All posts by Ben

Why You Might Not Need Squarespace

wp-vs-ssIt is important for entrepreneurs of all types to stay on top of the latest tools and technology available to them. It is also important to evaluate the efficacy of these tools before adopting them. Jumping on the latest bandwagon can be just as or more harmful than doing nothing at all.

Every year, there’s a new ‘trend’ or ‘fad’ to follow with some tool or another that will enable you to make more money at a lower cost point.  For instance, Optimize Press or Premise allowed you to create your own landing pages on the fly. Or there’s LeadPages, which allows you to create landing pages and conduct split testing. These tools were designed for semi-technical and low cost virtual assistants and they easily produce simple and unnatractive pages. They can be useful tools, but they only help you so long as you understand the needs of a landing page and split testing. Even further, they caused some people financial harm, as they were installed on WordPress websites that were then able to be hacked  and were opened to security risks. Those trend-adopters either now live with that or have paid someone to come and clean it all up. Continue reading

You Better Be Responsive, Or Google Will Get You

search-engine-76519_1280As is it’s habit, Google is getting ready to make another major alteration to their search algorithm, and there has been a lot of chatter about what it is going to mean for us web denizens, so I thought I’d clarify it for you.

Here’s the deal ­— on April 21, Google will be adding a ‘mobile friendly’ component to their algorithm.  This new feature basically looks at your site, and tries to determine if it’s mobile friendly or not.  If not, then it will drop your site down in the rankings returned to Mobile devices below other sites that are mobile friendly.  Basically, if you search on a mobile device, google will rank mobile friendly sites better than non-mobile friendly devices.

The question is, will this impact you? Probably quite a bit. In January 2014, 30% of web traffic was on a mobile device.  As of 2015, it’s looking like more than 50% of web traffic is from a mobile device, and there are projections that this will increase exponentially over the next year or so.

So…this is important…but only if you care about search engine rankings.

For those of you who have Solamar-designed sites, if we built it in the past few years, you should be ok. Here’s where things can go awry — if you have older pre-Solamar pages that are straight-up HTML existing outside of WordPress, it’s about 99% likely that these old pages are not mobile friendly.  When Google finds these old pages, it will consider your entire site to be non-mobile friendly and drop your ranking accordingly.

We’ve been hearing about this, but were hit face first with it this week.  Solamar makes use of Google’s Webmaster Tools to help with SEO stuff.  This tool had notified us that 100% of our site was NOT mobile friendly but we knew this wasn’t true.  The issue came from a few old HTML pages that were outside of the main Solamar site, leftover from previous iterations of the site that are no longer used.  The problem was quickly fixed by simply deleting the pages.  We could have ported them into WordPress as well, but they were so old that we just archived them.

If you’d like to make sure that your website doesn’t have any mobile issues that will alter your Google search rankings for the worse, then the Solamar team is here to help you!

How Not to Get Hacked

Backlit keyboardFor the longest time, it was possible to pretend that if you didn’t engage in any unsafe web browsing practices and employed a competent host for your website, you would be safe from the malicious actions of hackers. I say pretend because this was never actually true, but it was easy to believe that small business owners just weren’t large enough targets to be worth attacking.

Well, in the age of big box security leaks, NSA snooping, easily lost mobile devices chock full of personal data and hackers that are increasingly targeting smaller targets, I would say that the illusion can no longer stand. It is imperative that everyone, even small businesses, protect themselves from the ravages a hacking attack can wreak.

But for many, the barrier to protecting themselves is simply a lack of understanding, or a fear of approaching something that seems too technical from the outside. Never fear! There are many steps even the most technically challenged can take to protect themselves, and if you stick around, I’ll tell you about a few.

The Host With The Most

Despite what I said earlier, having a really good web host in place is your first and most important line of defense. When deciding on a hosting platform, make sure that you choose one with top-notch security measures. Once you’ve engaged said host, always use strong passwords for your accounts and databases. If you’re not using a password manager to keep track of and generate your passwords, you should be. There are a number of competitive managers out there, including Roboform, One Password and Lastpass. Lastpass even has a free secure password generator you can use without signing up for anything, so no excuses! In addition, you would be wise to change your passwords regularly, at least once a quarter. The more often you change your password, the safer you will be.

WordPress Is Soft

Here at Solamar, we love WordPress and use it exclusively for our web projects, but out of the box it’s pretty soft on defense. This is bad, because hackers will be trying to break into your (yes, your!) WordPress platform every single day. If you have a site that has an audience, then it could be as much as hundreds of times a day.

To combat this, you need to do something called hardening, which essentially means bolstering your site’s defenses and plugging any security holes that might exist. The fine folks who make WordPress have created an informative and extensive guide to doing just that, so I recommend you check it out, and go over it with your sysadmin or other tech guru. We’ll be addressing some of the more easy to approach things it mentions later on, so don’t worry if it’s too confusing a read.

Be Judicious With Your Users

You can give anyone you want access to your site, but you shouldn’t. Every person who has access is another weak point in your chain of defense, so the only people who should be given access to your site are the people who actually need it in order to accomplish something. You can also give users permission to do things within WordPress, so try to make sure even the people you do give access to only have access to the things they specifically need.

Also, make sure that when assigning users their usernames you don’t use anything obvious. DO NOT make “admin” your administrative username, or anything else that resembles your name or the name of your business! The more non-standard your usernames are, the more difficult your site will be to hack.

Plugin Your Security

A great way to jumpstart your website’s security is to utilize a security plugin. There are tons of these available for WordPress, from simple plugins like iThemes Security to more comprehensive and expensive systems like Sucuri. Other options include Wordfence, All-In-One Security and Firewall and Bulletproof Security. Take some time to browse through these options, see which one is right for you and install it. Your site will take care of a number of security issues in one solid punch!

However, other than your security plugin, it is important that you limit your use of plugins to only those that are essential, and even then, only use ones that are reputable and updated regularly.

Use a Firewall

Firewalls such as Sucuri’s are the ultimate protection, a security layer that sits between the internet and your server.  These tools are designed to catch the most virulent attacks before they even touch your server, but they all come with a cost. However, if you are under abnormal attack, then it’s well worth the cost.

Want to make sure that your website is a secure as possible? Give the Solamarites a shout, and we’ll beef up your defenses in no time!

Need Help with Your Podcast? We got that.

podcastSolamar is now offering Podcast launch support and engineering. We are excited to help with your podcasting venture.  We can take you from start to finish with your podcasting launch, or help in with any areas that you need assistance with. There are three parts to our process; discovery, marketing strategy and tactics implementation, and audio/logistical implementation. Continue reading