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So far Stuart has created 18 blog entries.

No One Cares About You

We all like to think that we are important … that people want to know what we are doing with our business … but the honest-to-god truth is that no one cares about you.

That’s something that I tell Toni’s customers over and over again. No one cares about what they are doing … how good their business is … what wonderful staff they have … how much fun they might have with their dog … how amazing their kids are … or where they went for their holidays.

When it comes to selling your product or service that’s all totally irrelevant fluff that does more to turn people away from your business than what it does to encourage people to do business with you.

All anyone who wants to do business with you cares about is what your product or service can do for THEM.

They don’t care if you’ve had a wonderful workshop where you helped lots of people achieve great things. They don’t care if thousands of people attend your seminars or take your courses.

All they care about is what your product or service can do for THEM.

They don’t care if you post dozens of photos of smiling people talking with you or listening to you. All they care about is what your product or service can do for THEM.

And they don’t want to have to wade through large amounts of text either. If it isn’t short, if it doesn’t have a hook that catches their eye and encourages them to ready further, then they won’t.

Do I seem to be trying to make a point here?

Of course I am but I may as well beat my head on my desk because most people don’t listen to what we say. Instead they waffle on about all sorts of irrelevant stuff and then wonder why no one engages with them on social media or their website.

They talk about everything but what people want to hear and wonder why the only people who ‘like’ their posts are their family and close friends.

They make mighty efforts to cover all types of social media but miss the point entirely.

So what is the point?

The point is that if you want your social media posts … and the pages on your website … to engage with your clients you will stop talking about yourself and what wonderful things you have done and start talking about the wonderful things that will happen for people who buy your service or product.

And you will do it in language that they understand and in ways that will appeal to people who have the limited attention span that most of us have these days.

It’s not rocket science … it’s just basic common sense … so why are so many business people totally missing the point? Because they either don’t understand … or can’t accept the raw fact … that no one cares about THEM.

By the way, are you missing the point?

By |April 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on No One Cares About You

SSL Certificates are not secure

So are they a waste of money for a small business? Can you survive without an SSL Certificate?

We’re all fixated on SSL Certificates because Google decided that every website needed one but the fact is that SSL Certificates makes nothing as secure as Google would have us believe.

An SSL Certificate does not guarantee that your computer is secure and it does not guarantee that the server that hosts the website you’re looking at is secure.

All that an SSL Certificate is supposed to do is make the connection … the lines … between your computer the server that hosts the website your looking at secure by encrypting the data that flows over that connection.

But guess what? There’s a little problem that the industry calls “Man in the Middle”.

Hackers can … and do … grab the data that is flowing over that connection and the data can be read by those hackers.

It certainly doesn’t happen all the time but it means that the whole concept behind SSL Certificates is a bit like the fable of The King’s New Clothes.

In the fable the King tells all his subjects that he is wearing the finest new clothes and they believe him … all except one little boy who hasn’t been brainwashed. When that little boy sees the King he quickly realises that the King isn’t wearing any clothes at all … he’s completely naked.

And that’s what the reality is behind SSL Certificates.

But wait, there’s more

If every one believes that SSL Certificates will keep them safe then what happens when they come across a site that does not have an SSL Certificate?

Most of them leave so it’s important to have an SSL Certificate just to keep everyone feeling that it’s secure and safe to deal with you.

That green lock that appears up in the address bar is everyone’s security blanket and even the hackers and scammers are displaying that lock on their websites.

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to call or email us.

By |March 29th, 2019|Websites|Comments Off on SSL Certificates are not secure

Free SSL Certificates

There is no doubt that a free SSL certificate sounds like a wonderful option for any small business who wants to do business or advertise their business online.

But is it really a bargain or are there problems tucked away in the fine print that no one ever reads?

We do not recommend you use a free SSL certificate for several important reasons that Stuart talks about in this video.

Yes you do have to pay for the alternative but the benefits of using a paid SSL certificate over a free one far outweigh the cost.

As always, we’re ready to answer any questions you may have about SSL certificates so please don’t hesitate to call or email us.

By |March 29th, 2019|Websites|Comments Off on Free SSL Certificates

A Question of Colour

Toni recently rebuilt and upgraded an online store she had built for a client some years ago.

Among the things that were to be changed during the rebuild were the two principal colours and the client decided that she would like yellow and purple.

Of course there are many shades of yellow and purple so the client even went so far as to send Toni a swatch of each colour so that Toni could incorporate the exact shades that the client wanted.

When the rebuild was finished Toni went over the site with the client and once the client was happy Toni breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to the next project.

Today, three weeks later, Toni got a phone call from the client … the yellow was not right and nor was the purple and the client had the colours that would be right … except they weren’t.

When Toni changed the colours on the website to the new shades that the client had sent over they still weren’t right. The client now felt that the replacement yellow was too orange and the replacement purple was almost grey.

While the issue of what is the right shade of yellow and purple are still to be resolved now might be a good time to talk about colours and what are some of the things that can influence how we see a colour.

Maybe it’s the monitor
Walk into any department store or Office Works and take a close look at the display of computer monitors.

If they are all switched on and showing the same screen you quickly see that different monitors apparently deal with colours differently. In some cases that may be so but often the problem is caused by the way the monitors have been calibrated.

Look at the controls that come with your monitor and you soon see that you change the way colours appear on the screen. If someone has played with those controls or if the monitor isn’t calibrated at the factory there will be quite a difference in the way colours on the screen are displayed.

And things can get even worse when you look at colours on your tablet or mobile phone.

Maybe it’s the company a colour keeps
Even if your monitor is calibrated perfectly you can still see various shades of colours on the screen that aren’t quite what they really are.

When you have two colours adjacent to each other what you see with our imperfect eyes in one colour maybe influenced the colours adjacent to it.

The colour displayed on the screen may be the correct colour but what you actually see may be lighter or darker than it really is because of the colours around the one you’re looking at. It’s called adjacency and it can be a major problem.

Overcoming the problems
This link will take you to an article on a website that will walk you through the steps you need to take to correctly calibrate your monitor.

Overcoming the problem of adjacent colours influencing how we see those colours and what impact that will have on your website is something that is best discussed with your web designer.

By |July 6th, 2018|Web Design|Comments Off on A Question of Colour

What Makes You Stand Out From the Crowd

Toni and I had an interesting conversation with a local small business person on Saturday night.

This person and their family have recently launched a business in what is a very crowded vertical and competition, at the end of the vertical that they have chosen, is fierce. Their competitors have all been in business for quite some time and have established themselves on the local scene so breaking into that market is proving to be tough.

One of the first questions I asked during out conversation was what was the unique selling point for their new business … what made them stand out from all their competitors.

The person we were talking to looked a little surprised at first … perhaps no one had asked them that question before and they didn’t really know how to answer it and I think that become obvious when they did finally answer the question.

They finally rattled off a bunch of things that potential customers would find in their business but not one of them was unique. In fact, every one of the points they mentioned could have applied equally to all their competitors.

If there was nothing unique about their business then how were they going to stand out in a very crowded marketplace? What was there about their business that would attract potential customers away from the businesses that already filled the marketplace?

Did that small business person really think that all they had to do was open their business and people would flock to them?

I’m not sure that they looked at it quite like that but it was obvious that they hadn’t given much thought to establishing some point of difference between their business and all those similar businesses that had been established for years.

So what is the unique selling point for your business? What service or feature makes you stand out from all your competitors?

What point of difference can you highlight in your marketing that will attract business away from your competitors?

Perhaps in a big city having something that makes you stand out from the crowd isn’t quite so important but if you’re trying to break into an established market in a country town then you need something that makes you stand out. Without it you will fail … quickly.

So again, let me ask you, what makes you and your business stand out from the crowd?

By |June 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What Makes You Stand Out From the Crowd

Website Text – 5 Tips for What Works

Website Text - 5 Tips for what worksI am constantly amazed that the most contentious part of the design process for most of the websites we build for clients is the website text.

People have very firm ideas on what the text on a website should say and, sadly, in many cases they are totally wrong.

Sure, they may have looked at the text that appears on other websites but that doesn’t mean that those websites have got the text right either.

So to help you decide what your website text should say and how it should say it here are 5 tips on what works when it comes to effective website text. They are so simple yet all to often people overlook the fact that simple sells.

1. Keep it simple. Simple words and simple concepts are important if you want your website to deliver the outcomes you’re hoping for.

You don’t have to use big words and flourishes of hyperbole to effectively sell your product or service.

2. Short sentences are very important.

Most people find it harder to read text on a screen than they do when it comes in printed form so make it easier for them by using short sentences.

3. Short paragraphs are vital if you want people to read what you write.

Use 2 to 3 short sentences and no more because even that many sentences will look like a huge blob of text on a mobile device.

4. Use plenty of sub-headings because most people do not read every word on a website.

When they land on a website they want the information they’re looking for as soon as they arrive. They don’t want to waste time reading so they scan the text looking for words that are important to them.

Clear sub-headings will help them find what they are looking for.

5. Plain fonts – Use fonts that people can read.

Cursive fonts may look wonderful but these days many people struggle to read anything that appears in an “old fashioned” font.

The same goes for serif fonts so for a business website Verdana and Arial are still the best options.

Keep those 5 simple tips in mind when you’re thinking about website text and you will find that your words will work for you.

By |May 1st, 2018|Website Text|Comments Off on Website Text – 5 Tips for What Works

Ten Facts About Google

10 facts about Google that beginners don't know or understandUnderstanding how Google works can be a challenge so here are ten facts about Google that may help you understand it better.

These ten facts about Google are just some of the things I’ve learnt about Google while working in SEO for the last 18 years.

1. Your new website is not going to immediately appear in Google. Even if your web designer has done everything right it could still take anything up to a year or more for your website to appear.

2. Google is under no obligation to list your website at all.

3. If Google does choose to list your website, it will rank it against a complex set of factors that are mostly kept secret.

4. Even when your website does start to appear in Google it is not going to result in a deluge of new customers. There may not be that many potential customers searching for your service or product.

5. Google adjusts that set of ranking factors mentioned in point 3 on an almost daily basis so there is no guarantee that, if you have achieved a good ranking, you will retain it.

6. Google will look for mentions of your business in other places besides your website. It will look for links to your website, talk about your website from satisfied customers, mentions in newspapers and other places too.

7. No website should be ‘set and forget’. In many industry verticals Google seems to pay more attention to websites that update frequently.

8. We mere mortals have no guaranteed control over where, when, or what page of our website appears in Google.

9. Google sets the rules and if you try to bend or break those rules Google will punish you and may go so far as to drop your site from its listings.

10. Anyone who claims to have the ‘secret sauce’ to be able to achieve top of first-page listings in Google for your website is telling lies.

Three more facts about Google.

1. Any attempt to improve your rankings will be expensive, it will take a long time and there are no guarantees that the attempt will work. The cost of hiring a reputable search engine optimisation business can be as high as $40,000.

2. A good listing in Google is much harder to achieve for an e-commerce site.

3. Never rely on Google when it comes to the success of your business. Those small businesses that do often fail.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Total Website Management. We are always prepared to help you with basic SEO advice.

By |April 20th, 2018|Search Engines|Comments Off on Ten Facts About Google

What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Your Business

what do facebook's changes mean for your businessJust last week Facebook announced some sweeping changes to the way that business pages on Facebook would be allowed to interact with their customers and potential customers.

Of course, many people thought that it was the end of the world for small businesses that used Facebook to connect with their customers and, in some respects it is, but it may not be as bad as first thought if you’re prepared to make an effort.

It has always been hard to get your message out

It has always been a lot harder than most people realise for small businesses to get their Facebook posts into the newsfeeds of their customers. I’ve lost count of the number of small business owners who thought that I was talking through my hat when I suggested that, relying on the free version of Facebook marketing to promote their business was a recipe for disaster.

But that’s exactly what it was because the number of followers that Facebook showed a business post to was a very small subset of the number of followers a business had … and now that number has been reduced to almost zero.

Why? Because Facebook is using what they call ‘engagement’ as a measure for what people want to see in their newsfeed … but even scoring well on engagement won’t guarantee that Facebook will show your business posts to anyone.

Now it’s harder!

Facebook said last week:

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

Read that quote several times because it is full of important information that will have a big impact on you if you are trying to connect with your customers, or potential customers, for free on Facebook.

Basically it says that if you’re not making business posts that people react to and comment on then you’re in a world of trouble because Facebook is going to drop your posts out of most people’s newsfeed.

That quote also makes it clear that if you are making business posts that generate a lot of engagement then you may see a reduction in the amount of exposure your posts get in the newsfeed but it won’t be anywhere near as bad as those who post stuff that doesn’t generate engagement.

What generates engagement on Facebook?

You can stop reading now if you’re one of those who think that long, wordy, written posts engage your customers on Facebook because they don’t. They might have done in the past but they don’t work well anymore.

You might like reading long posts but Facebook knows that most people … including your customers … want entertainment or infotainment and not just a lot of words.

You can also stop reading now if you think that you just can’t do what is required to engage people … that you couldn’t possibly stand in front of a video camera and record video or even try live video. If even just thinking about it makes you want to run away and hide then don’t think about it.

Facebook has been talking about video for more than a year

For over a year now Facebook has been telling us that video is what really connects you with your clients and, if you were hoping that all that would just go away and we could go back to written posts, then I’ve got to tell you that things have only got worse.

Now Facebook says:

“Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers …”

So there you have it. If you want the best chance of using Facebook as a free way to connect with your customers then you better start thinking beyond video and looking at what you can do in the way of live video that would be engaging for your clients.

You never know, you just might enjoy doing it.

All you need is a smart phone and equipment worth a few bucks

But of course nothing is that easy here on the Fraser Coast. You’re Internet connection is probably going to be too slow to do any live video on Facebook if you’re using a PC/laptop and a camera … I know, I’ve tried.

You can get better results with your mobile phone but you will need to be on a good data plan because one engaging live video is not going to be enough. You will need to post live videos on a regular and ongoing basis to keep your clients engaged.

We can help you

If you do decide to try video and live video then good luck, I am sure that you will learn to enjoy it once you have overcome the fright that goes with standing in front of a camera. We will give you all the encouragement and support that we can.

If you decide not to move with the times then the days of free advertising on Facebook will soon be over and you will have to start paying to get your message out and into the newsfeeds of your customers.

And there’s one thing that you should know about using paid advertising. You get a much better return on your investment in paid advertising if the people who see your advertising are already engaged with you and your business … and you now know how to generate engagement.

By |January 23rd, 2018|Facebook|Comments Off on What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Your Business

Why We Are Ditching Kaspersky

why we are ditching Kaspersky

For years Toni and I have strongly recommended Kaspersky anti-virus software to our clients, our friends and anyone else that asked for our opinion.

We believed in the product so much that we had it installed on every computer in Toni’s office downtown and every computer in our house … and we weren’t disappointed. While people who used other anti-virus software kept on picking up viruses and other nasties our computers stayed clean for years.

Kaspersky was that good. It really was head and shoulders above its competitors and it just kept on getting better. Sure, you had to pay for it … there was no free version … but it was definitely worth the money and you got what you paid for.

But then, about a month ago, the White House announced that all US Government departments had been ordered to drop Kaspersky. No reason was given and it just looked like another dose of sour grapes from a US President who has elevated being petty to an art form.

We weren’t worried by that and we weren’t worried when a major US department store chain took all the Kaspersky products that it sold off the shelves. That was obviously someone sucking up to Trump … but it wasn’t.

The word in some computer and data security circles was that someone from that department store chain had been given a background briefing and they had made the decision to ditch the product because it was becoming too hot to handle.

Was there really a problem with Kaspersky?

We were starting to become a little apprehensive. What was there in the software that was making people turn away from one of the best anti-virus programmes available today?

Kaspersky himself … yes, the company is named after the guy who started it … was denying everything and he even went so far as to offer a bounty to anyone who could show him where the problems lay with his software.

His denials and the fact that, in comparison to Kaspersky, most other anti-virus programmes are rubbish kept us hooked but that all changed on October 10 when the New York Times published an article that has probably destroyed Kaspersky.

What changed our minds

You will find the article here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/technology/kaspersky-lab-israel-russia-hacking.html

It is well worth reading and if you are still using Kaspersky you will probably want to turn it off by the time you have finished reading the article.

It seems that a group simply described as “Russian hackers” had got into the software and added a little something extra to the code.

That “little something extra” was some code that gave the hackers access to every computer that had Kaspersky installed and basically turned those computers into part of a botnet controlled by the hackers.

Once the hackers had access to a computer they could milk it for every piece of information it contained and they could use the computer as part of their botnet to launch attacks on individuals, businesses and governments.

As you might expect, Kaspersky is still denying everything and saying that if there was some malicious code in their software then it must have been put there by outsiders.

However, security experts don’t see this as being an entirely outside job. By its very nature, something like this had to be an inside job. Someone at a high level within the company must have known what was happening.

Needless to say, we have been spending some time this weekend removing Kaspersky from all our computers and replacing it with the best option we can find … Bitdefender. You can find it at: www.bitdefender.com.au

We can’t guarantee that Bitdefender is as good as Kaspersky but it does come highly recommended by people in the industry.

By |October 15th, 2017|Security|Comments Off on Why We Are Ditching Kaspersky

Email Blacklists and You

email blacklists and youOne of our clients has recently had their email address blacklisted for spam even though they were not attempting to spam anyone.

Now I know that some people might find that hard to believe; how can you get your email address blacklisted unless you really are sending out spam emails?

Getting blacklisted is easy

Well I have to tell you that it is easier to get your email blacklisted for spam than you might think. Some very innocent actions can send you to email hell in just a few seconds.

Here are just a few of the ways you can end up on an email blacklist:

A person who receives your email accidentally … or intentionally … marks your email as spam. It only takes one person to do that and when it’s done you’re basically screwed.

You send an email to a client who has a spam filter on their incoming email that looks for trigger words or phrases in the incoming email … in the subject line or in the text. As soon as it finds one of those trigger words or phrases it marks your email as spam and puts you on a blacklist. You’re done like a dinner.

You send out a large number of bulk emails and the sudden surge in the number of outgoing emails leaving your account is enough to trigger an alert that puts you on an email blacklist. You can even do it to yourself.

Yes, it is that simple … especially when you consider that there are at least 438 trigger words and phrases that can blacklist you … and the impact on your business can be dire.

Being on a blacklist can destroy your business

What happens when you’re put on email blacklists?

This is what happens when your email address is blacklisted:

No emails that you send from the blacklisted email address are delivered.

No emails addressed to your business arrive in your inbox.

It’s possible that your website rankings in the search engines are impacted too.

Getting off email blacklists can be hard

Getting onto an email blacklist is easy but getting off all the email blacklists that will list your email address takes time and requires the services of someone who knows what they are doing and how to plead your case with those who control the blacklists.

“Ooops I made a mistake,” is not an excuse that anyone is going to listen to.

For many people finding themselves on email blacklists can mean the end of their business because you are basically cut off from the people who are your clients and the people who provide goods and services for you.

Don’t put off getting help

It is very important to get off those lists as quickly as possible because the longer you stay on those lists the more damage is done to your business.

So as soon as you think that your email address might have been blacklisted get help … call Toni or me now, not later.

Sadly, right at the very time when quick action is important, it seems to take days for most blacklisted businesses to wake up to the fact that they’re not getting any emails.

How to avoid getting blacklisted

Think before you send and:

Don’t send bulk emails through your business email address. Use the services of a business like MailChimp to handle any bulk emails you want to send out.

Look at the subject lines and the text in your emails to make sure that those 438 words are not in your emails.

If someone tells you that they don’t want to receive any more emails from your business then listen to them and stop sending them emails. Remove them from your email lists so that you don’t accidentally send one that could destroy your business.

Staying off email blacklists is not hard to do but getting you off once you’ve got yourself onto those lists is an entirely different matter … and it can be expensive too.

So save money, save your business and turn brain on and think before you send that next email.

Go here for a list of those 438 trigger words and phrases.

By |September 5th, 2017|Email|Comments Off on Email Blacklists and You