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 "moneestore.com, "vacationholidaze.com", 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 "beachholidays.com", "businessspecials.com", 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.


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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...
Tablet
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.


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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
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
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 Amazon.com will include that in the addresses (e.g. support.amazon.com). A fake phishing site may:
  • Have a different top-level domain instead of having ".com" (e.g. support.amazon.net)
  • Try to fool you by putting the company name ahead of the domain name (amazon.fakecompany.com). In this case, the domain is "fakecompany", not "amazon".
  • Spell the domain name a little differently (support.amaz0n.com). This uses a number zero instead of the letter "o".
Spam
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.

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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: "164.72.122.91". 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: "www.princetontechadvisors.com/p/our-services.html".
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.


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