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

CHAMPIONS: DAC17 Winners Announced

The public has spoken and the first ever Digital Awards Champions were announced at a reception in London this week.

Winner across 15 categories were unveiled at the BFI Southbank, on February 9.

The Digital Awards Champions – sponsored by FSE Online, Nero Blanco and Nimbus Hosting – was a public-voted contest between all Gold winners from the Digital Awards schemes across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Milton Keynes and Surrey in 2016.

Almost 20,000 people casted votes over six weeks.

Keynote speaker at the event was Jordan J Lloyd, from Dynamichrome and co-author of The Paper Time Machine, who explored the phenominum of historic photographic restoration techniques using digital technology

Host of the event, Robin Bailey, said: “The Digital Awards Champions has showcased so many fantastic examples of the superb digital talent across the region.

“So many great success stories brought together and and many brilliant winners chosen by the people, what an outstanding accolade!”

Digital Awards Champions 2017 – The Winners

Website: School Education or Charity
Demelza Hospice Care for Children (Kent)

Website: Small Business
Bombinate Web Design (Milton Keynes)

Blog: Entertainment
Milton Keynes Kids (Milton Keynes)

Blog: Business
Deep Phat Digital (Hertfordshire)

Website: Sports & Entertainment
1,000 Mile Sportswear by The Creative Clinic (Hertfordshire)

Website: Lifestyle & Culture
Dhaniya Authentic Indian Cooking by Aubergine (Milton Keynes)

Mobile App
Pocket Sergeant (Cambridgeshire)

Responsive Website
Countryside (Essex)

Website: Tourism & Hospitality
Visit Essex (Essex)

Website: Marketing & Creative
TEDx Royal Tunbridge Wells by ifour (Kent)

Website: B2B
Lumina Energy by ifour (Kent)

Use of Social Media for Business
Fluid Studios (Hertfordshire)

Online Retailer
Barker Shoes by Visual Identity Creative (Milton Keynes)

Use of Video for Business
Milton Keynes Museum by Wise Guys (Milton Keynes)

Countryside (Essex)

CHAMPIONS: Details of Digital Awards Champions Announced

The inaugural Digital Awards Champions is to take place in February next year and details of the event have now been announced.

Every Gold Award winner from Digital Awards 2016 schemes in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Milton Keynes and Surrey will automatically qualify for the Digital Awards Champions, an exclusive event where the ultimate winners across all regions will be unveiled.

And for the first time in Digital Awards history the overall winners in all 15 categories will be decided by public vote ahead of the Presentation Reception which will be held on February 9 at BFI Southbank in London.

Public voting will open on December 1, one week after the results of the Cambridgeshire Digital Awards 2016 have been announced.

Finalists of Digital Awards Champions will be sent a voting pack enabling them to encourage their supporters to cast a vote in their favour.

All tickets for the Presentation Reception will be priced at £20.17 + VAT, a special price for the first year only to celebrate the year of the launch of Digital Awards Champions.

Sponsoring the Digital Awards Champions is leading SEO firm FSE Online.




Tickets for the event – which includes a reception drink, guest speakers and the ceremony in a prestigious London venue – will be strictly limited to two per finalist* until further notice.

Tickets are only available to Gold Award winners from the Cambridgeshire Digital Awards 2016, Essex Digital Awards 2016, Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2016, Kent Digital Awards, Milton Keynes Digital Awards 2016 and Surrey Digital Awards and can be purchased here.

An appropriate number of tickets have been reserved for all Gold Award winners at the Cambridgeshire Digital Awards which will be announced on November 24.

Robin Bailey, from the Digital Awards team, said: “We are extremely excited to announce the first ever Digital Awards Champions, an event which celebrates the brilliant work of businesses, charities, schools and other community organisations across our areas.

“For Gold Award winners it is all to play for so be sure to encourage your supporters to vote for you from December 1, this is going to be extremely competitive and will be a thrilling conclusion to a brilliant year at the Digital Awards where many outstanding organisations have been recognised for some great digital work.”

*A company that qualifies as a finalist in more than one category will be also be limited to two tickets until further notice.

The full list of finalists can be viewed here.

HERTFORDSHIRE: Bishop’s Stortford College Double Up On Gold Awards

Following the Hertfordshire Digital Awards on 23 September, we spoke to Sarah Gowans, Marketing Manager at Bishop’s Stortford College – who won two Gold awards, for Website and Website: School, Education or Charity.

Could you tell us a little about your organisation?
We are an independent day and boarding school for 4 – 18 years olds. We are consistently in the top 100 independent schools based on A Level results but the breadth of experience that is woven into daily life means that pupils can and do pursue high academic standards whilst enjoying and succeeding in many other interests.

What made you get involved in the HDAs?
We saw an ad and filled in the entry form. Our website was new and only launched in October last year and we’re very proud of it – it’s our shop window to the world.

What does winning gold at the HDAs mean to your organisation?
It’s a tremendous accolade and a reflection that not all the good work goes on in the classroom!

Where will you be putting your award?
One will be put into our main reception and the other into the Prep School Reception area.

What was your most memorable moment from the HDA presentation evening?
Not falling up the stairs onto the stage was certainly an achievement and one I’m very relieved about too!

What’s the best thing about the Hertfordshire business community?
We try to use local suppliers and support our local business community wherever we can so to have a wealth of digital talent on our doorstep is not only valuable but stimulating too.

You can visit the Bishop’s Stortford College website here.

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.


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.


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.


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: Going For Gold In 1 Month

Excitement is building ahead of the Hertfordshire Digital Awards, which takes place in one month today.

Following the stunning performance by Team GB in Rio, businesses, charities and schools from across Hertfordshire will be going for Gold themselves at HDA16 following a record number of entries.

Competition is fierce across the 13 categories including the “Website” which will presented by Headline Sponsor Nimbus Hosting on the night.

Associate Sponsor Distinctly will be on hand to present to the winners of the “Online Retailer” category at the Presentation Evening which is at the University of Hertfordshire on September 22.

Gold, silver and bronze awards will be won in each category and Hertfordshire Mercury will not miss a second of the event.

Also backing the Awards are Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Supporters of the scheme include the Department for International Trade and Capricorn Media.

Tickets are available now for a limited period, with a special discount offer on tables of 10. Visit the Hertfordshire Digital Awards page to apply.




UK Government Department Backs The Digital Awards

A new Government Department which was announced last month to promote UK business overseas has given its name to The Digital Awards.

The Department for International Trade – led by The Rt Hon Liam Fox, MP – has signed up as a Supporter of the Digital Awards schemes in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Previously known as UK Trade & Investment, DIT is responsible for promoting British trade across the world and “ensures the UK takes advantage of the huge opportunities open to it”.

Specifically, DIT is responsible for developing, coordinating and delivering a new trade and investment policy to promote UK business across the globe.

It also develops and negotiates free trade agreements and market access deals with non-EU countries and negotiates plurilateral trade deals (focused on specific sectors or products) and provides operational support for exports and facilitating inward and outward investment.

Robin Bailey, Chair of the Judging Panel at the Digital Awards said: “We are thrilled have the backing of the DIT and it is yet another ‘feather in the cap’ for the Digital Awards which has very quickly grown into one of the most progressive and exciting business and community awards schemes in the UK”.

For more information about DIT click here.

HERTFORDSHIRE: HDA16 Finalists Announced

The finalists of the Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2016 have been announced and the Presentation Evening tickets are now available.

The remaining contenders in each of the categories are now in with a chance of clinching Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes at the winners’ ceremony on September 22 at the University of Hertfordshire, in Hatfield.

Tickets are on sale now and are expected to shift quickly following last year, which was deemed a “big success”.

HDA organisers claim this year’s event will be even “bigger and better”, with networking and entertainment lined up alongside the awards presentation.

Robin Bailey, chair of the HDA16 Judging Panel and host of the event said: “HDA16 will be a landmark event in the county’s awards scene and we’re looking forward to meeting the many forward-thinking organisations at the Presentation Evening.”

The Hertfordshire Digital Awards 2016 Presentation Evening will include an arrival drink, two-course meal and a complimentary third of a bottle of wine person.

The event will be hosted by the former BBC presenter Robin Bailey.

Tickets are priced at £59.95 + VAT with a special 10% discount on tables for ten. To purchase tickets click here.

The HDAs are being supported by Nimbus Hosting (Headline Sponsor), Distinctly (Associate Sponsor), Hertfordshire Mercury (Media Partner), Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Key Supporter), Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce (Key Supporter), Department for International Trade (Supporter) and Capricorn Media (Supporter).

The HDAs are the first and only scheme within the county to celebrate the online achievements of businesses, schools and charities.

HDA16 – The Finalists


Deep Phat Digital
Laydey Katabella
Mercer & Hole
Muddy Stilettos Hertfordshire
Mummy’s Happiness
Murder Of Goths
Vivacious Mum


1000 Mile Sportswear by The Creative Clinic
Bespoke Verse
FB Chain
Tempdent by Netrix
Very English


Lyndhurst Financial Management
Premiere Velocity
Proceed by Shaun Power Design
Royal Connaught Park by Fresh Lemon
VisitBritain by Zoocha
Wildgoose by Tutch Media
WMT Chartered Accountants by Creative Digital Agency


Fluid Studios
Heritage Brides
Lawsons by Innermedia
The Giving Machine by Cariad Marketing
The Horse Diva
The Wenta Group


Akademia by Asset TV
DDS Media
EE ‘Wifi Calling’ by Smoking Rocket
GP Cars by Angela Makepeace Motion Graphics Studio
Link Digital
Wenta Business Centres


Bishop’s Stortford College
Community Health Partnerships by Fresh Lemon
Morgan Davies Bridal by Shaun Power Design
Visit Hertfordshire by Red Bullet
White Hart Developments by Fresh Lemon


Asset TV
Chandler Garvey by Hoot Digital
Independent Buying Consortium by Professional IMPACT Design
Network Auctions by Aubergine
Oakmont Construction by Tutch Media
Proceed by Shaun Power Design
WMT Chartered Accountants by Creative Digital Agency


Daro by Outstanding Digital
Gorilla Warfare by Fluid Studios
High Living Barnet
Matrix Kitchens by Fluid Studios
Nicholas Anthony by Tutch Media
Skin to Love Clinic by Cariad Marketing
Wildgoose by Tutch Media


155 Creative
Bespoke Verse
City Creative by Link Digital
Gentle Giant Design
Joanna Scott Illustration
Mode Print Solutions by Innermedia
The Digital Marketing Consultancy


Bishop’s Stortford College
Hertsmere Jewish Primary School by The Creative Clinic
Isabel Hospice
Muscle Help Foundation
The Giving Machine
The Onslow Trust
Waltham Forest Churches Night Shelter by Hoot Digital


Consilia Wealth Management by The Creative Clinic
Holiday Tots by Advanced Web Designs
Michael McGrath Management Services
RAG Conference 2016
The Foraging Fox by Rubber Cheese
Very English


1000 Mile Sportswear by The Creative Clinic
Cassiobury Tennis Club by The Lonely Pixel
FTA Sport by Link Digital
OnPoint Training by Advanced Web Designs
Renegade Gym by Absolute Creative
SFO Sports Centre
Train Like A Pro By Smoking Rocket


Coltsfoot by Absolute Creative
Freedom Australia by Link Digital
Holiday Tots by Advanced Web Designs
RAG Conference 2016
Visit Hertfordshire by Red Bullet
VisitBritain by Zoocha