Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Real Costs of Working from Home

Working in sweats, skipping the commute and avoiding office politics. For the right people, working from home can increase productivity and decrease stress. And, it can be more cost effective than working from an outside office. But, working from home does not come without costs. Let's look at some of the real costs of working from home.

Maintain Professional Relationships
When primarily working from home, you need to actively build and maintain relationships with colleagues. Make sure you see your colleagues’ faces occasionally. Instead of phone calls and email, use video conferencing so that you can see the other people and they can see you. Also, don't skip small talk. When in an office, you have the Break Room to catch up with others. When working from home and speaking to others via the phone or video, small talk will help create rapport. Plan to join a conference call a few minutes early with just that intent.

While working from home is convenient and comfortable, it can also get a little lonely when you’re by yourself day after day. At times, the solitude of working alone at home may lead to feeling isolated or cut off from other professionals. To combat those feelings, try the following:
  • Take periodic breaks - Take a walk, go the supermarket or run errands.
  • Work outside your home office - Work from a coffee shop, book store or public library.
  • Get social - Be active in professional social media sites and engage with others to promote your business and professional brand.
Stagnant Innovation
Working from home can cut you off from spontaneous interactions with others that can spark new insights. Consider scheduling regular conference calls or virtual meetings with colleagues, clients or other professionals. Engage in discussions about challenges you and they are facing, and possible ways to overcome those challenges. If necessity of the mother of invention, your necessity is to stay connected.

Utility Bills
If you have a dedicated home office, you may be able to write off some of the utility expenses, at least for the portion of your house made up by your office. See a tax professional for advice for your specific situation. However, when you’re working from home your utility bills are going to increase. You can no longer turn the air conditioner off for eight hours a day in the summer. And even if you’re attentive to turning off lights and appliances in rooms you’re not using, you will still be using your office, kitchen, bathroom and other areas of your home a bit more.

Some municipalities (i.e. New York City) impose taxes on home-based workers whether they work within the municipality or not. For example, an out-of-state resident who works from home for a New York company will owe taxes to both states. While tax credits may be available on the multiple state tax returns, you will likely need to file multiple state tax returns - even as often as quarterly. Again, see a tax professional for advice for your specific situation.

Liability Insurance
When working from home, accidents at home by you or others may not be covered by your regular home owner's insurance policy. An example would be when a package delivery person trips and becomes injured on your property when delivering a work-related package. A stronger example is if you see clients at your home office, and a client becomes injured. You need to check the coverage in your home owner's insurance policy. If lacking proper liability protection, you may need to add a rider to your policy, or even acquire a business liability policy (Important: See an insurance professional for advice for your specific situation).

Whether you have a home-based business or work for another company, you may love the idea of working from home. Before you commit to doing just that, it's important to have a thorough look at the real costs for working from home, as well as the anticipated benefits. Doing so will help you determine just how you will be able to work effectively from home.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Worst Website

We may not always judge a book by its cover, but we almost always judge a business by its website. There are a lot of opinions about what goes into the worst website... Poor color selection, not mobile friendly, hard to read font and terrible images or content. While I agree those are big factors, for me the worst website is the one that is NOT found.
Just because you have created and published your website, it does not mean that people will be able to easily find it. If  your website is not found, then your business is functionally irrelevant online. So, you need to help the search engines know about your website and help them understand how the website relates to user search entries. In addition, you need to help your audience - the people you want to reach - learn about the existence of your website and business.

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic to your website organically and for free in the search results on search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. While this is a topic that is too large for a small section in a blog post, here is a summary of the 2 areas you need to focus on for SEO:
  1. On-Page SEO is the act of you optimizing different parts of your web site that affect your search engine rankings. It's stuff that you have control over and can change on your own website, such as page text, various HTML tags, and internal links.
  2. Off-Page SEO increases the relevancy of your website by getting links on other websites to your website. Essentially, it increases relevancy because if demonstrates how the "world" views your website.
While on-page and off-page SEO work together to improve your search engine rankings, On-page SEO is the one that you should initially spend time on. It's the one where you have the full control to make updates and improvements.

Get Social
It’s not enough to produce great content on your website and hope that people find it. You must be proactive. One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote your content and drive traffic to your website. Twitter is ideal for short, snappy attention getters called "tweets". LinkedIn is the number 1 social media platform for B2B* (business-to-business). Also, YouTube is tops for promoting video content. If you are a B2C (business-to-consumer) organization, you will get the most traction with Facebook*. Also use YouTube and Instagram if your content is largely images. Don't forget to include your website link in your social media channels and activity.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a way of using search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website instead of “earning” those clicks organically via SEO. Every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine a small fee. You do not pay a fee when the search engine displays your ad, but the searcher does not click your ad. Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) ( is the most popular PPC platform. Although, other search engines and social media channels offer this service.

Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords. These are the words/phrases that people use to search in the search engines. When someone searches using the keywords that are in your campaign, your website ad will display in the search results. The most successful AdWords advertisers continuously refine their PPC keyword list.

Add a Blog Page
Search engines love fresh content. There's no better way to provide fresh and frequent content than with blog posts. You will build trust and clout within your professional community by providing valuable, expert information via your blog posts. Over time, you will become a trusted resource for helpful, informative content, which can ultimately lead to a higher customer conversion rate. If you are already blogging, then post more frequently. This is a form of on-page SEO.

Email Marketing
In today’s dynamic digital marketing world, email marketing tends to take a backseat to most online promotion activities. If you haven’t considered email marketing for your business, now may be the time to do so. Email marketing is a targeted, shareable, credible, measurable, and cost-effective marketing tool. Using email marketing, you can create deeper and more personal relationships with a wider audience, and at a very low cost. With a targeted approach and a strong message, your business is sure to benefit from email marketing.

While wanting more customers is the primary desire for business owners, then next desired item is increased website traffic. Implementing any of the above strategies can help increase traffic to your website. While some of these strategies won’t be a quick fix, you may be surprised how quickly some of them start to generate results for you.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

* 2016 B2B Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs
   2016 B2C Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

Monday, October 1, 2018

Common Website Mistakes

Your website is a virtual billboard. It often gives potential clients their first impression of what your company has to offer. With a great website, you’ll be able to attract, educate, and convince visitors to buy your products or services. Let's discuss a few mistakes to avoid so your website will work as well as intended.
Not Mobile Friendly
A mobile friendly website is essentially when your regular website adjusts its display optimally based on the size of the display on a mobile device. It does not necessarily look like a tiny version of your website. Instead, it positions and resizes content for the best display experience.

The most common way to do this is via a responsive design. A responsive design website is built using flexibly sized elements which are controlled by the website code. No matter what size screen the user is using to view your website, the text, images, navigation and graphics will resize fluidly. It’s not device-specific or browser-specific. It’s designed to look good and function well at any size.

No Contact Information
If you’re selling a product or service, you need to offer visitors several ways to contact you. The best option is to have a link to a “Contact Us” page that provides an email form as well as complete contact information: mailing address, phone number and email address. That link should be on every page of your website, or within the common header or footer of your website. The very presence of this information adds legitimacy to your site and terrific geographical information for search engines.

Stranding Users on Other Websites
When you have a link on your website that will direct your visitor to another website, make sure you open a new window or tab on your browser to display the other website. Not doing so, and using the same window for the new website, will take your website visitors away from your website in their browser. In that case for the visitor to return to your website, they either need to press the browser's "back" button many times, or they will need to reenter your website address in the browser address bar.

Instead, have your website open another window for any link that will direct a visitor to another website. Your visitor will then be able to easily go back to the point where they left you website simply by closing the new window or tab.

Choosing the Wrong Keywords
When you type a keyword or phrase into the search box, the search engine returns a list of websites that it tries to match the entered search phrase. Search engines have algorithms that they use to determine the relevancy of the returned matches websites to the search terms. There are several free tools to help you determine the right search terms. Among those are Google Ads.

In your website content and code, you need to place those keywords or phrases. That helps the search engine understand the meaning of your website when the search terms are used. However, be sure to identify and use for your website the words and phrases that your visitors will use to search for a website like yours.

If your intended audience will be from within your industry, industry terms may be used. However, if your intended audience will be lay people from outside your industry, then use terms that lay people will use. It's not likely that the search engine algorithms will be able to effectively match lay person terms to websites with mostly industry terms.

Broken Links
Broken links are links that don’t work. Some of the reasons why links don’t work include, the website is no longer available, the web page was moved without a redirect being added (server 404 error) or the website URL was changed. Displaying a default server 404 error page, or another default error page, is the same as asking the visitor to leave your website. Instead, redirect users having links to old page to the new related page. Or, default all 404 errors to your website's Home page.

Cleaning up broken links can improve user experience and make content within your website easier for visitors and search engines to discover. However, websites with too many broken links signal a low-quality website to search engines, and especially to your visitors.

Bad Font Selection
Script or Serif (having small features on the ends of strokes) fonts may be harder for your visitors to read clearly, especially when rendering your website on a small tablet display or smartphone. Popular serif  fonts are Times and Georgia. Popular sans serif (without serif) fonts are Arial and Verdana. Stick with sans serif fonts for greater text clarity.

Unrelated Content
Your website is an ambassador of your brand online. Consistency across pages in your website plays an important role in establishing a solid and effective understanding or your brand to both your website visitors (and for SEO). To give your website visitors a clear understanding of your brand, you must deliver a consistent message across all pages on your website. If you have both professional and personal interests, but they are not related (e.g. you offer business marketing consulting services and you enjoy breeding beagles), don't put the content of both unrelated interests on one website. Half of your audience will be turned off by the content not of interest to them. In addition, the mixing of unrelated content makes it difficult for the search engines to determine website relevancy to search engine queries, resulting in a lower positioning in the results. If you do want to promote unrelated content online, do so with separate websites.

Remember that you need to target your website to your audience. It's necessary that you understand the attributes and characteristics that can make or break the effectiveness of your website to your brand. A poorly built or operating website will do more to hurt your brand than to help it.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below...

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Benefits of Blogging

This is my 100th blog post! I'm not telling you this to show off. (Well, maybe I'm doing that just a little.) Instead, I really want to use this post to discuss some of the benefits of blogging, at least what I have gotten from doing that. I’ve seen firsthand the difference blogging can make in terms of search visibility, generating leads, promoting my business and validating my experience and professionalism.
Increases Website Visits
As you add more content to your website, more pages from your website domain become indexed in search engines. Search engines want to deliver results that are helpful to their users. When you write a series of in-depth, valuable articles around a topic, the search engines take notice. This improves organic search visibility and increases website traffic. Every new page & post you publish improves the opportunities you have to increase the ranking for various keywords on your website. As search engines better understand the relevancy of your website to search terms, you will begin to have more people view your website.

Promote Your Expertise and Brand
Since a blog gives you a platform for sharing important industry-related information and insights, it is one of the best ways to establish yourself or your brand as an expert in your field. As you write more posts and share more of your expertise, your website will become a powerful demonstration of your knowledge in your profession. When somebody visits your website and sees the insights you’ve shared on a subject,  it will be clear that you are an expert in your field.

Become a Better Writer
Good writing means more search-engine traffic, more social shares, and ultimately more customers. Bad writing means being ignored. The more you blog, the more you write. And the more you write, the better writer you become. As for the type of content to write, use your blog to share your views on what others write, comment on industry trends, or simply use your blog posts like a periodic newsletter.

Differentiate Yourself From Your Competition
Blogging on your website is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. By providing your own unique thoughts and insights, you grow your search traffic, customer trust and conversions. Blogging may also level the playing field between a small business and the big competitors. It can give you an opportunity to compete with bigger businesses with bigger budgets.

Take Control of Your Online Identity
Whether you’re a person or business, there’s probably lots of information about you online. When somebody searches for you online, you want to make sure that you make a good first impression, and that they get an accurate and complete picture of what you’re all about. Trust is a valuable commodity online. You can’t buy trust. It must be earned by consistently demonstrating your commitment to your website visitors. A blog is a great way to build trust and take control your online identity.

If you were car shopping today, would you consider models from Honda or Toyota? There was a lot of negative press about these 2 brands in the recent past. However, most car shoppers will still consider Honda or Toyota products in their automobile search. The reason why is that through the content these companies posted via their website as well as other channels, they demonstrated that they seriously investigated the issues identified in the press, they were being addressed attentively, and they continue their dedication to delivering a quality product.

Grow Your Professional Network
Blogging is a community-based activity, and networking is one reason people engage in it. Whether you are a solo practitioner, job seeker or blogging to promote your business, blogging can help to build relationships that will facilitate your growth.

My Final Thoughts
As you can see, I am a big advocate for blogging, as well as engaging with your audience online. Blogging requires only a little investment of your time. However, it has the potential for a big ROI from your time investment. The platform you chose (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) is irrelevant. Your content is what is most relevant. From a practical standpoint, blogging just makes good sense.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tips When Updating Your Website

As per Google's Quality Rating Guideline, there are four key points of SEO content: Expertise, Authority, Trust and Maintenance. To demonstrate Expertise, publish comprehensive content. To demonstrate Authority, people will share your content through links and mentions. To demonstrate Trust, publish testimonials and examples of your successful projects.

To demonstrate Maintenance, keep your content up to date and relevant. That's what's we'll discuss in this post...
Think Mobile
When redesigning your website, make sure that you use a theme, fonts and layout that’s easy for mobile users to read. A responsive designed theme will automatically adjust to the screen shape and size of different devices. Sans-Serif fonts like Arial or Veranda are easier to read on smaller screens than the traditional Serif fonts like Times New Roman or Cambria. Once you update you website, test your results on multiple devices to make sure your website is conducive for each device format.

Add More Web Pages & Content 
Consider adding new web pages to your website. Add blog posts to give your opinions. provide current news and information on products in your industry. Content is a great way to make your website more authoritative, and more relevant to the search engines. The search engines are always looking for fresh content on websites. So making changes to existing web pages makes it easier for your website to improve its ranking. Even a few changes to make your information more current is helpful.

Add Search Engine Optimization
The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to have the search engine spiders (their information search programs) not only find your website and web pages, but also rank the website relevance so that it appears near the top of the search engine results. The process of optimization is not a one-time process, but requires maintenance, tuning, and continuous testing and monitoring. Therefore, it will be a good time to apply some best SEO updates when you plan to update your website.

Do a keyword analysis and add those keywords to your content. Update meta tags, alt tags and page titles, as well as update web page URLs (web page address) and your website's site map. Also, submit all web pages to the search engine directories (specifically Google and Bing). Good SEO is more than just these few points, but these are the initial key points to address.

Redirect Deleted Web Pages
Every web page on a website has its own URL. As you reorganize the available web pages in your website, it is possible that you will choose to eliminate web pages and their associated URLs. It may be that a web page is no longer relevant, thus no longer needed. Or, you may combine the content of one or more web pages into another (or a new) web page. A user may try to access a deleted web page because they have it bookmarked. Or, it comes up in a Google search because it is still in the Google index, which is not yet updated. When a user tries to access a delete web page, they will get a "Error 404 - Page not found" message, which is a very unprofessional reception by your website.

In your website code or development platform, you can redirect the URL of a deleted web page to another web page. If you have no new web page to replace the use of the deleted web page, then redirect the URL to the Home page of your website. That is a much friendlier result than "Error 404 - Page not found".

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below...

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Social Media Tips for Business

Businesses of all sizes are realizing the benefits of social media. It is no longer the case that you, your sales people or administrative assistant are the first point of contact between the outside world and your company. That role is now the responsibility of your website and online social media profiles. So use social media wisely...
Publish Relevant Content
Social media is a great inbound marketing tool that can help you generate interest, collect leads and build your email list. Publishing and posting content that is relevant to both your brand and your audience is a way to attract customers who are truly interested in your brand, and the products and services you have to offer. Relevant content adds value to the your message, positions you and your brand as a trusted advisor, and is authentic and believable.

Know Your Audience
To connect with your clients and prospects (your audience), you need to understand what is important to them. It is also important to know the level of knowledge they have about your products and services so you can present the information in the correct vernacular. If your audience is retail or residential based, then use terms that the layperson will understand. However, if you are marketing to people within your industry, you should use industry and technical terms. There is nothing more frustration than to present basic information to a highly knowledgeable audience, or to speak at too high a level to a novice audience.

Look at the Competition
Watching what your competitors are doing is a form of market research. In this case, you’ll be looking at those who share the same target audience as you, and compete in your marketplace. Evaluate their brand, their message, the online websites where they publish and the messaging they promote in their advertising. As your prospects and clients look for a business online like yours, you can be found along with others and not be overlooked.

Choose the Right Platforms
The number of available social media platforms is huge, and starting a social media campaign can seem overwhelming. If you're just starting out with social media, plan to use just 1 or 2 platforms. Start with the social media platforms where you expect your greatest audience to be. As per my prior point, you can use the same platforms that your competition uses.

How Often to Post
How often should you post? That is not an easy question to answer. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to posting. Posting too infrequently can lead to your business being missed, ignored or simply forgotten. Posting too often can be overwhelming, and cause your audience to lose interest. I believe that you should post as often as your audience will tolerate. However, there's no easy way to know that until you start posting and track the frequency of views over time. You can post daily, weekly or monthly. And, you can have different posting frequencies for different social media platforms.

If you’re going to post every day, keep your posts short and to the point. Also, vary your post types. For example, alternate among text posts, video posts, or image posts so your readers have variety each day. If you decide to post less often than once daily, then variety in post type is less important. Instead, put your effort into creating more robust content and for a variety of topics.

There are also SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits to building up the number of posts on your website and social media sites.  In general, the more pages and posts you have, the greater the chance a reader has to find you through the search engines. While SEO is not quite as simple just this, post frequency and quantity will generally bring you much more web traffic.

Post Consistently
More important than frequency of posting is frequency consistency. That could be from daily to a few times a week to once each month. Once you select a frequency, stick with it. It's OK to set a different posting frequency for different social media platforms. For example, you may chose to tweet daily, post on Facebook weekly and post on your blog monthly. Regular readers of this blog know that I post here monthly. On Twitter (, I tweet once or twice each week.

It's clear that many businesses rely on social media to promote their brand, products and services. However, social media marketing is not about volume selling and posting random content. Using social media effectively for business can be a quick, easy and user-friendly way to interact with your target audience. With a little investment in time, your business can be well on its way to developing a strong online presence and following.

Click HERE to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome your comments, which you can post below.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Volunteerism: To Grow Your Business

The biggest challenge any business has is to find new customers. This challenge is even larger when a business is new. The reason why is that you do not yet have a substantial network  of client referrals or testimonials. Professional references validate your brand and business, and reduce the customer's perceived risk of hiring you. Without significant professional references, how does a new business or consultant earn clients?
We all know the warm and fuzzy reasons for volunteering. Personally, I feel that we should all contribute in some way to improving some aspect of our world, globally or locally, without any expectation of getting something in return. However, smart business people know that in addition to the unselfish benefits, volunteering can be a valuable way to generate new leads and to promote their service offerings and professional brand.

Make New Connections
When you volunteer for an organization, you expand your contacts. You meet new people who could turn out to be customers, mentors, or referrals. Without having to make a cold call or hard sell, volunteering gives you an opportunity to develop relationships with new people. Then by expanding your network, you will have the opportunity to receive new leads for business. 

Get Great Public Relations
If you get involved with an event or organization through volunteering, there’s often media and promotions involved. You and your company name, logo and website address may be promoted in conjunction with the opportunity to a new audience of potential customers, and be a reinforcement among your existing customers. Favorable public relations for you and your business will enhance your brand with customers.

Develop New Skills
Volunteering can give you a chance to focus on personal and professional growth. It could be an opportunity to develop new skills you can take to your customers. Additionally, the soft skills you will learn volunteering are likely to be highly desirable for your relationship to clients.

Volunteer work can broaden your professional and personal life experiences. Unlike paid work, the requirements for volunteering are more likely to be linked to your passions and interests, rather than extensive work experience. The additional benefit of volunteering is that you can utilize these opportunities to grow your business and brand.

Click HERE to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome your comments, which you can post below.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

SEO Best Practices for Website Domains

One of the first things you will do when getting started with your website is register a domain name. You would think that the process of selecting a domain name would be straight forward. However, website owners often make common mistakes that will badly affect them in a few different areas, particularly in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Tips for Registering Your Domain
When it comes to registering a domain, most registrars are very similar. But, here are a few things you should take into consideration.
  • Select a registrar that’s well known. Avoid any registrars that you’ve never heard of or are not 
  • Go with a registrar that your friends recommend, especially if they’ve been with them for a few years. Two I like are Google Domains and GoDaddy.
  • Avoid paying big fees. To register a ".com" domain will cost about $10-15/year. Avoid buying a preregistered domain since that can be at a cost with a large premium. 
  • Register your domain for as long as you can. I suggest that 3-5 years is a good start. 
  • Don't let your domain registration expire. Registering a domain is like renting it, not buying it. If your domain registration expires it's possible for someone else to acquire it, which means you cannot renew the registration. To minimize the chance of the domain to expire, set up an auto renewal on the domain, and keep your credit card information current.
  • Consider adding registration privacy. Private registration for a domain name allows you to remain anonymous and helps to increase the privacy and security of your website. Whenever you purchase a standard domain name, your registrar is required to pass on your personal and contact information to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). When you purchase privacy, the registrar replaces your registrant and contact details with theirs. Some registrars include the cost of privacy in the cost of the domain registration. Others offer the option at a cost of about $5-8/year.

Make Your Domain Name Memorable
Memorable domain names are short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say. Users must be able to easily remember your domain name/brand.

Use Relevant Keywords
Having a domain name that matches your target keyword(s) does offer some benefits. For the users, it clearly relates the name of your website domain with its purpose or brand. In addition, when the search engines can relate keywords in the domain name to the content of the website, they see that as consistent and relevant to the website. Relevancy by Google and the search engines is what improves SEO performance and result positioning.

Avoid the Following in a Domain Name
Hyphens and Numbers - While a hyphen (-) between words can make the domain name easier for the website visitor to read, the use of hyphens correlates with a spam-like name and behavior. This is also true when using numbers in a domain name. Search engines consider domain names without hyphens or numbers as more reliable, which may improve SEO performance and result positioning.

Purposely Misspellings - Having a purposely misspelled domain name, while cute or cool, can be confusing and make it hard for your users to find your website. It may also confuse the search engines from an SEO perspective since the search engines will not know the words. Examples of purposely misspelled domain names are ", "", etc.

Adjoining the Same Letters - Domain names with the same letter repeating between words makes the domain name harder to read. Examples of adjoining the same letters between words are "", "", etc.

Your domain name is how users will find, remember, share and identify your website and your company online. In both social media and search engines, the domain name is the primary way by which users can identify where the link will lead. Just as important is that you select the proper domain name for SEO purposes.

Click HERE to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome your comments, which you can post below.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Ways to Improve Your WiFi Speed

WiFi is the technology that allows any PC, laptop, tablet or mobile device to connect to the internet without the need for a physical wired connection. With WiFi, you can connect to the internet wirelessly while in your home, office or when you are on the move. Lately, people are noticing what appears to be a slowdown in their WiFi internet access speed. Let's see how you can improve upon that.
How to Access WiFi
Your connection to the internet is via a router. Routers are electronic devices that connect computer networks together. In the case of home and office routers, it connects the home/office computer network (even a single device) to the internet. You will need to ensure that your router can transmit the correct wireless signals. If your current router cannot accomplish that, you will need to replace your router. You will likely find that the router given to you when you subscribed for your connection to the internet can already do that.

Internet Bandwidth
Internet bandwidth describes the maximum data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection. It measures how much data can be sent over a specific connection within a given amount of time. When visualizing internet bandwidth, it may help to think of a network connection as a tube and each bit of data as a grain of sand. If you pour a large amount of sand into a skinny tube, it will take a long time for the sand to flow through it. If you pour the same amount of sand through a wide tube, the sand will finish flowing through the tube much faster. Similarly, a file upload or download will finish much faster when you have a high-bandwidth connection (wide tube) rather than a low-bandwidth connection (skinny tube).

Ways to Improve Your WiFi Speed
Use up-to-date Hardware: Wireless A, B, G, and N are older wireless standards Wireless AC is the most current wireless standard. Wireless AX is the next anticipated standard due to be released in 2019. Having a wireless AC connection (launched in 2013) will give you the ability to move more data at a faster rate than the older A, B, G, and N standards. You will need both a wireless AC router and a wireless device with wireless AC if you want the full speed standard. With more smart devices entering your home or office (e.g. addressable light bulbs, switches, thermostats, etc.) a strong WiFi signal that can propagate the fastest signal is essential.

Limit Bandwidth Hogging Applications
Some programs and applications (Apps) use much more bandwidth than others. Video chatting, music and movie streaming (e.g. Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, etc.), downloading/uploading large files and live TV and news feeds quickly use more of your bandwidth "tube" competing for that available flow rate to move data. Reduce the number of users simultaneously running such applications or block the use of bandwidth hogging applications. Another option is to schedule low internet demand times for using such bandwidth hogging apps (e.g. download of large data and files when most people are not online).

Restrict Network Access Only to Legitimate Users
Your router’s default administrator password should be changed immediately. If none exists, put a password on your WiFi router to allow wireless access. Without password protection and encryption your WiFi connection is open to anyone who happens to be in close proximity to your WiFi signal, even someone who just happens to pass by and notice your unsecured wireless network. A strong password (read "Are Your Passwords Safe") prevents unauthorized access to your WiFi router and computer network. The router's encryption will prevent anyone who hacks the WiFi signal from reading the transmitted data, which may include sensitive information like account IDs, social security numbers, etc.

Place Your Router out in the Open
Routers are typically installed in the location where your Internet connection enters and connects to your modem. Often that's a basement, garage or closet. You can alleviate that issue with a longer Ethernet cable from the entry point to the router's installation point. If you want the best WiFi signal, you’ll need your router centrally located out in the open, free of any thick walls, electronic appliances and obstructions. If your router’s optimal location is a space without a table or flat surface, check to see if you can wall mount it using its pre-installed mounting holes or a mounting bracket. Finally, make sure it’s in the center of your home or office so you have the best and most even coverage possible.

Boost Your WiFi Signal Range
When you have trouble getting a solid, reliable WiFi signal in some parts of your home or office, a WiFi range extender or a wireless access point (WAP) could be the solution for you. As you move your wireless device further from your WiFi router, the WiFi signal becomes weaker. It's like adding water to a cup of tea... As you add water the taste is not as strong.  A WiFi range extender (also known as a repeater) receives the remote WiFi signal and rebroadcasts it from that point. A wireless access point is typically hard wired from the router or computer network to create another WiFi signal point to which to connect to the router. By having any of these devices installed, you extend the range for your devices to access your WiFi router.
For more tips on improving your WiFi speed, click HERE to read the advice from Intel.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tech for Travelers

Wondering what technology and gadgets to take on your next trip? You're not the only one. Long gone are the days where a Walkman and film camera were the height of travel tech. At the very least, you’re likely to need your PC/Mac and your smartphone.

Let’s take a look at some useful technology you will want with you the next time you travel...
Consider carrying a tablet computer instead of a laptop. Smaller, lighter, cheaper, and with better battery life than a laptop, tablets are more convenient for travelers. The most well-known examples are Apple’s iPad (mini or full-size) and the Microsoft Surface. While either of those lines will do just fine for a traveler, a good value for money now is in the Android O/S tablets. Good choices are a Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, Huawei MediaPad and the Amazon Fire lines of tablets.

The Android OS supports lots of productivity apps, as well as games. To stay connected to your home or office, the devices all have WiFi connectivity, and some include the ability to connect to a cellular network. Plus, they all have at least one camera with good resolutions. However, I still can't get used to people taking pictures with their tablets.

VPN Software
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when you are connecting to an unsecured WiFi network in airports and hotels. A VPN routes your internet activity through a dedicated, encrypted server. When you have a VPN and you are online, you establish a secure connection to the VPN server, locking out anyone on the same network as you. All of your transferred data is encrypted between you and the VPN service provider.

Select a VPN service that has host servers in the USA. When traveling internationally, connect to a USA-based host server so you can access streaming and social media websites that you may not be able to access from within a foreign country. In addition, some streaming services (i.e. Netflix) offer different content overseas as compared to being within the USA. You can connect to a local host server for all other website access. I use NordVPN since it has over 3,300 servers in 60 countries, is priced well, and is well reviewed.

Smart Luggage
These suitcases and travel bags include built in technology for the traveler. Some include a rechargeable battery and USB ports so that you can keep your smartphone charged during a long trip. Of course, you will need to remember to recharge your luggage. The one caveat with using this technology is that some airlines do not allow travelers to check luggage with lithium-ion batteries. So, check with your carrier.

Some of this type of luggage have Bluetooth installed and allow you to track the bag via an installed smartphone app. Some have a built-in digital scale so that you know the bag's weight before you check it - saving you airline over-weight charges. Others have internal pockets made from material that block RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) signals, which can prevent some forms of identity theft.

Portable Device Chargers
Until there’s a real breakthrough in battery technology, a portable charger might be your best solution. A portable charger allows you to use your devices for longer periods of time without the fear of your battery dying. Typically, small in size, they give you additional power for when you are not able to recharge your device's battery during a long trip or daily commute.

Noise Cancelling Headphones
While there are several brands and models of these tech gadgets, the Bose QuietComfort line is among the most popular. In fact, I own a Bose QuietComfort 15, which is now considered an older model. The primary advantage of using noise cancelling headphones is that it almost entirely eliminates airplane & rail noise, as well as loud conversations. This will help you better enjoy your music and movies when traveling, and help you get some sleep.

Power Converter and/or Plug Adapters
Foreign countries often use different electric current and different plug configurations than in the USA. Most electronic devices can recognize and adapt to the local electric current. If you will travel with electronic devices that require current used in the USA (120 volts, 60 Hz), then you need a power converter. Even if your device can use the overseas electric current standard, you will likely need a plug adapter, so you can plug your device into the wall outlet. Click here for a list of plug sockets and currents by region and country.

Often, we're unsure of what we really need when traveling. However, choosing the right gear to travel with doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Making a few smart choices and limiting yourself to what you truly need will give you all the benefits that technology can bring while avoiding most of the downsides.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Difference Between Spoofing, Phishing and Spam

Cyber criminals and scammers are very creative, artistic and inventive individuals. They seem to find a way to trick computer users into falling to their traps.

For most of us, the terms Spoofing, Phishing and Spam seem to denote the same thing. However, they are different from each other. Knowing what to look for can help you stay safe from their effect.

Let’s take a look at their definitions....
Spoofing is the forgery of an e-mail header so that the message appears to have originated from someone other than the actual source. This is usually accomplished by changing the "from" e-mail address and/or sender's name of the message so that it appears to be from a known sender.

The spoofer (the attacker) hopes you have an account at that organization, which will complete the illusion. They know that if the recipient receives a spoofed email message that appears to be from a known source, it is likely to be opened and acted upon. Such emails request the recipient to reply to the message with valuable personal information such as an account number for verification. The spoofer then uses the information for identity theft purposes, such as accessing the victim's bank account, changing contact details, etc.

Phishing is when a scammer uses fraudulent emails or texts to send you to a replica of a real website to get you to enter valuable personal information into that website. The information they are looking to get from you are account numbers, social security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. Scammers then use your information to steal your money, your identity or both.

An example of a phishing scam would be that the scammer sends you an email that looks like it's from a real company that you do business with, such as your internet provider, an online store or even a real bank. The message may inform you that your account is locked. Then it instructs you to press the included button or link for you to go to their replica version of a real website, where you are instructed to give your account information. If you follow the directions, you just gave up your personal information to the replica site.

The replica of the real website looks like the real website. They have the company logo, log on button, privacy information, etc. It's done that way to fool you.

One clue that the site may be a fake is that the website address (in the browser's address bar) won't look exactly right. For example, the most web pages for will include that in the addresses (e.g. A fake phishing site may:
  • Have a different top-level domain instead of having ".com" (e.g.
  • Try to fool you by putting the company name ahead of the domain name ( In this case, the domain is "fakecompany", not "amazon".
  • Spell the domain name a little differently ( This uses a number zero instead of the letter "o".
Spam is sending many copies of the same unsolicited message in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, and often for dubious products or services. Chain letters, political mailings and other forms of non-commercial mailings are also categorized as spam. Spam is used since it costs the sender very little to send. They make their money on a few people (within a high volume) accepting the offer.

The CANSPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) Act of 2003 was signed into law setting national standards for the sending of commercial e-mail. It also requires the FTC to enforce the provisions under the law. However, many spamers send their messages from outside the United States, thus they ignore the law.

How to Stay Safe
  • Pay attention to the website’s web address. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the website address may use a variation in spelling or a different domain.
  • If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Contact the company using information provided on your account statement, not information provided in an email. 
  • Check out the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) to learn about known phishing attacks and/or report phishing.
  • Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. Don't follow links sent in email.
  • Keep a clean machine. Keep all software on internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
  • Install malware, anti-spam and virus protection software on all internet-connected devices.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

Monday, January 1, 2018

About Website Domain Names

A website Domain Name is what a person enters in their Internet browser’s address bar to access a website. While real Internet addresses are made up of a complicated series of numbers, Domain names are the unique, human-readable Internet addresses of websites. If your website was a home, the domain name would be its address.

Why we Need Domain Names
The Internet is giant network of computers connected to each other through a global network. Each computer on this network can communicate with the other computers. For the computers to identify each other, each computer is assigned an IP Address. The IP address is a series of numbers that identify a particular computer on the internet. A typical IP address looks like this: "". Since numerical IP addresses can be quite difficult for people to remember, domain names were invented to solve this problem.

The Parts of a Website Domain Name
Domain names are made up of three parts: a top-level domain (sometimes called an extension or domain suffix), a domain name, and an optional Subdomain. The combination of the domain name and top-level domain is known as a "Root Domain".

Website Domain Name
  • Top Level Domain (TLD) - is the formal term for the suffix that appears at the end of a domain name. It is the first level of a domain's hierarchy. Some example of top-level domains include: ".com", ."net" and ".edu". While you are probably familiar with these TLDs, there are actually over 1,000 possible TLDs from which you can choose.

  • Domain Name - is the second level of a domain's hierarchy. This tends to be the most descriptive and readable portion of a root domain. Examples of domain names are:
No two different websites can have the same root domain. However, one website can have multiples root domains assigned. All the pages on the same website have the same root domain, and usually have their own domain name: "".
The above are both subdomains of their website's root domain. The most common subdomain is www (world wide web). It's also possible to omit the subdomain to access a website.
Buy a Domain Name
Every business, and everyone who needs to be found online, needs a website. If your business is not found online, it is irrelevant to those searching for your service or product offerings.

The first step is to buy a domain name (actually, the Root Domain). Anyone can buy a domain. To do so, you visit a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy or Google Domains, key in the root domain you want to buy, and pay a fee. You buy a domain for a term, such as 1 to 10 years, and can renew your purchase at the end of the term (or even set up an auto-renewal). You may only buy a domain that is not already registered by another person or business.

Domain names put a friendly face on the hard-to-remember numeric IP addresses. Since your domain name is the name of your website, you want to make sure you get a good one. You will want to buy one that is catchy and short so that it's both easy for people to remember, and easy for people to type.

Look forward to our future post where we discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices for domains.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.