Once again we see the importance of web security. Criminals and hackers are always trying to break into systems. CNN is reported on Sept 27 2012 that most of the major banks have been hit with the biggest cyber attacks in history!
What do small business or independent website owners do about this? How do we protect ourselves against such attacks? We do not possess the network security resources that large banking institutions have at their disposal. So what do we do? Well it turns out there are some basic things we can do to protect our websites. Of course we can’t be immune to large scale Denial of Service Attacks or other large scale collaborative attacks. But we can at least plug the holes that are evident to hackers. In the coming weeks we will be focusing on some simple strategies. Please check back.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — There’s a good chance your bank’s website was attacked over the past week. Since Sept. 19, the websites of Bank of America ,JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank have all suffered day-long slowdowns and been sporadically unreachable for many customers.http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/27/technology/bank-cyberattacks/?source=cnn_bin
Web design trends come and go the same way like fashion. With businesses and individuals wanting to look better at the eyes of their audiences, many websites change the way their websites look on regular intervals while incorporating new functionality.
The most recent facelift has taken place on Gmail and other sign in pages of Google products.
If you don’t remember, this is how Gmail looked earlier.
The trend today for web layouts is clean and uncluttered. It makes a lot of sense when you consider the information overflow that we are seeing today across many platforms and media.
Research shows that most people scan web pages before settling on an element for further exploration. Therefore, a lot of emphasis is put on optimizing important web elements that a webmaster wants to promote. However, this is a hit or miss thing. Your audiences may like or hate your user interface (UI) elements depending on their preferences, gender, etc. This is not an easy thing to overcome and on top of that, getting UI elements right is a huge affair. Have you ever heard of the $300 million button? If not, that article should be the first thing for you to read after reading this.
One of the biggest challenges in web usability is keeping people on a web page. The balance has to be perfect on content, usability and interactive elements. At the best of times, this is a tough task. Since it is very challenging to strike a good balance, what most designers tend to do is crowd too many elements on a web page. This leads to a web page that looks very busy. A busy web page is not one of the best places for conversions.
The new way of design thinking is driven by wanting to make a website look simple. This involves a lot of things. For example, some web pages have multiple objectives to achieve. In such instances, ‘simple web process’ calls for re-evaluating and prioritizing these objectives. The design process is driven by these re-evaluated objectives.
The Gmail sign in page is a perfect example for the ‘simple web process’. When you compare the two layouts it’s perfectly clear that Google evaluated what’s important for their audiences. In fact, the number of elements on the page has increased; yet it’s hardly noticeable. A good design should be like that. People have to see it only when they want to see it. This design philosophy is something that’s going to drive our web design work in the future.
If there are any websites that you like, share those on the comments section. We’d love to see those websites you like and get your feedback.
Writing a blog post is one of the most painful things that a small business holder might have to do during their already limited work time. But in the current context small businesses rely heavily on their online presence and on SEO for being visible, blogging becomes an essential tool for staying ahead of the competition.
But with limited time being utilized for 1000 different things, how can somebody write a blog post, much less a great blog post?
Well the trick is simpler than you think! Are we talking about hiring somebody to ghost write? Absolutely not. Ghost writers don’t share the same passion as you do about your business. Writing something on your own is something that can give you immense satisfaction and it can also be a good way for you to identify weaknesses of your business and marketing approach.
OK let’s get down to business. The ideal length of a blog post is about 400-500 words. If you are wondering, this post is already 180 words long. One thing that can help you with blog post writing is writing about something you are passionate about. Take me for example. I specialize in Search Engine Optimization and whatever I write about it comes to me naturally.
Don’t try to write about really complex matters in a blog post. A blog is hardly the best place for something like that. If you have a great subject topic, break it down to manageable bits. You’ll find it easy to write, you are going to find more topics to write about and your audience will love you for an easy to read and easy to remember post.
Try to make your blog posts interesting and to the point. It is always a good idea to try to engage your audience in the first paragraph and build your case from that point on. If you know anything about the inverted pyramid model of news reporting, I’m talking about that.
Another important thing you can do is linking back to your older posts. This works for you in several ways.
So these are a few things that you can try when you are confronted with writing something for your blog. The best blog posts that I’ve written came off within 60-90 minutes like this one which has taken me about 66 minutes now. So get cracking and share your experiences with the world (me included).
Image Courtesy – PhotoSteve101
With Google’s Matt Cutts admitting that Google is using website speed as a minor ranking factor, there had been quite some noise about page speed among the web design community. Now with the latest stats positively showing the page speed as not so significant as many believed it to be, can it actually affect a website negatively?
Not considering any SEO implications, page speed is an extremely important web usability element. Consider the following example originally published on Master New Media .
The slideshow occupies 23% of the page and the user who had to endure the download delay spent only 1% of her total viewing time within this space.
In contrast, the user who in effect received instantaneous page rendering (because he didn’t look until it was done), spent 20% of his viewing time within the slideshow area.
So in essence if the page speed has been optimized, the marketing team would have seen some more traction with their well planned advertisement. But in this case, all that effort was spent in vain.
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to website speed is “let the audience be in control”. Remember, it’s the audience who interact with the website and it’s them that matters to you or your client. Every second of delay in website speed is a negative impact on the audience and lead them to realize that they are no longer in control. In such case, you or your clients are going to lose credibility which is not helpful at all.
So it might be a good idea to start looking at page speed. There are many free tools to check speed. We use a Firefox plugin called ‘Yslow’. Google is going one step ahead and offering a Page Speed tool for free http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/
Check out this video from the Google dev team.
Google updates its indexing and ranking algorithm quite regularly. In fact, they release about 400 new updates typically every year. Most of them are minor tweaks, but once in a while they release updates that are really huge like the Panda update they rolled out recently (early March 2011).
According to Matt Cutts, the head of the Google Web Spam team, the Panda update is in fact an algorithm update geared at taking down low quality content made specifically to rank well for important keywords. Such pages are often monetized using various advertising platforms getting the publishers millions of dollars in revenues in some cases.
With the Panda update, Google believes that it can deliver better search results for searchers and improve their search experience which had come under fire in various instances for not being consistent. For a long time, Google rankings were good for the first page for a given search query; hence the drive for ranking well in the first page of Google results.
So with the Panda update, Google is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff in a bid to improve their search quality. With low quality content given less value in their search index, Google believes that it can provide better web page results.
The Panda update is a blessing for websites that host valuable content for humans, not robots. Most of the sites that are affected are content farms or sites which contain scraped content from all over the web. With the initial roll out of the Panda update in the US, content networks such as Mahalo, Ezine articles and Wisegeek found themselves in hot water with ranking changes from -70% to -94% in some instances.
At the same time, websites with good user generated content have seen their rankings improve. So what’s the bottom line with the Google Panda update?
Well, if you have good content that is not specifically targeted at search engines, you are probably ok. To make sure, check out your Google Analytics to see whether there has been a dip in traffic from US visitors (as the Panda update is currently for US search results, but soon to be rolled out internationally). If so, you might be a victim of the Panda. Even Google has admitted that their new algorithm is not without faults and if you think that your site is a genuine victim, head over to Google Webmasters Tools and submit a reconsideration request.
If you think that there might be a problem with your website, correct any issues and send a reconsideration request and always remember that SEO is all about improving the value of your site for your visitors, not for search engines.