Tag Archives: Google

Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain – Part 3

 

cloud flare threat control
cloud flare threat control

As we covered in the first two installments of this series on CloudFlare, speed is becoming more and more essential to those hoping to succeed on the web. Both users and search engines are less patient than they used to be. Sites must respond to these new expectations. Optimizing acceleration involves assessing a number of different factors – from the server to the content management system (e.g. WordPress, Joomla!) to the content itself. Each aspect can help or hinder your site.

Enter CloudFlare. This service, which is completely free and doesn’t affect domain registration or hosting in any way, can speed up your site in a few simple steps. What’s more, activating it makes it less likely your site will be harmed by malware or spamming.

Previously we talked about the essence of how CloudFlare does what it does, along with instructions on signing up. We also reviewed its advantages, along with those of Google’s PageSpeed Service. Today, we will survey its brief but interesting history.
Continue reading Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain – Part 3

Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain – Part 2

 

Cloudflare

As we discussed in the first part of this series, one of the most important parameters these days to succeed online is speed. Page load times have always affected how users perceive a site, but what’s becoming more of an issue with online speed is SEO. Google is placing more and more emphasis on the rate at which a page populates.

Figuring out how to speed up your site can be complicated. You have to think about trimming plugins or reformatting content, for example. Beyond that, you may need to think about what hosting service you are using and what type of server is handling your website’s requests. Clearly, speed can quickly become a headache.

Luckily, a free system, CloudFlare, is now available that can make your site faster… and the added bonus is that it makes your site safer as well. It performs both of these tasks by serving as a proxy between visitors to your site and your hosting company (in other words, traffic funnels through them, and their platform optimizes speed and security).
Continue reading Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain – Part 2

Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain

 

Wow! If you run a forum you need Cloudflare - ...
Wow! If you run a forum you need Cloudflare - it cut my webserver CPU usage in half!

Speed: it’s crucial online. The rate at which a page loads is important both to keep customers happy and to keep them from leaving your site. However, your site’s speed is not just about UX (user experience) but about search engine rankings. That latter factor is becoming more and more important as the Google algorithm weighs it more heavily. Tumblr’s servers, for example, do not meet Google’s standards for speed.

Obviously the speed at which your site populates content depends on a mixture of diverse factors. For example, how many images do you have on your page? Are they compressed? What type of hardware are using (server, etc.)? Are there a lot of WordPress plugins on your site? Simple sites running off of great equipment load very quickly, and complex sites on clunky equipment don’t. However, there is a cheat.

CloudFlare is that cheat. It’s free. It makes your site faster. It makes it more difficult for spammers to harass you. It strengthens the security of your site. I know… It sounds implausible. In this three-part series, we will look at CloudFlare from a variety of different angles.
Continue reading Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain

Remote Desktops 101 – Part 1 (Remote Desktop Connection)

 

Remote Desktop Connection Icon

As we all know, the best way to live life is to sit in one place, silently waiting for something amazing to happen. Plus, sloth is a basic human right. Unfortunately, sometimes we are forced by factors outside our control to go to the dreaded “someplace else.” Among other things, one frustrating result of that movement is that we no longer have direct access to the computer. Luckily, there is a solution.

Remote desktop software allows you to access your computer from anywhere through the Web. This tool is sometimes used for remote tech support, but it can also come in incredibly handy anytime you (unjustly) can’t be in the computer’s same physical location.

This two-part series, drawing on information and advice from Geek.com and Lifehacker, will look at how to set up remote desktop capabilities in two different ways:

  • Part 1: Hard way – by changing router and OS settings (actually, not that difficult).
  • Part 2: Easy way – Installing a ready-build solution you can use to accomplish the same task.

Note: Because the hard way involves opening router ports, you will be making the computer less secure. The easy way, then, is chosen by most people because you’re using an application designed for security by professionals.

Also, the hard way is specific to Windows, while many of the “easy ways” are available for Apple as well. Let’s look at each of these options. Then, to celebrate, we will lock ourselves in our rooms and refuse to take any phone calls.

Remote Desktop the Hard Way

As we are reminded by Geek.com, Remote Desktop Connection on Windows is easy to access and employ. Be aware that you are going be changing some important settings on your computer, so turn off SportsCenter, close the windows and blinds, and do some deep breathing exercises to prepare.

1. Allowing Remote Connections. In the computer you will be accessing, go into the start menu, right-click Computer (right column), and select Properties. In the left sidebar, choose Remote Settings, and within that, Remote Desktop. There you should see two options. Choose the Network Level Authentication one.

Selecting Network Level Authentication (NLA) configures access so that any of your enemies or their henchmen – or, God forbid, their henchmen’s henchmen – will be blocked by the requirement for login credentials. Basically this feature prevent DDoS attacks, in which your computer is forced into an army of computers – a botnet – to assault websites with massive amounts of bogus traffic. If your computer is drafted for service, build it a Liberty Garden and pray.

When you’re accessing the computer remotely using the NLA feature, the PC that you are using for access will have to have Windows 7, Vista, or Windows XP Service Pack 3 installed. Click Apply. If you have administrative control of the computer, the Selects Users option is irrelevant.

While you’re at it, disable “Allow Remote Assistance.” Not everyone out there wants to assist you. Sometimes living with your disability is better than accepting assistance, especially in the case of homicidal schizophrenia.

2. Configuring the Router. Finally, go into your router and forward TCP port 3389 to the accessing computer. This step is a little more advanced (though, again, it’s no more complicated than a double-lutz, and each of us is an accomplished figure skater). There’s no general guideline for this because it is router-specific. Geek.com points to PortForward.com to locate the instructions for your router.

While you are working within your router, ensure that it assigns the same local IP every time you remotely access the other device. Otherwise, port forwarding will not function correctly. If you forget to do this and the remote connection doesn’t work, the proper emotional response is to shriek and groan loudly until the men in the white coats take you away (the bakers in the high-end muffin shop where you are following this tutorial while eating scrumptious, overpriced muffins).

3. Testing. Now try it out. Go to your favorite search engine (and if you don’t have one, just Google, “What’s the best search engine?”) and search for, “what is my IP.” Write it down, and put it in a lockbox. Then remove it from the lockbox, and start up a second computer.

On the second computer, go into the start menu, Programs, Accessories, Remote Desktop Connection.  Within Options, you will be able to customize your experience interacting with the remote computer, especially connection speed (within Experience) and the Keyboard shortcut selections within Local Resources. Then click into the General section and type in that IP. Connect. Now stare hard at your computer.

Finally, you should be asked for login details. The desktop of the other computer will appear. Go ahead and install the spyware so you can know what you are doing at all times.

Conclusion, Continuation & Postlude

(Please play “Pachelbel’s Canon” as you read these last few comments. The YouTube address can be found in the bulletin.) That covers Remote Desktop Connection. Now let’s move onto an overview of ready-made applications, in the second part of this series.

Good night, and good luck, and need hosting? Here it is.

By Kent Roberts

SEO Basics, Part 3 of 3: 10 Tips to Understand Content Marketing … Plus Some Jokes

 

Google's Sam Sebastian Keynote at Content Mark...
Google's Sam Sebastian Keynote at Content Marketing World

This piece is the third and final installment in a series on search engine optimization (SEO). The first two parts of the series focused on optimizing toward specific geographical areas – local (Part 1) and international (Part 2). This final article will center on content marketing and why quality content is so important – because informative articles are much of what’s used these days to gain search engine prominence.

Our focus over the years has started to turn toward social media and its ability to aid “conversational marketing.” Content marketing and conversational marketing are in a sense one and the same. Quality content generates quality conversations. If people like the information and entertainment you are providing through your website and promoting through social media, they will be likely to share it with others and more likely to trust and engage with your company – resulting in higher sales.

Content is not just about conversation, though. It is also about getting the attention of search engines. The SEO packages we offer at Superb Internet (alongside web hosting, colocation, and other services) all include, as a core component, the production of quality content. This is because the search engines will give you higher prominence if you are adding strong, original copy to the Internet. “Content is king,” as they say, not just because it makes you more relevant on Facebook and Twitter, but also on Google, Yahoo!, Yandex, and other search engines.

Google Authorship will further integrate social and search by combining its search engine with author-specific tags tied to its social media arm, Google+. Essentially, the relevance of your content, the prominence of the writers or “authors” on your site, and the extent of the conversation your material generates through social media will form a trifecta that determines how high you rank various places online.

Marketing, like all aspects of interaction, is adapting to fit the new expectations of an audience that is increasingly surrounded by digital media and the ability to rapidly share ideas, information, and entertainment with friends and business associates. What has resulted is innovation, but also a sense of confusion about exactly how to meet the needs of new communication tools and sensibilities. Today, then, let’s explore what content marketing is all about and why so many businesses are implementing it.

Before I get into that, though (following up on the format I established in the first two parts of this series), I will present a couple more non-traditional approaches that can increase stickiness on your site. Below is the fifth such Attention Grabber to help you stand out online and give your site’s first-time visitors a great immediate impression.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #5: Baby-Friendly Sounds & Swirling Colors

Have you considered making the landing pages to your website more baby-friendly? Babies now represent 28% of online traffic, and needless to say, they have difficulty understanding traditional sales pitches, preferring happy sounds and swirling colors. Be sure to incorporate these elements into baby-friendly pages:

  • A delicate balance between soft, cloudy pastels and bright, bold hues: babies are easily bored, so ensure visual diversity
  • Advisable sounds: laughter, rain, cat-purring, nonsensical doting grandmother noises; inadvisable sounds: screaming, cackling, explosions, and growling.
  • Always be closing: Make it clear in your terms and conditions on the landing pages that if the baby blinks twice and smiles, s/he owes you $39.95 per month, due in full when the baby turns 18 years old.

10 Tips to Understand Content Marketing

The following 10 tips can be helpful in your efforts to drive traffic to your site by generating quality content that gives you a lift on Google. My main objective here is to convey a broader understanding rather than a specific systematic approach.

  1. How Content Brands Your Company: As Frank Strong of Copyblogger notes, we tend to think of a brand as the name of a product or service – but that isn’t really what it is. A brand is a perception of the product. The perception is, simply speaking, a combination of the image in statements made by the company (as developed by content marketing, TV and radio advertising, etc.) and user interaction (as developed by conversational marketing such as social media, user-generated content such as third-party blogs, reviews, word-of-mouth, etc.). Content marketing allows you to grow and change people’s perception.
  2. Contributing Value: In everything you do with content marketing, think about how the information might be useful and/or enjoyable to your audience. This article, for example, is intended to get across information while also occasionally being silly – so it aims for fun and functionality at the same time. Content marketing is, in a sense, one and the same as conversational marketing because you are attempting to strike a chord with your audience. That way, people want to discuss your business with their friends, and their experience is more memorable. “Content is currency – something we trade for our audience’s attention,” says Strong. Offer value to receive value.
  3. Non-Traditional Advertising: Reaching out to your audience through online content is an alternative to traditional advertising; according to Social Media Today, that’s a good thing. A 2012 Nielsen survey found that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends, and 70% trust online recommendations by strangers. Compare this to 47% trust in TV and magazine ads, and 46% trust in newspaper ads. Getting a conversation started online is a point of access where consumer trust is high.
  4. “Too Much Information”? Usage of smartphones has expanded rapidly, and this has made a major impact on how much users search for information. In 2010, about 1/3 of Internet users owned smartphones; at that time, the average person searched 5.3 online sources prior to buying a product. In 2012, that figure became more than 50%; the number of sources checked almost doubled to 10.4. Make sure you have plenty of content to meet that growing need. And always think in terms of customer needs, per Jay Baer’s concept of “Youtility” (you, not me) and how help wins out over hype online.
  5. Success with Consumers & Businesses: By the time a consumer gets to your website, s/he has made it about 70% of the way to a purchasing decision. Furthermore, per a survey by Roper Public Affairs, 80% of decision makers at businesses would rather read an article than view an advertisement to find out about a solution for their company.
  6. Bolstering of ROI: Content marketing does not disappear; rather, it is a business using the growth of its website to its advantage. Advertising campaigns – even online ones – are here again, gone tomorrow. Your own content, on the other hand, gradually builds and spreads your messages over time. You also get access to more people because of social media sharing. Additionally, per Social Media Today, a Kapost & ELOQUA study found that content marketing is three times more effective at lead-generation than is search engine marketing (SEM) such as Google AdWords, at 70% the cost of SEM.
  7. The Numbers Don’t Lie: Advertising Age conducted a survey of 600 marketing professionals. The results suggest that 12% of marketing dollars are now going to content marketing, with increases in those numbers during 2013. Perhaps part of the reason that number is not yet higher is because companies are confused about factors such as who should be in charge of content, exactly how to make it work, and how to measure its effectiveness.
  8. Difficult to Gauge Effectiveness: One thing to keep in mind about content marketing is that it is not always easy to figure out whether it is working. Of the marketers surveyed by Advertising Age, 8% said they were “very satisfied” with their understanding of the success (or lack thereof) of their content campaigns; 48% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” Keep in mind, that’s not as bad as it may at first appear: it just represents the general confusion as to how to measure whether content is working in a brand’s favor. The CMO of Target, Jeff Jones, says that the company’s webzine A Bull’s-Eye View is receiving over 100,000 unique visitors for each issue, which sounds great; however, “we don’t have a single metric yet, and we don’t have history to know its predictive nature.”
  9. Determining Who’s in Charge: One crucial component of quality content marketing is that it is consistent throughout the company. That means it’s necessary to have a single person who is responsible for the content as a whole. It’s also wise to have individuals, if possible, whose sole responsibility is to analyze possibilities, develop content, and determine whether campaigns are succeeding. Since best practices are still in their infancy throughout marketing as a whole, you need to create a strong infrastructure internally to ensure you are learning from your mistakes and getting better as you go.
  10. Strong Writing Backgrounds: Since the word “quality” is so vague, many folks don’t choose professionals to write articles for their companies. Larger companies are turning toward journalists in some cases – such as Coca-Cola, which according to Advertising Age has hired a former TV news reporter to assist with content creation for a stronger base in research and story-telling.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #6: Middle of Nowhere WebCam

It’s always good to include a live feed from the middle of nowhere as a pop-up window on your website. New customers want to know that you are willing to go the extra mile to expose them to uninteresting as well as interesting content. Here are a few pointers:

  • Choose a location that is completely nondescript: no buildings, no plants, no human beings – just open space
  • Engage your visitors by popping up text – after 10 seconds – that asks, “Why have you not closed this window yet? There is nothing to see”
  • Pair the video with an audio track of yawning. This pairing has the power to make the visitor so bored and depressed that s/he is unable to leave your website.

Conclusion

Developing a strong content marketing campaign for your website is not a simple task. However, its effectiveness in building search engine rankings is obvious as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing gear their algorithms more and more to rewarding quality advice, information, and entertainment on sites. SEO is no longer just about link-building through directories. It’s about helping people find what they need online. If you make people’s lives a little easier, they will appreciate it and become more likely to want to do business with you.

That concludes my three-part series on search engine optimization (SEO). Check out Part 1 on local SEO and Part 2 on international SEO to get a better handle on the different ends of the spectrum for your business’s search efforts.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

SEO Basics, Part 2 of 3: 6 Tips & 2 Mistakes in International SEO … Plus Some Jokes

Image of Google & Yahoo offices in Haifa. Both...

This piece is the second part of a three-part series on search engine optimization (SEO). The first part of this series was on local SEO (a.k.a. “search”), and the next and final part will focus on content marketing – which, alongside conversational marketing (which is really built into good content development anyway), is a major part of any search efforts.

SEO of various types is one of a number of different solutions we offer for website owners and administrators at Superb Internet – alongside hosting, co-location, etc. We offer it because often the people that run websites need help either attaining or sustaining high rankings on Google, Bing, Yandex, et al.

Furthermore, since search and “social” (a.k.a. social media optimization or SMO) are being integrated by Google – via incorporation of its social platform Google+ – businesses will no longer be able to rely simply on one or the other of those elements. Instead, Internet presence will rise or fall based on the success of both of them.

Simply put, the Web is evolving. There is much debate online about what phase of the Internet we are currently operating within. As social sharing became a more prominent aspect of the Internet, the notion of Web 2.0 took hold. There is a good argument that as we transition into stronger interconnection between search and social, and as page rank starts to slip away in favor of author rank (led by Google Author tags identifying individual people responsible for online content), Web 3.0 will be born.

Let’s talk a little bit about how to handle international SEO efforts, taking a look at the other end of the spectrum from the local approach. Many of the same principles apply of course, but different strategies will be helpful if you’re looking for more of a worldwide presence. Keep in mind: English only represents 25% of the Web, and users in non-English countries have higher degrees of trust for content written in their own languages.

In addition to discussing our main topic, I will also continue (from Part 1 of this series) to provide valuable non-traditional ways in which you can pull in the attention of visitors when they first arrive at your site. Here is the third of those Attention Grabbers; then we will get into the international strategies:

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #3: Shoplifting Videos

One thing I’ve found that people always like to see on a website, right when they first arrive, is a six-hour video of top executives of the website pocketing small objects from various convenience stores, pharmacies, and historical museum gift shops. Here are a few important things to include when creating this type of video:

  • It’s good to have an “apprentice” in the video – a small child who is learning the valuable life skill of petty theft from a seasoned shoplifting guru
  • Make sure it’s clear in the video that the star doesn’t need any of what s/he’s taking, and that there is no Robin Hood attitude or high-minded philosophy behind what s/he’s doing; instead, the individual should say repeatedly, “Everyone should do this: it’s exciting, and they have air conditioning in jail”
  • Close with footage of the perpetrator selling the shoplifted merchandise at a pawn shop, then spending the $17 that s/he made on a misguided bet at a greyhound racing track.

6 Tips to Building International SEO

Below are a number of techniques you can use to develop and refine the way that you target international markets. In some ways this is no more complicated than efforts to gain prominence for local searches; however, there are more and less intelligent ways to go about it.

  1. Understanding the Competition: First of all, be thoughtful about what you are trying to do – because the international space is a different sort of competition. You’re going up against established companies in the nation of your focus. Those companies understand the tone of their own culture and the particular needs of its people. It’s a tall order to overcome: not impossible, but familiarity is your primary challenge.
  2. Creation of Country-Specific Websites: A basic question is whether building additional sites is a good idea or not. Now, it could greatly increase your odds to create a new website for each country where you want to increase your business. This will both allow you to choose a country-code TLD (ccTLD) for the nation – such as .uk or .de – and to generate content tailored for that particular audience. You can also then tie those new sites to specific social media. However, managing and maintaining all of these sites is, obviously, a huge project. Typically you want to use the power of one site rather than spreading yourself too thin.
  3. Country-Specific Domains & Backlinks: Google will give you higher relevance for a nation if you tie to a ccTLD and get links from companies and people who use that country as their principal place of business. In essence, you want – as an example – Japanese links to the Japan subdomain or subfolder of your site. If you buy the .jp domain for your site, you can forward it to the Japanese section of your site as well. You can try tools such as Majestic SEO for automated filtering; but developing real strength will require targeted marketing for Japan.
  4. The Dangers of Broken Japanese: We all know how annoying it is to read an article that is difficult to understand because it is written in mangled English. The same is true anywhere. Be sure you have a copywriter who is either an expert native speaker or is extremely well-trained in it as a second language. Before you start to translate, conduct new keyword analysis. People in different countries (including other English-speaking ones) arrange words differently in their searches. Also be sure to add a meta-tag specific to the language being used on each page. Don’t worry too much about English-to-English (such as different usage between US/UK), but do make changes for currency and other usability concerns.
  5. Choose the Right Search Engines: You want to gear your efforts not just toward the correct languages and keywords, but toward the search engines that are most widely used by members of the target nation. Here are the top five worldwide search engines as of February 2013: 1. Google (US); 2. Baidu (China); 3. Yahoo! (US); 4. Yandex (Russia); and, 5. Bing (US). Also, keep in mind that these are general numbers. The top search engine in the Czech Republic is Seznam. The top in South Korea is Naver. Don’t obsess over Google when you’re trying to get customers in countries where Google is not as relevant as another search engine.
  6. Marketing Integration: Create synergy between what you’re already doing in your company and the international marketing campaign you are initiating. What you are essentially getting is leads. Make sure you are as ready as possible to handle those leads as wisely and carefully as possible. You need to think through the entire conversion process rather than just trying to get links and implementing other data-focused efforts: attraction is only the first step.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #4: Timer Counting Down to “Internet Armageddon”

It is always good to let visitors to your site know that they can always come back for valuable information, such as exactly how much time is left on the Web before Internet Armageddon (IA or Y3K) arrives (in the year 3000) and decimates all websites on the planet. Here are several factors to consider when creating and implementing your timer:

  • It should be at the top of your page: certainly what is currently at the top of your page is not more important than the end of the digital age
  • When visitors click on the timer, they should enter into a video tour of your website’s “Y3K e-bomb shelter”; the shelter should be a virtual reality that is vast, deep, and poorly lit – completely prepared 987 years in advance of IA
  • Include PDFs of pages removed from a post-Internet tract you discovered during your illegal wanderings through the sub-basements of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, provided you took such a journey (no fibbing).

2 Mistakes in Building International SEO

Finally, here are 2 pieces of advice on what NOT to do so you’re less likely to repeat mistakes other businesses have made when attempting to gain international traction.

  1. Nativity Does Not Translate to Skill: Make sure you do not make the mistake of hiring or designating a person to be in charge of an international campaign just because they are from a certain country or are familiar with its culture. Remember that SEO is an expertise in and of itself; excellence in the field generates salaries well into six figures. Don’t expect great results without a reasonable investment in a service such as ours at Superb Internet.
  2. Focus on the Dominant National Language: When you enter a new market, you need to consider which speakers of a language within that country or region are most likely to become your customers. You may also find cases where a nation’s official language is not what’s used most often in the search engines – at least by certain subgroups. Even in the United States, as of 2007, 24 million people speak Spanish “well” or “very well.” India is an international example that’s linguistically complicated. Over 300 languages are still alive throughout the nation, with only 22 of them officially recognized. English is typically used as a language for SEO in India. However, there’ll be less competition targeting to a specific language; just make sure it represents a reasonable target demographic for your business.

Conclusion

In review, there are a number of tested and dependable tactics that can help you succeed in international SEO campaigns. First, understand your competition, and consider the culture and language you are targeting. Build a system of domains and backlinks that are specific to each nation or geographic area you are entering. Speak the language well, use the most popular search engines for the specific country, and build your worldwide marketing efforts into your business as a whole.

Finally, don’t make errors in judgment that could be costly and frustrating. Make sure you don’t hire someone just based on their cultural familiarity or language skills; rather, focus on search engine expertise. Also, don’t oversimplify your approach to countries where multiple languages are spoken.

This piece is the follow-up to my discussion of Local Marketing (Part 1). Next up: A general discussion of Content Marketing (Part 3).

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood