Displaying items by tag: webspain
Google has now started sending out warnings to users that are running outdated and vulnerable software installations. Which is what we have been doing for years in order to ensure our clients are not at risk.
This action from them has probably been initiated due to the continual problems caused by webmasters who just don't take security seriously. There was recently a mass defacement involving hundreds of thousands of websites using the Wordpress content management system (which we don't use) called the REST API Vulnerability. And no doubt this has now driven Google to take this action.
The message users are receiving (depending on what software they're using) is this:
"Google has detected that your site is currently running Joomla 2.5, an older version of Joomla. Outdated or unpatched software can be vulnerable to hacking and malware exploits that harm potential visitors to your site. Therefore, we suggest you update the software on your site as soon as possible".
So let's just recap on the warnings Google are now issuing:
1. Sites should be mobile compatible.
2. Sites should have HTTPS/SSL security.
3. Sites should be running up to date and secure software.
I'd also add that every site should have it's own security firewall installed......which could well be the next step Google will take.
Let me emphasise that Google are not saying that you have to have a site of the technical complexity of Kyero or eBay etc.....they're just making it clear that it should reach a basic level of professionalism and responsibility.
Saying that......I've actually had people who are knowingly in the position above actually ask me how they can improve their Google positioning. Just let that sink in! They fail all of the basic criteria that Google requires, they've received multiple warnings to that effect.....yet they want to be recommended by them.
Bottom line is if you can't demonstrate professionalism in your online presence then Google (and users) will just not take you seriously. Think of it this way: Most of you at one time or another will have experienced the damage caused by viruses, trojans, ransomware etc when your computer gets infected by malware. Where do they come from? From infected websites on the internet!
Google want to get this under control, and they will now penalise sites who refuse to accept their responsibilities regarding security. They're certainly not going to be recommending sites they class as dangerous to their users.
I'd go so far as to say that they will eventually take the view that if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem......and you'll end up becoming invisible. Others are following too.....because I've had warnings flash up from Facebook that I may be leaving there to visit a site that is classed as dangerous. So all the big players are getting behind these security initiatives.....it's not something you can ignore.
If you're a client, then we've already notified you of your status in each of the criteria. If you're not a client, then your current web developer should have kept you up to date on all these developments to ensure you were protected. If they haven't, then get in touch and we can run some checks for you.
Worried about Dirty COW? You should be, because last week a serious vulnerability was discovered in the Linux kernel which runs the majority of the world's servers. It was so critical that it can lead to a privilege escalation, denial of service, or information leaks. And it's called Dirty COW! Why the name Dirty COW? It gets its name from the Linux sub-system, called Copy-On-Write or COW, in which it appears.
You may well have seen reports in national dailies about it, and now it's spread to Android Phones as well. Basically, if you've got a website then you are potentially at serious risk because it could take weeks before web hosts get round to patching the kernel on their servers. Then the server will need to be rebooted resulting in downtime.
Unless of course you're a WebSpain client! Because when we switched to Cloud Linux earlier this year we also purchased Kernel Care as part of the package. KernelCare keeps Linux servers secure with all the latest kernel patches available immediately, and they're automatically applied without needing to reboot the server. So no security issues and no downtime!
It keeps running permanently and checks for any kernel security updates every 4 hours. If there's an update available, it just applies it without any human intervention or downtime. Our kernel was patched on 21st October......literally as the news broke.
If you're not a WebSpain client then you just have to cross your fingers that somebody is going to take action at some point to protect your business interests. Timescale is impossible to estimate......but I can guarantee that the less you paid for your hosting then the longer it will take. If it's even patched at all! But that's what happens when your main priority is cheap!
It just demonstrates, once again, how proactive we've always been in this area, and how not all web hosting is created equal.
If you're serious about your business then you need a serious provider. If you're not serious about your business, or perhaps you just don't care......then there's plenty of providers out there that would be a perfect fit for you. But we're not one of them!
Have you been Compromised? I would be pretty sure that you already have been.....but you don't know it!
Would you like to find out for sure? Then read on......because we have a simple online check for you.
You may not know, but over the last few years, millions of email addresses have been leaked, stolen and sold in hacking attacks on thousands of websites!
This is big business, because your information and data is worth money! The results of this test may well be a shock to those people who are concerned about the security of their personal information. For those who are not remotely concerned about security, and there are a percentage who fall into this category, it still won't register. Nothing ever does until they get totally blitzed.
So here is the test.....just enter any e-mail address that you use then see the results: https://haveibeenpwned.com/
If your data has been compromised (and my guess is it will have been), then the screen will turn red and you will be told where the data breach has happened.
Your next course of action is to visit the sites that are listed and change your passwords to something very secure. You should do this now......not later!
What can you do to protect yourself in the future?
1. Your website should be running on the latest software.....not on an application that has been outdated for years.
2. Your website should have SSL Security in place.
3. Your website should be protected by a security firewall.
4. Stop using high risk webmail accounts like Yahoo, Hotmail etc. GMail is by far the best option.
5. If you have accounts on other sites under your e-mail account, then keep changing the password regularly.
6. Any passwords you use should be complex using a combination of low and upper case letters, and symbols.
7. Use professional security programs on your computers such as Kaspersky or Eset.
8. Backup the data on your computer to an external drive on a weekly basis.
9. If you're not using your computer.....then turn it off! Don't leave it permanently connected to the internet.
That's my advice.....given in good faith, and in your best interests! I can't do anything about the points from number 4 onwards. Points 1 to 3 fall into our area, but unless you're prepared to take those points seriously we've very limited in what we can do to protect your interests.
Was I compromised? Yes.....on Linkedin and DropBox, but I dealt with those issues immediately, so the risk was eradicated. But I keep on top of security issues and take it very seriously.....do YOU?
Are you really Driving Your Business? Or are you a passenger just going along for the ride?
Because the landscape of business promotion and marketing is always changing, so you need to adapt to those changes to be able to stay relevant within your industry!
What am I talking about? Well think back to late last year when I told you about RankBrain.....Google's Artificial Intelligence (AI) system for search engine positioning evaluation.
Since then it's got much more efficient in it's processes because it has the ability to learn as it goes along. Consequently Google is now applying more importance to it's recommendations! It's purpose could best be described as the "translator", because it instructs the algorithm what to think about the content....with a view to making the search results more relevant to the user.
RankBrain has the ability to "humanise" the assessment, and is able to interpret the "intent" behind a user's query rather than just give a result based on matching words. Therefore you need to be delivering high quality relevant information by means of supplying answers, recommendations, and solutions to users' queries.
What we have now is three areas in the SEO process.....RankBrain, Content, and Links. When I say links I mean the number of quality backlinks on high authority sites that are pointing to yours.
So what is a "high authority" website? Essentially I'm referring to sites like Governmental, Educational, national newspapers, international news portals, multinational corporations etc. We're talking major league players here.....not a useless backlink on your mate's website for Jock Strap repairs that he made using a DIY sitebuilder. Links of that nature will see you dropping like a stone because you're grouping yourself in the same category as nonentities.
While we're on the subject of links, do NOT exchange mutual links with business colleagues. Reciprocal linking will get you both canned in double quick time as it looks like you're trying to cheat the system. This is not 2005! The only backlink worth having is one that you've earned on a high profile website! Quality not quantity is what counts, exactly the same as with the content that you publish on your site.
You cannot cheat your way to the top of search engines! Anybody who tries to convince you that they can guarantee high search engine positioning is just misleading you. Simply because you're now dealing with a system that has an artificial intelligence! Think of it as a robot in some respects. It has the ability to learn as it goes along, and is able to ascertain exactly what users are looking for in terms of their "intent". At that point it instructs the Google algorithms on how to make the relevant assessment.
RankBrain is geared to reward websites that deliver high quality content and offer a mobile friendly experience. Without both you have no hope whatsoever if your business is competing in a large, competitive business market like property, vehicles, tourism etc. Conversely, the knock-on effect of delivering a great experience on those factors, means there is more likelihood of you earning links on a high authority site which will help you even more.
Once again.....there is no "magic bullet". There are no shortcuts that can be taken! There is no way of cheating! It takes time and commitment to build up an extensive content base of high quality articles on your site that actually deliver value to users! I've been doing this for years, and I'm still doing it now. Hence our permanent placement at top spot on Google for "Web Design Spain".
Ask yourself why the businesses offering additional "SEO services" don't have the level of dominance that we have? After all, we don't even offer SEO services! The reason, quite simply, is that we practice what we preach by continually delivering quality unique content. And we then market it via Social Media! There is no mystery whatoever.....we just do what we advise you to do.
Now all this has nothing to do with Web Design (which is what we do), but it has everything to do with the promotional and marketing initiatives that are an integral part of your business (which is what you do).
There's no reason why any of you can't achieve the positioning that we have. We all use the same software, and nothing has been done technically on our site that hasn't been done on yours. The only difference is the content......or more specifically, the quality of the content, and what we do with it.
What do we do? If you're reading this article, there's your answer! We continually publish quality unique content that delivers value, which is then marketed across all Social Media channels! We hope you'll find these articles to be of help to you, but ultimately it's up to you whether you choose to act on them.
If you do, you'll need to do it on a permanent and ongoing basis. It's hard, and sometimes I wonder whether anybody even reads the articles! But what motivates me is I know who does read them.....and that's Google! I make sure they index it within an hour, and then it's one more star to add to my report card.
This sort of initiative can be classed as just one aspect of driving your business! And you know the old saying....."If you're not driving your business, then you'll be driven out of business".
I'm in the Driving Seat! I've always been in the Driving Seat! Are you?
It seems that the Next Big Thing is on the way.....and it's called AMP! Which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages!
In Google's words “The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.” Read more HERE!
So what they want is a mobile experience with virtually an instant page load! This is achieved by adhering to a limited set of technical functionality that is defined and governed by the open source AMP specifications. AMP files will then take advantage of various technical and architectural approaches that prioritize speed to provide a faster experience for users. So this is an additional aspect solely relating to mobile devices that potentially could be included with the current web frameworks that we use.
Will AMP affect you? Yes....it'll affect all of us! Because it appears that Google will be putting a heavy emphasis on AMP pages when delivering search results on mobile devices. It doesn't mean that your current mobile compatible site is now obsolete, that's not the case. It just means that if there's an additional AMP version available then you're likely to see a better result on the search listings to reflect your use of the new technology. And obviously your users will get a much better experience while using the site compared to the current mobile format.
This initiative is still in it's infancy, and we're watching closely for further developments and clarification of standards before fully committing to this aspect. As far as we can ascertain at the moment, it's likely to involve the building of AMP pages alongside the existing site structure. But whether this will be backwards compatible to current mobile sites is unclear. If it is, then hopefully we would be able to offer the option of an AMP upgrade to current clients.
This isn't anything you need to think about at the moment, as development of the project is still ongoing. What we're doing here (as always) is keeping you ahead of the curve on forthcoming technical initiatives which will affect you and your business. And I think you know by now.....technology doesn't stand still. So neither can we!
Let's talk FACTS! The reality is that there are many good web designers in Spain who you could choose for your new website, and there's also some who may deliver a less than stellar experience. So how do you know who to choose? Well in my case, I'll actually suggest the ones I know who are totally professional. Like us, they've been around a long time, and have an excellent reputation. We're quite open about this, and despite the fact we're all doing the same thing, we're generally using different platforms and systems to do it.
It may be the case that one of them would be a better fit for you than us.....and if so we'll give you all their details. No designer can be all things to all men, so beware of any that claim that they are. Simply because a project emanating from a knowledge base that is one mile wide and only one inch deep is never going to deliver the experience that a specialist can.
It's in your interest to check any potential designer's work, and always take up references from existing professional clients. Any experienced Pro will have a lot of them, not just one or two from a couple of very low key projects. You can see some of ours HERE!
Now whether you know this or not, it's a fact that you're going to need ongoing help and support after you've taken delivery of your website. If you get a site from a "sell it and forget it" type of operation then I guarantee that it's not going to end well.
I know because of the number of people who get referred to me when a serious situation occurs with their current designer.
It can get very messy indeed involving loss of money, loss of site, loss of domain name etc.....so do your research. If you make a purchasing decision based on the cheapest you can find, and without practicing due diligence, then be aware there could be a trainwreck up ahead. And you're going to be in it!
We've always felt that the level of after sales service and ongoing support that we provide is outstanding. And our clients think so too! After all, we have over 500 of them.....and there has to be a reason for that. Here's some facts for you to consider:
1. A client contacted us with a problem on Xmas Day. They got a two minute response and five minute resolution. FACT!
2. Contact your current web designer at 11PM on a Saturday night and see how long before you get a response. If you're a client of ours it'll be 5 minutes. FACT!
3. Unlike many others who only run reseller accounts from web hosting providers, we run our own Dedicated Servers in London and Chicago. Essentially, we are the host, there's nobody else involved apart from the on-site technicians within the respective datacentres. The only people on our servers are our web design clients with the sites that we built.
We don't provide web hosting to outsiders simply because we don't want anything introduced onto the server that could have a negative effect on our business clients' sites. Yes.....we turn away hosting business on virtually a weekly basis so we can have a clean house. FACT!
4. Every site has a remote monitoring system connected to it. So if a site fails to load we'll have a notification within 5 minutes.....and we react immediately to get it running again. If your site is running on a reseller account with another designer then you'll be the first one to notice it.....and maybe it's been down for days and you didn't know?
At that point you'll need to contact your designer and wait for them to respond to your mail. Unfortunately it doesn't end there, because then they have to wait for their hosting provider to respond to their support ticket. Timescale? Your guess is as good as mine on that......but it certainly won't be the five minute action that we provide. FACT!
5. Site backups? Most people don't think twice about this, and if you're one of those, you'd better start now because your business may depend on it. Our system is that we use the commercial R1Soft Backup platform. This makes 10 incremental backups over the course of a month: At 1AM on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the application copies all your data to a remote server. So think of it like the Windows restore points on your PC......the site can be rolled back to a previous date.
That system takes considerable investment in both time and money to operate, plus we have to pay for the additional 1TB storage space that it needs. But that's what we do, and it's there for your protection! FACT!
6. Every site has an additional database backup every night at midnight. This actually gets stored in a secured folder under our WebSpain domain name account so it's instantly accessible by us at anytime. That's a database restore in minutes! FACT!
7. Every site that we build has security updates applied to it through the lifetime of that particular version. As a rough guide, each version will run for about 3 years before it becomes end of line. During that time we could have updated it up to 25 times to keep it as secure as possible. Cost to the client? Zero! We do it because that's the professional way things should be done. We do not compromise on Security! FACT!
8. We monitor server logs and security alerts throughout the day. If there's any potential malicious activity occurring then we'll know all about it, and take appropriate action. If you are hosted on somebody else's reseller account they'll never even see these notifications because they don't have root access. So our level of vigilance is considerably higher than most! FACT!
9. Sometimes E-mails can't be delivered because there's a problem on the recipient's server! We let you know if this happens, so no more disappearing mails and possible loss of business. We cover all of that as part of our service! FACT!
10. We do not sub-contract any of our work to third parties......never have and never will. In rare circumstances we do bring in a specialist coder if you have bespoke requirements relating to XML property imports, but we'll put him in contact with you direct. You pay him, and unlike many others, we don't add any additional charge to that. Everything we do is completely transparent! FACT!
There's actually many other elements to our service that you'll never know about until you become a client. But you'll see that some of them are mentioned in What The People Say by our clients. The point here is that with us, the response, interest, and level of personal service don't cease to exist after purchase. If anything, it gets better. We've got many clients who've been with us for over 10 years now, and in our industry that's pretty remarkable. What does that tell you?
If you're comparing web designers......then compare on a like for like basis! We've listed above some of the things that we bring to the table.....so go ahead and check how many of those aspects that other web designers actually deliver!
It comes down to this: Back in 1998 my goal was to build a business that would last a lifetime.....rather than some cowboy outfit that wouldn't even last a lunchtime. And in that respect I've succeeded.....because WebSpain will outlive me for sure! Now that's a FACT......and who else can say that?
As you probably know, search has changed a lot in recent years! But are you taking advantage of the new possibilities that now exist due to the advancements in technology and actually delivering the answers?
Because recent developments are now taking these processes onto another level.....and that level is Artificial Intelligence!
It's called RankBrain...... which is the name that Google have given to it's machine-learning artificial intelligence system. Previously any changes in search algorithms had to be programmed into the system by humans, but now it has the capacity to learn, and to expand it's knowledge and efficiency based on the original parameters that were applied. It's goal is to take search queries, interpret what the user's intent is, and then deliver the best possible results for them.
Now did you see the important word there? Intent! What Google is looking to achieve is to match the user's intention to the optimum results. Ten years ago people were using shorter search terms.....but now both the end users' knowledge and the technology have advanced beyond all recognition! Users are now putting in questions, and they want answers. Google's role is to evaluate the available options and provide the best answers based on the analysis of user intent.
Of course there's now the mobile factor as well.....with queries on these devices exceeding those of desktop computers! Which brings us onto Voice Search! Let me give you an example how this can work! If you go to your voice search on mobile and say "OK Google.....What do People say about WebSpain"......you should get a search delivered with the answer at the top!
Points to bear in mind are that the search request was delivered in plain conversational language......not a sequence of robotic disconnected keywords. Keywords used within the content in a natural manner are still very important, but if you're using these keywords then you must expand upon them and deliver the answers within the actual page content. If you don't, people will hit the back button (which Google monitors), and eventually your listing will no longer show in the search results as users are telling Google that the result wasn't acceptable. And RankBrain learns from that.
In the quoted example I could probably have got the same result by just putting in those keywords and nothing else!
But how long before the search engine algorithms figure that the end result was I didn't deliver any answers?
Do you see the critical factor? Keywords and empty cliches that deliver nothing in the way of valid information are now no longer acceptable!
Example.....it's no good just telling people how easy it is to buy a house in Spain......you've got to demonstrate how!
Unfortunately, many site owners still seem to think they can get away with the practices that were prevalent back in 2005, things like keyword jamming and overloading metatags.....but those days are gone. Do that now while simultaneously delivering no content value and you'll be dropping like a stone.
Going forward, think of these Google initiatives as a quality filter. Deliver quality, and in principle you should see the benefits. The key is knowing your clients' needs, requirements, possible questions or doubts etc......and then delivering the answers as a tangible benefit to them within your content. So basically you're pre-empting the question and making it easier for search engines to recommend you.
If you know your business, then you know the answers! So just make sure that you're delivering them.....and not just on your site but right across Social Media as well. Because if you don't......your competitors will!
Last September we published this article: SSL for SEO! It related to Google announcing that sites which had HTTPS/SSL encryption would be looked on more favourably in terms of search engine positioning. This represented a major step in their stated initiative of making the internet a safer place.
At that time it wasn't clear how big a ranking signal it would be, and since then no major changes were really noticed....until 10 days ago! Because since then, Google’s ranking data for HTTPS pages has increased by 9.9%......which is a huge swing. You can get the full analysis Here!
But be aware that this doesn't mean that having SSL encryption on your site is some sort of SEO magic bullet, it just means that the priority given to secure sites appears to have been increased. There are numerous other factors involved in the process of search engine ranking......with content and mobile compatibility being the main ones.
Nothing has been officially announced by Google, other than changes in algorithms were coming up. And even then, they wouldn't be drawn on exactly what those might be. But in light of the massive revision in the status of HTTPS/SSL sites over the last ten days, it appears that this is the direction they're taking.
Just to recap, HTTPS/SSL is a 2048bit data encryption method that encrypts the connection to sites giving a higher level of personal security. Essentially, users have a secure connection to the site to prevent the theft of personal and private information. In many cases the data may not be highly sensitive, but setting up a HTTPS connection ensures that no external party is spoofing addresses to retrieve information from users that they would not normally divulge. This activity is now becoming more common and a HTTPS connection safeguards against these attacks.
Strengthening web security benefits everybody, and by implementing this process on your site you'll be demonstrating to users, and Google, that you take this very seriously. Our position on this is that we certainly wouldn't want to be in the position whereby fingers were pointing at us as being responsible for the theft of users' data. Which is why we have always had SSL security on this site.
The difference now is there seems to be measurable search engine positioning benefits that you can gain from it as well. So it's a win-win situation for everybody.....except the cyber criminals of course!
As you know, the way that people use the Internet is changing. We're experiencing a move away from the traditional desktop method into a more mobile centric environment.
So if your focus is only based around attaining high Google rankings, then you need to stop and evaluate everything you do right now......because Facebook are launching their own in-house app to corner the search market.
Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm change that occurred on April 21st has now created a scenario where mobile searches are critical. And Facebook has been more than happy to take advantage of the new opportunities this presents by developing an in-app keyword search engine specifically for use with mobile devices. At present, search returns via this option are sorted by relevancy, though recently published articles that have attracted a high degree of social engagement are also in the listings.
Why is this happening? Mobile ad revenue is big business, particularly on Facebook. Their ad revenue is increasing and businesses are now willing to pay more for FaceBook ads than Google ads......so obviously they must feel that this avenue represents a better return on investment than traditional methods.
This is indicative of the power of social media advertising, and now with the search ap being launched we could be heading towards a situation where potential clients ignore Google completely and do their searches on FaceBook. So if you don't have a clearly defined and well established presence on there, you could find yourself outside looking in.
Still not convinced? Then I'd suggest that you factor in the statistic that Facebook attracts 1.44 billion active users every month! That is a massive outreach. And if they are going to offer the opportunity for users to do a full search on their platform, effectively eliminating the need to go to another search engine, then it's going to be a game changer.
Google has clearly defined the criteria that mobile based internet communications are critical, and now Facebook appear to be seizing this opportunity to grab a big share of the market.
They've already established themselves as an outstanding platform for businesses, advertisers and users.....so they have the numbers behind them to seriously challenge Google's dominance of the search market. And over a longterm basis, through the introduction of different initiatives, they have the potential to render the conventional search engine, as we know it now, virtually obsolete.
Therefore, I would strongly advise that you maintain a serious and active Social Media presence across all platforms (particularly Facebook), with ongoing daily promotional activity. What you posted yesterday is no longer relevant, and I always suggest the "little and often" method because 75% of engagement occurs within the first five hours. Additionally, make sure you expand your user base with more friends, likes, followers, circles etc.....or you'll end up just talking to yourself.
In the past all SEO activity has been based around the results of traditional desktop searches on Google......but now we have to prepare for the changing face of search. Don't get left out in the cold!
Remember this date: 21st April 2015. Because this is the day where Google search results are going to change forever! They could change for the better for you....or they could change for the worse!
This is the day that Google have now announced will be the launch of their new search engine evaluation algorithm! And it's the one that we've been warning everybody about for 6 months......where Google start dropping non-mobile compatible sites from their listings. For the official announcement just check Google's Webmaster Central Blog.
The announcement is fairly self explanatory on Webmaster Central. It's a huge revision of their system, and there's going to be a lot of sites adversely affected. However, if you have a mobile responsive site then you don't need to do anything, because you have exactly what Google expects to see.
But if you have an older site that isn't mobile responsive, then it seems that your rankings are going to drop quite dramatically. This will bring about a knock-on effect of less visitors, less leads, and less sales. The only way to avoid this scenario is to get a mobile compatible site in place by this date. And then of course you'll get the benefit of the ranking increase.
Why is this happening? As we've stated before, Google wants to provide it's users with the best possible results. And if your site will not display properly on a mobile device, then Google recommending sites of this type is totally at odds with it's stated objective.
Why is mobile viewing so important? Would it surprise you to know that in 2014, internet searches made on mobile devices were actually higher than those on desktop PCs! This had never happened before, and estimates suggest that this pattern is going to keep increasing dramatically year on year. Some have even suggested that it's going to lead to the demise of the desktop PC, except within office locations. Which ironically is the environment that they were originally designed for, prior to the home computer boom in the mid 90's.
So whether we like it or not, this is the age of mobile computing. And if you're not reaching that market with your products or services, it's not a good longterm scenario for any business. The countdown is on, and 21st April is getting closer! If the rankings of a non mobile friendly website start to fall, its probably down to one thing – Google’s latest algorithm update!