betterment of the county’s prospects – is based in Hatfield, the town chosen to host this year’s Presentation Evening in September.

Chief Executive Officer at Hertfordshire Chambers of Commerce, Yolanda Rugg, revealed she is “tremendously excited” about getting behind the HDAs.

“The development of Hertfordshire’s digital economy over the past few years has been one our county’s greatest recent achievements and I am delighted that businesses, charities and schools now have an opportunity to be recognised for their online work in this way.

“I am extremely proud of how businesses across Hertfordshire continue to embrace technology and find fresh and innovative ways to reach their customers.”

Robin Bailey, host and Chairman of the Judging Panel at the HDAs described the alliance with Hertfordshire Chambers as a “landmark deal”.

He added: “Endorsement from the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce is a extremely positive development for the HDAs.

“These awards have very quickly become much sought-after accolades which give businesses, charities and schools a genuine opportunity to get some serious recognition for their achievements.”

The HDAs have 16 categories including “Website”, “Mobile App”, “Responsive Website” and “Use of Social Media for Business”.

Entry to the HDAs – which is free and takes less than two minutes to complete – closes on July 22, 2016.

For more information about the membership benefits of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce visit www.hertschamber.com

HERTFORDSHIRE: Nimbus Hosting Headlines HDA16

A dynamic IT firm which specialises in offering web hosting services to the digital agencies and ecommerce sites has joined the Hertfordshire Digital Awards.

Nimbus Hosting – which supports clients across the UK from its headquarters in Hertford – has signed up as Headline Sponsor of HDA16.

One of the company’s missions is to allow digital professionals to focus on core projects rather than dealing with “hosting headaches” and the, often, complex details of IT.

Hosting services form the backbone of the internet as we know it, from simple HTML files to databases, all that data needs somewhere safe to call home. While the cost is important, reliability is invariably the key factor for web designers and developers when choosing a host. Nimbus ticks both boxes.

The company prides itself on offering a “personal and competitive service” in cloud hosting, dedicated servers and third party applications such as Magento, WordPress and XenForo.

And to celebrate teaming up with the HDAs, Nimbus is offering a special promotion just for entrants of the scheme, which is the first and only awards dedicated to celebrating the online achievements of businesses, charities and schools from across the county.

Matt Cooper, Account & Marketing Manager at Nimbus Hosting revealed that his team is “delighted” to be involved with HDA16 and offer two exclusive deals as a result.

“It is superb to be Headline Sponsor of the HDAs, a scheme that celebrates the rich variety of talented organisations that we have in this great county.

“To celebrate this we are offering all entrants of HDA16 a free migration to cloud hosting, meaning we’ll move all your sites over for you and there’s no upper limit on the number of sites we migrate for you.

“In addition, we’ll also offer you the first month free on any VPS (Virtual Private Server) or cloud based hosting packages and this is all covered by our six month guarantee.

“This is just our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all of the Hertfordshire companies who have invested in the digital economy and we look forward to meeting many of you throughout this process.”

As Headline Sponsor, Nimbus Hosting will enjoy a range of benefits including coverage in the Hertfordshire Mercury and the opportunity to present the flagship “Website” award at the HDA16 Presentation Evening in September.

Mr Cooper added: “Nimbus Hosting is a dynamic UK based company which specialises in working with the creative industries.

“We offer a personal and competitive service for all our clients and we pride ourselves on being recognised for our high levels of customer satisfaction and service.

“Nimbus specialises in cloud hosting and dedicated servers, and our range of hosting packages suit businesses of all sizes. We’ve been supporting a range of digital agencies large and small for several years.

“We love working with developers and digital agencies, who want to get on with their projects rather than dealing with hosting headaches.”

Robin Bailey, Chairman of the HDA Judging Panel, said: “It is great to have Nimbus Hosting, a highly credible and very success Hertfordshire firm involved with the HDAs.

“If you have entered HDA16 I would strongly recommend getting in touch with Nimbus Hosting and taking advantage of these great offers, you’ll be amazed by the quality of their services.”

For more information about Nimbus Hosting Click

To get in touch with Nimbus Hosting about the HDA16 promotion email: [email protected]

HERTFORDSHIRE: HDA2015 – Winners Announced!

THE best of the county’s digital talent assembled for the first Hertfordshire Digital Awards Presentation Evening last night.

Prizes across a range of categories were presented to businesses, schools and charities from across the county for their online achievements.

It is the first time an awards scheme within Hertfordshire has been dedicated to digital work.
Hosting the event was former BBC journalist Robin Bailey who presented Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes with the help of special guests including Toby Feldman from main sponsor iThinkMedia, Hertfordshire Mercury Senior Editor, Julie Palmer, Lucy Gravatt of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Sheldon Skeggs from Associate Sponsor Suit Recruit.

HDA2015 was also supported by Capricorn Media, Clare Reeves Voiceovers, Noise PR and designsixtyfour.com

HERTFORDSHIRE DIIGTAL AWARDS 2015 – THE WINNERS

Blog

GOLD
Labrums Solicitors

SILVER
Deep Phat

BRONZE
Holiday Tots

Website: Marketing & Creative

GOLD
Flow Ink Digital

SILVER
Shaun Power Design

BRONZE
Mahon Digital Marketing

Mobile App

GOLD
ostom-i by 11Health

SILVER
Hertfordshire Police

BRONZE
Insomnia Music Management

Online Business

GOLD
Mumbase

SILVER
Birtchnells

BRONZE
Printing3

Online Marketing Campaign

GOLD
SEC Group by Cariad Marketing

SILVER
The Caviar Club by Mahon Digital Marketing

BRONZE
Kristall Spaces by Flow Ink Digital

Responsive Website

GOLD
Labrums Solicitors

SILVER
GMB Trade Union by Netrix

BRONZE
EasyCruit by CampaignWorks

Website: School, Education or Charity

GOLD
London Hairdressing Apprenticeship Academy by Absolute Creative

SILVER
Southbank International School by Innermedia

BRONZE
The Rooprai Spinal Trust

Small Business Website

GOLD
The Lonely Pixel

SILVER
Maison Paul Bistro by Professional Impact Design

BRONZE
Hawk & Chadwick

Website: Sports & Entertainment

GOLD
SFO Sports Centre

SILVER
HitchinTV

BRONZE
Soundview Studios by Joph Broadcast Graphics

Website: Tourism & Hospitality

GOLD
Maison Paul Bistro by Professional Impact Design

SILVER
The Victoria Hitchin

BRONZE
Very English

Use Of Social Media For Business

GOLD
HitchinTV

SILVER
Cariad Marketing

BRONZE
Top Talent Agency

Use Of Video For Business

GOLD
asset.tv

SILVER
Tommy & Lottie

BRONZE
Ginicam

Spirit of Hertfordshire

Slam Dunk Festival

Website

GOLD
EasyCruit by CampaignWorks

SILVER
The Charity Clothing Company

BRONZE
Holiday Tots