Tag Archives: website maintenance

Get Website Security In Place or Get Penalized by Google

website security for small business michigan

As of January, 2017 website security for member log in websites and all websites that accept and/or store credit card information must be secure (HTTPS). Google will begin to penalize e-commerce and member-based websites if they are not secure.

Main difference between HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP is the protocol that allows the web server to communicate with a web browser. HTTP web data is transferred as plain text. Credit card numbers, passwords and social security numbers can be mined by hackers. Alternatively, HTTPS is not text based. Instead, HTTPS uses SSL (secure socket layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security), data is encrypted and is impenetrable to the outside world. Another benefit of website security is faster page loads.

Website Security Increases Online Sales and Business Credibility

A 2014 survey by Global Sign indicated 85% of people who buy items online will only buy from websites they know are secure. Chrome and Firefox web browsers show a lock in the title bar on secure websites. The lock graphic assures the website is secure and the company is credible.


eventual-google-red-triangleGoogle will begin flagging non secure websites that gather log in and or financial data with a red triangle “Not secure” warning. By adding the red triangle to non-secure websites, Google will effectively shut your website traffic off.

Have you seen a Google warning to stay out or “harm may come to your computer” on a website? As web developers, we know that these sites have been hacked. Even though they may already be cleaned, we still respect the warning and stay away. Often, if a site is hacked once, it will be targeted again. Similarly, the red triangle will be a digital stop sign.

Will Your Company Website be Affected?

Eventually all HTTP pages will be labeled as non-secure. Even if your small business website doesn’t collect member or financial data you’ll need to have website security. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated and even small websites with low traffic are targets.

Google has not released the date in which they will be marking all non HTTPS compliant websites as insecure. They have set January, 2017 as the date they will begin rolling out the penalties to websites that gather personal or financial information. We will share critical dates in emails.

How do you know if your website is part of this first phase?

Organizations and small business websites that accept payments online and websites with membership portals, are required to have website security.

Types of Member-Based Websites:

Trade association websites, non-profit organization websites, website directories, web forums, all websites that ask for a log in. This includes small business websites that may not receive payments. For instance, if you have a website that sells yarn or fabric and all of your sales go to Paypal you wouldn’t need HTTP right away. That same website can be aa member-based website if it requires a member account for free access to pattern downloads. You will need HTTPS designation for your small business website.

E-Commerce Websites or Web Shops

An e-Commerce website is any website that offers products or services for purchase on the website. Selling products online such as photos, handmade art, hunting supplies, and any product available for purchase online falls under e-Commerce. In addition, services like our individual brand consultation and our monthly website maintenance are also. If a website maintenance customer chose to pay online through our website and not through snail mail or Paypal, our site would need website security.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what items you offer. Your items for sale can be a products or services, as large as an RV or as small as a brand consultation. If customers log in to your site or if they can send payment through your website you need a secure website. If you do not have website security, call and  connect with us today. Don’t wait until your customers get scared away.

 

How Websites Are Like Hairstyles [or…]

… understanding the importance of updating websites

I often joke that outdated websites are like hairstyles, one glimpse and you know from which decade they came.

Connection Group started offering website design for businesses and organizations in 1998.  Sadly, some of the cutting-edge companies and organizations who jumped into the internet then are still working with the same, but now very outdated, website! Others who didn’t understand the importance of updating websites have long since closed their doors. Take a look at these outdated websites from a web design and developers eye.  We’re going to poke fun at ourselves… so as not to offend anyone…(truthfully the first screencap doesn’t follow the ‘crew cut type’ that it is linked to … we never had a crew cut type website… we’re designers with many fonts… we must rebel…)

The Crew Cut of Pixie – All buttoned up and Proper

outdated website design from 2001This website follows all the corporate rules. The company name is in the upper left corner, as text in helvetica, arial or times. The navigation is straight across the top with no drop downs, colors are pristine, and web fonts are clean and clear. There is no guessing where the content you are seeking is, just keep reading through the pages of copy and, if you stay awake long enough, you will get the answers you seek. There are no photos or graphics to add interest or break up the mountains of copy. Because ‘no truly serious business person wants artwork to distract them from their task.’ Internal staff can not touch these site, updates that are required must go through the code nerds in IT only.

The Spiked Out Punk – Loud, creative and difficult

screen cap of Connection Group Adobe Flash websiteOnce the cool-kid website that was all flash and no content. Once launched graphics thrust toward you accompanied by swooshing sounds or music as each bursting circle or star thrashed to the next. The creative animation software that was Flash and made these site designs so popular in the millennium was considered difficult to deal with from the beginning. Mobile developers have further ostracized the use of Flash websites and now refuse to support them. Calling one up on your mobile device just brings conflict and remorse. Those that survived are underground, hidden from all attempts of search engine results.

The Mullet – Business in the front and party in the back

Connection Group Lansing website design old home pageWe’ve all seen this one. The website with all the right elements on the home page but once you get in deeper all you see is code or you have to jump through multiple pages to get a short answer on the question you had way back on the home page. Appearances are everything with these websites. The owners believe nobody really buys on the web, a website is just to help appear credible.

The 80’s hairband – All fluff and no substance

Connection Group home pages 2009You’ve seen them, laden with dark colors, embossed buttons, every graphic and photo has multiple drop shadows and effects. Moving gifs are dancing erratically across the screen screaming for attention. The site navigation is strung out here and there with no sense of purpose or reasoning. Mobile responsive website? Not even close.

Ombre Hair – Trendy and Independent

connection graphics responsive website design.psdThese website designs are trendy and work hard to stand out from the crowd. With splashy artwork, handwritten fonts, scrolling themes, and social linking they’re ready to take on the world. Every mommy-blogger or small business can create a free Weebly or WordPress website, make their own changes and updates, post blogs and photos and be individually unique. But wait… didn’t I just see that same site theme used for the local art gallery website or was it the online fabric or yarn shop website or the Lansing, Michigan cannabis caretaker dispensary website? There’s no shock value or envy of cutting edge creativity, everyone’s doing it. The straight off the shelf free website themes are everywhere and they are all beginning to look the same. Plus the novelty wares off all too quickly. Once trendy small business websites are off on their own away from the original stylist, roots start to show up as broken links that take you nowhere and the last posted blog from two years ago starts with “Sorry it’s been so long… I’ve been so busy I don’t have time to update my own website… ”

Buzzcut with Shaved Design – You’ve been hacked

These websites may have started out fine with a few fancy plug-ins with extra features or added interests were included. It looked and sent the desired message so there was not need to change it or look at it again. The only problem is hackers love to attack websites that do not get updated regularly. These are the sites that you land on that automatically come up with a Google caution that says, “Go back – we have detected malware that may harm your computer… proceed at your own risk. Even you are not adding new photos or text or regular blogs, website maintenance and updates are important for security reasons as well as the benefit of increased SEO.

What decade or style do you find your company website in?

 Technology and websites are ever changing and it can be hard to keep up. Now that you understand the importance of updating websites, you need a completely new website design or just need help updating your website, connect with us today. New website designs and website updating is 15% off through June 15. Hurry and get on our schedule today.

If you are interested in seeing throwback from websites-gone-by, visit archive.org. This website has chronicled website crawls since the year 1990s.

Regular WordPress Website Maintenance

regular wordpresswebsite maintenance-no-hackers!

Responsive WordPress website designs are an affordable, versatile  solution for small businesses seeking a new or updated website they can update themselves. Those who already have a WordPress website know that WordPress works great on many levels. The biggest concern with choosing a WordPress website and managing it yourself  is that the regular WordPress website maintenance is often neglected.

wordpress feature random falling snowWordPress software is updated by WordPress programmers regularly. As any software, some updates are minor and you may not detect a difference on your site. Other updates are more robust. Some WordPress website updates offer new web functionality or a couple just-for-fun features, like falling snow in Winter. You can choose to implement all the new features or just  a few. What is most important in each WordPress update is the added security. Security updates protect from hackers and malware that can take down your website or infect others systems.

Installing WordPress updates is a necessity for keeping your website safe

WordPress is the top content management website platform across the world. It offers great benefits, especially to small businesses. For all of the benefits to choosing WordPress there is a drawback. Hackers love to target it. (Then again it’s not just WordPress that has this concern. Hackers target Joomla websites, Blogger websites and custom built content management systems also…) To avoid issues, Wordpress website maintenance is a critical practice to keeping your WordPress website or WordPress blog in optimal working order. wordpress update alert screen capture

WordPress programmers are proactive in protecting customers against these attacks.  New walls of code are built to keep predators out when vulnerabilities are detected. Once the code is developed a free update is available to all WordPress users. When a new WordPress update is available, there is an alert posted clearly at the top of the administrative area at log in. The date when it was first available is noted as well.

When should the WordPress software be updated?

We will often wait a day or so after a new WordPress version is posted before we select to update. This is because many of the responsive WordPress websites we design include 3rd party plug-ins.  Wordpress plug-in developers may need a little extra time to unsure their plug-in code is compatible with the latest WordPress version. If the plug-ins haven’t updated yet some may not function correctly. Within a few days most plug-ins have caught up. At that point we’ll update to the latest WordPress and plug-in versions. If plug-ins are not updated within a few days of the release of a new WordPress version, install the update but check your website very closely and make sure all plug-ins are working correctly.

Caution: plug-ins are also susceptible to hackers. New versions are made available and alerts are posted in the administrative area of the WordPress websites for plug-ins also. Plug-in developers may offer a new version with increased features and functionality in addition to added security protection.

We recommend updating plug-ins one at a time. After you update each one, check your website to make sure the update is compatible and all functionality is in place. If you choose to update your plug-ins all at once and there is a conflict, it can be difficult to pinpoint which plug-in is causing the conflict.

What happens if I don’t update WordPress regularly?

  • hackers can invade it
  • malware can be installed on your site
  • Google is alerted and will black mark your website
  • your website is rendered harmful to visitors
  • prospective clients and visitors will get a scary alert stating your website may be harmful to their system

What do you do if your website was hacked?

You send a frantic call to your website hosting service or website design firm that your website was hacked, it’s not live and clients can’t reach you and… worst… you don’t have a current back up. Your website will need to be taken down. Once removed from viewers, a temporary screen is posted, and clean-up begins.

What does it cost to fix a website that has been hacked?

  • your website is removed from view from all prospective and current clients
  • you will now be paying hourly website developments fees to comb through each file to find all corrupt code
  • developers clean / remove bad code
  • the cleaned website is uploaded as a  temporary page
  • website is tested
  • website is tested again… again… and again
  • once clear the new files can be uploaded
  • your web host is alerted that your website is safe to go live again
  • submission requests are sent to Google and other SERPs to remove the blocks that have been put in place for your website
  • requests are sent again… again… and sometimes a third time before alerts are completely removed and your website gets the all clear

 This whole procedure can take days or even months to resolve, it depends on how quickly you are alerted of your compromised site and the size of your website.

What is the best way to help keep websites safe from hackers?

By practicing regular WordPress website maintenance. Log in to the administrative area of your WordPress website frequently and make sure everything is up to date. Consider changing your admin password regularly also. Do not assume your web hosting company or your website design firm is maintaining your website. Web maintenance is usually an additional feature because of the time commitment. Look at your plan or agreement, or send your web hosting or design firm an email of phone call to be sure.

We understand staying current with WordPress and 3rd Party plug-in versions can eat up a lot of time. We also feel horrible getting the call “My website’s been hacked, what do I do?” from a small business. Before that happens, set a weekly or monthly timer to log in to your admin panel and keep your software updated. If you don’t have time or the due diligence to do this, you’ll want to look into website maintenance options for small businesses.. Our basic web maintenance package is a perfect entry point for most small business WordPress  websites.

wordpress website maintenance packageBasic WordPress Website Maintenance Package includes:

  • updating all WordPress, Theme and plugins
  • techies handle the technical stuff
  • website protection -security protection from Securi,
  • scheduled back-ups,
  • included Maintenance time / Email support,
  • 1/2 hour of styling and updates.
  • peace of mind

Knowing your site is protected  from potential hackers and will not be a concern to visitors or scare clients and prospects away from working with you is the best return.

Call us today to discuss which package is best suited to you or sign up for a website maintenance package..

Master the Art of Marketing for Small Business in 2015

Mastering the Art of Marketing for Small Businesses ebook coverBegin 2015 with a clear direction of marketing for small business. Mastering the Art of Marketing is a compilation of marketing and design strategies your small business can implement right away. Explore the workbook on your own or with your team.

Mastering the Art of Marketing is a resource for start-ups and small businesses ready to go to the next level. Each month learn new steps to connect with your target audience.

January: Set Your Course

5 step master plan for your 2015 Small Business marketing –Production, brand manufacturing, service firms, wholesale e-commerce businesses, brick and mortar retail, local bars and restaurants, increase growth opportunity when you have a plan.

February: Practice Kindness

People Helping People: Social Media Connections Transform Your Business – Coaches, authors, professional speakers, real estate agents and service firms begin building on your fan base.

Master the Art of Marketing e-workbook is a 12 step monthly marketing for small business strategy. Start the new year with all the information you need to get the 2015 small business marketing results you want.

Sample Workbook Topics:download button - marekting for small business

• internet marketing for small business
• marketing plans and editorial calendars
• brand marketing and development
• internet advertising

worksheet-page-marekting-for-small-business-mastering-teh-art-fof-marketing

Sample monthly marketing worksheet

The exercises in this e-book have been laid out in the form of a calendar year. We chose this formatting so small businesses or solo-preneurs with limited staff and time may be able to take on business branding and marketing in bite size chunks. We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed and abandon the effort part way through by attempting to complete it all in one day!

We also recognize entrepreneurs are a different breed of animal – which is why we love working with growing small businesses – our jobs are NEVER boring! Because of the unique personality traits and individual style of each business owner we also recognize some of you are not going to follow a designated path. We encourage you to skip around the book and choose the practices that are most important to your small business right now. All of the worksheets relate to marketing for small business, branding and advertising for business growth. There is no set order in which you must follow. Some of you may choose to begin at the end with the worksheet on branding. If you have not already defined your brand promise I would encourage you to do so.

Our hope is that this ebook will help you to begin the new year with goals and plans in place to build your business by delivering the very best product and service in the way your ideal customers want to receive it.

Whether you choose to take it all on at once and begin the new year with plans in place or whether you choose to tackle a worksheet each month throughout the year it is up to you. We have designed the content so you may use this ebook outlining marketing for small business for years to come. Social media platforms and resource links may change but the essence of mastering your marketing for small business will remain the same.

If you find some of the tasks to be burdensome or difficult to complete, please contact us. Connection Group provides all of the services contained in this packet. If you are part way through and just need a nudge of support or if you have decided your efforts are best directed to run your company. Outsourcing the tasks of marketing for small business and all the items involvedis a smarter use of your energy, connect with us today. Connection Group can help you with your corporate branding, graphic design, marketing, web design, and web maintenance.

Download today and attract what you desire for your business in 2015. Be inspired to create relevant marketing for small business that will captivate your ideal customers. All of the best to you as you move forward with the process of your small business marketing.

May 2015 bring peace and prosperity personally and professionally.

Stay connected!