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Use Location-Based Mobile Marketing Services to Reach Local

location servicesHave you ever used your phone to find a place to grab a drink or dine while in an unfamiliar neighborhood? If you have, than you’ve used location-based services. This is a clever kind of mobile marketing that allows businesses to target local consumers. A location-based mobile marketing service allows small businesses to attract random passerbys by serving them with information about their business through search. Location-based mobile marketing is a powerful strategy that’s not only affordable, but also easy to do.

Any mobile strategy should begin with your company’s website. Content you post on your business site and associated social pages should be able to be consumed on various mobile devices. Why? Because web content recognized by Google’s search engine (which rewards mobile-friendly content!) will put your location on the map.

Start with the basics; make sure web content related to your business is correct and in order on search engines as well as on your company’s website. For example, your locations, hours of operation, products and/or menu items, parking instructions, etc. should all be easily searchable from a mobile device. When consumers use the web to search for information, they have a better chance of seeing your website if it’s correctly configured for mobile.

Another key component of a successful location-based mobile strategy is reviews. In addition to being the simplest marketing you can do, establishments with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Yelp and other mobile-first sites are proven to garner more business than those that do not. Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to review your business, offer an incentive in exchange for their review. A special discount for customers who leave reviews provides for repeat business and a healthy digital reputation.

Small business owners must consider the impact that mobile marketing can have on sales and brand perception. A successful mobile strategy, one that incorporates location-based marketing services to reach a local audience, will reap major rewards.

Major Android Security Hack Uncovered

android-devil-malware-100247149-carousel.idgeAttention Android Users!

With just a simple receipt of a text message, your Android can be hacked. This is likely the biggest smartphone flaw ever discovered, CNN reports that, “it affects an estimated 950 million phones worldwide.” The issue is rooted in the way in which Androids are programmed to analyze incoming text messages, even before they have been opened. For instance, with Google’s Hangouts app, any media file that you receive (pictures, videos, audio) is automatically processed as soon as it is received. Because of this, “a malware-laden file can start infecting the phone before it’s even opened.”

The hacker needs only to send a text with a malicious media file to your phone to potentially gain complete control of your Android device. With that, he or she will be able to wipe out your device, access apps, open and review sensitive information on your phone, or even turn your camera on without you knowing.

Google, owner and operator of the Android OS, has acknowledged the vulnerability. In fact, they were made aware of the hack – and even provided with a potential fix – as early as April 9 by cybersecurity firm Zimperium. Google has assured that a patch would be made available for all customers, but according to Zimperium, a fix still isn’t largely available.

Although Google has likely developed a patch to this vulnerability, due to Android’s dependence on carriers and phone manufacturers, the company can’t simply push the fix directly to user’s devices, as main rival Apple has the luxury to do. The fix must be coordinated with disparate manufacturer platforms (Samsung, LG, Motorola, etc.) and then disseminated through the carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint – just to name a few…). Google claims they have delivered a solution to its carriers, but it is still unclear whether or not the solution has been passed along to their users.

Until security firms like Zimperium declare this issue clear, Android users can disable auto-fetching of multi-media messages by accessing the Settings menu within their default messaging app. Tap Settings -> Advanced -> (deselect) Auto-retrieve MMS messages.

Users can find detailed instructions here.

Now Is the Time for Responsive Design

mobile-phonesBeginning April 21, Google will use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results, rewarding websites that are fully optimized for mobile platforms.

Most modifications to the all-important Google Search Algorithm have only a low-weight impact on search results, however Google says the effect of this change will be profound. It is very important for any business owner with a website to respond accordingly.

Effective immediately, Google will also factor content from mobile apps (a feature called App Indexing) when rendering mobile search results. Android users who are signed into their Google account will begin to see apps more prominently in search listings.

These changes will make it easier for mobile users to find relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices, creating a better search experience. Google provides very clear recommendations on what you can do to make your website mobile-friendly.

If your business website has not yet adopted responsive design, here is where to start:

  1. Check out Google’s guide to mobile-friendly websites.
  2. Take the Mobile-Friendly Test to see how your website stacks up. You can test a single page or all to see exactly what Google’s search algorithm is looking for.
  3. Your web developer can generate a Mobile Usability Report to help identify any issues with your website when viewed on a mobile device.

Google recommends responsive web design as the industry best practice for websites. A responsive website seamlessly adapts itself to whichever device it is being viewed from. While responsive web design should be your ultimate goal, creating a fully responsive site can present a challenge for many small business owners. However, simply using Google’s guidelines to optimize your existing website for mobile platforms will help greatly in the meantime.

The Newtek Team is here to help ensure your website is eligible for this valuable Google ranking boost! Contact us today to get started. 1.866.820.8910 | techsales@thesba.com

5 Essential Security Tips for Small Businesses

security | blueGiven the increasing frequency and sophistication of modern cyber attacks, it is more important than ever for small businesses to understand the dramatic effects of a data breach. Small businesses can protect their customers and themselves by staying educated and understanding solutions and best practices that are available to reduce the likelihood of a costly security breach.

  1. Safeguard Valuable Documents and Equipment – Make sure all digital devices used for business are protected with antivirus and antispyware software that is regularly updated. All computer servers and sensitive paperwork need to be stored safely and securely, with a limit to the number of people with keys and/or access codes. Research off-premise data center or cloud computer solutions to ensure the safety of your information.
  2. Use a Password Manager – In theory, we all know we should be using different passwords for each website but very few people actually follow this practice. For convenience, most users routinely use the same or similar passwords for multiple web services. Luckily, there are now many tools to help us manage our passwords correctly.
  3. Control Access – Don’t let unauthorized individuals use business computers or equipment and limit physical access to your systems. Even employees should be given access only to specific data systems they need to do their jobs. Make it is standard procedures that all employees seek permission before installing any software.
  4. Update POS Systems – The responsibility to cover losses born from fraud will shift from credit cards/banks to the merchant later this year. For this reason, all merchants with outdated POS systems should move to embrace EMV technology as soon as possible. EMV cards contain embedded microchips and are much more secure than cards that rely on a magnetic strip. While adopting new technology always presents a challenge for small business owners, merchants can’t afford to not take this step.
  5. Encrypt and Tokenize – Implement full-disk encryption on each company-issued computer and mobile device. System passwords alone offer little defense against off-site hacking attempts. By layering encryption and tokenization with EMV and POS compatible systems, merchants can minimize security weaknesses and address authorization vulnerabilities. During the transaction process, data is most vulnerable immediately before and immediately after authorization. Encryption and tokenization protects against this. Further, encrypted and tokenized data holds no value; it is just a random, unusable string of numbers/characters.

Information Regarding Recent Small-Scale Cyber Attack

We wanted to share with you some information about a recent cyber attack that affected a very small percentage of sites on our network and to provide some important information regarding customer sites on “legacy” hosting plans.

(“legacy” hosting plans refer to older hosting plans that are no longer available for new orders. Some of these legacy plans use software on the server that is no longer supported by the software vendor, which means the software does not receive any more software updates, including security patches.)

While we will endeavor to provide continued support for legacy hosting plans, and will continue to react as quickly as possible to security events such as the one we will explain below, legacy services are inherently more susceptible to cyber attacks due to the fact that the platform software is no longer supported by the software vendor. This includes, but isn’t limited to, old versions of ColdFusion, ASP.NET, and PHP that no longer receive software fixes or patches due to their age.

This also applies to any no-longer-supported web applications you might be using to power your website (for example, many popular content management systems running out-of-date versions are especially vulnerable).

We understand that some customers have limited ability to upgrade to newer hosting plans due to compatibility issues, and will require continued use of their legacy hosting plan. If you currently utilize a legacy hosting plan, we encourage you to reach out to your developer or I.T. team to review your upgrade options. Newtek can also assist with upgrade guidance and/or website development services. We offer a full range of newer hosting plans that feature currently supported software platforms (including plans hosted on Windows Server 2012).

The cyber attack that occurred was injection-based in nature, and resulted in unauthorized lines of code being injected into some customer websites. Based on our investigation, we do not believe that this code was particularly malicious in intent; rather we believe it was designed to post unwanted messaging or banners onto affected websites. The injection attack was successful targeting sites using out-of-date software on both the website and platform level.

We believe we identified the offending code and diligently cleaned all affected web servers.

See below for a listing of unsupported scripting languages and platforms associated with Newtek legacy hosting plans:

Unsupported Hosting platforms/scripting languages by its software vendor:

ASP.NET 1.1x
ASP.NET 2.x
ASP.NET 3.5x
PHP 4.4.x
PHP 5.2.x
PHP 5.3.x
ColdFusion 5
ColdFusion 6.1
ColdFusion 7
ColdFusion 8
ColdFusion 9
SharePoint 2.0

Unsupported databases by its software vendor:

MSSQL 2000
MySQL – 4.1.x
MySQL – 5.1.x

Start Planning Now: Support for Windows Server 2003 is ending on July 14, 2015

HomelandSecurity-WinServ2003-blogThe US Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning about the consequences of not upgrading Windows Server 2003 systems by July 14, 2015.

This is the date Microsoft will stop providing software updates for the aging platform, meaning new exploits will not be fixed.

Homeland Security stresses that consequences could mean exposure to cybersecurity threats, which may lead to malicious attacks or electronic data loss.

Newtek Is Here To Help

If you have self-hosted or on-premise systems running Server 2003, now is the time to consider upgrading and moving your servers to a secure data center. Benefits of this include:

  • Avoiding the high upfront costs of buying new server hardware
  • Keeping your servers in a hyper-secure Newtek data center
  • Having a 24/7/365 team available to address issues immediately

If your organization has Server 2003 systems hosted at another provider, now is time to reassess your solution:

  • Newtek regularly beats competitor pricing on server hosting, and we are currently offering special incentives for Server 2003 upgrades
  • Our server operations team can assist with your upgrade to a newer platform, along with the migration to our data center
  • We offer both virtual and dedicated solutions that can meet your organization’s specific needs.

If you’re currently hosting a Newtek Dedicated Server running Server 2003, now is the time to start planning your upgrade.

  • We can help you with your upgrade and migration
  • With both dedicated and virtual server options available (running Windows Server 2012), we may be able to reduce your currently monthly costs
  • We are heavily experienced upgrading Windows 2003 systems to Windows 2012

Newtek Solution Architects are also available to review any of needs at no cost or obligation. Contact us today to get started.

NOTE: Newtek Shared Web Hosting Customers do not need to take any action regarding this alert. Newtek has already upgraded most of its legacy shared hosting servers that are running Windows Server 2003, with remaining systems scheduled for an upgrade well before the July 14, 2015 deadline. 

Disaster Recovery Options Now Available for CloudVPS and Dedicated Servers

DatacentersWith data center facilities located in several, strategically located regions across the continental U.S., small businesses of all sizes now trust Newtek to deliver hyper-secure, redundant, and disaster-safe hosting solutions for mission-critical I.T. systems.

While solutions for disaster recovery planning traditionally fall under the scope of custom hosting configurations, Newtek now offers a simplified add-on option for CloudVPS and dedicated server customers. This option is ideal for budget-conscious businesses or I.T. teams looking for cross-regional redundancy and security.

For CloudVPS plans, the Disaster Recovery Option provides a completely replicated copy of the virtual server that is hosted in a secondary facility located at least 500 straight miles away. In the event that a disaster event occurs (or any occurrence that leads to a service interruption or outage), a DNS change would shift access to the system to the secondary location.

For dedicated servers, the solution differs slightly, but provides similar protections. Our team will work with you to determine which files you need replicated across the secondary data center location. Typically, an identical dedicated server configuration, including identical hardware, is provided at the second facility, but, depending on your needs, this can be customized.

Separate from the replication service that is part of the Disaster Recovery Option, Newtek also offers offsite backups that can be stored at a secondary facility (note that all Newtek data center facilities meet the same high security, compliance, and reliability standards), as well as customized, cross-regional load balancing solutions. Contact us for for a free assessment for this or any other need.

PRICING

There is actually no charge for our new Disaster Recovery Option itself, which provides replication services on either CloudVPS or dedicated servers. All costs associated with this service are connected to the services you’re duplicating across data centers. For exact pricing, please speak to a Newtek business service specialist.

You can visit our CloudVPS or Dedicated Server plans at the following links:

Dedicated Servers
CloudVPS


WordPress Updates, Do I Need a Developer?

WP ProfessionalThe short answer: most likely. Unless you are yourself a developer, a web professional, or a highly technical person – you should at very least seek out a little assistance with updating your business website.

Why? Because we hear this phrase everyday: “I tried to update my WordPress site and now it is broken.”

The first rule of WordPress is to always run the latest version of WordPress. No matter what platform your website is built on, you need to do updates to make sure your site is functioning correctly. Think of it this way: over time, you need to preform periodic upgrades on your car in order to keep things working properly, your website is no different in this regard.

When you have a WordPress Content Management System, it is especially important to make sure your site is updated when the system prompts you to perform updates. One of the things that make WordPress such a popular blogging platform and website platform is the ability to add in plugins to make the system as robust as possible. When you are adding those many plugins to your WordPress site, all of those plugins need to communicate together and when they do not, your site does not function correctly.

So what do you do when you need to update your WordPress site?

WordPress has two methods for updating, the easiest being the one-click update, which in theory should work for most sites. The WordPress directions for a one-click update are listed here and seem simple enough: http://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress

What they do not explain is that this is dependent on the update being compatible with your current WordPress theme and all of your plugins to that theme and this is where you will typically encounter problems. In our experience, we see over 90% of the time there are compatibility issues when you attempt to update WordPress.

Your WordPress version needs to be compatible with your current WordPress theme otherwise it could break your whole theme and your blog/site could go down. You will also encounter compatibility and functionality issues within your WordPress plugins. This is best done in a development environment what areas of the site are not functioning correctly from the upgrade. This is where we recommend calling an experienced WordPress Developer to do this for you. The second method WordPress has for updating is manual. As you get into the manual functions of updating your site and plugins, it can get extremely complicated and tricky to do this correctly. The hours you spend attempting to do this yourself only to realize your site is not functioning correctly is not worth the money you will save by hiring an experienced developer to do this for you.

If you are in need of a developer to help you perform updates on your WordPress site, Newtek Web Services is here to help. Please call us at 866.820.8910 today!

Video Content Marketing: An Integral Piece of Your Digital Marketing Campaign

Why Video is VitalAccording to Cisco, video will account for 69% of consumer internet traffic by 2017. If you do not have a defined Video Content Strategy within your overall digital marketing campaign, chances are you are falling short to your competitors and losing potential customers. Think about when you go to a website, are you more likely to read every word on the site or quickly search for a video which tells you what the company is about? The stats say most people would rather watch a short video than read.

If you are embarking on a Video Content Strategy here are some things to consider:

  • One video does not constitute a Video Content Strategy. In order to cultivate a following and optimal ROI, you need to produce several videos with diverse video content.
  • Why having your videos on YouTube is so important: YouTube is the second largest search engine owned by the largest search engine (Google). This incredibly powerful video distribution channel allows you to reach a wide audience. Correctly optimizing your YouTube Channel and each video gives you an important boost within the search engines. Finally, housing your videos on YouTube and placing a link on your website that will load from YouTube allows you to keep your website page load times fast, functional, and responsive. Housing your videos directly on your website will slow your site down.
  • Why utilizing multiple video formats to capture different viewers helps to bring attention to your video content: While YouTube is an incredibly significant and popular platform, to capture a full array of potential customers it is important to create video content for other distribution channels as well. Vimeo, Brightcove, and Vine are popular choices in the video world today.
  • Always keep in mind the audience you want to reach and make sure your videos are relative to your target audience. Determining your target audience is one of the first steps in creating your Digital Marketing Strategy. Once you know who your target audience is, creating your video content strategy around engaging, educational video content will establish you as a leader in your field, and increase your chances of having a successful campaign. Find out what your followers and clients want to see most: how-to videos, behind the scenes information on your company, industry related education, etc. All of this depends on your target demographic and A/B testing of video content you are producing to determine results.
  • Be creative. You wouldn’t want to spend the money to create a professional and engaging video only to have it fall flat because the material was not compelling enough to get clicks, would you? Creating the video content is step one; next, you must spend time creating an engaging lead-in statement to introduce the content and capture your follower’s attention. Being creative will encourage them to engage with your video content.

Need help designing and implementing a Video Content Strategy? Newtek Web Services is here for you. We offer full Video Content Strategies and the ability to produce videos on your behalf. Contact us today at 866.820.8910!

6 Ways to Supercharge Your Search Engine Rankings in 2015

Improve-Ranking-by-SEO-300x300As we approach new digital marketing campaigns for 2015, let’s review the best practices as defined by the leading search engines to help your local business rank within the search results.

There are many different localized organic factors which effect ranking, they can be broken down into the following categories:

On-Page Optimization

On-Page Optimization allows search engines to crawl your site and tells them, as well as your website visitors, what the pages are about. There are guidelines and techniques to make sure you are coding your title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags (picture tags) and your H1/H2 tags properly to ensure visibility. Your load time of each landing page is also an important factor with ranking, so make sure your site is loading as quickly as possible and is hosted on the correct hosting package. Having the right hosting package (dependent on your business and the type of website you have) is key to site loading speed.

Directory Listings

Directory Listings, or ‘Citations’, are integral in your local search strategy. These types of links have been proven to increase local search engine rankings dramatically because they provide credibility for your business. Search engines reward sites that go the extra mile to be authenticated. If your business is listed in directories for your local chamber, locally owned business listings, or a city business index, these listings verify your business before they allow you to be a part of their directory. If a local newspaper writes an article about you or a well know industry blogger starts writing about your company, it gives your business credibility, which in turn gives you authority within the search engines.

Citations can get overwhelming; there are many different types of directories to apply for, each with their own process to establish verification. Keep the following in mind when choosing which directories may be right for your business: check out the authority rating associated with the directory, be sure to stay consistent with the information you provide across different listings, and make sure the directories are a legitimate platform for your industry and target audience.

Reviews

Reviews are another crucial element that goes into your local search strategy, however, legitimate reviews tend to be the most complicated to obtain. Working closely with your clients and walking them through how to easily review your company on the best review sites will help ensure your business obtains a healthy amount reviews. A mixture of reviews on a variety of key sites is crucial to helping you achieve the results in your search rankings.

 Social Signals and Engagement

Social Signals and Engagement are ranking factors which bring influence to your site indirectly. When a website visitor is referred from a social media platform to your site, search engines monitor how long they are on the site, and whether or not they convert. It is important to note that more and more social media posts and blog posts are showing up in search results, making sure your content on your social posts are engaging and relative to your business is key as these go into the calculations for your rankings. Search engines are placing more importance on social platforms, looking at signals such as shares, likes, and overall interaction from sites like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Search engines are looking for relativity to your business and the people you are interacting with. Engagement will be a leading factor in search engine algorithms in 2015, be sure you are doing whatever you can to interact with your customer base across multiple social media platforms this year.

Content

As we mentioned above, social media posts and blogs are becoming a central part of results. With your click-through-rates from your content influencing rankings, the content you produce needs to be relative to your industry. Further, the pages within your site you are driving them to (inbound links) must be engaging to the audience you are trying to attract. Having a content writing strategy in place is very crucial to your local search results. When your content writing plan is part of your overall digital marketing campaign including your social approach, it allows for a cohesive strategy of all your efforts working together.

Inbound Links

A couple of years ago, link building was the number one way to get you to rank above your competitors. In today’s world of search, that is not the case. Directory listings are the most effective way to bring quality links to your site. In order to gain other relative links for your business, we look at sources such as press releases, newspaper articles and guest posting which tie into an effective content strategy designed to attract news worthy content as well as educational content which will attract high authority guest posters/bloggers to write about your company on their blogs.

Are you trying to get your website to come up above your competitors in the search results for your area? Call Newtek Web Services today for a free competitive analysis at 866.820.8910.

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