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: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -