Online Marketing Myths and Scams

Is your business considering whether to give online marketing “a try”?
Or are you currently paying an “expert” to run your online marketing campaign? 

If so,one piece of advice; please be careful. 

With online marketing there are NO QUICK FIXES and no sure fire tools and/or software to make your website super successful on the web.  And if anyone should ever tell you that, run!  Too often I hear of clients (or potential clients) that are investing exorbitant  amounts of time and money into online services that are sketchy, at best.

Is online marketing needed these days?  Yes, to stay competitive in today’s business  environment, you don’t just need a professional  looking website, you need to apply some on-going marketing efforts to insure people can find your website. But the amount and the levels of that investment vary widely.

If you are interested to chat about a current program you are using or don’t know where to start when it comes to online marketing, then give us a call, 856-428-8038 or contact us via our website,  We can offer you the guidance you need.

Time to Stop Using IE6

If anyone out there is still using Microsoft’s IE6 browser, this week adds another reason its time to upgrade: POODLE (or Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption). Now that’s a mouthful. It is the most recent technological vulnerability discovered by some engineers at Google.  The issue revolves around an older SSL certificate technology (SSL 3.0) and the way data is sent using this protocol.

While the SSL 3.0 technology is 15 years old, some who use older browsers (most especially those who somehow are still using IE6) are vulnerable to this issue.

The answer is simple, especially with software that deals with the Internet; be sure you stay as close to the most current release of your software (browsers especially) as you can.  Security engineers are constantly at work looking and providing fixes for vulnerabilities that can lead to hackers gaining control of your computers and/or your data.  When they find an issue, the engineers release patches for their software. But if you never upgrade or install these patches, you are leaving yourself open to attack.

It might be a pain at times, but staying current with your computer software is vital  these days…

Start 2014 With a Clean Slate!

Start 2014 With a Clean Slate!
Or rather a clean in-box!!

Is your business drowning in spam?  For years we have helped many of our clients take back their in-box and their email.  No longer are they wasting hours of time a week  trudging through hundreds of spam messages.

Using a service called Postini (owned by Google), I myself have personally seen results go from dozens of spam messages an hour, to less than one a day!  How can I say this?  Because not only am I an advocate, I’m a user; I’ve been using Postini now for my own accounts for over 5 years and can’t believe the results.  At one point I was receiving hundreds of spam emails a day (not to mention viruses attached to some of those messages), now its a rare occasion to get one piece of spam.  AND at the end of each day I receive a single list of all messages filtered out by Postini.  In less than a minute I can scan through the summary list to see if there are any valid emails that were mistakenly filtered.  If I find one, I simply click on a button and that email is delivered instantly.

We all use email, we all depend on email.  If your business is suffering from spam, let us know – we can help! At less than a few dollars a month, Postini is a steal when you consider how valuable your time is and how much of it is wasted because of spam.

Let this be Number 1 on your New Year’s Business Resolution list; Take back your in-box!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Can you trust an online review?

Are you looking to buy a new TV?  Or maybe looking to try a new restaurant?  So many of us (myself included) jump right to online reviews (Yelp, Amazon, Angie’s List, etc…) to find out the real scoop about a product, a restaurant, hotel, business, etc…

Unfortunately what you read can’t always be trusted, as the State of New York is pointing out.  The state’s attorney general just announced details about a year long sting focused on companies that posted “fake” reviews of products and services, for a marketing fee.

(Reuters) – Nineteen companies caught writing fake reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local and CitySearch have been snared in a year-long sting operation by the New York Attorney General, and will pay $350,000 in penalties.

But before you lose faith in online reviews, let me offer you three ways to help determine if a product or service is worth your time and money:

  1. First, be a little cautious of products/services/companies that may only have a few reviews appearing online (AND even more so if all of those reviews are incredibly positive.)
  2. Second, websites like Amazon will often note right next to the review if the reviewer actually bought the product (Amazon labels the review “Amazon Verified Purchase”), which means there is a higher chance that this reviewer actually bought the product.
  3. Lastly, remember when you were in school and some teachers graded your tests using a simple bell curve?  Try the same thing with online reviews; take a step back and look at all the reviews and determine if they are leaning in one direction or the other. Then try ignoring the most positive and the most negative reviews, to see what is left.

Of course just like in “real” life, on the web it will always be “buyer beware”.  For our clients and other businesses we recommend making it “company beware” as well – it might make sense to pay “Online SEO Consultants” to boost your SEO rankings and scores using tactics such as fake reviews.  But just like in life, over time you will most likely be found out.  And unfortunately the “web” is a lot less forgiving than people are, so if you get caught “cheating” it might cause a LOT more damage to your business than what its worth.

If something is ever too good to be true… well… you know….

A Little Knowledge Now Beats a Dozen Aspirin Down The Road

To all businesses out there…

FTP, domain name, email administrator: All Important InformationDo you know who owns and/or controls your domain name ( How about the person who administers all your company’s email accounts? (you don’t use AOL still do you???). How about your hosting account? Or who has FTP access to your website?

I know to the average layperson, some of those words above may seem like Greek. BUT, they are vital pieces of information that can save you hours, if not days of aggravation.

Case in point… If your domain was registered by an employee 10 years ago and that person is no longer with your company, who is paying the annual registration fee for the domain name? If that fee should go unpaid, your entire domain name ( will be turned off, and along with it all your email accounts will be temporarily shut-down as well (no sending or receiving emails). Even worse, it could take 24 to 48 hours to get everything turned on again.

Most of our clients start having panic attacks if their email is interrupted for 15 minutes, let alone 2 days!

Do yourself a favor, stop today and put together an Emergency List of all your technical information that relates to your website and email. Write down who is responsible for what, and what date your domain name registration is due and when it was last paid. Then add that paper to your safety deposit box or office safe/file cabinet (you may also want to add the usernames/passwords for all your vital online accounts as well).

It may only take 20 minutes to put together now, but it may save you days of headaches and dozens of aspirin down the road.

Its a quick one!

Two Tips for Today:

1) If you have a password that is an actual word (or is all letters), CHANGE IT NOW.  Using what are called brute force (dictionary) attacks, a hacker can “guess” your password in seconds!

A client of ours this week had their password “guessed”, and in just a few hours the hackers/spammers sent out over 20,000 emails using our client’s email account! The result? Our client, along with the entire email server, was labeled by Verizon, Comcast, AOL, (and other services) as a spammer. It not only caused problems for that client, it effected hundreds of other clients as well.

Change your password!  Use odd characters, capital letters and numbers.  And don’t use the same password for multiple websites. A password takes about a minute to change, but could save you HOURS of frustration.

2) If you get strange emails from your friend who has an AOL email address (or yahoo or another free email service), with weird web links in that email, your friend’s AOL account was broken into and hackers/spammers are using that account to send spam.  Contact your friend immediately and tell them to change their AOL password ASAP.

OH and if you are using AOL for business email, call us today and we will get you setup with your own company email and help bring your business in to the 21st Century!  If you use AOL, you have no idea how many emails you might not be getting from your customers, clients, prospects and/or leads… In this economy, its not worth the risk to use AOL for business.


Identity Theft Is Easy

I was watching the Today Show this morning and they had a short piece on the NYC’s implementation of free wireless in many of the subway stations in the city.  Free Wi-Fi can be found at many businesses today (many food chains are now offering it to their customers; Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc…) and it is often a great convenience to people who are out and about with their iPads and/or their smartphones.  But with this simplicity comes responsibility.

What the majority of WiFi users do not realize is just how EASY it is for a hacker to grab your signal “out of the air” and analyze it on their laptops almost instantaneously, as you are browsing the web.  So what does this mean?  Well if you are checking your emails and are not using a secured connection, bingo!  The hacker now has your email address and password.  If you are logging into a small ecommerce site to check the status of your order and it is unencrypted, guess what?  They now have your username and password to that site.  AND if you are placing a new order and entering in your credit card on an unencrypted connection… well I think you know…

There are two tools to help you protect yourself and your data.  First when using Wi-Fi connections to connect to your work or to your home computers, if its possible, look to setup a VPN (virtual private network) to make your connections.  So as not to get too technical, think of a VPN as a special tunnel on the Internet where only your data can move through – if anyone should try to intercept your data “out of the air”, all they will see are random characters and numbers; basically gibberish.

For those of you that may not have the means to setup/maintain a VPN, the second tool is to make sure your sensitive data connections are using SSL (secure socket layer) protection.  (in your browser the website should read https:\ versus a non-encrypted site name of http:\  (does not have the “s” in the http).

This goes for your email servers as well.  If you are unsure, definitely ask someone to check it out for you, to make sure your email server is using SSL or TLS.

As a final note, to give you a quick example, below is a free utility that anyone can download from Microsoft and use (click the images to zoom in).  While it isn’t exactly a tool a hacker would use to sniff Wi-Fi connections, it does show you how easy these utilities are made, to help read sensitive information.  The first screen shot shows a user logging into an unencrypted website via FTP (notice the username and password shown).  The second screen shot shows an encrypted connection using SSL.

All that was needed to see the information going across the net via Wi-Fi was to press the Start button on the software.  That’s it.

Be wise. be safe.

No encryption for Wi-FiEncrytped Connection across Wi-Fi

Online Safety – think about this long and hard…

Are you overwhelmed with usernames and passwords for all the websites and apps you use? OR worse, do you use the SAME password for everything?

Do you think you are safe, that no one would want your information?
Think again.

If you are part of the “one password group” you really need to consider changing that practice asap. If you don’t, and your single password should somehow be compromised or stolen, someone can very easily take over your online life (and possibly even your life offline!). But how do you keep track of all your usernames and passwords? If you write them down on paper, what happens if that paper is lost or stolen?

Well let me tell you about a FREE little utility I have used for the past 5 years. It is called Password Safe. It allows you to create as many accounts and passwords as you need. It also allows you to group those passwords into categories (home, work, financial, etc…). Some people even use it to store offline information such as bank account numbers, entry passcodes, credit card numbers, you name it. Oh, did I mention that it is free? And instead of having to remember ALL your different usernames and passwords, you simply need to remember just the one.

OK, so now all your information is stored in this password safe, what if that program is broken into? Well that is where I advise you to create your own pass-phrase for your  program. Unlike a password that is normally 6 to 8 characters, a pass-phrase is normally 10, 15 or even 20 characters. It could be a line from a favorite song with a slight twist; you want to replace some letters in the phrase with odd characters that only make sense to you.

So for instance, the following song line: “If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane”, could become the pass-phrase “If w@ w@r@nt *ll cr*zee we wood go inS*ne”… At first glance, pass-phrases look difficult to memorize, but they really aren’t; especially if you are using it daily. The best part is that while an 8 character password can be broken quite easily with today’s fast computers, a strong pass-phrase might take months to decode using a computer and a brute force attack.

So today’s quick tip, try Password Safe (by the way did I mention, its free!)…
And no matter what, think hard about upgrading to pass-phrases instead of passwords.

To get Password Safe, click here (its free)



Your Secret To SEO and Online Marketing

Back in college, one class that seemed to inspire an instant feeling of dread was Statistics 101. Simply mentioning the class would bring the strongest business students to their knees! Not to mention after the first few exams, the phrase “why do we need this {expletive} class anyway, no one uses this stuff in the real world?” could be heard  throughout the business department.

Fast forward a few years and guess what? Statistics is not only back, it is back with a vengeance. And the phrase “no one uses this stuff in the real world” has for once been proven wrong. Now statistics is (should be) the most important element in a company’s online marketing efforts. Too many companies throw thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours down the drain as they search for ways to drive traffic to their websites. What they so often forget to do though, is “track” their efforts. Without performance tracking of what’s working and what’s not, you have no way to truly know what your ROI (return on investment) is on your time and money.

And that tracking is done using, what else, statistics.

Statistical packages (specialized software) are a way to view who is coming to your website, where they are coming from and how long they are staying on the pages of your site. Every website should have a statistical package installed and running behind the scenes. That would be Step 1. Step 2 is to make it a priority to create statistical reports on a routine basis of your website’s performance. And finally Step 3 is to use those reports to make informed decisions on how to continue to invest your time, energy and money into your online marketing efforts (similar to Stephen Covey’s “Sharpen the Saw” habit).

Too often companies (especially smaller ones) completely ignore performance tracking with their online marketing and SEO / SEM (Search Engine Optimization / Search Engine Marketing) efforts, and they end up wasting thousands of dollars in the process.

If statistics was never your strong point, and if you are too busy handling the day-to-day operations of your business, then look to someone who has the knowledge that can help give your company advice and make recommendations on how to best apply your online marketing. Performance tracking not only increases your website results, it often saves you time and money.

PS: Did we mention that Emaxed has been known to handle such services
(“Nudge, nudge. Wink wink. Say no more”)