Get 25% off Anti-Virus or Security Suite Software

I received email today announcing a 25% sale for two-year licenses of the security software that I use on all my machines. I don’t see a time limit on the sale, but I thought I’d pass it along today. The email says the lower rate is in celebration of the release of a new version of their products… whatever! I like the product and a sale price is something to celebrate.

Check out ESET NOD32 anti-virus and SMART SECURITY programs.

ESET Smart Security Logo

I have used ESET’s software for several years.  I like it because it doesn’t slow down my computer when it scans for problems.  You may notice some slowness on older or less beefy computers when it’s running a scan, but in my experience ESET is much less of a computer hog than Norton, McAfee, or the other better-known programs.  ESET also rates well in tests by independent labs for actually doing its job and stopping attacks on your system.

I use SMART SECURITY which includes the NOD32 antivirus programs and adds a firewall and other features like an anti-theft module that locates your stolen laptop and locks down the files on it via the web.

Yes, although ESET updates its list of known viruses several times a day, I have been bad in updating the program itself.  I was a couple releases behind and have been missing out on some of the newer features that are now included with NOD32 or SMART SECURITY.  I didn’t know about the anti-theft feature, so I paid for that separately by buying LoJack for laptops. Stupid! And, I didn’t know that the anti-virus program will also scan my Facebook and Twitter feeds to make sure I (or someone else) hasn’t posted a malicious link in my feeds.  You know, a link to a phony status line that takes you to a spammy site that tries to get you to download something evil to your PC. The current versions of NOD32 and SMART SECURITY run through your social media streams and makes sure that there’s nothing dangerous on your steam.

I also like the summary they give of the information I share with the public on the two social media sites.

ESET Social Media Dashboard screen shot
ESET Social Media Dashboard

Finally, unlike security software programs I have seen on other people’s computers, ESET’s suite doesn’t give me a stream of alarmist warnings about what what I should be doing.  So, I chose to run the check on my Facebook account, I didn’t get a warning message that my Facebook feed was unprotected.  This is a big deal, in my opinion.  I have watched friends ignore important warnings from Norton et al. When I asked why they didn’t react to the message, I have been told that the program is always sending them messsages that aren’t important so they don’t read anything it pops up.  A security program that cries “Wolf!” is a bad watchdog.

Enough of mixing metaphores. If you’re tired of Norton, McAfee, or whomever slowing down your system or annoying you with endless off-target warnings, check out the lighter touch of ESET.  Scroll down the page to see a comparison list of features to see if you want NOD32 or SMART SECURITY.

Would You Read Your Own Post?

San Francisco Internet marketer knows what grabs attentionSurfing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vines, and other sites has become an exercise in speed reading.  My little finger is getting callouses from all of its hits to the  “Page Down” key.

Whether it is newsletters I have subscribed to or a Facebook wall, I am giving everything less and less time to grab my attention.  I do appreciate a well-reasoned argument on stopping nuclear proliferation.  Really.  But, I don’t often click on a link that a friend has posted as “important” in a good-for-you way.

I admit it.  I am looking for instant gratification for my intellect, wit, and aestetic sense.  I make split-second decions on whether to skip or linger.  And, if I have to think about whether I want to read your post, it’s too late.

If I, a 59-year-old sophisticate,  am giving you a second to make me want to read your stuff, see your deal, or learn about your company, how much time do you think a  20- or 30-something prospect gives you?

Fortunately, the basics of marketing are unchanged whether the medium is a high gloss magazine or an  app that shows a photo that self-destructs in 15 seconds.  People are attracted to pretty women, puppies, and cute babies.  “Women” includes “men”.  “Puppies” includes “kittens”.  And, “children” includes “toddlers”, “children”, and sometimes even “young adults”.

Right now Facebook and other top-tier sites promote users’ photos and videos more than text links.  That’s because their metrics show that users click on those type of stories more often.

So, make sure that you remember to include lots of pictures of women/puppies/babies… or similar gut-grabbing ones… in your online activity.  I am happy to help businesses develop attention-getting photos and campaigns — just give me a shout for  professional marketing help.  Of course, you may have all the ideas and photos you need on your smart phone with its pictures from the last family vacation.

 

 

What’s the Value Social Media for Small Businesses?

I’m being interviewed for a podcast this week about easy and inexpensive social media actions small businesses can take.  Stuff like Facebook, Twitter,  Groupon, etc.

I’m starting my outline and have some initial ideas of what social media can do:

1.    Put your name in front of potential clients/your clients.
2.    Create “buzz” for your business. If you catch eyes on social media, others will do your marketing for you!
3.    Make you an expert.  When you post authoritative articles, people will come to your blog for information and they’ll come to you for expert services.
4.    Create more incoming links to your website.  No human may read your blog, but Google will.  Google will treat social media links as evidence that your site is popular and that it should show up higher in search results.
5.    Use a new advertising channel.  Social media ads have the promise of being targeted at people who are already looking for services like yours and who are in your physical neighborhood.
6.    Create an illusion of success and recreate your business’ personality.

What info do you want to hear about?  What tips should I pass on?

Comment here, shoot me an email, or even break down and give me a call at (415) 347-6479.

The Secret of Professional Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I will call a potential client this afternoon who’s looking for help showing up in Google search results.  I started an outline of the conversation we’ll have,  and I am posting these secrets of the SEO trade so you — or your web designer — can also use them for your business.

First, Everything is Incremental. I am going to suggest a bunch of things you should do.  Each of them has some value.  But, there’s no one thing you can do to show up top in Google.  The good news is that if there is any step which you don’t want to do — or cannot do — don’t sweat it.  There’s no one thing that will keep you out of the top page of Google either.

Second, Search Engine Optimization is about marketing your business on the Internet. This means showing up on Google maps, video listings, and other top-of-the-heap results. Old-style SEO was designed to get your business’ web page on top of web page listings. But, nowadays maps, product prices, and YouTube links can show up above web page results. You want your business high on these new lists, too.

The main focus of most SEO professionals is the optimization of your web site pages to match the rules Google uses for page ranking. This is the most important action you can take to let Google know what your site is about, and we’ll talk about it.  However, tuning individual pages is probably only 50% of the battle.  So keep reading to find out what most amateurs leave out of their hit-and-run approach to SEO.

Tuning Your Web Page(s)

Editing your web pages so that Google knows what you’re selling is the first thing you should do.  It’s the action that will give you the biggest boost in results.

Your initial task is to identify the keyword phrases which people will search for when you want to pop up in Google.  You can effectively tune one web page for one phrase, so choosing the right words is important.  The selection of keywords is an art itself which I will talk about another time.

Once you have identified the keywords you want to compete for in Google, then you tune your home page for the most important phrase and tune other service/product pages for the other phrases you have identified.

What’s tuning? It’s simply placing the keyword phrase in various visible and invisible (HTML code) places on your page.  The keyword should lead the page title, top header, and initial text paragraphs.  The keyword should lead the descriptive tags for photographs. It should also start off the <meta> description that Google uses to describe the page in summary in its results lists.

Many people think that SEO is done when the pages are tuned for the keywords.  In fact, for many keyword phrases, proper tuning is all you need to do to show up high in Google’s results.  But, for competitive phrases — and to stay on top — there’s more work to be done.

What Google Likes

Google doesn’t share its ranking algorithm, but it does publish tips for webmasters.  The guidelines boil down to “have a well-structured and regularly maintained site with original, high-quality content”, in the wording Google uses in one of its tips.

There are some metrics which seem to please Google, resulting in higher placement for your pages and site.  Google likes sites that:

  • have at least 5 pages
    A couple products, “about us”, and “contact” page is the bare minimum
  • frequently update their pages
    Google rewards pages that are refreshed with new content.  They figure that updated pages are more useful to visitors.
  • slowly add content
    Adding a page or two every month shows Google that the site is active and of increasing value to web surfers

So, when planning a SEO campaign, we need to schedule updates and other actions which will show Google over time that your business is a serious player with valuable information for Google’s users.

Incoming Links

Google is impressed when your pages are pointed to by other sites.  The more quality sites point to you, the higher you’ll get in search results.  So, get links:

  • from authoritative sites like professional organizations, alumni associations, government licensing agencies, and other formal places.  Links to your site from sites that end in “.edu” or “.gov” are especially valuable.
  • from business associates
  • family sites, family blog, friends, anyone and everyone

Social Media

Making your site popular also means showing up in Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, and other social media spots.  Not only will people discover your business on these sites, Google will see the links on these sites that go to your main site.  This will tell Google that there’s buzz about you, too.

Blogs

Blogs like this Dangerous Common Sense blog serve two purposes:  they spread your name on the Internet as an expert, and your links from your blog to your main site add to your main site’s perceived popularity in Google.  Regular blogging will boost your visibility and perceived value!

Maps and Other Media

Search Engine result pages for businesses now show maps and information from videos and other non-text media when you search for some phrases. When we searched for “San Francisco CPA” here’s what we got back this afternoon:

Google Results for "San Francisco CPA"
Google Results for "San Francisco CPA"

The lesson is that when you optimize your site for search traffic, also grab your business location listing in Google and Bing. Be sure to enter your telephone number so that it’s clickable on smart phones.

No Voodoo Needed!

I have fielded calls for my clients from a lot of fast-talking Search Engine Optimization marketers who lace their spiels with confusing techo-babble.  I think they’re trying to use shock and awe on traditional business people.  Don’t fall for it.

Follow the steps I’ve listed above, and you’ll do as well as any professional SEO service.  Of course, you may not have the time or energy to do these things yourself, and hiring a professional is a good idea.  I think you should hire me!

Whomever you engage, make sure that they are ready to do all of the actions I’ve talked about. Tuning, in-coming link gathering, on-going page changes, web site additions, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and business center listings are all important, incremental actions you can take to gain business from the Internet.

How to Twitter Like a Teenage Girl

“I don’t want to use Twitter. I don’t care that some starlet is buying socks at Walmart.”  If you’ve made this comment about using Twitter — or let loose another, similar slam — let us old-timers suggest 4 scenarios where you can get useful information from Twitter and no place else.

Scenario 1 — We were driving north on I5 a few miles north of Corning, California.  Suddenly the traffic stopped. Dead. We joined a very slow crawling line of traffic that was solid as far as we could see.  The passenger picked up his iPhone and searched Twitter for “I5”.  Within seconds he located a raft of Tweets from other cars on the same stretch of road.  Scrolling through these, he read several that referred to an overturned truck off the side of the road about a mile ahead.  We inched ahead for the next mile,  until we saw the truck, Highway Patrol, and the whole accident scene.  What Twitter provided: an accurate traffic report in the middle of nowhere, in a spot far away from media coverage. During the holidays you can also search Twitter for reports on shopping center parking lots and other micro-traffic matters.

Scenario 2 — A client’s telephone system blew a power supply.  Incoming calls were not being answered, even though the staff was in the office available to meet with clients.  The client posted a Tweet about their problem and invited his customers to email or drop in.  This Twitter message was picked up by a feed and reposted to his Facebook page.  What Twitter provided: an alternative path to keep communications going when the phones were out.

Scenario 3 — We follow (which means that we automatically get copies of the postings) only a few people. People who post things we want to see flash in front of us when we’re already busy. We follow:
* ASavvyConsumer who posts interesting tips on buying things and, right now, surviving the holidays.
* San Francisco accountants an Ozdachs client whose Tweets often tell us new information on handling our money.
* A software supplier who announces fixes, new products, and tips
… and other organizations we belong to and industry gurus .
What Twitter provided: quick updates and links to more information on topics we’ve already selected.

Scenario 4 — We attended a business conference with competing break-out seminars, many of which were repeated at different times over the three-day convention. Other participants posted on Twitter comments on some of the hot presentations, and we altered our schedule to catch later sections of the topic or other classes by good presenters. What Twitter provided: Real-time user evaluations which helped us get the most from our business event.

These real-world adult (and mostly business) Twitter benefits don’t involve monitoring the sports stars’ progression through bars, the shopping habits of the glitterati, nor the momentary angst of our friends. The Twitter posts we read relate to our adult world just as the Tweets monitored by teenagers relate to their current concerns.

Twitter accommodates young adult and other adult equally. It’s a neutral media that serves up a banquet of information of our own selection. Older people join in just as enthusiastically as a wide-eyed youth.

We each will probably pick different information to extract from the social news cloud. But, don’t we do that anyway in our choice of TV networks to watch, newspapers to subscribe to, or blogs to read?