Is Shopping Online Truly Safe?

Online securityAs the holiday season approaches many of us will head to our computer instead of the mall to shop for gifts.  The convenience of shopping online to avoid the holiday hassle simply cannot be beat.  But is it truly safe? Stories of security breaches still top the news headlines every week putting us all on edge.  Although nothing is completely foolproof there are steps you can take to protect yourself and shop online with confidence.

Be an educated shopper

Don’t just use the internet to shop. Take time to research the sites you are buying from especially if you have not purchased from them before.  Web hackers have gotten rather good at making fake sites appear legitimate.  Look for contact information on the site itself and do a bit of research on customer reviews.  And be sure to check the address that appears in your web browser is valid before you provide any personal information.

We found this great tool for tips on verifying the validity of a website at GetNetWise.

Look for security signs

Be sure to check for signs that the site is secure before you enter your personal and financial details. The website URL should begin with shttp or https which indicates that the purchase data will be secured using encryption. Another indicator to look for is a closed yellow padlock icon in your web browser’s address bar.  If you don’t see either of these you may want to find another place to shop. And a good rule to follow if you are using a public network is to never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase.

Credit cards or debit cards?

Debit cards are another truly convenient tool for consumers.  But they should be a last choice option for two reasons.  First, debit cards do not have a monetary limit so your bank account could get wiped out if your data is stolen or compromised. And if you have automatic overdraft in place things could get ugly fast.  Second, debit cards do not offer the same buyer protections that most credit cards offer.  In the event that your purchase isn’t delivered or not what was ordered a credit card will generally allow a credit on the purchase.  And credit cards don’t hold you responsible for charges made on a stolen or lost card.

Another great resource for tips and information about safe online shopping is StaySafeOnline. They offer a host of educational materials to help the online shopper make smart choices and safe purchases.  It’s holiday shopping time.  And yes, shopping online can be safe, convenient and a lot of fun.

How much of your holiday shopping will you do online?  Let us know in the comments below.

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That’s A Lotta Data!

Big dataThe sheer volume of data being generated every day on the internet is simply astonishing. It’s hard to wrap your mind around just how much is happening every minute of the day. We did a little research to see what tidbits we could find about internet data activity. Business intelligence company DOMO and Column Five Media joined forces to create this infographic which shows just how much data is generated every minute. So what does it all mean to you and your business?  Let’s break it down by the numbers.

571 new websites created per minute

That’s just over 274,000 new sites within an eight hour work day. This statistic serves as  a critical point to underscore the importance of a well designed and well maintained website. Building a well designed website will ensure that you don’t get lost in the digital tidal wave of new sites that are all competing for their piece of the internet pie.  Hopefully now you see why we emphasize the importance of building it right in our Five Step Process for creating an online presence.  These statistics are in part what is turning search engine optimization into a multi-layered and complex art that few have truly mastered.

217 new mobile web users added per minute

For those of you who still aren’t convinced you need to pay attention to mobile: those 217 users turns into over 104,000 new mobile web users within an eight hour work day.  And we believe this is one statistic that will continue to grow significantly. As we discussed in our post on being mobile ready your website must be easy to find, to access and navigate without pinching, shrinking or zooming.  If your website is aging and has not been upgraded to be adaptive or responsive to mobile your business will be impacted. You better believe that these new users want ease of use and navigation or they will quickly move on to a site that delivers it.

$272,072 is spent online per minute

That translates into over $391 million every day. Whew!  Wouldn’t you love to increase your share of that volume?  eCommerce is a significant and quickly growing aspect of our global economy.  This statistic demonstrates that the demand for eCommerce functionality within your website is crucial.  Your customers are ready to buy and you need to be ready when they find you.  And the demand for eCommerce accessibility via a mobile device is even greater.  Ensuring the security of online transactions adds to the challenge of providing a good customer experience.

The numbers don’t lie.  In fact, these statistics are a great tool for debunking the myths of what’s really happening on the internet.  The more you understand about the numbers the better positioned you will be to take action and help your business keep pace.

So when it comes to your business and website what number scares you the most?

Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Natural Language And Other Trends In SEO

Earlier this year we took a look at tSearch engine optimizationhe changes taking place throughout search engine optimization and internet search.  As with everything internet related the trends move at light speed.  New ideas and tactics for boosting your website ranking are popping up everyday. In a recent article we looked at voice activated search and how that technology is changing the internet landscape.  Today we are talking about how to use language, positioning and word relationships to keep pace with the new world of search engines.

Use natural language

Using natural language in your website content is great for two important reasons. Number 1: Natural language is a lot easier to read than something that is laced with keywords making it seem mechanical. Number 2: Natural language is search engine friendly.  The level of sophistication is somewhat mind numbing when it comes to how search engines are evolving. They are increasingly being programmed to examine word relationships, synonyms and semantics among many other things. Stick to natural language and you will be better off.

Location does matter

The location of the words on your webpage is becoming as important as the words themselves.  Your website will require content in places like headings, the sidebar, header and footer for example.  But it turns out the content located in the main body text holds more importance than content located in other positions. And location becomes significantly more important when it comes to mobile devices which tend to hide portions of a page. Think about it this way: sections of your pages that are most visible need the most focus.

Word relationships will matter more

Search engines are going beyond traditional keyword relationships by exploring ways of using relationships between entities to determine topical relevance.  One approach was published in this Google research paper that describes assigning relevance through entity salience.  An entity is anything that is distinct and well defined such as movies. If your article then goes on to mention movie titles the search engines will make the correlation. The stronger an entity’s relationship to other entities on the page the more significant the impact on the search engines.

We intentionally tried to simplify these topics to help you understand how your website will be impacted by the new trends in search engine techniques.  The good news is that these trends give us new ideas for content creation.  And the bottom line point is to stick with natural language that is written by humans and intended to be read by humans.

Something to keep in mind: we get this new stuff, we love the challenge of this new stuff and we’d love to help you with your website stuff.  Give us a call today.

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Landing Pages: Are They Right For My Business?

Landing pageThe primary goal of a well designed online presence is to attract visitors to your website. But boosting site visits is only one part of the equation. You are in business to sell your product or service, right?  So how do you make a better connection?  How do you convert a looker into a lead? By using a landing page.

What is a landing page?

Getting more visitors to your website is great.  But it is useless if you don’t have the means to capture information and follow up.  The point is to drive traffic that in turn drives sales. Enter the landing page.  A landing page is a simple page that offers something to the visitor in exchange for their contact information.  A white paper, eBook, coupon, discount voucher, insider report or tips are typical offerings.   Once they’ve ‘opted in’ to receiving the offering you will now have the opportunity to email them and nurture them through your sales process.  The idea is to influence them to purchase by continuing to market via email, phone calls or social media.  And offering a unique piece of information will help establish your credibility as a subject matter expert.

Tips for creating a productive landing page

Keep your landing page simple with brief, bulleted content that is contained above the fold.  Add a relevant high quality image whenever possible.   Include a form to capture the contact information of your website visitor.  It’s best not to include your main navigation bar at the top of the landing page. If your visitor’s only option is to complete the form odds are they will do so.  Omitting the homepage navigation has proven to increase conversion rates significantly. Make sure that your content is concise and well written with a strong call to action.

Putting that landing page to work

Traffic can be directed to your landing page in many ways such as a promotional call-to-action button on your site, a live link in your website text, a pay-per-click ad or even a QR Code on printed marketing material like the back of a business card.  Social media can also be used to promote your offering and drive more visitors to the landing page.  Another benefit to capturing visitor information is that most web software will track and segment the data including the specific source of the visitor.  And that’s great information to help you decide where and how to focus your advertising efforts.

Landing pages have proven to be effective for any size business across a variety of industries.  And the more landing pages you create the bigger net you can cast.  Landing pages are a simple affordable way to build your business.

So what are you waiting for? It’s quick and affordable to set up and it works: Call us to get started this week!

 

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Talk About It: How Voice Search Is Changing SEO

Vector mobile phone in flat style - voice controlWith the explosive growth of mobile devices and devices without keyboards being able to ‘voice search’ simply makes sense. A growing general acceptance that we will be using voice to interface with devices is driving rapid development in this area. But what does voice activated search mean for Search Engine Optimization?  And how will it impact the desktop, your website, your business?   We decided to take a closer look at this emerging technology.

The evolution of voice command

Ever since Apple’s personal assistant feature ‘Siri’ burst onto the scene in 2010 the concept has spurred the development of voice activated search functionality across the industry.  The most recent offering from Google is a new feature on their Chrome browser called ‘OK Google’ giving the desktop user the ability to voice search.  Among the benefits listed are its convenience for use away from your desk or when your hands are full.  Voice search also claims usefulness for longer queries or when you’re not sure of a spelling. Regardless of the benefits you can be sure that as Google goes, so goes the rest of the internet.

The impact of voice search

It’s looking like the change from typed words or word strings to the spoken word will have a pretty significant impact on search engines.  Ranking well for a typed search involves predicting what keywords people might use combined with the statistics on search term popularity and competition. Voice search doesn’t rely on classic keywords in the same way. Instead of keyword centric our thinking must be turned to focus on the type of questions that might be asked and how our websites can best respond to those questions.  And this new conversational style will most likely reduce the need for users to click through to a web page for information. The complexity stakes are going to get a whole lot higher very soon.

Ideas for the new world of search

Don’t despair.  These changes offer up their share of opportunities for business too.  One simple strategy is to offer in depth information that can’t be delivered in a search engine response. It will require a bit of recrafting of your content and strategy.  Answering questions in content will become imperative.  Global businesses will benefit from the multi-lingual functionality as well. Supporting more languages and working to refine accent recognition are just a few of the developments in the works.  So it won’t matter as much if a user can’t spell a word but if they can say it will produce the desired results.

Google posted this video about OK Google that will introduce you to the technology.  If you don’t know much about voice activated search it’s worth your time to watch this short clip for an overview.  But don’t stop there. Take steps now to get ready for this inevitable evolution.  Call us. We can help.

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