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Tips to Get More Reviews for Your Local Business

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Image by mcmurryjulie from Pixabay

Do you know that 88% of online shoppers trust online reviews that same way they rely on personal recommendations? Moreover, 90% of consumers would read online reviews before making a buying decision. That is why Google Reviews is essential to the success of your business; it helps convert business prospects to customers. And most importantly, reviews are now an integral factor in the Google Search Algorithm.

Search engines use online reviews to rank websites for local searches. Although reviews are not the only factor that enhances ranking, it does pull a lot of weight. So, if you want your business to gain visibility in the search engines, you should take Google Reviews seriously.

How do you rack up enough reviews to impress the search engine giants? Well, there are no magic buttons here. It requires a systematic approach; you need to be proactive and focus on inspiring your customers to post great reviews for your business.

Follow these tips below to help build impressive Google Reviews.

Focus on Excellent Customer Experience. Your customers must be delighted with your service to be inspired to leave positive reviews for your business.  So, make sure you deliver a service that would earn you the great reviews that you want. In summary, the delivery of outstanding customer service would bring five-star reviews to your business naturally.

Solicit for Google Reviews Directly. One of the best methods to get a review is to ask the customers directly. However, make sure the customer is absolutely satisfied with your service. When you are having a conversation with a contented customer, simply ask such a customer to write a review, and you’ll likely get a great one.

Use Innovative Ways to Solicit Reviews. A recent Local Customer Review Survey shows that seven out of ten customers will write a review when you solicit directly. Only a few will take the initiative to leave a business review without you asking, while the rest would not. That is why it is essential to make it a habit to request reviews. However, you have to be innovative with your approach.

For instance, you can request a Google Review during a business transaction. In your email, thank the customer for his/her patronage. Let the customer know the importance of feedback to your business. After that, tell the customer you’ll appreciate a review and leave a link to your business on Google Reviews.

Follow Up on Your Request for Reviews. Not all customers will leave a review the first time you asked. The fellow might be busy or may have forgotten. So, it will be smart to send a reminder to such customers using a follow-up email template.

It is crucial not to sound too pushy. So, limit the follow-up request to a maximum of three. You can send messages to the customer every week or fortnightly. Once you hit your max with a customer, stop sending such messages. Let’s be practical, some people will never leave a review no matter how many times you ask.  However, maintaining consistent contact with your customers will keep your business fresh in the customer’s mind and increase loyalty.

Give Out “Leave Us a Review” Cards. You can make a special card that has a shortened link to your Google Review page. This approach is common with local contractors and service companies, but you can adapt it to your business as well.  If you do not fancy printing cards, you can choose to use a digital version of the card. You can outsource the design on any freelance site or take a DIY route by using tools such as Canva. Make sure the card is branded for your business to make it look professional.

Respond to Reviews. It is good practice to respond to reviews, whether it’s a positive one or negative. This article on strategies for responding to negative reviews teaches you genuine and sustainable ways of building your online reputation.

Here is a brief outline for responding to negative reviews.

  • Address the issue raised.
  • Tender an unreserved apology, even if it’s not your company’s fault.
  • Do your best to resolve the issue privately.

This Google Publication proves that Google acknowledges companies that respond to reviews.

Add Google Review Link to your Customer Surveys. The feedback from customers is an essential tool for improving your services. That is why it is essential to send out a survey poll to your customers occasionally. Adding a link to your business on Google Review is an excellent addition to your customer survey routine. You’ll likely have a high positive response.

Do You Need A Little Help with Reviews?

The procedure of creating a steady flow of great reviews for your business is easier said than done. An easier approach is to allow professionals to handle all the hassles of review generation while you focus on providing excellent services.

Get in touch to learn about our digital services that create a steady pipeline of leads and sales for your business.


or call us (888) 766-3315


How Passwords Get Hacked

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How many passwords do you use in a given day?

Everything on the internet requires a password. It can be tough to keep track of them all and keep coming up with strong passwords. For proof, listen to the grumblings in most office buildings on the day passwords are set to expire.

The disdain for passwords leads to a lot of bad password practices. This includes reusing passwords or keeping them basic. But steps to make passwords easier to remember also makes them easier for hackers to guess.

How Passwords Get Hacked

To hack a password, first an attacker will usually download a dictionary attack tool. This piece of code will attempt to login many times with a list of passwords. Hackers often publish passwords after a successful attack. As a result, it is easy to find lists of the most common passwords with a simple Google search.

The attacker will then load the dictionary attack tool with a list of passwords. The tool will attempt every password until finding a match. Now, the attacker can log in with administrator credentials and install a backdoor for future entry. With a backdoor in place, the hacker can begin installing additional malware and other malicious code that damages your online presence.

The speed and success of a password hack will vary depending on whether it is an offline attack or an online attack. An offline attack allows an attacker to leverage the full power of their device, which will vary depending on the attacker’s setup.

For example, offline password cracking could make up to 2 million attempts per second when leveraging the power of multiple GPUs. If the attacker has access to a botnet of infected machines, they can speed up the process by using the resources of those devices. A very simple password can be hacked this way in a matter of minutes.

An online attack is much slower. There are constraints set by the victim web server and the application (e.g WordPress) that can hinder the attempt rate. A common example of such a constraint is limiting the amount of password attempts. This will slow down the attack, but attackers won’t stop there.

Next, they will try techniques like credential stuffing. The hacker will find a more tailored password list created from passwords stolen from previous compromises. This is why using complex and unique passwords is key to protecting your website.

Best Password Practices

The best passwords will not have any obvious combination of numbers or letters. That means most easy-to-remember passwords with names, words, and dates won’t cut it. If you can read the password as a word or phrase, a hacker using automated tools will be able to guess it. A good password is much more complex.

To make a password more complex, you will want to make it longer. More characters gives a password a lower chance of being guessed in a dictionary attack. A mixture of lower- and uppercase letters, numbers, and characters is also recommended

Unfortunately, complex means a bit more than replacing the letter “a” with an “@” or an “!” in place of an “i.” Adding a couple random numbers won’t work either. Many people use these tricks and hackers are well aware of them. This hardening technique may buy you a couple extra seconds against a hacker, but they can still get in.

To get a completely secure password, it will also need to be completely unique. If the password was ever used, it may be in a list and more vulnerable to a dictionary attack or credential stuffing. The best passwords are going to look like a random string of characters, numbers, and symbols. Imagine a cat running across a keyboard as you go to type in your password. A secure password should look like that.

Passwords should never be reused on multiple accounts. This increases the chances of a hacker being able to gain further access with the same credentials.

Now you know the best way to make and protect your passwords. Yet, the biggest question on your mind is likely, “How am I supposed to come up with all these passwords, yet alone keep track of them all?”

Using Password Managers

The bad news is that you shouldn’t keep using things like your favorite’s pet’s name or quotes from Caddyshack as a password. But the good news is that making and remembering complex passwords is not difficult. In fact, it’s very easy to do with a password manager.

A password manager is a service that generates unique, complex passwords and saves them in a secure vault. You can then use a browser extension and mobile app to auto-fill usernames and passwords. It makes keeping your passwords secure much easier.

Most browsers and mobile operating systems offer built-in password managers. But it’s recommended to use a third-party manager like LastPass, KeePass, or Dashlane. The built-in browser managers lack many of the best features of more dedicated services.

It’s worth noting many password managers do cost money. While LastPass, KeePass, and Dashlane do offer free versions, they may not work for all users. But the paid accounts cost only a few dollars a month. That’s a small price to pay to get rid of the headache of worrying about passwords.


Hackers have been finding ways to crack or compromise passwords since the day they were invented. The only thing more constant about passwords is the struggle to create and remember them.

Good password practices don’t have to be a taxing chore. Password managers take the burden off of creating and storing unique and complex passwords. It is the easiest way to prevent hackers from guessing your credentials, but the password could still be stolen and used by an attacker using different methods like keyloggers or MiTM attacks. This is why nowadays it is recommended to use additional authentication measures like multi-factor authentication.

But cybersecurity doesn’t stop with good passwords. Hackers have a full arsenal of malicious weapons to gain access to websites. You may want to consider our Website Security Platform  for a more robust cybersecurity solution.


Source: Sucuri

7 Reasons Why You Need to Update Your Reputation Management Strategy in 2020

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The reputation management industry has come a long way since the BIA Kelsey Group predicted that it would become a $5 billion industry sector by 2016. Indeed, there are more review management solutions, sentiment analysis monitoring services, and agencies engaged in ORM than ever before!

However, I am not certain that I would call online reputation management a “mature” industry, yet. Search algorithms have become more sophisticated, making search engine optimization of positive content more challenging to supplant negative items in search. Social media platforms, responsive to criticisms for enabling astroturfing in politics, have tightened security such that it is more challenging for agencies to manage accounts on behalf of reputation clientele. Laws protecting major online companies from liabilities for assisting defamation victims continue to be entrenched. And, personal and private data has become more and more exposed despite some efforts to reduce the public’s exposure.

All of this has made reputations more vulnerable to serious damage and has made reputation management more difficult in terms of clean-up of issues or even proactive development.

But, there are some positive things happening, too, so things are not all doom-and-gloom. Consciousness about online harassment, bullying, extortion and sextortion are on the upswing. The FBI and the Department of Justice have taken more of an interest in helping victims in such situations, and local law enforcement agencies have been increasing their capabilities for assisting in such situations. (See the California Attorney General’s Cyber Exploitation resource, for example.)

So, I have a few predictions for what may be in store for online reputations in 2020 — prepare yourself and prepare your company for what is one of the most important aspects of personal and corporate identity.

2020 predictions for online reputation management

1. SEO will continue to become more difficult for improving and controlling online reputations. My prediction 14 years ago that the practice of SEO might become eclipsed by user-centered design has largely come true. Most respectable SEO consultants now incorporate usability factors and user experience into large portions of their analysis and recommendations, in addition to search-oriented technical elements. Simple methods and tricks for manipulating search engines to rank webpages higher have largely been replaced by solid, mainstream marketing practices combined with a user-centered design focus and solid technical website construction. Further, the advent of search engines’ machine learning processing has made website ranking determinations far more holistic in nature — making it hard to tell what factors are ones that tip the decision as to whether one page outranks another or not. Ironically, aspects of reputation are now search ranking factors, so SEO practitioners need to pay attention to reputational elements as part of holistic optimization efforts.

2. Social media profiles will continue to grow in importance for one’s online identity. Not only do well-developed and actively-maintained social media profiles tend to rank advantageously in search engine results, but users seek them out for individuals and companies when exploring online identities that are new to them. For individuals, simply hiding one’s social media profiles does not really cut it anymore when potential employers and business partners are seeking information. And, consumers deeply desire access via social media profiles to communicate directly to companies — neglecting a company’s social media presence can result in increased consumer frustration, and result in more negative online reviews and ratings.

3. Laws will continue to favor large internet companies, protecting them from liability for content produced by third parties that may appear on their platforms. Silicon Valley lobbyists continue to hold sway in Washington and in state legislatures, keeping laws very friendly towards the large internet companies, resulting in keeping them largely non-liable for helping individuals and organizations remove false and defamatory information online. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was enacted in 1996 specifically to save internet companies on costs, while the U.S. legislature knew it would result in collateral damage for small companies and individuals. Arguably, it is time for Section 230 immunity to be changed, but there has been little movement to do anything that would substantially help people. While you might believe that our European counterparts have it better due to their “right to be forgotten” laws, this online “wild west” free-for-all that is maintained in the U.S. negatively impacts anyone in the EU that does business with America because their right to be forgotten is limited to searches conducted within their countries — people in the U.S. can still see contents in search that is no longer relevant or false about them.

4. Business review monitoring will become easier and less costly for companies. There are now multiple companies that provide some degree of review monitoring services across multiple review sites and for multiple business locations. What was once a difficult and costly effort for major chain store companies is now far easier to do from a central office. The increasing number of providers of these services is also starting to enable lower costs as competition in the marketplace produces more options.

5. Public relations and crisis communications will rise as even more important strategic components for online reputation, as opposed to strategies of only ignoring-or-displacing of negative items online. Public relations has been a solid discipline since before the internet, of course, but companies and individuals are again recognizing its value now after many modern companies attempted to skate by without professional staff or external support for public communications. Many have tried a do-it-yourself approach to this, and most fail miserably when trying to position themselves and to respond to public relations crises. Responding with integrity and conveying genuine concern can make all the difference between rapid or eventual reputation recovery in the public’s consciousness, or continuing with a damaged and tarnished reputation that hampers one’s performance in nearly any arena.

6. Professional online reputation management costs will drop within reach of more individuals and small companies. Let’s face it: professional online reputation management has largely been only a service available to individuals and organizations with larger amounts of resources. But, the increasing number of companies operating in the reputation industry is increasing competition, which will result in lower prices for consumers, and the flexibility and functionality available through internet technologies continue to develop, simplifying and making more efficient various aspects of online reputation management services. These factors will drive costs downward. Lawsuits remain one useful and effective option for some types of defamation, trademark infringement and online harassment, but that option remains costly and will be slower to change without further reforms of laws related to online reputation and less costly access to legal relief. Still, while litigation continues to have some major cost barriers, a lot of relief can be obtained more rapidly and cheaper through a combination of SEO, social media management, public relations, crisis communications and strategic internet content development.

7. Proactive online reputation management becomes more important than ever. As the internet became the go-to source for information about everything, one’s internet reputation became more important than ever. That trend has only increased over time, and one can declare 2020 as truly the moment when one’s internet reputation now outweighs nearly every other information source. As such, proactive online reputation management is now vital, and a core piece of best practices for marketing — with a weak and vulnerable online reputation, one is a sitting duck for any crisis, any bad review, and any crank with an axe to grind. Financial analysts are paying more attention to online reputation, and will increasingly check out whether companies are making efforts to manage their identities online in order to proactively protect themselves from any negative event. Do we even need to mention that HR departments check one’s reputation online before making hiring decisions, and people look up individuals for social reasons as well — including for dating, as well as for other social interactions?

As a sort of “bonus” prediction, the #MeToo Movement blew up in a massive way in 2019 — one can easily predict that this trend will continue to grow, and there seems little to stifle it. In the sense that bad behavior deserves to be called out, and that people should feel empowered to speak out against harassment and abuse, the #MeToo movement is a good thing. In this information age and time of growing, ubiquitous surveillance, it is harder to hide bad behavior, and people’s own actions will out them, more and more. So, expect the awareness created through the #MeToo movement to empower many people to speak out and publicize moments when they are mistreated, and these reports will affect individuals and institutions that are called-out. As people are aware of this societal shift, also expect organizations to become increasingly diligent about improving their policies for dealing with such claims, and responding to the reputational damage fallout. We already see this when companies rapidly suspend those accused, pending investigations, and fire those found to be in noncompliance with corporate policies.

Following reputation management best practices, one can build a robust online reputation and recover from past reputation damage. Focus on making 2020 your best reputation year, ever.


Source: Search Engine Land

How to Protect Your Organization Against Targeted Phishing Attacks

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Phishing emails are one of the most devious and deceptive means of cyberattack. Often sneaking past automated filters, such emails use social engineering to look real and legitimate enough to trick unsuspecting users into revealing sensitive information.

Beyond automated security tools, there are more people-centric strategies that businesses should adopt to protect themselves against phishing attacks, as described in the 2020 State of the Phish report released Wednesday by the security firm Proofpoint.

Based on a survey of working adults and IT professionals as well as other factors, Proofpoint’s report defines phishing as any type of socially engineered emails. The intent could be to deploy malware, direct users to dangerous websites, or collect sensitive credentials.

About 60% of the respondents said their organization faced fewer or about the same number of phishing attacks last year compared with 2018. That may seem like positive news. However, the trend is one that Proofpoint said it’s seen for a while.

Specifically, it means that cybercriminals are focusing on quality over quantity by launching more targeted, personalized attacks instead of just bulk campaigns.

Some 55% of the respondents dealt with at least one successful phishing attack in 2019. Around 54% of those hit by an attack suffered data loss, 49% saw credentials or accounts compromised, 49% were infected by ransomware, 35% were victims of some type of malware infection, and 34% suffered some type of financial loss or wire transfer fraud.


Organizations measure the costs of phishing attacks in a number of ways. The most common side effect was downtime hours for users, cited by more than half of the respondents. Other costs included remediation time for security teams, damage to reputation, business impacts due to loss of intellectual property, direct monetary losses, and compliance issues or fines.


The ultimate goal of many phishing emails is ransomware. Some 33% of the organizations surveyed for the report were infected with ransomware in 2019 and opted to pay the ransom. Another 32% were infected but did not pay.

Among those that did pay the ransom, 22% never regained access to their data, 2% acquiesced to follow-up ransom demands and got back their data, but 7% were hit with additional ransom demands and never recovered their data.

Looking at attacks by a specific method of social engineering, 88% of organizations faced spear phishing attacks, 86% faced business email compromise (BEC), 86% social media-based attacks, 84% smishing (SMS/text phishing), 83% vishing (voice phishing), and 81% malicious USB drops.

To help your organization better defend itself against targeted phishing attacks, Proofpoint offers the following tips:

Commit to building a culture of security

If you want to truly make a change—meaning a mindset and behavior shift that has a positive, day-to-day impact on your organization—you must commit to bringing cybersecurity to the forefront.

Remember that anyone in your organization can be a target of a phishing scam and that anyone in your organization can help or hurt your security posture.

Everyone in your organization should know how they can be more cyber-secure. A broad, companywide security awareness training program will help you do that.

Some 78% of the organizations surveyed for the report said they found a reduction in their phishing susceptibility due to their security awareness training.

Answer the three Ws

You may be familiar with the “five Ws and H” that guide journalists, researchers, and investigators: who, what, where, when, why and how.

At a minimum, answer these three first: 1) Who in my organization is being targeted by attackers? The answer is not as simple as looking at the top tiers of your org chart; 2) What types of attacks are they facing? Knowing the lures and traps attackers are using can help you better position your defenses; and 3) How can I minimize risk if these attacks get through? The answer is to use the information you’ve gathered to deliver the right training to the right people at the right time.

This exercise helps you defend against your most pressing and timely threats. Assessing vulnerabilities at a more granular level and matching those up against your threat intelligence will let you pinpoint where perfect storms are brewing.

Make time for agility

When we get busy, we may want to take a “set it and forget it” approach to cybersecurity. That’s understandable. But it doesn’t work in an era of constantly shifting attack techniques and evolving threats.

Building a security culture takes continued effort and attention. Plan for regular training and reinforcement but be responsive to changes in the threat landscape (and your organization).

Attackers’ targets change over time so the firm recommends identifying the employees most actively targeted by cyberattacks on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.

By pairing granular analysis with organization-wide training, the people being targeted will have a cybersecurity foundation you can build on with additional, targeted training.

Understanding general phishing trends is important. Having benchmarks to measure your users against them is valuable. But other organizations’ data isn’t as important as your organization’s data. You must understand your own threat climate in order to change things in your environment.

“Effective security awareness training must focus on the issues and behaviors that matter most to an organization’s mission,” Joe Ferrara, senior vice president and general manager of Security Awareness Training for Proofpoint, said in a statement.

“We recommend taking a people-centric approach to cybersecurity by blending organization-wide awareness training initiatives with targeted, threat-driven education. The goal is to empower users to recognize and report attacks.”

Proofpoint’s data was based on survey results from 3,500 working adults and 600 IT security professionals from the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and Spain. Information also was derived from 50 million simulated phishing attacks sent by Proofpoint customers over 12 months and nine million suspicious emails reported by the end users of the company’s customers.


Source: Tech Republic

These 14 Apps Will Make 2020 Your Most Productive Year Ever

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Thanks to leap year, you get an extra day in 2020. But even 366 days can go by quickly—and get nibbled away by the time you waste on repetitive tasks, distractions, daydreaming, or just the lack of a clear plan to get things done. There’s no shortage of apps promising to save your time or manage it better. But beware: Some are so involved that they may end up being time killers themselves.

These apps and services can help you avoid the perils of under- or over-managing your time—and many of them are free. Some automate tasks, saving you from chores like sorting emails or filing in forms. Others provide smart to-do lists that keep you on track for work or life goals. Yet others encourage healthy habits, from reining in unbridled smartphone checking to making sure you exercise and drink enough water. But enough chit-chat: on with the list.



Planning: Microsoft To Do
List-making will be your easiest to-do item on this free, streamlined app that synchronizes through the cloud across your devices. Just click to make lists of tasks, under categories like “Work” or “Personal,” set due dates and reminders, and break large items into smaller steps. You can also collaborate in online groups, assigning tasks to different members. Fans of soon-to-be-discontinued app Wunderlist, which Microsoft bought, will find this all familiar—and can easily migrate from their Wunderlist setup. (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, web)

Planning: Any.Do
Resembling Microsoft To Do, this freemiuim app adds some nifty power features. Chief among them: it integrates with your phone’s calendar to create a single interface showing both appointments and to do items. Any.Do offers subscription plans, beginning at $60 per year, with capabilities such as recurring reminders, location-based reminders (like “pick up milk” when you go by the store), productivity reports, and integration with business apps. (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, web, smart watches, Alexa, Google Home, Slack)



Habit tracking: Productive
This app for Apple devices is a to-do list for the good things in life. It helps you get started with preconfigured to-do items such as “Eat fruits and veggies,” “Write in my journal,” and the elusive “Inbox zero.” You can configure any other good habits you like and set timeframes for each of them: daily, weekly, monthly, etc. A paid subscription (staring at $30 per year) adds nice-to-have bonuses, such as an unlimited number of habits and location-based reminders. (iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS)

Time tracking: Rescue time
Use Rescue Time, and you’ll get a good overview of how well you’re managing your waking hours. The free app tracks both the programs you use and the sites you visit on your computer or smartphone—assigning them to categories such as Design & Composition (for instance, time spent in Microsoft Word and Photoshop) or Social Networking (time spent on Twitter or Facebook). The mobile app also tracks how many times you pick up your phone. A paid version ($72 per year) offers a few extras, such as alerts after you’ve spent a set amount of time in one app. (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox)



Focusing: Forest
This $2 app makes avoiding distraction into a game. Activate the timer, and a virtual tree starts growing onscreen. If you make it through the time period you set without fiddling with your phone (the default is 10 minutes), a full tree emerges. Give into temptation, and dead wood appears instead. Use Forest to set aside focused work slots or phone-free time when with friends. A free Chrome extension provides the same benefits on your computer and can be set to block certain web sites like Facebook while the timer is running. (Android, iOS, Chrome)

Project managing: Trello
Track multiphase projects—for yourself or a small team—with this freemium service. You can create boards with columns for different stages of projects, such as “Brainstorm,” “Consolidate Input,” and “Signoff,” then create cards for individual projects or parts of projects, such as “Develop marketing plan.” As work progresses, you can drag items from column to column and assign team members to various parts of the projects. Trello’s free tier offers plenty for individuals and small teams. Paid plans start at $10 per user per month. (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, web)



Scheduling: Doodle
Spare the long email chains when setting up a meeting. This freemium service lets you post an online calendar with possible meeting times and allow everyone who receives the link to check off what works for them. Upgrading to a paid account (starting at $48 per year) adds handy features such as syncing doodles to your online calendar and automatically emailing calendar invites to participants. Paying also eliminates the onslaught of advertising on the site. (Android, iOS, web)

Email sorting: Edison Mail
This free app (formerly called EasilyDo Mail) sorts your inbox into categories such as Travel, Bills & Receipts, Entertainment, and Subscriptions. Each box extracts relevant information—displaying upcoming and past flight and hotel reservations, for instance, or providing unsubscribe buttons for newsletters. Edison supports webmail like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo, as well as Exchange and IMAP email from your business domain. Note: Edison collects anonymized data to support its online trends data service, and formerly allowed human staffers to read user emails in order to train its machine learning. (Android, iOS, MacOS)

Researching: Pocket
It’s easy to find information on the web. And Mozilla’s free bookmarking service, which is integrated into the Firefox browser and available as an extension for Chrome, makes it easy to keep track of it until you have time to give it your full attention. Just click the icon to save a copy of any page to your online account. You can also add tags to organize the saved pages by topics. The mobile app allows you to browse from your phone and save pages from your mobile browser. (Android, iOS, web, Firefox, Chrome)

Researching: Google Alerts
Rather than skimming through the news or running manual searches, let Google compile research and automatically send an email digest. Just visit the search engine’s Alerts page, sign in with your free Google account, and enter search terms for the topics you want to follow. You can include multiple terms (such as names of companies) for each alert, configure as many alerts as you want, and refine alerts based on features such as regions or languages to include. (Web)

Networking: LinkedIn QR codes
Forget business cards (which you probably have already done anyway), and make connections instead through the QR code scanner in LinkedIn’s mobile app. Just tap the icon on the right end of the search bar to display your personal code for people to scan and to capture the code displayed on their screen. Invites to connect go out automatically from there. (Android, iOS)

Accessing Google: Google Assistant
The font of all knowledge is a constant companion for many of us. This voice-activated app provides the quickest way to access many of Google’s services, especially if you are on your phone or your hands are full (or you’re driving). Beyond web searches, you can ask Assistant to do things like check the weather, find movie times, provide driving directions, set reminders, and translate text or audio. You can also access utilities like timers or alarms, a calculator, or smart home controls. (Android, iOS, Google Home speakers, Wear OS)

Form filling: LastPass
Password managers are an essential tool to create, store, and auto-fill strong passwords for website logins. They also save time with lots of other online form filling, such as entering your address for deliveries or your credit card information for payments. The free LastPass app allows you to create profiles for this and other categories of information that you can enter with one click of its browser plugin button. The app itself is locked down with a main password, and all data you store in it is encrypted. Paid upgrade features for LastPass ($36 per year) are minimal, such as ability to share access with other people. (Android, iOS, MacOS, web, browser plug-ins)

Scanning: TurboScan
Sometimes the best way to file papers is to convert them into files. This $6 Android and iOS app uses your phone’s camera to create color or black-and-white PDF files of any documents you photograph, even something like a white board. It stores searchable copies on your phone and also allows easy sharing via email, AirDrop, or cloud services like Dropbox and Evernote. (Android, iOS)



Small Business Technology Trends for 2020

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As the owner of a small business, you are always looking for ways to improve your company. Here we’ve highlighted some of the key tech trends in 2020 for exactly that. Whether you’ve just launched your startup or are trying to keep your business at the forefront of innovation, new technology is constantly being created for you to take advantage of. Below we’ve highlighted some of the new ways you can grow your market, improve efficiency and protect your company.

Influencer marketing

Scrolling through your social media, it’s expected to find promotional and branded content. Today the highest-paid athletes in the world, such as Christiano Ronaldo, make more on Instagram than on the field. The technique of using a big name to sell something is not new however, social media platforms allow ads to appear on your screen with far more ease and subtly than traditional advertising. Instead of your company hiring a celebrity to appear in a commercial, that celebrity only needs to post online about the benefits of your product or service. This new age of advertising presents enormous benefits for your company if utilized well.

So why is having influencer outreach important? It’s simple; the experience is personalized. You have no choice when you’re watching TV regarding what pops up during a commercial break. But on social media, consumers have chosen who they follow. Maybe they follow someone because they appreciate their taste, their lifestyle or because they know them personally. All of these attributes cultivate a deeper trust towards a brand when a promotion comes from someone the consumer has actively elected to see in their day to day social media goings.

If you’re a small business, it’s most likely you can’t afford the assistance of celebrities or high profile influencers to grow your product, but that’s okay. Micro-influencers or influencers with smaller followings (think under 100,000 followers) often have a more loyal fan base and higher levels of engagement. Furthermore, those who follow micro-influencers are more likely to share a niche interest, and with proper market research you can reach an audience interested in checking out your brand.

Finally, keeping your brand active on social media is also important for those who might discover or further explore your business on such platforms. Just like when you meet someone new and search them up on social media, consumers are constantly checking out new businesses first through social media.

Digital healthcare

There are several benefits of the rise of digital healthcare that all small business owners should be aware of. Not only can it save time and money, but digital healthcare solutions are enabling fundamental changes to the job market that directly benefit small businesses.

There’s never a moment to waste when you’re running a small business. Digital healthcare is increasingly becoming an affordable way for employees to stay healthy while maintaining efficiency. In the past, if an employee of yours fell sick or experienced any number of conditions, they would have to take time off work to drive to the doctor’s office, sit around as they wait for their appointment, see the nurse, and sit around some more before finally being treated. This is all changing as new telehealth companies like PlushCare offer remote services for your employees.

This means an employee can see the doctor from their office. Online doctor appointments typically last 15 minutes with patients receiving a diagnosis and treatment plan, including any necessary prescriptions, in this time frame. By seeing a doctor from work employees save incredible amounts of time that can be spent working. Furthermore, remote appointments are not limited to a single doctor’s hours, and your employees will find it easy to book with a remote doctor before or after their workday. These appointments are cheaper for your business and your employees while also providing instant access to care. But there’s another aspect to telehealth and it’s a relationship with small businesses.

Digital healthcare solutions make healthcare more affordable for the growing workforce of contractors and freelancers who forgo employer-based insurance. More people feel comfortable giving up the comforts of traditional employment, such as health insurance because they have an affordable alternative in digital healthcare. This is highly beneficial to small businesses that cannot afford to give their workers’ health insurance. Having access to a network of contractors and freelancers saves your company money but also allows you to hire the people necessary to get the job done at a reduced cost. If you are hiring via the gig economy be sure to talk to your contractors about digital healthcare as an affordable healthcare solution, especially if you are not offering health insurance to these workers.


The importance of cybersecurity can not be understated. As 2020 rolls around, the functioning of big and small businesses alike will continue to move online. New software solutions are being developed to unify the functions of companies, allowing smoother communication across integrated platforms. While this process is great for your business overall, such centralization also demonstrates the need for increased cybersecurity measures. According to a poll from Insureon, only 16% of small business owners think they are risk of a cyberattack. Unfortunately, 61% of cyberattacks are actually launched against small businesses, and the average cost of a small hack is $86,500, according to internet security firm Kaspersky Labs. While such a cost might not hurt a major corporation, it could be a devastating amount for your small business.

There are several steps you can take to protect your business from cyberattacks,

  • Regularly update your software. Installing new software as it becomes available is critical to protecting your data. Delaying even the most routine updates can have catastrophic effects.
  • Ensuring point-of-sale systems is safe. Businesses that perform transactions online should invest in the end to end encryption software. Not only does this safeguard your business, but it also protects your consumers and their trust in your services.
  • Teaching employees how to spot malware and phishers. Small business owners have to be proactive in the protection of their company, including looking inwards at potential risks for human error. Hold a seminar with your employees to discuss what dangerous malware might disguise itself as.
  • Hiring an IT expert. If your company can afford to do so, hiring an IT expert is a must as the word continually shifts into the digital age. As a business owner, you don’t have the time or knowledge to do everything on your own, and no one can help keep your tech safer than an IT expert.

Being in the know about the different technological channels you can utilize in 2020 sets your business apart. Promoting and growing your brand via influencer marketing grants you access to a concentrated market of potential consumers and clients. Knowing how to maintain efficiency and affordability while keeping your employees healthy and factoring in the wellbeing of contractors in the gig economy, sets you up to have highly satisfied workers at a lower price point. A cybersecurity approach that protects your company against data breaches and hacks from the ground up ensures all aspects of your business are high functioning. Small businesses with a comprehensive approach and knowledge of the latest tech trends as they apply to a range of aspects of the business are better positioned to outperform those that take a narrow approach.



Online Privacy – What You Need to Know

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Most Websites Already Know a Lot About You. Here’s What You Need to Know About Online Privacy.

Information that you share on an online platform can often be used by third parties without your consent, and it can even be used to track your whereabouts. Now, most of the secure sites will not collect any sensitive information like identification details or financial details. However, your posts on social media, internet searches, and browser history can be accessed, and your computer’s IP address can be used to trace your location as well.


Therefore, you should always be aware of all the privacy protocols that a site has before entering any information. Given below are a few tips that will help you keep your information safe when you are on the internet.

  • Always update your browser. The web browser is the one thing that you use most often and your browser history can easily be accessed if there are any glitches. To avoid such disasters, it is important to run the available updates. These will check for any potential attacks and take measures to secure your information.
  • Many online services like Gmail and Facebook have a two-step verification system. This provides extra protection as you will have two passwords instead of just one. When you sign in, you will have to enter your chosen password and a generated password will be sent to your mobile number. This reduces the risk of your account getting hacked.
  • More often than not, you will notice that several advertisements are popping up and they are related to what you have browsed for. This is because these ads place cookies that can track and remember what you have searched. Now, you can remove the cookies by clearing your browser history at regular intervals.
  • There are some online privacy tools available that help secures your information. These are not effective against massive attacks but they try to hide your cookies, location and browser history from third party websites.
  • Whenever you are using a new site or creating an account on some online platform, make sure to read the terms and conditions they have regarding a client’s privacy, carefully. Most of the time, we miss this section, taking it for granted that our data is secure. But if you read between the lines you will see that many sites clearly state that they collect your information to sell to advertisers. Also, there are many companies that do not stick to their privacy policies and this places their clients in danger. If anything like this happens, then it becomes very difficult to maintain privacy and protect your personal data. So always keep yourself informed and give your information only if you are absolutely sure.

There are many internet browsers that allow “private browsing”. However, this does not mean that your information cannot be tracked or collected. When you use this mode, cache, browsing history and cookies are deleted, so your privacy is protected but only for those who use that same device.


Source: [1] [2] [3]

Facebook Launches Two New Features to Help Small Businesses Grow

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The holiday season is just around the corner and everyone is going crazy over shopping. Now is the high time when top brands and local sellers earn the most from customers. As small businesses, it is difficult for them to earn more customers through local strategies, which is why Facebook is taking amazing steps to help them build a strong internet presence.

As holidays are coming near, many people are looking for online options to purchase gifts for friends and family. If small businesses have a strong internet presence and helpful tools, they can easily make new customers without any hassle.

As a result of this, Facebook recently introduced two new features,

1. Customizable story option on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger – It is not easy for small businesses to create new ad campaigns for every product. By using this feature, small businesses can save a lot of money and time that they could have spent on advertising.

2. Improved Instagram Messaging for Businesses – To help small businesses grow rapidly, it is necessary for them to be organized. This new feature will help businesses to send instant replies during busy season and organize chats in separate folders to avoid any mishap.

By launching these new features, small businesses will be able to reach out to maximum customers and attract many people by their fast service. Apart from it, Facebook is also helping such small businesses to learn how to improve their business strategies to gain more audience.

Small business owners can take part in the training held by Facebook to learn where they are lacking and improve them accordingly. If these businesses can learn to adequately handle their business, there are more chances for them to enjoy benefits all year and not just during the holiday season.

These small businesses can bring a lot of growth to the local economy by investing their skills in the proper advertising and amazing customer service. Facebook’s action towards helping small businesses might seem like a pebble stone right now but it can give enormous advantages in the future.

Magento Commerce 2.2.X is Nearing the End of Support, it is Time to Upgrade!

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You must have a current Magento subscription or license to receive software support. Additionally, it is recommended to always have the latest Magento version installed for optimum security and to leverage Magneto’s advanced features.

Magento continues to improve releasing updated versions. Please review the chart below for the end of software support dates for previous Magento versions:

Magento Release End of Software Support
Magento 1.x 06/2020
Magento 2.0.x 03/2018
Magento 2.1.x 06/2019
Magento 2.2.x 09/2019 (Open Source) & 12/2019 (Magento Commerce)
Magento 2.3.x – Magento 2.3.2 Latest Version

Magento has stated: Support for Magento Commerce 2.2.x ends on December 31, 2019.

Merchants or customers who are still using Magento Commerce 2.2.x should upgrade to the latest Magento Commerce release 2.3. If you continue using Magento Commerce 2.2.x for your website, this may impact website security and compliance.

YouTube Is Making Hard For the Copyright Holders to Make Unfair Claims Against The Creators

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youtube copyright claims

YouTube Company found that most of the copyright holders are using unfair means to take revenue away from the creators. The news appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

For most of the people, YouTube’s copyright system is a mess as it places the burden on the creators to dispute the copyright claims, in turn, the copyright holders use the manual claiming tool to seize revenue arising from the videos often before the YouTuber (creator) takes a chance to respond.

But now YouTube from continuous requests form the content creators is updating this tool so that creators do not face any loss. This shall take place in the mid of September and YouTube will do this by changing its Content ID policy, YouTube mentions this in their blog post that by doing so many of the copyright claims shall be cut down. In other words, the right holders will not be able to size money from the YouTube videos by filing any claim and especially when the video is registered in someone’s name and appears for a small period of time on the channel or appears in the background of certain video.

YouTube has now made it mandatory for the people who are filing copyright infringement claims to provide a timestamp for the exact part of the video or the video’s they are reporting. The company also states that they will revoke user’s access to the manual claims if they continuously fail to provide accurate manual timestamps. An advantage of timestamps is that the manual claim recipient will see the timestamp as indicated by other party/parties that will make it easy to find out which part of the video needs to be edited.

To solve this issue they can either dispute the claim or can alter the video by using YouTube’s updating editing tools. Other than this the creators can shut down or remove all sounds, they can even swap them out easily with one of the platforms free to use songs from their audio library.

YouTube has a database of files on which it scans the video uploads so as to find the audio and video matches through its Content ID technology. Any copyright infringement found automatically leads to automated content ID (it’s a video platform system that detects an upload uses another person’s intellectual property claims, then they can earn from it as well) claims.

YouTube believes that by doing so many of the manual claiming privileges of labels or other right holders that get continuously breached will be stopped.

The changes made by the company will only effect manual claims and will have no impact on music found automatically by YouTube’s Content ID system. The company states that since it was implemented it has cleared many claims and has paid many right holders an amount of dollar 3 billion a very big amount.

The company states that they will continuously design ways to improve the creator’s copyright experience without altering the rights of the copyright owners.

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