Blogging certainly isn't what it used to be. When blogging first took off in the late 90's/ early 2000's you were sure to be reading more diary like entries on platforms like Open Diary and Xanga. I'm sure if we took a moment to look through all of those entries there would be good laughs…and maybe some serious cringing. Over time blogging became a generally accepted way to share information, news, and also bits and pieces (or maybe more than that) of your personal life.
Blogging and your SEO
In today's world of Internet Marketing everyone wants to do everything possible to be found on the internet. According to Search Engine Journal, SEO jobs have soared in the past year with a 43% increase from 2017. I'm sure you've read or heard somewhere Blogs are a sure way to keep your website current and an easy way to get keywords on your site. While there is some truth to that it's good to know the whole story.
Hiring a sole external or in-house IT person or trying to manage the services on your own as the owner or manager of a business might seem like a good idea until you come across an issue that you can't fix; this happens often for many reasons.
Designated individual IT consultants or employees get sick or need to take extended leave, they go on vacation, take holidays and some just move on, leaving you vulnerable to any number of problems that might occur. Things are great when they are running smoothly, but when they aren't this can bring a screeching halt to production in the workplace.
Synergy: "The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects."
Cold weather generally prompts people to break out the space heater at home or in the office for added warmth and comfort. This is a great idea because it can help to save money on heating bills when you only need extra heat in one area of the room. However, the last thing anyone needs is a fire erupting, especially during the holiday season.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2011 and 2015, space heaters accounted for 43 percent of U.S. home heating fires and 85 percent of home heating deaths. It is crucial to follow safety guidelines and take precautions to minimize the risk of space heaters causing damage to a home or an office.
Google Analytics is a free tool that shows you how well your website is doing and how many visits you get in a day, but it also does so much more. It can tell you how long a visit lasted as well as how many people have viewed your website. And it's seriously free, but you have the ability to upgrade to a paid plan, Google 360.
Why do you Need Google Analytics? When you use Google Analytics you have the ability to use Google's Metrics which shows the following information: Pageviews, Bounce Rate, Users, New Users, Sessions and Unique Pageviews.
• Pageviews gives you information regarding which pages web searchers are looking at within a session. • Bounce Rate is critical for finding out how well your online content is doing because it shows how long a visitor stays on the page before leaving. • Users tells you how many unique visitors your site gets in comparison to Sessions, and how many visitors your site had. • New Users is beneficial if you are trying to track visitors who have not previously visited your site or if you are reaching out to, well, new users. • Sessions tells you how long a visitor was viewing your website in a single visit and in how many total visits, and it is the most common metric used. • Unique Pageviews tracks visibility of content per Session and which pages were mainly viewed.
The metrics outlined above are the most common Google Analytics Metrics and will give you the greatest insight as to how your website is doing. If you are an ad-based site, Bounce Rates and Pageviews per Session will be particularly useful for upping ad revenue.
There is no denying that mobile devices are ubiquitous, and it should come as no surprise that mobile internet browsing has now surpassed that of desktop use. According to Statcounter Website Analytics, as of September 2018, worldwide usage stats are as follows:
Google, being the enigma that it is, seems to subtly remind us how intertwined it is in our everyday lives. Whether it's by showing you an ad for something that crossed your mind 2 hours ago or giving you a suggested search for something you discussed with your coworker yesterday, Google never fails to impress with its…. observant…. abilities.
However, when it comes down to it, being in Google's good graces is one of the best things you can do for your business. If you think about it from a consumer standpoint, the first thing you do when you are searching for a service is "Google it". From there you look in the sought-after "box". This lists the service providers closest to you in order from closest to the city center outward. You might glance through the reviews, maybe click the company with the most or highest reviews. Then you work your way down the search results, usually stopping when company websites that haven't been updated since 2010 start popping up (maybe around page 3?). So how do you keep out of the Flash Mob era crowds on the web?
Whether you are a new business or an existing business, having your IT infrastructure set up by a professional full-service business technology company like Technical Resource Solutions in Canton, Georgia is critical in today's world. This coupled with cyber liability insurance will safeguard your company from data breach, ransomware attack or a complete outage of internet infrastructure. Your entire company is at risk if you don't have the proper infrastructure and cyber insurance protection in place to safeguard your data against cyber attacks.
About Your Infrastructure:
The first step is to have your infrastructure professionally installed. Your infrastructure consists of a server, modem, router, backup system, software, network, internet service provider, management and more. You may also need a cooling system in place to keep your equipment cool in order to prevent overheating and an out-of-the-way storage area to keep all the equipment from harm by foot traffic at work.
The number of servers you will need will be based on the number of employees and functions each server provides. Small companies can get by with one server, but it can get complicated very quickly when it comes to managing email, backup, data management, printers, volume, and more. For instance, if you are a business that provides website development and hosting like Technical Resource Solutions, a single server may be solely dedicated to just that. Because it can get complicated, it's always best to have your IT infrastructure professionally installed and managed.
Do you remember those huge Yellow Pages® books from the past that were delivered to your doorstep? If you needed a plumber, a doctor, an HVAC company or a full-service business technology company, it was the only way to find one before the internet came along. But what was it that made you choose the one you chose? Most likely it was a full-page ad or a catchy logo instead of a printed name and phone number. A picture or a logo held a lot of power in the Yellow Pages because they represented the very first visual impression of a company.
Now, when people search the internet for a business and land on your website, the same concept still holds true: what is going to set your website apart from all the rest? Your logo. It's your identity and it needs to personify who you are and what your company represents. A strong, well thought-out logo will capture the attention of potential customers and they will most likely want to hang around and get to know you better by taking a closer look at your website. This is how branding gets started.
Microsoft tried to do too many things, too soon with Windows 8. Its desktop "tiles" resembled those used on a tablet or phone, but they confused people. Tablets were trendy, but crossovers were like genetically modified cats (the horror!); nobody knew quite what to do with them.
After being swatted on the nose often enough over Windows 8, Microsoft introduced Windows 10 this year. It's the first true hybrid version of an operating system that shares the best features of a computer, a tablet, a smart phone, and an XBox One. Think of it as the Labradoodle of the tech world: loyal, friendly, easy to bond with, but without the endless shedding and whatever it is that makes people sneeze.
Have you ever had one of those weeks when there's so much to do that you have cereal for dinner... every night? If you're an entrepreneur, of course you have! And part of the reason for that is because you take pride in your work, have a good work ethic, and want to ensure your customers are happy with the results.
Around our office, we have a lot of late nights. Lucky for me, I never have to resort to cereal for my own dinner, but the take-out food and caffeinated beverages consumed by some people in my office are always an indication that we're on a deadline, or we're trying to re-work a design that someone wants to tweak.
Let me share with you a few things that make my ears perk up during a design meeting:
"Everyone" as a Target Audience. People have different needs, different tastes, and different goals. Not everyone, for example, likes dogs (go figure!), so if you are a small business owner whose website needs to target dog lovers, "Everyone" is not your audience.
Knowing who your audience IS, however, will help us craft a design and a message that will appeal to those people who are seeking your services and will eventually become your customers.
Websites Evolve Simply having a website is not all there is to it. As your business develops, so should your website. Inventory and service offerings change, prices need to be updated, and your photos and text need to keep up with the current market to help your business stay competitive.
Think of your website like your car. Your 1980 conversion van might still run, but it likely doesn't convey the message – or image – of who you and your business are today. Same goes for your website: the site created for your business in 1999 might still be active, but it needs to adapt so it is compatible with current technology – like smart phones and tablets.
Be An Original I can't tell you how many people see a design and say, "I want to look just like that!" Well, that belongs to someone else's business, so outright copying would 1) be tacky and 2) not deliver YOUR message to YOUR specific audience.
During a design meeting, my people ask you questions about how you chose your business, how long you've been in business, what your top-selling products or services are, and what kind of customer feedback you receive. We also want to know who (specifically) your target audience is (see above), so we can make your website reflect YOU and YOUR BUSINESS.
Let Us Help You We've worked in this industry a long time, so we know how to make our customers happy. We look forward to a night of take-out food and a double espresso on your behalf!
As someone with hypersensitive hearing, it's easy for me to hear beyond the words of a conversation, which means that if someone is really happy – or really frustrated – I know about it pretty quickly.
Sometimes people sound frustrated when they bring their new laptops or tablets to a meeting, and they've forgotten a cord, can't find a file, or find out their new device isn't compatible with their existing software. Business people like it when their applications work, when they can see the screen, and when they don't have to plug it into the wall to make sure it runs during an entire meeting.
A lot of those frustrated people have a Chromebook. At first, they're all excited about it; "after all," they say, "I heard that guy on the radio say it's one of the best."
Well, if you ask me, they shouldn't buy a device based on a generic recommendation from a popular consumer advisor. Does that guy realize most people are looking at how technology can improve their bottom line over the long term, not just with up-front costs? Did they call that guy and ask what the best recommendation was for their specific business?
If they had asked us what we recommend to fulfill their needs now and in the future, that laptop might well be Microsoft Surface Pro 3.
My ears perk up when I hear about all the benefits of this laptop-tablet hybrid, partly because the people who use the Surface Pro 3 are so excited about all its benefits.
First, it has great battery life. If you don't always remember to bring your cords to a meeting, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has a battery that lasts up to seven hours!
It's powerful and boasts great file capacity, too, with up to 512GB storage and 8GB RAM. And it works well with all of the commonly used Microsoft business applications.
Like most great breeds, it's also pleasing to the eye, with exceptional screen resolution.
And while I'm a purebred myself, there's something to be said for hybrids: the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 combines the best features of a laptop and a tablet into one amazing piece of equipment.
It may not take the place as "man's best friend," but it sure comes close!
If there's one thing I've learned through my years of being the ears of Technical Resource Solutions, it's that there's cheap and then there's value – and cheap can end up costing more in the long run.
Last month, we talked about resisting the DIY route for your website. This month, we'll talk about the difference between a trained, experienced professional and someone who knows "just enough to be dangerous."
The very first business website went live in August of 1991, and the ONE BILLIONTH website came into existence in September of last year. In order to stand out among those kinds of numbers, your website has to be amazing. And it's unlikely that you're going to get an amazing, functional, and secure site from someone who creates websites "on the side."
Your niece in college might be able to create a decent-looking website, but will she understand what will help your site stand apart from others in your industry? Will she be able to update the site during exam week? And if the site crashes while she's in class, how much of a priority will it be for her to drop what she's doing and get things back up to speed so you don't lose business?
Maybe you have a friend who dabbles in web design and offers to create a site that will "save you money." Have you considered what that up-front savings might cost you in the long run? Can your friend guarantee a site that is mobile-friendly? How savvy is your friend at creating a site that is hack-resistant? Can he add a shopping cart with the most up-to-date security features to keep your customers' information safe from online thieves?
When comparing up-front costs to build a site, take an extra moment to look into the future and think about what it might cost you – in credibility, time, and lost customers – if your "cheap" website doesn't live up to your needs and expectations.
A cheap website is like a pair of shoes from the discount store: you'll settle for them in a pinch, but wouldn't recommend them for the long haul. A website is a good value when it presents a professional image, meets or exceeds performance expectations, offers security to you and your customers, and can grow with your business over time.
Plus, hiring a professional can help you avoid that awkward silence with your niece at the next family reunion!
When someone meets you for the first time, it's likely that they are making a lot of assumptions about you based on your appearance: the clothes you wear, how you style your hair, the car you drive. Whether they choose to do business with you often is based on their first impression, even before you say a word.
A lot of people come into our office, and I sit and listen intently at every meeting while they talk about the things they want in a website, and the things they don't; the things they like about other people's websites – and the things they absolutely don't like.
Where I have the advantage, you see, is that dogs have an uncanny sense for people's emotions. If someone feels confident, I can tell. And when they are unsure about something, well, I know that, too. And a lot of people are really unsure about what they want in a website!
Sure, folks can put together a passable site using a template they get online for just a little bit of money – or even for free. But most people wouldn't want to set up shop in an office or storefront they built themselves with a hammer and nails, because it wouldn't be secure or up to building codes – and it certainly wouldn't give them the professional image they want for their business.
So why do they think they can do that with their website?
More and more these days, people check out businesses on their computers, tablets, or smart phones before they ever decide to make a purchase. Websites that look polished, that are easy to navigate, and that make it easy for customers to find what they need are the ones that set the standard for a healthy client relationship.
And if they plan to buy something online, customers want to know that they are making their purchase from a business whose site is secure – especially since there have been so many stories about hackers and cyber-theft.
The thing is, sometimes people come into our office and listen to what Technical Resource Solutions can do for their business – and they leave thinking they can create a site for themselves, then they contact us when they realize it's much harder than they thought, when the site they constructed malfunctions, or when it doesn't project the professional image they want for their business.
Trust me when I tell you that it's easier to do things right the first time than it is to try and make up for mistakes down the road.
It's a real treat to have a website that looks good, functions well, and helps you grow your business.
Microsoft started their "Technical Preview" program for Windows 10 back in October, 2014. We've been running the various new builds of this (on the Fast track) on several Virtual Machines here at the office to get a taste of what it's like prior to its official release, expected to be some time this summer.
Anyone was able to sign up for this "beta" test, but it is highly recommended that you don't use this OS on a computer that you expect to work all the time. Since this is beta software, it WILL fail sometimes as the bugs are worked out.
It can be difficult to reserve the time necessary to attend a training session, whether you train online, or leave your office and go to a classroom.
Sometimes by the time that training session comes around it is for a skill that you truly want and need to master. Here are some tips to help make sure the new information sinks into your brain.
• Take notes. This may seem counter intuitive in our high technology culture, but taking notes, either by hand, or by typing them into a document is a great way to help you remember key points. • Review your notes during a break. This technique is especially helpful if your training class is spread over several days. After you've had a few minutes away during a prolonged break or when the class is done for the day, take five minutes to review your notes and jot down questions you may have. • Ask Questions. Sometimes engaging your instructor provides more than clarity. It gives you that extra kernel of information that will help the information stay with you. • Relate the new information to something familiar. Our brains automatically look for patterns as we learn. Taking time to figure out how new information can be used in your day-to-day life gets you more excited about the knowledge – and helps it stick in your mind.
The way we learn as adults is very different from the way we learned as children. Adults master new skills when they can apply them to knowledge they already have. When you're trying to hook new information into your mind, consider everything you know – don't limit yourself to only work skills or personal skills. Figuring out how new information can be applied to everything you know will help you gain comprehension faster and may just make you more efficient in several areas. Benefitting in more than one part of your life will give you huge returns on the time you invested and may just motivate you to learn more.
Most people think that when they are putting together a training presentation they must put every word they plan to say on a slide. While this might make it easier for a trainer to remember a script, it is counter intuitive to giving a good presentation. Why? As soon as a slide goes up, people are more inclined to focus on the slide than the speaker.
Here are some tips to help you create slides that will get you more engagement, rather than less.
1. Only hit the highlights. Use your slides to sum up your points. Only show them once you've made the point, not before. This lets students know what the most important elements of the training session are. 2. Use images. Images are a great way to both illustrate your point and give you a memory jog as to what you will discuss next. Screenshots are great images to include when you can. Just make sure the screen shot you use is focused on the area you are talking about and can be seen clearly from the back of the room. 3. Include references. If you plan to hand out your slides, including sources and references can make turn them into a great guide for your students to hang on to. 4. Don't use animations. There was a time when people thought putting animations in their presentations would make them more entertaining. In reality they are more distracting. If you have a short video that further demonstrates what you are teaching, that is great. But a car zooming across the page or a character popping up in a random place takes attention off of the material you are teaching.
One other point to consider as you create your slides: what if your presentation space has some kind of technical issue? Creating slides that work as a supplement to your presentation, rather than holding the entire presentation ensures that even without the slides, you still have a useful training session.
Today there is a wealth information on the internet that shows people how to do all kinds of things; but sometimes it takes one person talking to another person to make that information click.
How do you find the person who can help you get to that "aha!" moment you need? You may think you have to go away to a high dollar education program, but sometimes asking a few questions up front can help you find that person in your own neighborhood.
A great place to start is at local training centers. Find out what they offer for your area of interest and then review the trainer bios. Check out their credentials, but then look for "soft" skills – that is their people skills. You'll find this information in reviews and testimonials.
Here are some of the traits you should look for:
• A trainer who is collaborative. Trainers very often enjoy working with other people and get inspired by trying to solve problems together, even if they already have the answer. Look for someone who is open to having back-and-forth conversations. • Someone who is detail oriented. Sometimes skipping a little detail can frustrate someone learning something new. Trainers are familiar with all of those details and steer students back on track. • A good listener. We all picture the teacher in front of the classroom or the person behind the podium talking. Trainers do a lot of that, too. But they also listen. A lot. Answering questions is a key component -- and it benefits both the trainer and the students. Trainers learn from the types of questions their students ask.
Finding a trainer who is skilled in both the subject you want to learn and working with students can make the difference in truly understanding something, or just gaining enough skills to get by. Asking a few key questions before enrolling in a class can make the difference for you.