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eBay spam WARNING!! - watch out these ones look good...

So now we are looking at eBay scams that are interested in hacking your eBay account so that they ca

So now we are looking at eBay scams that are interested in hacking your eBay account so that they can get details or account information.

Here is a typical email - the first thing to do is notice that there is a big button with 'dispute this transaction' which is not normally present. Also notice that the email is originating from which is unusual for an eBay email:

Also notice that that if we hover over the 'Dispute this transaction' button we see the following:

So the domain name, although having the part in, is actually pointing to which is Twitters forwarding domain (Ooops, that's a bit embarrassing) which then forwards you to 

This page shows up as PayPal:

You can still see the phantom domain at the top though. This is obviously where they are interested in grabbing your PayPal details so do not.

Report this website address as false as soon as you can.

Forward the email to your ISPs spam service email support.

It should be noted that and are both being hijacked for this so beware as it will more than likely pass your anti spam filters! - a suggestive case study...

We are currently looking at some of our domain catalogue as a resource to be invested in rather than

We are currently looking at some of our domain catalogue as a resource to be invested in rather than hyped up and sold on, and this is where an internet domain name is not so akin to real estate, but more like owning a port, or an exclusive trading agreement. A domain does not suffer from a limited number of rooms or a limited amount of land, and it is always a unique resource, no matter how many other domains are similar (and there are more and more obviously) but in this case we are going to examine a fairly sought after domain in the UK market, and although it is not a single word domain, it is a single phrase which is essentially a single keyword in its own right. 

Travel Information (a domain in this case) is something that everyone requires whether they are trying to go on holiday, return safely from a business trip, or just point their car in the right direction to get home. In all of these cases there is one phrase that is being seacrehd for on every device in every airport or jam or port- 'travel information.'

Now with all websites there is, of course, the question of content. This is a very important question as content is what your site has to offer and without it no one is going to hang around and so the search engines will quickly evaluate you as pointless. This means that we will have to invest heavily in a great site UI and fill it with huge amounts of information doesn't it? Well possibly that is a good solution but perhaps there is another way to look at this problem before we call the bank manager.

The thing about travel and travel information is that people are always looking for a single source where they can be reading about all sorts of different options rather than swimming around the internet in search of the best options and generally doing all of the work. Perhaps then we can find a way to offer sources of information a chance to publish their material on the site and when there are a reasonable number of guide books and maps etc. included it can be unleashed on the web users. Hopefully they will begin to find it useful.

So what would this site actually take to put up - emails sent out to councils and the national trust, region by region, until you have a number of attractions to visit in Britain and then you can begin assembling information from your readers rather than having to go out and find it. an important part of the site will be to continue to ask readers to point out any errors or overlooked places to visit.

Now what is going to actually persuade the National Trust and friends that the site is worth corresponding with? Well the domain name itself is a real seller here. The correspondence will have to have a very nicely assembled email and/or written letter with great presentation all-round, as well as a really good 'under-construction' page that may need to heralded as more of a re-design. Either way the prowess of the site is far from proveable at first and so these first impressions are important. Most of the councils/attractions etc. will happily give permission for their leaflets to be reproduced as advertising is what the leaflets were for in the first place. Some sort of OCR software will be needed to give the website search engine readability rather than images being postered all over the pages but this is a tiny detail.

So once we have a small audience then we can encourage by making high-quality, relevant offers to who are hitting certain pages then we can start to build an audience. There is no room for capitlisation at the start - the deals must remain as good as we can make them otherwise we will never begin to have any buying power with our suppliers, and so never build our site. Once we can get 3% where other buyers cannot then we can make a percent on give a percent to the buyer and start to recover our losses so far with that last percent. The most important thing is that our site remains a good place for our small client base to exchange information and look through deals to purchase travel deals.

Do web users know the difference between PPC and Organic results? Are there any search results anymore anyway?

As Google continues to avoid being 'evil' there is nontheless a trend to move away from the original

As Google continues to avoid being 'evil' there is nonetheless a trend to move away from the original organic results we remember fondly, to the multi-page, PPC dominated Google shopping offer we face now. And there is good cause for this - Google has shareholders and as soon as you sell your company to the public then the accountants make sure that their interests come first. This does, however, impact on the ethos of a company whose original mantra was entirely based on sorting the internet information in a manner that is best for the use. Those days are long gone no matter what the Google bumph blurbs out. Nowadays the organic results for a product that has nothing directly to do with Google are not just down the list, but almost undetectable from paid and partnered results that are clearly an advert rather than a result:

Googe SERP for Sony Playstation

As you can see from this example the results come in waves - there are no organic results at the top, only Google shopping which is another form of AdWords these days (just like the map has become.)

The organic results come below so presumably the Google shopping ads are a much better earner for a product as popular as this and so normal AdWords ads are not even shown. The website is obviously one of the most popular in the world and I haven't actually mentioned I wanted to buy one anyway. Not so surfer friendly anymore is it?

Finally we have 'in the news' section which is again a way of adding value to a select partner group of websites. Now this is good for the web user in some ways as the Google partners shown here are going to be heavily monitored to ensure that the content is first-class but it still has nothing to do with popularity or organic search results - it is in fact internet search result hogging to keep a certain network of California media tyrants in everyone's face. I never even mentioned that I have an iPad and I'm not using one to search in this case.

Let us try another example to see what sort of results we get when searching for a keyword we might have a chance to compete on organically...

Googe SERP for Solicitors near me
Here we are looking at a search that will be hotly contested in many towns in many countries all over the world. I have tried to include as much of the page as possible - certainly as much as your average reader is going to scroll through before deciding to click. In other words, definitely as far as most of us SEO companies are claiming we can place you within. And herein lies the problem. At the top of this page there are so many companies contesting over the keyword that there are only adverts available as an option, there is quite literally no alternative. Below that we see the Google maps offering - what has become known as 'AdWords Express' which is just another set of adverts which is not even labelled as such.


















Now if I had typed in 'local SEO companies,' how many adverts would have been promising to get me 'on the front page of Google' without using pay-per-click PPC? In this case that is obviously not possible.

So is there a future in organic search? It may be time for us SEO people to rethink the value of organic search vs PPC. If every result has a small green 'Ad' square next to it then does the average user even notice it exists anymore?

OK these are hotly contested examples, I understand that of course, but as populations rise, competitions rises, and ever search term will arrive at this point.

Is PPC the only way or is it time it find a new search engine? And will this article be relegated to the pit of internet ignorance because I am posing this question? Well Google is a first-class company full of the best people in the business and there is no chance of that changing anytime soon. This is evidence, however, of a need for them to rethink their current strategy as when I search for something, I do expect some search results!

The results we have been examining remind me of those free papers that come through the post where everything is just an ad and it holds no value for anyone except the publisher and their friends.

How to Auction Successfully Online using eBay (some of this applies to Flippa as well)

Choose your starting price carefully Before you list your item, decide upon a minimum figure for whi

Choose your starting price carefully

Before you list your item, decide upon a minimum figure for which it can be sold. A low starting price will attract more frequent bids which increases activity on your auction which is a good thing as word travels fast and may trigger bidding wars. Obviously a £0.99 opening price will attract the most bidders within the first few hours since a low price for a good item that will win is like a light bulb to a moth at night. It encourages viewers to 'watch' your item on eBay which is important as watchers and bidders are notified toward the end of the auction to increase their bid. Users are more interested in auctions which already have winning bids, a low green number is essentially an item going for a song and will attract more attention and the more early bidders you can generate stimulates a mad rush toward the end of your auction. Many high value items are sold with a low starting price, especially by established Power Sellers - 99% of the time the auction will conclude with hundreds of bids yielding a better price. These tactics apply equally well to any other auction online.


Don't Bother with a Reserve Price

A reserve price is one which unless it is met by your sellers you are not obliged to sell the item. For example, if you have a reserve price of £20, and your item sells for £19.00 then you would not have to complete the sale and transfer ownership of the domain or item. Auction reserves are interest killers. No one is going to bid early on something if they are continually being told that they have not met the reserve price, it just isn't sexy. Although many sellers do still place reserve prices on their auctions, don't.  If it were me buying I would just look for an alternative item without a reserve price. The reason you get lots of interest early is that they feel the excitement of getting a bargain and the reserve price feature kills that excitement. Embrace that excitement - this is what marketing is all about!


A picture is worth a thousand words.

Post high definition images of your item and allow prospective buyers to clearly see the condition including any damage or unusual features or aspects. eBay allow you to include twelve photos free of charge. If you wish, you can use you’re an external hosting service to include as many photos as necessary to display your item clearly. Many Power Sellers use up to twenty pictures per item to ensure that the percentage of returns arising from unexpected marks or damage is decreased. How many images may be necessary for your auction? Consider using the enhanced gallery option for increased image visibility if the item is of reasonable value or is chiefly sold on its aesthetics.


Have a Clearly Advertised and Fair Returns Policy and Address Concerns Quickly

Although eBay now offer refunds internally on all sales (perhaps this explains why they have hiked up their rates so much) but still nothing gives a buyer greater confidence than knowing that they can return a product if it's not for them. Make sure your returns policy is on your auction or items sale template and that you have filled in the returns part of the auction/sale form as requested. Do you accept returns? What if the item is faulty? How long is the return policy valid for from the date of sale?

Although it is a risk to offer a returns policy – you will have to incur a cost relisting and reshipping items – but if you address concerns quickly and give reasonable and sensible advice regarding your products, only a very small amount of users will return the items. Some may hold out for the odd freebie but in the main good customer service allays the desire to return items.


The Power of Feedback and the Importance of Accuracy

Feedback is an indelible record of your customer service history and should be your primary concern above all others. Any negative feedback is dangerous for your future sales figures and so you must do everything you can to avoid negative feeling amongst those who have purchased goods. All goods must be clearly and concisely described with every possible flaw detailed in advance. Accuracy is everything in your adverts as an over-negative advert will hurt prices and an over-positive advert will generate ill-feeling and negative feedback.

As an aside, it is important also to leave feedback for any winning bidder as soon as the money is in the bank. Positive dealings encourage positive feedback and positive feedback is exactly what you need as a seller. Be good to them as what goes around, comes around.


Inter-Auction Linking and Promotion

Some items will attract more viewers than others due to pricing and availability etc. You can use this to your advantage as well. You may want to start a certain item at £0.99 to create a buzz and use that item to link to other auctions of the same item but for a fixed price. This can work if you wish to sell multiple items at a good price by using the first item as a generator of excitement and getting people to buy at a fixed price once the first auction has finished. People who missed the end of the auction are inclined to buy more often in order to not feel that they have missed out on a bargain.

Cross-auction linking is allowed in addition to the already provided link to "View other sellers’ items" feature.


Advertise Yourself or your Business

Sell yourself or your business on your listings. Come up with a template in order to use every time you post an item or auction. This should include your logo and general website theme and list all of your terms and conditions for returns and postage etc. This is a sure fire way of not getting caught out by missing something on a listing and provides trust to prospective buyers following cross-auction links or adverts. These listings are an opportunity to establish credibility for your business and your returns policy etc. Without credibility people may fail to buy from you online and so every little effort is important. Include details about you and your business such as where you are situated, how long have you been registered on eBay and what you specialize in? Have a look at what the competition are doing and go from there if you need help.


Keep your Shipping Prices Realistic

Experienced buyers always check the shipping costs early as they have probably posted sales on eBay themselves. Do not be tempted to exaggerate the price of your shipping to increase profit. It will not fool anyone and it raises alarm bells that a seller is being disingenuous.  Moreover, inflating shipping costs is against eBay policy and can get you black marked or banned which may hurt your prospects selling online across the board. If you are offering digital goods such as eBooks or PDFs make sure you include a percentage to cover your administration costs within your standard price. No one is interested in paying shipping on a download or email so do not be tempted to add an administration fee as it makes buyers bitter and unlikely to return. The last thing anyone wants is to find there are unexpected costs associated with a purchase.


Should I Open an eBay Store?

Opening an eBay Store is a step that should be considered by any medium sized seller on eBay.

You benefit from cheaper and longer listings within your store and you can also cross-promote your products more easily. You have other advantages such as the ability to send out newsletters and establish a trusted brand by using templates so that all the listings in your store retain a consistent theme. You will also enjoy greater coverage (and hopefully attract more bids) for your listings by appearing in the eBay store directory where more prospective buyers are directed.


Write Good Copy!

The normal rules of a website still apply. Incoming links, good, exciting copywriting, exciting pictures, accurate information - sound familiar? Remember that Google will see your listing and that eBay will be checking how well your listing sits (albeit automatically within their own algorithmic crawler-spiders etc.) in any searches against your auction categories and the like. Be sure you are excited about your product and that you have done everything that can be done to ensure its quality and value before you post. If it is an auction then the system will define its value but either way the buyer must not be disappointed. Many buyers will approach you externally to eBay to find replica items for the same price rather than risk paying more a second time so quality sales are important as they ensure more sales in the future!

Scavengers of boredom - the new LinkedIn Kings

You know what it's like - you're sitting there at 2:40 pm and the whole world has ground to a halt.

You know what it's like - you're sitting there at 2:40 pm and the whole world has ground to a halt. There is no point drinking more coffee, it just wears you out. The office is mostly quiet and you are staring at a long list of tasks to complete before the end of the day. Suddenly something comes up on LinkedIn (which you just happened to have open) and suddenly a post comes up such as:

Scavengers of Boredom - The LinkedIn Kings

With a 'comments ?' at the bottom.

Now the first temptation is to just type in 'contempt' and that is fine - this post is not about recovering anything useful it is about getting you to work for someone other than your employer for free, and it is why LinkedIn is about to re-enter the category of 'banned websites' in the average SME in the UK. Not only has Microsoft just purchased LinkedIn - which is a bad enough sign - but the truth is that no visible effort in improving this site has really been made since it started out. LinkedIn is essentially a stream of people you hardly know (you work with them but they're not in your office or they would just come and speak to you) liking and commenting on a splurge of allegedly business related information. The post above (which I shall post on LinkedIn this week just as an example) does not get sent by someone with a lot of contacts. It is simply sent from a person or to a group where there may be contacts without a lot to do. This means that they will comment their thoughts and that this image will then be displayed to everyone in their own contacts. The time it arrives is no coincidence - middle afternoon humdrum time - and when the image starts to go viral, it becomes more effective, as it is being passed to people from a friendly and partly familiar source. The image itself is simply a way of overcoming the style and text size limitations that LinkedIn has stipulated to stop attention grabbing posts that waste everyone's time. But they overcame these restrictions years ago, so why haven't LinkedIn reacted?

Herein lies the problem, the website is essentially a black hole for time and anyone who is looking at the posts or whatever is simply not doing their job and so probably isn't very important to be getting the attention of anyway. So why do it?

Well lots of social networking comment gets you noticed by search engines as a subject that is being discussed and so you can climb search engine rankings such as Google. So all this activity is helping someone else get more customers on your company time.

The simple truth is that the value of opportunities for business on LinkedIn no longer outweigh the time your staff are wasting by commenting on inane, premieditated nonsense and if LinkedIn don't react, they will find the next big thing will overtake them liek wildfire. Well, actually more like a viral fire really.

The Real Reasons to be Top on Google

8. February 2016 22:18 by sirclesadmin in Popular Sites, SEO, Copy Writing
The most important reason to be top on Google is very simple. It isn't because it will make you the

The most important reason to be top on Google is very simple. It isn't because it will make you the most money. It isn't because it will save you the most money. It isn't even because it will get you the most traffic (although that is the likely outcome)

The most important reason to be top on Google is that it means that your web design and marketing team are doing the best job. It means that the comments on your website are addressed the most quickly and get the happiest resolutions. It means that the content of your website is the most interesting and is read by the most visitors. Most of all it means that you have succeeded in making your website the best source of information and the the most favored check-in spot for your customers and, perhaps more importantly,  prospective customers. Quite simply it means that you and your web design team are doing the best job out of all  the competition. If you are head of digital marketing then that is a good feeling (and a pretty good line for your CV) because you and your web design team and marketing staff are hot property and everybody in competing digital marketing departments are reminded of this every day. Quite simply put, being top on Google is proof you and your products/services are the best right here right now.

It Is true that some companies arrived at the right time - if you were lucky with your first website attempt and you started receiving a lot of traffic early then you may well have evolved your online marketing faster than the competition just because your were getting used to dealing with more visitors and their needs. As a result your web team may have grown faster the the competition and you have found yourself with a large and valuable commodity in your digital marketing department. Toppling you from the top of the SERPS will be difficult now and well done for being there with or without the luck. These companies were around when the idea of an online reputation began to form and so they were the benchmark for how we rate online presence now. As a result a lot of their historical data such as PageRank and historical and archived comments are no longer analysed by the search engines. It is the newer opinions on the web that maintain the online reputation and keep everyone honest. It is therefore vital that if you have been at the top of your game - top on Google - for a while now it is more important than ever to keep increasing the quality of your products and service which bring us on to what has become the truth about SEO in the past two years.

SERP results are based on different factors depending on the size of your market.

If your market is something similar to insurance then you are obviously in a highly competitive web advertising market. The highest bid on Adwords is still insurance and as a result the comparison sites have arisen as a brilliant marketing tool. A website that effectively roots out the expensive claims and makes all the major players compete against each other in order to get you the cheapest quote. The system is, of course, open to all sorts of interplay between various partners and advertisers but the comparison site idea itself is essentially one born of internet marketing. If you can write a script that will forward the details of a customer to multiple providers and thee customer then obtains a deal cheaper than they did before you will instantly see backlinks galore as everyone want to show off what a great deal they just got to their friends - BOOM! - top of all the SERPS. Here we are seeing that the best price gives best rankings and in this regard that is exactly as it should be.

If you are a local business then Adwords Express and Google Maps are your most important tool. You are competing with the other local providers in your market and Adwords Express will not necessarily be taking into account much more than your distance from the provider and the keywords that they are associated within Google Search simply because if there is a question over which order they should be displayed in, the system can always just ask Google Search and the ranking from there can cascade down as appropriate.

The first place in SERP rankings has other benefits also. If you are receiving the most organic traffic then you will be receiving the most comments and links. This is great because it means that you are receiving free market research and that relevant copy is being delivered free to your website every day. Almost any kind of customer comment copy is good one way or another as long as you address the unhappy people and show that y have resolved their issues along with their comments. Google like relevant comment especially with the latest product names in as it shows that the purchasing public find your site useful and a place to register views. Because of this some companies will under price the SERP leaders to bring in traffic and therefore grow their website in order to become a contender with the top spot. There is nothing like finding the newest gadget cheaper the your friends have in order to grow quality back-links. There are no rules when it comes to this kind of play!

As a third party SEO marketing company we are obviously keen to get involved with your online strategy. I'm not going to try and hide that fact. But getting back to the reason for being top on Google why do we think you should be using us? Well there is only one reason to use us - because we will be enriching the experience for your users and that is the truth. If we weren't then we do not believe you would see more visitors. There are no golden rules to get started - you will have to take the plunge and call us to get that far - what works for others will not necessarily work for you. Some websites need to be no nonsense, others need to sing and dance. But all need to give people what they are looking for and we hope you found that here.

So where is my data? This is clouding my understanding

12. January 2016 10:25 by sirclesadmin in Popular Sites, The Cloud
Nowadays the Could doesn't really refer to anything physical in particular. It is not what BT used t

Nowadays the Cloud doesn't really refer to anything physical in particular. It is not what BT used to refer to as a cloud when they were actually talking about MPLS. The cloud is now a reference to a suitably uncertain and cloudy concept. The actual product that most companies push using the 'cloud' terminology is a collection of different facilities brought together to provide a service.

These facilities usually include:

  • Security in the shape of a site somewhere that is fenced off and protected by 24 hour staff and various access systems
  • Administration in the shape of automated systems that monitor temperature, electrical load and external power supply
  • Continuity in the form of multiple internet providers and diesel generators and battery backup. the batteries last until the diesel system comes online to keep all of the systems up and running.
  • Protection whereby the systems are protected by state-of-the-art fire systems and strengthened buildings to protect against external attack
  • Support provided by experienced staff onsite and by 2nd and 3rd line developers in an office somewhere else that may or may not work 24x7
  • A back-end set of systems to provide a service to the customer such as databases or email etc.
  • A front-end interface for the customers to log onto and use
  • An off-site backup system or mirrored (identical running copy) of the system and all of the data so that any disaster can be overcome by bringing the other copy online.

With all of the above the cloud becomes more than a computer at another location - it becomes a service which is extremely useful both to the end user and the provider. Mostly because it enables the provider to increase profits and the user to save money. This is because of a few simple reasons:

  • All of the providers servers and systems are in one place and so the site can be optimised to provide a service extremely efficiently
  • All of the connectivity and air-con etc. is at one site and so enables a single contract to be drawn up with the air-con providers that will be good value to the cloud providers.
  • The staff are onsite with all of the equipment that they support and so there are no travel costs to and from customer sites.
  • The system is set-up exactly as the cloud provider is expecting and so there is no time lag spent trying to unravel customer set-ups
  • No external forces are able to damage or interrupt services and so many of the issues which would normally plague customers are avoided.
  • Most of the support services traditionally provided by local IT firms are now provided directly by the cloud provider and so the cloud provider can keep a larger share of the profits.
  • All customers connect using the same security rules so these rules can be monitored and optimised by a large team and made very efficient and updated regularly - this reduces issues due to security breaches and user connectivity.

With all of the above taken into account we can see how the cloud (which is essentially HaaS, PaaS and SaaS all rolled into one) has become the sensible choice for the majority of companies large and small.

The added fact that all services are now available on the internet gives much more scope for portability and other forms of interaction which increases productivity for all concerned.

So the cloud is a bit confusing - because it is a misty explanation for a great many services that, as users, we really don't need to know about. Perhaps 'the cloud' really is the correct term...