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PREVENT SITE HACKS & RECOVERY ON DEDICATED SERVERS twenty two

GAMER: DONKEY CUTTS SEO GAME

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ACCESS: SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE PRO twenty six

ACCESS: APPLE CARPLAY

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NEED FOR SPEED thirty two

HACKING AND ID THEFT: ARE YOU NEXT?

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OUR SPONSORS... EXECUTIVE STAFF Publisher Keith Duncan Managing Editor/Art Director Derek Morris Senior Editor Dave Young Senior Online Editor Brandie Richardson Executive Editor David Dunlap

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Published and Copyrighted 2014 by PINGZINE, LLC, P.O. Box 516, Denham Springs, LA 70726. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce part or all of this issue must be secured in writing from the publisher. Complementary subscriptions are at the discretion of the publisher and may be cancelled or modified at any time. Unsolicited submissions are welcome. We assume no liability for lost or damage of submissions. We assume no liability for the content of this issue and all points and ideas are strictly that of the writers involved and not that of the publisher, publishing company, printing company or editors.

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U.S. GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE CONTROL OVER INTERNET IN 2015 The U.S. government announced on Friday that it intends to relinquish its control over the Internet to a controlling body made up of private companies and government representatives, BBC reports.The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will give the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers the responsibility of developing a proposal to transition the role played by NTIA in the Internet’s domain name system. According to a press release from NTIA, the proposal must meet certain criteria and have the broad community’s support. “NTIA will not accept a proposal that

FLAPPY BIRD WILL BE COMING BACK, CONFIRMS CREATOR DONG NGUYEN The addictive 2D obstacle game, Flappy Bird, will be making its way back to mobile users, confirmed creator Dong Nguyen.In response to one fans question on Twitter about whether or not he intends to bring the game back to the App Store, Dong replied, “Yes. But not soon.” Earlier this month in a interview with Rolling Stone Nquyen said he was considering bring the game back, but with a warning to “please take a break.” Flappy Bird reportedly brought in $50,000 a day on advertising revenue before it was taken down from the App Store and Google Play on February 9th.

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replaces the NTIA role with a governmentled or an inter-governmental organization solution,” said the agency. “The timing is right to start the transition process,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.” NTIA’s and ICANN’s contract is set to expire in September 2015, in which the transition will begin. On March 23rd an International meeting will be held in Singapore to discuss the future plans of the Internet.

MICROSOFT SUPPORT ENDS APRIL 8 FOR WINDOWS XP Support for Windows XP is quickly approaching, and many users still have yet to transfer over to a different operating system.According to NetMarketShare, 29% of computers across the world run on XP, including 20% of North American and European corporate computers, three quarters of Chinese PCs, and around 95% of U.S. ATMS. Bloomberg Bussinessweek noted that roughly 15% of ATMs will be upgraded before April 8th, leaving thousands vulnerable to malware attacks. “PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected, and it is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system – such as Windows 8.1 – so you can receive regular security updates to protect their computer from malicious attacks,” says Microsoft. Without the support and security updates from Microsoft, users continuing to use XP will be left vulnerable to attacks from harmful viruses, spyware, and other “malicious software” that can damage your data and potentially steal your information.

APPLE MANUFACTURING SUPPLIER GEARS UP FOR THE RELEASE OF THE IPHONE 6 Apple’s Taiwan-based supplier is reportedly getting ready for the production of the rumored iPhone 6 with the opening of its new factory space and additional workforce, ZDNet reports. Pegatron, one of the companies that constructs iPhones and iPads for Apple, is expected to start manufacturing the tech giant’s newest smartphone in the second quarter of 2014. According to MacRumors, Pegatron was mostly responsible for constructing the iPad mini and iPhone 5C, while the company’s main supplier, Foxconn, mainly assembled the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 6 is rumored to feature bigger screens, curved glass display, sapphire crystal screens to prevent scratching, 3D graphics, and a faster processor, among many other things. Apple has not acknowledged any of the speculation regarding the iPhone 6. Many believe that Apple will reveal the new model at the WWDC this upcoming summer, while others believe the device will be released in October.


WILL WINDOWS 9 BE RELEASED IN LATE 2014? With Microsoft ending support for Windows XP in April and the 8.1 operating system not a favorite for customers, users are wondering when Windows 9 will be released.There are many rumors circulating regarding the release of Windows 9 with some suggesting an April 2015 release while others say a August 2014 release. According to NetWorkWorld, the Russian hacker known by the name of “WZor” has reason to believe that the new operating system will be released in late 2014. WZor tweeted, “Win 9 released in April 2015? No! No! No!… WIN RTM-0 RELEASED SIGN-OF DEALINE IN 21 OCTOBER 2014.” The Microsoft leaker added that users should expect to see a beta of Windows 9 sometime in May.

WEB HOST LANDS 20 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ADVERTISING THE SALE OF CHILD PORN

A SECURITY FLAW FOUND IN SAMSUNG GALAXY DEVICES LETS ATTACKERS SPY ON YOU

A Japanese man who owned a San Francisco based Web hosting company has been arrested for advertising the sale of child pornography on a Japanese website, reports San Jose Mercury News.Kimihiko Makino, 40, was arrested and indicted in July 2012 while visiting the U.S, in which he pleaded guilty on June 24, 2013 to advertising child pornography. The Japanese site, Daio, contained thousands of graphic images of children being sexually abused, most under the age of eight. According to the Mercury News’s report, 10 others associated with Daio have been arrested and charged by Japanese officials. Makino has been sentenced to 20 year in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution fees to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

A security flaw has been found that could pose a potential threat to Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets, reports The Register.The security hole, found by the developers of Replicant, grants attackers the chance to remotely access the device’s files. “This program is shipped with the Samsung Galaxy devices and makes it possible for the modem to read, write and delete files on the phone’s storage,” Kocialkowski wrote in a guest post to a Free Software Foundation blog. “On several phone models, this program runs with sufficient rights to access and modify the user’s personal data.” According to Kocialkowski, the device affected can be secured by replacing the stock Android firmware, which can be done with a free OS software. Some of the devices that are affected by this security flaw are the Galaxy S and S2, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Slll, among many others.

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101 GUIDE TO FACEBOOK MARKETING BY GARON ARNOLD

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I

f you’re looking to expand your business online; Facebook is an excellent resource to market your business. There is certainly a lot of flexibility with running ads on Facebook and many businesses are expanding their reach every day. However, if you are new to advertising on Facebook it can be a little overwhelming at first. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about running ads on Facebook. When you click on “create ads” from the drop down screen on the top right of Facebook you will see a number of different options. These are the following options you will see; page post engagement, page likes, clicks to website, website conversions, app installs, app engagement, event response, and offer claims.  

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PAGE POST ENGAGEMENT

In order to use this feature on Facebook you’re going to need a “fan page”. Then you can promote your post on your fan page to thousands of people. This form of advertising is pretty straight forward. For instance, if you have a post on Facebook that provides people with information on your latest products you can easily pay to have people engage on your post. One of the most successful tactics for getting a maximum ROI is to put your how-to videos, informational articles, etc. on your fan page for people to engage on. This is the fundamentals of content marketing. The trick here is you want to offer people an overwhelming amount of valuable information to build trust and get people interested in your products and services.

PAGE LIKES

Like page post engagement you’re going to need a fan page. This option allows you to specify which Facebook fan page you would like people to “like”. This is a great way to expand your Facebook presence online. Make sure that your fan page is well thought out, has a link to your website, and an email opt-in to take advantage of getting the most out of your likes to your fan page. For pennies on the dollar, you can get hundreds or thousands of likes in a week or less depending on your budget.

CLICKS TO WEBSITE

This feature allows you to advertise on Facebook, and send people to your website. You simply put in your URL that you want to promote. For instance, you can have people land on your homepage, squeeze page, landing page, product page, etc. The big drawback on promoting yourself this way on Facebook is, you don’t have any tracking installed on Facebook’s end. True, you could always login to your Google Analytics and track your traffic that way. I highly recommend you use website conversions over this advertising medium.

WEBSITE CONVERSIONS

This is a more intricate way to promote your website. When you send people to your website you have the option to track checkouts, registrations, lead’s, key web page views, adds to cart, or other web conversions. The way this works is you can specify which page on your site is the goal. For example, if you tracking lead’s you would want to have your leads goal on your “thank you” page. This allows you to measure how much you’re paying and how

much of your traffic is converting into leads. You can split test different landing pages to maximize your Facebook marketing budget.

APP INSTALLS

Let’s say you have developed a Facebook app for your business and need a way to get exposure to it on Facebook. You can pay people to install your app onto their Facebook and get a lot of exposure to your app. This is great for split testing, getting feedback, and expanding your app’s reach. It’s recommended that if you use this you supplement it with “app engagement”.

APP ENGAGEMENT

Just like page post engagement, this does the same thing, but for applications. One great tactic for promoting your app is to have people engage on it. If you get enough engagement on your app your application could go viral, which could bring in lots of business. This is the best option for getting as much feedback on your app in a short amount of time.

EVENT RESPONSES

If you’re planning an event like a seminar, fundraiser, etc. you can have people go to your page on your website to help jumpstart exposure to your event. This can easily get you massive exposure because when people “like” your event or join, it spreads on news feeds. A lot of fundraisers use this approach to get people to donate to their cause.

OFFER CLAIMS

These are great for running promotional offers. For example, if you have special promotions where you’re offering your services at a discounted price, you can specify which offer on your Facebook fan page you want to promote. This is a goldmine during the holiday season when you’re running your 50-75% off sales.

CONFIGURING YOUR ADS

This is the page where you fine tune your ad so it goes out to your target audience. This is the part where a lot of Facebook advertisers get stuck on. You simply put in your title, description, and an image for your ad copy. You can run desktop news feed, mobile news feed, and right column ads. There are limits to amount of character, image size, and text you can put in each ad.

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These are the ad specifications for desktop ads on the right sidebar: • Title. 25 characters. • Text. 90 characters. • Image aspect ratio. 1.31:1. • Image size. 100 X 92 px. App images, domain ads, page like, and page post image ads are all the same size for images.   These are the ad specifications for news feed ads: • Text. 500 characters. • Image aspect ratio. 8:3. • Image size. 400 X 150 px.   These are the ad specification for mobile news feed ads: • Text. 90 characters. • Image aspect ratio. 8:3. • Image size. 560 X 210 px.   With your images try to be different. A good tactic is to use a black and white photo and put a color boarder around your image. Split test your ad copy and delete the ones that do not perform the best.  

AUDIENCE

Next, your going to want to specify who sees your ads. You can specify the location by country, city, state/ province, and zip code. You can target a specific age group, gender, and language. There is even a custom demographic section where you can target interest, relationship status, education level, major, school, and undergrad years. Other key elements to target the right people with your ads is by specifying their interest. If your business sells computer software you can easily target designers, developers, IT companies, etc. Think of it this way, people that are interested in A would want to buy B. A lot of newbie Facebook marketers will make the mistake of trying to target way to many people at once without drilling down to a specific area. Along the right hand side, Facebook will show you how many people your ad will reach, as well as a diagram on whether or not it’s very broad or specific.  

CAMPAIGN

Next, come’s your campaign. Facebook will give you a name for your ads. You can specify how much you want to spend per day. Furthermore, if you want your ads to run for a couple days, weeks, months, etc. you can specify when to start/stop your campaigns.

BIDDING & PRICING

The very last part to completing your ads is to specify your bids. Depending on what kind of ad you run, you can use clicks or impressions. There is nothing that is better for every business. It’s going to take some time to see if you’re getting better results with clicks or impressions. Make sure you run two ads for a couple of weeks and then measure which one gives you better results. Lastly, you can have Facebook automatically optimize your budget or you can manually enter in your maximum bid (CPC). Remember that the better CTRs (click through rate) your ads have, the less money you will be paying. Over time, if you run a Facebook ad and it performs’ well, you can expect to pay far less than others are paying. Running a successful Facebook campaign is all about finding what works and what doesn’t. There are tons of ways to market your brand or business online and lots of people have found that it’s more lucrative than Google Adwords. Spend a couple months split testing different ads and stick with what is working for your business.

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PREVENT SITE HACKS & RECOVERY ON DEDICATED SERVERS F or every website owner who uses dedicated servers, one of the responsibilities is ensuring that their websites are properly protected from being hacked or infiltrated. We often hear of websites that were damaged, have their data stolen, and rankings reduced to dust because their data is hacked. Even if you take certain measures to secure your website, if the machine that you use for access is infected, you may face a loss of valuable data.

Here are some security measures that can be implemented to protect your website from hackers: •

As a website owner you need to know the different kinds of hacking and how they can affect your website: XSS: The major cause of this kind of vulnerability is weak security of HTML codes and client side scripts. These are typically found in web applications that allow code injection by malicious web users into the web pages viewed by other users. The major cause of this is JavaScript, VBScript and ActiveX. SQL injections: This allows sending the crafter a user name and/or password field which changes the SQL query. Defacement: is done by a group of hackers with the intent to steal content and other information from a website. They substitute web pages and home pages. Hackers target the web server and its operating system.

• • • • • •

Avoid using older versions of software since they are usually not secure. Use the latest ones that are available in the market today. There are new updates from time-to-time, since new hacking methods keep evolving. Use secure passwords. To avoid a hacker from guessing them, make your password a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Monitor your website logs daily to spot any unusual traffic spike in your stats and to ensure that this is not hacking. Record the IP addresses of the websites that are tapping into yours. Use the latest version of pre-hacked backup for your website. Use only secured plug-ins, widgets and codes. Host your website on different C class IPs. Use high quality software that has a good coder to protect your site. Avoid using public WiFi, which is a security risk. Pi n g Z i n e . c o m

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You Need a Trusted Server Administrator

The best way to protect your sites from hacking is by continuously learning from new articles or available resources that can help you in resolving your problems and hacks. Don’t forget to keep backups. Although this will not protect your site, at least your records will be safe. Be careful of revealing too much about your website since this can attract the wrong crowd. After all, you are responsible for your own site. After website damage control, the next best thing to do is to get the services of a reputable web server administrator. Even the most seasoned veteran needs networking assistance from time-to-time. The job of these administrators is well defined. They will log into your dedicated server on a scheduled basis to perform operating system maintenance. The administrator will install upgrades and patches for your current applications. They will monitor the following: OS resource utilization, CPU usage, memory utilization, and disk space and log rotation (in some cases). Their main job is to configure and maintain the web server so that you can concentrate on designing your website and upload the content you want. Since using a dedicated server will leave all aspects of the web maintenance to you, it is wise to have someone assist you with the hassles of keeping your server and files protected from hackers and other dangers. Some website administrators also offer email administration services, which can assist you in monitoring your email box, and as an additional bonus, they can help your users and customers in case technical problems arise. Aside from their monitoring abilities, they can also help you in controlling spam. For a well-managed environment,

five hours of web server and email server administration for each of the servers is suggested. Look for an advanced dedicated server monitoring system that resides on a private network and ranges within the data center so that there will be no security issues that may arise from allowing access through firewalls. As your systems grows and becomes more complicated, intrusion detection is a must for website owners who use dedicated servers. Select an intrusion detection company that can satisfy your needs. Through their services you can insure that your system is protected from potential hacks from outside sources. Subscribe to a dedicated server remote backup system that can assist you in data retention and disaster recovery back up since saving your data is crucial. Many businesses do not realize how powerful having a dedicated offshore server can be until an emergency happens. An example of how a good backup system works is during the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. Some companies had an estimated data loss of $700 million, but for those who had a backup facility with duplicate applications and staff, their data was transferred back without a hitch. This way, there is no real loss. Only minimal ones that can be remedied. Redundancy in IT systems is one of the most effective ways to keep your online business running, even in an emergency. To secure your data from potential loss, look for backup solutions that are tailored to your website’s needs. In this online business climate, having a disaster recovery plan is essential to ensuring your business continuity.

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A new game has captivated the online marketing and gaming world, one that is modeled on Nintendo’s arcade game, Donkey Kong. Developed in just five day by NetVoucherCodes.co.uk, Donkey Cutts uses Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, as the playable character in the game. Much like Donkey Kong, the objective of the game is to reach the top of the ladder, but cannot be done without overcoming a few obstacles first. Donkey Cutts incorporates a ranking system based on points from being “SEO savy”, a system that uses social signals, pandas, penguins, black hats, and links and shares to boost, or decrease, your score. In order to score points, you need to dodge the random penguins and pandas roaming around the game; 10 points get deducted every time they touch you. You can regain points from “awesome content”, such as jumping over the penguins and pandas, being white hat, and using the SEO hammer. “You have to try and combat baddies like negative SEO and black hats and you have to create great content and collect white hat links as your reward. All this whilst doing your best to avoid the next penguin and panda that’s coming your way. Sounds familiar?” “It can be hard to know what to do for the best, there’s uncertainty as to what is classed as white hat and whether dodgy black hat links pointing at you are damaging, or simply not being counted. With all this in mind you’re naturally anxious about when the penguin and panda algorithms are coming.” Once you reach the top of the ladder, your points are added together to form your SERP position. Ready to see how SEO savy you are? You can play Donkey Cutts at www.netvouchercodes.co.uk/donkey-cutts.htm

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ACCESS

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE PRO THE GOOD The pressure sensitive S pen stylus works great on the Galaxy Note’s large screen. Multitasking becomes easier due to the rather large screen; up to four apps can be opened at once.

KEY FEATURES

THE BAD The screen resolution is not very sharp on this tablet and its weight and bulky size make the Note Pro feel more like a laptop than a tablet. Also it’s a bit more pricy than other lighter and smaller tablets on the market.

Android KitKat 4.4

THE VERDICT This tablet isn’t for everyone, but if you are in the market for a tablet with a big screen, remote PC features, and not worried about a high price tag, and then the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 might be for you.

Color Options:

Battery: 9,500 mAh Operating System: Display: 12.2” WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Memory: 32GB/ 64GB Black/White Price: $750 (32GB), $850 (64GB)

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ACCESS

APPLE CARPLAY THE GOOD Apple aims to “make technology in the car safer and more intuitive” with its new CarPlay system. Users who want to make calls, send and receive text messages, listen to music, and get directions can do so through Apple’s integration into your car’s existing system, all while making it hands free so that you can stay focused on the road. THE BAD CarPlay is only compatible with iPhone 5 models and with vehicles that have the hardware and touchscreens to support this integration. THE VERDICT If you are a loyal Apple user, then you will this system is for you. CarPlay sits on top of your car’s existing system so that you can still access the vehicles original format. Currently six automotive companies have signed on for 2014, with 12 more “committed partners” lined up.

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KEY FEATURES Currently Availability: 2014 Models: Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo Controls: Voice, Touch, and Knob Color: Black Compatibility: iPhone 5 (All models)


TASK

NEED FOR SPEED BY DAVID BAKER

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Why does a slow website matter so much?

How to reduce HTTP requests

Ranking For starters, it affects your ranking. Google’s preference for faster loading websites is well known. It penalizes those that take more than 1.5 seconds to display. In fact, page loading time is part of its algorithm, meaning that the longer it takes for your page to load, the more it will penalize you. User experience When you meet someone face-to-face they will make a judgement about you in seven seconds. Likewise, when someone visits your website, the user goes through the same process. You have just two to three seconds to retain your visitor, as shown by Akamai, a content delivery and caching service, in a study carried out in 2009 (http://www.akamai. com/html/about/press/releases/2009/press_091409.html)   If your website has not impressed in this small window, 40% of visitors will bounce off the site, and a further percentage of visitor may browse but not purchase from you (http://blog. kissmetrics.com/loading-time/). The speed of your website is now a key part of the service that your customers expect; a slow loading site will not only reduce sales, but customers are more likely to share a bad experience with your site on social media than a good one (http://about.americanexpress.com/ news/pr/2012/gcsb.aspx)   Not only are disappointed visitors more likely to shout about not being able to complete a purchase because of the payment page timing out, but unsurprisingly most visitors won’t return.   The principle way of increasing load speeds is by reducing the number of HTTP requests. Each unique object in a web page requires a round trip to the server (an HTTP request and a reply). Everyone will cause a tiny delay in the web page loading, so the more objects, the bigger the delay.  

Images • Combine your background images into a single file, or use image maps to combine multiple pictures into one • Optimize your images for web use: Save jpegs at 65% image quality instead of 100% • Keep external images and items minimized. Content delivery network Making use of a CDN gives you a collection of servers which are distributed across multiple locations to deliver content more efficiently to visitors. They work by storing a cached copy of your website and the CDN then selects the server that is geographically closest to the user to serve that copy. This helps to keep the latency down for the user and also keep the number of requests on your web servers to a minimum.   Cache control Enable a cache configuration for the traffic to your website. The following are some aspects of the site that you might want to cache: • Company logo • Favicon • Core CSS files   These types of assets are not likely to change regularly so it is reasonable to cache control them to tell the requestor (an individual computer or tablet) to hold onto their copy of the asset for a while.   In addition: • Try implementing a "Never expire" policy for static components • For dynamic components like dashboards and forums, use an appropriate cache control. You need your visitors to see the most up-to-date information and caching this for long periods will have little benefit.

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Gzip components Use Gzip. This compresses the web pages and style sheets before sending them to the browser, and is one of the most popular and effective compression methods for HTTP reduction. The zipping generally reduces the file size by about 70%, approximately 90% of internet traffic travels through browsers that claim to support Gzip. (http://gtmetrix.com/ enable-gzip-compression.html). Style sheets Developers at Yahoo discovered that by putting style sheets at the top of the page it allows the web page to render progressively. (http://developer.yahoo.com/blogs/ydn/highperformance-sites-rule-5-put-stylesheets-top-7197.html) If the page loads progressively, the browser will display the content as it comes through. This is important for pages with a lot of content, as it gives the visitor a visual clue that something is happening, which will encourage them to stay and wait for it to finish. In addition: • Don’t put style sheets near the bottom as this will prevent progressive loading in many browsers including Internet Explorer, meaning your visitors will have to wait for all the HTTP requests to complete before they see anything. • Use clean and simple style sheets • Use one, or small numbers of style sheets, rather than multiples.

Redirect links Sites with too many redirect links will affect the page loading speed. However, you would need to redirect a page in order to: • Redirect visitors from an old site to a new URL • Direct several domains to a single website • Direct a website without the ’www’ to the proper site. To avoid speed loading issues and to still gain the SEO benefit, manually redirect by making your user click through to the new page, rather than setting up auto-redirect links. It may detract from the user experience, but this also will help search engines pick up the new pages and index them so they gain traffic instead. Graphical text Graphical text is often used for headers or menu items to achieve a certain look. Search engines cannot read text embedded in graphics and will introduce unnecessary HTTP requests. To reduce these, use CSS to style headers, or consider using an image replacement scheme. By converting to CSS text, you lose some control but gain in speed, potential search engine rankings, and accessibility.   By addressing these areas, you will speed up your site performance and improve the visitors’ experience, thus maximizing your sales opportunities. Good luck, and if you have any questions, do get in touch.

Writer’s Bio: David Barker is technical director of 4D Hosting, having founded the company in 1999 when he was 14 and still at school. In 2007 he bought an industrial unit on the outskirts of London and set up 4D Data Centres as a colocation and connectivity supplier for small businesses in the South East of England. In 2013, 4D Hosting re-launched with a focus on providing premium hosting packages and 24/7 support from its own engineers to technology companies, developers and geeks.


SECURITY

Hacking and ID Theft Are You Next? By Ginny Grimsley

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7 Tips for Protecting Your Identity & Money

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t least 110 million consumers were affected by the hack involving Target and Neiman Marcus retailers. Whether or not millions more will have their identities manipulated and finances ruined within the coming months due to more breaches of security at other stores is anyone’s guess, says identity theft recovery expert Scott A. Merritt. “By necessity, I became an expert on identity theft. My information was stolen in 2006, and in repairing the damage, I learned some not-so-obvious ways we can all protect against identity theft in the first place,” says Merritt, CEO of Merritt & Associates (scottamerritt.com) and author of "Identity Theft Do's and Don'ts." Merritt’s problems began quickly. While disputing financial charges and dealing with resulting business problems, in 2007 he was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested on a false outstanding felony warrant. He immediately knew why. “I had to enlist my U.S. congressman and convince the state police, NCIC, FBI and Secret Service that I didn’t commit the felonies. For a few years, I had to prove that the prints did not match the false record in question. After legal action, however, I was able to have this corrected.” Unfortunately, the millions affected by the recent hacks may be dealing with similar repercussions in the years ahead, he says. Before you become a victim of identity theft, Merritt offers seven ways to guard against it.

• Make sure your information is consistent. For all of your identity and financial documents, make absolutely sure, to the smallest detail, that all of your personal information is accurate and consistent! Discrepancies such as using your middle initial on some documents, and not others, or having different addresses, can wreck havoc in proving your identity, and can compromise your credit score. • Secure your digital habits and data. Change your passwords at least twice a year on a non-scheduled basis – don’t be predictable. Have a strong firewall if you shop online, and only access sites that are protected by a strong firewall and high industry standards. Access accounts of a financial nature only from your personal computer. • Protect your banking information. While in the bank, keep account numbers and other data out of sight, and avoid stating account numbers, Social Security numbers and similar information out loud. When planning a bank visit, have items such as deposits and withdrawal slips prepared in advance. • Account for your interactions with vendors. Every time you speak to someone with whom you do business, write down the time, date, name and the purpose or outcome of the call. If an identity theft occurs on the vendor’s end, you will be able to reference these prior conversations effectively. Be sure to note any animosity or reluctance from the vendor.

• Understand how and where it happens. Identity theft is like being robbed when you are away from home; most thefts occur in places where you do business every day. Either a place of business is robbed, a bad employee acts improperly or a hacker breaches the office through the computer.

• Don’t carry around your birth certificate or Social Security card. Unless it’s necessary, keep those vital items in a safe, or at least a firebox. If you know someone is going to need a copy of your tax returns or your driver’s license, for example, make the copies ahead of time. This avoids the need for a firm’s employee to leave the room with such information.

• Secure your wallet’s information. Photocopy everything in your wallet: photos, credit cards (front and back), membership cards – everything. Put the copies in the order the cards are arranged in your wallet, staple the pictures and place them in a strong box or safe.

“Of course, you can greatly reduce being a victim of such recent hacks that occurred at the major retailers by using cash more often,” he says. “But if you’re going to use credit, use a card from a national bank or a national credit union and never a debit card, no exceptions.”

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BRAND BY BLOGSETUPGUIDE.COM

GIVEN UP ON SEO? HERE’S WHAT TO DO NEXT.

SEO

is a dog-eat-dog world these days, and while it may never have been easy, it certainly hasn’t always been this difficult either. With Google’s zoo continuously changing the rules and making it hard to keep a site at the top of the SERPs, it can sometimes seem like the reward just isn’t there anymore for those webmasters putting in countless hours trying to get their pages to rank. And this is why I’m hearing more and more people giving up the ghost completely. But if you’re at that stage and you’re thinking of throwing in the towel, what next? If you’re used to earning money online, then how can you carry on once your livelihood has failed to dish out the goods? Read on to find out where to go once you reach that point… MONETIZE BETTER Step one if you’re not getting enough traffic to your websites, is to start making more money from the traffic that you are getting there. This might mean by moving your ads, or it might mean by selling a product or a subscription and monetizing in a whole new way. Either way, $10 per person from ten people is actually better than $1 per person from 100. GET HELP If you’ve given up on trying to get your website to the top of the SERPs, but aren’t quite yet ready to let go of your dream, then a great option is simply to try and let someone else handle the process

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for you. Outsource your SEO to a company that does it for a living, and they will be able to upload far more articles far more quickly and communicate with other bloggers much more effectively. Ultimately this will result in better results, while you’ll be able to relax and focus on the parts of the job that you actually enjoy. LOOK INTO OTHER MONEY MAKING SCHEMES Another alternative is to look into other money making schemes that can replace the ‘webmaster with ads’ lark. There are plenty of options out there for anyone looking to earn money online, whether you want to try creating an app or you want to sell eBooks. Either way, looking into alternative forms of income can supplement your work with your website, and might even become your main pursuit eventually. START SELLING YOUR SERVICES Another way to stay in the game while moving away from building your own sites and promoting them is to build sites for other people. This way you can focus once again on the design, the coding and the other elements that you enjoy, but the actual promotion will no longer be your problem. Create beautiful websites, sell them, and then stop worrying about it. GET A NEW JOB Finally, you could always look elsewhere entirely for your income. If you’ve given up on making money from SEO and web design, then you could look into other jobs that let you work from home or even give working in an office a go. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t run a website still – but when that website is for you, you’ll probably find that your love for the job comes rushing back.


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BRAND

WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU?

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BY MARSHA FRIEDMAN

f you want to be visible in today’s marketplace, you absolutely must have a presence on social media.

But there are so many from which to choose nowadays! In addition to the biggies like Facebook and Twitter, we have lots of newcomers, including Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Additionally, some of the older platforms have undergone major changes in recent months, which affect how effective they are for different functions. How to know which platforms will best meet your needs? I asked Alex Hinojosa, our vice president for media operations at EMSI Public Relations, to share some tips for helping you decide. First, he says, if you plan to handle your social media marketing yourself, try different platforms and use ones with features you enjoy. That will help ensure you stick with it, and may lead you to create inspired content that’s more likely to be shared. Be on at least two platforms, he says. (If one’s mostly personal stuff for family and friends, it doesn’t count!) Here’s Alex’s rundown on the advantages and disadvantages of the four most popular platforms: • Facebook: This works best if you’re an individual interacting on a personal level, as opposed to a business. Artists, authors, public speakers and certain other professionals may benefit from having potential customers get to know them on a more personal basis. A downside to Facebook is that, in an effort to make money for shareholders, it has begun requiring users to pay for the potentially unlimited visibility that used to be free. • Twitter: Posts are limited to 140 characters – about the length of a headline – and can include a photo or link to a website. This is a great network for getting to know people without sharing a lot of personal information. Plus, you can follow whomever you want, and anyone can follow you.

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“It allows you to easily connect with prospects and potential associates, so it’s great for businesses,” Alex says. “People use it primarily as a source of news, which makes it easy to interact with people you don’t know – you have something to talk about.” Twitter is now aggressively cleaning house of “robot” followers – dummy accounts sold for cheap that make it look like the buyer has a huge following. Even if you don’t buy robots, you may end up with some as followers. “Don’t buy followers and delete any of your followers that don’t appear real. Twitter limits how many followers you can have, so you don’t want to waste them on ‘bots,” Alex says. • LinkedIn: The social network for professionals is a good place to find and meet people within and outside your industry. People can easily see your credentials and endorse your skills. The background information on your profile page – where you went to school, other companies you’ve been associated with – provides great fodder for finding common ground with strangers and building relationships. • Google+: The Google search engine favors anything posted on Google+, which is great for SEO. It also combines the best features of Facebook and Twitter, including photo sharing and categorizing content using hashtags (#). “Right now, Google+ can be anything you want it to be,” Alex says. “It’s still new, just more than 2 years old, so it’s still defining itself. I think it will be the next social networking giant.” As Alex suggests, if you plan to handle your social media marketing yourself, take into consideration the modes of networking that you enjoy along with the best platforms to meet your needs. If you have limited experience in social media, jump into the platforms that seem to best align with your goals. You’ll have a learning curve, but a little practice goes a long way. And you’ll soon wonder why you didn’t get more involved a long time ago!


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