It is becoming more and more frequent in the news that large companies and organisations are telling their customers to change their passwords due to their security systems being compromised.
Hackers and cyber-attackers and getting wiser and they are finding it a lot easier to obtain information that can give them access to you social media, your bank accounts and other sensitive and private information.
With passwords it is most definitely better to be safe than sorry – so by making your password strong you are lessening the risk of coming under attack.
So what can you do?
Password decoders find it easier when your password is short in length (anything less than seven characters) and just a combination of letters and numbers. Strong passwords will contain a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.
With passwords it is definitely better to have the lengthiest password possible with the right balance of letters numbers and symbols.
Changing your passwords frequently will also improve your chances of being safe. Password decoders sit as a bug in your system and can usually take months to decode a password. If these are regularly changed then you lessen the risk of becoming under attack.
What are you not to do?
Your username and password should be entirely different – this is one of the attacker’s first ports of call.
With the ease of modern technology it is very simple to obtain the information of your friends and family – even your colleagues at work and your pets. None of these should be incorporated into your password at all.
The other avoidable password is a sequential password – abc123 for example. Anything is ascending or descending order would take the coders no time at all to solve.
Preferably any word in the dictionary should not be used. ‘Online Dictionary Attacks’ occur using a program that just covers every word in the dictionary – so this should be avoided.
The technology used to obtain passwords is only getting more and more advanced and sophisticated. The best thing to do is to stay ahead of the game by frequently changing your password and making it as secure as you possibly can.
Not ensuring this timely and simple task is done every few months could have catastrophic consequences not only for you personally – but also for your business or organisation.
It’s not exactly corporate espionage. Your competition’s social media pages are right out there in the open where you can see them, and ignoring them can be a big mistake. There’s a lot to be gained through spying on your competitors. However, as with most things there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Keep in mind that when you choose to spy on the competition, you’re not looking to mine their page for content. What you’re after is something much more crucial – a social media strategy that works. And spying on the competition can help with that in a number of ways. At a glance you can see what engages the type of audience you are looking to attract, what turns them off, and the way that your potential audience is responding to different types of media – all valuable information that can offer you a number of benefits.
What Your Competition’s Audience Can Tell You
Where has your competitor set up shop? Are they Twitter-happy or do they prefer to spend their time on Facebook? If they’re on multiple social media sites, where do they have the biggest audience? Where do they experience the most audience engagement? Answer these questions, and you should have a clear idea of the site that might work best for your needs, which can be especially important if you’re still in the earliest stages of building your social network.
If you’re a little further on in the process, you can use your competition’s audience to determine whether or not you’re doing everything you can as regards your social media efforts. Whether you’re lagging behind by a handful of followers or your follower stats are lagging behind by several digits, this might indicate that you have not yet reached your full potential. It might be time to step it up a notch.
Check Out The Competition’s History
They may be getting it right now, but chances are that they were getting it wrong at some point. Check out their history, making note at the amount of engagement they received at various points in time through the number of likes they received, the number of shares, or the number of retweets. If you note that there seemed to be a major upward shift at some point, see if you can’t figure out changes your competition might have made at that time to get that extra boost.
Use Monitoring Tools
Even if you don’t have the time to personally conduct espionage missions on your competition’s page, you can always utilise one of the many tools that are available to do the job for you. Analytics tools such as those at Rival IQ and Simply Measured give you at-a-glance access to your rivals’ stats. That gives you instant data that you can use to improve your own page.
These social media spy games can be of big help to you as you seek to improve your presence online. Just remember to spy ethically, and remember to keep the competition friendly.
Halloween may be a few weeks away, but that means you should be thinking about how to leverage it for your internet marketing strategy. Your customers love Halloween. Did you know that Halloween is the second biggest income-generating holiday? (Spoiler alert: the first is Christmas.) The Halloween market is bigger than ever, and adults are having just as much fun as kids. Help your customers get into the spirit of the spooky season with some fun, seasonal online content.
Dress Up Your Website
You may not have the same opportunity for decorating with a website as you do with a brick-and-mortar store, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the beloved holiday altogether. As long as the basic elements of your web design are intact – uncluttered pages, prominent logos, good functionality – then a fun Halloween template, Halloween colours, and creepy fonts or images can be a great showcase for you content. While you’re at it, advertise a Halloween sale or contest. As long your customers don’t get scared off by a website they can’t figure out, have fun with this. Make it age-appropriate. Halloween can be cute and funny, or it can be modern, sophisticated, or even sexy.
Write A Halloween-Themed Blog Post
This idea is truly limited only by your imagination. Relate Halloween to some aspect of your business and run with it. Do you have a pet supply business? Blog about tips for keeping your pet safe when trick-or-treaters flock to your porch. Run a home improvement website? List your top ten scariest DIY mistakes made by homeowners. This is also a good place for “awareness” topics like child safety or drunk driving on Halloween.
Hold A Halloween Contest
A fun Halloween contest could be for the best jack-o-lantern, the best homemade costume, the best recipe – you name it. Ask your customers to post pictures of their entries, and don’t forget to offer a prize; a free e-book, gift card, or coupon would be perfect.
Make A Halloween Video
Dress up team members in Halloween costumes and make a promotional, entertaining, or educational video. Halloween tips are a good place to start for inspiration. Tips for applying Halloween makeup. Tips for examining your child’s trick-or-treat candy. Exercise tips for working off all that Halloween candy. The witch-filled sky’s the limit.
Don’t Forget Your Social Networking
Carry over your Halloween theme to your social media marketing campaign as well. Your posts can be Halloween-themed, and can include relevant, entertaining images and links to your other Halloween content (videos, website). Pinterest and Instagram are great places to pursue this tactic because of the heavy use of images, which offer endless opportunities for Halloween spirit.
Even if your image is staunchly professional, a small image, subtle colour change, or Halloween sale or promotion can indulge your customers’ love for the season and win you leads. Almost every business can find a way to get in on the spine-chilling fun.
Yelp is a highly popular review site that gives readers a chance to post reviews on businesses. Many consumers these days check Yelp before making purchasing decisions. Good reviews improve your business reputation and can help you build credibility for potential customers. Positive reviews have the power to directly influence people to become your customers. Reviews can also highlight products or other important details of your business. In fact, even a negative review can reveal a problem you may not have even known about and give you a chance to make improvements.
How To Make The Most Of Yelp
Yelp can help your business out a lot – if you know how to use it well. For starters, you should list your business on Yelp. Include store hours, a link to your website, and a personal message to your prospective customers. When you build up at least a 3.5-star rating, Yelp will give you a “People Love Us On Yelp” sticker; display it on your business’s door.
If you do find negative reviews, respond with an apologetic message and an offer to make things right. Listen to what people say on Yelp and learn from their feedback.
What Not To Do On Yelp
Do not ask your customers to review you. If they do, they might mention that you asked them to do it. Also, do not leave fake reviews for yourself. Too many Yelpers are adept at spotting shills. Do not engage people who leave negative reviews – except to apologise and offer to remedy the situation. Arguing or leaving snarky comments for everyone who says anything mildly negative about your company will only make it – and you – look bad.
Know How To Deal With Fake Negative Reviews
Unfortunately, many of the reviews on Yelp are fake (studies show up to 20 percent). Do your part by not posting fake reviews yourself. Then, carefully monitor the reviews that are posted about your company. If you do find a fake review about you, you can ask Yelp to remove it, but this is easier said than done – it can be difficult to get a fake negative review taken down. Mitigate the damage caused by fake reviews by ensuring the other parts of your online reputation are positive. Because posts on Yelp are largely beyond your control, you don’t want it to be the only place people find you online. Finally, place links on Yelp to your social media account to show viewers another place to interact with you and find solid information about your company.
Learning how to recognise fake reviews can help you out. A fake review is likely to be either extremely negative or extremely positive. Another way to spot a fake review is that the reviewer probably did not publish his or her full name. It is important to get a handle on review sites like Yelp because your online reputation is so important. Be aware of the realities of Yelp, embrace the positive things it can do for you, and do what you can to lessen the damage caused by misunderstandings or completely fake reviews.
It’s tempting to target a young audience with your internet marketing. But don’t overlook the 65 plus set. They are becoming more and more active and computer literate all the time. Those 50 and up are the largest – and most affluent – group of internet users. Their net worth is much higher than that of younger people, and they have outgrown email as their only means of internet communication. Seniors now search on Google, use Facebook, and watch YouTube videos.
In fact, senior-living communities are now teaching their residents to use social media. More and more, they are establishing their own Facebook pages and posting photos and videos online as a way for family members to stay informed and connected. And there are now social networking websites just for older generations.
How many seniors are actually online? Over half of them. That’s tens of millions of people at least comfortable enough with computer technology to make online purchases. These people are embracing the simplicity and convenience of internet shopping, and smart marketers will try to keep up. Older generations have more disposal income than youngers, are brand-loyal, and usually have plenty of time.
Social Media Marketing
People 65 and up are the fastest growing social network demographic. Millions of people in this age group use Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. Reports show that at least 11% of Facebook users are seniors. They use social media to connect with their friends and family – just like other Facebook users – and to share photos and play games. Even if you already have a social media marketing strategy, you may want to consider a separate account specifically geared toward older generations, because they make choices and purchases differently than younger adults and teens.
How To Market To Older Generations
Understand that seniors make shopping choices based on relationships, more so than their younger counterparts. They generally buy the same thing that everyone else buys, but they research and plan more first. Their most popular online activities are email and health information research. Realise that seniors value experience over material possessions. Gadget porn won’t work on them; instead, they want to know how a product will enhance their activities. In other words, they won’t love something because it’s cool; they will love it because of what it can help them do. Spend some energy learning about this valuable demographic to optimise your internet marketing.
And if there isn’t sufficient evidence to convince you that you should be marketing to seniors now, consider this: over the next decade or so, as the baby boomers continue to retire, they will become the next generation of old generations – and the baby boomers are every bit as computer literate a generation as you could hope for.
If you’ve moved past the stage of endlessly looking for the next big idea in Internet marketing, and have actually implemented some of the ideas you’ve found, you may be wondering why you’re not getting the results you were hoping for. Here are some of the most common reasons why Internet marketing campaigns don’t work, and how you can fix them so that your Internet marketing is successful.
The most common reason that Internet marketing strategies fail to achieve their objectives are simply that the objectives themselves are unclear. If you don’t know what your target is, how can you ever hope to hit it? The reason for this lack of clarity could be that you don’t fully understand your market, or the benefits of your product, or what your competition is offering, or even what call to action you want your prospects to take as a result of your marketing. The fix for unclear objectives is simply to clarify your objectives.
The Internet marketing world changes all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re following the best information out there on how to create micro sites with massive numbers of backlinks from link farms, since Google’s updates to their search algorithms means those sites will never show up on page one. If you did not see the anticipated result for your campaign, make sure it is still valid for the current environment. There are two possible fixes for this mistake. First, you can update your campaign for the current environment. Second, you can find a different Internet marketing strategy that accomplishes the same goal as the first, but has been created for the current environment.
Sometimes particular Internet marketing methods work wonderfully for one person, yet those same methods are complete failures for another person. Generally, this is because the second person is missing one of the prerequisites for the method, or lacks the skills or personality required for the method. Social media marketing might be unsuitable for an extremely private person, just as email marketing might be unsuitable for someone who does not have a list of people to whom they can send emails, and article marketing might be unsuitable for someone who is a poor writer. The fix for this problem is to make sure that you have all the requirements for a particular type of Internet marketing before embarking upon it, or to acquire the necessary skills or prerequisites.
Many times, there is nothing wrong with your Internet marketing campaign. It simply isn’t producing results as quickly as you desire. This is especially true of anything that depends upon organic spreading throughout the Internet. You cannot control the speed with which other people act. To fix this, adjust your expectations, or choose a different form of Internet marketing that is more in line with your goals.
Every so often I stumble across a word that’s special. One such word is disintermediation. In plain English, it means getting rid of the middleman. That’s what most internet businesses that sell physical products do, and you need to understand the process for your marketing strategy.
Examples of disintermediation
Look at Amazon. They ate the lunches of traditional booksellers. How? By seeing that there was no real need for brick and mortar stores with their expensive overhead for rent, utilities, personnel, and inventories of books. All of that translated into savings, savings that Amazon has shared with its customers to their mutual advantage. You could find countless examples of this. E-bay is explicitly built on this very principle.
There are countless ways a company could perform this service. And be sure, if you aren’t the one figuring this out for your industry, someone else is and they’ll be eating your lunch soon.
A constant process
Marketers always need to remember that customers don’t care about them. Not really. Remember the cult of Apple? Samsung is now eating their lunch, at least in smartphones. What customers care about is the experience you deliver to them. Your marketing needs to be thought of in that light. What good is it to reach out and corral 100 new customers if 50 of them are going to be dissatisfied or worse, seek a refund and bad mouth you?
The good news is that there are tools and resources out there so you can get help doing what needs done and doing it right. There are many software services you can use, often free, that will greatly simplify your business.
Two ways of looking at disintermediation
You actually need to look at disintermediation two ways. Yes, there is the customer side of the equation, as discussed before. But there is also your own side. Consider for example the hiring of services. For your business doing internet marketing you do not need to hire employees with all of the attendant costs and difficulties. You can contract people from around the world at lower prices to do projects to your standards. You keep using them if and when they suit you.
In this manner there’s a kind of balance established. Yes, you will have to cut your margins to compete in offering whatever you sell, but whatever resources you use to make and deliver it are getting cheaper and more efficient too.
Tips for effective disintermediation
So, recognising the reality here is necessary to your success and maybe your survival. Here are a few takeaway tips. Look broadly at options for getting work done. There are many more and better options today than even 10 years ago. By the same token, keep a very open and inquisitive mind as to how to things get done. You may not need a person at all. Many things are now automated, even things requiring professional results, like creating legal contracts. Even when not automated, most things can be done just as well via the Internet by someone who is eager and skilled as by someone local. You’re still getting rid of the middleman–in this case, distance.
There is a story about a professor who started his class by placing a large glass jar on the podium, and put a number of large rocks into the jar, until no more would fit. When he asked, the students responded that it was full – he could not put any more rocks into the jar. The professor took a number of smaller rocks from beneath the podium, and dropped them into the jar, where they settled into the spaces around the larger rocks. He repeated this with pebbles, and then sand. When the students responded that this time, they were certain the jar was full and no more could be added, the professor poured water into the jar. What does this have to do with Internet marketing? There will always be activities you can do online to market your business or products. How do you know if you’re choosing the big rocks that will give you the most pay-off, or allowing your days to be filled with sand?
Your big rocks are those activities with a hard deadline, either because they are tied to a specific holiday, or because you are doing them in conjunction with another business and both of you must roll out the marketing activity at the same time. Put these activities on your calendar first, determining both when you will actually send out your email marketing, blog posts, ads, or website updates, and how long it will take you to create the material you will be sending out. Make sure that you budget in time for reviews if you are working with someone else.
The small rocks are those activities with soft deadlines. You’d like to complete them by a certain date, but if they’re done a day or two earlier or later, it won’t be a crisis. Add these activities to your calendar next.
Your pebbles are projects that do not have deadlines. These can be sample projects for new forms of social media, split tests to refine a marketing message, or other useful but not necessary activities. You can schedule these things on your calendar, or you can keep a to-do list of the most promising projects and schedule time to work on your to-do list.
Your sand is composed of many, many grains of small effort that together have an impact. Most social media activities fall under the heading of sand. Any one individual post or response will be unlikely to make a difference to your bottom line, but over time, they can have a great effect. Set aside a block of time each day to work on social media, or use small chunks of time in between other tasks.
The water in this analogy is your relationships. It permeates everything else that you do, and is ignored at your peril.
A complete Internet marketing strategy may include updates on your website, audio marketing podcasts, video marketing, articles, blogs, posts, tweets, and pins, as well as sharing and commenting on other blogs, posts, pins, and tweets. To make sure you don’t miss one of your updates, a marketing schedule is imperative. This also helps you to plan in advance what you want to do in order to take advantage of holidays or other special events such as joint promotions.
The easiest way to plan out your marketing schedule is to superimpose a spreadsheet over a calendar. The rows and columns will correspond to the weeks and days of the week in your calendar. If you have a very dense strategy, you will include multiple keywords or multiple platforms on each day. If you have a sparse strategy, you will have only a single platform and keyword combination per day.
Create lines of keywords
If you put together a full marketing schedule that describes what content you will be creating when, you can more easily vary the keywords that you use for your different content. List your main keywords, auxiliary long-tail keywords, and variations of keywords. Create at least four sets of these different keyword combinations, to correspond to the four weeks in the month. If you need more content, create more sets of keyword combinations.
Create columns of media formats
Each combination of keywords can be featured in SEO optimised blogs, articles, audio, video, and social media. If you need more content, include more formats in each column, for example breaking out multiple social media platforms.
Organise by holiday or special event
Superimpose your spreadsheet of rows and columns over your calendar. Note any holidays or special events that will require specific types of marketing activities, and move the keywords and formats around until the appropriate marketing activities line up with the dates on which you want them to occur.
Create keyword rich topics
Now that you know which keywords you want to focus on in which formats for each day, you can plan appropriate keyword rich topics, including SEO optimised headlines. Enter the topic or topics for each day on your calendar. By knowing in advance what you plan to create content for, you will be able to recognize ideas that can contribute to those topics when you run across them. It also gives you plenty of time to subcontract out content creation and still be sure the resulting content will fit into your overall marketing plan.
Schedule content release in advance
Once you know what you’ll be releasing on each day, you can schedule it in advance for release, saving yourself last-minute headaches. Various tools exist for different platforms, such as WordPress for blogs and HootSuite for social media that allow you to pre-load your content to be released at a specific time and date. You don’t have to worry about interruptions caused by vacations, volume of work, illness or natural disaster. Your content will automatically appear where and when it is scheduled.
Once again, Google is causing a flurry of panic among webmasters and SEO practitioners. They recently released a new webmaster tool that allows webmasters to disavow links, in effect refusing to accept the bonus or penalty that would normally accrue to their website from having that link.
Why do webmasters need a disavowal tool?
With the Penguin update a few months back, websites began being penalised for having low-quality links. These links could be from link farms, or clearly purchased links, or links that came from a “bad neighbourhood” such as a web hosting service that filled its servers with spammers and porn sites. Webmasters saw their site rankings drop in response to Penguin, or received the note from Google informing them that they were being penalised for bad links, and tried to eliminate the bad links. Unfortunately, unscrupulous webmasters at these sites realised they had honest businesses over a barrel, and demanded as much as £2,000 to have a link removed!
A cottage industry sprang up, targeting the businesses that were most vulnerable to these types of attacks. Additionally, “black hat” SEO firms would target their client’s competitors with a flurry of bad links, forcing the competitors down in ranks while standard SEO practices lifted their client up in ranks.
The disavowal tool is intended to level the playing field again. Businesses that have been targeted by malicious link-building, or who mistakenly used easily available but poor quality links to try and get attention on the Internet, are no longer held hostage by the sites that link to them.
What’s the downside?
If this was all that the tool accomplished, there would be a sigh of relief from those impacted by Penguin, and a grumble from unscrupulous link farmers whose source of easy money is gone. However, what has the Internet Marketing community in an uproar is wondering to what use Google may put the lists of sources of bad links.
Some people worry that Google is effectively crowd sourcing its algorithm for detecting bad links. As a result, they are concerned that sites which receive multiple disavowal requests will be blacklisted, and all sites that the blacklisted site links to will get penalised for those links.
There are two avenues of abuse this would open up to black hat SEO practitioners. The first is to mimic the links coming in to a competitor’s site, and then disavow those links, making them worth less or even incurring a penalty for their competitor. The other is to somehow trick a competitor into creating a link to a special site set up for this purpose, and then disavowing that link, again penalising their competitor.
For now, unless you need to use the disavowal tool to recover from a Penguin hit, the best thing to do is to watch and wait until it is clear where this is leading.