Is your web site mobile-compatible?

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Big Changes to Google’s Search Results

Google has decided, rightly so, that mobile-compatible sites will rank higher in search engine results that those that are not mobile-friendly. With searches from mobile devices already outnumbering those from laptops and desktops, this is a logical step in the evolution of search.  In addition, e-commerce transactions will outnumber those done on computers sometime before the end of 2015.

From Google’s Webmaster Blog:
“We will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Google is rewarding those sites that have moved ahead with mobile-compatibility, and is penalizing those which have not. As the world becomes more mobile, it is increasingly more important that web sites are easily viewed by visitors on mobile devices.

What Does this Mean for you?
This is significant for many businesses who do not already have mobile-compatible sites. Your web site will rank much lower in the search listings on Google. This can obviously mean lost prospects and sales for your business.

Every site that Chatham Marketing creates for our clients is built in responsive design.  This means that no matter what type of device your visitors are using, they automatically will see your site in a version that is optimized just for them.  In addition, we optimize all the content in your site (SEO) for the search engines, to raise your rankings.

Contact us for a no obligation analysis of your web site’s mobile-compatibility now.

How Businesses Can Protect Themselves Against Ever-Increasing Cyber Security Threats

How does a marketing agency get involved with cyber security?

At Chatham Marketing, though our core business is marketing, we are committed to responding to the ever-changing needs of our clients. Recently, this has meant adding increased web and cyber security to the services that we offer our clients.

Businesses of all types, including small and medium-sized businesses, are facing increased cyber security threats, specifically from hackers and malware. Peoria businesses and non-profit organizations have experienced their websites being hacked, while others have been infected with malware. Also, a local web server was hacked and infiltrated in the last few months, with the hosted sites being defaced. In addition, hacks of major banks and retail companies’ servers have recently been in the news.

The attacks on web sites started becoming more prevalent in January, 2015, with over 100,000 WordPress-based sites being infected with malware. The challenge has continued for businesses all over with world, including some in Peoria.

These rapidly increasing threats, could mean a potential loss of sensitive proprietary data to local businesses, and, in some cases, increased liability. In the case of web security, your business’ reputation with the public could be at stake, meaning a loss of revenue.

Ways in which your web site may be compromised:

1. Malware, which may result in Blacklisting

Malware of many types can infest web sites, especially those with popular content management systems, such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. If you site becomes infected, this can be detected by Google, which can result in your site being blacklisted. The loss of traffic to your site can be significant, but potential and current clients may then see the results of the malware infestation. This can result in lost business and hurt your online business reputation. Unfortunately, potential and current customers may not want to return to your site, even after the malware is removed.

When your site is blacklisted, viewers will see a warning – possibly within the Google search results themselves. First, the malware must be removed, then it can take 24 hours or more to get the site removed from the blacklist.

Google shares their blacklist data with Twitter, other search engines, and desktop antivirus programs. Some of these authorities run their own blacklists too. Many website security services leverage Google’s SafeBrowsing API to scan links for malware.

The solution is to keep your site free from malware in the first place.

2. Using your web site to distribute spam

Once your site is infiltrated, there are many ways that it can be used to distribute spam. The most common may be the malware that adds spam keywords to your posts, advertising everything from viagra to drugs to porn.

There is also malware that sends spam email from your domain. One of the worst types of infestation is spam that inserts itself into the Google search results for your site, so that the title and description that should be for your site, are spam. Again, the results of such infections are a possible loss of reputation and revenue for your business.

3. Malicious Redirects – redirecting your site’s visitors to another site

When your web site is hacked and infested with malware, your visitors may be redirected to another web site, without ever seeing your page. Malicious redirects can be set to respond to particular browser types, or only for mobile devices. The attacker institutes a malicious redirect to steal traffic from you, and to gain improvements in their search engine rankings.

Your site must be protected at all times from malware and hackers to prevent these problems.

4. “Drive-by-Downloads”

Perhaps the most serious threat to your web site may be from malicious code that targets your visitors. Visitors to your site may get a virus on their computer, which could lead to using their computers to further spread malicious code, or their sensitive data being stolen. Identity theft is also a serious threat to visitors with this type of infection, or ransomware being installed on otheir computers. This could be the worst type of threat to your business, reputation, and sales.

5. Phishing

Phishing is the process where hackers trick users into divulging their personal, sensitive information. This can come in the form of emails, which can be sent from your domain after your site is infected, or in social media posts, or posts on your web site. Phishing may look like a legitimate post or email message, but convinces users to click on a link to go to another site and give up their personal information. It may appear as an email or message from your company asking them to confirm their information for your “records.”

Phishing scams are on the rise, and are another reason why your web site must be protected at all times.

How Chatham Marketing helps our clients address cyber security threats:

Web site developers, advertising agencies, and marketing agencies must address these threats. Chatham Marketing now works with cyber security firms to address these increased cyber security challenges – both for our clients’ web sites on the server side, and our customers’ internal networks and computers, as well.

The system that we use scans your web site every three hours for any type of malware. We receive an alert if your site has been infected or blacklisted for any reason. If malicious code is found, web security technicians will manually remove it from your site, returning it to its previous condition.

We provide cyber security and web security services through our other company, The Chatham Group, which provides these services for Peoria area businesses:

  • Web site security – anti-malware and antip hacking protection
  • Risk management and reduction for identity theft issues for your management, employees, and customers
  • Cyber security and network security
  • Identity theft protection
  • Unique employee benefits

Contact The Chatham Group for more information, and a review of your web security needs at no obligation.

Your cyber security needs must be addressed on both the web server side, and internally, for your networks and computers, to ensure that your business is completely protected.

We recommend these basic cyber security tips:

• Only open email/IM attachments from a trusted source and that are expected.
• If a person on your IM list is sending strange messages, files, or web site links, terminate your IM session.
• Scan all files with Internet security software before transferring them to your system.
• Only transfer files from a well known source.
• Keep security patches, antivirus and firewall software up to date.

Contact us to learn more about keeping your web site and internal network safe.

Online Media and Internet Media Surpass TV and Cable in Viewership

It was bound to happen.  Just as the Internet and online media surpassed print media years ago, more people now use the Internet and view online media than watch television, due partly to the large expansion in the number of mobile devices.

The Internet has been absorbing viewers that previously subscribed to cable, according to new data from PwC.   Netflix has become the major competitor with cable in the US:

  • Cable subscriptions among 18-to-24-year-olds dropped to 71 percent in 2014, down 6 percent from the year before.

  • 71 percent of pay TV subscribers ages 25 to 34 also had Netflix in 2014, up from 51 percent.

  • 58 percent of 50-to-59-year-old TV subscribers also had Netflix in 2014, up from just 19 percent in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported.  More info here.

The implications for advertisers are significant.  Just as advertising budgets have moved away from print media, television advertising will continue to decline.

Now is an advantageous time for many advertisers to move to both online media and search engine marketing (SEM).  Contact us to learn how we can create a custom online marketing strategy that will accomplish your business’ goals.

 

Massive WordPress Malware Attack

Massive Malware Attack

100k+ WordPress Sites Compromised

Sunday morning, 12/14/14,  a massive malware campaign was initiated targeting WordPress websites. The campaign has been tagged SoakSoak, because of the domain users are being redirected to.  Google blacklisted over 11,000 sites Sunday morning due to this malware infestation.

We address the following critical web security and cyber security needs for Peoria businesses through The Chatham Group:

  • Web site security – anti-malware and anti-hacking protection
  • Risk management and reduction for identity theft issues for your management, employees, and customers
  • Cyber security and network security
  • Identity theft protection
  • Unique employee benefits

Contact The Chatham Group for more information.

Mobile searches and the Mobile Web poised to become dominant

—  Gary Chatham, President, Chatham Marketing

The importance of mobile search, and customers using mobile to research purchases continues to increase. Fully fifty percent of respondents said they use their mobile devices to start the search process; 46 percent use mobile exclusively when performing research online, according to findings in the 2013 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study by Telmetrics and xAd.

The study also shows that one out of every three respondents use a mobile device throughout the entire purchase process. In addition, sixty percent of smartphone users across the categories examined in the study – banking/finance, gas/convenience, insurance and retail in the U.S. – completed purchases related to their mobile activity.

Google’s New Multiscreen World study, showed similar stats when it came to how mobile plays into searches online. (The data showed a majority – 65 percent – of online searches began on a smartphone.)

Whether someone is searching on their mobile device for a restaurant, a local service, or a car rental, the presence of a click to call button increases click-through rates and brand perception, according to new Google/Ipsos research.

The survey of 3,000 mobile searchers who recently made purchases in seven verticals (Travel, Restaurant, Auto, Local Services, Retail, Finance, Technology) revealed that 70 percent of mobile searchers click to call a business directly from Google’s search results.

Across all seven of the verticals Google researched (Travel, Restaurant, Auto, Local Services, Retail, Finance, Technology), click to call, whether it appeared in the paid or organic results, was an important feature for people looking to find information and make purchases, Google said.

What does this mean for you?

First,being visable in the mobile search results is also crucial to attracting new customers, as well as being accessible to current customers.

Also, your web site must be optimized for mobile devices. If a potential customer has to “squeeze” the screen in order to read your site, you may have already lost the visitor and the sale.

Contact us for a no-obligation evaluation of your present web site, and search engine visibility.