Smart Solutions Blog

Heartbleed Bug: What It Is & What You Should Do

April 10th, 2014

Heartbleed Bug

As many of you are probably aware, a bug was recently discovered in the OpenSSL software used by roughly 2/3 of the sites on the Internet for SSL encryption. This is known as the Heartbleed bug. You are likely wondering if your site hosted by Smart Solutions is affected by this problem. That answer depends on the type of site(s) you have with us. It is likely that you are not affected, but there are a few cases where it may be.

Sites that are not affected:

  1. Sites that do not use SSL (encryption);
  2. Site that use SSL for a secure Pixelsilk form (donations, etc..);
  3. Site that use SSL for a secure Impact form;
  4. BV Commerce stores that use SSL.

Sites that may have been affected:

  1. Magento or WordPress sites that use SSL;
  2. Custom sites hosted on a Linux server using SSL.

The above had software versions that included the Heartbleed bug. We have already taken the necessary steps to patch the problem and the site is no longer susceptible to the Heartbleed bug.

What should you do about your site?

While there is not yet a way to determine if the bug was exploited, the likelihood is small. However, to be on the safe side, you should immediately change any passwords that you used to log on to the administration area of the site if it is in the affected list above.

What should you do personally?

You should immediately change your passwords on any of your social media, email or other sites that were affected by the Heartbleed bug. A list of known sites can be found at Mashable. As a safety precaution, you should also change the affected password that you used on unaffected sites.

Password Best Practices

In general, you should use unique passwords for each site to avoid one password compromising all of your accounts. We know this puts more of a burden on you to track those passwords; however it is the best way to stay safe. If you do not want to do that, please at least follow that advice for any sensitive sites such as banks, email, etc..

It is also recommended that you change your passwords on any sensitive sites at least once per year. This is simply a precaution but can save you a lot of headaches if there is a compromise.

In closing, if you have any questions about the your site or you do not know which category your site falls into from the above list, please do not hesitate to contact us at support@smartz.com or via telephone at 541-388-4298.

Sign-up for Bend WebCAM 2014 before May 6 and Save!

April 8th, 2014

Early Registration for Bend WebCAM Conference

For those of you who have attended Bend WebCAM (Web + Creative and Marketing) conference, you know what an amazing brain-boosting experience it is. Dates are set for this year’s two-day event on October 13-14, 2014. And we want you to be the first to know about this great registration deal:


Temporary Insanity Pre-Agenda Special

When you invite a newcomer to Bend WebCAM 2014, you AND your friend will get an insane-in-the-brain-deal towards registration—only $229 each!

So don’t miss out. When this year’s agenda and star-studded lineup of speakers is announced on Tuesday, May 6, the deal is done. Sign-up now>>

Or, learn more about this great deal
>>

Big Takeaways from SearchFest 2014

April 3rd, 2014

Takeaways from 2014 SearchFest
SearchFest is always a conference that we look forward to attending. It’s a full-day of insightful and powerful presentations on trends that are shaping Search Marketing and Social Media. The conference organizing body, SEMpdx’s, original mission was to “put search on the map in Portland, and Portland on the map in search.” Not only have they done this, but they give firms like us, fresh ideas to help our clients better compete online.

Two members of our SEO team attended this year’s conference held at the Sentinel/Governor Hotel in Portland on February 28. They brought back some great information and some takeaways that we thought we would share with you.

1st Takeaway: Mobile – 65% of all searches start on a mobile phone. Even though a prospective customer may convert somewhere else in the sales funnel, mobile is often their first contact with your business.

Helpful tips: Put calls-to-action close to someone’s thumbs and at the bottom of the scroll; and use shorter headlines and Meta data for mobile search results (50 – 60 characters for title tags, 115 for descriptions).

2nd Takeaway: Brand Marketing – All marketing is becoming loyalty marketing to keep consumers engaged with a company’s brand. There’s a shift taking place from marketing to consumers, to enabling ambassadors to market for your brand. The future is not going to be about marketing just to personas, but marketing to actual individuals. Social media integrations are encouraging and enabling this through their access to personal profile data. And Google’s Analytics Universal is enabling greater customized metric tracking.

3rd Takeaway: SEO & Higher Conversions – Industry best practice is moving away from a specific keyword strategy to a broader topic/landing page focus. Also having a solid content marketing strategy is crucial for generating links.

Helpful tips: Use pop-up when prospect is exiting your site and offer them a coupon or incentive to capture their email (this strategy saw a 60% return); and after getting their email, set-up an automated drip email campaign to get them to convert.

Google AdBirds

March 31st, 2014

We received a notification in Adwords today about a new feature – AdBirds.

According to Google, “AdBirds is a new ad format that allows you to take your campaign to new heights by placing ads on real birds.”  How cool is that?! *chirp chirp*

How to Create an AdBirds ad

  1. Select an ad group
  2. Pick your Google AdBird ad
    • Sparrow for a small, quick and efficient ad
    • Owl for those with nocturnal business hours
    • Duck is available at most parks and community areas
    • Eagle for a broad audience reach (Majestic birds may require a higher bid)
    • Pigeon is best for large cities with crowds of people
    • Penguin is best for cold arctic regions (Limited to location, as they can’t fly)
  3. Insert your content into
    • Beak (25 characters)
    • Head (35 characters)
    • Wings (35 characters)
    • Tail Feathers(35 characters)
  4. Let it FLY!

Image Illustration on How to Create an AdBirds ad

Step 1

Google AdBirds Step 1

Step 2

Google AdBirds Step 2

Step 3

Google AdBirds Step 3

Step 4

Google AdBirds Step 4

Happy April *chirp* Fools’! ;-)

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year From The Smart Solutions Team

December 23rd, 2013

Smart-Solutions-Christmas-Card-2013
Happy Holidays & Happy New Year from the Smart Solutions team. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our clients and partners for the past year. 2013 has been a great year for us, we look forward to a better year in 2014.

We will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day. Needing After Hours Support? Fill out our After Hours Support form.

October Internet Marketing Conferences

September 17th, 2013

Although searching the Internet, watching YouTube videos and reading blogs is a great way to learn more about web marketing, there’s nothing like sitting down in a lecture hall and having people like Danny Sullivan or Marty Weintraub speak to you about the latest updates and information in the search marketing world.

Another thing that surfing the Internet for new information doesn’t provide for you: Networking opportunities. As great as Twitter and Facebook might be—they simply don’t offer you the chance to shake someone’s hand at a meet and greet, like these conferences do.

Here are just a few coming up that we think are worth your time and money!

SMX East

October 1 – 3, 2013

The SMX conference series is lead by Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman. Need we say more? They’re both editors and writers for Search Engine Land, and just really knowledgeable people when it comes to SEO, PPC, Social Media and all things web marketing.

www.searchmarketingexpo.com

Bend WebCAM

October 14 – 15, 2013

This conference is right in our backyard, and we love it! Every year, they put on a great event—and as a sponsor, we get the chance to offer an awesome WebCAM discount with our promo code SMARTZ! Some big names in the marketing world are coming this year, and Bend in October is pretty awesome. Join us!

www.bendwebcam.com

Pubcon Las Vegas

October 21 – 25, 2013

Pubcon is the longest of the web marketing conferences on this list—a full four days of workshops, trainings and lectures in every aspect of online marketing. This conference has ten different tracks on the last three days, and even has Matt Cutts as a keynote!

www.pubcon.com

Past October, there are still a lot of great web marketing conferences! Check out the History of SEO site for more events.

Structured Data Markup

September 4th, 2013

From Smart Solutions

Last week we talked about structured data inside Google Webmaster—specifically through the Data Highlighter tool. Today, we’re going a little deeper into what structured data really is, and how to implement it directly onto your website.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data consists of tags within your website’s HTML that help Google and other search engines learn a little more about what’s happening on your pages. There are hundreds of different types of code that you can implement to make structured data work on your site, and as Google starts using it more and more, sites should start using it, as well.

Where Can I Get Examples of Markup?

Google suggests a few different websites to get started on structured data markup, but Schema.org is one of the best sites to help you learn. The full hierarchy list is available for browsing through different types of structured data, and you can choose from the list what type of markup fits your site.

A good place to start is the LocalBusiness tag. This is for companies with a location page that lists addresses, opening hours, telephone numbers and that sort of thing. If you read our article on the Data Highlighter, you’ll see that this is available for tagging in the Data Highlighter tool, as well.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the LocalBusiness Schema.org page, you’ll see examples of the markup that they’ve included for a few different types of businesses and business pages. These are the tags that you would add to your page in order to complete the structured data markup. We’ve included one example of theirs below.

Local Business Structured Data

Other great tags to use are the Product tag, Event tag or the Person tag. All of these are explained and defined on Schema.org.

How Do I Know if My Structured Data is Working?

So now that you’ve got it in place… how do you figure out if it’s working or not? Google makes it easy. Check out their Structured Data Testing Tool, enter your URL, and figure out if the tags you used are showing up for Google.

Any questions? Ask us in the comments! (Want something a little less complicated? Try the Data Highlighter!)

Google Data Highlighter

August 29th, 2013

Data Highlighter in GWFrom Smart Solutions

Google likes things structured. They look for patterns within your site that they can recognize—addresses, articles, phone numbers and the like: pieces of data that are always in the same order. For the most part, Google can recognize these patterns of information, but there’s nothing wrong with giving them a little help.

That’s where the Data Highlighter comes in. Located in your Google Webmaster tools under SEARCH APPEARANCE, Google’s Data Highlighter is available for people less certain of their HTML skills, to show Google how to crawl their site—without actually setting up structured data.

We’ll discuss structured data in a later blog post, but for now—let’s talk about the Data Highlighter.

What to Use the Data Highlighter On

Google Webmaster DataGoogle, as of now, has a limited number of items that the Data Highlighter tool will work on. The current list is below.

  • Articles
  • Events
  • Local businesses
  • Movies
  • Products
  • Restaurants
  • Software applications
  • TV episodes

How to Use the Data Highlighter

Open up your Google Webmaster account and navigate to the Data Highlighter section, as shown in the top image.

  1. Choose the specific page you’d like to highlight, and the type of information that exists on that page
  2. You can also choose whether you’d like to highlight the data on just the one page, or other pages like it, as well. You’ll have the option to choose the other pages later in the process.
  3. Now you see your page! Highlight text, images and URLs to fit the data items, and when you’re done, hit PUBLISH in the top right corner.
  4. If you’ve chosen to highlight just one page, you’re done! If you’ve chosen to tag more like it, you have a few more steps, including highlighting several other example pages.

Data Highlighter Examples

Although you probably won’t see the results of your data highlighting for a while, Google is integrating structured data more and more—and the best time to get familiar with it is now!

Looking for more advanced ways of showing Google your website’s data? Check out our post on structured data.

AdWords Extensions Defined

August 9th, 2013

From Smart Solutions

The world of AdWord extensions is a vast and varied one. In the old days of PPC, it was simple. A nice text ad, a few lines, a URL. Nowadays, Google offers a wide range of PPC extensions that can help your ad to stand out.

Listed below are Google’s current PPC ad extensions, as well as a few that they’re only starting to roll out.

AdWords Smartphone Call Extension

AdWords Call Extensions

In this ever-growing world of mobile marketing, the AdWords call extension has become an invaluable commodity. While the call extension can certainly work for big corporations, it’s ideal for small to medium-sized local companies. This extension shows up when a Googler is using their smartphone to research. All they have to do is click to call your business!

Pricing-wise, the price for a mobile phone call will be the same as if someone clicked through your ad to the website, and the extension costs nothing to run with your ad.

AdWords Call Extension Support

Location Extensions for Ads

As with the call extension above, location extensions cost nothing extra to run, only the regular CPC. What the location extension offers for your PPC ad is an option for the Googler to expand your listing and see where you’re located. Obviously, this extension is only meant for businesses with a physical location. Being able to see where your business is on the map is a great boost for Googlers searching for nearby businesses. This extension also offers a phone number and the options to get directions.

AdWords Location Extension Support

Location Extension from AdWords

Ad Offer Extensions

The ad offer extension is exactly what it says it is—the ability to attach an offer to your PPC ad, and market it to the people searching your targeted keywords. You can add your own offer dates and restrictions, but everything is of course subject to Google’s own rules and regulations.

AdWords Offer Extension Support

PPC Sitelinks

Sitelinks are a favorite AdWords extension. This extension appears at the bottom of your PPC ad, and shows links to whichever pages of your site you submit to Google AdWords. You can choose ot make these sale items, highly desired pages or latest blog posts—whatever you see fit for your ad.

The cost per click for sitelinks is the same as if they clicked the headline of your ad.

AdWords Sitelink Extension Support

AdWords Sitelinks

Social Annotations for AdWords

With all the focus that Google has poured into Google+ lately, they would of course offer a social media extension within Google AdWords—although only for Google+. There are several requirements for this particular ad extension—and it isn’t as easy to set up as the others.

You have to make sure that your company Google+ page is linked to your website (the same site you use for AdWords), and that you are fairly active within your Google+ profile. To Google, this means over 100 followers, recent posts and high quality photos.

AdWords Social Extension Support

Seller Ratings on Text Ads

If your site is active in Google Shopping, the seller ratings extension could be a great one for your AdWords campaigns! Google takes the reviews and ratings from Google Shopping, and aggregates them with other review websites on your ad. Distribution of this feature is automatic, based on different aspects of reviews your business has gotten and what your business sells. In order for this to work, your company name and business URL must be consistent across review sites.

AdWords Seller Ratings Extension Support

Seller Reviews in AdWords

New and Upcoming Ad Extensions from AdWords

Google AdWords has a few updates in the queue for their PPC ads, and these are two items that aren’t super well known yet. We can’t wait to use these in the future!

PPC Review Extensions

This new review feature in AdWords is clearly aimed toward larger companies that can get reviews from reliable 3rd party sources. This isn’t like seller reviews, like we talked about earlier—this is for written reviews, and sentences of praise to feature in your ad. The character limit is 67, and we still have no word yet on what sources would be considered reputable. Search Engine Land does a great job of explaining this AdWords extension a little more.

Picture Extensions for Ads

The new picture extensions that AdWords is rolling out slowly really caught our attention! This could grab a company a top notch spot on the Google SERP. It looks like these images currently appear above the other PPC ads, at the very top of the page. This would be a great way to get more interest to your PPC ad. Search Engine Watch explains this new feature more.

Picture Extensions on AdWords

AdWords offers a lot of options for extensions on your business PPC campaign, and it’s a great way to get more interest in your ad, and help Googlers find you more easily.

If you’re looking into building a PPC campaign, let us help! Give us a call, or contact the team, and we can get you started, or run your entire AdWords campaign for you!

404 Errors

July 11th, 2013

From Smart Solutions

No matter how user-friendly and easy-to-navigate your site is, there will always be someone who puts in the wrong address—mistyping the URL, or clicking on a broken link from another site. It happens to every website: 404 errors.

Pinterest 404 Landing PageGoogle 404 Landing Page

What are 404 Errors?

You’ll get a 404 error when you type in a URL incorrectly. If the site doesn’t have a page created with the address you typed in, you’ll get a 404 error. Some 404 landing pages are funny and some are simple, like in the examples above—but when you get one, it simply means, something went wrong. The most likely case is that the URL in your address bar was typed incorrectly, although it could be that the webmaster deleted the page you were trying to access, or changed the URL.

Fixing a 404 Error on Your Website

If you’ve found or been alerted to a 404 error on your company website, you’ll want to fix it right away. You can do that by finding the source of the mistyped link and editing that, or by putting a 301 redirect in place. A 301 redirect will simply take the incorrect link and direct it toward the correct web address of your choosing.

If you are changing a URL on your website, deleting a page, or moving a page to different part of the site, a 301 redirect MUST be put in place. If people have bookmarked that page or linked to it from another website, not putting a redirect in place could result in lost customers. It’s important to take the time to make sure they get to the right place.

Another reason a 301 redirect should be put in place when a page is moved or changed is because link equity is involved. If Google has assigned a certain amount of link equity on that page, the equity will be passed along with the redirect.

When is a 404 Error Okay?

There are cases in which a 404 error is fine to leave un-redirected. When you’ve removed content that doesn’t relate to anything else on your website, letting them land on your helpful 404 Landing Page with a search box, or links to other content is perfectly acceptable. In general (and every case is different), if you can’t think of any place that a 404 error should redirect to, let your visitors land on your 404 landing page. An article from Rand Fishkin of Moz has some great information on which URLs to redirect and which to let 404.

How to Stop 404 Errors from Happening

Google Webmaster 404 AlertsThere’s no way to stop a 404 error from happening on your site—but there are ways to catch them fast! If you use Google Webmaster Tools, they’ll alert you when there’s a sharp increase of 404 errors on your website. If you monitor it on a regular (monthly or weekly) basis, you can keep these at bay by redirecting them as they happen.

The other step you can take to make sure you aren’t losing your customers through 404 errors is to make sure they aren’t STOPPED by that error page, by providing a well thought-out 404 landing page. Mashable gives you its most important links at the top, and lets you search for the page you were hoping to find. Pinterest gives you a quick link to get back to the Pinterest homepage. On our site (and most of the sites we build), we like to give website visitors a friendly 404 landing page that helps them find whatever they were looking for quickly.

When it comes to your own site, it’s important to monitor your 404 errors regularly—and that’s something that we do for our web marketing clients. We’d love to chat with you more about our web marketing strategies and how we can help you! Give us a call or fill out our easy contact form.

Any more questions about 404 errors or 301 redirects? Let us know in the comments!

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