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Category Archives: Search Tips

Improve searches with these Google tricks

During the pre-internet era, locating a document or verifying a fact took countless hours, if not days. Now with smartphones and search engines, it takes less than a second to do the same. However, new tech comes new expectations, ones that demand lightning-fast efficiency. We want our information quickly, yet all we give Google Search to work with are a couple of syllables. Enhance the speed as well as the quality of your next search with the following 12 tips:

Get Olympic updates

Get into the spirit of the games by keeping up with the latest medal tally and other interesting news about the 2016 Rio Olympics. Simply type in “rio olympics” and you’ll be greeted with two options:

1. Above the search results, you’ll see a temporary suggestion offering a shortcut on your home screen to quickly look up the latest Olympic news. Ideal if you want to check every now and then.
2. If you prefer immediate notification, simply scroll down a little and click on “Get Olympics updates.” By doing so, notifications will be sent straight to your phone anytime a major event occurs.

Search for exact phrases with quotes

This tip is ideal if you’re looking to locate results that contain a specific phrase. Searching for a phrase in quotes will bring up results that have only the exact words in the same order.

Specify unknown words within quotes

Look up variations of a certain phrase with ease. Simply replace a certain word with an asterisk. It’ll help you determine a song from its lyrics or find the missing words in an incomplete expression.

Utilize the minus sign

Refine search results even further by using the minus sign. That will help filter out results that aren’t of any interest. Figure out what terms you don’t want to see (e.g., Jaguar -car) and refresh your search.

Website keywords

This is similar to the “site:” function that initiates a Google search that sifts through one particular website. For example, if you want to see every time TIME.com is mentioned in Google, use Google site:TIME.com

Go through archives dating back to the mid-1880s

If nostalgia pays you a visit, Google won’t leave you hanging since there’s an option that allows you to search through newspapers from around the world archived centuries ago.

Use “vs” to compare foods

With the myriad of food options available these days, sometimes we just need help deciding. Not sure what to have for dinner? Try typing in “rice vs. quinoa” for a side-by-side nutritional comparison.

Filter search results for recipes

Don’t let dietary restrictions rain on your parade. After looking up your favorite dish, click on Search Tools under the search bar to filter recipes based on ingredients, cook time, and even calories.

DEFINE: the definition

Instead of flicking through dictionaries, save time by entering DEFINE: before any word (slang included). You’ll also see its etymology as well as a graph depicting its linguistic usage over time.

Where is the love?

For those looking to add a little romance into their lives, simply press the mic icon on Google’s search bar and say something sweet like “I love you.” This recently-released love quote generator does all the searching for you. If that doesn’t the stir enough butterflies in your stomach, simply click Try Again below the results bar.

With the right tips, you can save time and locate the needle in today’s virtual haystack with ease. If you still have any questions regarding any of the Google search engine tips mentioned above, don’t hesitate to mail us or give us a call. We are more than happy to accommodate your requests.

Friday Funny 11.11.16

Everyone should take #privacy seriously 🔐

#fridayfunny #techtip

Friday Funny 21.10.16

The interesting case of Identity Theft… 🔐

#superman #clarkkent #identitytheft #fridayfunny #security

Friday Funny 07.10.16

Security for your business should be taken seriously… With a #firewall 🔒

#techtips #fridayfunny

5 top trends in SEO and social media

If you’re like us, you’ve always got a finger to the wind when it comes to search engine strategy and internet presence. If you’re not like us, that’s okay too, because we’ve got a breezy little article here to bring you up to speed on 5 of the latest SEO and Social Media trends that are blowing through the ether.

Everyone knows about death and taxes, the two most famous certainties that we must endure. If there were a third, surely it would be that without robust up-to-date search engine optimization (SEO) and social media strategies, your business will fall behind.

And since there’s no time like the present, we’d like to put forth some of the things that your business should consider taking into account this year in order to increase awareness of your brand, drive more traffic to your websites, and ultimately boost conversion rates.

1. Conversational search

With the success of digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, and the relatively recent roll outs of Amazon Echo and Google Home – two virtual helpers for the home – voice recognition is becoming much more prominent. For businesses, this means adapting your site’s content so it’s detectable by spoken phrase searches in addition to simple short keyword searches.

2. Social publishing

There’s tons of content published on social media, but what’s changing is the convenience with which it can be consumed. Users are ever more at ease with the videos and full-length articles dropping into their feeds – and with not having to leave the comfort of their favorite social apps to see them. The new challenge for companies will therefore be to publish high-quality content through social channels first.

3. Real-time customer interaction

Having interesting videos on your social media channels is practically old hat. Nowadays, given our speedy and seemingly omnipresent internet connections and our on-demand expectations, the move is towards live, streaming, “in-the-moment” interplay with customers, which has been shown to capture users’ attention for longer periods of time than recorded video content.

4. Increasing emphasis on apps

Mobile users spend nearly 90% of their time in mobile apps and just 10% on mobile websites. It’s not surprising given their relative ease of use, and this disparity could become even greater as social media platforms continue favoring apps and search engines like Google continue developing a “web of apps” – something that just might mean the end of traditional websites in the mobile environment.

5. More rich answers

“Rich answers” are Google’s attempt to provide search results that are sufficient enough to eliminate the need to click through to a website for more information. Their prevalence is on the rise, which could significantly reduce the amount of visits to your site. But it does provide an opportunity to use “structured markup,” a protocol that allows search engines to display your site’s data in more creative ways.

As always, the fast-moving advance of ways to optimize your internet presence is keeping us on our toes, and these 5 trends will likely make a difference for you in 2016 and beyond.

So if you sense a need to enhance your company’s SEO and Social Media strategies – but you’re not entirely sure about what to do first or how to do it – remember what Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

We’ve got the knowledge, call us today and start collecting on those dividends right away.

Data in, buzzword out

One of your business’s most valuable assets is data, and ensuring its safety should be a top priority for your IT department. But what of the fact that there are so many different types of data nowadays? It seems like every few months there’s a new buzzword for the latest flavor, so it’s important that you get a taste of each new kind to ensure you’re up-to-date.

Data is the lifeblood of the information age. It gets observed, collected, organized, and analyzed, and it allows businesses to compete for profit and prosperity. And it takes many forms, each one unique and often vividly-named by the addition of a simple descriptive word.

As such, we thought a short glossary was in order to help keep you current on a handful of new data buzzwords and how they might impact your business.

Small Data

If “big data” is about powerful machines, huge databases, and sophisticated analytics, its little brother “small data” is about people. Small data takes a scaled-down approach to data mining that relies on things like social media to acquire important information. Archiving it is also simpler since a complex central data warehouse isn’t necessary.

Slow Data

The notion of “slow data” may seem a bit counterintuitive since processing ones and zeroes means things are happening fast. Some information, however, isactually acquired more slowly. Take, for example, the polar ice caps, where things literally move at a glacial pace. Since this kind of data doesn’t require frequent analysis it is suitable for back-up in its native format in a secure data lake.

Fast Data

We’re guessing you knew this buzzword was coming next, and it’s probably exactly what you thought it would be. “Fast data” refers to data events that happen fast – as in thousands of times per second – such as financial tickers or electrical sensors. Being able to act on it without delay is critical, so storing it immediately in a stable, easy to access location is a must.

Dark Data

Put simply, “dark data” is nothing more than day-to-day operational data that’s not getting used. It often refers to unanalyzed information in the form of customer call records, competitors’ price fluctuations, or website visitor trends. It can also include data that’s no longer accessible, such as when a storage device becomes obsolete. Your business can bring some of this redundant, out-of-date, or hidden data into the light with software designed to tidy things up.

Dirty Data

And speaking of tidying, here we finally have “dirty data.” While not quite as provocative as, say, dirty dancing or a dirty martini, it does have a tendency to arouse anxiety. But it’s actually not harmful to your data warehouse; it merely refers to a data set prior to its being “cleaned,” such as a leads list that contains duplicates, spelling mistakes, or formatting errors. The key is ensuring it gets spruced up before moving it into production.

If this index of buzzwords has left you wondering about the ways that different types of information affect your specific business, we’ve got answers. Setting up and managing your databases, super-secure backup strategies, and a thorough understanding of information technology are what we provide, so call or message us today.

4 ways that hybrid clouds benefit SMBs

Here on earth, clouds are relatively simple phenomena: visible masses of water vapor making their way across the sky. But in the world of IT, “the cloud” is a bit more complex, referring to technology that allows businesses to take a more hands-off approach to managing their IT resources. And the “hybrid cloud” is rapidly becoming the most popular variety.

Hybrid clouds, as the name suggests, are a version of cloud computing that are made up of two different components. They are a combination of private clouds (where data and applications that require tighter controls are hosted either internally or privately in the cloud space); and public clouds (which are operated externally by third-party providers with the express purpose of reducing a company’s IT infrastructure).

A recent “State of the Cloud” report indicates that 71% of all cloud users are now implementing hybrid cloud solutions, mainly because the ways in which they benefit small- and medium-sized businesses are so numerous. Here we’ve highlighted what we consider to be the 4 most significant benefits of hybrid cloud solutions.

Cost efficiency

Does your industry go through seasonal workload increases? With a hybrid cloud solution, you’ll be able to easily handle spikes in demand by migrating data from maxed-out on-premise servers to scalable, pay-as-you-go “servers in the sky” whenever needed, without incurring any extra hardware and maintenance costs.

Adaptability

Having the ability to choose between on-site/privately-hosted cloud servers and ones on the public cloud gives you more than just cost flexibility. It also gives you the capacity to pair the right IT solution with the right job, like keeping smaller projects on your local or private cloud, while utilizing the more robust computing resources on offer from the public cloud for your bigger projects.

Scalability

What exactly does this common IT buzzword mean for your organization? In a nutshell, it means that the hybrid cloud allows you to “scale up” or “scale down” on an as-needed basis. So if there are last-minute demand increases that your hardware can’t support, or if you’re simply planning for future expansion, hybrid cloud solutions allow for on-demand increases or decreases in capacity.

Security

Last, but certainly not least, are the security advantages of a hybrid cloud solution. SMBs are able to host within the private cloud their more sensitive data such as an e-commerce website or HR platform, while using the public cloud space for less sensitive data where it’s more cost effective and there is less likely to be major problems should there ever be a security breach.

SMBs can set up their hybrid cloud model in a few different ways, depending on their precise needs and the types of providers available to them:

  1. By employing one specialized cloud provider who offers soup-to-nuts hybrid solutions
  2. By integrating the services of a private cloud provider with those of a public cloud provider themselves
  3. By hosting a private cloud themselves and then adopting a public cloud service which is incorporated into their infrastructure

So as more of our customers’ IT infrastructure moves to the cloud, we’re adapting and developing innovative ways to maintain hybrid cloud environments. What this means for you is we’ve got the know-how to provide outright cloud solutions, or at the very least the expert consultation you need, to ensure that your day-to-day operations transition to a hybrid cloud solution without interruption and in a cost-effective manner. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits that the hybrid cloud can bring to your business.

WordPress 4.5.3 patches security vulnerabilities

WordPress is an amazing open source platform that is favored by individuals and business users worldwide due to its ease of use, simplicity and flexibility. However, given that it is the most widely used content management system, it is also the most vulnerable platform out there. Recently WordPress has released an update that addresses security issues for all previous versions. Check out exactly what the update entails.

What’s new in WordPress 4.5.3?

The latest WordPress version includes fixes for more than two dozen critical vulnerabilities, including:

  • Redirect bypass in the WordPress customizer API
  • Two separate cross-scripting problems via attachment names
  • Information disclosure bug in revision history
  • Denial-of-service vulnerability in the oEmbed protocol
  • Unauthorized category removal from a post
  • Password change by stolen cookies
  • Some less secure sanitize_file_name edge cases

All vulnerabilities were found by members of the WordPress community. In addition to the security issues listed above, WordPress 4.5.3 fixes 17 maintenance issues from its predecessors 4.5, 4.5.1 and 4.5.2 (See full list).

WordPress update process

Many sites have an automatic background update, meaning that website admins will receive an email, confirming the update. If your website doesn’t support this feature, you can trigger manual updates by logging in to your WordPress dashboard and click on the ‘Please update now’ link, which is clearly visible on the top of the page.

Before you perform the update, however, we highly advise you to make a backup of your website. This is so that you can quickly restore your site in the event that something goes wrong. Once you have your backup ready, you can go ahead and update your site with the push of a button. Alternatively you can download WordPress 4.5.3 here and install it via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

It’s important to update to the newest versions of WordPress to ensure that you have access to all of its functionalities and to keep your data and website visitors safe from potential security threats. Google will also demote websites that are running old versions of WordPress in its search results pages – all the more reason why you should regularly check for WordPress updates. If you have any questions about WordPress security, feel free to get in touch with our experts today.

Google indexing: 4 tips for better results

It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or an expert in search engine optimization, the field changes so often that it can feel like trying to hold water in the palm of your hands. That can be pretty frustrating since businesses of any size and age need to get people to their sites in order to really grow in our web-driven culture. Thankfully, there are a few tried and true methods for improving your position in Google’s index and we’ve listed the best four below.

Make sure that you’re indexed by Google

This is the first, and simplest step. Go to Google.com and search ‘site:’ with your website domain listed after the colon (example: ‘site:acme.com’). If you don’t see any results from your page listed, that means Google hasn’t even added your site to its search results yet. Although some advisers recommend filling out a request form that Google offers, there is a much faster way to get recognized by the search giant.

Google is constantly scanning web pages for updates in content to include in their search results. As soon as they see a link to an external site on one of their already indexed pages, Google will add that link to the queue of new sites to be scanned and indexed. Feel free to fill out the form, but you’ll probably be waiting a long time. If you can get your domain name linked on a popular or trusted page, you’ll start seeing your page in the search results in no time.

Now go out and get more links

Alright, so your site is showing up in Google’s search results — on the third or fourth page. Pretty much the only people making it that far into search results are students writing papers at 4 a.m., desperately looking for barely-related citations to pad out a bibliography. In this particular situation, we’re lucky enough that the solution is more of the same from step 1. The more links to your site from external pages, the higher you climb in the search results.

Other than getting affiliate businesses to link you on their pages, consider managing a blog or RSS feed. Content generation not only promotes interest and traffic in your site, it also opens up the opportunity for you to submit yourself to blog directories like Technorati and Alltop that compile source material and get you those external links.

Fine tune your content

After you’ve spent some time generating traffic to your site from links on external sites, it’s time to put a magnifying glass over your own site and start perfecting the little things. For starters, make sure Google has your .xml sitemap on file. It’ll help any content updates on your site get pushed to the indexes a little bit faster and improve your ranking. Head over to Google’s Webmaster Tools to submit your sitemap.

Once your site has been indexed, be very careful not to change any of your core ‘permalinks’. If users have links that direct them to pages that can’t be found, it could knock you pretty far down the ladder. Keep your pages live, and keep them named efficiently. Some website platforms, like WordPress, use default link structures that create complicated, number-based links that can be off-putting to users and confusing to administrators and search engine indexers. If possible, make sure your links use category and page title references for more appealing links and organizational structure.

Measure and track your ranking

All the points listed in this article are ongoing projects. Just because you believe your site has achieved a desirable ranking on Google doesn’t mean it will stay there. Keep an eye on where it stands and never let yourself get lazy with your content production, site management and SEO monitoring — it could mean the difference between moving up the search page, and disappearing from it altogether. Online tools like Cyfe and give you a more in-depth look at your site traffic and external links so you’re always ahead of the competition.

Optimizing your Google page indexing is a little like visiting an auction house where everyone has a megaphone and a bigger budget than you. Some designers spend countless hours becoming experts on this specific topic and market their services to a wider audience. Sure, a truly great and well-reviewed business is going to generate a lot of organic traffic, but why not call one of those experts to give you the boost you need? We’ve got the skills and the time to sit down with you and get your site moving up the ladder.

How to build a better chatbot

In order to gain a competitive advantage, you would need to gain clarity before everyone else does. Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done. Similarly, chatbots initially stir up excitement, but they eventually fail to deliver the interactiveness many envisioned them to have. Thus, novelty disappears and obsoletion sets in. Prolong the lifespan of your next chatbot with the help of these following tips:

Emulate the WeChat Model

This Chinese cross-platform instant messaging app has housed chatbots since 2011 and shows no signs of letting up. When compared with other countries, China’s bot market is at a further development stage, meaning there are many things to learn from WeChat’s chatbots. Here a few of them:

  • Two types of bot accounts: WeChat offers Subscription and Service accounts. Subscription accounts mainly gather news and blogs, whereas Service accounts are fully-functional bots that offer features like speech recognition as well.
  • News: News bots make up over 34 percent of the Top 500 Bots in China. This means that WeChat is the main news source for Chinese citizens.
  • Top five categories: Current Affairs, Culture, Entertainment & Sports, Humor, and Emotions — these five categories compose almost 50 percent of the top 500 bots on WeChat in July 2016.

Focus on chatbot-only use cases

With every new technology comes new ways of doing things that weren’t possible before. So this begs the question: “What problems can you solve with chatbots that you couldn’t otherwise solve without them?” Take Uber, for example. The reason behind its success is the implementation of this strategy — leveraging smartphones with GPS and payment capabilities to get cabs (something that couldn’t have been done before). Currently, bots face the same challenge. Here are some examples of chatbot-only use cases:

  • Legal Help: DoNotPay, the world’s first robotic lawyer, managed to overturn 160,000 tickets in London and NYC, saving over $3 million for customers. And since the bot takes 25 percent of the savings, the company made nearly one million dollars.
  • Customer Service: Calling an 800 number is usually not the most pleasant experience, and so few people even bother. . Moreover, many companies struggle with improving customer service. Bots will change that.

Make it special

Chatbots are an extension of what we do practically every day: talk. An average person has between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day; we constantly think in words and are constantly conversing with ourselves. A.I. isn’t quite at our level yet. We aren’t capable of schmoozing with our bots or telling them how bad our day went. But through speech, bots can take the first step toward that reality by helping us rationally solve problems.

What do we really need?

It’s undeniable that in today’s modern world, increasingly more people feel lonely and disconnected, so they look for ways to connect with the outside world. A recent survey of over 12,000 Assistant.ai users reveals that over 40 percent can picture a relationship with their A.I., and that 25 percent are actually open to the idea. Human beings tend to anthropomorphize and assume relationships since we’re constantly seeking to relate. If poorly-made chatbots can offer us an anthropomorphous opportunity, imagine what properly engineered ones can do.

Strike a nerve

For people to really care, you have to truly touch them on an emotional level — or as the expression goes, hit a nerve. An ideal way in to do this is by calling them to action via personality. This allows us to easily connect and establish a relationship, and that’s why bots are considered to be the ideal vehicle to a personalized marketing relationship. They allow for an intimately unique experience that meets both physical and emotional needs.

So what makes a good chatbot? Sufficient problem solving capacities while being fun, positive and engaging. If you are unsure about anything written in the article, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We’ll be more than happy to answer any chatbot-related questions you have.