All posts by kencook

About kencook

Writer for hire, SEO analyst. American Soldier.

alert

Send Money Directly Through GMail

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RED ALERT …. and applause. The action is not new, but the encouragement to use it is.

screen shot gmail send moneyWhen you sent an email through Google’s GMail recently did you notice the little dollar symbol ($) below the composition area? If you have ever wanted to empty your bank account giving away money, or perhaps offer that opportunity to anyone who gains access to your GMail account, your wishes have been made into a reality.

On the one hand this can make it very easy to send money to my daughter who is away in school or to my friend who is travelling in India. On the other hand this may make it very easy for anyone with access to my GMail account to send money to their self. So, let’s look at what Google has to say about the security of this feature:
send-money-gmail-protection
Let’s see, Google lists several protections. One of them, or so it seems, is not any protection in the event someone gains access to your GMail account. What to do?

First, if you are concerned about being hijacked it would probably be best to never do anything on the Internet. Disconnect your Internet service immediately, and get off Facebook. Alright, that’s not going to happen.

screen capture for sending money through gmailNow that all that negative, scary stuff is out of the way the question remains, “will you ever use this feature to send money directly through your email account?” For me the answer is most likely “no”. However, if I got a phone call from a trusted friend there is a chance I may use this method. Facebook has a warning about scams from people pretending to be friends and asking for money. Unfortunately, I know a reasonably intelligent person who fell for this at the tune of $1200.

increase blog traffic

5 Things To Blog About For Web Traffic In May

road sign - blog traffic

There are many ways to increase traffic to your website. Make sure you are paying attention to quality, not just quantity.

 

If you live in the United States and you are looking to gain organic web traffic there are certain topics which are always big. To keep your Quality Score high make sure the content is actually about what your website does. If you are a plumber, tie this back to plumbing. If you sell real estate, tie this back to real estate. If you have no time or idea how to do that, hire me.

Welcome Warm Weather – From auto repair to wardrobe, restaurant fair to travel, insurance to healthcare, and even welding supply sales, virtually everything can be affected by the arrival of warm weather. Here’s an example for welding supply sales: “With the arrival of warm weather and the soon coming of summer now is the time to take advantage of the better climate and remind your clients to check old weld joints for damage and decay. Replacing or repairing damaged welds with our tools and supplies…”

Travel – Have you ever thought about how travel affects your business directly? Let’s say you own a small, second hand shop in Kennesaw, Georgia. Do you know how many people search “things to do in Kennesaw” during the month of may? I do! Or at least I know a good average. What about a chiropractor, how can they use this? Travel related information is hot – just watch my sites for information about business posting while travelling over the next few days.

Festivals and Events - There are so many local festivals and events in May that it would be a challenge to write about each of them. Remember, the goal is tying it back to your business and maintaining a good Quality Score. I use Quality Score even when not buying AdWords, because it means the content is relative to the user’s search and to your business.

Memorial Day – Monday, 26 May 2014, is the day the United States stops to remember those service men and women who were killed in action. It also happens to be the sort of official kick-off for the summer season. I can think of posts relevant to hundreds of industries where Memorial Day can be included. The last day to get these posts out would be Sunday, 25 May.

Summer Vacation – Many schools wind up regular classes in May and June. May is a great time to talk about many effects of summer vacation. There are so many things that can be written about summer vacation which could apply to virtually any industry that I highly recommend having at least one recent article or post about the topic.

fake twitter follower screen capture

Tool For Identifying Fake Twitter Followers?

Okay, in fairness it says it’s the Beta application. This tool could help trim down on the number of fake Twitter followers you have.

Have you ever wondered how many of your Twitter followers were fake accounts? Me too. In fact I’m pretty careful about not accepting accounts that even look suspicious. Color me careful, but I don’t want spammer accounts or faked accounts connected to me. Of course it is Twitter and it is public so pretty much anyone can see pretty much everything; a fact I constantly keep in mind.fake twitter follower screen capture

The reason I would prefer to not have spammers or faked accounts following me on Twitter, as in I block them, is because they are like weeds. If you let one grow then others will grow around them. Have you ever had ten or twenty followers all in the same day with oddly similar profiles? That’s what I mean.

So there’s this tool available from Social Bakers which *could* be a good tool. I tried it out, and while I was not terribly impressed, I have hope. One hope is that someone from Social Bakers will chime in and talk to us about their tool. The other hope is that they continue to develop this, and that Twitter actually lets tools like this work to do things like mass unfollow. Yes, I like that.

So here’s the tool. It’s very simple. You type your Twitter handle into the text field and click “Check”. That’s it. The results speak for themselves. Scroll down a little because they did give me one name of one account I could block, or visit their profile. So, keep working on it guys – this is my kind of useful tool! What we really want to see is the full list of the people your tool finds suspicious. Okay? Thanks.

heartbleed graphic

Internet Hacked? Yes, Change Your Passwords Now

heartbleed graphic

A vulnerability exploit which may have affected 2/3 of the Internet, or more. (Graphic from http://heartbleed.com/)

UPDATE: Chromebleed, a plugin for Google’s Chrome browser, is now available to tell you when you visit a site which has been affected by the Heartbleed exploit.

No one knows just how extensive the damage but a survey of providers places the estimate at 66% of the Internet being compromised.

Most of what can be done now is going to happen at the provider level as opposed to the user level. Common sense dictates now is the time to change your passwords including hosting accounts, email accounts, social networking accounts, and others.

“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

http://heartbleed.com/

As of 09APR2014 affected systems include those presented in the image below:

heartbleed affected systems

These systems have tested positively for the Heartbleed vulnerability and have completed or are working on curing. (http://www.kb.cert.org/)

new twitter layout

New Twitter Layout for 2014

new twitter layoutJust when things are settling down with the new Facebook layout, Twitter kicks down on some tested changes, too. The new design, which I discovered by accident since I don’t have time to read every other social media blog, is featured in the image here.

The header image is more like that of Google+ and covers the full width of the page. The overall look is more similar to that of Facebook. This includes the use of a larger font in the tweets, most of the real estate being used for user content, and a three column layout.

Here are a couple at random, this is definitely not an endorsement:

Other Changes

new twitter followers layoutThere are other changes also. For example, when you visit your “Followers” you’ll get something much more into the new responsive design era. Again, the text is easier to read, the listing shows the other user’s header graphic, and there is an improved amount of information about the other users included with the snippet.

Do you have the new layout? If so please let us know in the comments (along with your Twitter handle), we want to see it, too!

guest blogging - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Guest Blogging Is Dead*

A few years ago I blasted a particular person about spreading word that blogging was dead. He considered himself, and even called himself, “tech savvy”. Which, it turns out even if that was accurate, his information was a little suspect, to say the least. So why dare I say guest blogging is dead? Well, I didn’t; Matt Cutts, spam master of Google did.

fork - FreeDigitalPhotos.net“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”
- Matt Cutts

Some years ago, before there were huge content farms like Fiverr, ODesk, and others, getting an opportunity to guest blog or finding someone to guest blog was like winning an Oscar. Today, however, with people willing to write a few hundred words for a couple of bucks things have changed dramatically.

There is one very important caveat in the quote from Matt above: Unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. This little bit of information is highly valuable and still gives us hope for sharing content, networking within our own profession, and delivering quality content to our readers. This is, after all, what Google wants from us. As long as we are providing good, relevant content, not linked to marginal sites, we are providing a service to our readers and to Google’s searchers.

Guest Blogging Can Still Be Of Value

Try this for a guest blogger strategy:

  • Only accept posts from people you trust
  • Check the content for plagiarism or duplicate content
  • Manage the format of the content on your site
  • Only allow links to trusted resources of value
  • Add index, nofollow to any links of lower value
  • Use guest content sparingly and accordingly
  • Monitor your analytics closely and be prepared to change

Driving home the importance of the nofollow link let’s take a look at how Google recently penalized a leading guest blogger website, MyBlogGuest. From that article, by Jennifer Slegg, this quote, “If MyBlogGuest had focused on the content and the value of the guest blogging, such as traffic or exposure, while ensuring that all links within an article had to be nofollowed, then it’s likely MyBlogGuest wouldn’t have been targeted and penalized.”guest blogging - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Obviously the tactic works, or worked, or the spammers and gray hatters would not have bastardized it. Repeatedly the most important thing to Google is tricking their spider into following bad links, spammy links, from otherwise trusted sites. Using nofollow (there is a plugin for WordPress here) on links is the most important step you can take in creating value for your readers, giving your readers (and not the Google bot) the opportunity to visit the author’s site, and protecting your reputation.

Special note: hiring a writer to create content for your website or blog works the same way. When you hire a reputable ghost writer, however, everything should be in your name with no links to the author’s site or questionable third party sites. Still, you need to check all of the content and make sure you are not allowing a violation of Google’s policies and risking action.

 

business goal freedigitalphotos.net

Be Yourself, That’s Different Enough

group of walruses FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here is what we all look like to outsiders of our little group. Break out!

This begins critically, but migrates to the full purpose. Please read all 700 words :)

For some while I was a peripheral member of a tight group of people who consistently espouse, regurgitate and laud only the ideas which come from inside that group. They certainly make themselves out to be the thought leaders, the pioneers, the advance team; in reality they are a relatively tough crowd to break into and generally don’t look outside for hard facts and real growth.

As a small business owner, better yet an independent business person, you can find yourself quickly swept into supporting and even “worshipping” a group like this in hopes they have the real answer. From what I can tell most of these people really don’t do much other than travel around to be at the same place at the same time with the same people over, and over, and over… Too many times I have heard damaging information coming from these people who have excellent presentations and the power of the supporting throngs to help push their words out into the social space in great quantities and at high volume.

Search Engine Optimization, Still A Valid Tactic?

Google has made many changes over the years with the primary goal of delivering better search results to their users. After all if we always, usually, or even a big percentage of the time were given irrelevant links to our searches we would soon stop using that service. The search engine game is all about being the most trusted, reliable search source on the Internet. So far Google has done very well at this and as a result has become the dominant search engine available. Although Bing is making great strides and other engines are improving Google still commands a high market share and continues to be the primary topic among online marketers.

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Many years ago search engines simply were not as complex as they are today. Fooling a search engine into believing your page provided the information their users were searching for was as simple as using the keyword over and over. While there are still site which attempt this “keyword stuffing” method the engines are smart enough to recognize it, treat it accordingly, and even discredit sites which continually employ this technique. Although this technique is one of the most recognizable it certainly is not the only trick and the discovery of these black hat and grey hat techniques is what keeps the search engine developers busily improving their search algorithms in order to eliminate results which appear because of such methods.

Search engine optimization generally pertains to the methods and techniques of making sure web pages, and the entire site, are published and coded according to the guidelines we believe are acceptable to the search algorithm. Today’s SEO is quite different from the ill-advised activity from decades past. Ensuring proper coding, use of proper formatting, and other content related issues are among the most important factors in optimization today. Making sure all of the language on the page, and often within the entire site, is search relevant is part of what we providers must take concern to achieve.

How To Optimize For Search Engines Yourself

While the coding, formatting and back-end issues may be beyond your skill-set there are still things you can do to help the search engines like your content. In fact content is what it is all about. Think about the people you want to become your clients and write for them. Talk about the things that are important to the people you want to connect with and provide good, accurate information. Think about if you were standing in the room, or giving a live presentation, with the crowd you want to reach. Would you babble about nothing except the key words for your business? Not likely, and if you did you would probably be ignored … or shown the door.

Providing information, facts, data, reports, stories, history, and other important information relevant and valuable to your readers. If you are a plumber talk about the importance of having regular plumbing inspections to avoid costly disasters. If you are a restaurant keep your site up to date with information about your staff, your menu items, or events at your facility. Search engines love recent information and it helps move you up in the ranking to fall into higher position on search. Don’t be afraid to go in and edit old pages to bring them up to date.

What Is So Great About WordPress?

Every small business, every business even, every marketer, every church, every politician, needs a web presence. Years ago when I first began providing web presences for such people it took much more to convince them of the need. Today it seems almost every one of these people recognize the need even if they do not exactly know why. For the sake of this short article let’s assume everyone knows having a website gives direct access to your words, images and sound to nearly every person in your marketplace regardless of scope or size.

When the web first started gaining traction back in 1995 I could charge, and get, as much as $500-$1000 for a single web page, more for small business websites, that actually did something like accept information into a form or provide automated data responses to visitors. Plain static web pages would yield $150-$300 or more depending on graphics and how much content I created for the site owner. This trend continued for a few years and started to change when Microsoft and Macromedia (among others) came out with WYSIWYG, DIY solutions. Unfortunately this led to a proliferation of cookie cutter, amateurish websites which displayed awkwardly on various browsers, contained many errors in style and code, and all too often stayed out of date within days of being published.

AirDroid Gives You Online Control of Your Droid

How many times have you been sitting at your laptop or desktop and wished you could send something via SMS to your friends that you were looking at online? How about taking a photo through your phone but from your computer? Did you ever think you left your phone somewhere and wished there was an easy, free way to locate it? AirDroid provides these solutions and many more.

AirDroid screenshot

AirDroid lets Android users connect to their mobile device from a computer.

It’s probably worth saying that I cannot be up to date on every single app for every platform. Or, you could simply say on certain things I am far behind the curve! The other day I was trying to use Kies Air, which in my opinion sucks. Finally I broke down and did a search and quickly discovered AirDroid. Then I had one of those WTH moments where I couldn’t believe something so powerful existed and I could use it to get extents for free.

Down Sides?

As with everything there are downsides. Perhaps one of the most concerning downsides is that now it is possible for someone to crack my AirDroid account and have full access to my phone. They could message my friends, delete my files or apps, upload malicious content to my ‘Droid or do a few other damaging things. There is also the fact that now my phone is connected to a cloud service which is basically outside of the standard security protocols offered by Samsung and Sprint.