Browsing The Internet In Safety

Evan Schendel is a help desk specialist for Tech Experts.

Browsing the Internet safely comes with many hurdles. Not all of them are obvious, however. These hurdles are numerous and potentially dangerous, but with the proper knowledge and mindfulness, they can be avoided quite easily.

Viruses and Spyware

The Internet is a minefield of harmful applications and criminals trying to take anything they can, but these attempts can be counteracted.

A user must always watch out for suspicious links or websites. Some websites, though legitimate-looking enough, may be spoofed or fake, hiding malicious code or something equally devious.

Hints to these websites being fake can lie in any aspect of the page, but most commonly, it is a slightly different URL or domain name, typically off by only a letter or two.

The viruses dwelling in pop-ups usually attempt to scare users into clicking their product and downloading the malware or spyware-stuffed application linked in the pop-up.

Spyware can not only steal information input while loaded onto a system, but also slows the system to a crawl and tends to be easy to pick up. Simply navigating to a poisoned web page or opening a suspicious e-mail can infect a workstation with spyware.

The real dangers lie in file-sharing sites, where any file could be dangerous. When downloading any application, evaluate it carefully and make fully sure that not only the site is legitimate, but also that the application is safe too.

Preventative measures do exist, and any workstation should have an anti-virus and anti-spyware application installed and running to prevent most malicious applications from doing any serious damage.

Phishing and Scams

Viruses aren’t the only dangers that come with browsing the Internet. Many scams plague the Internet, preying on people uneducated about their existences.

Older scams were typically through e-mail, with scammers posing as long-lost relatives or people who could offer the victim a large sum of money, but only if they helped them out with a fraction of what they claimed they could pay the victim.

While it seems silly that these scams could work, many fall prey to the empathetic connection one might have when speaking a person in apparent need. These scams, while still common, occur less and less while newer and more sophisticated traps are being developed.

Phishing attempts also come in a method previously discussed – pop-ups. These can have dangerous-looking warnings, alerting you that your machine is infected with a petrifying number of viruses and scaring the user into clicking their links or graphics.

These links or graphics can lead down a dangerous path, including giving the scammers your credit card information or worse.

In the event a pop-up like this occurs, do not panic or give in.

If it is a pop-up, close the window and make certain you click nothing else on the page. If it is a re-direct to a suspicious page, close that as well, and immediately scan the system for any viruses or spyware just to be safe.

No computer is untouchable, but best practices and well-implemented safety measures can make a computer system much more secure, letting you browse the Internet without fear.

In addition to anti-virus programs, constant system updates and application patches can keep any potentially dangerous backdoors or vulnerabilities covered and safe.

With all of this information kept in mind, falling prey to viruses, spyware, and scams will be far less likely and sites will seem much safer.

Three Great Ways To Capture Feedback On Your Website

Businesses gather and utilize customer feedback in their business strategy to ensure the products and services they produce meet customer needs. Here are three ways to gather client feedback from your website visitors.

Email is an immensely valuable method of securing honest feedback from customers. However, many organizations neglect to consider the customer experience when designing email channels. There are three things you should take into consideration when communicating with customers via email:

1. Ensure you respond to customers in a speedy fashion: A recent study found that 81% of customers would be more likely to leave feedback, if they thought they would get a rapid response.

2. Develop an organized system by which customer feedback is handled. Keep track of what feedback you have received from whom and use this information to guide future customer interactions.

3. Follow up on all correspondence in an honest and open manner.

Surveys are very challenging to develop; however, they can provide extremely useful insights. Test long and short surveys to find out which are the most effective in providing with the feedback you need. Tools like Qualaroo are great for short surveys, while Survey Monkey is ideal for longer questionnaires.

Customer interviews provide direct feedback from your customers and allow you to develop a more personal relationship with them. When planning the interview process, it can be useful to focus on user attitudes toward the problems they typically encounter and employ a critical incident method to encourage customers to recall specific problems.

How to Build A Strong Online Presence For Your Business

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Statistics released by Google confirm that 97% of consumers now use online search to find local businesses. So what does this mean for your company?

If you want to reach potential customers, you absolutely must have an established online presence. This has two main benefits. The first involves outbound marketing. A functional website will reinforce your brand, explain your products and services, and communicate how you can solve your customer’s problems. Second, establishing a portal of high-quality online content, known as inbound marketing, will help you establish your brand as an authority and will attract new customers.

There are three simple steps involved in creating a functional and effective online presence.

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Do You Have Internet Privacy At Work?

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

Sometimes, when there’s a break or the work day is slow, it can be tempting to check on a couple different websites. In doing this, would anyone know what websites were visited? Other than the people around, who else would know what sites might have been visited? It may come at a surprise that there could be many different people later on – or even immediately – that find out about the websites that were visited.

It is common for workplaces to have a firewall that prevents certain websites from being visited. Along with blocking certain websites, firewalls usually keep track of all the different websites that have been visited and by who.

Any time a website is visited that has been blacklisted (blocked), this usually triggers an alert to the IT department or management, so they can look over who tried to connect to a blacklisted site. From there, if IT or management feel it is necessary, they could look over the entire history of websites that were visited by a user or a group of users.

Now, let’s say for some odd reason that the business does not have a firewall or other device that keeps records of websites visited – could websites that were visited still be discovered?

Well, the computer someone uses also keeps records of websites that they have been visiting, which can be accessed by IT.

Some clever users might be able to remove their footprints from their workstation computer, but they may not have access to something like that.

There is another way that websites visited from a workplace can be tracked without a firewall or looking into the computer files.

If the websites visited warrant any legal action or an investigation is happening at the company, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) can release any and all records of websites visited and exact information of what was done. There is no way to get around this as you need an ISP to use the internet.

There are even more ways to find out what websites are being visited than what was mentioned here. In short, if someone at the office is using the work Internet, it is more than possible that every website visited is being kept track of in one way or another.

If you follow the rules of your workplace and visit only the type of websites allowed by the work place, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. As a rule of thumb, you should only visit sites and do things that you don’t mind the public or workplace knowing about. If you ever see “NSFW” (Not Safe for Work), do not visit or have anything to do with it while on the work Internet.

Only surf the Internet when you are allowed to surf the internet. Don’t visit websites or open emails where the main site or email sender is unknown. With these tips in mind and a better awareness of how a person can be tracked on a business network, you can make better choices while on the company’s Internet.

Why Do I Keep Seeing The Same Ads On Multiple Websites?

This is the result of an online advertising approach known as site retargeting which tracks your online behavior to offer you targeted advertising. At first glance, this may seem like it is posing a security threat, but there are assurances that tracking is done anonymously.

Site retargeting is based on a pretty simple concept. Whenever you visit a website that may want to show you an advertisement, it puts a digital tag called a cookie on your browser. Then, when you visit another site with an area to display paid advertising, the information on that particular and other tags is used to choose an advertisement you would likely be amenable to click or watch. The hope is that, while you may have missed an opportunity to purchase an item once, you may be more inclined to complete a purchase at a later date.

If you don’t appreciate being such a target for advertisers, there are ways to block and delete cookies and to stop ads from reappearing. To delete existing cookies on your browser, choose the option to delete cookies under the settings. Also, if you see an icon that says AdChoices next to recurring advertisement, you can click that icon to stop the reappearance of that particular ad. Most browsers also have a Do Not Track option in their settings, which prevents your browser from being tagged in the first place, but that also means you can’t save passwords or use other tools that are also dependent on cookies. You could also surf the web in private browsing mode (accessible through your browser’s settings) or use an ad-blocking service like Ghostery or AdBlock Plus.

Online Safety: Is Your Website Secure?

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

For all too many companies, it’s not until after a breach has occurred that web security becomes a priority.

While more than a few examples of recent breaches may leap to mind, know that these aren’t exclusive to big name retailers who accept credit cards. If you have a website for your business, you may be at risk.

As more and more business is done using the World Wide Web, websites themselves have become increasingly attractive to cybercriminals.

Websites are such a lucrative target for an attack because not only are there so many sites to attack, but an overwhelming majority of all websites can be easily exploited by some of the most common vulnerabilities.

Attackers, no longer driven by notoriety and ideology, have focused more on techniques that allow them to profit from their illegal activities.

Exploited sites allow the theft of credit card data, financial information, identities, intellectual property, and anything else cyber criminals can get their hands on.

The integrity of the company’s internal network can be affected as well if the website provides access to it.

There are many online services that allow anyone to create a webpage in under ten minutes.

Unfortunately, these quick solutions also make it easier for attackers. Without proper training and knowledge, many of these sites are left with multiple vulnerabilities. A few of these vulnerabilities will be discussed.

The Heartbleed Bug is a vulnerability that allows attackers to obtain confidential data such as usernames, passwords, emails, and even proprietary company data and communications.

Even if you think you might be protected because you use encrypted forms of communication, you’re not safe. Attackers will be able to eavesdrop into your communications and steal data from beneath you.

Like Heartbleed, one of the most prominent vulnerabilities affecting web applications is cross site scripting (XSS).

This vulnerability can allow an attacker to hijack web communications. The attacker may target a vulnerable website by tricking the user into submitting sensitive information or performing a privileged action within the target website’s web controls.

Application Denial of Service attacks have rapidly become a commonplace threat for doing business on the Internet — more proof that Web application security is now more critical than ever. Denial of Service attacks can result in significant loss of service, money and reputation for organizations.

Typically, the loss of service is the inability of a particular network service, such as e-mail, to be available or the temporary loss of all network connectivity and services.

Denial of Service attacks are centered on the concept that by overloading a target’s resources, the system will ultimately crash.

An HTTP Denial of Service attack can also destroy programming and files in affected computer systems.

In some cases, HTTP DoS attacks have forced Web sites accessed by millions of people to temporarily cease operation.

Websites that can be compromised pose a serious risk and thus serious preventative measures should be taken to combat it.

Scrambling to fix the problem after the fact is costly, stressful, and can potentially result in legal action. Breaches also cause damage to your company’s image and brand, which may be permanent.

Know your vulnerabilities and don’t rely on ten-minute-or-less website creators to keep you safe.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Are You Losing Customers Because Of Your Website’s Loading Time?

The amount of time a page takes to load is undoubtedly an important part of any website’s user experience. The fact is that website visitors care more about speed than all the bells and whistles you add to your website.

In fact, page loading time also affects your search engine rankings. Here are a few additional facts to consider:

On average, consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds, with a significant portion of online shoppers abandoning a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Additionally, customer satisfaction is decreased by a 1-second page load delay and discourages them from buying from the sПечатьame site in the future.

Measure your website speed
Page Speed Online is Google’s free web-based tool that allows you to easily and accurately measure the speed of your website online.

It also provides an overview of the high, medium and low priority fixes that would help increase your page speed.

However, the suggestions may be fairly technical, and you might need professionals to let you determine which ones are feasible for your site. Some of the ways you can decrease page load time include:

•Enable GZIP compression to reduce the bandwidth of your pages and reduce HTTP response.

•Optimize your images by selecting the ideal size, format and source code.

•Enable browser caching to reduce the number of components that need to be downloaded for subsequent visits.

•Use a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver content more efficiently to users based on their location.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

The Right Strategy To Get More Visitors To Your Website

ПечатьEvery website can be improved, however good it is. In fact, you never want to settle for ‘good enough,’ particularly if your website is part of a business.

It’s unlikely that 100 percent of the visitors to your site take the precise action you want, so there is always room for improvement.

Determine your sales path
When thinking about how to attract more visitors to your site, it is first important to figure out the primary goal of your website, and then work backwards.

For instance, if you are selling a product online, the path for your visitors is likely to visit your homepage, navigate to the product sales page, click the order button and then complete the order form before they finally arrive at your thank you page. This path is your conversion funnel; the trick is to optimize and improve every piece of it.

Evaluate each website page
In order to determine how much attention you should give to each of your website pages, you must evaluate them separately.

Find out how many visitors land on each page, and what percentage of them proceed to the next stage of the sales path (its conversion rate). Aiming to increase the conversion rate of each page will be much more effective than looking at your entire website as a whole. For instance, increasing the conversion rate of each page by 10 percent would mean a 33 percent increase in your overall conversion rate.

Constant tracking
It is critical to track the conversion rate of each page both daily and monthly. While daily rates may fluctuate quite a bit, watch out for dramatic conversion drops which might be caused when a page, image or video does not load. On a monthly basis, check the performance of your pages and spot those that are decreasing in effectiveness and need improvement.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

How Important Are Websites And Search Engine Rankings For Local Businesses?


Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

I recently had to find a new veterinarian for my dog Daisy. She had a fairly large sized tumor in a delicate spot, and it needed to come off. Her former doctor in Ohio sold his practice, so I was searching for a local vet who could take care of the surgery and ongoing care.

Daisy’s a healthy dog, but she’s getting up in years – she’ll be 15 on her next birthday – so I was really concerned about the effects of anesthesia and the success of the surgery.

Of course, I spoke to friends and family for their recommendations, but I also spent a lot of time looking on my own. And where did I search? Google, of course.

We have a large number of small business clients who serve the local market area – companies like florists, tanning salons, and even a marina – and aren’t interested in, or even need, the global exposure a web site gives their company.

A fresh and updated website doesn’t always figure into their marketing strategy. I think that’s a costly mistake. According to a report published by Google, 70% of consumers still reference the yellow pages. I was surprised by that statistic – I don’t even have a phone book at home anymore.

What’s interesting is that only 33% of those consumers use the yellow pages exclusively. That means that almost 70% of local shoppers are using search engines for at least part, if not all, of their buying research for local products and services.

Google has recognized the need for local, small business search results, and has for a number of years offered Google Places and Google Local for small businesses to showcase their companies. Places or Local results point back to a company’s website.

That’s the important part. While I was looking for a veterinarian, I found a dozen local offices. About half of those had websites. And all but two of those websites were old and out of date. One doctor’s page even had the wrong phone number on it.

Having an updated and user-friendly website is only part of doing well in local search.

The other part is optimizing your site to make it index well in Google, so when consumers search for the services you provide, your site shows up at the top of the listings.

We offer both website development services, as well as search engine optimization. Pricing for a modern, user friendly website (that you can edit yourself once it’s finished!) starts at just $299. If your website needs are more complex, we can handle that too – and at a very budget-friendly price point. If you have an interest in updating or modernizing your company’s website, I’d welcome the chance to talk with you about it.

Daisy is doing great, by the way. Her stitches came out a few weeks ago and she’s back to chasing cats in the yard and angling for cookies in the house.

Taking Your Business Online With WordPress

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
If you have thought of creating a website or currently have one that is difficult to edit then you need WordPress.

With WordPress, you can easily create, modify, and update your website with more features than you could ever imagine.

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to easily manage all content on your website.

This includes any sort of content such as web pages, blog posts, videos, music, and much more.

You are able to create users or even have people create user accounts themselves, with a default permission that you can set. You will not have to pay a website designer or a webmaster to add, remove, or modify any of your content.

There are hundreds of free themes that you can choose from to make your site unique. There are also many premium themes that private and professional developers create and sell. These themes often look better and have much more functionality.

WordPress has thousands of plugins from which to choose. These plugins can help you do anything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO), shopping carts, forums, maps, to automation of content generation.

Plugins can come in handy if the theme that you chose does not have a feature that you want.

WordPress is optimized for SEO, out of the box. There are also plugins that will help you optimize your site further such as All in One SEO Pack, Google XML Sitemaps, and Rich Snippets.

These plugins will make it easier for Google to crawl the site and this will bring your site up in the search results ranking.

WordPress is easy to manage, add new content, and secure as well. You can download various management plugins. There are plugins that will guide you through the administration aspects of your site. The system can email an alert if there are any issues with or someone comments on your website.

Adding new content is as easy as creating a document in Microsoft Word. In fact, anything that you create in Word can be copied and pasted directly into WordPress.

WordPress is extremely scalable; this will allow you to continue to use WordPress no matter how large your business grows.

The latest features and options will always be an update away. Of course, WordPress will let you know what needs to be updated every time that you login.

WordPress is an easy way for anyone to have their own website that is fun and very easy to use. If you are interested in using WordPress for yourself or your business let us know.

We can help you get started and answer any questions that you may have. We have already created many WordPress sites for our clients and have had nothing but positive feedback since.