How To Protect Your Site From Hackers In 5 Steps

As an online business owner, you need to make safety one of your top priorities. Hackers are more likely to target small online businesses since these businesses cannot afford extensive cybersecurity solutions.

There are steps you can take to make your website safer, protect your customers’ data, and educate your visitors about online safety. This is especially important for customers who aren’t tech-savvy, such as senior citizens.

Set Up Best Practices And Stick To Them

You need to have a clearly defined safety policy that includes a set of best practices. These are some of the practices you should think about adopting:

  • Determine who needs to access sensitive data and where this data will be stored.
  • Enforce strong password policies for employees and visitors. Make sure passwords are changed regularly.
  • Think about using two-factor authentication.
  • Reset all passwords if you suspect that a security breach occurred.
  • Don’t use form auto-fill if you sell products online.

Updates

Updates typically become available when a flaw is found with a platform, a script, or an app. Some updates will be installed automatically, but you should regularly check for updates and install them.

Keep Your Backend Safe

There are a few things you can do to protect your backend from attacks:

  • Hackers often target admin directories. Make these directories hard to find and change the default passwords.
  • You can make your server safer with a Web application firewall.
  • There are other free or affordable security applications that you can install on your server.
  • Add a Content Security Policy to the headers of your pages. This element will tell browsers not to execute scripts from other domain names. Hackers might try to add malicious code to your pages to execute harmful scripts, but a CSP will tell browsers not to execute these scripts.

Use An SSL Certificate

You can easily obtain an SSL certificate and install it on your server. This certificate will encrypt all the data requested by visitors as well as the data shared with your server.

Once your SSL certificate is installed, visitors will see a padlock icon next to your URL. Depending on the certificate you install, there might also be a green section next to your site name.

An SSL certificate is an important feature since it prevents hackers from intercepting sensitive data when visitors fill out forms or make an online purchase. It also protects their privacy.

The padlock icon, HTTPS in the URL and the green section in your URLs are signs that Internet users know they should look for.

Transparency Is Important

Internet users care about security and particularly seniors need reassuring that they’re safe online. In fact, 85 percent of US Internet users said they wouldn’t visit a website if their browser told them it wasn’t secure. Some users will know they should look for a padlock icon, but others such as senior users won’t know what to look for. This is why you need to talk to your customers about the steps you are taking to protect their data.

If a breach occurs, you need to talk about what happened and the measures you took to prevent more incidents.

Security should be a priority if you own an online business. Take security in your own hands and remember that transparency is key to earning the trust of your customers.

 

Guest author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and aging, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

How to Choose Your Domain Name for Maximum SEO

Choosing the right domain name is the first and arguably crucial step when launching a website. Your domain name is the flagship of your business, and apart from it serving as a window into your venture, it also needs to be optimized for search engines. Keeping up with the times is important, and those who don’t evolve and adapt to these new trends suffer a huge loss in traffic. So, here are a few guidelines on how to pick the right domain name for your website in order to maximize its SEO.

Keyword Domains

In order to come up with the optimal domain name, you need to take a few things into consideration. First, if you don’t already have a recognizable brand name that can be used as your domain name, you have two options. Either you make a brand name from scratch and then use that as your domain name, or you use some keyword relevant to your business as the domain name. If you opt for the first suggestion, then you need to work on spreading brand awareness over the internet. If you chose the latter, it’s a bit more complex. In the past, keywords were the main thing when it came to domain name SEO, and it’s easy to understand why. Imagine someone looking to buy some healthy food. In the case that you named your domain healthyfoods.com, when this person types ‘healthy foods’ into their Google search bar, it will probably be the first thing to pop up. Nowadays, things are a bit different. In 2012, Google updated its search algorithm, and as a result, keyword domains were no longer the best option. Namely, Google is now more interested in the quality of the content on your website than the keyword in the domain’s name. You can still go for keyword domains if you feel like you don’t have a specific brand name you can use, just make sure that you utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner if you want to find the optimal keyword for your website.

Branded Domains

Today, these domains are greatly preferred by search engines. Not only that, but they have unique names that are a lot easier to remember than keywords. This is why Amazon uses Amazon.com for its domain name and not OnlineShopping.com. The brand is more important than the keyword. Moreover, it is extremely recognizable, which will in turn have much lower bounce rates as people will know exactly what to expect on that website. For example, people searching for Adidas shoes won’t go to Nike.com, right? Apart from being more memorable, branded domain names have clearer backlinks and longer retention times than keyword domains. The main downside of this method is that it takes a lot of time and effort to create a new brand from scratch. You’ll need to do some aggressive marketing on social media and the like to spread your brand awareness enough, so that people can actually recognize your brand. Just make sure that you buy domain name with your brand’s name in it before starting this marketing campaign, unless you want to risk someone else snatching it right under your nose.

Things to Avoid

Now, bear in mind that there are a few things you should avoid at all costs. Using hyphens, for one, is ill advised, as people often forget about them and then go to the wrong site when they don’t type them out. Another downside of hyphens is that they make your site look spammy, as fake sites are notorious for their use of hyphens. They use hyphens to mimic famous domain names like, for example, face-book.com to generate more traffic on their website. Obviously, you don’t want to be associated with them. Similarly, don’t use low-quality TLD’s, which are .biz, .info, .ws and .name. Such extensions are generally shunned by the online community as they too are used by scammers most of the time. Likewise, having a local extension, such as .uk, will rank your website highly in the UK, but not the rest of the world, so using .com is better in both cases. Finally, keeping your domain name under fifteen characters will make it easier for people to remember it and thus reduce the likelihood of typos, as well as making it more SEO friendly overall.

To sum up, if you are choosing between a keyword domain name and a branded domain name, the latter is probably the better option. Moreover, make sure to avoid using hyphens and low-quality extensions in your domain name to disassociate your website from scammers, and use a short memorable name instead.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

Google Says Freshen Up Your Content

While there are – probably – dozens and dozens of ways in which Google likes to rank the content on your website, none of them has become more emphasized than “freshness”. So, in order to get straight into it and not beat around the proverbial bush any longer, here are some of the most important ways in which the god-that-is-Google tends to determine how fresh your content is.

Date Of Inception

Every single web page is going to be valued based on its inception date, something that holds less and less value as time goes on. Just so you know, the inception date is the time when Google first becomes aware of this new content, which tends to happen when the crawlers first detect it on your website or when Google finds a link to this content.

A Matter Of Updating

This is something that has gotten a little bit more attention over recent months. Instead of just rating your content on when it was first uploaded, Google also ranks your content on how regularly it is updated. Content that gets tweaked regularly has more value than content that never changes. Let’s say you go back through your content and change a sentence. Whoop-di-do. However, if you drastically change the main body then you will be having a much bigger impact on this freshness thing.

Frequency Of Changes

Ask those in well-respected SEO services, and they will tell you another huge proponent in the hunt for a better rating is the frequency in which your content gets updates because that is what will keep the Googlebots coming back to crawl your website. Let’s use some examples. Let’s say you have a blog that gets updated once a week as a means to keep your customers in the loop with what you are up to. Okay, that’s once a week something new gets added. Compare that to a major newspaper where their entire body of content gets altered daily and you see which one is more valuable to Google.

New Pages, Please

Another great way to improve the freshness of your website is to create new pages. This is something that a blog manages to do better than anything else because you are not only creating new pages regularly, you are also adding pages that are high in original content. That’s epic. That’s going to get you a freshness score to be super-proud of. You don’t need to go mad on this front, but a new page every so often will have a big impact.

Linking Plays A Lovely Role

Just so you know, the freshness-o-meter is not restricted to your page’s only. It also has a lot to do with the external links that you are using. These tend to wield a lot of power when it comes to measuring freshness. That is why you should always include a cocktail of internal links, outbound links and, if possible, links on external websites that link back to you. Google loves link-building because it makes you look relevant or, to keep with the word we have been using, fresh.

Get More Out of Your Online Business Today

If it feels like your online business is starting to get stuck in a bit of a rut, it’s important to take action to change that. You can’t expect your business to remain on an upward trajectory forever; there are always going to be bumps in the road. It’s how you respond to and handle these bumps that matter. Be proactive and take steps to drive your online business forward and get more out of it today. Here’s how.

Put More In

To get more out of your online business, you first need to put more into it. By putting more into the business, you’ll find that you eventually start to reap the rewards. But more of what? It can be more financial investment, it could be more time or it could be other resources. But don’t let your online business remain static for too long because that never ends well. 

Learn the Value of Analytics

Analytics can’t be ignored any longer. If your online business is not currently making use of analytics tools, that has to change sooner rather than later. There is no getting round the importance of this. So, if you want your company to succeed, start using the right analytics tools. You can approach embedded BI and analytics from many angles. Get informed and work with people who know what they’re doing.

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Consider the Way Your Customers Use Your Site

 Your website should always put the needs and wants of the visitor first. These days, people don’t just sit at their desktop when they want to buy something online or browse your website. Instead, they use smartphone screens and tablets. You need to be aware of these trends and allow potential customers to use and interact with your website in the way they want to.

Improve Scalability

Scalability is one word that you should become more familiar with if you want to push your business in the right kind of direction. This often applies to the logistical side of your business’s operations. You can’t expect your company to keep growing if you don’t know how to scale things up and keep producing strong outcomes. Learn more about this and clean up the logistics that your business relies on each day.

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Cut Out the Middlemen

Middlemen often serve no real purpose. If you have a lot of people acting as intermediaries for your business, you will find that cutting them out and getting to the point saves you a lot of time and energy. There is no need to persist with people that are offering you nothing in the way of value and contributing very little to the success of your online business. Many people feel they’re necessary, but that doesn’t mean they are in practice.

There are so many ways to get more out of your business and help it to grow. These 5 ideas offer you a good starting block. From there, you can develop your own methods to get more out of the online business going forward.

Starting Up A Business? It’s Simple With These Tips

Dealing within your business may come as second nature to you, but for someone starting out, it can all seem too daunting. How can you start a business? Where do you begin to fathom the challenges ahead? There are, however, some basic principals that you can overcome. Getting a grip on the main fundamentals create the perfect grounding to create your business. I thought I would share these simple tips to help you if you find yourself just starting out.

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Business plans are essential

Having a business plan is an essential part of starting up a business. It gives you the focus and clarity to know exactly what steps and actions you need to take. However, many overlook this part of the process and possibly don’t spend as much time on it as they should do. But, not only does a business plan guide you, it can also help if you are looking to gain an investor’s interest further down the line. Or even if you are hoping to raise funds from the start. Which brings me onto my next point.

Consider the financial side of things

The financial side of things is one huge hurdle to overcome at the beginning of starting up a business. You have the initial finance you need to bring a product to market or launch a company or service online. But you may also find that you struggle with cash flow when you begin to start trading. This is when websites like https://smallbusinessloans.co could help you out. You need to be able to keep a business moving forward and the financial aspect can be one of the downfalls of a new start up. So plan ahead.

Social media can be your huge advantage

Social media management and promotion is a buzz with businesses taking different approaches and strategies of how they advertise their business online. And why not? After all, it is so diverse and with a big audience you really can take advantage of social media from an advertising and marketing side of things. A decent understanding of how you can utilise these platforms will be vital to your success, websites like http://www.dummies.com could help you out.

Think of your branding and website

The branding and your website are two key facts for your business and is something that needs you time, your attention and your focus. Everything is digital these days and mostly people will head online to find the right website for their needs. However, if they do happen to stumble across your website but the branding isn’t on point then you could potentially lose that customer or client. A digital marketing agency could help with logos and branding along with web development. Lastly, you will also want to ensure that your website can be seen through the mass of websites offered in search engines. This is when search engine optimisation and the use of keywords could help improve your chances of ranking better. Thankfully, there are plenty of tutorials online to help you make a start on this yourself.

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Business Website Hosting

When choosing a web hosting provider, you should carefully evaluate your options before making a final decision. This isn’t always easy, as there’s plenty of jargon to deal with, which can make it hard to determine whether you’re actually getting a good deal for the price you’ll be paying.

The good news is that with just a little bit of information, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls when comparing hosting providers. Here are some of the top mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not Paying Attention to Hidden Charges

Sometimes, there will be additional charges associated with a hosting service that aren’t always clear from the start. These can include VAT and setup costs, as well as domain transfer fees charged if you want to transfer your domain away to another registrar.

Bandwidth charges are another common hidden charge. Some hosting providers limit the amount of data your website can transfer in a month and charge you extra for any overage. Bandwidth limitations can be a problem if your website grows in popularity and starts receiving a lot more visitors, as you may end up having to pay a high amount for the transferred data.

Choosing a Hosting Service With a Lengthy Contract

Many web hosting providers give big discounts if you pay for several years of service when you sign up. Some may even require that you pay for at least one year of service in advance. Even though this can save you money over paying for a monthly subscription, it’s not really a good idea.

When you first get started with a hosting company, you don’t know what type of experience you’ll have with them in the future. If ever you’re dissatisfied with the service and want to switch providers, it might be difficult for you to get back any amount you’ve paid in advance.

Not Considering Technical Support

Selecting a hosting company that has top-notch technical support is crucial, especially if this is the first time you’re using a web host and running your own website. No matter how good your hosting company is, there is a high chance that you’ll run into some type of problem at one point and will require their assistance. When you need help, using a hosting company with a support department that is easy to reach and answers your questions quickly will make all the difference.

A hosting service that provides around the clock support by different methods, such as phone, email and live chat may cost a bit more than a similar service with less support. But if you have a question about one of your hosting plan’s features or something isn’t quite working right, you’ll quickly see the value of a hosting service which provides high-quality support to all of its customers.

Relying on Reviews Made by Affiliates

The best way to find out whether a hosting company actually provides good value for the money is to read some hosting reviews. The problem is that not all reviews are neutral and unbiased. If you come across a website that just reviews a few hosts, with all reviews being overly positive and having a link to the purchase page of the web host, it’s certainly a site operated by an affiliate that receives commissions for every new customer they refer to a host.

When reading hosting reviews, it’s a better idea to consult several different websites. This will give you a more unbiased look at various hosting companies, helping you understand what their strong and weak points are.

Choosing a Provider Solely Based on Price

It’s not a good idea to assume that all hosting services are the same and just choose the provider with the least expensive options. Also, the highest priced hosts aren’t necessarily the best either, as some providers sell basic hosting services at highly inflated prices. A better approach to choosing a host is to think about what your needs are and then compare various hosting plans from different providers, as well as read independent reviews to get an idea about the quality of each company.

Paying Additional Fees For Products and Services You Don’t Really Need

Many hosting companies try to “upsell” during the checkout process. Be careful to review each page before clicking on the “continue” button so that you don’t buy any products or services that you don’t really need.

Many of the products offered during the upsell phase are hyped up by the web host as being worth hundreds of dollars, but are actually of little value. For example, some hosting firms charge inflated costs for website templates or directory submission services that you can easily find for free elsewhere.

Not Thinking about Scalability

One of the troubles of starting a new website is that it’s difficult to know how much your site will grow in the future. While your current hosting package may meet your needs for now, this may not be the case a few months down the road. For this reason, it’s very important to select a hosting provider that offers a variety of services and makes it easy to upgrade if you need to.

Using the Same Company For Web Hosting and Domain Registration

It’s common for domain registrars to also provide hosting services, but their packages are often overpriced and offer only basic hosting features. Many hosting providers also make it a huge selling point to offer a free domain name when you sign up for their service. However, this isn’t a huge benefit, as domain names are quite inexpensive and you can easily buy one independently.

Another point to consider is that having your domain and hosting offered by the same company can make it harder to switch to a different provider in the future if your needs change or you’re not satisfied with the service.

Selecting a hosting provider for your business website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. To increase the chances of selecting a web host that is right for you and avoiding problems, you should do your research beforehand to avoid making mistakes that could prove costly down the road.

Guest Author, Josh McAllister, is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

5 Incredibly Easy Steps To Start Your Own Website

In today’s world if you don’t have a website you basically don’t exist. Or at least no one will ever know about you. Not having a website is no longer an option for anyone who’s into any kind of business simply because everyone is on the web today. Luckily for you, setting up your website is no longer as difficult as it used to be, with many web hosting options available for you to choose depending on your needs. Here are the 5 easy steps to get you started with designing your own website.

Decide on Your Domain Name

Before you jump to choosing a color and layout, please first pick yourself a domain name. Domain name is extremely important as that’s how your website will be called. Getting a domain name will cost you an annual fee which you’ll be paying for the right to use the unique name, so no one else can take it from you. Choose a domain name that is going to be catchy but also reflect whatever your site is about. If you can read the domain name and get a good sense of what’s your website’s field of interest you’re all good.

Choose a Website Platform

Choosing a website platform depends solely on your capabilities. Are you confident about your coding or you know absolutely nothing about it? If you’re good at it, you can go on and design your website from scratch, but if you’re not – CMS might be a better option. CMS (Content Management System) is a platform for building websites, which you’ll also use to manage all elements of your website, such as content. Today, most people just use CMS and we recommend it as well. It’s easy and allows you to run a website with little to no previous knowledge about website management.

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Which CMS Should You Choose?

The best CMS platforms out there are free to use, with WordPress leading the pack as by far the most popular one. The other two are Drupal and Joomla. There are other CMS platforms out there, but we’ll be focusing on these three.

  • WordPress – When it comes to beginner friendliness, you should look no further than WordPress. It’s used by over 60 million websites today, it’s easy to install, it has by far the most plug-ins which makes it very customizable. The bad side to WordPress is that you can’t edit its visuals significantly, at least if you’re not a designer.
  • Drupal – Drupal is much more complicated than WordPress, but it makes up for it with its faster response times. However, if you’re absolutely new at this, Drupal has nothing to offer that WordPress can’t.
  • Joomla – This CMS platform is great for setting up online stores quickly. It combines the power of Drupal and the easiness of WordPress. It’s basically a middle-ground for those who aren’t satisfied with WordPress or Drupal.

Plan Your Website

Now that you’ve chosen your CMS platform, you need to start planning your website. To do that you need to make a number of choices that will determine how your site looks. First off, consider the type of website that you need. Is it an informational type of website, like a blog? Or is it an e-commerce shop? Different types of websites require a different approach to designing a website, so make sure you know what you’re after. Secondly, you need to decide how your users will navigate the website. Like any freelance web designer can tell you, navigation is extremely important to every website’s success. The third thing you need to know is the type of content you’re going to use to attract visitors.

Promote Your Website

Promoting a website usually includes either PPC (Pay Per Click) or SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaigns, or you can combine both of these for the best results. However, SEO is cheaper and it’s probably the best way to become visible on the web. You’d rather be on the front page of the newspaper than all the way in the back, right? That’s what SEO lets you do – appear on the first page of the SERPs. Do your keyword research, write high-quality content, and do some link building. These are the SEO practices that will get you the best results.

Conclusion

Creating your own website today is easier than ever, which isn’t to say that it’s a piece of cake. It still requires a lot of time and effort to get it running, and even more to get it to the top of your SERPs. But if you invest yourself in it and follow these simple tips you’ll soon get the website running and in time you’ll learn how to manage it and how to attract visitors. The better your start is though, the easier it’s going to be to manage it.