Thursday, May 29, 2014

Buying an existing domain name vs. registering a new one

We’ve heard the comment that “all the good domain names are taken” and therefore the person must purchase an existing domain name at a premium price. First, I’ll tell you that if you are creative, you can come up with an available dot com domain name that will work for you. We assure you that all of the good ones are not gone; just be creative.

If you’re convinced that someone has that perfect domain name and you want to buy it, we’re offering you a word of caution. Some domain names have bad reputations with search engines and your starting a new website with one of those, could put you in a big hole. Here’s what we suggest that you do to checkout any existing domain name before you register it

1. Do a Google search for “site:” (with being the domain name you want to purchase). If you see literally nothing come up, that is very odd and could be a sign that the domain name was used for a purpose that caused Google to delist it.

2. Do a Google search for “” and “example” and read a lot of the results. You’re looking for any comments about the domain name being used for SPAM or just having a bad reputation.

3. Go to and search for the domain name. This is a wonderful service that keeps track of old versions of websites. If they have a website listed, check the content for anything that looks like it could be a problem.

4. Ask the seller to show you some statistics for Google’s webmaster tools and analytics. These could point out any problems if they exist.

If you do complete a purchase and find out there’s a problem afterwards, you can go to search engines and complete a “reconsideration request”. It will take a while to get that done but it could be the only way to get your website listed again.

So our advice is to be creative and come up with a new domain name. You’ll save money and perhaps headaches.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Selling adverting space on your website

We’re frequently asked by clients if and how they should generate some advertising revenue from their website.

I’ll first address the “if you should” part of that question. Running advertising copy on a website really makes sense if your page is informational vs. you are trying to sell something yourself. The last thing that you want to do if you’re trying to sell something is to place an advertisement on your website which will take someone away from you before they make the purchase. Further, advertising on your website is usually there because the information on your website is relevant to what’s being advertised. So if you’re selling widgets, the ads at your website should be for widget companies. Don’t help the competition.

Also, there is no point in placing advertising on your website until you’ve built traffic to a decent level. There’s no hard number but I’d say that until you have at least 1,000 visitors per month to a page, concentrate on generating more traffic vs. trying to make money from that traffic. Read a prior blog posting to learn how we recommend that you track your website traffic.

The next question is: What’s the best type of advertising to place on a website. I’d suggest that you try two methods and see which does better:

1. Google has a service called Adsense which is a way for them to place advertising on your website and share the revenue they generate with you. It’s a quality product and worth trying. You are paid for each person who clicks on an ad at your website. Do not try to generate revenue by clicking your own ads as you will get caught and be booted off Adsense.

2. If you have a website with a strong focus on a specific subject, you may be able find affiliate programs that are on-point. An affiliate program will pay you a small percentage of the revenue the company generates from sales that originate at your website. You are only paid if the website visitor clicks the link on your website and then completes a purchase. I think the best way to find affiliate programs is by doing a Google search of “affiliate programs” or “affiliate program subject” (with “subject” being what you’re trying to sell such as credit cards if you give advice on financial services). Read through a lot of affiliate programs and feel free to try a few to see what works best.

The key to generating dollars from either Adsense or affiliate programs is traffic so keep working to get your traffic as high as possible.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Top search engine listing – What not to do.

Over the years, we’re read a lot of tricks on how to get your website a top listing by Google, Bing and other search engines. Please keep in mind that these multi-billion dollar companies have hundreds of brilliant people making sure your tricks will fail. They really are smarter than you (and the guy writing some article) so don’t try to trick search engines. Create a quality website with quality copy. Here are some things that you should NOT do as search engines can penalize you:

1. Stop Stuffing keywords into your page Title. See previous blog posting.

2. Stop listing a ton a keywords in metatags.

3. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your content by stuffing it with keywords. Key word density should be about 3% or less.

4. Optimize your images since you’ll be penalized if pages take a long time to load. See previous blog posting

5. Don’t use invisible text (e.g. putting white text on a white page).

6. Paying for back links to your website or participating in link exchanges.

7. Creating complex navigation to generate more links (e.g. linking every page to every other page in a large site).

8. Avoid duplicate copy at your site or placing the same copy at multiple sites.

Both Google and Bing offer you “webmaster tools” to help educate you on creating a quality website. Here are the links:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Email: IMAP vs. POP3

This is a subject that we’ve been talking about for 10 years but we’re still getting questions so we thought we’d cover it again. IMAP and POP3 refer to the settings that email software (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird) uses to access your email. If you know what IMAP is and you only access your email with IMAP or only access email through a web browser, you can stop reading and find a funny cat video on YouTube to watch. Otherwise, read on…

In the days when we all accessed our email only through one computer, POP3 was the setting that almost everyone used. Unfortunately, many people are still using it. With POP3, when we open our favorite email software (e.g. Outlook), that software downloads the email from the mail server to our computer and then removes it from the mail server so it cannot be found again by another device. If you have only one computer to access your email and you do a great job of backing up that computer, then POP3 is an okay way to go. However, those simple days are gone and IMAP is the ideal solution.

When you access email from a number of different devices (e.g. computer, smart phone, tablet, laptop), you want to have access to email from any of those devices. We think that you should not only have access to the new emails but to prior emails. That’s what IMAP does for you.

What IMAP does is keep your email on the mail server. With IMAP, the software that reads and sends your email doesn’t automatically remove email from the mail server. So the first benefit of IMAP is that emails stay on the mail server and can be seen no matter what device you use to read email.

The next benefit of IMAP is it gives you the ability to better manage your email. Whatever, I read an email and want to keep it, I file that email into a folder by subject matter. Those folders are actually stored on the mail server. Therefore, no matter what device I use to access the email later, I will find the email in that folder. So, organizing email is something that you need to only do once per message vs. having to do it on each device.

Another benefit is that your emails stay on your email server and those companies typically do a great job of keeping backups. I say “typically” because “stuff” does happen. In a previous blog posting, we recommended that you get a free Gmail email account and automatically copy all of your emails to that account as a free and easy backup method.

Finally, there is one other benefit to IMAP that you’d use rarely but it’s critical when you do. While IMAP normally stores only the email header on your computer, you can have it download the entire email onto your computer (while still retaining the original on the email server). Then if you get a new email service, you can upload those same emails in those same folders to the new service.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What web browser should you use?

For the few of you who don’t know what a “web browser” is, it’s the software application you use to view content on the Internet. If didn’t know that you’re probably using Internet Explorer which came with your PC or Safari with was shipped with your Mac. (If you're using Internet Explorer now, point #2 below is vital for you to read.)

The answer to the question of “What web browser should you use?” is that you should use all of them or at least a few of them. There are a number of reasons that’s true:

1. It’s pretty common for me to be logged into multiple services at the same time. In some cases I’m logged into the same service with two different identities (e.g. I have a few different email accounts with the same service). Rather than log in and out using a single web browser, I stay logged in with one browser (e.g. Firefox) using one identity and a different browser (e.g. Chrome) using the other identity

2. It was just discovered that Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 have a "bug' that allow someone to take control of your computer if you click on the wrong link that gives this control. Thieves are actively working to take advantage of that bug. Our recommendation is to stop using Internet Explorer until that bug is patched which should be in mid-May. However, if you still have Windows XP, Microsoft is not going to fix the problem so you should permanently stop using Internet Explorer.

3. On rare occasion, I find that a browser isn’t working properly in loading a web page. Rather than immediately restart my computer to see if that will fix it, I log into that web page using a different browser and that will frequently fix the problem.

4. Different browser have different features and by trying them all, I was able to find the one that I like the best and as that as my default browser. By the way, it wasn’t the one shipped with my computer

5. Most of the browsers allow you to improve their capabilities with the addition of “add-ons” or “extensions”. For example, I use “AddBlockPlus” to stop annoying ads in the browser I primarily use but I’ve not added that to another browser because in a few websites, those “annoying ads” aren’t actually annoying but something that I need.

Basically, I’m telling you that having more than one web browser gives you both added flexibility in how you surf the Internet and improves functionality. There are actually many different browsers but the most common ones, in no particular order are Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You can perform a quick Internet search to find where to download these for your particular operating system.

After you have installed other browsers, I suggest that you search for the most popular “add-ons” or “extensions” for that browser as you should find some tools that really help you. These “add-ons” or “extensions” are somewhat similar to add “apps” to your smart phone.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It’s time to change your password

About 99% of us make two mistakes with passwords:
1. Use the same password on multiple websites; and
2. Do not periodically change the password

If that’s you, read on. You may have read about the “Heartbleed” bug in the past couple of weeks. It seems that for years, the security method used by over half of all websites to pass data to you and back had a bug that allowed hackers to intercept the transmission and get your username and password. This bug was recently made public and websites are scurrying to fix it.

In the case of’s website, we weren’t subjected to the problems of the Heartbleed bug because we didn’t use the defective software. Therefore, passing your password to our site was secure. However, if the password you use at a website that didn’t have the Heartbleed bug is the same password you used at any other website that did have the bug (and over half the websites did), then it’s possible your password is floating in cyberspace and has gotten into the wrong hands.

If you’ve been told that a website didn’t have a problem with Heartbleed, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security if that same password was used by you anywhere else on the Internet.

If you want to check if a website has a problem with Heartbleed now, you can do that at this link:

However, almost all websites have fixed the problem by now. Therefore, just because it’s safe today, doesn’t mean it wasn’t vulnerable at some point over the past couple of weeks.

This is a wake-up call. It’s time for all of us to get serious about passwords and change them periodically and keep them unique to different websites.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What’s the “title” of your website page?

There is one simple thing that most novices don’t do to help search engines list their website. That being, each web page needs a good “title”. The “title” refers to the code the top of each web page. While it is invisible to your website visitors when visiting the page, they may see at the top of the browser or through search engine listings. Most importantly, the title is an important element when search engines decide how to list your pages.
It is in the area enclosed by <title> and </title>.
Some of the common errors with title tags are:
1. Leaving them blank
2. Giving every page the same title
3. Having the title and the page content not match
4. Making the title generic such as these:
You want each web page to have a descriptive “title”. It should contain fewer than 70 characters. It should include import key words (i.e. those words people would use to find you at search engines). You may want the title on your home page to include your brand name. When you are using multiple key words, you can space them with “|”. There is no perfect “title” for you to use as an example because your “title” must be customized to what you are trying to accomplish. Here are a few examples:
<title>Web Design | Affordable Web Design - website designing | Trusted</title>
<title>Tax Advice, Tips on How to Pay Less Taxes</title>
<title>Free Domain Name | Web Site Hosting| Easy | DomainNameSanity</title>
Our final suggestion is that you use a search engine to find websites similar to your own; both the successful ones and not so successful ones. Then see what title tags they are using. We think you’ll see a lot of great and poor examples with this method.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Help search engines find you with a Sitemap

A Sitemap is an easy way for the owner of a website to let search engines know about pages on their site that are available for “crawling”. A Sitemap should be an XML file in a very specific format which lists the web pages for a site along with additional metadata about each page so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

Using the proper Sitemap format does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site (i.e. no guarantee but it helps).

This XML format was first created by Google but is now used by all of the major search engines to know which pages they should index at your site. While you can learn the various techniques to build an XML formatted Sitemap, there’s absolutely no reason to do that.

Clients of can simply contact us through the Contact page request that we add a sitemap to your hosting plan. We’ll do that for you for free – with no further effort or knowledge on your part.

If your hosting isn’t with, there are a number of free services that will build the XML file for you including and

After you have created the sitemap and uploaded it to the main directory in your hosting plan, you’ll also need to create and upload a file named robots.txt. will also do this for you. However, if you’re not using us, the way you create the file is to open a basic text editor. Then place these two lines into the page:

User-agent: *

You should replace (a) “” with your actual domain name and (b) “sitemap.xml” with the name of your sitemap file if you used something different. Then save this file with a name of “robots.txt” and upload it to the main directory for your website.

The final step is to “ping” Google and Bing (the two largest search engines) to let them know about the existence of your site map. You do that by going to each of these two Internet addresses after you use the method above to get the correct location of your sitemap.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A new way to break into your home

We have all seen commercials for a fully connected or “smart” home. A few of you are signing up for a full package and many of you are starting to install a few WiFi enabled devices and appliances in your homes such as an alarm system you can set through your phone, a WiFi enabled security camera or baby monitor that you can watch remotely and a thermostat to set the temperature of your home while you are away. Manufacturers are in a race to connect every object in your home through WiFi or Bluetooth as consumer interest peaks while prices continue to decline. It won’t be long before your refrigerator, toaster and potentially every other appliance in your home is interconnected. However, these systems come with real security risks so you should pay attention.

Hackers are in fact, getting into those devices and doing real damage. If you perform a Google Search for “hacking baby monitor”, you can see thousands of articles about the problem.  Hackers are getting into all sorts of Wifi and Bluetooth devices in people’s homes. Some hackers are doing harmless pranks while others are using these devices to break into homes.

One solution is to not place any of these objects in your home but I’m certainly not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that you become aware of vulnerabilities and pay more attention. Here are some basic things for you to do:

1. Almost all of the devices come with some preinstalled password by default. You must reset those passwords to something new. This has been a problem since the first answering machine was installed in a home. To access the answering machine, you just call the phone number and press * followed by the code. Very few people changed the code from the default and hackers have been having fun with people’s answering machines ever since.

2. Make sure your WiFi Router in your home is security protected and again doesn’t use the default password provided by the manufacturer. If a hacker can get into your Router, he has open access to everything.

3. Know what is connected in your home. Keep and update a list. Check the User Guide for each of these devices to find out if and how it’s encrypted and how you can update security settings

4. Most importantly, pay attention to security issues and ask a lot of questions before you get the next connected device.

We’re well into a new age of connectivity.  We’ve all heard horror stories about computers getting hacked. You are going to start to read more and more about home security systems, electronic door locks and other “ordinary” household appliances being hacked. Be sure you can get ahead of the problem.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The myth of Unlimited Web Hosting

There are a number of hosting services that in the bold print offer unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. The reality is that absolutely no one is giving those services as unlimited because a single person could bankrupt the company. By the way, “bandwidth” is the sum of the file sizes that are uploaded and downloaded.

These are simply a few of the more common caveats that you’ll see in the fine print:

1.  You cannot use the disk space for offsite backup. Therefore unless you are serving all of that content over the Internet to site visitors, you are violating their terms of service.

2.  All hosting services monitor the amount of CPU usage and “hits” to the database. For most services, if you’re using more than some multiple of what the average user uses, they will block your account. This is a common problem for those whose content requires constant access to a database from a database driven content management system. We have seen many people who build their websites using these sophisticated programs designed for delivering a lot of changing content and then don’t update the content. What they end up with is a site that’s very inefficient.

3. Another old trick used by hosting services is that if you’re using a lot of bandwith, they simply slow the speed that they deliver the content of your website to visitors. If they slow it enough, they make their problem go away at the expense of your visitors getting slow response times.

Let me give you to reality of all of this. It’s very very very few websites that utilize more than minimal resources of disk space, bandwidth or CPU usage. If you put those large video files at YouTube (or similar services), don’t load a large MP3 file to play in background on a webpage, optimize your photos and just put online only what your visitors want to, you won’t have any issues.

The biggest scam of the Unlimited Web Hosting claim is that people think they are getting something by signing up for hosting companies that offer it. Then hosting companies that honestly put realistic limits on resources are losing customers because of their honesty. Does anyone really believe that they can get unlimited usage of anything for a few dollars a month?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Memorable Email address for the rest of your life

Too many people either stick with an obsolete email service (which may have been supplied by their ISP) because they don’t want the hassle of making the change or change their email address over and over again as they move around the Internet. There’s a simple solution to avoid all of that plus get a more memorable email address in the process.

Over the past 14 years, I’ve changed email services roughly 6 times. I’ve done this without ever changing my email address or losing a single email along the way. I purchased a domain name from and with that domain name, I get free email forwarding. Each time that I get a new email service, I simply forward my emails to that new service to receive the email. Every email service I’ve ever used allows me to set the “from” email address to the one at my domain name. Therefore, those who receive my email see the proper “from” email address and they “reply to” the email address at my domain name. My most recent change of email accounts was to actually have the email service use my domain name so I no longer need to forward. However, whatever method I’ve used, my email address simply has never changed. As long as I need paying the modest annual fee for the domain name, there’s no reason that the email address will ever change.

The process for you is actually completely painless to handle this new email address if you follow this simple plan, First, obtain your domain name (hopefully at which has a sale running now). I’m using the domain name I selected for several members of my family so that I only need to incur the cost of one domain name for all of us. The domain name that I selected is associated with my family’s last name so it’s more memorable and we each use our first name for the portion of the email address before the “@”. The next steps go down one of two paths:

Path A – If you like your current email service:
Step #1 - Signup for free “email forwarding” such that the email address at your domain name forwards the email to your current email account
Step #2 – Obtain alias email from your current email service so that they will send your email “from” your new email address at your domain name with that same new email address being the “reply-to” address
Step #3 – Either setup a filter to auto-respond to people who send to the old email address that they should update your email address in their address book or use some other means to track which people you really need to get to update your email address in their system. With the passage of time, anyone important to you will learn the new address and you’ll find that only SPAM is going to your old email address.

Path B – If you don’t like your current email service:
Step #1 - Signup for a new email account at your domain
Step #2 – Have the old email service, forward all future email to the new email account you obtain.
Step #3 – Either setup a filter to auto-respond to people who send to the old email address that they should update your email address in their address book or use some other means to track which people you really need to get to update your email address in their system. With the passage of time, anyone important to you will learn the new address and you’ll find that only SPAM is going to your old email address.
Step #4 – This step is only if you want to move your old emails to the new email account. In most cases, you can access your old email account with an IMAP setting. That will allow you to drag your old emails to the new account when you access the new account via IMAP settings. This will be a time consuming process because you must download all of your old emails to your computer and then upload them to the new email server. Therefore, only do this for the emails that you actually need.

Once you have followed either of the paths above, you’ll have an email address that you can keep for the rest of your life.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Planning your own website begins with content planning

There is a lot of material written about website design and layout. However, the most important component of a successful website is the content. Content planning is perhaps the most important step. We  find that few of our clients spend the time to do that before they sit down in front of our template system to create the pages. Failure to think through website content is the primary reason that most of our clients never actually launch their “vision”.

The first step is to write a sentence or two that describes the overall goal of your website. You should keep coming back to this as you move through the process as that will help you stay focused on that goal. If you revise the goal as you create the site, go back and re-write that goal statement to retrain your focus.  As an example, the goal of all of the articles of our blog is “Helping the technically challenged with their online presence.”

The next step is to create an outline of the content your want to place at the website which will achieve that goal. Go back over that several times and keep organizing and focusing that content in the outline. Now start to think of each section of the outline as a separate website page with each page having a single focus. Over time, you may create more and more content to help you achieve that overall goal of the website. However, for the initial launch, think about only what’s essential to achieve the goal. Over time, you can add more pages to the web site.

Now that you have a web page content structure, use a word processor program such as Microsoft Word to actually write the copy. Don’t worry about the layout of the page; just write the copy. Once you have the copy, now start to think about images which will help you express the copy. Your first source for images should be photos that you took on your own camera. If you cannot find the right image, there are a number of online sources that sell you the rights to use images on your website for a couple of dollars each. I’m sure that some of you will be tempted to “borrow” images that you find on the Internet. I assure you that’s a really a bad idea. There are services such as Getty Images that have very sophisticated programs to catch anyone using their images. If you’re caught, you’ll receive a letter from their attorney explaining that you either pay them a lot for the past use of the image or face consequences. Click here to read our blog post about, how to properly format your photos for the Internet.

Now that you have the images and the copy together, you can start to look at various page layouts to display that. Almost all of your will use templates to drop in your photos and copy. That will be a lot easier than building pages from scratch.

We find that people who plan their content, write their copy in a word processing program and gather the photos before they start to actually place that information on a web page, can build a website very quickly. Those who don’t plan may never get the website launched. This should be a fun process with an outcome that will please you. We’re confident that when you plan, you’ll be happy with the end result.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cyberspace can break

There was a problem on February 28th when a few of our clients couldn’t reach our website. Naturally, they thought we were having a problem.  However, in fact, the problem was neither with our website servers or their Internet connection. We knew this because the vast majority of our clients could reach our website and those who couldn’t were able to successfully access other websites. So what went wrong?

When someone enters (or any other domain name) into their Internet browser, the first step is to know where on the planet the website server sits. That’s done by having your Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) process a “DNS name resolution”. That means that the ISP looks-up which “domain name server” is storing the location of the website server you are trying to reach and then, requests that location. That location of any device connected to the Internet is called an “IP Address”. The letters IP stand for Internet Protocol. Once your computer knows the IP Address, it sends a request to that website server to deliver the content of a specific page to them.

Web pages contain a lot of data and it’s not possible to send that data in a single message from the website server to you. What happens is that that website server gets the request and sends the data in small “packets” of information. Once all of those packets arrive at your computer, they are combined by your web browser to form the website page.

Since there’s no direct connection from your home to any website server and back, those packets of data are routed over Internet by passing the packets of data through a number of different connections owned by a number of different companies. In fact, the packets of data for any single webpage, probably take different paths to get to you. Once the last package of data arrives, it’s pulled back together and shown to you. It’s very common for different segments over which the packets travel to fail. When that happens, the packets of data will be automatically rerouted along a different path so they arrive safely. However, on occasion, there’s a major failure in the Internet and an alternative path isn’t available. In that case, you cannot reach the website despite you having a good Internet connection and the web server working properly. Failures of this nature typically last just a few minutes. However, we have seen them last up to 6 hours (and perhaps they have lasted longer without our noticing). These failures can happen during extreme weather conditions. When there is a failure of that type, while you cannot reach the website, others who use completely different paths to get to the website server have no problem at all.

You can actually see one of the paths between your computer and a website server. I’ll use the path to Facebook as an example. Facebook has an IP address of On a Windows computer, you need a “command” prompt. That’s typically done by typing “command” into the Windows search box and selecting that program. On Apple Mac OS, it is available by opening “Network Utilities” then selecting “Traceroute” tab, as well as by typing the "traceroute" command in the terminal.

You then type:  tracert Here’s the result on my Windows computer from my office to Facebook:

You’ll note above that the tracert command is going to limit itself to 30 “hops” or handoffs of data. This gives you some indication that many hops are normal.  This connection starts at which is the IP address assigned by my ISP in the router in my office to my computer. The next step is through “” because that’s the system that my ISP, Time Warner, uses. It’s passed through other connections until it gets to a main Internet connection at “”. It’s then passed along until it gets to Facebook’s control where they direct it to a specific location within their system.

This entire process to lookup Facebook’s IP address and then route the information takes perhaps a second; even if you’re on the other side of the world from Facebook due to data traveling close to the speed of light across fiber optics.

So, when you cannot connect to an Internet site, it’s not necessarily that Internet site that’s having the problem or even your computer. There can just be a breakdown in “cyberspace”.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Know your website’s traffic

We think that it’s important for every person who owns a website or a blog to know as much as possible about the traffic that it generates. In most of our blog articles, we’ll talk about a variety of companies that can provide you with a solution (and/or tell you about our solution). However, in the case of understanding your website traffic, we think that there’s one clear choice for you (and we don’t gain any financial benefit if you use it).

Google has a product called “Analytics” ( that’s free, easy to install and provides you with an amazing amount of information about who goes to your website and what they do once they are there.

Google’s Analytics is about providing you with trends vs. telling you what a specific person did at your website.  Google provides you with powerful customizable reports. However, their standards reports are really wonderful and we’d be surprised if more than 1% of you decided you needed to create customizable reports.

One way that Analytics is invaluable is if you decide to pay for advertising. You can enter that traffic source into Analytics and then, if you choose, set a “goal”. In our case, we paid Google for “Adwords” to send us traffic and then the “goal” was to see how many actual sales were made. With this information, we’re able to easily adjust where we spend advertising dollars and eliminate all non-profitable channels quickly, before we spent too many unproductive dollars.

The final concern deals with how easy it is to install Analytics on your website.  Google provides you with a few lines of HTML code to place on each page of your website. You actually don’t need to understand the code. All you need to do is place it towards the end of your web page the same way you would place text on the page. This code will be invisible to your visitors but it’s the means that Google uses to track your traffic.

This is really a “no-brainer”. If you have a website, obtain an account at “Analytics” ( and set it up. The only word of caution is that watching your traffic can become an addiction

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Protect yourself from domain name scams

Many of you have domain names for your own website or just for your own email address. There are those who will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about domain names. Here are just a few to be careful about.

The most common is those that send you an email or a letter through the US Mail telling you that your domain name is about to expire and you should renew it with them. What’s not so obvious without a careful reading of the letter, if then, is what’s really happening is that by authorizing them, they will try to move your domain name away from your current domain name servicer (which we hope is to them and they will add one year to the domain expiration date in that process. What happens very frequently is that they cannot get this “transfer” done and they just keep the money without providing you the renewal. The solution for you is to only renew the domain name through the website where you purchased it; never through the US Mail.

A relatively new tactic is for you to get an email that someone is attempting to register your domain name with a different suffix which will damage your domain name and “brand”. However, they have temporarily stopped it to give you some time to contact them to protect your domain name. For example, we’ve received an email that someone was going to register but we could get it first. For those that don’t know, “cn” is the country code for China. We want you to understand two things. First, no one was actually going to register Second, you don’t need to be afraid of that because people who are told to go to frequently go to but no one told to go to decides to go to instead.

The other questionable practices you’ll see involves offers to provide you with various services. You need to look at these services very carefully as it is very rare that you need it. Here are just a few:

1.  Trademark protection offered in various parts of the world. If you do decide that you need a trademark in the United States, we suggest that you start at

2.  Listing services are being offered to get your website listed at search engines and directories. While some people may want a service like this, search engines like Google will almost certainly find you on their own. In an upcoming blog, we’re going to write about “sitemaps” which tells search engines all the pages at your website

3.  Search Engine Optimization (or “SEO”) is and can be a valuable service. However, we’ve found that about 95% of the time people who purchase it are disappointed. The main problem is that either the results are very temporary or you get a high search engine listing for keywords that are rarely searched. We will be covering SEO basics in upcoming blogs. Our comment here isn’t to not do it but just be very careful about who you hire and set realistic expectations.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Don’t lose your photos or digital files!

I’d like to talk about storing and backing-up your digital photos and files; perhaps in ways you’ve not considered before. We’re all storing more and more digitally. I’m sure that many of you haven’t taken a photo on film in a decade. What photos and digital files would you lose if you had to leave your house in the middle of the night with only your pajamas and your entire home was destroyed in a disaster; what then? While the primary concern is making sure you don’t lose it all, we now also want to be able to get to those files anywhere and anytime.

All of my photos and files are stored on my computer which I backup frequently to a USB drive in my house but that’s not nearly enough. Here are a few steps beyond that. There are a number of services that provide you with free disk space. The most popular are:

  • Google Drive is a free service of Google which gives you 15GB of online disk space. You can basically store anything there and access it anywhere.
  • Dropbox is giving 2GB of free disk space. One of its nice features is that you can automatically upload photos taken on your camera directly to dropbox

  • While I use both of the services above, I also use a paid online backup service. I personally use which charges $25 per year for 150GB of storage. There are many other services in this same business including, to just name two. These services not only provide enough storage for all of the data and photos on my computer but provide one other very important service. They keep the prior copies of computer files. This is handy if you a file becomes damaged due to human error or a virus and you need that old good copy.

    All of the services I’ve mentioned above give you access to your files from computers, tablets and smart phones so you digital life is never more than a few clicks away. 

    There’s one other item I backup that probably few of you do. Have you ever accidentally deleted an email that you needed later? I have a (free) account which I use strictly for email backup. I have my regular email account automatically send a copy to my backup Gmail account. I also have my software automatically blind copy my backup Gmail account on everything I send. I don’t need to access that backup Gmail account often but when I do, I’m happy I sent the 10 minutes this took to setup. This is a no-brainer thing for everyone to do.
    Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Should you get a new suffix for your domain name?

    The organization which controls all domain names is ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). While you are certainly familiar with “com”, “net”, “org”, “gov” and “edu” domain names, you may not know that there are actually dozens of other such as “ru” being Russian domain names, “” being for the United Kingdom. ICANN has now released and is releasing another hundred or so such as “guru”, “blue”, “rentals”, “cleaning”, “report”.

    We’re being asked by clients if we should get any of those. Our answer, except in an extremely rare situation, is “no”. It’s though enough for you to get your current domain name known and remembered and it’s simply too difficult to get the new ones known.

    We’re also asked about buying the new domain names to protect ones brand. Our feeling is that if there’s someone out there who wants to register (as “tips” is one of the new ones) and they want to spend a ton of money promoting that site, I’d think to myself “thank you”. It’s extremely common for someone being sent to a “org” or “net” domain name to just type “com” out of force of habit. If you were told by a friend to visit the website, there’s a good chance you’d have no idea what a “tips” was and would go to

    We’ve been in this business a long time and remember big promotions when the “tv” domain names came out and that everyone was suppose to get those. It seems that an entrepreneur went to the nation of Tuvalu (which is east of Australia) because they owned the country code “tv”. He thought it would be an amazing domain name suffix. In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name ".tv" for $50 million in royalties over a 12-year period.  Since you’re probably never heard of “tv” domain names, that tells you how well that deal went.

    Our advice: Stick with “com” domain names unless “org” fits your mission better or you have that perfect name and can only get the “net”, “info”, “us” or “biz” versions.  

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    Is Flash dead?

    Flash “was” a wonderful technology created by Adobe which allowed a number of amazing affects on websites. However, it’s time that you stopped using it on your websites and here’s why:

    1.       Flash doesn’t play on the vast majority of tablets and smart phones and the trend is that more and more people will be seeing content online through these devices. Therefore, Flash elements on your website simply won’t load on these devices. 

    2.       Flash has a shrinking market share because there are better ways to get the same things done without the problems of Flash. It’s just a matter of time before Flash is completely dead.

    3.       It’s difficult for search engines to interpret some the information that you place in flash files and search engines are an important way that people find you.

    We’re not suggesting that you panic and create a new website today without Flash. We are suggesting that the next time you need to update your website you look at non-flash alternatives. recognized this problem and created an entirely new set of templates without Flash for its clients. If you’re are client and interested in looking at building a new site, you can write to them and they will give you a free Trial website where you can test and build the new site. Once that new site is ready to go “live”, they will move it for you. It’s all a free service to help their customers stay current.

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    How wide should my web site be?

    In the mid 1990s, monitors were typically had 640 X 480 screen resolution and were 12 to 14 inches wide. Today monitor resolutions are commonly at 1920 x 1080 screen resolution and they are getting physically bigger and bigger. So the question is: How’s your website going handle all of that potential screen size?

    We see amateurs who build websites make two mistakes regarding the overall width of the page:

    1.            There are some who don’t specify a maximum width of the page and decide to let it fill the entire screen. For certain rare types of websites that can create a cool effect. However, for the vast majority of websites, spreading text across too large an area makes the words very difficult to read

    2.            There are those who built their website a decade ago and the site is simply too narrow. While that’s not really a fatal error, it is something to look at when you’re updating your website.

    So, the obvious question is: What’s that perfect size. The answer is that there is no perfect size but we’re going to look at what people a lot smarter than we are to see what they are doing. We’ve looked at a number of major website (e.g. Facebook, Google, Walmart) and while they can utilize some space outside of the main area when it’s available, the main area of their website is 980 pixels wide, give or take a few pixels. Therefore, that’s what we’re suggesting you should be using.

    However, you may want to do a little work on your own to see what others are doing. We found a wonderful add on for the FireFox brower called MeasureIt. You simply click on the tool they give you and drag it across any area where you’d like to measure the width and height in pixels. We also use it to help us decide what size images will fit in a specific spot on a web page.

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Capitalization is important - funny domain names

    Whenever you see our website name written, you should see vs. The reason we do that is to make it easier for people to read and therefore remember. You can give your domain name upper and lower case letters in both your Internet address and email address without regard to how you registered it. We've taken some domain names and given them different capitalization so you can see the importance: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    Why you should "optimize" your photos

    The most common problem with websites created by non-professionals is that the photos placed on the website aren't optimized for the web. What optimizing a photo does is make it loads as quickly as possible without reducing the quality of photo as seen online. Not optimizing photos causes the following problems:

    1. Your web page will load slooooowly. Everyone who visits your site doesn't have high speed Internet as many connect through 3G, 4G or a weak wifi signal and a few have dial-up. Even those with high speed Internet expect your entire site to load instantly and it won't without optimizing the photos.

    2. Search engines, Google included, take into account how quickly your website loads when they determine ranking. You don’t want your website penalized because you failed to spend a few minutes to optimize the photos.

    3. In rare cases your site has so many photos that aren’t optimized that you go over the resources allowed by your hosting company. Even for unlimited bandwidth providers (which isn’t really true), this is typical of their terms of service: We expressly reserve the right to review every Account for excessive space and bandwidth utilization, and to terminate or apply additional fees to those Accounts that exceed allowed levels.

    So, that’s the “why” you want to optimize photos and the next question is “how”. First, web pages deal in the width and height of a photo in pixels. Those dimensions are critical. The concept of “dpi” (i.e. dots per inch) doesn’t apply in the online world because the concept of an “inch” is only for printing. Therefore, only changing the dpi of a photo without changing the width and height in pixels actually does literally nothing online.

    The first step to optimize a photo is to reduce the width and height to the actual dimensions at which you’d like to display it. That should be done by a combination of cropping the photo, if needed, and “resampling” the image. To get technical for a second, there’s difference between resizing an image and resampling an image. When you resize an image, you do not change the number of pixles in the width and height but change the “dpi” (which does nothing online). When you resample an image, you change the number of pixels in the width and height (which is what you need to do).

    So once you have the photo the correct width and height in pixels, you’ve done most of the work to optimize it. The next piece is to change the “quality” or “compression” of the photo. Naturally, you’d think that the higher the “quality”, the better the image would look online but that’s not true. Maximum quality is overkill. We recommend “high” quality. There are a number of pieces of software that ask you about the quality when you save an image (e.g. photoshop) and you should pay attention to that when you save the image. If you don’t have that type of software or want to take an easy method, clients of can simply use the online image optimizer that’s part of the “settings” on the file manager to automatically optimize the photo after you have set it to the proper width and height in pixels.

    Finally, I’d like to demonstrate what we’ve been talking about to show three photos. Below is a photo we took in Glacier Bay in Alaska. We’re going to show them all to you as 400 pixel wide by 300 pixel tall images.

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    How to create your own blog has created its first blog. We have significant technical resources from in-house tech people and we could have used any service or system we wanted to build our own blog. So, why did we use Google's free service? The answer is "simple". We've been recommending this service to our customers for 10 years. We thought that if it's the right solution for our clients, then it's the right solution for us. Everything that we're going to do to create this blog requires no programming or HTML expertise so don't be frightened away.

    We're not going to walk you through the steps of setting up your account and creating the blog because Google does a wonderful job of doing that. However, we are going to give you a few pointers to help to integrate your blog with your website.

    When we setup our account, we didn't want the Internet address to be at the domain name because we want our visitors to know the domain name. Blogger makes that very simple. Therefore the first thing we did was to go to "design" and then "settings" and set the "Publishing Blog Address" as "". If you're a client, we'd be happy to setup that redirect for you. Blogger will give you two CNAME records that need to be setup. Just send those to us. Once it's setup, you'll create a link on your website to the blog page.

    The next important item is to link back to your website from your Blog. We wanted a horizontal navigation that was below the page "header" (which is the most common navigation method). Blogger has a series of Gadgets that you can add to your blog. One of them is called "Link List". You will "Configure Link List" as follows:
  • In the "title" section, just write "navigation"
  • Leave the "number of items to show in list" blank
  • In "Sorting", leave it as "Don't Sort" since you can do that manually right sequence on your own
  • In "New Site Name", enter the name of the navigation link (e.g. home).
  • In the "New Site URL", place the full internet address for hat link starting with http://
  • Once that's setup, then go back to "Design", "Templates", "Customize" and "Advanced" to set the colors for the navigation to the way you like it.

    We also wanted to tie our Blog to our Facebook account. On the "Design" and "Layout" page, we added an HTML/JavaScript gadget. We used a tool from Facebook to generate the HTML code for an IFRAME to Facebook and placed that code into the HTML/JavaScript gadget. You can visit to get that HTML code. By the way, we used that same code on the top of to place a "like" for Facebook.

    This entire process took us about 2 hours to setup including getting the colors the way we wanted it and researching all of the steps above. Hopefully, these steps will help you get the job done quicker. We'd appreciate your feedback on this article, your Liking us on Facebook and giving us ideas for future articles.Thank you.

    What should we write about?

    While has been helping the technically challenged build websites since the year 2000, our New Year's resolution for 2014 was to create a blog to provide tips, ideas and advice on this subject. We'll be reviewing our history of questions that has been asked of us over the years for ideas. However, we'd very much appreciate your giving us your comments on what you'd like to read about.