Tidbits & Quick Notes

Short Tips & Tricks

The following excerpts are quick and short articles on web, design, programming, marketing & advertising related topics:

Making The Website The Central Focus For SEO

Focusing Efforts On Website & SEO

For best SEO (Search Engine Optimization), all online and offline advertising efforts, should support the company’s website as the main hub. Unlike most brick and mortar stores that require staff with limited hours, a website helps businesses the most as a reference point, and selling platform available 24/7 with limited staff involvement.

Outside efforts (such as paid ads, social media posts, other channels, and external platforms) should all link to, utilize, and support the main website as the company’s central focus and hub. While paid advertising has its benefits, and is of use in certain situations, (such as new businesses needing immediate exposure), the majority of focus should be on supporting the website’s natural/organic SEO, and directing all prospects to the website for conversion.

By using all outside channels to support the website as a main hub, the site's overall SEO will intrinsically be improved. These incoming links from outside sales channels, (in addition to other standard SEO practices) will help to increase ranking in the organic/natural listings accordingly.

Make all avenues, posts, blogs, external advertising, flyers, postcards (anywhere the company is mentioned online or offline) direct and lead the consumer to the company’s website. Such funneling and direction from all sales channels helps to control the sales process, manage client expectations, while at the same time providing valuable SEO.

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Steps When Hacked

When hacked, it's important to take the following steps immediately:

  • If it's an email hack, it was most likely a virus from a compromised email

    • First run a virus scan. Search Google for "free virus scanners" or find a couple free options in our Goodies section

    • Once determined the computer is virus free, update the email password:

      • If they use Premium email services, change their password via the control platform.

      • Passwords for business and sensative email services should follow these guidelines:

        - New passwords should not be password
        - New passwords should not be abc123
        - Username should not appear in password
        - First name should not appear in password
        - Last name should not appear in password
        - New password should be at least eight characters long
        - New password should contain at least 1 uppercase alphabet (A-Z)
        - New password should contain at least 1 special character (!@#$-=_+*)
        - New password should contain at least 1 number (0-9)
        - New passwords should not contain a quote "
        - New password should not contain a single quote '
        PLEASE NOTE: Premium email services often check for suspicious activity, and sometimes will catch virus hacks such before the customer even knows it happened due to the large amount of outgoing mail.

      • If using a free hosting email, change the password via the hosting interface.
        PLEASE NOTE: If the hack happened on the free hosted email, open a Support Ticket with the hosted email service immediately. Tell them what happened, that supposedly email was hacked, let them know the password has been already changed, and any other information; then ask that they run their own check to make sure they don't see any other security breaches.

    • Once the password is updated, change the password on all devices that access that email account to the new password.

  • If it's a website that was supposedly hacked, then:

    • Immediately notify the company's IT support team.
    • Open a Support Ticket with the website host or datacenter, giving them all pertinent information.

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How to Spot & Avoid Phishing Or SMiShing Attempts

Phishing & SMiShing are attempts to trick the user into downloading a virus or other malware onto a device via email (Phishing) or via text/SMS messaging (SMS phishing).

Phishing via emails scams have been around for years now. However, now that there are millions and millions of Facebook and other similar social media users, Phishing is becoming even more prevalent and dangerous.

As well, SMiShing via text messaging has recently become popular malware hackers due to a lack of skeptism when it comes to clicking links contained within a text message.

Because people are so used to receiving text messages, email notifications of a new friend on Facebook, or receiving notification that they've been tagged in a post, thieves are using fake notification emails to "phish" and fake texts to "SMiSh" and steal millions of unsuspecting users' data.

What is Phishing or SMiShing?

  • Phishing or SMiShing is an attempt to steal personal or confidential information from consumers.
  • Phishing scams will often look legitimate including the company logo, phone numbers, etc, and SMiShing
  • scams look like a regular text.
  • The phishing site mimics the look of the real site in an attempt to trick consumers into giving their personal login details to the fake site.
  • Or the SMiShing
  • text will attempt to download malicious software to the user's device.
  • Once your personal information is given to a phishing site, or the SMiShing link has downloaded the malware; the scammers can then use that information to go to the real site and login and access your account.
  • Some phishing or SMiShing attempts will steal money, others will purchase items on your account, still others will steal your personal information (identity theft), etc.

Spotting & Avoiding Phishing Or SMiShing Attempts

  • Always Hand Type The Website Address
    First and foremost, never click a link in a suspicious email or text. Always hand type the address into your browser. Links in emails or text messages can be "masked" to appear as any address. It might look like you're going to http://www.paypal.com when in-fact it's just masked and you're really going to another website. If you hand type the address, then there is no doubt as to which website you've gone to.

  • Check the Address Bar for the Accurate Website Address
    The address bar (URL) of a website page is normally a quick and easy way to see if you are at the real website, or a fake website attempting to steal your information. If the address bar of your browser reads (for example) http://www.paypal.com then you are more than likely at the correct PayPal site. However, if the address bar reads something like http://www.paypal.com.somethingelse.com then you are not at the right site. The last .com after "somethingelse" is the real URL address you've ended up.

  • Look for Inconsistencies & Oddities
    While many scam and phishing sites may look like an exact replica of the legitimate company website or email, there are often little things that will show you it's not a legitimate site. Some such aspects to review are:
    • Awkward word usage - is the grammar that of a professional company?
    • Misspellings - would a professional company have misspellings?
    • Wrong logo - does this look like the company's logo?
    • Vague & innocuous statements - are they using vague statements as a scare tactic. An example such as "Your account has been limited until you resolve the problem" is a vague statement that doesn't explain what the problem is. Most legitimate companies will be up front and tell you what the problem is and why you must login.

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Open Source vs. Proprietary

What's the difference & what's better for you?

The difference between open source programs and proprietary programs is relatively easy to distinguish:

  • Open source is any program in which the code for the program is open and available for developers to work on and improve for their needs without additional cost.

  • Proprietary programs are those in which the programming is secured and not open to developers for improvements and changes without incurring a licensing fee(s).

  • Open source programs are often more secure and reliable when it come to hacker attempts and security flaws due to community testing throughout the development process.

  • Proprietary programs are developed in private versus open to the public for error testing and security flaws. Proprietary programs only open beta testing to the community near the final release stage.

  • With open source, technology improvement and innovation is rampant due to many minds collaborating to develop the best product(s).

  • Proprietary programs can be improved, but are often done so under lock and key with limited community involvement so as to avoid just anyone perusing and evaluating if they have a better idea or method.

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The Importance of Updating Your Website Content

Keeping the content of your website up-to-date with current and new content is extremely important to online success. From both a customer service, and search engine optimization standpoint - updating and regularly adding new content is imperative to keep your visitors AND search engines coming back.

  • Customers like to see new information regarding your business, products & services. As well, customers like find the latest industry news so as to keep informed on the best value for their investment when it comes to purchasing products and services from your company.

  • Search engines, such as Google, look for current and updated content so as to provide customers performing searches with the latest and most relevant information on a topic. If your website lacks current and relevant information, it will most likely not be listed in the top search results.

  • For those customers that do find your site despite the lack of top listing in the search engines, those customers will quickly get bored with your website content and move on to other sites providing current and relevant information to their needs.

If you are not regularly publishing 'News Bites' and 'Happenings' or 'Other Industry Related News', your website is left at a disadvantage, let alone missing an imperative step to continued search engine optimization.

Take advantage of the low cost to maintain a website and update your website with Specials within your business, seasonal sales, tips on how to more effectively utilize your products and services, etc.

Your website is an interactive marketing tool for your business and should be utilized as such.

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Keep 'em Coming Back

How are most people using the Internet? For information, and according to Google, over 80% are accessing the Internet from their phone or mobile device. People want their information fresh, fast, free, easy to navigate, and most of all, mobile.

Websites providing valuable, free information will keep people coming back, again and again. Everyone's heard the studies that say that prospects will see an advertisement 5-7 times before actually purchasing a product or service.

"But what can I offer to keep them coming back?"

This depends on what you're selling:

  • If your target market is, fishermen, you could offer brief news updates on the best fishing holes, and perhaps "free bait or a lure for filling out an online survey".
  • If you're a florist, perhaps offer tips on making bouquets last; or even tips on how to dry the flowers for saving later.
  • If your business is retail, you probably get free samples from vendors; pass the promotions on to your customers as free incentives for visiting and shopping.
  • The possibilities are endless.

Whatever your business, you probably know quite a bit about it. Simply write your own articles and news briefs just like you were writing a letter to a friend.

If you want ideas, simply surf the web for other sites in your industry. Most likely there's a competitor offering your same type products and services are already doing something similar!

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Web Surfing with AOL

Many people use AOL to view the Internet. However, while some may know, many AOL users are not aware that the AOL web browser limits the view one has of a many websites and related contents. However, the solution to the problem is already sitting on many desktops. If it's not, it's easy to find.

To view websites as they are meant to be viewed, simply logon to your AOL service as usual. Once connected to AOL, look down at the Windows Start Menu. There you will see a little blue "e". This little blue "e" icon is what will launch Window's Internet Explorer (IE) browser. Whie IE is not always the best browser to view websites, it is arguably better than the AOL browser.

Some other browsers that are often considered better than IE, and are easy to download and install on most any PC or Mac are:

Once using another browser in place of AOL's built-in browser, users will be able to surf the webs and see websites as the creators intended the websites to be viewed.

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Get More from Your Hosting

Most websites do not use near the amount of space they have allotted for hosting on the website server. The average informational, business website is only a couple MB in size. However, most hosting accounts are 10-100MB+ in size, if not larger. This extra room in your hosting account can be utilized to store many essential files that your company may like secure access to outside of the office.

For example, a company might have several Word documents that they would like outside sales representatives to have access to from a secure browser. Or perhaps an Excel file that has a spreadsheet and formula that an outside accounting firm needs access to remotely.

A secure web hosting account is an excellent place to store such documents and files for easy access where ever you have internet access. Really, the options are endless.

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Three Step Rule in Designing a Site's Navigation

A web site's navigational structure is one of the most important factors to consider when designing a website so that visitors and search engines can easily find the information needed. One very important rule that comes into play in making a site's navigational structure effective is the "Three Step Rule".

The "Three Step Rule" basically states that a visitor should be able to get to any section of a website by following no more than three steps or clicks. For instance, from the Home Page, a visitor looking for Product X should have to make no more than three clicks before getting to the information about Product X. This means that when designing a website, the designer must take a good amount of time to plan how the website is laid out so that nearly any portion of the website can be found within three clicks from the Home Page.

This can sometimes be difficult when dealing with a large amount of information, products or services. A great deal of planning must be put into the website layout in order to achieve the "Three Step Rule". One must take appropriate time to plan out your major categories of information, and then break this down into subcategories with your final destination beneath the subcategories.

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Email Campaigns

Many businesses participate in email campaigns today. Whether sending out the company newsletter or special promotions, "how" the email campaign is sent is of great importance when it comes to email privacy. Many people are aware of the BCC field in email programs and often times will use the BCC field to send out a mass email in hopes of getting the email out to as many recipients as possible without showing all the recipient email addresses.

However, what many people don't know is that even by using the BCC field to send out an email campaign, the recipient addresses are still compromised and available for any spammer to view and capture. Even though the email addresses are hidden from Normal View when sending BCC, the addresses are still available by looking at the Email Headers. Therefore if you BCC 1,000 newsletters, literally all 1,000 of your recipients receive a copy of each other's email addresses. In today's day and age of spam awareness, that's a frowned upon practice.

Often a better tool is to utilize an eBlast software. These softwares allow you to input your list of recipients, and then the software sends out individual emails to each address on the list so each recipients receives a single personalized email of your newsletter or promotion. Some such eblast solutions (such as those offered by Advertising Solutions) integrate with your website, CMS or shopping cart allowing you to create your newsletter page on your website, and then email out that exact website page as your newsletter or special product page, event page, etc.

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Search Engine Ranking

Clients often ask what "search engines" are and how "search engine ranking" affects a website. The answer is rather simple:

  • Google, Bing and Yahoo are some of the more well known "search engine" websites.

  • These websites have programs called "spiders" that search the internet for websites.

  • Each time a search engine comes across a website, it looks at the hidden code called "HTML," and compares this to the content and text that one actually sees when viewing a website.

  • Each page and its HTML code get indexed (read and reviewed in its entirety) by the spiders and stored in the search engine's database.

  • The more times that a search engine finds a match between "keywords" in the HTML, and "keywords" in the content and text of the website, the better the ranking that website will get with that search engine.

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