Google Reduces Search Term Visibility in Ads

Losing some of the search term functionality will change the way we run campaigns...

On 1st September 2020, Google announced that the search terms report within Google Ads will now be showing only the search terms that reach a certain volume threshold. This reduced visibility for Google ad campaigns has caused a lot of concern among advertisers as well as agencies, who rely on the search term report’s insights to optimise their Google Ads performance.

Just for information, A Google Ads search term report will show you exactly what someone has typed into their PC or mobile device when they have clicked on your ad. It also allows you to see exactly which search terms triggered your ads to appear. And companies such as Sokada Ltd will rely on all these searches to ensure that there are no wasted clicks for our clients. Using this search term report will give us the opportunity to drill down to exact terminology and add in many negative keywords, to ensure these searches are not clicked upon again. Especially if the campaign uses broad match modifier or more open search.

Statement from Google

“Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer terms in your report.”

The Impact of Losing this Important Keyword Information

One may think that low-volume, keywords aren’t important—after all, they’re irrelevant. But every single click is possible ad spend wasted. Several low-volume terms can really add up.

The resulting reduced visibility into search queries has many advertisers worried, as this report is so important for Google Ads optimisation.

  • It inhibits small campaign and ad group changes that could possibly create overspending.
  • It makes keyword mining more tricky and renders broad match unusable.
  • It can lead to lower bidding and reduced conversion rates.

Reduced Transparency by Google

This now means that advertisers will need to start using more exact match variations in order to ensure they are only showing for exactly the right search queries. Or reporting will become useless and we will be stabbing in the dark when using certain match types. Unless the advertiser is happy to spend their money in the hope that their ads will be automatically shown to the right people!

You Still Need to Work Hard on Your Campaigns

  • You now need to keep a closer eye on your campaigns.
  • Change your keyword to exact match if you feel more comfortable – although this will lose you some of the smaller search terms and long tail keywords.
  • Start to use Dynamic Search Ads a bit more as they will be used, based on the content within your landing pages. Dynamic Search Ads not only helps you cover your bases, but their search query reports can also help reveal where your traditional search campaigns have gaps in their keyword coverage.
  • Although the data is not now available, Google will still be using it. So if we want to optimise for that data, we will need to think about letting Google optimise for this traffic. Using smart bidding strategies, such as enhanced CPC or target CPA.
  • Or you could always try and broaden your skillset by trying some different ways of advertising your product or service. For example would your business benefit from Facebook marketing? Make sure your SEO is at the top of it’s game (also great for Google Ads). Perhaps a spot of email marketing would be good. There are other ways to get your business out there and seen by potential buyers….

As the country is tentatively opening up after Lockdown; restaurants and other such businesses now have the added duty to their customers. In-line with the governments track and trace system, it is now expected that businesses such as bars, restaurants, and coffee shops should keep track of their customers who visit with a COVID track & trace system. This means if a COVID case is identified, it’s easy to identify who may have come into contact with the positive case.

COVID-19 Track & Trace System Form

When Boris Johnson announced that businesses in the hospitality sector were allowed to open, he also asked these businesses to help the governments keep a record and help to trace infected individuals.

As a result, businesses have had to deal with the potential headache of keeping track of which customers have visited. There is also the added worry of adhering to GDPR regulations with this process.

Is it Mandatory to Have a Track & Trace?

Whilst it’s not absolutely necessary to keep a record for track and trace, we believe it’s a good thing to do. It is always important to show your customers that you care about their wellbeing.

After visiting a few local restaurants and businesses, it has become clear that some take this more seriously than others. When you walk into a restaurant and see a clipboard full of all the names and numbers of people open to the public; it really doesn’t feel very reassuring – and it looks like a GDPR nightmare.

But you can be relatively clever with the way you carry out this track and trace process. Instead of just having a GDPR nightmare sitting by the door; you can easily make this system automated.

Some of the best examples of these data collection forms is at Mcdonalds. When you visit one of their restaurants, they have a QR code available on all of the walls, which when scanned by a smartphone takes you straight to the COVID Track & Trace System.

All you have to do is enter in a few of your personal details, and you’re done. They also make it clear that they don’t store your personal data for longer than necessary, therefore being completely compliant with GDPR.

Of course, Mcdonalds should have a refined and easy to use system, as they are a multinational fast-food chain. But you’d be wrong to think that you couldn’t do that for your small cafe or local business.

Sokada Can Help you Create a Functional COVID Track & Trace System

Whilst being at work over the last few weeks, we’ve been working for a few local companies to help set up their own track and trace system. We have been able to recreate a version of track and trace that works similarly to Mcdonalds.

We now offer a track and trace system that has a QR code that customers can easily scan on their smartphone. This code takes them to a website where customers can easily fill out a form and register. The process is quick and easy, and any data stored is kept on a secure server on the website, and deletes after 21 days. This means you will never have to worry about GDPR and keeping track of everything.

In the unfortunate event of a case of Covid in your business; you can easily export all of the customers who visited on a particular day. This makes it incredibly easy to hand the data over to the relevant authorities.

Need a Track & Trace System for your Business?

We can set up this kind of system for your business, and help you to comply with the NHS track & trace guidelines. We will work with you to create exactly what you need. So if you’re interested in creating a great track and trace system; just drop us an email, phone or use our contact form, and we can work from there!

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are giants in their industry. Both, however, offer something different to each other. Here we are going to discuss the benefits of each one and see if one is a better fit for your business.

These two marketing mediums are exceptional tools to reach your desired market. Both are pretty instant exposure and there is definitely a position in the marketing world for each one. These two ad platforms have a lot of common ground, but there a few significant differences that will determine which will possibly be the most beneficial for you business.

If you have not used either paid option for advertising before, then both can seem pretty intimidating. They claim to be easy to set up…and to be fair Google Ads is pretty straightforward. But there are so many variables that will bring your quality score up, keep your costs down and get you seen well, that actually Google Ads can seem a bit of a challenge. With Facebook Ads, the actual adsets and ads are actually pretty easy to do. But you need a Facebook Business Manager page set up first which can also prove a challenge!

The Main Differences

Both are pay per click advertising – you pay when people click on the ad. When you create an ad on either platform, you enter an auction where you place a bid for how much you want to pay for this required ad space. Then you’ll be charged a certain amount of money every time someone clicks one of your ads. Facebook ads can be using a single image, a short video or a carousel of images. Google Ads is just text with no imagery, unless you are thinking of Google Shopping.

With Google Ads, you will see paid Ads either at the very top of Google, normally 3 or 4 adverts, with some at the the bottom of the page as well. You can also advertise on YouTube, the Display Network (paid adverts on other platforms), Google Maps, Google Play and Google Shopping.

Facebook Ads will appear on your customer’s Facebook Wall, through Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Marketplace & on the right hand side of a Facebook page.

Facebook marketing reaches audiences based on location, interests, behaviour and demographics. With Facebook Ads, you are paying to get in front of new customers on social networks, instead of reaching them organically. Pay per click (Google Ads) target customers based on keywords as well as locations and you will see them when you are searching on Google.

The average click cost per action on Facebook is around £13. For Google Ads, it is £37.

Choose Facebook Ads for building awareness, growing your audience and advertising products. Choose Google Ads for immediate possible sales & leads, as well as products or services with a possibly higher buying intent.

Budgets, Cost & ROI

The average cost per click on Google Ads is around £2 but this varies by a massive amount depending on the industry. Solicitors can pay up to and around £10 per click, as can double glazing companies! Whereas with some consumer advertising it will be well under £1 per click. Insurance companies will certainly pay the most! Facebook Ads are normally much less and some B2C advertising can be less than 10p per click. Which can make it a very cost effective way of advertising your products.

Although average CPC is typically more expensive on Google Ads, bear in mind that the people clicking your ads may possibly be later in the buying cycle. Facebook is great for building awareness, although Google Ads can sometimes be better at reaching users at the time of their purchase decision.

Just like Cost Per Click, Cost Per Actions will vary by campaign. It’s largely dependent on how well-targeted your ads are and if you are able to convert at a high rate.  Don’t let what may seem to be a high average CPA scare you off from PPC.

Know Your Market

Some products or services will work extremely well on both platforms. But some will only be beneficial on one or the other. We have recently had great success for a local catering company who were delivering afternoon teas to their local area. This has been exceptional and brought in many new customers through Facebook marketing…and it still is. However we would not have proposed a Google Ad campaign. This is an excellent form of advertising for a possibly one-off service that would make someone smile. And for a Business to Consumer advert. On Google Ads, the cost would have been too high, you would not have had any imagery and it would not have been so successful.

However, if you are promoting a product or service that is not something social, or not something that people would share socially, then Google Ads will possibly be your better option.

Targeting Your Market

Both Google and Facebook Ads give you options for targeting (and retargeting) specific audiences. On both platforms, you can target by age, gender and location, among other things.

However, Facebook is by far the biggest winner for advanced targeting options.

Facebook allows you to create audiences based on a large list of interests and behaviors, thanks to the wealth of information they collect from their 2.6 billion monthly active users.

Want to target someone who is married? ✅ Want to target parents? ✅ Want to target parents with children ages 5-7? ✅ Want to target vegetarian parents with children ages 5-7 ✅ – you can be very specific!

Annoyingly for the UK, you can’t currently target income levels and we aren’t sure when this is going to be an option.

Which Platform Should You Choose?

So….Google Ads Vs Facebook Ads…which should you choose?

Firstly, consider your campaign goals. Are you focussing on making sales as quickly as possible? If so, Google Ads could be the better choice. If you’re looking to expand brand recognition or reach a wider audience, on the other hand, Facebook Ads may be the better choice.

Next, take your industry into consideration. Both B2B and B2C businesses use Google Ads successfully. Facebook Ads often work better for B2C businesses, especially those selling less expensive items. People are more likely to impulsively buy these products after being exposed to them a few times. However, even for B2B there are going to be opportunities on Facebook Ads—especially for remarketing and lookalike audiences.

Your audience also affects which platform you should choose. Do people search for your business or service with an intent to buy? If so, Google will probably bring the best results. But if your client is trying to build their audience for a new product, Facebook will typically work better.

Consider which stage of the buyer’s journey you’re trying to target with PPC ads—AdWords is great for bottom-of-the-funnel prospects, while Facebook is usually best for attracting new top-of-the-funnel prospects.

Finally, consider your advertising budget and your level of technical skill. Do you have the money to invest in Google Ads, even if you’re in a competitive industry? Money can be very quickly wasted if you have not set up the campaign correctly. Do you have the ability to create strong image or video-based ads for Facebook? Discussing questions like this can help you sketch out a strategy that’s realistic and actionable.

Tracking Your Results

Tracking what you have done is critical. Always make sure that you have conversions set up, especially with e-commerce, along with Google Analytics. Google Tag Manager is great for adding e-commerce information as well as recording email conversions. You won’t know whether you are wasting your money if not!

Want to Speak To Us?

If you would like to dip your toe in the water and, having read this, have decided which way you would like to spend your money then why not have a chat with our marketing team at Sokada. We can set you up with either an effective Google Ads account, or perhaps you may be thinking Facebook Ads is the way forward… to do nothing however, will always limit your sales. Give us a call on 01435 817226 and have a chat with us. Or even have a go at it yourself – it can be time consuming but so satisfying when you make that first sale… Best of luck!

As the new normal of living alongside Coronavirus has set in; businesses across the country are opening up and adapting to new ways of working safely.

If you have a small shop, restaurant or cafe in England; you’ll more than likely have had to overcome certain hurdles such as limiting people on your premises, providing space for social distancing, and limiting contact between staff and customers.

Whilst you may have got round all of these challenges, there might be a few more things you can do to help limit the spread of Coronavirus in your community. We’ve found that the use of QR codes in local business have been a really useful way of providing information and reducing unnecessary contact with customers.

What are QR Codes?

QR codes work in a similar way to barcodes on products. They are square, machine-readable codes that can be picked up by a smartphone. Once read by the smartphone, the QR code can instantly lead to a specific page on a website, a brochure, an image or an app.

QR codes were originally designed in Japan, where they have always been much more prevalent. But now that it is key to reduce person to person contact; QR codes are popping up in all types of businesses in the UK.

A few years ago, you needed to install a special reader app in order to get your phone to read QR codes. But now you just need to point your phone at the QR code when the camera is open and it’ll read it automatically.

Using QR Codes in Your Shop or Local Business

How to Use QR Codes

Over the last few months we’ve seen many different uses for QR codes. It’s definitely clear they’re becoming a great tool at providing information safely during this pandemic. The best thing is they’re free, customisable, and easy to make.

QR codes can be generated online, and can be colour and brand customisable. This means that whatever business you run, you can create perfect, on-brand QR codes that customers can use.

We’ve found some really great uses for QR codes over the last few weeks. Such as at restaurants to find menus, hotels to see welcome letters and coronavirus information. Also in a local pub, where they’d used a QR code for people to sign up to their track and trace. Beauty therapists can use them for their treatment list as well as making offers. And of course certain large supermarkets use a QR code for customers to pay with their scanning systems within the shops.

All of this helps to limit the amount of contact your staff needs to make with customers. It’s therefore a great way of adjusting to the new normal of shopping and eating out.

We’ve even helped some of our marketing clients with QR codes in their local shops and businesses. We can help them get set up so that they link to a specific page on their website if needed. So contact us if you need advice!

Well we are all starting to realise, very quickly how this is going to affect us. At our offices, we felt safe in the presumption that we could all work very comfortably from home. All systems we currently use can be successfully actioned remotely. Which is perfect for our online work. Nothing should change for us right? WRONG!

What we have come to understand very quickly that, working with so many other external companies means that their businesses have been dreadfully affected, which then has an impact on ours. We are still here though, all working. We are available so you can get in touch to make changes to your website, write a post explaining what is happening for your business, as well as modifying the way you are working. To adapt to the changing market conditions.

There are many ways to still communicate. As many companies are now finding out. Using Slack, Facetime, Whats App, Zoom, Skype, Podio, Google Docs, plus many many other online applications means that you are still in contact with all your fellow staff. As well as ensuring you are all working on the same information. The options are endless, so it is important to put in place what works for you as a business. Which is great! But all businesses need to know they can still get customers, either into their shops, physically or online. To be able to buy from them, enjoy their services as well as staying safe and keeping their loved ones safe too.

There are so many useful articles at the moment, so we thought we would share a few ideas that may help:

Get your cashflow sorted

Call in some debts and ensure everything possible has been invoiced. It will be tough for any business to pay promptly at the moment, but try and ensure you have everything up to date, so you know where you are.

Keep marketing and promoting your business

Now more than ever, you need to keep reminding people you are still here. In general, people still need products and services. And those who are marketing their business more effectively will come out on top. Especially once everything is gradually getting back to normal. Changing your marketing message may be worthwhile. But keep reminding people that you are still here and still open for business. Many of our customers are now adapting what they offer, to keep going and get through this. Move online more, offer something different, offer better delivery options. There may be some angle that you haven’t thought of. Brainstorm and see what ideas you can come up with!

Sourcing your products

Now may be the time to look around and see where else you can source your products from. Use local companies who won’t have to travel too far to get to you. Again, be creative. Many companies are offering delivery – take advantage of this so you can save time to work more on other things.

Move online

Shops will be one of the worst to be hit by all of this. So people will be buying more online – now could be the time for you to start offering this as an option. Even if you can’t afford to add an ecommerce solution to your website, make it prominent that you can offer this. Make sure you can show as many of your products on your website, so customers can see what they could have if they bought from you. This could be a great option for anyone who physically sells products but has not opted yet for online selling.

Plan for the future

Try and spend some time reflecting on what you want and how you see yourselves in 6 months. Where do you want to be? It is vital to plan ahead and work out how you are going to come through it. Try to keep a clear head and remove emotions from this. Hard and extraordinary times as these are, spend a bit of time writing or updating your business plan. This could create new ideas for the future and keep your business afloat. We are all obviously hoping that the Government assist us, but if you can put new plans in place then that will be a great start.

Be creative

This is so tough as we understand so many businesses will be completely firefighting at the moment. But try and be creative. There could be other ways that you sell your products or services. Try and think what you can offer people, with your expertise. There could be something that will ensure your business stays afloat during these really trying times.

Can we help you?

We are all still here and working. If you need to make changes to your website then please do get in touch. Just give us a call on 01435 817226 or send us an email. We may be able to adapt what you have already. or perhaps help you to offer something different to your customers. Maybe we can set up an email campaign for you. Telling all your customers of the improvements and updates you are making to your business. Or to just be there to chat through your ideas. We need to help each other out at the moment and we will do our best to help you.

Warmest washes from all at Sokada Ltd

Paris Birthday Celebrations

We have just been to Paris this weekend. It was our eldest daughter’s 21st birthday and we offered her a trip away. This is where she chose. So, after the hotel and all the normal sightseeing trips were booked, we needed to look at where to eat. And this is where the importance of reviews and having lots of good ones came into play. We had no clue where to go, so had to find places online and hope for the best.

We based all our restaurant decisions and bookings on where had good reviews and lots of them! It didn’t really matter where they were in Paris. Everything seemed to be about 1/2 an hour away, either by bus or by the metro, so we were free to go wherever we wanted. And we wanted to choose places that lots of people have been to and liked. To be fair, most of where we booked didn’t even take bookings, so we also had to queue! But what a testament to a restaurant that people were queueing up outside, even in the rain!

Us on a 1/2 hour bus journey!

The first day

We started off around the Eiffel Tower (stunning) but was a bit of a food disaster as we were hungry but hadn’t found anywhere to eat and ended up buying super expensive baguettes from a stallholder.

But then we fancied an ice cream. so we took 5 minutes and “Googled it”. We actually walked about 20 minutes away from The Eiffel Tower to get an ice cream at a cafe called Amorino. They did the most beautiful flower shaped ice creams and were just delicious. We got this from Trip Advisor… Over 1200 reviews left just for an ice cream parlour – got to be good right? And they were!

In the evening, we had booked to go to one restaurant but where Sophie really wanted to go was Pink Mamma. But here you couldn’t book. Well we got the bus for 1/2 an hour(!!) and turned up in the Moulin Rouge district of Paris. Walked down a few side streets and there it was – all pink and tiled outside with a massive queue up the side of the building! We looked up the number of seats it had – 110. We stood at the back of the queue and worked out we were over 100th in the queue – pretty tight but we made it inside. And it didn’t disappoint! One big fat Google review left for them after our meal!

Our 2nd day

We decided to head up to Montmartre. We thought we would find a nice little cafe for breakfast but there were so many people milling around as well as it looked like rain, and we had nowhere to eat! By this time it was around 10.30 and we were hungry. So again, the phones came out and we found The Hardware Société. A little restaurant around the back of Sacre Coeur…with massive queues outside! We left our name and were able to return in about 1/2 an hour (sensing a theme here) where we had jumped to the top of the queue! Well this was definitely worth the wait. Instead of the traditional eggs and bacon, 3 of us were served with pork belly (the bacon bit), eggs on rye bread, leek and bacon potato hash (hash browns). And what a feast! One of us had baked brioche with fruit, meringue (??) and yoghurt. The hot chocolate came in a jug, all such great touches. It was so unusual, but oh so wonderful!

Later in the day, as if we needed to eat any more, we popped into another amazing restaurant called Maison Sauvage for a cocktail and some French chips (classy). And bam – another great review!

Then in the evening, we travelled over to Brasserie Bellanger for the birthday meal. The service in all of the restaurants was impeccable. They couldn’t do enough for us. The food was perfection. The price was high…but hey it’s Paris!

To summarise

And we found all of these wonderful places via either Googling them and checking out the Google Reviews, or through Trip Advisor. The Hardware Société even had a lightbox asking for reviews – so important for restaurants. Obviously we have posted reviews for all of these places, including the hotel we stayed in, The Hotel Residence Europe, which again, was really lovely.

We know how important it is to keep growing your reviews, being in the business we are in. But do you always ask your clients to review you?

There are so many ways now. Google, Trip Advisor, Trustpilot, Checkatrade, Facebook plus all the smaller and growing review websites that are showing online now.

Always ask – people won’t necessarily just post a review if you don’t prompt them. We are always trying to grow our reviews and have recently found out different ways to do it. More of this to come in another blog!

Our weekend away was amazing. And so much of that was down to the reviews online. Vital for any type of business, whatever you do. You need to to offer such great service and products that people will go out of their way to say how wonderful you are!

What is a broken link?

Many people and companies who have their own website do not check for broken links. But you really need to know why fixing broken links is important for your website. The internet is built on hyperlinks. Linking between web pages is a fundamental feature of it all and is one aspect of keeping a strength to your website. When all is well and good, every link on your site will lead exactly to the right place.

But sometimes links don’t work. A page may be deleted or unavailable. An image might not load or be missing. A site or resource you link to might disappear. Someone who you have linked to might move a post or page and not update others which link to it. A particularly regular problem will be linking to online magazines. Most articles will eventually get deleted and that can lead to lots of broken links.

What could happen?

When someone clicks on a link on your site and it doesn’t take them to its intended destination, the following can happen:

  1. It’s frustrating for the user.
  2. It shows that you don’t do regular housekeeping.
  3. It can harm your credibility as an authority in your field.
  4. It could affect your website conversion if it’s on a sales page.
  5. It can definitely hurt your SEO and page rankings.

The worst result for the user clicking on a broken link is to be sent to a generic browser 404 page. Then the user has to click the “back” button to return to the previous page. We know that this is really frustrating, so we are sure your customers would too!

Ideally we want to identify those links that are broken and change or remove them. This is basic housekeeping of your website and should be done on a regular basis.

Linking to external websites

It is a great idea to link to external websites. It actually helps to strengthen your own website slightly. However these links could always stand a chance of being changed or deleted; then you may have a problem. It will be your website that suffers, if they haven’t redirected this page somewhere else. And this happens so much!

However, this is a really easy fix to make. There are plenty of free broken link checkers online today that are so easy to use. Just add in your URL and they do the work for you. They tell you which pages have broken links and even the section of the page that is broken, along with the source code. Broken Link Check is one such website. We have just done a test on our own website and sure enough there was a broken link from one of our customers. They had moved a page and not redirected it.

Just keep up to date with this – always make sure there are no broken links! Here you have found out why fixing broken links is important for your website. Go to our blog to find out other tips and advice.

Thanks for reading!

Cyber Security and understanding more

I went to a really informative Cyber Security event last week in Hailsham. It was presented by Andy Rawlinson from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and sponsored by the Hailsham Chamber of Commerce and Astec Computing (UK).

We see a lot of companies in our day to day work, who don’t really have a lot of understanding of the dangers of the internet, or even the importance of having a reliable, secure IT infrastructure.

I think people and businesses just think they will be OK. However, listening to the presentation this morning, they clearly won’t be!

Some of the elements I understood more than others as we see them all the time, like Phishing, Denial of Service Attacks and Website Hacking.

Cyber Security

Some of the key elements I took away with me were:

Anti-Virus

Make sure that any device you have that connects to the Internet is running an up to date anti-virus system. These don’t have to be expensive, there are some really good free ones; but you have to use something. Keep this up to date and make sure that it is working properly, as well as regularly scan your devices.

Also use something to detect Malware on your devices. Malware is the malicious software or programs that are harmful to your devices; it’s these that actually do all the dirty work.

Firewalls

A firewall is your first line of defense. It’s a protective barrier that sits on your PC or router and protects you from unwanted access to the system. You can change the security settings on your firewall to suit your requirements, making them specific to you.

When you add new software or apps to your PC, you will need to change the permissions on your Firewall and you will probably notice requests to do this. You can also review what software/websites have access to your system. Setting up your firewall properly is important.

Secure Offsite Backups

Make sure you have an effective back up of your computer data. If you can get a backup of your system files that’s even better. This will make it easier to get things working again if your security is breached. Also do your best to understand how the backups work and what is actually backed up. As well as this, you need to know how to restore the backed-up files.

Backups should be offsite. Whether that’s in the cloud or on a drive that you physically remove from the office after the backup is completed. You may not want to trust a cloud backup, but they are generally pretty good and make a lot of sense.

If you don’t have time to do this, or the inclination, then it makes sense to find an IT company who can help you create a backup plan.

2FA (2 Factor Authentication)

These days most online systems that require you to login with a password also give you the option to set up 2FA. This basically means that when you login with your user/password it will also send an authorisation code, usually to your mobile phone. To gain access you will need to have access to the phone and enter the code that is sent to you.

We build a lot of WordPress websites and we have been starting to implement 2FA on the CMS (Content Management System) so that you can’t login and make changes unless you can authenticate properly. This is relatively simple to do so ask your developer to help you.

Email security

This is something that affects us more than most of the others on a day to day basis. We manage email for most of our clients and security and strong passwords are very important. We also see quite a few Phishing emails which we regularly speak to clients about. Spotting a dodgy email can be hard enough especially as they are so well disguised, but it’s really important that if you have any suspicions then you must not open an email.

As a rule of thumb, large companies, banks and government bodies won’t ask you to login to your account via an email. If you are worried call them instead. Phishing emails will try and push you, by adding a sense of urgency to the request, but again if the request is unexpected or urgent and you don’t know what it is then it’s probably not from who you think it is.

Having a good password won’t stop you opening a phishing email, but it might stop someone using your email account for a different purpose. Hackers can use your account to attack other businesses, sending thousands of emails to slow and cause their systems to crash. DoS (Denial of Service) attacks may not be focused on you but if you are part of one, even unwittingly, it can lead to your mail account getting blocked and much more.

Create a business wide policy in regard to handling suspicious email, so that as a group you understand how to handle these as well as how to deal with them.

Password Management systems

Having good quality passwords is very important. Ideally of 14 characters or more, with upper and lower case text plus numbers and special characters. Unfortunately, the better you make them the harder they are to remember.

Another good idea is to create a pass phrase, so three sets of words that you can remember but that aren’t linked or obvious… something like “RelaxingFriendsSkiing” might be a good one for me. You can then juice this up a little by making some of the characters numbers or using special characters; “#Rel4xingFriends$kiing”.

But creating and remembering lots of good passwords is still going to be hard, so you could try using a password management system. These store and remember all your different passwords with you using one good pass phrase to access the management system. A lot of these can also remember and log you in automatically to systems that you use regularly. But only do this on devices you trust and manage and of course make sure you use 2FA.

Some simple steps to take

OK so here are the basics of what we have said above:

  • Make sure you use a good anti-virus and keep this up to date and working
  • Combine this with a good Malware package to illuminate malicious software
  • Back up your critical business systems and understand how to restore the back up if anything goes wrong
  • Use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible
  • Use business email and make sure your passwords are strong. Also have a policy within your business for dealing with suspicious emails
  • Invest in a good password manager

For me the single most important thing to do is get help. Speak to an expert about your Cyber Security and work with them to do as much as you can to prevent access to your systems. This is definitely worth spending money on as it potentially can save you EVERYTHING…