When Penguins Attack!

One of the first lessons I learned in life and business is that if someone doesn’t own their mistakes then they don’t really know what they are doing. As someone who helps companies with their online marketing programs I get the pleasure of hearing what their previous SEO companies tell them about why they didn’t get them to ‘Page 1’ of the Google.

Yesterday I had a new client tell me that their current SEO told them:
“The site got hit by a Penguin because of duplicate content so thats why the rankings have dropped.”

For the non-nerds out there the ‘Penguin’ being reference here is the update to Google’s search rank algorithm from April 24th, 2012 that “aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines [3] by using black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, deliberate creation of duplicate content, and others.”

Basically Google is trying to deal with the crap that some people are doing to get their websites to rank higher for certain terms.

Rather than create compelling content on a website that makes it useful lazy people would rather stuff the site full of repeating keywords and buy links from some guy in India and give the user a crappy experience. Google doesn’t want this because it means that people will stop using Google since it only gives them crap websites with meaningless content.

The same client sent me the SEO companies initial email after signing up and the following sentence actually existed:
“Generally speaking, the content of the articles and blog posts is not as important as the fact that they are being back-linked to your website.”

That says it all right there. The focus is not on getting the end user a better experience, it is on tricking Google into thinking that your website is more useful than it really is.

If you have been in business for any amount of time you know that the first thing you have to do is give your customer want they want. So the question then is why do you think its any different for your website?

Cool idea, poor name choice – Branding is important

Read an interesting article about a grocery home delivery service at Pando Daily. This is one of those ideas from the dot com bust that I was really hoping would be come a reality. It sounds like this company did their homework and has a solid plan toile it work.

There is one problem though: they are calling it Mile High Organics

Really? This name is a disaster on so many fronts. Look I understand that they are based in Denver and that city is famously at 5280 but it’s also famous for medical marijuana. Which means they are gonna get a lot of requests for that product. This correlation also means that people who are against medical marijuana are not gonna want to have anything to do with you.

That may as well have gone with: Hippie Weed Delivery

Via PandoDaily

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Customer First Web Design

Couple of excellent comics showing the disconnect between what website owners think we want versus what we actually want.

This is from the xkcd about university websites:

XKCD's take on university websites and their disconnect with what users want and what they provide.
Virtual Tours are awesome! Not!

Here the Oatmeal explores restaurant websites and what customers want:

The Oatmeal discusses restaurant websites and how disconnected they are from what we want them to be.
Yes I agree this is what I want.

Then they give us an excellent representation of the majority of restaurant websites we come across:

The Oatmeal shows us a typical restaurant website.
PDF menus are the best!

When I talk with clients about their website I have two jobs. In the first job I am building a site that meets their expectations, hopes, and dreams. In the second job I am fighting their expectations and focusing on their hopes and dreams.

What I mean by this is that generally a business owner expects their website process to be like their traditional media process. Pixel perfect branding of their business image. I make it my job to break them from that cycle as much as possible and instead see their website as a door into their company where prospects and customers can start interacting with their business. This means putting the phone number and address at the top of the page so it is immediately visible and available on all devices. This means updating the site with timely information about your business and industry. In the last few years this has also meant thinking mobile first as over 10% of the traffic coming to your site is on a mobile device and those folks are ready to buy.

Dont make the errors pointed out in the comics above. Think customer first with your website and see the revenue grow.

Are you at risk to Flashback?

Recently a new malware virus for the Mac OS called Flashback got a lot of attention when antivirus company Dr Web published that 600,000 Mac’s are infected. This is a substantial number of Mac users and deserves more attention than most publications are giving it. The reason that Flashback is such a large threat is that it can infect your computer without you having to enter your admin password. However you can protect yourself fairly easily from this virus as it is taking advantage of a vulnerability in Java which in many cases isn’t even on your Mac OS and if you use the Google Chrome browser is highly restricted from causing any issues.

Macworld.com wrote up a very interesting piece which I recommend you read. This part was the first thing you should go through:

Am I at risk?
You are at risk if you meet four criteria:

1. You have Java installed on your Mac. One way to find out: Open Terminal and type java -version at the prompt. If you do have Java installed, you’ll get a version number. It is installed by default on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, but not by OS X 10.7 Lion. (But is installed the first time you need to run it, which means most Macs likely have it).

2. You do not have the Java for OS X Lion 2012-001 (if you’re running OS X Lion) or Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7 installed (if you’re running Snow Leopard) or you were infected before either of them was installed. Both of those updates install Java version 1.6.0_31; running that java -version command above will tell you if that’s what you’ve got.

3. You allow Java applets to display in your browser. In Safari, go to Preferences > Security > Web Content and see if the Enable Java option is checked. You can turn that option off by unchecking it.

4. You do not have certain security tools installed on your Mac that Flashback checks for, including Little Snitch, Xcode, and a few anti-malware tools.

Antivirus vendors do not appear to have detected this particular version of Flashback for a few days after it appeared in the wild, though some vendors—including Intego—protected users with updates in late March. Malware often shares bits of code from earlier versions that may be detectable by antivirus products before those products have been specifically updated to catch newer versions, but such protection is hit-or-miss. (via Macworld)

Summary:

  • If you use Chrome you are safe from this virus.
  • If you have Lion you are safe from this virus.
  • If you use Safari be sure to disable Java.
  • Disable Java and do not allow Java applets to run from any website in your browser.
  • If you develop websites stop using Java
  • Do not let your web browser store your passwords as they generally are not encrypted and open you up to the underlying piracy problem that Flashback and viruses like it exploit.

2 takes on openness

Today Google announced Account Activity Reports. This new service will allow you to see what your activity on the Google network looks like. This is a product of their recent privacy issues after combining all of their various users accounts under a single google account.

By giving you access to these reports they are hoping to minimize people’s concerns as far as what is being collected by google. Once we see what is being collected we won’t be as fearful, at least that is Googles hope.

Personally I think this is great. I am interested is seeing what I’ve been up to. I also think is shows that google isn’t too big to listen to its customers concerns.

As a point of comparison let’s look at how Facebook is handling privacy concerns. They are currently forcing everything on their network, people and companies, to adopt their timeline feature. Sure this gives you the ability to see everything you have done on Facebook. The main difference being that so can everyone else…